Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Quiet Waters

Quiet Waters

Far from road noise
Away from the sounds of construction vehicles
Absent from garden and lawn tractors
Distant from passing locomotives

Beyond the crowds that
are enjoying the warm February weather
Absent from local fishermen
I come to the remoteness of the forest

The small creek flows with the sound of gentle riffles
Birds rustle about the dry forest foliage
A loan leaf can be heard tipping bare branches
as if falls from an aged oak

The smell of forest pines
The coolness of the forest breeze
The presence of laurel
The calmness that is felt

The lightness of the 3 weight fly rod
I roll cast into the mountain stream
My hand tied nymph drifts within the dark waters

The line hesitates
and with a swift but gentle set
the line tightens
The rod flexes with activity

A wild trout tugs and darts
A small brown comes to hand
Its beauty is unmatched
Its release is unharmed

A smile forms between my cheeks
Excitement flows through my veins
Confidence is assured
I search for another

 As the sun lowers, evening draws near
Shadows form beneath the bank side laurel
The coolness of the temperature becomes more noticeable
Another wild trout struggles at the end of the line

 The day comes to a close
The journey home begins
A fire cured stogie awaits
Memories of this day comes to ponder


Thursday, February 16, 2017

Olive Scud Tute

Dave’s Olive Scud

  Fishing a limestone stream in central PA. a friend of mine gave me a similar olive scud pattern that worked well. I took his scud and tied it on a pupa hook. Here is Dave’s Olive Scud.

Hook; #16-#20 pupa hook
Thread; 6/0 BWO thread
Rib; Fl. Chartreuse small wire
Shell Back; Olive scud back. ¼” wide cut in half
Body; Golden Olive rabbit dubbing with guard hairs
Head; BWO Thread

 1. Pupa Hook #18

 2. Thread hook shank to back of bend

 3. Secure Chartreuse wire to bend
I extend wire to top of bend to add a little more weight.

4. Secure olive scud back material at bend on top of wire and bring thread behind eye of hook leaving room for head.

 5. Add dubbing loosely to thread and wrap back to bend as shown

 6. Wind more loose dubbing to behind eye of hook as shown.

 7. Bring scud back over body, secure and trim.

 8. Wind wire in open wraps, over scud back, towards front of hook.

9. Break off wire and make thread head.
Trim off any unruly guard hairs and if necessary pick out dubbing to make legs.
I add a dab of head cement on thread head.

 On #20 pupa hooks I only dub body from back to front and I use olive dubbing with guard hairs.


Monday, January 23, 2017

January Rainbows

January Rainbows

 50+ degrees in January? No rain and calm outside? Seemed like a good day to take advantage and go trout fishing.

 From the parking lot I could see the water level was on the high side. It had good flow and the color was a tint on the green side which was about perfect color as far as I was concerned. Knowing the water would be deep along the banks I put on my chest waders. I put together my 2 piece SAS Scott fly rod and lined it with 5wt double taper line. I grabbed some stogies and headed to the water.

 With the chill of the water I didn’t think any trout would be too active wanting to exert much energy chasing a bugger so I decided to concentrate on nymph fishing. I knotted on a Beaded San Juan worm and dropped a brown Hares ear from the hook bend. I added weight to the leader and stepped into the water along the bank.
 I worked the seam along the fasted current just in front of me hoping the trout would be near the softer water and not out in the main flow. It was maybe my 5th drift along the seam that the indicator dropped momentarily and lifted up with my wrist to set the hook. I felt a little wiggle of a struggling fish on the other end of the line. He wiggled and tried swimming away but the 5wt rod was way to stiff to give the little guy any give.

 Back in the fall a few local Boy Scout Troops had a camp out along the North Fork Red Bank Creek in the park. They were gathered together to learn how to tie flies, learn about how to fly fish and the equipment used as well as stream entomology. I’m not sure what the number of kids and scout masters were but there was a large group of them with tents strung out along the park lawn. They were all there to receive their merit badge for fly fishing and had asked the local Trout Unlimited Chapter if we would help them achieve this. I was contacted by the head of the Iron Furnace Chapter and of course made time to volunteer. It was well organized with plenty of instructors. The young men were well behaved and respected us in a manner I haven’t seen a group of kids, this size, act in a very long time. To add to their benefit the TU chapter got the creek stocked with rainbows for the Boy Scout Troop. From what I heard was there wasn’t many fish to be had and the place they were able to buy the fish were in the size 6” to 8” range. I figured this little guy was one of these last fall stocked fish.
 After about an hour I looked down creek and the early morning sun broke through the cloud cover and was shining on the water down creek. I was hoping for a stonefly hatch. Seeing the sunshine I waded out and headed towards the sun.

 I spent an hour or so without any takes. The stonefly hatch never occurred. It might have been because of the high water level. Once the sun shown upon the water upstream I went back up creek.
 I fished San Juan worms in the faster water and nymphs as a dropper most of the time. I found with a little extra weight and eliminating the indicator got my nymphs down where the fish were and was more successful. I caught a few more small rainbows, that were pretty frisky, on an assortment of Hares Ears and little Black Stoneflies. I even caught one on a swinging picket pin. Later in the afternoon the sun disappeared and the air started to get colder. My lower extremities were really feeling the cold water by then and my feet were close to being numb. I felt I had enough fun and waded out of the chilled water towards my truck.
 While changing clothes I finished off the stogie I had been smoking and quenched my thirst.
 It turned out to be a fine January day to trout fish.


Saturday, January 21, 2017

Slush, a Glass and Steel

Slush, a Glass and Steel

 I set the hook and the Wonderod flexed into the midsection. My cold wet hands tightened around the aged cork grip as the vintage rod held firm. When I felt the give and then a sharp tug of the rod tip I knew I had a fish and not another bottom snag. With a couple of head shakes he headed with the faster current down creek.

 The morning was brisk, about 25* when we got out of the truck. We saw a couple fishermen were already casting lines into the cold water of the long pool hoping for a bite. When we got to the creek we watched slush floating on the waves through the riffles that emptied into the pool. The pool current was slowed and with all the drifting slush it made not much open water to drop an offering. We crossed the creek in the riffles and I set up along the pool as Donny broke bank-side ice down from were I stood. It wasn’t long after I stopped moving I felt the chill of the water against my lower thighs through my waders. My feet were still warm from the walk but I was sure it wouldn’t take long for them to stabilize in the frigid water. I felt the crisp air of winter tighten the skin exposed beyond my beard. I began to knot on a tandem rig of sucker spawn to the tippet and my fingers were showing less dexterity caused by the winter chill. I attached an indicator and pulled out line to make my first cast. It looked bleak as to getting a good drift between the drifting slush.

  Time and again we casted out trying our best to get the indicator and offering down to the fish. Our lines weren’t freezing at least so that wasn’t an additional irritation to getting our lines out. I always looked up stream before my next cast, even before my drift wasn’t completed, looking for a better opportunity to drop the offering in a clear path between the slush. It wasn’t going as planned but it was quiet and I was fulfilling that fishing need that built up during the snowy weeks of freezing winter.

  After an hour the slush wasn’t getting much better so Donny decided we should head down stream for more promising conditions. Donny was fighting a snot nosed cold and wasn’t up to his usual self. Though he wasn’t feeling well he still came out. He lives near the steelhead tribs so he can fish anytime he likes but decided to hang out and fish for the day with me which I always enjoy his company and steelhead stream experience.
 Down creek we fished a couple of spots with him hooking into one fresh steelhead that he did get landed. Other than that we plugged along trying to find a pod of steelhead. Anytime Donny was ready to move I always have to cast a few more times just to make sure. On one occasion I was determined to catch a steelhead before leaving. I even commented to Donny “I’m going to catch one!”
 After offering different combinations I decided to try a different approach. I wasn’t sure how deep the water was but the surface current was moving at a good clip. Sometimes I feel the surface current is much stronger than the deeper undercurrent therefore the indicator may be moving too fast on the surface not letting my offering drift drag free in the undercurrent. Not knowing the deepness of the water I also feel my offering may not be getting down in such situations. I decided to take the indicator off and give it a go. I made the cast along a seam of the wavy water that dropped my sucker spawn down into a deeper hole. My fly line drifted just below the surface and, as it was moving with the current, I watched it for any unusual motion. After it passed by me the end of the fly line started to dip and disappear.  I lifted a hook set hoping it was a fish. Sure enough the rod arced and the flexibility of the fiberglass started to dance with the frisky fresh steelhead. It wasn’t long before getting it safely to the bank.

 After the catch we fished a little longer and Donny was now pretty congested and was ready to head out. He crossed the creek and was already on the far bank heading to the path. We actually been out for quite a few hours and I was kind of surprised he stayed out as long as he did. Of course before I crossed the creek and waded out I had to let fly a few more casts.

 The end of the fly line went under in a hurry as the drift was passing through the faster current. I heaved the 8wt rod with force wanting to get a good hook set in the current. The line instantly tightened and shot down creek with the rod tip pointing towards the aggressive steelhead. I called out towards the bank to let Donny know I had another. In the slower current the steelhead swirled beneath and headed back beneath the stronger current. Down creek he swung around frantically before heading towards the flexed glass rod. Before I landed the steelhead it made a couple of trying escapes but the glass rod had enough firmness that I didn’t have to let out any line from the spool. By the time I got the fish to the bank Donny was already close by to take a quick picture of my steelhead.
 With that we headed to the truck. It wasn’t one of the best days we had fishing together but heck; we caught a few even through the hampering conditions.

 After I dropped Donny off home there was still a lot of daylight left. I headed over to a well known section and was surprised no one was fishing the usually crowded hole. I must have fished at least an hour or so trying to get a strike. I tried using all sorts of combinations and even streamers but couldn’t encourage a take. After that I headed down creek to a couple known holes I knew usually hold fish.
 I was wading and drifting my offering along the deeper bank-side water. The water I was wading in started to get deeper so I waded further from the bank. There looked like a good deep section of slow current water, away from the bank, so I took some extra time to fish it before moving on.
 My cast was upstream a good bit and as I kept the rod tip high I watched the indicator come drifting about a couple of yards upstream from me. When it got almost across from me I gave a little mend up creek so my fly line would drift even with the indicator. Just passed me the indicator dropped and I knew it wasn’t the bottom. I took in slack line with my left hand and just as quick lifted the rod with my right. The fish instantly hurried off with line peeling off the soft drag. I held the rod high as the fresh steelhead energetically darted and swam about trying to release the hook. Once it calmed down I tightened the drag and slowly moved myself back into shallower water.
The chartreuse sparkle spawn was stuck fast in the top of her lip. 

 It wasn’t long after that the light started fading fast. I hooked the spawn into a crevice of the cork grip and headed up through the woods and to the truck. Back at the truck I peeled off the neoprene chest waders and changed into driving clothes. I ate a cold sub sandwich on my way to the interstate. 
 Just before getting on the interstate I took out an Aurora Barrel Aged stogie. The toasty brown looking outer wrapper shown some veins but was well constructed and the cigar itself had a firm feel to it. The initial light up produced an abundance of smoke which gradually filtered through the slightly opened drivers window. The initial draw was a toast/charcoal flavor similar to a darkened toasted bun right from an outside charcoal grille. After a few puffs the flavor smoothed out and was quite enjoyable though getting a little bolder the more I smoked. I noticed a leathery taste upon my lips after a while as I continued on, listening to some rock and roll while I was cruising down the highway heading towards home.


Friday, January 6, 2017

Orvis Sling Pack Review 2017

Orvis Safe Passage Sling Pack 2017  
   Bottle, Line straightener and tippet spool not included         
 With a couple Orvis gift cards I ordered a new Sling Pack from Orvis. It’s not that I really needed one because the other was worn out, I just thought it would be nice and more convenient. The whole purpose I got the original sling pack in the first place is for steelhead fishing and cold weather fishing to carry over a heavy coat. The original worked well but some improvements could make the original a lot better. Welcome Orvis Slink Pack new and improved.
 The main big pouch as well as the smaller front pocket appears roomier. Both hold quite a few fly boxes. The big improvement is there are separate compartments inside each. This keeps other needs, such as extra leader, pack of indicators, flashlight, granola bars and such, easier to get to instead of all laying on top of each other in the bottom of the pack. The little zip pocket in front of the front pocket is great for the most used small items such as split shots and single indicators.

 With room to spare

 Next I like the position of where the hemostats are. They are on the shoulder strap that closes with magnets instead of on the pack itself like the older style where you had to turn the pack around to reach them. There’s a place that will hold an optional Tippet bar on the side of the front pocket but I found my tippet spool holder clamps on just as well.
 A new feature is a place to hold a water bottle with a bungee strap to keep it in place.

  I like to carry a wool fly patch for easy access to my useful flies and to dry the flies out. I added some Velcro strips to the front pocket and my fly patch. It stays put and is quick and easy to get to when needed.
 I also like that the bottom of the pack is coated for increased water resistance which is good for when I lay the pack on wet banks, snow or ice. There is a small fly patch on the top of the big pouch but I’m afraid an elbow will knock off any attached flies. It was a good thought though. There is also a place to put a zinger with your nippers just above the smaller front pocket. I rather keep it handier and there is a place on the shoulder strap that it can clip to.
 The bag is made of 400-denier. The shoulder strap is padded and adjustable to fit comfortable over a coat. The overall dimensions are 9” x 5” x 5 ¾” which is about 641 cu. in. It looks like the improvements, as well as the pack itself, will make things more convenient, handy and hopefully last for years!


Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Merry Fishiness

Merry Fishiness

 I met up with Jeff on the upper part of Elk Creek early Sunday morning. The water had receded overnight from the snow melt and rain on Saturday but it was still running fast, a little high and chocolate. Knowing where to fish during these conditions is a great help and I knew where we might have a chance to hook up to some steelhead. We headed over to Lower Walnut in hopes that there wasn’t a crowd.
  The Manchester hole already had a dozen or so guys fishing it. Down below the bridge there were only a few stragglers trying there luck. In the parking lot there were more fishermen, not too many, gearing up. I dressed quickly and told Jeff where to meet me. I strung up the 9’ fly rod and headed down to the water.
 I found the water was kind of murky also but looked not as chocolate as Elk. It was the color of watered down coffee with cream. I crossed the creek and headed up to a section I thought I would get a good drift through. With the water color I decided a bright color sucker spawn would attract attention, and though might not convince a strike, might get a fish over to see a more convincing dropper spawn to their liking.
 Jeff wasn’t too far behind and stayed on the roadside of the creek. I had told him earlier where I hooked up the day before and he found a good starting point and was getting some good drifts. Jeff hooked up first and played the steelhead through the wavy, fast current to the bank. 

  A couple of buds showed up and we all proceeded to find hungry fish in the stained water. We would hook up now and then but were only able to land just a few. 

  Since we were closer to the lake I figured there were quite a few fresh fish coming in and were friskier than the holdovers up creek. When one was hook it would give us a squirrelly forceful fight in the narrow stream. One of the steelhead I brought in the hook was just pierced through the skin near its lip. One more forceful escape or skyward jump and I’m sure he would have got off.
 Overall it turned out we hooked up enough to keep our attention and mood on the plus side. More people showed up later in the morning. A few started to crowd in, within rod length, but that’s something to expect at the access area so there wasn’t any reason to get too frustrated, besides it was Christmas.
 In the afternoon Jeff and I went and fished upper Elk. The water had cleared up some but was still stained. It was also was high and fast but still fishable. I hooked up only twice in the few hours we roamed the stream. Caught and kept one for Jeff to throw in the smoker.
 Here’s a few Christmas steelhead I had the pleasure of meeting briefly during our time on the water.


Friday, December 23, 2016

December Chill

December Chill

 Snow covered every inch of ground overlooking the creek. Ice crusted over the shallow stones along the bank that crunched when stepped on. The leafless trees, which protruded over the stream banks, looked feeble as their gnarled branches resembled knuckles along the limbs. Their thin twigs reached out like frail finger aching in the coldness. Sheets of ice extended from the bank where the water was beyond the main current flow.
 I was bundled up, feeling as if in a cocoon, with 5 or 6 layers of clothing keeping me warm beneath. My Yukon fur cap kept my head warm and I would let the fur flaps down occasionally warming my exposed ears. My exposed finger tips, out from my fingerless gloves, were not as sensitive when tying knots. The frigid water didn’t feel as cold as layers of fleece and polypropylene were worn underneath my neoprene chest waders. My polarized shades were used more to keep the cold breeze from tearing up my eyes than for trying to see through the greenish tinted stained water. Other than that it was a fine day to steelhead fish without crowds.

  Though we knew the temps weren’t going to get above freezing till close to noon, we greased up our fly lines and rod eyes and headed out in the morning anyway. Slush flowed on the water surface in masses for the first couple of hours. This hampered our ability to get slush free casts and drag free drifts. The other two guys I was with got a couple of hook ups while I patiently waited. We had about a 4 mile hike of fishing back to a waiting vehicle so I figured eventually my turn will come. When it did come it came in bunches.
 Donny had just had a couple of hook ups and Mike hooked up once before Donny decided to take a break and have a beer. I moved down to where Donny was fishing at the long slower water tail out. Chunks of ice floated upon the surface water so my casts had to be pretty accurate at times or I would end up tugging ice or wasting a cast with my sucker spawn sitting on the ice chunks.

 My first hook up may have been a foul hook. The indicator wobbled unnatural during the drift and I lifted up for the hook set. The tip of the rod bowed, the line tightened and I gripped the cork handle with my cold fingers. The steelhead hesitated a second before B-lining up creek like a dragster racing to the finish line. Line shot out through the guides and when I tried to slow him down, by palming the spool, the hook let loose and I was fishless. At least I got a taste of steel and it had my blood flowing a little warmer.
 A few casts later my indicator slowly started to dip under and I yanked the rod upward. The slack in the line straightened, the indicator popped up out of the water and I felt the tip of the rod bow downward. I knew right then I had something and when the rod flexed, with a jolt from the other end, I knew it wasn’t rock bottom. The steelhead ran its gambit searching the pool of water and tugging occasionally trying to free the hook. I held on tight and took in line when the chance came. Out mid creek the steelhead did some kind of underwater acrobatic whirl as the line went limp and than tightened again. Playing the fish felt a bit different and when I got it to the surface for the first time it looked as if it was a foul hook. I did notice the steelhead shaking its head and was pretty sure I seen the chartreuse sparkle spawn creasing the edge of its mouth. In an instant it went back down below and struggled with the line as I gingerly brought it to the ice along shore. Sure enough the bottom fly was stuck in its pectoral fin and was wrapped around its body ending with the top fly in its mouth. After unlacing her I settled her down for a wet, cold finger snap shot.

  It wasn’t but a few casts later I had another. This one gave me a short battle before it got free.
 Donny headed down creek and Mike just passed behind me to follow Donny. I gave one last cast and let the drift take me down creek. The indicator just bobbled enough that I thought I had a subtle strike. I lifted the rod and sure enough the line tightened and a battle ensued with a hefty steelhead. The brute surfaced once and Mike thought it looked like a brown trout because of the darkness of its body. From my angle I could see it was a dark steelhead that apparently been in the creek for a while. Mike figured it went 3-4 lbs as he watched me struggle with the steelhead. It lunged outward a few times, gave the old head shakes and at times I thought I had him coming my way. He found strength enough time and again and kept his distance with forceful pulls. I was pretty far up on the bank trying to get him into the shallower water when the rod went light and straightened skyward. The big fish won the battle and left me with a shortened leader broken just below a knot.
 On our travels along the creek we would stop now and then fishing likely spots and mostly the deeper tail outs. Occasionally one of us would hook up but nothing like the pod we hooked into up creek. We weren’t landing too many but at least one of us would hook up now and then to keep our interest.
  We were in a narrower run with an ice shelf cresting the far bank. A lot of times steelhead would lay beneath the shelves out of harms way but occasionally you can get one to come out for a snack if they are curious or hungry. Mike was right above me and got a quick hook up but lost it in the faster current.
 I looped a roll cast up creek and watched as the indicator drifted by me. It looked like a good even drift with the current and I watched the indicator bobble upon the surface waves as if my sucker spawn was bumping the bottom. Down a bit the teardrop indicator turned up creek and I thought maybe I had a snag but I jerked the rod upward hoping for a fish. The line straightened and something weighty was taking the line down stream with the current in no hurrying manner. I though maybe I had a sunken limb or something to that effect as I let tensioned line draw threw my fingers not wanting to put undo tension on the 4X tippet I was using. I backed up towards the bank and finally, the hooked something rather, started a little struggle in the water and surface briefly. I seen it was a fresh jack and once it surfaced began to fight a lot stronger in the current pulling line down creek. I slowly followed the fish down, wading down along the bank, trying to keep him from surfacing in the faster current. Down in slower water I got the rascal to an ice shelf that extended from the bank. I heaved the steelhead upward on the ice to dislodge the hook. He was an energetic young steelhead and I had a hard time controlling the fish trying to keep it motionless enough to dislodge the sucker spawn from its mouth. 

 When I went to release him he didn’t hesitate a bit when he felt the cold water and took off with more energy than I would have expected given the cold conditions.
 The last hour before darkness neither of us got any strikes and we ended the evening walking up through the forest to the truck.

It had been a good day and lots of exercise. Donny figured we fished a 4 mile stretch of water. We couldn’t cover all the better spots because of time but we did pretty well in the sections we did fish as far as I was concerned.
 Mike took us back up to where we started and by that time darkness was falling fast. I stripped out of my neoprene chest waders that felt like I was removing an outer layer of thick skin. Before putting everything in the back seat/floor I started the 5.7L Hemi and let the Ram warm up a bit.
 I put the truck in 4 wheel drive as I drove up the ice/snow packed lane before hitting the black top. There I switched to 2 wheel drive as I head up the blacktop towards the interstate.
 On the interstate I reached over and took out an Illusione Rothchildes given to me by a couple of friends who know I like to enjoy a good cigar now and then. The smoke was on the milder side but was tightly packed for an even long burn for my travel home.

 After the last steelhead outing I hit a deer on the way home and totaled the PT Cruiser. This was the first outing with the 2016 Ram Quad and I’m sure there will be many more!