Sunday, March 21, 2021

A New Season Is Upon Us

It's that time of the year when the days get longer, the sun higher and the aquatic insects start to stir in earnest.  The Little Black Stoneflies have been hatching in recent weeks and now that we are well into March they are active just about every day.  The Chimarra caddis larva are also present in the water, and of course, the Blue-winged Olives are hatching just about every day, somedays better than others as is typical.  We are also fortunate to have good water levels thanks to decent snowfall totals here in the Northeast.

Yesterday we fished for a while on the South Branch of the Raritan River and did well with stocked rainbows.  Nothing huge, but some respectable fish, all of them taken on size #18 Zebra midge.  I fished two flies, no added weight, up and across drifts with all the takes right down on the bottom.  There were lots of midges in the air and the Little Black Stoneflies pulsed as they usually do - they showed for five minutes or so and then disappeared for a while before a bunch would again be over the water.  Nothing rose the whole time I was on the water, maybe it was a little too cold or the fish just weren't interested in looking up.        

In the March issue of the Riversage Journal, we featured an article and a video on the Little Black Stoneflies (LBS).  We have posted here in past years how effective a floating adult pattern can be on windy days when the hatching LBS adults get blown onto the water surface as they struggle to get air born, and how during the egg-laying activity of the the LBS the females skitter along the water surface using the surface tension to pull the egg sac off the end of their abdomen.  A high floating, hackled fly can be just the ticket to take the trout that chase these moving morsels.  

In 2013 our friend Micah Dammeyer aka Knee Deep Fly Fishing, designed a great pattern for imitating the Little Black Stonefly adults that has replaced our past designs for this hatch.  It is fairly easy to tie and uses readily available materials. Here's a video we made on how to tie Micah's Twisted Stonefly pattern.  


When the trout are feeding on the Little Black Stonefly adults it will be quite apparent as the rises are typically aggressive as the fish chase the clumsy fliers as they skitter along the water surface. I fish this pattern on a 9-foot or longer leader tapered to 4X.  You can use a lighter tipper, but be forewarned, you may break fish off on the take as you skitter the fly on a taught leader. If an active fly doesn't draw strikes, try dead-drifting the fly over the rising - you may have to go down to 5X for this if you get no response.  As with any day on the water the fish often will determine the method of your presentation.

If you go out in the next couple of weeks be sure to carry some Blue-winged Olive dries in sizes #18-22, Chimarra Caddis larva in size #18, and Micah's Twisted Stone or in a pinch, a gray elk hair caddis in sizes #12-14.

I'm going to fish again today, it's a beautiful day and the temps are expected to reach the low 60's.  Around my home the daffodils are pushing up through the decaying leaves and when I went out on the deck this morning songbirds filled the air with music of hope and better days to come. Spring is surely on the way.

Sharpen your hooks!

Friday, January 15, 2021

Riversage Journal - Winter 2021

The Winter 2021 Riversage Journal is now available on line. This month our contribution is "Quiet Water, Winter Fly Fishing for Trout" and a video on tying my version of a simple scud. In addition, there are a bunch of other great articles on fly fishing, birds dogs and wing shooting. Click on the photo below to open this latest issue.  

Sharpen your hooks!

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

New Jersey Christmas Stocking

From Jim Holland - Shannon's Fly Shop in Califon New Jersey:

On Wednesday, December 16th Shannon's partnered with four local Trout Unlimited chapters, Hacklebarney, Central Jersey, Fred Burroughs and Ridge and Valley to stock 350 Rainbow Trout between 12-20 inches at the Point Mountain TCA. These additional trout should help to improve what has other wise been a slow fishery due to a lack luster fall stocking in part created by limitations of how fish were stocked in the fall due to COVID restrictions. Normally an off road vehicle is used to spread the fish out but this was not possible this fall. Please support these local chapters by joining TU and by visiting their respective websites.  Here's a video of that stocking produced by Tim Flagler - Tightline Productions.


On Friday December 18th, (my father's birthday) we brought the Bubba Contest back to the South Branch for 2020. The contest is named for two very large trout each adorned with numbered jaw tags. Land and remove the jaw tag with hemostats then bring video or photo proof of a successful release to the shop and win a new Grey's FR80 Streamflex rod and a Hardy Ultralite Disc reel. We stocked over 500 fish ranging in size from 11-21 inches including Rainbow, Brown, Tiger and Golden Trout. We hope that the majority of you will practice catch and release. Here's a video of that stocking produced by Tim Flagler - Tightline Productions.



Jim closes with the following: 
For fly selection, remember that the water is cold and most prey items for trout this time of year are small. We have an excellent supply of Tungsten Jig Frenchies and Hare's Ear nymphs right now. Smaller #16-18 Beadhead Flashback Pheasant Tails have also been popular. I would trail a RS2, WD40 egg pattern or scud behind it. Keep those flies small; #18-22 have been the most effective. The Gorge and the Pequest were both fishing well and should continue throughout the winter months. Fish slow and deep and that goes for streamers too. Midges are also popular and we have a nice variety of colors, styles and sizes.

I would add that I have been doing well fishing #18-22 black Zebra Midges and small beadhead Soft-hackle Pheasant Tail nymphs.  A black Woolley Bugger fished slow and deep has also taken a fair share of fish for me lately.

Many thanks to Jim Holland and Shannon's Fly Shop, the Volunteers who stocked, The Musky Trout Hatchery, and Tim for the great video.  Get out and fish.

Sharpen your hooks!

Thursday, October 22, 2020

A Long Dry Spell

It's been a year of less blogging and less fishing thanks to Covid, low water locally and having to be very close to home due to a family health issue that has now been resolved.  With Autumn in full swing, I did manage to get out on the river last week late in the day, and despite the low, clear water conditions managed to pick up a few fish.  

It was a warm, windless day and early enough in the season that most of the dying leaves were still clinging to the tree branches.  As is typical in the fall months here in the East, I saw many different insects over and on the water but only random, inconsistent rises.  There were light cahill spinners, blue-winged olives, micro caddis, slate drakes and squadrons of dot wing sedges flying upstream over the river. 


Since I really didn't have any targets, and it was clear the dot winged sedges had been hatching well in resent days, I tied on a size 16 brown and yellow LaFontaine sparkle pupa.  It took me a bit to get adjusted to the river flow and how much weight I needed, but after a short time my instincts took over and I hooked and landed a nice rainbow in a narrow, fast run behind a couple of large rocks.


It has been four months without fishing in NJ - this was the longest period in over 40 years that I did not fish local waters.  And in that period I only fished a handful of times in PA and NY.  I tied a lot of flies though, and while tying I do fish in my head.

We are in need of some serious rain though, as you can see by the photo above, the streams are low and clear with reduced flows.

Sharpen your hooks.      

Friday, September 4, 2020

September 2020 Riversage Journal

The September 2020 Riversage Journal is now available on line.  This month our contribution is "Olives and Ants".  In addition, there are a bunch of other great articles on fly fishing, birds dogs and wing shooting.   This month's giveaway is "A Hunter's Fireside Book, Tales of Dogs, Ducks, Birds & Guns" by Gene Hill. Click on the photo below to be directed to the site. 


Sharpen your hooks.

Monday, August 17, 2020

August 2020 Riversage Journal

Hi folks, hope you all are doing well in these trying times.  We've not been fishing much recently due to the low water levels and warm river temperatures in the region, and also because we aren't traveling. Even most of the Catskill rivers have been low and warm so we haven't been going up there. Most years we would be returning from Montana around this time, but that didn't happen this year for the first time in decades.  We have been tying everyday and writing, and I've been very busy at work fortunately.   

This month's issue of the Riversage Journal is out.  Lots of interesting articles on wing shooting and fly fishing in this one.  My contribution is a piece on what flies I carry during the summer months besides terrestrials to cover the more common hatches in the U.S.   And there's a tying video I did on tying a biot body rusty spinner that's from a live Instagram session from a couple of months ago that we did for a Trout Unlimited chapter.  Click on the logo below to read the Journal. 

Sharpen your hooks.

Thursday, July 2, 2020

Riversage Journal


We recently teamed up with Ray Miller and a bunch of other highly talented wingshooting and fly fishing folks on Ray's most recent project, the Riversage Journal.  The Journal is a monthly EZine and can be viewed by clicking on their home page below.   


My contribution this month is a piece on the Rusty Spinner.  Please take some time to check it out and feel free to provide feedback here or directly to Ray at the link on the website.  We welcome your feedback.

On another note, our absence in recent weeks is a result of not only the current situation with the pandemic, but we also lost our mom to the virus a couple of months ago.  She was 92, raised 8 children yet always found the time to take me fishing or get fly fishing or tying supplies when I was a youngster. She lives on in me and the rivers I fish.

Sharpen your hooks.