Sunday, October 31, 2010

Bigger Fish...More Leaves

I headed out to the river expecting the worse.  Bright sun and a river ladened with leaves.  When I first arrived, things didn't look so bad, some leaves but definitely fishable.  Then the wind picked up...leaves started tumbling from the sky by the bushel.  In no time at all the river was once again leaf soup.

Soup's On

This time there would be no messing with streamers or wet flies.  It was time to get underneath this mess. Nymphing, though still difficult with all the stream borne debris, produced some bigger fish than the previous trip.  No monsters but definitely better fish.  Effective patterns were the Pheasant Tail Anchor and the End of the Rainbow (I'll describe it in a future post).

Leaves were not the only things in the water

My buddy Lou of the Fly and Fin got top honors of the day with this fat male rainbow.  This fish was taken on a caddis larva out of a foot of water.


Friday, October 29, 2010

More Fall Fishing

This trip could have been one of the best of the year, conditions were perfect if not for one thing...leaves.  The day dawned cloudy, wet and warm.  The forecast was a 80% chance of rain but no wind and temps in the mid 70's. I thought for sure it would be the perfect day for chucking big meaty streamers or swinging big bright soft hackles.  When I arrived on the banks of the stream my hopes were dashed, it was literally a flowing soup of leaves.  

There was absolutely no way to retrieve a streamer or work a set of wet flies with out fouling on the debris floating down stream. By picking out current seams out of the main flow you could find clearer water and willing fish.  But since these were not prime lies the fish were smaller.  I did get smashed by one bruiser of a brown trout as he grabbed a 10" rainbow I had hooked.  The fish had fought it's way into a deeper pool and the brown came up to eat.  It chased that fish right up to my feet and just waited there for almost a minute.  I could have touched him with the tip of my rod.  I guess he could not figure out where his lunch went and was expecting it would scoot out from some unseen hiding place.  I tossed the rainbow back into another current seam and hoped he made it back to the safety of shallow water. The day produced loads of fish but nothing bigger than 12".

Winged wets proved more successful than soft hackles.  Due to the leaves in the water my usual soft hackle presentations were out of the question.  So it was short casts to small sections of open water and a hand twist retrieve of the flies.  The winged wet fly presented a better profile under these conditions.  Drab colors with some flash seemed to work the best.  

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The International Fly Tying Symposium

If you are in the North East in late November you may want to consider attending the International Fly Tying Symposium.  This event is touted as the "World's Largest Fly Tying Show".  There are fly shops and manufacturers selling their products and over 100 fly tiers from around the world showing off their skills.  This show has always been a place to stock up on needed supplies for my winter tying season.  I already have a long list going of needed materials for the long winter months of fly tying.

In addition to the show itself there are classes available, some free, some will set you back $70.00 or so.  I have taken a few of these classes over the years and have always walked away with a smile and a little more knowledge.  This year I plan on sitting in on my friend Bob Jacklin's class.  Bob has a fly shop by the same name in West Yellowstone.  He is giving a class on West Yellowstone Patterns.  This is an area I visit very often so I am looking forward to spending some time with Bob.  For those that don't know Bob is a transplant form NJ and was actually one of the early members of my TU Chapter, Central Jersey Trout Unlimited.

One of the biggest draws to the show is their program venue.  Many big names in the industry will be on hand to present on a variety of fly tying topics.  Another good friend "Ozzie" Ozefovich  will be presenting one of his fantastic underwater videos “Underwater World of Trout - See Flies from Perspective of the Trout, not the Angler”.  I have actually had the honor of a cameo role in one of his videos.

So come on out to New Jersey and check it out.  If you live in the state you have no excuse.  If your heading out to the show drop me a line, I would love to meet up with some of you.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Bamboo Day

Over the weekend my club on the South Branch of the Raritan River did something a little different.  We rolled back the clock 50 or 60 years.  Fishing would be done with bamboo rods and the only flies that could be used were dry flies or wet flies.  Fortunately I had recently taken possession of my first bamboo rod.  This rod was built by a local rob builder and friend, Art Port.  Art had fished with me last fall and at the end of the day he opened up his truck and let me look over the 30 or so rods he had in the vehicle.  I was looking for a 5wt primarily for fishing wet flies.  So we picked out a half a dozen rods, strung them up with some soft hackles and cast them in the "home pool" of our club.  I stood in the river making a few casts and actually connecting with a few fish and Art stood on the bank handing me the different rods to try.  It was a tough decision but I settled on a Garrison 209E, a 7'9", 5 wt designed by Everett Garrison and written about in Hoagy B. Carmichael's book, A Master's Guide to Building a Bamboo Fly Rod.  Art built an identical rob for me with the only changes made being a flamed blank and blued hardware.

Yesterday was my first opportunity to fish this rod, and it performed wonderfully.  Fishing wet flies is my favorite way to target fall trout here in New Jersey.  I prefer a longer rod for this style of fishing and bamboo has some limitations when it comes to length especially if you want to keep the weight down.
But the softer action of bamboo is absolutely perfect for fishing wet flies.  The action on this rod was perfect for fishing wet flies.  Yesterday the fish preferred soft hackles on the swing.  The fly patterns I picked up from Blue Ribbon Flies worked very well.  These two patterns were the top producers of the day.
 Full Dressed Red
September's Song

This fly rod handled fish up to about 20" in length with ease and despite its softer feel had quite a bit of backbone which helped in bringing some of the larger fish to hand.

At the end of the day I had the opportunity to do a little dry fly fishing although my "dry fly" was a size 18 Starling and Purple fished in the film.  The rod was a pleasure to fish dries with as well.  We could never identify what the fish were taking but it did not matter since they eagerly gobbled up the small soft hackles on a dead drift.  

I gave the rod to my buddy Lou from Fly and Fin at the end of the day and he did well picking up these surface feeders on small soft hackles, picking up a couple of fish in a few casts.  
  This could be the start of a very expensive addiction...

Thursday, October 21, 2010

New Jersey Fly Fisherman of the Year Contest

I learned last week that I had been selected by my TU chapter to participate in the 1st Annual New Jersey Fly Fisherman of the Year Contest. This event is taking place on November 6th, 2010 on the South Branch of the Raritan River at the Raritan Inn

This is basically a catch and release "one fly" tournament, although you may bring three of the same flies out on the water with you. So I guess it is technically a "three fly" tournament. So the question is dry fly, nymph, streamer or wet?

Also occurring at this site is a "Traditional Angler Day" open to the public and hosted by Hardy North America. Hardy will be showcasing their bamboo line of fly rods. Hopefully they will bring along their glass series as well. I feel that glass rods are as much a traditional component of fly fishing as bamboo. Once I figure out the fly dilemma the next question will be glass or bamboo.

Later that evening there is a banquet which is also open to the public. The proceeds from this event are going to improving the local watersheds. I am looking forward to this it should be a good time.

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Monday, October 18, 2010

Tenkara Net

(Photo from Tenkara USA)
I recently acquired a traditional Tenkara net from Tenkara U.S.A. Actually I received the net from my buddy Rick who shares my passion for all things Tenkara. Tenkara U.S.A.'s net appears to be well constructed. The fit and finish of this product is far above the $67.95 price point. It is a beautiful looking piece of equipment.

(Photo from Tenkara USA)
Two things intrigue me about this design. First is the overall shape of the net. The circular hoop and the bent handle are different from it's western counterparts. The circular hoop stems from the fact that traditionally these nets are constructed from a single tree branch with a pair of perpendicular branches (Tenkara U.S.A.'s net appears to be made from two pieces of wood). These branches are brought together and fused to form the circular hoop for the netting. From what I have learned the bent handle allows the net to be carried on a belt by simply inserting the handle behind the belt. This design keeps the net at the ready and keeps the actual net away from the body allowing the fisherman to move about freely. Another benefit allows you to quickly tuck the net into your belt or under your knee when kneeling to go hands free which would come in handy for photographing your catch, reaching for your forceps, etc.

The net is a fine almost monofilament type material with an ultra fine 2mm mesh. It's claim to fame is that hooks will not snag in it and the fine mesh is gentle on fish. Since the net is still unused I cannot attest to either claim yet. The fine mesh looks like it would be destroyed if a hook did catch in it and the coarseness of the net material has me wondering about the "gentle on fish" issue. By all accounts this is a net designed for smaller fish. It would feel right at home on some of the smaller wild trout waters in my state. I think if I attempted to use it on my home river I would be staring at a jagged hole in the bottom of the net after my first attempt to land a larger fish.

The blog at Tenkara U.S.A. has some interesting posts on how these nets are made. As well as more details on the design behind these interesting pieces of angling equipment.

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Thursday, October 14, 2010

Great Wet Fly Blog

Since the last few posts have been on the subject of wet flies, I thought I would share a relatively new blog with you. Don Bastian ,is in my opinion, one of the best wet fly tiers on the planet. His work is unbelievably precise and his flies are truly works of art. I have known Don for years, I have fished with him a time or two and even received some tying instruction from him. His passion is the classic Ray Bergman patterns. He is solely responsible for introducing me these classic flies which I fish on a regular basis. If your interested in wet flies check out his site .
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Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Fall Wet Flies

Fall is my favorite time to swing wet flies for trout. In past years I have found that during the autumn, trout aggressively take large wet flies fished on the swing. The fish seen to prefer the bright gaudy stuff, red and orange being some of the most effective colors. One of my favorites is the Queen of the Waters

On my trip out to Montana this year I was speaking to the folks at Blue Ribbon Flies and they are big fans of fishing big soft hackles in the fall as well. The patterns that they use on the big lake fish coming up into the Madison and it's tributaries are also brightly colored, with red and orange being common themes.

This year I will be trying some of these western patterns on my home waters.

Full Dressed Red

Shakey Beeley

Lucky Bucky

September's Song

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Monday, October 11, 2010

Gearing up for Fall Fishing and Fly Tying

This summer has been a long one. While most people lament the end of summer I can't wait for it! The return of the cooler weather means I can get back to chasing my favorite gamefish TROUT.

This weekend I was out camping with my son and the night time low reached 39 degrees. Things are starting to cool down so I plan on heading out this week to see how well the fish survived the summer.

It also time to get back into cranking out some flies. I need to inventory the tattered remains of this season's fly boxes and figure out what worked and what didn't. I will come up with a tying list of patterns to be restocked and send the unproductive experiments off to the bluegill box. But before I do any tying I have to clean off the bench. I took a look at it this evening and it is covered with debris ranging from the kid's legos to the dog's collar and leash.  First flies on my list are my fall soft hackles, more on that in the next post...

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