Monday, June 13, 2016

MOJO Bass Fly Rod Review

MOJO Bass Fly Rod Review
Bass tournament legal at 7’11”


 First, anyone that knows me knows I’m a trout bum of a fisherman. Though I do target other fish, trout is my mainstay. Also I fly fish 99% of the time and haven’t used a conventional rod in sometime. I decided to target largemouth bass more this year and decided to purchase a fly rod specifically for bass. With that being said I decided “why not get a regulation tournament legal bass rod?” Not that I’m going to participate in any bass tournaments but I figured it would be fun just to see how a short rod would handle with bass conditions.
 There are a few manufacturers that make specific tournament legal bass fly rods and I took the time to research for what I was looking for. The couple of higher priced fly rods were too expensive for my blood. I’m sure they all work well and most likely be fancy but the price was over the top from what I wanted to spend. This left me with two choices, a Heat rod, from White River or the MOJO bass fly by St. Croix. After talking with a representative from both companies, weighing my options on weight, reliability and knowledgeable in the field of both conventional rods and fly rods I went with the MOJO bass fly.
 Being that St. Croix has been in the rod business for ever and makes both conventional rods for bass fishing and fly rods I figured it would be a good bet they would be able to produce a well refined fly rod specifically for bass.
 The MOJO rod isn’t anything fancy. In fact the fanciest thing about it is the lettering on the rod shaft. There isn’t a wooden insert in the reel seat, which I would have liked, it’s just a black machined-aluminum. The dark black cherry blank isn’t anything eye catching but I don’t buy rods because of how the blank looks. It has a gracious full well cork grip with a fighting butt and the double rings on the reel seat is a plus in my book.
 When I talked with the St. Croix fly rod rep. he told me that they use a weight forward line that matches the rod. I fitted the rod with the large arbor 7 weight reel I use for steelhead and took it out for a test run.
 My first outing I used my WF7F fly line that I use for steelhead fishing and also have used it for bass fishing on my 9’ steelhead rod. It was a windy day and I was in open water in my kayak. I have to admit the rod was wonderful to cast. I was worried, because it was stated as a moderate-fast action rod for short to medium casts. I was afraid it wasn’t going to throw a foam or cork popper well with the wind. I also was concerned about distance. Though you don’t have to be too far away from the fish when targeting bass but from a kayak it’s nice to be able to cover a wide area anchored. I’ve mentioned I haven’t used a conventional rod for some time. Well the stiff butt section and finely tuned top section of the blank was no problem in the wind. I could drop the poppers with a sharp tight loop if I wanted to or let the popper drop easy like a frog jumping onto the water with little splash. The distance wasn’t bad either. It loaded well and the forward cast had no wobble in the top section.
 When I did catch a bass I had no problem steering it my way and away from the under water lily shoots. It handled nicely with more control than a flexy longer rod. I didn’t catch any large bass in my first outing but I returned with a better set up.

  Now it was time to refine the rod with a reel and a Bass taper fly line. The St. Croix rep. also said, since I was to purchase a 7 weight rod, that a 5 weight large arbor reel is all I would need. He added that bass aren’t runners so there isn’t a need for 100 yards of backing and, because of the short rod, should balance out nicely. I took his advice, and being cost conscious I went with a 5/6 Hobbs Creek large arbor reel. I figured if White River puts this reel on their own bass fly rods it can’t be all bad. Also I checked the reviews of this reel and they were positive for the price.  A friend happen to mention that Orvis sells a Bass specific fly line. With a gift card I received for my birthday I purchased a 7 weight Hydro bass line. With my line and new reel it balanced the short MOJO rod perfectly.
 I was anxious to test it out but early trout season was still upon us here in Pennsylvania. Dry fly action took off and the weather was still a bit on the chilly side. I leaned the rod up against the wall and waited for a weekend to take it out.
 My second outing I had the rod, reel and line I thought would work the best. On a Sunday I took it out but again was a windy day. I knew it would be a struggle, kayaking in the wind, but I couldn’t wait any longer to try this outfit out.
 The bass taper line gave the rod a better feel when loading and I got plenty of distance. I also was able to sidearm cast the poppers, to cut the wind resistance, without the popper dropping too far on the back cast. I also attribute this to the shorter length. This outing I caught some heavier bass and was able to maneuver the bigger bass without too much of the bass having its way with me.



 One large mouth did make a sweeping run towards me and kept on going pass me. I didn’t have the drag set very tight. As the bass took line out, from the reel, I tested the strength of both reel, rod and line by trying to slow it down. The hook let loose and the bass kept on without a glance of the big creature. I could have played it better but I was willing to sacrifice losing the bass by seeing what would happen by trying to stop it quickly.
 Overall I feel I got a good combination and if anything I may change later is getting a better reel but for now the Hobbs creek reel works just fine. I also wish the rod came in a 4 or even a 3 piece so I can take it with me on my motorcycle but for now the MOJO Bass fly only comes in a 2 piece. I have no better reason to go back to a longer rod for largemouth.
 The MOJO BASS FLY rod also comes with a 5 year warranty. You can check out the specific models on the St. Croix web sight.


~doubletaper

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Fishing, Kayaking and more Fishing.

Fishing, Kayaking and more Fishing
6/03/16-6/05/16

6/03/16
 Jeff called and told me he was wanting to come North and fish till he drops over the weekend. He wanted to fish Friday after work and we planned on kayak/fishing on Saturday. Sunday was wait and see due to the possible rain. He showed up Friday evening and, though it was after 5:30pm, he wanted to get some late fishing in before dark. We headed to the Allegheny Nation Forest and deep into the forest along a hard packed dirt road that dead ended at the creek. We applied bug spray upon us and walked through the high brush to the water. 
 Our most productive offerings were woolly buggers to the rainbows, browns and brook trout while we took our time wading and fishing down creek. We also made a few trout rise with a small selection of dry flies including beetles and ants. We caught some very frisky trout before the sun went down below the tree line and walked back to the vehicle, along the dirt road, in dim light.
 It was a good quick outing ending with a pizza and beers at the Kelly Hotel before returning home.

6/04/16


 Saturday we were up early. I made us a bacon and egg breakfast while Jeff checked out the weather report. We were still debating where to kayak and as time went be we decided to hit the lower part of Tionesta Creek for trout. We tied down my kayak, next to his, on his truck and headed North for some more trout fishing.
 After leaving his vehicle down creek at a campground we returned to our yaks and started our journey down creek. Our fishing was mostly done stopping and wading out to trout fish. There were sections of the creek I was familiar with and other sections Jeff was more familiar with. When we found a section the looked trout fishy we stopped and gave it a shot. 
 We caught some nice broad shoulder rainbow trout throughout our journey. Some extra, high jumping, tough fighting rainbows and a few brown trout. Most were taken on streamers but we did catch a few on nymphs, wet flies and a few on dry caddis. We practically had the creek to ourselves. The only wading fisherman we seen was where we put in and came across only two canoes on our way down creek. We didn't take count but we had an awesome time pulling in trout, kayaking downstream and enjoying the warm and pleasant weather.


 We arrived at our take out location around 4:30pm. This is where I discovered my only mishap. I found a burnt hole in my shirt that was evidence that an ash from one of my cigars must of fell on to. It was a pretty big burn and I don't recall ever smelling the fire or feeling the burning.
  
 Once we got our Kayaks on the truck and gear inside, we returned to my vehicle up creek. By that time it was only around 5pm or so. Not feeling beat up or sore we were still in the mood to fish. Jeff got out his binoculars and glassed the surface water from our vehicles. Sure enough, he assured me, there were fish rising in the calmer water just before flowing over a row of rocks that stretched across the creek. We put on our vests and grabbed our rods and headed back out for some more trout fishing.
Let me just say it was an extra bonus of an awesome day to finish off catching surface rising trout.
 After a long day of kayaking and fishing we were pretty hungry. A venison roast and a bottle of red wine awaited us at home. 

6/05/16
Sunday morning was overcast and the weather was predicted to have passing showers and in the 70's. I made us a quick breakfast sandwiches and we got in our vehicles and headed North West for some cold tail water trout fishing. I guaranteed Jeff we would get into some dry fly action. 
 The water was about 58 degrees when we arrived in the morning. The sky was overcast for the first couple of hours before the rain started. Once it started to pour we both met back at the vehicles to wait it out. When it let up, with our rain gear on, we headed back out to the stream. It was mostly streamer fishing as the rain dotted the water. After noon the rain ceased and the sun came out for just a bit. With that we found a few trout rising and finished off fishing top water till Jeff decided he was wet enough and cold enough to call it a day. 
 While Jeff headed back to Pittsburgh I stopped at the Dam Inn and got a burger and a couple of Yuenglings before heading home. All in all it turned out to be a pretty good weekend of trout catching with a good friend. 



~doubletaper

Monday, May 9, 2016

Against the Wind

Against the Wind
5/08/16

 I guess I’m still like a kid with a new toy; I can’t wait to try it out. I’m definitely a trout bum but occasionally I target bass during the warmer months. Since I got a kayak last year I did a little more largemouth bass fishing than usual.  With that said I felt a bass rod was needed. Checking out cost and reputation in bass rods I selected the tournament legal MoJo bass fly rod and couldn’t wait to use it.
 On Saturday I actually forfeited trout fishing and washed, waxed and changed oil in the Harley. I got other chores done that had been needing attention while my thoughts were on taking the new rod out bass fishing. The weather was to be better Sunday so I set my sights on Sunday.
 It’s early May and I always felt it was still too early to be thinking about bass during prime trout season. I’ve been doing very well the past few weeks catching mostly stocked trout but getting the new bass rod changed my outlook. I even washed the kayak and got all my fly bass gear ready. Come rain or high water I was going bass fishing Sunday.
 Sunday morning it was 41 degrees but the weathermen said it was to reach 61 degrees. I put the kayak in the van and headed north. The sun was on the rise as big white and gray clouds moved slowly below the blue sky. I kept a watch on the tree limbs on my way and there was no breeze that I could tell.
 In the parking area I noticed the only thing I forgot was a sponge to soak up and water that happens in the kayak. I was getting warm, getting my gear together, but decided to leave my medium weight polypropylene shirt on for the trek through the forest. I put a sweatshirt in the dry bag for assurance should it get colder. I assembled the 7 weight 7’ 11” MoJo rod and attached a mid-arbor reel with what I had, a WF7F trout taper fly line with a 12lb 9’ bass tapered leader. I grabbed a few stogies, a water bottle and put the rest of the gear in the kayak. Out of the parking area I began rolling the kayak on my approximately 2 mile journey down the grown up lane through the national forest. It is mostly flat land and with my homemade dolly isn’t much of a task.
 At waters edge the large swamp was much higher than I ever seen it. This was a good thing as I didn’t have to step in swamp muck to launch the kayak. Looking out towards the swamp I could see ripples on the surface. The sun shown down, reflecting bright light like looking into stage lights without the warmth. I felt a cool breeze blow by and decided to put the sweatshirt on.
 Out on the open water was a complete different experience. The wind blew constantly and sometimes ferociously throughout the day. White caps appeared on the wavy current at times and smacked against the exposed stumps and standing timber out in the swamp. The sound was as if two long boards being slapped together. Paddling the kayak got to be strenuous when moving against the wind. The waves would hit the bow like an exploding water balloon splashing water into and aside the kayak.
 I use a wooden handle claw hammer as an anchor. Normally the claw was all I needed to keep me from moving once it took hold of the lily roots and bottom moss. With the wind it was a constant drift unless the hammer caught hold of an underneath limb. At times I would just wedge the hammer in an exposed stump or limb to keep from being blown away. Trying to anchor in the deeper water would have been impossible so I didn’t even try.
 Forgetting my Zippo, trying to light a stogie got to be a challenge. By the end of the day I figured my thumb would feel like emery cloth constantly trying to keep the butane lighter lit.
 Most of the time I tried to fish the calmer water at the backside of land away from the wind. There wasn’t much of this calmer water available. Also there was a more concentration of the small lily pads which caused more hang ups. 

 As far as catching went I felt it went fairly well considering the conditions. I cast hard and soft homemade foam poppers against the wind, across the wind and with the wind. The short MoJo rod had little trouble in the windy conditions. I’ve used my 7 weight 9’ and 9’ ½” fly rods, I use for steelhead, and I must say the short rod is definitely the better choice for ponds, lakes and swamp waters. With the short rod the popper isn’t in the air as long. If you think about this the popper doesn’t rise off the water as high as a longer rod. The action is quicker and the rod tip isn’t as soft. This all makes for quick casts and less wind resistance. There isn’t a need to make real long casts as if you were river fishing in deep water you can't wade through. I also felt i had more control of my casts.
 With the lily shoots sprouting upward from the bottom fishing beneath was out of the question. I stayed with poppers and made quite a few bass rise. I didn’t catch any big bass. I figured they may have been in deeper water and there was no chance of trying for them in these conditions.

 As far as how the rod handles after the hook up I can't say I could give a fair assessment as of yet. Knowing I had 12lb leader and didn't catch any lunkers the small largemouth bass I caught were no problem getting them to the kayak. I had more resistance trying to unhook my poppers hung up on a bunch of lily pads. 
 About 2:30 I had enough of the weather and wind. My face felt cold and chapped like riding the cycle in cold conditions against the wind for 2 hours straight. My shoulders were getting sore from paddling in the windy conditions and besides that I ran out of cigars. Paddling against the wind, to my exit point, was the last challenge of the day. Again wavy water splashed against the kayak creating sprays of wetness upon me. The cold gusts of wind chilled my cheeks and chapped my lips. My ears felt tender from the all day windy conditions.
 Once aground I dragged the kayak over the bumpy field up to the lane. There I positioned the kayak on the cart and strapped it down. I took my time making my way towards the parking area. A cold beer was a quenching relief as I put my gear away and changed into dry clothes.
 So much for my May bass fishing. I think that with a bass taper fly line the casting would take less effort, more distance and most likely better control especially in windy conditions. I’ll wait till warmer weather, or at least till the end of June, before my next largemouth bass excursion in the National Forest.

~doubletaper


Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Brook Trout 'N Glass

Brook Trout ‘N Glass
5/01/16

  After stop and go fishing the Tionesta Creek, staying downstream from the mud line from the rain, I decided to brook trout fish in the ANF before heading home. I took a dirt road through the Allegheny National Forest and parked along side the narrow creek that flowed between the bare forest trees. I decided to have some fun and I put together the 2 piece ‘Custom Pro’ Wonderod and attached the Martin Classic MC78 reel, with Cortland Sylk line, to the down locking reel seat. As I pulled line out of the reel, lining the rod, it made me chuckle listening to the audible ratcheting clicks of the old Martin reel.
 The gray rain clouds had now passed and the day brightened leaving white puffy clouds lingering above. The white clouds reflected the sun's rays down upon the forest. Looking around, the forest glistened with reflections of light off the wet blades of grass and the raindrop left on the few tree leaves on the branches of small saplings. Pine bows twinkled, from the wetness also, like small Christmas tree lights when the soft wind blew through the forest.
 I found the creek had a chalkiness color to it, in the riffles, and good flow from the recent rainfall. This broadened the mountain stream and should get the brook trout out from their low water hiding places and into the main flow. With the chalky water I won’t have to make long casts, to keep from being seen, and can avoid the bank side branches and overhanging twigs on my casts.
 I started wading the creek casting a Woolly Bugger to get a feel for the short fiberglass rod. I made looping roll casts most of the time but would overhand longer casts where I was able to. I caught one brook trout on a brown bugger but felt I should have had more strikes for the area I had just covered. I know very well brook trout love minnows and I had a variety of bait fish imitations to show off. Once I started the DT Triple Threat fashion show the entertainment started to pick up. I lit a cigar, relaxed a bit and continued on.
 
 I changed colors often with or without the bling depending on the situation from dark shadows along the banks to out in the middle of the creek. In the riffles I used flashier colors to draw more attention. I had to shorten up the minnow imitations some because of the short strikes of the smaller brook trout compared to the rainbow trout I had caught in the Tionesta Creek. With each catch the brook trout darted about within the riffling water and the glass rod flexed and danced with each tug and pull.
 There were a few other anglers fishing bait along the stream also. I simply went around them and continued down creek finding a trout or two here and there. They were spread out looking for a meal as I expected.
 By the time my cigar went out I had caught quite a few brook trout and decided to call it a day. 

  Back at the van I drank a Great Lakes Porter. The cold dark beer went down easily and was a good beer to finish the day.

~doubletaper





Sunday, April 3, 2016

February Treats

February Treats
2/22/16

  I pulled into the parking lot and there was only one vehicle parked with the engine running. The mail lady evidently had to use the outhouse, in the park, before continuing on her route. I parked, got out of the warm van and immediately felt a cold chill that whisked across my face letting me know winter was still here for a while.

 Staying at home, during my lay off, tying flies and sitting out the freezing and snowy weather wasn’t what I called a good time to be laid off. With a little sunshine on Monday I waited till the outside air warmed to above 40 degrees before venturing out to fish. The afternoon sun was above, shining in the blue sky, by the time I got to the parking area. I noticed it didn’t seem its rays were having any effect melting away any more snow.
 Walking to the creek, over patches of snow and pine needles, I watched the clear creek water flow with the sun glistening over the water surface. Some snow melt, from the past warmer winter days, had made the creek rise and looked to be perfect conditions for a trout finding expedition.
 Back at the van I put on some heavier clothes, to deal with the coldness, and decided to take my Hardy Demon rod for a stroll. I didn’t need to take many flies, just a few buggers, nymphs and I carried a small dry fly box for this occasion. To ward off the chill I brought along a flask of some hooch and took a swig before heading up creek in the shade of the overhanging fir trees.

  Looking down towards the creek, as I walked the snow covered roadway, there were patches of snow in the shadier tree areas blocking the sun. The sound of the water, splashing over rocks and loose branches, made for an enjoyable nature harmony that was pleasing to my ears. Finding a path up creek, through the forest, I followed it to the creek. As I stepped into the water I felt the coldness of the mountain creek, on my legs, as it flowed around my waders. It wasn’t much time at all before I felt that same coldness upon my feet hidden within the wading boots and heavy socks I wore. 

 Fishing this ‘spring time’ stocked creek in February I wasn’t expecting to catch many trout if any. It would be like panning for gold a year after the 49’ gold rush on an abandon claim. Sure I might find a nugget here and there but I’m sure not many and not a mother load under some deep pocket beneath the laurel.

 I first decided to fish a dry fly hoping to have a hungry wild trout rise to the offering. I maybe spent a half hour or so wading and casting up creek without any risers. I lit a stogie, before knotting on a small streamer, and turned down creek and fished back towards the van. I made long casts, where I could, so the trout facing up creek had a harder time detecting my presence. I moved slow, trying not to disturb the water too much, for the same reason. I’d catch a branch now and than on a back cast and spend time undoing the snarl. Occasionally I hooked an over hanging laurel leafed branch and have to disturb the water, I was fishing, to retrieve my fly. It took some time but I finally felt a swipe on my offering and set the hook. The trout scurried about in the shallow creek water as the 3wt Demon rod tip flexed like keeping up with a tempo. A fine small brook trout came to visit.


There appeared to be a long pause before my next catch.
After fishing a deeper hole, below a water fall, I moved back on the bank and cast across creek. The bugger fell into a deeper run and began to descend down into the tail out. I saw a darting flash coming out from under the overhanging laurel but the bugger must have passed by too fast for the fish to take it. With the same accuracy I dropped the bugger in the same spot as before. Once the bugger drifted passed the laurel overhang, I let it ‘swim’ in the current below. A short tap was all I needed to know the trout was interested but I waited for a harder tug as the line and bugger, drifted side to side, in the down stream flowing current. With, what felt like a swooping grab, the trout tugged harder and I knew the hook set was good. The trout hastened back to the cover, in the shade of the laurel branches, with my bugger in tow. He tussled with the rod and line for a short bit but gave up quickly in the coldness of the water. This time it was a colorful brown that took my offering.

  I started to feel a little colder and noticed the sun had disappeared behind the moving gray clouds. It was still bright out but the coldness of the winter forest was now causing a little more chill in the air. I took out the flask and after a swig or two licked the sweet bourbon taste from my lips. The bourbon went down a little harsh, being my throat was dry, but warmed my innards in no time.

  Continuing on it would be a while before my next hook up. I was just down from the parking area where I know many people had fished this section of creek. There was a good run of water, from the narrowing of the creek, which emptied into a wider pool. A fallen branch guarded the far bank but the pool was open in the middle for some distance to the next narrowing of the creek below. I moved just down creek from the fallen branch and stooped down upon the bank trying to hide my silhouette. A quick wrist landed my slim streamer just behind the fallen branch. I kept the rod tip high, as nymph fishing, until the streamer passed by me. Then I lowered the rod tip nearer to the surface water letting the streamer drift down creek. ‘Wham’ a trout grabbed the streamer hard enough the momentum swept the fly line towards my side of the creek. The trout must have been along the far bank and, seeing the streamer pass by, shot across creek to intercept it before it continued on. He probably set the hook with his forceful grab of the streamer but I twitched the rod back just to make sure. He scurried about in the wide pool trying to get free but failed at every tugging attempt. This time a nice frisky rainbow joined my tally.

 I caught two more frisky rainbows before lighting another stogie and continuing down creek.

 The next half hour was fruitless. I couldn’t get anything to bite in the dimming light and overcast shadows upon the creek. I took my time making boot tracks in the snow, upon dry land, towards my van.
 A good porter tasted great wetting the dryness in my mouth and throat while I changed clothes. I finished off the lit Fuma on my drive home.

~doubletaper 

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Big Fish in the Little J

Big Fish in the Little J
3/25-3/27 2016

3/25/16

 The Little Juniata River is like most trout waters I imagine as far as the bite goes. One day the trout could be eating now and then and the next day they will shut down like fasting on Good Friday.
 Jeff and I fished a long stretch of the Little J from 8am till just after 12 without a strike. We met three fishermen at the bridge who also never caught a thing. The day was overcast with the occasional appearance of the sun. The water was a bit on the high side with good flow. The clarity was just right, not too clear but clear enough beneath the surface the trout should be able to see a meal passing by from some distance. There weren’t any hatches going on but should have been prime nymph fishing. NOT!
 After noon we went to the campground and set up camp. Lunch was cheese, crackers and assortment of meat and some semi-dry Riesling. After lunch we discussed our plan and drove down creek to where I have fished before.
 Fishing our way, across the river, a few fish rose to the top. We searched the air and water for some kind of a hatch. A few grayish mayflies were about which looked like Blue Duns which I felt was a bit early. Jeff saw a few Mayflies with a grayish-brown body. There were a few midges about and an occasional Brown Stonefly when the sun peeked out for a bit warming the chilly air. There were two trout feeding regularly just out from the far bank, in a wavy current flow, downstream from an uprooted log jam. Doing some research, before this outing, I read that Early Brown Stoneflies and Blue Wing Olives may appear in March depending on the weather. I had tied up some Brown Stonefly dry and nymph patterns before hand. I hadn’t seen any BWO about so I decided to go with a Brown Stonefly dry. With the gusts of wind, and a #14 dry, I went with adding a length of 5x tippet to my tapered leader. I doused the dark brown body of my dry with floatant and was ready to give it a try.
 The nearest trout, behind the log jam, was coming up more often than the one downstream from him. I concentrated on him first. I had some good drag free offerings but he didn’t want what I had to offer. After about 5 showings I tried for the trout behind him.
 Despite the occasional gusts of wind, I must have timed it right and the Brown Stonefly imitation fell upon the water upstream from the trout feeding zone. The current between was a little faster but it looked as though the dry would drift into the zone drag free. As soon as I seen the splash I reared back the long length of line. I felt the rod arc and a tight line rose into the air from the tip of the rod to the swirl of surface water across creek.
“Got him” I called out to Jeff, “First fish on a dry this year.”
 I soon felt the heaviness of the trout as he turned down creek with brutal force. I squeezed the cork grip tighter and felt the muscles in my forearm tighten. I knew I had a heavy fish on and was intending on getting him to the net. Like most brown trout he stayed deep in the waste high water. He’d give a hard head tug before he forcefully swam in a different direction. I maneuvered the rod tip always trying to keep side pressure on him as he fought beneath. As he tired I would take in some line but only let out less line when he would pull away. Nearer to me I got him turned upstream and slowly backed him into the net. What a rush catching my first trout on a dry fly in March, being a heavy wild brown!

After the release I concentrated on the trout that was still feeding. I tried an assortment of dry flies and dry midges. I even threw a few emergers his way and dropped a beetle pattern in his path. He completely ignored everything. He’d rise before my offering and sometimes rose after it went by. Whatever he was munching on wasn’t anything I had he was hungry for. Jeff fished down creek for awhile but I continued on trying to catch that one or two trout on a dry. I even waded back to the van and got more dry flies and offered them to the picky trout. He didn’t want anything. Before dark we called it quits and our total catch of the day was that one single brown trout that I caught on a dry fly.
 At the campground we talked to one guy who said Thursday he caught close to 40 trout all on minnows. Today he didn’t catch any. Other fishermen at the campground claimed the same, no fish. Evidently it wasn’t us! Saturday the weather was suppose to clear up with plenty of sun. We were hoping for some good March hatches that would bring trout to the surface.

3/26/16 

 Most people I talk to, about fishing the Little J, would say nymph fishing is the best way to catch the fish. I have fished this river some time ago and can never remember ever catching a fish on a Woolly Bugger or a streamer of any sort. I have had a few good days on dries during a hatch but other than that going to the dark side, nymph fishing, will be a better chance to catch more trout.

 Saturday morning I cooked up some bacon and eggs while Jeff heated up a pot of tea. After a good breakfast we were off to another section of the river Jeff had suggested. We found the road, between the guard rails, and headed along the road till we found a place to park. Jeff went up river to check the area whereas I walked down to the water following a path.
 The sun was up though the morning air still had a chill to it. There wasn’t as much of a breeze as the day before. The river was much clearer though it could have been just that the day was brighter so visibility was better. I found a good wavy current of water that flowed towards and followed the far bank. I knotted on a Bi-Color San Juan with a stonefly dropper. I added some weight, to get my offering down quickly in the tumbling current. With a roll cast, I dropped my offering up stream and gave the line a quick mend. On my second drift through I felt a hard grab and lifted the rod to tighten the hook set. The fish pulled line beneath and swam with the current down river a short piece. I felt I had a good fish on and had to play him against the current flow. I was knee deep in water and didn’t feel comfortable wading back to shore over the slippery loose rocky river bottom. I did back up a bit hoping to get him out of the quicker current that he swam back into. With the rod arcing downward I moved it down creek with just enough force not to strain the 5x tippet. It felt like he swam side to side, facing the wavy current, beneath the surface water with a tug now and than with his head. He finally gave in and turned down river, with the current, and than swung around facing me. A little battle ensued before I got him in the net. Not as colorful as the brown trout I caught the day before but a nice lengthy brown no less.

 After fishing an hour or so, without another bite, we decided to head to another section of the river.
 We found that fishing the slower water was a waste of valuable time. We concentrated on the wavy and riffling water with stronger current flow. Though I would try a streamer now and then by the end of the day I didn’t even take my streamer box along. Saturday we drove to different sections of the river and maybe spent an hour or two before driving to another section. We caught some trout here and there but it wasn’t an easy task and there were long periods of no strikes. Just enjoying being outside and fly fishing, with a good stogie between my teeth, kept me content and happy.


A big hatch never developed and we were left nymph fishing throughout the day. We each caught a few trout, some nice browns and some smaller trout. Jeff hooked up to, and netted, a big rainbow later in the day.
 We ended the evening with emptying another bottle of white wine after a filling dinner. We didn’t know what to expect Sunday except there shouldn’t be too many people out on the stream being it’s Easter Sunday.



3/27/16
 
 Sunday morning we ate an oatmeal breakfast and finished off a pot of coffee. We cleaned up camp and headed back to the river where we seen a few cars parked the day before. When we got there, there was only one vehicle parked. We got our gear on and headed down to the river. Right off I spotted a good riffle and tumbling water down creek where Jeff started to fish. I had to wade half way across the creek to get to a small island of pebbles and rocks. From there I could fish the nearer bank, towards the lane, that was too steep to fish from that side of the creek. I also had a small run of water that edged the other side of the bank. I knotted on a San Juan and dropped a weighted nymph beneath. Once out mid-river I started to fish my way downriver and back towards the bank.
 In riffles, no more than knee deep, I mended my cast up creek and let it tumble below the surface high sticking with the drift. I didn’t expect to catch anything in the shallow narrow run but my line appeared to stop and the fly line arced up creek. I never seen or felt a nudge in the line so I figured I got caught up on the bottom. I wrist the rod upward to loosen the snag but that didn’t free it. With a couple of soft tugs I still couldn’t release the snag. I jerked just a bit harder and the object started to move into the deeper and faster current cross creek.
 Now, if this was a piece of drift wood or a water logged piece of wood, and I dislodged it, it would have flowed with the current down river. Instead this movement was across creek and I realized I had a fish on. It stayed low and when it reached the faster current it turned down creek with the flow. I knew it wasn’t a trout but whatever it was it had some body weight to it. As my rod flexed down creek the pressure was evidently too much for the fish and I wasn’t going to give it any more line. It finally became a little livelier and put up a little tugging battle before I netted the long sucker. I guess they like San Juan worms also.

 I wasn’t sure where Jeff had gone but I didn’t plan on moving down river into the flat water. I had a nice deep stretch of wavy rough water in front of me and I planned on working it over good. I ended up hooking up with four trout but only was able to land one from the rippling current. I also hooked into another sucker on a brown stonefly nymph.

Jeff never fished the Little J near Spruce Creek so I decided to take him to a section of the river that I have fished before. For an hour and a half we fished a small section and never got a strike. There were three rises in different areas but nothing was feeding regularly. The sun was out but we didn’t see any major hatches about. Jeff finally called it quits around 2, I guessed, and headed back to Pittsburgh. I contemplated on going somewhere else to fish but decided just to fish my way down river some.
 I could see shallow riffles and looked like some deeper runs along the bank. Also it looked like there would be some nice pocket waters in the shallow riffles along the wider section as I looked down river. Besides that I had ¾th of tobacco to smoke of the fuma I was puffing on.
 With the rough water I figured a San Juan would attract attention. I didn’t have any bead San Juan worms left so I dropped a weighted nymph below the worm to get it down quicker. I also added a little weight to the leader and started down river fishing the riffles and deeper runs.
 The bulk of the water flowed towards the bank and the strong current toppled over the boulders creating a wave of tumbling water. The water smoothed out closer to the bank but between me and the bank, the water still tumbled and waved over the smaller hidden boulders and rocks below. It always amazed me how a trout can see any quick meal and be quick enough to grab it within the fast current. But they do!
 The first brown trout nearly took the rod right out of my loose grip. He grabbed the San Juan near the end of the drift unexpectedly. The yank was like two siblings grabbing each end of a jump rope and trying to yank it out of the others hand.
 The trout swam briefly into the slower water directly down from me before fighting the ‘give’ in the rod back into the rougher water. I swung the rod down creek and towards the opposite bank and he nudgingly followed. Once in the slower current he battled with uncontrolled darts like he was avoiding paint balls being shot at him. He tussled all the way to the net never giving up.


After releasing the trout I made a few more casts into the rough water. I seen the line pull outward and I lifted the rod tip, taking up the slack, and setting the hook. The end of the line cut through the waves as the trout scurried about beneath the surface. With the line tight he turned down creek and tried to hold in the small ripples just this side of the rougher water. I turned around and forced him into the shallow water behind me where I was able to net him. He also took the San Juan.

It wasn’t long after that another brown took the nymph in the tail out.

 I landed another smaller trout in the same run and lost one.
 I fished for about another hour, wading down creek, before finishing up back in the run I caught the other browns. I did catch one more brown, on a bead head pheasant tail, before I decided to call it quits.
 Back at the van I felt like an old man changing clothes and getting ready for the long drive home. I munched on some crackers and meat snacks on the way into Tyrone to fill up with gas.
 At a stop sign, before getting onto Rte. 350, I reached into my traveling humidor and took out a dark outer leaf cigar I’ve been saving for such the occasion.


 The Garo, Double Habana, looked to be an interesting smoke and had a great aroma to it. It wasn’t as strong as I would have thought, looking at it, but was an enjoyable long smoke for the ride home.

~doubletaper.