Sunday, March 29, 2015

No Fishing, Just Meandering

The high, bright sun was quite deceiving today as I found out when I stepped out on my deck with my coffee this morning thinking I would enjoy a little spring warmth and instead was hit in the face with the frosty air.  I had intended to walk out to the pond in my t-shirt, but changed direction and went back inside.  It looked so warm outside from in the kitchen!  Robins and other songbirds moved among the shrubs and trees, the dark green shafts of daffodils reached through the brown leaves, seeking the sun, and the snow that covered the steep hill was gone.  

I didn't fish, but I did make it over to Tim Flagler's where I tied a midge emerger pattern for this week's video.  It was good to tie for a video after a long layoff, and also do some catching up with Tim.  After the long winter we've had we are both looking forward to getting on the stream regularly and using the many flies we've tied  from having to stay inside and off the rivers the last few months.

After I left Tim's, I went down the South Branch of the Raritan River and checked out a few of my favorite spots to fish,  The river is in great early spring shape; a little high and clear, and despite all the ice that covered it just a few shorts weeks ago, the pools and runs don't appear to have changed much since the fall. I also saw a few little black stoneflies in the air and on the rocks, which always gets me excited for the coming season.

I did tie a bunch of flies after I got home, and even made it out to the pond where some midges sat placidly on the surface, undisturbed by the still sluggish fish suspended just above the bottom below. A lone tadpole stirred the silt as it wiggled away from my shadow to deeper water.  The pond is spring fed, and the spring is flowing well from the rocks along the edge, so well in fact, that it is overflowing onto the surrounding rocks and landscaping.

That's it.  I'm just warming up for what I hope will be a good spring with plenty of reports here.

Sharpen your hooks.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Tying a Little Black Stonefly Dry

While I sit on my ass and accomplish nothing, Tim Flagler continues to tie flies for his fine videos, this time tying up a little black stonefly dry using CDC and grizzly hackle.  With the winter being what it has been, we haven't seen many of these little buggers as of yet, so tie some up, and when you see trout slashing at the female stones in the side eddies and slow water trying to dislodge their eggs on the water surface, fish them. If fishing them with a dead-drift presentation doesn't elicit a strike, try skittering the fly over the water where you see the feeding activity.  And be forewarned, don't use too light of a tippet or you'll break off fish on the take when skittering the fly.  Go with 4 or 5X, at the lightest. 


Now get off your computer and go tie some up.......be sure to tie up a few for yours truly since I'm too busy doing nothing.  Is it possible to be doing nothing?  Probably not, because if you are "doing" something, even if it's nothing, you are still "doing" something and that's not nothing.

Sharpen your hooks!

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Still Leaving Them Smiling

The trout that is.

Yesterday I headed out to the Lehigh Valley to fish one of the spring creeks figuring the warmth and cloud cover might get the blue-winged olives hatching, and maybe bring the trout to the surface to feed on them.  I got there in the early afternoon, the air was about 45 degrees, and a slight breeze blew beneath low cloud cover.  The river was clear and up quite a bit from last weekend, a perfect level for fishing.  The water was only 40 degrees, which was still fairly chilly, and plenty of melting snow entered the stream from the surrounding landscape - about 5 inches of wet, sloppy snow covered the ground.  As I had thought, the olives were hatching in good numbers.

After watching the water for a bit and not seeing a single trout rise, I decided to fish the two nymph set up Doug uses with good success.  And except for hooking a small brown and loosing after a brief battle (on one of Doug's flies), I continued my streak of fishless days in 2015.  It's probably been 30 years or more since I have had such a poor start to a year.  I've only been out three times this year thanks to the weather, so I'm not too worried. I ran into a few other guys, all of whom said they had not caught a thing. 

After fishing hard for about two hours and not seeing a rise despite all of the olives hatching, I decided to seine the river in a few places.  As you might suspect, every net had plenty of Baetis (blue-winged olive) nymphs in it along with various caddis larvae. In a few spots, the net had very good numbers of bright orange Chimarra larvae among the olive nymphs, along with some bright green Rhyacophila larvae (rockworms).  The other critters that I kept netting were baby suckers.  Lots of them.

Here's a close up of a couple of juvenile suckers I caught.  


Overall, it was a good day to be out on the water.  Seeing all of those olives hatching is awesome, as you know it is only a matter of time before the water warms enough that the trout will be sipping them off the surface.  Sure, it would have been even better if I caught something.

Sharpen your hooks, there's always next time!

Friday, March 20, 2015

March Fly Tying Madness Event - This Saturday March 21 at the Cranford N.J. Community Center

March Fly Tying Madness is an event sponsored by New Jersey Trout Unlimited and hosted by Rahway River Trout Unlimited. This is an open event, and the purpose is to tie as many flies as possible in one day to be donated to 3 very worthwhile organizations. These are: Casting for Recovery, Project Healing Waters and Trout Unlimited’s National Veterans Services Program.


The event is being held at the Cranford Community Center 220 Walnut Ave Cranford, New Jersey. Doors open at 9 AM.  Refreshments and lunch will be served, and there will be many great door prizes for those tying.  Last year's event donated over 3,000 flies!!

Even if you do not tie, stop in and say hello!

Go to: NJTU.org for more information.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Harvey Rude R.I.P.


It is with much sadness that I write to tell you that Harvey Rude passed away yesterday while doing one of the things he loved best, volunteering his time to a fishing related activity.  For those of you that didn't have the pleasure to know him, Harvey worked part-time at Shannon's Fly Shop in Califon, New Jersey.  He also guided for them in both fresh water for trout, and saltwater for stripers, blues and albacore.  It was always a pleasure to spend time with Harvey, whether it be in the shop talking fishing, or on the stream fishing and talking fishing.  He always showed genuine interest with everyone that came in the shop, with those he was teaching, and also while guiding.  On the stream his love of fishing was evident from a distance, well before you came up on him and said hello, to which he greeted you with a smile and usually an offer to let you fish the water he was fishing.  There were times I came upon him fishing and he would offer me his spot.  I would insist he stay put, yet he would get out of the stream and insist even more that I fish where he just was.  And so I did, which made him happy.  And we would talk about how he fished the water in that spot, what flies he used, and the way the current moved, and.......       

If you do nothing else today, be sure to let the people you care about know it.  Harvey always did. 

We'll miss you Harvey. ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ><))))))'>

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Mr. Freemann's Fly Box

What angler isn't curious about what flies his fellow fishers carry in their fly boxes?  Well, here is a glimpse into one of Doug's fly boxes as he readies for the spring season and the competitions he has on his schedule.   Most of these flies are very typical of a comp angler's arsenal - carefully designed and quick to tie for the most part - excepting the mop flies and the wiggle worms you see in the bottom right of the second photo.  These flies are quick to tie, for sure, but the design is as simple as it gets. One, the cream colored fly, has a beadhead and a piece of mop fiber tied behind it - Doug says this fly imitates a cranefly larva well.  The other, the wiggle worm, is a beadhead with a piece of round, soft rubber tied behind it to imitate a worm.  Both flies are simple, and according to Doug, very effective.  In the next few weeks, I'm sure Doug will have these boxes completely full and ready to go.   



Doug is out fishing today - seems he wants me to know I should be out fishing, too.   


Sharpen your hooks.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Bruce Corwin Ties the Wally Wing Spinner

Recently Tim Flager had Bruce Corwin over to his studio so Bruce could tie his Wally Wing Rusty Spinner under the bright lights.  Bruce is a regular at the fly fishing shows, and is known for both tying traditional patterns and his own creations equally well, and his great sense of humor.  Here Bruce shows the method for tying these unique wings for spinners using a single woodduck flank feather, and as usual, Tim makes another great video from which we can all learn something.


Sharpen your hooks, spring is coming!

Sunday, March 8, 2015

A Good Day Fishing

After weeks of being incarcerated by relentless winter weather, we finally got out to fish today.  I met Douglas and his friend Rob out in Pennsylvania's Lehigh Valley, where we fished two spring creeks. Under partly sunny skies, the air temperature was in the mid-forties, yet it felt much warmer except when the breeze kicked up.  We fished the first stream only briefly - this creek was low and sits in an open park where the wind was unobstructed by trees or hills.  We didn't catch anything, but we did get to see a redtail hawk feed on a wild rabbit it had caught right next to the parking area.  Here's a short video I took of nature at its most brutal yet fascinating best. 


We left that spring creek and went to another that typically fishes well on days like today.  The water here was low, too, and deep snow lined the banks.  The boys had walked to an upstream area while I headed off to a spot well below them.  When I reached the water, there was no one in sight; I had the stretch to myself.  The breeze here was calm and bright sun fell through the sky and revealed the stream bottom in all but the deepest runs and pools of the creek.  Little blue-winged olives hatched in fairly good numbers, drifting on the currents and through the air.  A pair of mallards fed on the insects along the opposite bank, picking them one after another off the water surface.  No trout rose to take the olives, despite what appeared to be perfect conditions.

I tied on a small, weighted nymph that usually works well here, and worked it deep through the runs and riffles, working my way upstream. After about an hour or so, and covering a couple of hundred yards, I had hooked a single fish and failed to bring it to net.  I also had just had an hour or so of time out on the water where the only things that passed through my mind were the fishing and the immediate world around me.  No fish, but still a very good time fishing - the perfect escape.

As I rounded the bend, I was met by Doug and Rob, who had worked their way downstream.  They too, had not had any success, yet they seemed to be enjoying just being on the water - I had heard them laughing and joking well before I saw them.  We talked some and wondered how some days a stream that we know holds lots of wild fish seemed empty of them.  We have been on this stream when the olives are hatching in fewer numbers than they were today, and the fish are up and taking them like candy.  Yet today, the fish were on holiday.  It happens, and it is exactly why we keep coming back.

We were about ready to leave, and Doug asked if he could try my outfit to see how my more traditional nymphing set up differed from his Euro nymphing.  After a few casts, he morphed into his best Joe Humphreys imitation and had us laughing.  Here he is showing us Joe's tuck cast: 


Sharpen your hooks!                 

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Early Season Sampler - Good Bugs to Imitate

Tim Flagler put together this neat video showing some of the aquatic life forms that trout feed on in March and April here in the Northeast, and the flies that imitate them.   


All of these flies are available from your local fly shop, or if you are a fly tyer, you can follow the instructions here - the flies are listed in the same order they are shown on the video.  Just click on the name and the video will load:

Simple Scud

Caddis Larva

Chimarra Caddis Larva

Little Black Stonefly Nymph

Vinnie's Isonychia Nymph

Gold-ribbed Hare's Ear Nymph - Beadhead

Soft Hackle Streamer

Tie some up, fish them hard, and sharpen your hooks!

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Tying Higa's S.O.S.

Here Tim Flagler ties another pattern that originated out West, that has become a popular trout fly pattern anywhere you find trout - Higa's S.O.S. (Save Our Skin).  Tie some up and give them a go.


Sharpen your hooks!

Monday, March 2, 2015

Project Healing Waters - Fly Fishing and Fly Tying Gear Donations Wanted

At a recent Fly Fishing Show, a young man named Andrew Dang approached me about his 8th grade community service project - collecting donations for Project Healing Waters.  Project Healing Waters is a volunteer organization that works to rehabilitate disabled veterans through fly fishing activities. Andrew asked me if I would donate to PHW, and help him promote his project through my blog, which of course, I am more than happy to do.  Here's the flyer he created with his contact information - click to enlarge it.  The deadline for donations is March 31, 2015, and no donation is too small...or too big. 


I've got some gear I don't use anymore that is in perfectly good condition, which I'll be sending along to Andrew.  See if you can find something to send him as well - you'll be helping two great causes - a thoughtful young man, and our disabled veterans.  

Here I am with Andrew at the Fly Fishing Show.