Sunday, August 24, 2014



How could any outdoor loving fisherman not love a tailwater fishery?
A river wide enough that even a novice kayaker or canoeist can maneuver outside a fly fishermen’s casting distance.
Standing in the tailwaters I roll up my sleeves and light my first cigar, a 55 Corojo perfecto. I could feel the cool morning breeze on my bare arms and upon my head through my woven straw hat. The dusty clouds move from mountain top to mountain top under the bright blue sky.
A few Caddis are already seen fluttering and diving near the water surface.
I tie on a Woolly Bugger and begin fishing while watching for any rises. I spot the first rise. I nip off the Bugger and tie on a matching Caddis imitation. 1,2,3 casts and a trout slaps at the caddis, the line tightens and the trout struggles in the quick current. The rod flexes during the struggle. The first trout comes to net. Not a big trout by any means but the chunky rainbow puts a bigger smile on my face.
The sun finds a gap between the clouds and more Caddis flutter about which causes more rising trout. Flycatchers fly from tree tops from one bank to the other, swooping down on the fluttering caddis. The river waves sparkle from the bright sun like wardrobe sequins under stage lights. Spotting my dry Caddis is at times difficult but the splashing rises are evident. More chunky rainbows come to net.

Time passes as I cast out into the open water time and again.
 Another cigar burns, another trout rises and another tight line and struggle resumes.

Ususpecting trout fall victim to long casts of Caddis imitations.
The workout of casting seems endless as do the trout!

Back at the van I quench my thirst with a cold sweet tea before lighting up a Counterfeit Cuban
for my long drive home.
The results of time spent is well worth my effort.
Another fishing adventure concludes with lasting memories!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Make'm rise

Make'm Rise
“Watch this” I said loud enough for Randy to hear me.
“See that undercut in the bank, I’m gonna to put the beetle right in there”
“There’s gotta be one in there!”
  I made a couple false casts to get more line out. When I felt I had my distance I single hauled my back cast and bent forward at my waist as I started my forward cast. The loop unrolled and I let fly line slip through my palm enough to pinpoint the drop zone before pinching the line with the rod extended. The beetle fell under the overhanging curved root and into the darkness of the undercut. The white parachute, atop the beetle imitation, was very much visible upon the surface water…

 It's always a joy taking a friend, new to fly fishing, and teaching him a few tricks. I felt kinda bossy when I told Randy to stand on a certain rock and fish from that spot. The reason was that I didn't want him to get any closer to the trout, that I knew were there, and spook them. This also made him learn to cast further out than he has usually been. I could tell he was anxious as he was overpowering the rod with his backcast and forward cast right from the start. Newbie’s think they must use lots of power to cast further. Most newbie’s end up dropping their rod tip down on the backcast and starting their forward cast too soon. This will lead to problems of course and with too much force causes a backlash at the end resulting with the fly ending up only a foot or so from the tip of the fly line with the leader and tippet lying in a bundle. It took a little advice and instructions but soon Randy relaxed and got in his comfort zone.
 The trout on the other hand were a bit picky. There were short gusts of wind now and than that shuffled the leaves of the overhanging branches so we decided to use terrestrial imitations on top. The sky was overcast with the sun peering out occasionally making for a delightful day. In time we got them to rise to our imitations. After the first few catches though the trout were more wary of our presence but we stuck with it. From late morning to the evening we spent making trout rise where there was no evidence that any even existed along the bank.
It was a time well spent on the river casting to finicky trout. Changing our imitations was a must to put more trout in the net.
... Randy chuckled, as he watched and commented “that should do it”
The beetle didn’t sit there more than a couple of seconds when a swirl made the beetle disappear.
“Got’m!!” I shouted. We both chuckled out loud as the line tightened and the rod flexed more into the shaft.
The trout came darting out from the undercut and I could feel this wasn’t the norm for the day. He went straight up towards the colder creek water that flowed into the river. I watched the line slice through the surface water like a sharp fillet knife through fish flesh. He gave a jolting tug before turning back towards the river. A few more darts and his high energy exertion soon slowed to a controllable calm. The beauty of a brook came to the net.

Here's a good sample of some of the nice brook trout Randy and I caught on the dry and one on a Woolly Buggers when times got real slow.

one on a beetle
One on a hopper
Randy showing off his catch
This one chased a bugger

You never know when one will take a Humpy


Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Evening Hoppers

Evening Hoppers
 The river flowed true, now abandoned by boaters and swimmers. There was a chill in the air as the dark gray clouds blanketed any brighter clouds above. The clouds moved in bundles intertwining with each other as they appeared to wonder about. Occasionally a sun beam would lighten the river momentarily until the next bundle moved within its path. Water waved more erratic over the shallower section before calming some in the deeper water down stream. Aside from a few chirping birds and gurgles of conversion currents the river was quiet and looked peaceful. Mist still lingered down the river valley from the recent stray down pour.

 From under my raincoat I take out a Cuban Counterfeit from my shirt pocket. The 1958 figurado is firm to hold and as I take a long whiff of the outer Ecuador wrapper it has a woodsy aroma with a touch of sweetness. I cup my hand and light the end of the short stogie. A cloud of smoke appears at the end of the barrel much lighter than the gray clouds above. One puff told me this was going to be a good medium full smoke to enjoy the outing.
  I look down the bank-side and ponder how to approach the shallow water where the trout lay. The mountain creek water that empties into the warm river is much colder. As it flows along the banks, trout will inhabit this cooler water away from the warmer river temperature. These trout are wary and with the water being clear are suspicious of any uncommon water wave or shadow that is cast their way.
  I step into the water and immediately feel the cooler creek water absorb into my socks through my wading boots. My ankles and than calves feel the flow as I wet wade, keeping my distance from the bank-side flow. I stop and I move with caution as to not attract attention to my presence. I already have a length of 4x tippet knotted to my 9’ 4x tapered leader I was using for casting streamers the other day. Knowing I will be using big grass hopper patterns later on I take the chance and knot on a foam beetle, hoping that the trout are not line shy. With the darkened sky it may not be as noticeable upon the surface.
  With ease I take my first cast and the beetle drops short of a bank-side boulder that lay against the shoreline. The beetle slowly flows near an overhanging leafy bush. I watch as it drifts aimlessly beyond the bush without a taker. My next cast is just this side of the same leafy bush. It plops for recognition. There are bubbles and small debris that is also flowing with the current so I hope that the audible plop will attract some attention. Within seconds a rising swirl appears to my beetle. With a quick yank I miss the take. Three more casts, in the same area, produces another take and I feel the resistance. The water stirs with activity but within seconds the hook frees and another trout finds freedom. I tie on a small caddis pattern after a few more casts. Drifting the caddis produces a swirl but the fish doesn’t take the imitation. I leave this small area after a few more casts and wade down river to a deeper looking pool. I tie on hefty hopper pattern and proceed.
  The hopper drops onto a flowing seam, bobs with the subtle waves and slows upon the deeper pool. I see the flash just before the take and yank the rod upward. The surface water erupts with the hook set and the trout takes deep with my tight line. He pulls line as he heads for the far bank. Not worrying about my 4x snapping I keep a good grip on the cork handle and let the trout bend the top section of the rod. He turns down river and scurries with sharp tugs. He makes an arc down stream and than angles to the wavier water behind me. I take in line and soon he is within 16 feet or so from me. I coax him back into the slack water and bring in more line until my fly line reaches the tip top. I pull my net out, from under my belt, and get ready to net the trout. Raising the rod he draws nearer, pushes outward and than comes closer to my leg. I scoop him up and my first brown trout is captured in my ghost net.

I release the hopper attached to the side of its mouth and the trout hastily escapes from
my net.

  This first take gives me a good feeling that the hopper is a good imitation and being easy for me to see I continue with confidence.
  I catch another closer to the bank. The swirl was obvious as the hopper disappeared. It is as if the trout knows, once a grass hopper falls into the water, it has no way of escaping. They rise and take the hopper like a helpless insect on the water surface.

 My cast drops the hopper directly, forward, of the deep pool down stream. With a twitch backward, of my rod, puts slack in my fly line before my hopper touches water. I watch as the hopper slowly drifts upon the surface. A trout rises to take a closer look but disappears beneath. Within seconds he rises again and slurps the hopper. With the hook set he too angles towards the far bank, turns down creek when he cannot pull any further, and arcs below. He swims towards the open water. I turn and angle the rod up river. He swims within the current as my tight line follows his movement. I take in line, swing my rod towards the slower current and bring him to the net.

 Time passes and fish take my hopper at any given moment. I enjoy the smooth medium bodied cigar as I fight fish on the Winston 6 weight.

  With a tight loop cast out and across from me I watch the hopper flow slowly with the current. The fly line begins to pull the hopper down creek and I watch as a trout rises and follows the hopper. The waves he creates, as he draws near just subsurface, pushes my hopper down and away. He swats his tale and lunges for the hopper before it gets any further down stream. With the rod already angled down stream I yank downstream as the trout grabs the hopper. The hook sets into its jaw and another battle begins. He splashes subsurface trying to release the hook before diving deep. I can feel he is a weighty fish and I let him take line as he aims for the far bank. He tugs line with head shakes just before darting down river. I give him more line as I swing my rod down and behind me. He rises down river and dives deep again. I cautiously bring in line as he fights for freedom. Closer I can see I hooked him by the beak. He shakes his head to free himself to no avail. The beautiful brown comes to net.

 The hopper over wing gets torn so I decide to snip it off. I also nip off the short piece of 4x tippet and knot on another longer piece. To this I pick out another hopper and knot it on. I cast about but without another take in the deeper pool I wade down river further.

  There are two boulders that sit up against the far bank. Water flows against it and wavy current appears as the water continues to flow at a faster pace. I lay the hopper just short of the boulders and watch as it enters the stream and drifts up against the boulders. The hopper drifts out from the seam and a trout swoops on it for an easy meal. I pull back the long length of line and feel the resistance. Another good battle ensues. It’s a battle of wits as he fights in the faster current. His energy weakens and I get him closer. Another fine brown trout comes to the net.

 As darkness hovers above me rain drops start to fall upon the water. I close my raincoat and cover my hat with the hood. I take out another stogie and light it. The stogie is much lighter than the last. I cast a few more times and wade back up river hoping to fool a few more trout before a big rainfall.

  I catch a couple smaller trout and decide to call it an evening. Once I get to the gravel bank I notice risers up river in the more open water out from the creek water that enters. I decide to give it a try. The rain stops and the evening brightens. I nip off the 4x and tie on a section of 5x. I knot on a caddis and cast it towards the latest rise. Without a take I short cast into the stream of water entering the river. A big swirl appears as soon as the caddis hit’s the water but I’m surprised and late on the hook set. I give the caddis a few more minutes and without a take I knot on a small parachute Adams. I cast this about and a trout takes notice. A quick rise and this time I’m ready. The frisky trout darts about causing swirls in the shallow water. I net the frisky brook trout.

 A few more casts and I hook another brook trout. One more brown takes my Adams imitation before I decide to call it a night.

 At the van I dry off and change into street clothes. Darkness closes in as I head for home. My 4 day vacation comes to a close with a big smile on my face and a smooth cigar between my lips.



Saturday, July 5, 2014

Unprepared on the Clarion River

Unprepared on the Clarion River

  I hadn’t been out fishing for awhile being I had a couple of Cycle rides planned for overnight stays. The dry fly trout fishing hasn’t been the best this year being the heavy rain during the weeks made for high water and unfavorable conditions. I’ve had been tying smallmouth patterns for a friend the past couple of weeks after work and this has been getting me anxious to fish the river for smallmouth. For myself I tied up some popular poppers and sliders I’ve used with great success in the past. The green frog poppers are a killer.
Along with these I tied up some Clouser patterns also. I don’t use Clousers as often than I probably should in the river but I splurged for some painted barbell eyes and decided to give the tying a try on my own. I didn’t think they came out too bad. With a few crawfish patterns and Hellgrammite pattern I was ready for some smallies.

With that I was anxious to get out on the river over the 4th of July.

Friday morning I got my smallmouth patterns together with my last year stuff and combined them in a few fly boxes. I put some extra dry clothes in the sack and threw them in the van. I was planning on wet wading so I didn’t need any waders and left them at home. Usually the river is wadable for the most part and where it is not a weight forward line on a fast action fly rod will get to 98% of the river. I packed a cooler for the day and just in case the river would be higher than expected I threw in my float tube.
  Well, when I got down to the river it was high and brown stained. The further I drove upriver the cloudy it appeared to be. My first thought was to keep on driving and spend the next 45 minutes or so driving due north and trout fish the tail water of a dam. The problem was I didn’t bring any waders and I knew the tail water was going to be quite cold. At least I brought my float tube and not wanting to give up decided to give it a go anyway.
  I stopped at my favorite smallmouth fishing section and pumped up my float tube. I had discovered that I forgot my short flippers that help in the deeper sections. Not only that, with the stronger current it’s going to be difficult to ’steer’ the tube in the direction I may want to go! I loaded up the tube, put a fresh 3X tapered leader on my 6 weight Winston and headed down the bank.
  The water was colder than I expected as I stepped into the knee deep water. The late morning was overcast and the cool breeze didn’t help warm my upper body very much. I didn’t bring a warm long sleeve shirt so I was hoping the sun would stay out and keep me a little warmer than without it.
I started fish before the first set of fast riffles that was usually calm rolling waves. After that I sat in the float tube and away I went. I constantly searched to the river bed with an extended foot so I could stop and fish now and then. Occasionally this happened but I was never able to get to fish the opposite rocky slope. The cross wind didn’t help any when I cast across creek either. The only thing that was pleasant so far about the day was the stogie I was puffing on the whole time and even that was burning quickly in the windy conditions. It got to the point, even though my lower half got used to the water temperature, I was actually shivering at times.
  I got stopped, mid-river, just to the side of tumbling water over an uprising boulder. I planted my feet firmly on the river bed and let the float tube, roped and clasped to my belt, float down a few feet from where I stood. I attached a Clouser to my fast-snap and started to cast into the pocket water behind the boulder and slower current that followed. This looked like a nice spot to fish a weighted Hellgrammite pattern so I attached the heaviest barbell eye pattern I had. The second cast, upriver, behind the boulder the pattern didn’t tumble very far before I got a hard bump. I though maybe I had a snag but to my surprise I felt a fish fighting the line in the heavy tumbling brown stained water. I got it circled around and was surprised of the brown trout I had hooked.
This got my confidence up for sure. I continued fishing this section for some time with the current beating against my thighs and shivering half the time before I decided to continue down river. I did manage one more brown trout before I vacated the area.

 Later in the afternoon I drove down river for a place I could actually wade and fish without the float tube. Being the forth of July there were many fishermen out so the pickings were slim for a fly guy that wanted some room to cast. I came upon a milder section and parked before someone else showed up to swim or fish.
 Down in the river I started fishing Clousers, bugger and the Hellgrammite patterns. There were occasional canoes and kayaks that passed by but they kept their distance in the wide area so they weren’t a problem or a hazard. I spent a couple of hours and only caught 1 small smallmouth for my time spent with one of my Clouser patterns.
The day wasn’t the most pleasurable adventure but I did manage a few fish. Next time I’m sure I’ll be prepared for conditions or at least bring extra fishing gear for a plan C!

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Warming the Kettle

Warming the Kettle

  Saturday morning looked to be the perfect kind of day. The sun was rising with warmth with only a few light clouds moving overhead. There was no sign of rain with just a hint of a breeze. Yes, a perfect day for a long motorcycle ride or sitting on a sandy beach in a straw hat, a cold tropical drink and a cigar waiting for the sun to heat up the day. Here, I was dressed to trout fish, with fly rod in hand and every fly I could think of in boxes for this days outing I was about to partake in. I had my Bonehead shirt on, my straw hat, water bottle and enough cigars to last for a few hours up creek before returning to the van.
  Along the path, within the shade, a couple of fellows were already nymph fishing the shallow riffles. As I crossed the creek, beyond the canopy of trees, I noticed yellow stoneflies fluttering towards land. I continued up creek paying attention to the water flow, cover and any Mayflies I happen to come across.
  I stood along the bank looking over the deep pool of water. Shadows still covered the surface, from the tall trees behind me, but the far bank lit up spring green color from the still rising sun.

 There wasn’t a Mayfly, caddis or stonefly anywhere to be found. As I fished a Woolly Bugger I glanced around and couldn’t spot a rise anywhere. After about 20 minutes of streamer fishing I headed up creek to the narrower wavy current and decided to work my way down. The sun was heating things up and finally shown signs of brightness on the water between the leafy tree tops. I started to nymph fish but kept my eyes and ears open to any sign of a rise.

  I dropped the tandem nymph rig just shy of the tree branches that overhung from the bank. It looked like a good holding place for a trout with cover and shade beneath. As the line drifted down creek it arced outward and I gave a sharp upward tug. The line straightened and drew tight. My first trout was on and running down creek in haste. The current helped his cause as I let line out of the reel through tightened finger pressure. He turned towards midstream and I lifted the rod higher and towards my side of the bank. With a head jerk, that jolted the rod tip, he cut across creek and headed back up to where we began the battle. I took in line while keeping pressure on him. When he got to the overhanging branches I tilted the rod down and backed up towards dry land. He tussled a bit more and than took to the current and swam down creek. I got him turned around and soon had him coming my way in defiance.

I continued to nymph my way down creek without another take until I came to the deep pool again. My drift was just at the back end when I noticed the line stop briefly. I pulled up creek and felt a heavy load. The fight just wasn’t too frisky but the tugs and pulls put a strain on the line and rod. I wrestled the heavy weight towards me and was surprised by my catch. A big scaled sucker gave me a notice that not only trout feed on nymphs.

I continued to fish alone enjoying the morning though I never noticed any trout feeding on top. On my return to the van I stopped now and then and fished in likely lies. I caught a couple more trout before returning to the parking lot and prepare for the evening.

  I left the project area and drove down stream where I fished the evening before. It was going on 2:00 and the sun was high and mighty. I opened a bottle of cold brew and made myself some lunch. I had plenty of time on my hand and to relax and let the sun dip lower to cause some shade on the long stretch of water. Friday evening I had refusals to my coffin flies and was running low on the shade and size of my March Browns. I took out my Renzetti Travelers 2200, hooks, and fly tying material and tied up a half dozen of each.
After cleaning up I grabbed my 4wt fast action fly rod and gear and headed to the creek. Crossing towards the other side I didn’t notice any risers or Mayflies about. I waded up creek, along the bank, ¾ the way towards the fast tumbling water. My plan was to take my time, as the sun began to set and dry fly fish my way down creek.
The sun was still up high and I could feel the heat on my exposed body. It cast some shade upon the water along the tree lined bank across creek. I rolled up my sleeves and looked down creek at the long flat stretch. I know this section well with deep runs and submerged boulders with some shallower sections with rocks strewn out beneath. I never walked the far side but have seen many sippers and risers enough to know it was deep and good places for trout to keep out of the blazing sun. Most of the fish on that side were safe. With tree and brush hazards behind me and deeper water mid-creek it was nearly impossible to get a long cast out there let alone a good drift. I put my rod under my armpit and pulled out a cigar while looking down creek for risers again. I just had a good feeling I was going to have some fun dry fly fishing even if I didn’t see many risers…yet!

 There has been controversy about line shy trout ever since I could remember. In one of W. Tapply’s books I remember something he wrote that I always keep in mind. Before there was fluorocarbon or light tippet, such as 5x or 6x line shy trout were still caught. The trick, if that’s what you call it, he explained is that he just used longer leader and tippet. Knowing I’ll be casting #12 and possibly #10 flies if the Drakes appear, I knotted on another foot and a half of 5x tippet to my tapered leader. I knotted on a Para-March Brown and lit my cigar.
My cast was out midstream. The dry fly drifted over the deepest part of the creek with the white calf tail parachute sticking up like a sore thumb. From the depth a fish rose, flashed and grabbed my dry. I had the rod lifting on his take as I caught him red handed trying to steal my enticing imitation. He was a frisky fighter but was no match for the 4 weight. I brought him in handily.

As the sun started to set a bit behind the tree tops, still leaving some parts of the creek in direct sunshine, a few trout started to rise. I seen a few Light Cahills fluttering upwards now and again but I stuck with my march Brown.

  My dry fly landed towards the far side of midstream. I could tell there was a quicker current just beyond where the dry fell. The current drifted the dry flawlessly along the seam where the tree line shadows met with the sunny water surface. It teetered with the small waves of current as if it was struggling upon the surface. The rise was a quick slurp that almost brought the trout clear out of the water surface. I yanked back the rod tip and felt the line tighten from the hooked fish. I could feel he wasn’t very big but another gallant fight by a frisky rainbow gave me a just reward.
 Along my side of the bank a fish rose as I was freeing my last catch. I brought in the long length of line and looped a cast ahead of the bank side rise. I let the extra slack drift the fly towards the fish and waited for the take. Sure enough he took the parachute March Brown with a swirl as if it was a spinner just drifting along the bank. Once hooked he shot out away from the bank like a scared rabbit jumped from its set. He stayed beneath, unlike the rainbows, and fought with headshakes as he tested the 5x tippet. Getting him closer he rose and I could see he was a fine brown trout with lots of energy to spare.

 There was a fish, within the shade of a tall overhanging branchy tree, feeding regularly near the far bank. It would be a long cast but with the brush behind me I couldn’t get enough line out on my back cast to get my fly nearer to him. “If only I could get out towards the middle I’d have a chance.
  Down stream the water smoothed out mid creek as if it was shallower. I waded down creek some and a fish rose to something on top. I pulled line out and side armed a cast down and across letting the fly drop with my leader behind. It passed the spot he rose beforehand but I seen him rise and turn on the fly. Within seconds he caught up with it and grabbed it before it drifted any further. Another trout came to the net.

 I found a way across the shallower water to get myself mid creek to make a play for the feeder beneath the overhanging tall tree across creek. Standing on a flat boulder I let a cast go up creek a ways from the riser. The dry fly fluttered down to the surface and it wasn’t on the water more than a short drift before a fish rose with quickness before the dry could drift any further. I wasn’t expecting the quick rise but my natural reaction pulled the rod tip backward which led to another tight line. The fish fought exuberantly as I was able to get him towards me without him coming loose.

 I was having a good time picking off rising trout but my eyes still keyed on the feeder across creek. With a long back cast, with a single hull, I let the long length of line shoot forward across creek. It looked as if the dry would drift within the sight of the feeder. He rose with an uncommon splash and I yanked the long length of line up creek. Another tight line, with a flexed rod tip, told me I had him. He fought with tugs but, though he felt heavy, he didn’t fight with darting pulls or swift turns. Getting him closer I knew something was different about this fish. To my surprise he turned out to be a big chub.

 I caught a couple more as I continued to wade and fish down creek to the much slower water that I fished Friday evening. There were a few fish rising but I had a hard time getting them to take my parachute dry.
  I noticed a good splashing rise nearer the bank but it wouldn’t rise to my imitation March Brown. Up creek, there was another fish feeding pretty regularly. I cast upstream and sure enough he took the dry with a quick turn as he rose. Another trout came to the net.
 By now the sun was well below the tree tops and the surface water was in complete shade from the sun. Nearer to me I watched a fish rise to my dry, inspecting it, and swam beneath refusing my imitation. I decided to switch to a full body Catskill tied March Brown.
My cast was in the direction of the heavy splashes of the occasional trout rising nearer the far bank. I mended up creek for more slack in the line for a longer drift. The far bank current was a lot slower and I needed the extra slack as to not let the bulky dry drag in the current.
  Wham, the trout rose with a tumbling take. I lifted the rod instantly and the battle began. He shot out from the bank down creek with force and hatred. We tussled as he wouldn’t give in getting nearer to me. He pulled line through my fingers and turned toward the far bank again. I swung the rod upstream with a tight grip on the cork handle. He swam parallel with the bank till he was straight across from me. I took in line, keeping the line taunt and rod tip flexed downward. He gave a swift tug and than headed towards me. I took line in quickly and soon he was only a few feet in front of me. I had my left hand holding the net in the water when he shot up creek when he seen me. I had to let line slip between my right fingers against the cork as his escape was stronger than I expected. I got him turned around and splashing towards my net. My last trout of the day looked to be a hold over brown trout that had been able to elude many other fishermen.

 It was getting too dark to see my fly and it was evident there wasn’t going to be a Green Drake spinner fall. I hooked the March Brown to my hook keeper and waded towards the bank to exit the water for the evening.
At the van I cooked up some venison chops in BBQ sauce and quenched my thirst with another cooler cold brew.