Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Tying A Conehead Bunny Leach

When we get some water in our rivers and streams, the Conehead Bunny Leach will get down to the fish holding near bottom looking for a hearty Autumn meal. As Tim says here, it's easy to tie and has lots of action in the water.  Tie some up in the olive shown here, black, brown and even white.  Be sure to tie some smaller ones like this size #8, and also in larger sizes.  I like patterns like this that have some weight as I can feel what they are doing on the end of my line as I retrieve them.

Sharpen your hooks!

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Dette Flies Fall Open House October 12

Come on up and see us at the Dette Flies Open House in Livingston Manor, NY on October 12 - noon to 4:00pm.  The shop is 5 minutes off  Route 17 Exit 96 to 13 Main St.  I'll be tying Hendrickson and Light Cahill mop flies in the traditional Catskill style - there's nothing like matching the hatch. 

Sharpen your hooks!

Sunday, September 22, 2019

One More Fly From Our Montana Trip

This is the Hi-Vis Rusty Spinner complete with egg sac that worked so well, particularly during morning spinner falls.  This pattern has several versions, some with a cdc wing and rusty goose biot body, and often it is tied without the egg sac.  This one is tied with a zelon wing and dubbed body - I tie it this way because I like the look and using zelon for the wing makes it a quick, durable tie.  I don't have any well-chewed versions of this fly because by the last day I had lost all of those I had tied. (Note to self; tie more of these before you go fishing anywhere.)     

Sharpen your hooks!

Friday, September 20, 2019

Montana - Well-chewed Flies

As I said in my Montana post we only fished a few flies on the Madison River during the week, and in fact, these are pretty much the same flies I have been using the last week of July on this river for years. This year the river was in great condition thanks to a good snow pack in the drainage, and since Hebgen dam has been repaired, the steady flows and cooler water temperatures have resulted in better than average hatches the last couple of years.

First up is the Missing Link Caddis.  In this case a size #16.  I think I fished the fly shown below every day that week.  It may be the first time I have fished a fly successfully over many days without loosing it, or having it get chewed up beyond use.      

As most of you know, the Iris Caddis is one of my all-time most successful emerger/dry patterns over the last 25 years or so.  In the evening, as dusk fell over the valley this pattern produced night after night when the trout were on caddis.  I fished this pattern the most and lost probably a dozen or so over the 6 days of fishing.  This one is well-chewed from the final evening of fishing.  

At various times during the morning hours and again in the evening, the trout were on spinners and all you needed was a rusty spinner.  This one is tied using a single strand of clear zelon, and the next one it tied using two strands of clear zelon.

This is the rusty spinner with two strands of zelon tied in for the wing.  On the Madison River, some stretches of the riffles are fast and choppy, so we fish a two strand zelon wing spinner.  It floats well and it is very visible right up until dark.  The fish are seeing it from below and don't really seem to see the thick wing above water - this one got chewed pretty well and still held up.  

And finally, we have a couple of nymphs that took the majority of fish during the daytime hours when nothing was happening on top.  Here's a Serendipity in dark brown, which is the color I use 90% of the time and do quite well using a size #16 or 18.

And here's Kelly Galloup's improved Blue-winged Olive nymph.  The one shown here uses Senyo's lazer dub for the gills, however, we also tied and fished some that uses pearlescent ice dub for the gills.  Both seem to work just fine.

Here's we are in the late afternoon fishing the wade section below Quake Lake. 

Sharpen your hooks!

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Montana - My Buddy is Getting Married

A couple of weeks ago I spent a week in Montana with my son, Hunt, who is getting married in early September to a wonderful women who also fishes.  We rented a small cabin that sat on a high bank over the river near West Fork.  The location was ideal as we love fishing the section of river from Quake Lake to the Palisades and here we were right in the middle of the this stretch.  And at night we got to fall asleep to the sounds of the rushing river below the cabin.  The weather was consistent throughout the week with highs in the mid 80's during the day with late day thunderstorms followed by clearing the last few hours of daylight.  And the fishing was great; during the day we had pulses of hatching mayflies, fallen spinners and hatching caddis with the trout eager to take them off the top.  Midday, when top water action fizzled, we switched to subsurface flies like serendipities and pheasant tail nymphs and cintued to catch fish.  And late day into dusk, after heavy thunderstorms ripped through the valley chasing most anglers off the river for the balance of the day, was when the best dry fly action occurred.

The view from the cabin.

We fished hard every day, 10 to 12 hours each, hitting different spots on different days.  Having fished the river for several decades, it wasn't too hard to find locations that were free of other anglers. On Wednesday we floated a 6-mile section with Tom Cornell of Blue Ribbon Flies and hooked a ton of fish, landing about 30 raindbows and browns or so between us, all on dry flies.  We fished two-flies, a missing link caddis or an ant pattern with a spinner about 15-18 inches of the bend of that fly.  Tom handled the boat beautifully; he had us on the best water throughout the day, mostly switching from one bank to the other depending on the flows and depths.  I even managed to catch a nice pure strain cutthroat trout during the float.   A first for me in all the years I've fished the Madison.

The float....Hunt, me, and Tom Cornell playing with the anchor.

There isn't a whole lot more to say except that the fishing was as good as I've seen it on the Madison in years, and we had a great time.   When we weren't fishing, we were taking breaks to eat and recharge our batteries.  In the evening, we made dinner and then tied flies every night until we couldn't keep out eyes open.  As we tied, caddis attracted to the lights covered the windows by the thousands.  There were also plenty of spinners among them, although the caddis were so thick you had to get close to see the slender mayflies.

Tying flies after breakfast.
   Hunt working the edges of fast water with a nymph.

Caddis covering the windows at night.

A typical Madison River brown trout - it looks small, but the opening of the net is 16".

And as is usual, we tied a bunch of different flies at home getting ready for the trip, but managed to only fish a small number of patterns once there. For subsurface we fished - Brown Serendipities, Galloup's BWO Nymph and Pheasant Tail Nymphs.  For dries - the Iris Caddis was the #1 top water fly, with PMD and Epeorus Spinners not far behind.  We also took fish on Missing Link Caddis #16, Tan Caribou Caddis #16, Hi-vis Ants #14 & 16, and Little Western Green Drakes.   I'll put up photos of the flies we used in another post.

Late afternoon storm as it moved away to the North - time to go fishing!

We also got to spend some time chatting about fly tying and design with Kelly Galloup (more on that later), and also with Craig Mathews and John Juracek of Blue Ribbon Flies.

Sharpen your hooks and spend time with your kids!

Monday, July 8, 2019

A Long Spring, But We're Back

Hi folks, hope you are still with us.  Sorry for the long break; a lot of life events have happened to us since my last post, some good and some just part of life's ups and downs.  Without going into details on most of the stuff, I will tell you that in May I had one of the happiest days of my life - my oldest daughter Megan got married.

All the rain we've had this spring and early summer put a damper on fishing as most of you know, and we haven't been fishing as much as we would like; this isn't a complaint, just a statement of fact, as the water levels have improved the overall health of the fisheries.   When the water levels have cooperated, the fishing has been very good.  In New Jersey and in the Catskills, we had some of the best hendrickson hatches we've seen in a bunch of years.  The fishing during the hatches varied - one day we saw lots of fish taking the adults, and on another day hardly any fish rose.  In fact, I was on the Beaverkill River one day and thousands of hendricksons covered the water and I saw exactly one fish rise.  I did mange to catch it, but that was it for roughly 2.5 hours of frustrating watching and wishing it would "happen".

The march brown and sulphur hatches were also very good.  We had a couple of great days on the upper Delaware river system fishing these hatches in early June.  The deer hair march brown emerger was again the answer when the big flies were coming off, and the snowshoe rabbit sulphur usual was the ticket when the smaller, yellow bugs were on the menu.

Snowshoe sulphur usual

March brown emerger

In recent weeks the slate drakes/isonychia have replaced the march browns and on the upper Delaware system rivers the sulphurs continue to hatch daily.  Last Friday we floated the West Branch with Stephen Sautner, author of "Fish On, Fish Off" and "A Cast in the Woods", with Captain Joe Demaldaris - Cross Current Guide Service - on the oars. The day was hot with bright sunshine, but the water was a cool 52 degress.  I wet waded despite the water temps and was actually pretty comfortable as long as I didn't go in too deep (up to my crotch, which I managed to do only once and it wasn't fun).  Hatches of isonychias and sulphurs pulsed throughout the day and the trout followed suit.  We took some nice fish and had a great day on the water.

Yep, I do catch fish once in a while

THE "Cast in the Woods" cabin

So we're back and I'll do my best to post regularly.  Hope you all had a good spring/early summer that was less eventful than that of mine.  

Be kind and sharpen your hooks!

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Current Conditions - The Fishing is Good Locally

Yesterday morning I returned from my trip to visit my grandsons in South Carolina and after unpacking and mowing the lawn for the first time this year, I set out for the South Branch to get some time on the water before going back to work today.   When I got to the river the skies were dark, spitting rain with a stiff breeze making things interesting.  The river was up a little and clear and trout rose randomly but with purpose.  I scanned the water surface and saw caddis shucks drifting along in the film.  When the wind calmed I noticed downed caddis, grannoms and apple caddis, struggling to become airborne.  They skittered along the surface in circles and zig-zags, but they went ignored.  Trout still rose, but not to the adults scrambling haplessly.

I had been fishing an adult caddis as I observed the caddis activity and rising fish.  I dead-drifted it, skittered it, and skated the fly just as the naturals were doing.  Then the light went on.  The fish weren't rising aggressively, they were rising quickly and taking their prey without much of a commotion....they were taking the pupae in the film just before they broke free of their nymphal shuck.  I tied on a size #17 (TMC102Y) Iris Caddis and dropped the fly just above a fish after it rose.  The fly drifted a foot or so and then was sipped in with confidence.  After a brief battle I netted a nice 13 inch rainbow.

The rain continued to fall, the fish kept rising here and there, and every good cast and drift over a working fish resulted in a take.  I missed a few, hooked and landed more than a few, all on the one fly.  And I didn't see another angler the whole New Jersey!

Now that the Hendrickson hatch is finished around here, caddis will be the main course on the surface for the next week or two.   In the Catksills, the rivers are still quite high, but with any luck they will recede in the next week or so just in time for the Hendricksons/Red Quills, Dark and Light Grannoms, Blue Quills and early black and brown stoneflies.   Time will tell.

My two grandsons, Bryson 2 (left) and Henley 5 years old.  Yes, Bryson is almost as big as his older brother and full of confidence.  The binkie is his cape; he thinks he's a super hero, and I have the head bumps and bruises to prove it. Henley is full of energy and a soccer kid, loves it.  They get along great despite being very different from each other.  They both like to fish, so we'll have them casting a fly in a few short years.

Sharpen your hooks.