Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Looking Back on 2013

As you might imagine, I am still confused, but this time it's about what to post that you all might find interesting from the past year in the life of Caddis Chronicles .  I have no illusions that rehashing the highlights and low lights of the past year may be less than a thrill for the readers, but what the hell, it was a good year to be present on this big blue orb circling the sun - isn't every year?

January 1, 2013 - Took over a dozen fish on the South Branch, here's the first. 

We met Doug Freemann, at the winter fly fishing shows.   Great kid, passionate, thoughtful and one hell of a fly fisherman and fly tier at 15.  He made the US Youth Fly Fishing Team in 2013.   
We had an April to remember, great fishing and the transition from winter to Spring was a good as it gets. 

In May we continued to fish over good hatches, enjoy great weather, and then one day Nature decided to crash the party - literally - one minute we were fishing to rising trout, the next minute we were running to the car in a deluge of water, lightening and bone rattling thunder. That didn't stop me from getting this shot as I made my way through the woods.    

In May we took the largest wild brown trout we have ever taken on a dry fly East of the Mississippi.  Look at the tail on this one!

Doug caught this wonderful brown out in PA on a limestone creek - one of the prettiest fish of the year.

We fished the creeks out near State College in June and July.  The fishing and the company was great. 

In July we took a break and spent a week in the Turks and Caicos with a bunch of friends.

August we flew to Idaho with Bruce to visit his son JB, and fished hard all day from early morning to sundown on the Henry's Fork and the Madison.  Nothing like sunset on the HF.  

A morning on the Madison, the smoke from the fires didn't dampen anything but the sun.

In October, we spent a weekend in Roscoe fishing the Beaverkill and tying flies.  Doug and his friends, Alex and Bryson, fished in the Troutfest competition.

Autumn brought low water and difficult conditions, but we persisted and did fairly well.

We tied at the International Fly Tying Symposium with Douglas and the rest of our friends, and had a great time.  Here's Doug talking to Tim Flagler of Tightline Productions about how he sets up his leader for nymphing,; something he has become quite successful at.   

December fished well, we even got a few on dries, so we managed to take fish on dries in every month of the year.

It is tough to figure out what photos to post and what to say at the end of the year that might capture the essence of what was a wonderful year for many, many reasons, most of them having little to do with the fishing and more to do with those we fished and spent time with.  
Happy New Year and all the best to you all in 2014. 
Thank you all for following Caddis Chronicles.  See you next year.
Matt  ><)))))'>

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Year End Confusion

Wouldn't you know it, it's the end of the year and I can't decide what to post.  I fished today, caught a pig, and had a great day on the water.  The sky was clear, blue and cloudless, and the air was warm and breezy; just how we like it.  Just after I caught the big rainbow, I stood on the bank of the river talking to Tim Flagler, and a bald eagle flew right over our heads along the river corridor just above the tree tops.  It was awesome.   Tim commented that maybe it was a sign - we should enlist.....I told you I was confused, didn't I?
Yesterday we made an impromptu trip into the concrete jungle better known as New York City,  It is such an incredible departure from the serenity of the woods and rivers we most often frequent that I enjoy it immensely when I am there.  I drove in, which makes the experience all the more interesting - idiots honking their horns like it will make traffic move faster, delivery men on bicycles riding as though no one else is on the road, and pedestrians that might as well have had blinders on walking out from between cars and crossing against the light.  Who needs video games? 
So where am I going with this?  Well, it's been a wonderful year for so many reasons.  Sure, we had some rough patches, but they only exist to make us more aware of all the good stuff that goes on around us.  We fished a lot, traveled, and best of all spent time with some of our favorite people - many whom we have known for years, and a few new ones that came on board as though they were with us all along. 
We made some awesome tying videos thanks to Tim and Joan Flagler at Tightline Productions.  And thanks to those videos, we heard from folks from far off places that if not for the internet, we would never have had the pleasure of knowing.   For instance, today I learned that the folks in Australia need to know a substitute for snowshoe rabbit foot hair, since they can't get that fly tying material there - it's banned from import.  And closer to home, thanks to the tying videos we made, I also found out I dub wrong....backwards.  Who knew?
Okay, let's stop there.  I'm not changing the way I dub, not at this late date.  Besides it works just fine for me, and after all, it's just fly tying.  Now if I were performing surgery, then we'd certainly have a problem.  No one wants a heart that beats backwards, do they?  They might fall out of love all the time.......
We'll sign off now, but not without thanking all of you that have spent time following Caddis Chronicles.  Over the next few days I'll be posting photos and some vague narrative chronicling the highlights of the past year.  My judgment may be a bit biased, but I'll do my very best to keep it entertaining, if not downright hysterical.
Sharpen your hooks.
P.S. If you are really desperate for social media interaction, I can rarely be found tweeting on twitter - @Mattgrobert  You can thank my wonderful and talented daughter Megan for talking me into such a crazy endeavor.  She's a marketing and communications wizard, who thinks it might do something for my "brand".  I tried to tell her I was too old for that shit, and that I am allergic to exposure, but she has a way of getting daddio to follow her logic.       

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Friday, December 20, 2013

Only 750 Greenback Cutthroat Trout Remain in the World

Greenback cutthroat trout exist in only one body of water, a small stream known as Bear Creek, not far outside of Colorado Springs, Colorado. In fact, the greenback cutthroat trout is one of the rarest trout in the world, with only 750 individual fish remaining. The survival of these rarest of trout is in severe jeopardy, and those that are striving to prevent the greenback's extinction are making a dire plea for help.

Read about it here: Hatch Magazine

Thursday, December 19, 2013

A Hand Full of Olives

As many of you know, I try to tie at least a couple of flies everyday, and lately it's been more than just a couple.  I've been tying for my own use, and for others - holiday gifts.  Here's a handful of size 20 Blue-winged Olive imitations that I use with great success both here in the East and out West.  There's a dozen flies here, although it doesn't look like it.  There are four Mathew's Improved Sparkle Duns,  four Simple Snowshoe Emergers, and four Pheasant Tail Soft-hackle Emergers.  The great thing about the soft-hackle emerger is that I can fish it in the film as a dry, or I can wet it and fish it just beneath the surface, or I can add a little weight to the tippet and fish it down near the bottom.
That's it for now.
Sharpen your hooks.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Montana Fly Fishing Magazine

Our good friend and photographer, J.B. McCollum, whom you may recall we visited this past summer with his father in Idaho, has a feature in the Winter 2013 issue of Montana Fly Fishing Magazine.  The feature is titled, "Progressively Lost", a photo essay of J.B.'s travels in Montana as he explored both its fabled and unknown fly fishing waters.
With over 130 pages of high-quality photgraphs, artwork, videos, and information, this issue has everything you need to beat the winter blues.
You can see more of J.B.'s photography by clicking the link in the blog menu to the right.
Good stuff, J.B.  We look forward to more great photography from you in the future, as you continue to get progressively lost in your travels.
Sharpen your hooks.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Preben Torp Jacobsen's Ollie

This past week I heard from an old friend who moved to California some years ago, Hugh Rosen.  He was saying hello and letting me know he posted a link to one of my tying videos on a UK fly fishing forum thread  LINK here.  I met Hugh in the early '90s, when I had a fly shop in Summit, NJ.  He was a regular to the shop, and in '94, he decided it was time to learn to tie flies and so he took my fly tying class. He's been tying and fishing his own flies ever since. 
Hugh also related a story of being in England this year and fishing the famed Test River for its wily brown trout.  He took fish on Pheasant Tail nymphs, and dry flies  - The dry that delivered was Preben Torp Jacobsen's Ollie (named after Oliver Kite) - it is a palmer hackled Kites Imperial variant.  Being always curious about flies, I asked Hugh what an Ollie was, and he sent me the following step-by-step on how to tie it:

Hook: Kamasan B-440 #14 (turned-up eye as in the original)
Thread: Imperial purple (8/0)
Tail: Dun hackle

 Rib: Fine gold wire
Body: Graylag goose herl or CDC feather tied in at rear by the tip, twisted and wrapped forward. . 
Palmered body hackle: Whiting pro saddle dyed olive.  Wrap hackle to read as shown and tie in and counter-wrap with gold wire.

Front hackle: Hebert-Miner ginger dun, tie in dull side towards you facing over the eye, bring thread back to thorax, hackle backwards then bring thread thru hackle to the eye, whip finish.


The man himself.  Looks like a beautiful setting - one more place to fish on the bucket list.
Often, when we speak or write about fly fishing, we relate our experiences of being outdoors, on the water, of the beautiful fish we caught, and the peacefulness of nature.  The friendships we make and the sharing of our experiences are just as enriching.  Thanks for sharing your story with us, Hugh.
Do you sharpen your hooks?

Friday, December 13, 2013

Tying Eggs Over Easy

It's Fryday the 13th, so of course we are featuring an egg pattern!  In this fine video Tim Flagler shows how he ties an egg pattern that can be used for trout, steelhead or salmon.  Talk about easy, even I can tie this one.......

......it's an eggscellent pattern.
Sharpen your hooks!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

A nIce Day on the Water

Sunday 12.8.13 - There are some days when cold weather and a poor forecast doesn't have the last word, and the desire to be on the water wins out. Today was one of those days, and everything worked out great – we managed to stay warm, caught fish, and most importantly it was restorative.

The air was calm and raw, the temperature was 29-30 degrees F, and the muted daylight seemed to come from the horizon owing to the very thick cloud cover overhead. From the time I got on the river it felt as though snow would start falling any moment; threatening the first hour or so, and then delivering the last. I’m not complaining, it was quite peaceful – very still and quiet, except for the whisper of the river and the birds in the bare trees above. Woodpeckers tapped away as they searched for a meal under bark and in tree hollows. In the distance, the occasional sound of roosters and cattle added texture to the day.   

As one would expect, there were no bugs in the air or on the water, and the trout hunkered down out of site, hidden by the lightly stained water.  I fished nymphs off a stiff, frozen line, ice forming in my guides, forcing me to stop every so often to pop it out with my fingers.        

Thankfully, I managed to choose the right fly with my second choice.  If I hadn't, tying on and changing flies would have been tough with my semi-frozen fingers.  The fly was a brown and yellow Lafontaine Sparkle Emerger, size 12.  I fished it deep with a single split-shot, and shortly after I tied it on I hooked and landed a nice rainbow.   A while later another rainbow took my offering at the bottom of a deep run and soon came to net - a 17 inch standard issue New Jersey stocked fish.  Over the span of an hour and a half or so, I managed to catch 4 fish, 2 browns and 2 rainbows, all on the fly shown below.  The browns were of the wild variety.     
I made a detour on the way home and spent some time walking along the little creek down the street from my home.  Light snow was falling, dusting the rocks and trees, and small wild brown trout darted away in each pool and run as I approached.  Whenever I stopped walking, the only sound I heard was the soft hissing of the fine, icy snow falling on dried brush and tree branches.    
Sharpen your hooks.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Mission Accomplished - A December Outing

Yesterday I woke to a gray, fog embraced day, that looked more like a September morning than that of December.  If not for the bare trees and shriveled ground cover, I would have thought we were in for extended daylight and the possibility of an evening hatch.  Instead, the river called me to it with urgency, for the warmth of the day would be short, and with that the rare opportunity to fish dries on a December day in the Northeast.
When I got to the river's edge, the warm, gray air was calm and filled with a heavy mist falling from the slate sky above, larger drops of accumulated spray dripped from the tree branches.  The river was low and clear, a quick check of the water temperature showed a reading of 50 degrees F, which is not typical for this time of the year.  A few dark midges were in the air, nothing approaching a hatch, but apparently enough were on the water to bring a few hungry trout to the surface.
I first tied on a simple snowshoe emerger, size 22, and fished it off the end of a 14 foot leader tapered to 6X.  I cast the offering to the expanding surface rings left by rising fish.  And those fish came to the fly only to hang at a 45 degree angle, nose an inch away, drifting under the fly for a second or two before slowly fading back down out of sight.  We played this game with two or three fish for a while; checking my fly, changing my casting position, and kneeing low, but to no avail.  I just kept getting the fin.  Then I tied a #18, soft hackle pheasant tail emerger to that same leader, and began fishing from an upstream and across position.  The second cast drifted only a few inches before the fly vanished in a tiny blip and I set the hook.  After a brief but spirited battle the trout came to net, a nice 14 inch rainbow, the fly set firmly in the angle of its jaw.

The accomplishment?  Another year that we caught a trout on a dry fly in each of the twelve months.  It's just one of those silly challenges we give ourselves to make things a little more interesting.  Here's a close-up of the fly just before it was removed and the trout was set free. 
I hooked one other fish on the same dry, but it won that battle in fairly short-order.  With no other fish rising, I worked my way down stream along the bank fishing nymphs in all of the runs and likely holding water, taking 4 more fish.  Two on a Pumpkinhead Midge, and the other two on a #16 scud, before heading back into the chaos of life away from the realities of nature.
Sharpen your hooks.           

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Tying the Simple Snowshoe Emerger

I have written about this pattern in previous posts, and given the effectiveness of this pattern throughout the year, we thought it was time to show how we tie it in another fine video produced by Tim and Joan Flagler of Tightline Productions.  I used this fly just a little over a week ago to catch a few nice wild browns during a decent BWO and midge hatch on a PA spring creek.     


Hook: #20 Dai Riki #125
Thread: 6/0 Olive Danville
Tail and Body: Natural pheasant tail fibers
Rib: Tying thread
Wing: Snowshoe rabbit foot hair

I tie this fly in sizes 18-24, and fish it over hatches of small mayflies and during midge emergences. When fished, the body of the fly drifts just under the surface – the thin line – while the wing rests on top of the surface. Surface tension is a wonderful thing. Also note in the photo below of a well-chewed fly, the snowshoe rabbit foot hair appears glassy, translucent and almost as though it is liquid filled (click on the photo ). Which leads to my final thought on the matter – when choosing snowshoe rabbit feet for your flies, be sure to use the ones that have shiny, glass-like hairs on the pad, and reject the ones that have chalky, dull hair, it definitely makes a difference.
Sharpen your hooks.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

There's always a hatch somewhere - Frontsidefly 2013

Here's a neat short film about fly fishing for marble trout in Slovenia, with some great shots and good laughs to go along with them, that we pulled off our friend Andy Baird's blog, Small Fly Funk.  The rivers and scenery are beautiful, and we just may have to add catching a marble trout to our bucket list.

And I thought only American Maples stole flies from unsuspecting anglers.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Holiday Weekend

We hope everyone had a good to great holiday weekend with family and friends, and maybe even a few of you managed to get out and fish some - we know Mr. Freemann did.  We didn't fish, but spent time with family and friends, cooked and ate, enjoyed the outdoors everyday, and even made a tying video with Tightline Productions.  It would have been nice if it was a little longer, and even better if we had fished.

I don't have any pictures from the stream, but I did take some photos of my new friends I walk past on my daily excursion.  The neighbors have nice spread they've kept horses on for years, and now they have expanded.  Check out these little critters.    

This guy jumps up into the hay trough every time I go by as if to say, "This is my food and you can't have any!" 
There's even some nice hackle walking around.  This is one of many rooters that roam free on the farm.  There are white ones, ginger, grizzly, badger.........and lots of hens and fresh eggs. 

And finally, here's Mr. Notbacon.

That's all I got right now.  Hopefully, I'll get my butt out on the water this weekend and get this dog and pony show back on topic again.