Friday, July 26, 2013

The River Spoke

"......stillness conquers heat."  Tzo

Last evening I took a drive down to the South Branch to check it out now that the heat wave has passed and the last few nights have been cool.  After taking the temperature, I sat on a large flat rock that overlooks one of my favorite pools to watch the water and take in the sights and sounds that only a riverbank perch can yield.  The river was clear and flowing at its normal summertime level, the water temperature was a cool 65 degrees.   I imagine the trout were enjoying the respite from the recent high water temperatures, preferring to stay put and let the river wash away the heat of last week.         
The pool I watched until sunset normally has activity, but this night it was still; not a bug on the water or in the air, nor trout rising to feed.  Trees were still and the songbirds more subdued than they had been just a few short weeks ago.  I was glad I left my rod at home - the river clearly wished to be left alone.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

News of Another Kind..........

Without a doubt there has to be a special place in hell for the scum-sucking slime who snatched roughly seventy percent of the Stonefly Outfitters’ (Twin Bridges, Montana) inventory during the wee hours last Saturday.

I'm wordless.

I know you'll bounce back, Rooster.  Don't let a little bad weather chase you off the water.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

24 Hour News Cycle - Running on Empty

Sometimes I just have to digress, and today is one of those days.  I was watching/listening to, the evening news last night while tying flies, which is a mistake to begin with (watching the news, of course).  At every break, they had their usual hooks for upcoming stories to keep you glued to your set in hopes that you might not be too intelligent and stick with them for a few more marketing segments.
Here are the two stories they had me waiting on the edge of my seat for: 
Still to come, "Drinking water can make you age faster!" and "Watching TV can be hazardous to your child's health!"  Stay with us for these important stories.......
So after much anticipation, the "news" stories were presented with as much drama as you might expect for an international crisis.  I'll spare you the gory details and give you the synopsis:
If you drink water out of a water bottle, over the years, it seems you'll get wrinkles around your mouth!  Shocking news to say the least..........isn't that what happens naturally as we age?

And, TV can be hazardous to your child's health because it may fall on them.  All this time I thought it might just perhaps be filling their brains with poo. Who knew? 

I think people need to get outside more......oops, maybe not, seems the sun might just fry your skin and give you wrinkles. Which of course, will make you look older.

Seriously.  What's next?    "WALKING IN CIRCLES MAY NOT GET YOU ANYWHERE!" Full story at eleven.
It might just make you dizzy, too.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Dog Days

This afternoon I took a quick trip down to the South Branch, my first since coming back from my trip to Provo.  I was armed with a thermometer, having heard the horror stories of poached trout from others, and was pleasantly surprised by the condition of the river despite the warm water.  I even observed a 4-inch wild brown sipping something tiny from the surface from a deep lie behind a midstream rock.

The water level and flow was fairly normal for midsummer in these parts, offering plenty of deep holes and runs for stressed trout to hide from predators out of the bright sun.  The water temperature was much too warm for fishing at 77 degrees, but as long as the flows remain where they are at the trout should be fine if left alone.  Weaker fish may have perished this past week, but that is simply nature protecting the stronger fish by making more room and food available to them.

As long as we get regular rains and things cool down as predicted, we should be in good shape when the water temps move down to the mid 60's for a few days in a row.  As you can see above, the river looks great, the canopy is thick and green from all the recent rains and now all we need is a cool down.

No fishing for now, but it sure is nice to sit by the river and take in the sights, sounds and smells of my favorite environment - a trout stream.     

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Unity with the Universe

Can a fly rod really hold the secret of life? In the central Montana mountains, a paralyzed man and his wife are proving the answer just might be yes.

Find a quiet slice of your day to read this wonderful article from ESPN Magazine for some inspiration and perspective on life.  

Thursday, July 18, 2013

No Bones....

Simply put, the the wind has been brutal and the sun too intense for my Irish complexion, so the bonefish are safe this week.  So we have been left to swim, lounge around, eat and sip beer.  Beer at $70 a case!   I'm not sure if it tastes so good because we're in the Caribbean, or because it has to at that cost to enjoy it.  It helps that a bottle of scotch is about the same cost as the beer.

Hopefully things will cool off at home soon and we can get back to trout fishing.  It's nice here, but I would rather be knee deep in a trout stream any day!

Yep, I really mean that, too!

Monday, July 15, 2013

No Trout Here........

Bonefishing at 14:00.  Report later.....


Sunday, July 14, 2013

Friday, July 12, 2013

Take Two - Tying the Sulphur Soft Hackle

Last year I tied my version of a mayfly soft hackle emerger in a video produced by Tim Flagler of Tightline Productions. In that video, I tied a Sulphur emerger using materials and the tying techniques that I use to tie the fly.   In this video, Tim ties his version of a Sulphur soft hackle, using different materials and tying techniques, to produce the essentially the same pattern that looks slightly different due to the use of different materials.   The end result is the same; an effective pattern that can be fished deep, on the swing, or as we (Tim and I) often like to fish it, as a dry right in the film. 
The bottom line is this: there are many different methods of tying flies, none of them are right or wrong, so tie your flies using whatever methods and materials work for you.  You may find that Tim's methods work well for you, or you may find that mine work well for you, or you may find that a combination of the two works best for may even have your own methods for creating this pattern.  Either way, have at it and have fun doing it.

Here's Tim tying his Sulphur Soft Hackle.

Nice job, Tim.  And thanks for the shout out!

If you want to see how I tie this pattern, click here - Soft Hackled Mayfly Emerger.  This is the same pattern I caught the big wild brown I posted about here on May 17, only on that fly I used medium Australian Opossum for the thorax.

Let's hope we get some cooler temperatures here in the Northeast so we can get out on the stream and fish!

Sharpen your hooks.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Why Do We Fish?

Like the finest umbilicus, casting your line into water joins you to it.  The currents speak to your bones in iced tongues.  The loam perfume of conifer rot and mud attunes your nose to the local biology.  You taste its chemistry, wash your ears in its sweet white noise, let it take you back to a time before words and teach you the things language never could.  ~ Jessica Maxwell

Sunday, July 7, 2013

R.I.P. Charles "Chally" Bates

On July 4th, Chally Bates passed away.  Chally was a local fly fishing guru, great fly tyer and a gentleman of the highest caliber.  He worked at Shannon's Fly Shop in Califon, NJ for years and greeted everyone that entered the shop with his big friendly smile.  He knew the South Branch of the Raritan River and it's varying moods as well as anyone, and tied his flies with a sensibility to match the river's personality perfectly.  We will miss you Chally.

Link: Obituary: West Amwell resident Charles 'Chally' Bates, noted fish fly tyer and country western dancer

When Chally was 14 years old he designed the CB Stocker, a streamer pattern for NJ's wily stocked trout.  It still works well for both stocked and wild trout.  Here's a video of Tim Flagler tying Chally's pattern.  

CB Stocker from Tightline Productions on Vimeo.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Why Not 26 Fish?

Last Saturday, our young friend Doug fished in his first mini-competition up on New York's 9 Mile Creek.  It was a one day event with 20 anglers entered, two of them in the youth category, that was full of challenges for young and old alike. At the 6:00AM start, the river level was up some from recent rains and lightly stained.  By the afternoon sessions, heavy rains came and stained it further and increased the flows.  Doug was undaunted by the conditions and met the challenge head on.

(Click photo to enlarge)

The format is fairly straightforward; each angler fishes two, two-hour sessions on two different beats.  One session in the morning, and the other in the afternoon.  When the angler is not fishing, he is controlling another angler that is fishing - controlling is simply watching an angler to make sure they are following the rules and to measure and tally the fish that are caught. The system works quite well.

Here's how the day went in some of Doug's words:

Well, the thing started at 6am so everyone was pretty tired and groggy.  I controlled an angler during the first session.  He had on absolutely incredible beat and he landed 13 fish bouncing at least 6 more.  The water was high and quite stained for most of the day, but the fish had no problem seeing duller flies. 

(Then) I fished a fairy short beat (8) with a lot of nice runs (I fished sessions two and four). I landed 15 - about 8 of them on sexy walts, but about 4 more were on a 16 ginger tungsten torpedo, 2 on a 16 frenchie, and 1 on my quill jig nymph.

Then I controlled Andy K who is one of the nicest, funniest guys I have ever meet.  He caught 11 in the pouring rain.  And then I fished beat 4 in session 4, and I landed 10, mostly on frenchies and sexy walts, along with a few on san juans.  The sessions were two hours long. Most of the fish were browns, but I landed two wild rainbows and saw some brookies. This is a great's right up my ally. 

At the end of the day when the points were tallied, Doug's points landed him in 5th place overall out of the 20 anglers.  He caught a total of 25 fish - 15 in one session, and 10 in the other!  Considering this was his first comp ever and the less than ideal conditions on a river he had never fished, he did fantastic!  In the photo above he had just netted his only double of the day - his smile says it all.

When Doug emailed me to let me know he caught 25 fish, I asked him in fun,"Why didn't you catch 26 fish?!

His response, "Well, I actually bounced/lost around ten more fish sooo..... But on a bright note I landed a double!

I'd say the whole experience was a bright note - way to go, Doug!