Sunday, October 31, 2010

It's Official, I Went Fishing Today

Between the drought this past summer and spending my weekdays in Boston, I haven't fished for weeks.  So when Dr. Bill B. sent me an email during the week inviting me to fish with him today, I jumped on it despite the early morning start.  We met at a Minimart off of Route 78, grabbed coffee and an egg sangwich, and then proceeded to the Musconetcong River, along with his friend Frank.  What a morning; calm, cold and clear, the morning sun making the river side foliage radiate with color.

The water was around 50 degrees, the air was in the mid 40's when we started and it didn't get much higher than that as the morning progressed.   The river was low and crystal clear, it's moderate flow a conveyor belt for the myriad of colored leaves in and on the water. With my polarized sunglasses on, I could see every rock, sucker and trout under the water surface.  In one spot, there had to be 30+ suckers hanging just above the bottom, individuals within the group occasionally moving from side to side to avoid drifting leaves.  Below them, a couple of nice trout moved about nervously, most likely because they sensed my presence as I approached them.  Even though I took slow, careful steps, I was no match for the trout's sensory instincts in the clear, calm water.   Sure, I still drifted my nymphs through their feeding lanes off the end of a long, fine leader and even managed to hook one of the trout.  He didn't like that, and quickly darted upstream and unhooked himself.  

So I decided to get out of the run and walk upstream to check out the long flat I hoped would have some rising fish.  Here's Dr. Bill at the top of the flat casting woolley buggers to the banks and stripping them back after letting them swing below him.

Before taking this picture, I had stood on the bank and watched the water as a nice brown trout sipped tiny insects from the surface between the leaves not far from the opposite bank.  I took baby steps to get to this position, knowing how easily I could spook the fish, and after taking the photo I stood in place for a few minutes to make sure it was comfortable.  I had tied on a fresh piece of 6X tippet to the end of my leader, and to that I tied a #16 ginger caribou caddis, while still on the bank.  A couple of casts later, I had him to net.  A nice 14" brown that didn't have a mark on it anywhere.

 A close up......... 

A short while after I landed the brown, a rainbow started working the surface about 25 feet down stream from where the brown had been.  The wind had picked up by now, making casting the tiny fly tied to the end of the fine tippet tough.  I'd make a couple of casts, miss the target, and wait until the wind settled.  Eventually, I got my fly in the trout's feeding lane and it took it like candy.  After a short battle I netted a very nice, 16" or so, rainbow.  No pics, as soon as the fly popped out of its jaw, it managed to pop out of my net.

Here's the fly I got both fish on. 

By late morning the wind was howling, the clouds moved in and out blocking the sun just enough to make it feel much cooler than it was, and we all had other things to get to, so we called it a day.  For the last day of October, it was a very good day with good friends, and the wonderful surprise of taking a couple of fish on dry flies when that was the last thing I had anticipated today.  

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Vote the Environment

                                                                           [Yvon Chouinard. Photo: Bill Klyn]

An editorial from  the boss of Patagonia, a note about voting.........

My friend Tom Brokaw recently wrote an op-ed about an issue gone missing in this election -- the war, the two wars, we’ve been involved in for the past decade, that so far have taken 5,000 American lives and a trillion dollars out of the treasury. Tom’s call for voters to take a more sober look before casting ballots on Tuesday inspires me to call attention to another issue that goes unheralded in this election, and every election in recent memory.

The health of our environment never makes it to the top list of voter concerns. But it has everything to do with all the major issues our elected officials face. Everything we make ultimately comes from the ground, or what’s beneath it, or from our common waters. Every job and every economy depends ultimately on the health of the natural world of which we’re a part.

We’ve seen a decade of record heat around the world, more-virulent storm systems, the evacuation of a major American city and, just this fall in Pakistan, the flooding of an area the size of Italy with seven million homeless. New drilling techniques for harder-to-reach oil created the largest oil spill in history. Fresh water, a resource for which we have no alternative, is being drawn down all around the world faster than it can be polluted. The major fisheries are depleted or close to depletion. The fish at the top of the food chain will poison us if we eat too many in a given month. A gyre of plastic waste twice the size of Texas floats the Pacific. There are fewer species of all kind, flora and fauna – fewer strands to the web of life. They’re disappearing at a rate unprecedented since the meteor hit the dinosaurs.

And when it comes to war, as with politics, follow the money. Once you see past the rhetorical fog of curtailed freedom or misapplied justice, you’ll find an important resource base, or access to one.

What is to be done? Plenty – and on all fronts. Well-meaning people have brought every one of these questions to the attention of their fellow citizens. People everywhere are learning what they can do to harm nature less in the course of their ordinary day. Some of these people are politicians. We have to assume that the people we elect to office care, and care deeply, about finding the human means to live as part of nature. But they don’t always make it a part of their political program.

For example, George Bush, in his retirement, collects rainwater and uses geothermal energy to run his house in Crawford. “We’ve tried to live our life that way, you know, without thumping our chest,” he said in a recent interview. “We just did it. Not for political purposes, just because we want to live our life.” The presidential library he’s building at Southern Methodist Univeristy will be LEED-certified.

That’s good, but not enough. We need a lot more senators, congressmen and women and governors willing to both “live their lives” and stake their political fortunes on the work we need to do to keep the planet habitable and life possible for our children. The private feelings we all share for our compromised, endangered natural environment must translate now into a steady stream of responsible action from communities, which includes government and business. That stream will also translate into jobs.

What can you do today? Vote as though your life depended on it. Before you mark your ballot, check the environmental record of the person you’re voting for. The League of Conservation Voters’ environmental scorecard provides a good place to start.

Via: thecleanestline

Sharpen your hooks, and VOTE!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Small Worlds - The Big Picture

Magnified 30 times, this is an image of a Hydropsyche angustipennis (caddisfly) larva head made by Fabrice Parais, of DREAL de Basse-Normandie in Caen, France. (Courtesy of Nikon Small World)

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Stick Bug, Not Stink Bug and a Not So Teensy Spider

If I wanted a photo of a stink bug, I could get them in spades this year.  They are everywhere, including the stomachs of trout.  Now we just need to come up with a viable imitation.  Do you wonder where they are coming from? I do.  Up until the last few years, I don't remember seeing more than a few in an entire year, now the things are everywhere.  Our mailbox is full of them everyday, thankfully they don't eat paper.

Here's an unusual big, the stick bug, as it rested on the side of our house the other day.  Pretty cool, but it doesn't look like something trout would be able to eat, although I imagine if one were blown onto the water near a feeding lie, it would elitcit a splashy rise.  As you can see, my photos don't compare to J.B.'s.......I'd love to see how he would frame this one.

And here's another fine photo I took of another visitor to our home.  This is one serious spider.  About an inch from jaws to the end of its abdomen!!  And how about that pattern on its back, nature's paint brush at its best.  

As for fishing, it ain't happening for me right now.  The state did stock our major rivers and streams this week, so there are plenty of trout in them to be caught.  Despite the recent rains we have had, the rivers continue to be on the low side.  I guess it was so dry for two straight months, the ground water table needs to come up before the streams will recover to normal levels.  Hopefully, I'll get out for a couple of hours this week before heading back to Boston later in the week for a spell.  I think I have to find some streams up there to fish, too..........

The guys who are fishing, are taking fish on small BWO emergers, midges and caddis on the surface.  If you want to take one of the big breeders they stocked this week, your best bet is a woolley bugger.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Musky One Fly Tournament Update

A couple of weeks ago I posted the announcement for the Musky One Fly Contest that was being held this past Saturday October 9th.

The results are one caught anything.  Seriously, that's not a fisherman's lie, that's the truth!  I was not present, and do not know how many anglers participated, nor do I know what flies they may have had such poor results with.  It sounds as though power bait may not have worked.  At least they had perfect fall weather................maybe too perfect.  Bright sun and slight breeze.  

So, the organizer, New Jersey Trout Unlimited, will be announcing a new date for the tournament with high hopes that the planets of the fishing Gods will be in better alignment. 

That's why they call it fishing, and not catching.     

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Fall Fishing is Here

Looks like our rivers finally have recovered and are flowing at fishable levels.  Now I just need to work less and go fish.

In New Jersey, the state will stock the major rivers and streams this week with trout, which will supplement the holdovers from prior stocking dates.  Despite the rough summer - low flows, warm water - quite a few trout likely survived, and of course, many of our streams have wild fish.  So you don't have to wait for the state to stock fish to catch trout. 

Believe it or not, the fall can bring some fairly good dry fly fishing.  There are still some caddis hatching, and the little blue-winged olives will hatch for the next month or so on many rivers.  The Giant Autumn Sedges hatch sporadically, mostly after dark, but the they do show on the water enough that trout will take an imitation fished in likely holding areas.  It's a big caddisfly, size #10-12, that is burnt orange colored in both wings and body.

The little, or tiny, blue-winged olives that hatch are quite small, size #20-16 and even smaller.  They have slate gray wings, and dark olive brown to gray brown bodies.  The wings are taller than the body is long, so it's sometimes easier to look for the wing silhouette on the water than the fly itself.  Trout will take them will a subtle sip, leaving only a series of fine concentric, expanding rings after taking the fly.  Look for trout to feed on them in the soft water just off an eddie or foam line.  Your positon in relation to the light on the surface can make all the difference between seeing the raindrop-hitting-the-water like rises, and not seeing them.  So as you approach a run or pool, walk slowly and change your angle as you scan the water surface - bend down or squat low so you are looking out across the surface, which can reveal the tiny bug's wings against the silvery water background. 

As I've said many times here, stay the heck out of the water (and low), and only wade when you have to to reach the fish or enable a backcast.  Do everything you can to not alarm the fish or move water. 

Also, keep in mind that we have yet to have a good frost.  So terrestrials are still very present and the trout will be well aquainted with them by now.  When nothing is rising or hatching, I like to fish an ant or beetle to likely trout holding spots, working my way up along one bank, fishing to the center and far bank as I go.  A small grasshopper will work, too.  My wife and I went for a walk along a popular fishery yesterday and we stirred up many hoppers as we walked along the path.

I've probably posted these before, but for those of you that want to see some of the flies I tie and use this time of the year, here's a few:

A well-chewed blue-winged olive.  Thorax style with a CDC wing.   

My Giant Autumn Sedge pattern, tied with an orange dyed elk hair wing. 

And finally, although not mentioned above, I love to fish a traditional leadwinged coachman in the fall.  I fish it on the swing, dead-drift, and using the lift method a various times during the drift or the swing.  This fly works great for some reason in the fall.  

Go get them before the leaves start filling the water and making fishing that much harder - not that you have to stop fishing, it's just that you'll spend more time removing plant matter from your fly than fishing in a couple of weeks.  Not that it matters, at least you'll be fishing!

Shapren those hooks.