Monday, July 10, 2017

The Yellow Sally - The Summertime Stonefly

Last week I posted a photo of a yellow sally stonefly imitation on Instagram, and an observant viewer sent me an email noting that in the tying video I made with Tim Flagler, I did not tie in a tail like the one in the photo.  They wanted to know why.  


The answer is simple; I tie my Western version with the tail so it floats well in the big, fast waters that are found in Montana.  Here in the East I tie them without a tail as our waters not as big and fast as those out West, and a sparser fly tends to work better.  I will also carry some without a tail when out West for the spring creeks and fussy fish.  


The trout mostly see the egg-laying adults, thus the egg sac on the fly.


Sharpen your hooks.    

Monday, July 3, 2017

Stripers at the Cape

My son is up in Chatham on Cape Cod this holiday weekend and he's making good use of his time up there.  He's got a kayak and his fishing equipment and has been catching small stripers in the backwaters and sand bars on spinning equipment.  He tells me that now that he has found them, he is going to go to the fly rod today.  We'll let you know how he makes out.




Sharpen your hooks.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Another Weekend In the Catskills

Last weekend we headed up to the Catskills again with the usual characters.  This time though, after fishing Saturday evening, the four of us were joined in the evening by seven anglers from Rahway River Trout Unlimited, making for a crowded cabin on Saturday night.  It worked out great though with everyone pitching in with the burger and dog dinner, before we settled in around the fire and talked fishing, fly tying and music.  A few guys had to camp out on the floor in their sleeping bags, but no one seemed to mind.

Earlier, we fished a favorite pool on the Beaverkill, where the sparse hatches of sulphurs, caddis and tiny blue-winged olives brought trout and shad to the surface.  At dusk light cahills began hatching and in the dark we could hear quite a few fish working the surface.  We had a good evening with a couple of trout and two shad, one that was good sized and battled hard despite having swam over 300 miles up the Delaware then the East Branch before taking my Iris Caddis on the lower Beaverkill.


On Sunday morning everyone split up to fish their favorite pools on either the Willowemoc or the Beaverkill.  Vinnie and I went down to angler free pool on the lower Beaverkill.  The day was very warm and humid and we knew that by midday water temperatures would hit 68-70 degrees and put a halt to fishing.  The path to the river was thick with invasive knot weed thanks to the frequent spring rains - every year it seems to grow higher and thicker than the last. 


The river was clear and at a normal level, with only tiny blue-winged olives, some of which were hatching along with spinners falling.  A good breeze blew upstream. Trout rose softly to the little insects drifting on and in the surface film along the far bank where hardwood trees provided shade.  We split up each heading to where small pods of trout dimpled the water surface as they took in morsels that to us seemed way too small to be worth their effort.


I tied on a size 22 snowshoe rabbit foot blue-winged olive to the end of my 6x tippet and then slowly worked my way within casting distance of the nearest working fish.  I made a few test casts, found that my 12 foot leader turned over well, but the light tippet and fly were sent upstream at a right angle thanks to the breeze.  It would be one of those mornings when one had to time their cast to drop when the wind dies for a brief moment.  I cast to the working fish and when I got a good drift, it rose up, inspected my offering, and then drifted back down to the bottom.  This happened several times, and I think the issue was micro-drag thanks to the myriad of currents shifting from the many large rocks lying just below the surface.

After a short while and a few dozen casts over that fish, a trout rose about 25 feet above me in a fast slick.  I let it rise again, pin-pointed its locations, and made a quick cast dropping my about a foot above where it rose.  Almost immediately, the fish came up and sipped in my fly, and after a brief fight I brought the 11-12 inch wild rainbow to my net.  I admired it for a second, removed the fly from its upper jaw and then dropped my net back into the water where the fish swam out to safety.

I fished a while longer, getting more than a few refusals, and then backed out to shallower water where took the water temperature.  It has hit 69 degrees F, so I cut off my fly and reeled in.  Then I waded down to Vinnie and gave him the news, and he too, called it a day.  He had a few good takes he said, but missed them, which is unusual for him. It was a good day for both of us though; how often in late June can you find a pool on the Beaverkill with no other anglers and rising trout?

Here's the fly I have been taking the bulk of my fish on the last few weeks up north.


Sharpen your hooks.                        

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Why Does an Imitation Fly Work?

Why?  When you look at the previous post of a mayfly from below, why do trout take this pattern, or any other pattern that really does not look like that photo?     


Thursday, June 22, 2017

Is This What a Trout Sees?


Photo courtesy of Marc Fauvet

For more great photos and other neat stuff, go to Marc's blog - The Limp Cobra

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Father's Day Weekend Fishing the Upper Delaware

On Saturday after tying at the Whitewater Flies open house event in Lafayette, NJ, my son Hunt and I headed up to the Catskills.  We landed at my friend Paul's house in Roscoe at 4:45 PM, and by 5:15, we had the drift boat and trailer hooked up to the car and the three of us were on our way to the upper main stem of the Delaware River.   


We floated from the Shehawken access on the West Branch of the Delaware River to Stockport, a short float, but filled with opportunities the whole way.   The air was humid and hot for this region, so we waded every chance we got so we could stay cool in our waders.  The water was cool, and clear, with every rock and stone on the bottom visible, which meant we were very visible to the fish. When we came upon rising fish, we got out of the boat and tossed our offerings from a distance, because if we got too close, they would go down in an instant.  By darkness, we had hooked a bunch of fish, and landed a few, including a nice 20" brown that took my size #20 blue-winged olive emerger just as the sun fell below the mountain tops. 


On Sunday morning, Hunt and I packed our gear and headed to Whitetail Country Fly Shop, to meet Joe Demalderis "Joe D", of Cross Current Outfitters.   Hunt had never been on a guided float trip,so it was a perfect way to spend Father's Day with my son.  We put in at the Shehawken access on the West Branch at just about noon.  Dark puffy clouds glided by overhead, alternately providing shade and hot sun.  We decided not to put on our waders, instead we would wet to keep cool.  We also had the benefit (not) of almost constant wind - it may have kept us cool, but it also made casting a dry fly almost impossible at times.  Joe had one hell of a hard time rowing the boat against the up river unrelenting gusts.

As we made our way downstream looking for rising fish, we realized we pretty much had the river to ourselves.   You could count on one hand the number of floating and wading anglers we saw in the first half mile of water, which usually has 3 to 4 times that many on this stretch on a weekend day. Perhaps it was because it was Father's Day, or because as hard as it was to cast from a boat, it was certainly harder to cast from a fixed position while wading.  On top of that there were no bugs on the water, or in the air, as you might expect.  Despite that, we hit every fishy looking spot (or tried to against the wind) within casting distance.  We had some refusals, and in one long riffle, my son managed to hook three fish blind casting to the edges of soft water below submerged rocks using a deer hair Isonychia emerger. Unfortunately, they were brief hook-ups.  Most likely because the wind kept a big bow in the line between the rod tip and water, making it very difficult to get a solid hook set.  As Hunt said afterwards, "I got them to take my fly, and that's what its all about".

Anyone that has fished the Upper Delaware and its branches knows that more often than not there is at least a breeze just about every day, many days with low, gusty winds  Its a rare day up there that it is calm.  A we worked our way down river, we came upon a large pod of shad milling in a large eddy below a truck-sized boulder in the middle of the river.  With no bugs and no trout rising, Hunt tied on a size #12 copper john nymph to 4X tippet, and cast it at a 45 degree angle downstream and across before feeding out line and letting it swing into the eddy.  As the fly made its way into the target area, he began to slowly strip line in.  The had would swipe at the fly and some managed to take it and get hooked.  He landed two decent sized shad before we decided to pull anchor and look for trout in the riffles below.

After we rounded the bend about a half mile below where the shad were piled up, we entered one of my favorite runs on the Delaware.  Here the river is a gentle riffle that is broken up by scattered boulders provide perfect trout holding water for about 500 yards.  We saw a lot of one-and-done rises that we did our best to put our flies over, with little success.  As we neared the bottom of the run, a trout rose along the right bank in the soft water below a rock.  Hunt quickly cast the Isonychia emerger  he traded for the copper john as we entered the run and it landed about 10 inches above the rise.  The fly drifted over the fish and it rose confidently sipping the fly in like a natural.  He set the hook and the fish bolted up river, his drag buzzing, for about 50 feet before turning and then coming right at the boat and then passing it (see photo above).   After a brief struggle, he eased the fish to the boat and Joe netted a nice wild brown trout.

After that, we continued down river without seeing another rise, and called it a day just as dusk was beginning to draw upon us.  Although the conditions were less than ideal, we had a great day on the water fishing, talking fishing, laughing and listening to Joe tell us stories and share his wisdom from thirty plus years of guiding and fishing this beautiful, big river.  And what better way to spend Father's Day than watching your son work the water with a shared passion and determination for fly fishing, and catching fish despite tough conditions?

Sharpen your hooks!