Friday, July 24, 2015

T-Glass and Wild Trout

T-Glass and Wild Trout

 I never felt I had a need for a 2 weight fly rod. Sometimes I think a 2 weight is just something that would be fun to use but do I really need one just to say I own one and used one? I mean, how many times will I really use it? I got a Hardy Demon 7’ 3 weight for small streams. It has a quick action I can cast with just my wrist when I don’t have room behind me. For more open small creeks I have a 7’ Diamonglass 3 weight. Its action is slow as molasses but playing a trout on glass is always fun and enjoyable. Now, if someone would give me one to sample with an option to buy at a discount price, I’d take him up on the sampling but it would have to be pretty impressive for me to buy.
 A friend just so happen to hand me a demo Wright & McGill Generation II S-Curve 7’ 2 weight. He said if I like it he would sell it to me at a discount price. I had it for a few days and read the literature that was still zip tied to the rod tube cap. In short it combines what they call T-Glass with high-density graphite as the core of the blank. It is then wrapped by carbon tape and high-density graphite to eliminate cracking and to increase breaking strength. Not getting into to it any deeper it sounds like a Glass rod with carbon and graphite combined! I wasn’t sure what the action of the rod was going to feel like, either glass or graphite. I was kind of anxious to find out though.
 My plan for the day was to hit a small mountain creek. I was planning on dry fly fishing so I wouldn’t need much gear. A pair of hip boots, a small chest pack, cigars, and the rod and reel was all I needed for a few hours.
 I didn’t have 2 weight line but I did have 444dt 3 weight line on a small graphite reel I figured would work just fine. I packed my gear in the Harley saddlebags, fired up the V-twin and I was on my way.

Didn’t need much and it fit all on the Harley

 I started walking down a trail figuring I’d fish my way up creek towards my bike. A short ways down creek I met up with a fellow. He had a spinning rod in his hand and we carried on a short conversation. He had been fishing from the bridge down creek for the past hour. He said he caught quite a few stock trout and a few small wild brook trout. I asked him what he was using and he said “maggots.” After hearing that he’d been fishing along the creek I plan on fishing my excitement started to diminish some. I wasn’t going to go back to my bike and change cloth and go somewhere else. I had to face the fact that the creek had been gone over recently and the trout might not be so responsive. As I walked along the path I was just hoping there were a few wild brookies that got undisturbed and might be looking up for some food.
 I stopped at a nice looking section of water and knotted on a #16 Adam dry fly. I lit up an Ave Maria cigar to bide my time and hoped for the best.
 The sun was shining in the blue, white puffy clouded, sky. The air was cool in the shade but the sun was warm when I stepped out of the shadows. The water ran mountain stream clear, good depth and cold to touch. Deeper sections were deep enough that the bottom rocks and stones weren’t visible. Long green stemmed grass bordered the banks in open areas with occasional laurel overhanging the banks. Under the canopy of forest, trees lines the creek and there were many more hazards such as tangling branches and droopy pine boughs. It was a gorgeous summer day!

Getting into the faster riffles I felt the small Adam wasn’t the easiest to see so I changed to a humpy. I tried a beetle in slower waters near overhangs but for at least an hour I couldn’t get anything to rise. I figured the other fisherman must have done a good job catching and spooking the fish. I finally tied on a #14 parachute Adams and continued on.
 I had a lot of practice by now casting and controlling the T-glass. It wasn’t as slow or flexible as my Diamond glass. It did flex well near the middle of the rod but had a quick reflex on the forward cast. It was in no way as fast as the Hardy though. I have to say it had a good feel to it. I was able to sidearm my casts without much of a line drop as with a slow action rod. When I would cast straight up creek it had plenty of power though I didn’t need to make long up creek casts.

 I side armed a smooth cast up creek just behind some branches that tipped the water surface. I held the rod high and slowly took in line as the dry fly drifted towards the laurel. It passed beneath and I watched it as it passed by me on the far side. I was in the shadows only up to my ankles off the bank. The dry fly started to bounce a little in the current when a surface splash disturbed it. I quickly raised the rod and took in line. The wild trout darted playfully within the current trying to shake the hook out of its mouth. After an hour of nothingness my first trout came to hand. A beautiful wild brook trout. 

 I was hoping I would find more hungry trout but for another hour I didn’t manage to raise another trout. Even so, the scenery was great and I was enjoying myself in the peaceful wilderness.
 When I got back to my cycle I wasn’t ready to give up but I hated to think of breaking everything down and changing clothes just to drive down creek and reassemble and dress again.

After contemplating I broke the rod down to two sections and put it in the saddlebags. I took the small chest pack and put this in the leather tour pack. I didn’t need to drive too far to where I wanted to fish down creek so with my hip boots still on I straddled the cycle seat and fired the Harley up. Keeping my hip boots away from the mufflers I drove down creek to the big dirt/gravel parking area.

 I knew this section gets hit hard during the first couple of months of the regular trout season opener. I knew there would be a few wild trout about though and was hoping they weren’t disturbed as of yet.
 I was right; it wasn’t long before I caught a small brookie in the slower current along the far bank.

  When I came to the falls I circled around and cast my dry Adam up into the foam. Continuing casting I got a trout to rise into vision but not to the surface. After a few more casts he gave up and disappeared into the deep darkness. I cast the Adam near the far bank but didn’t get any sign of a take. I decided to switch to a beetle pattern.
 Cast after cast towards the bubbling falls I tried to get a fish from beneath to rise. My one cast was ¾ the way across stream just shy of the foam. It drifted slowly and I saw the fish rise, look and take the beetle imitation. A quick rising sweep of the rod and it flexed downward some with the hooked fish. I watched as the trout scurried about but was no match for the T-glass and soon I had him in my palm. I was surprised by the small palomino trout.

 I fished down creek a short piece before tying on the Adam dry fly again. Letting the dry drift down creek with the riffles a trout splashed at the dry and my reflexes was quick enough to get a hold on him. I could tell he was a bit more powerful and heavier than the other trout. I kept the rod angled down as I brought him up creek towards me. It looked like this stocked trout had avoided getting itself into trouble with other fishermen and finally got fooled. The slim brown trout was fine enough to end the day with.

 I had only caught 4 trout for the few hours I spent but the time out was surely enjoyable. The 2 weight far exceeded my expectations with its performance. In other words, I was adding this to my collection.


Monday, July 13, 2015

Sun Dolphin Journey 10 SS Kayak review

Sun Dolphin Journey 10 SS Kayak Review

  I started seriously looking at kayaks for about 3 weeks. I knew I wanted a 10’ kayak that was light and could fit into my conversion van with ease. I wanted to limit my purchase to under $300.00. I wanted one with rod holders and more concerned about stability than speed. I learned about hull design which gave me knowledge in speed, stability and tracking. I found there were a lot of brands, makes and models in this price range but not all were equipped for fishing.
 I read reviews on different models and found most reviews were first time buyers and first time in a kayak. Though the reviews were helpful for a new comer I turned to friends that have been kayaking for a while for some experience advice.
 There are sit-in and sit-on kayaks. At first I was interested with a sit-in but after the more I read and listened to advice I felt a sit-on would be more to my liking for fishing.
 First there is more leg freedom out in the open compared to a sit-in. I also found there is more open space for readily available angling gear than to reach inside a sit-in. after 3 or four visits to the store I decided on the Sun Dolphin 10 SS angler Kayak.
 This kayak is 30” at the beam which I felt would give me more stability than a 28” beam and I felt a 32” beam would be more than I needed and take up a little more space in the van. With a non-angler kayak, which would have been less expensive, I figured by the time I added rod holders it would have cost me just as much or more than a kayak with ones already installed. I also liked the swivel rod holder up front for ease of reaching.

 Buying the sit-on I learned about scuppers. These are drain holes that go through the hull to drain water that enters the kayak from paddling, splashes and rain. I seen reviews that some people silicone these shut or use scupper plugs to keep from getting their butts wet. At the store a couple of long time kayakers told me about scuppers. They also said in any kayak you are bound to get wet. I told them that I'm used to fishing in a float tube with water up to my waist so water on my butt isn’t going to cause any discomfort I’m not used to.
 After getting it home I made some provisions to adapt to my fly fishing. The swivel rod holder, which mounts between my knees, is made for long handled fishing rods. To keep the fly rod in place I added a Velcro strip that will secure the rod handle above the reel. I also cushioned the inside of the plastic holder with a strip of the softer side of Velcro. This keeps the plastic from marring the rod butt, reel lock hardware, seat and cork grip. I can easily unzip the Velcro to pick the rod up out of the holder.

 The cup holder, in front, is oversized. With a little sewing I attached an elastic cloth to a strip of wool to put around a bottle. This is within ease of reaching for any fly I would need as well as drying flies out. I also stuck the insert of a fly box to the center console for my streamers. I found the circular sealed compartment up front holds quite a few robust cigars and a lighter.

Other than that everything else with the kayak was standard.
1. 2 flush mount rod/net holders behind the seat. (I sealed where they are mounted with silicone)
2. A side pocket for small to medium sized fly boxes on each side.
3. Paddle holder on either side. A must!
4. An open compartment, with bungee cords, in the front of the kayak for my waist pack full of more fly fishing stuff.
5. Center console bottle holder.
6. Adjustable foot rests.
7. Thigh pads.
8. Carry handles front and back. (Kayak is rated at 44 lbs, 250 lbs capacity.)
9. A removable P.A.C., (Portable Accessory Carrier), in the rear of the kayak. Nice feature!

 10. A padded back rest.

One of the most complaints of a kayak, in general, I’ve read is the poor uncomfortable seat. Whether it is the plastic floor or a padded seat that comes with the unit just about everyone complained about it. Because of this I wasn’t too concerned if the kayak had a seat pad or not. I knew it would get wet any how. For now I use bubble wrap packing material. It is more comfortable than the plastic seat and drains water off well.

 My first time out I was excited but not over confident in my ability to control my first kayak experience. I read about how some kayaks don’t track well and some are tipsy. How some veer right or left while fishing. I am an avid canoeist with many years of experience so I didn’t think steering a kayak would be too difficult. I heard longer kayaks track better than shorter ones so I didn’t know what to expect. Like any canoe, if there isn’t a paddle in the water now and than it isn’t going to track straight down a river. The tipsy part is what concerned me.
 Well, here’s my experience with a couple of hours spent on the water with the Sun Dolphin.
 Tionesta creek was higher and flowing swifter than I would have liked. It wasn’t white water rapids but there was choppy water here and there. The kayak I felt preformed well with a little guiding of a paddle now and then. I did paddle the kayak cross current of the wavy water and didn't have any 'tipsy' problems. With the swift current there wasn’t a place where the kayak was slowly moving to get more than two casts to a good looking area. I did stop a few times, to wade fish, and getting in and out of the kayak was easy.
 Like anything new you got to get used to it. I learned not to be too aggressive in the kayak when paddling and just relax. You don’t want to dig the paddle deep, moving your body and shoulders side to side, while paddling like in a canoe. This is what may cause some people to say their kayak was tipsy. Smooth strokes, in the upright sitting position, are all that are needed. Steering was a breeze. I caught a few trout, about 15”, and a smallmouth bass. Netting them wasn’t a problem even with the short net I had brought along. 
 I got hung up once on the bottom of the creek. I didn’t have any panic attack that the kayak was going to flip with my extra paddling effort up creek against the flow. It wasn’t that easy but I managed to get above the snag and free the streamer.
 Overall I was pleased with the purchase. I got the kayak and paddle for under $300.00. Again, this is my first kayak experience. I’m sure with more water time I will get accustomed to the ‘Yak’ and relax a lot more.  ~doubletaper

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Mystic Waters

Mystic Waters

 I always felt there was something mystic about the Black Moshannon area. Even the name gives me a mysterious kind of feeling. With its tea stained color of water all year long makes as if I’m fishing in a light oil bath. Laurel and pines grow along its narrow banks. Also the brush and intertwined hanging branches makes it tough to navigate. My 7 foot Demon rod is what I found best for these kinds of conditions. The Hardy has a quick action that I can wrist cast without much of a long line back cast to load the rod. With a double taper line I can roll cast easily where I want to place my offerings.
 The wild brown trout that inhabit the creek always made me feel that they too are a mystery adapting to these dark waters year after year. Some of the brown trout have eyes that bulge out a little more than in other creeks. I always wonder if it‘s because of the dark waters they live in. I’ll catch a brook trout now and then but they just don’t have the spunk or beauty that the wild browns do.

This outing had a little more ’mystery’ to it than other times I have fished it.

 I arrived at the creek around 9:00am. I parked along the dirt road where I usually like to start my fishing expedition when I first arrive. It’s a very warm June morning. The sky if filled with clouds as the sun is still rising towards the mountains tree tops. It doesn’t look like rain though the weatherman says there is that possibility in the morning. I take my chances and pack my fly gear and boxes in my mesh fishing vest. I assemble the 4 piece 3 weight Hardy Demon rod with double taper line. “Black Moshannon, Demon,” it just seems to go together.
 Before I head down to the creek I look around through the forest and notice that the Laurel hasn’t fully bloomed yet this morning.
 The creek is tea stained as usual. They claim it is from the bogs of large amounts of sphagnum moss that grow around the lake and causes this unique color to the water.
 The water level is a bit higher than I would like but I had tied some trout sized Humpy’s for the faster water. My intensions are to dry fly fish but I’ve fished this creek in all kinds of conditions and found that the fish aren’t always going to come to the top for a dry. If this appears to be the case a drifting Woolly Bugger sometimes draws the bottom hugging trout into feeding. As I look across creek the low hanging pine boughs give me no chance of getting a fly between them and the water surface and close to the far bank. Downstream from the branches laurel hugs the bank and overlaps the water. I find that trout like to hug the banks under this foliage. I knot on a beetle pattern and try for one. After about 10 minutes of no risers to my beetle or ant pattern I notice a few Pale Morning Duns lifting off the water. I take out my light color mayfly box and select a small light shaded Sulphur pattern. I knot this on to the 5x tippet and contemplate my cast
 I pull out line as the dry fly drifts down stream a bit. I sidearm a cast with a quick wrist to get the line moving towards the far bank. I slow my follow-through and the fly line straightens with the Sulphur falling down creek from the fly line and tippet. I let the fly drift just under the furthest limbs of the leafy laurel and wait for a rise. It doesn’t take more than a few seconds when a fish swirls for the imitation. A quick pull of the long line and I feel the rod flex under the jerking tugs of a hooked trout. It swims in an arc down creek trying to swim deeper downstream but I give him no more line. He fights with swift darts and dives as I slowly bring in line. A buttery belly wild brown comes nearer enough to net.

 My cast puts the Sulphur between two overhanging laurel branches. I watch the Sulphur drift under the branches as I give line to keep the imitation drag free. A trout splashes for the imitation and I sweep the rod up creek for the set. The trout tugs as it swims out from the overhangs. I bring in line as the trout scoots up creek with head jerks. I turn him around and another trout comes to the net.

  Letting the Sulphur drift directly down creek from where I stand, near the brush, I hook into another trout. This one darts quickly to and fro but gives up easily. A slick brook trout enters the net.

  Within a half hour I hooked up to three trout. I relax and light my first cigar. After another 25 minutes without a take I look down creek and begin my journey.
 I wade slowly casting dry flies as I go. Along the slower runs, along the far bank, I offer the hidden trout a terrestrial or a Mayfly. In the riffling and choppier water I offer them a Humpy pattern that floats high and very visible. When I felt that there was a good chance a trout might be in the location but refused to rise to a dry I resorted to a Wooly Bugger. At times the bugger appeared to be the best choice when the water narrowed between the banks and where the water deepened.

 The bugger dropped just shy of the sunken log that lay on the bottom of the creek. The flow of water was a little quicker and moved the bugger down stream at a good pace. Once the bugger straightened out the slack line, I let it hang in the current beneath, mid creek, before stripping it towards me with a stop and go action. I missed the first tap and I was so slow to react I just let the bugger hang in the current before bringing it towards me again. The second grab was a little more forceful and I was ready this time. The trout darted towards the far bank as the line tightened and followed. The surface water rippled with the trout as it swam just subsurface with jarring tugs. I moved the rod down creek and high taking in line with my left hand. The trout fought near the log but not gaining any more ground it turned toward me. Mid creek it swam sporadically as I kept the rod high taking in more line. Soon a dark color brook trout came to hand. It wasn’t much time after that that another battled with me before it too came to hand.

 By noon I had fished pretty far down creek. I missed a couple trout but under the noon day sun the trout were apparently not hungry or were too far under the overhangs that I couldn’t reach them. I waded out of the creek to the road and headed back to the van for lunch.
 I decided to drive down creek and found myself alone at one of the deeper slower pools on the creek. The water flowing into the pool looked like good oxygenated tumbling current for the trout that wanted to get out of the slow warmer waters of the pool. I decided to work my Humpy pattern in the riffling water.

  Casting up creek I placed the Humpy’s along the bank side vegetation. It wasn’t easy as I had to find ways to maneuver the rod between and sometimes under pine boughs, branches and long stemmed brush for a cast. I caught many a branches, pines and laurel but laughed it off most of the time and kept my cool. It was when I got a rise to my Humpy that made all the close quarter fishing worth while.

 The Humpy fell up creek as far as my cast would allow that wasn’t more than about 20 feet. I was well camouflaged next to the bank side foliage behind me. The water was choppy but there were breaks of slower current within the riffles I was fishing. I kept the rod as high and level with the water as much as I was able while watching the Humpy wobble down creek along the far bank. A quick surfacing splash at my fly and I quickly lifted the rod higher. The fish shot down creek with the current before turning up creek with the pressure of the flexed rod. I brought the trout nearer my side of the bank and handed a shiny small wild brown.

 Fishing the riffles I caught a few more and missed a few before returning to the slow deep pool.

 In the slower pool I concentrated my casts nearer the far bank along the brush. I had more room behind me and I was able to single haul and pin point the casts dropping the dry fly into narrow spaces between the foliage. This amounted to a few more slurping browns.
 Rain began to fall now and again. I wasn’t too far from my van so it wasn’t any problem getting my rain jackets. When the rain did stop the sun came out in a blaze of warmth.

 Down creek I caught one nice brown on the Humpy before I decided to get some dinner before coming back out for the evening hoping for a good hatch of some kind. 

 I heated up some Venison chops and popped open a bottle of home made red wine a friend had given me. I cooked the venison just perfect and the tasty meat melted in my mouth. The wine was a little on the sweet side with a very good grape taste and good body.

Well, after a great meal and a half bottle of wine a good smoke was in order. I lit up a Sancho Panza.
Back at the creek I was ready for a Mayfly hatch but it never materialized. I figured a midge dry would be a good choice for the evening. It wasn’t easy trying to get 6x tippet into the hook eye of a #20 midge after the half bottle of wine. It wasn’t easy getting the 6x tippet through the eye of a #18 dry fly either. I ended up finally getting a #12 beetle knotted to the tippet.
 My casts weren’t as perfect as earlier but I was able to get two more trout to rise to my beetle along the far brush but missed them. Back in the tail out I saw one trout rising mid creek. I had to back cast over my left shoulder with my right hand to keep from getting caught in the tree branches behind. With a few good drifts down into the tail out I ended the day connecting with three more trout before calling it a day.

 Monday morning I awoke early. Like 5:30am early. I had slept well and after lying in my sleeping bag, wide awake, I decided to get up and make some breakfast. I wasn’t in any hurry to start fishing so I lazily got things ready for breakfast. As the kettle was heating up on the single burner Coleman Stove I poured myself some grapefruit juice and cracked a few hard boiled eggs. When the small teapot whistled I looked over and thought the steam rising from the spout, with the forest and creek in the background, would make a good picture. After snapping the shot, with the Sony camera, I brought up the pic and was surprised at what I saw. There was a moonlike orb within the rising steam. Puzzled I took another picture seconds after the first.

  A breeze had blown through the trees just as I snapped the second shot and caused the steam to rise at a different angle. After snapping the picture I checked it out and was kind of leery of what I saw this time. I’m not a person that believes in ghosts or appearing spirits but it looked as though there was a ghostly face within the steam.

  I poured myself a cup of coffee and ate breakfast thinking about these mystery pictures. Just before I left I took another picture of the setting and all seemed back to normal.

 After breakfast I gathered up my fly gear and headed to the deep pool area.
 I noticed I was left with only the thicker part of my tapered leader so I took the time to add a strip of 6lb leader, and 4x and 5x tippet. While I was tying the 5x to the 4x with a Double Uni Knot I heard a splash down at the tail out. I looked up and saw a swirl on the surface slowly disappearing down creek. I finished the knot and looked the water over once again. I noticed a couple of Mayflies coming off the water nearer to the riffles that entered the bigger pool. They weren’t as light colored as the PMD flies the morning before but more of a light grayish body with light colored wings. I looked down towards the tail out and caught sight of another trout rising to the surface a little closer to the overhanging branches near the far bank. I decided to add a strip of 6x tippet and fish a small Blue Dun.
 Where the fish were feeding was in the shadows of a large tree that angled over the water from the far bank. There was plenty of room to get a fly to them but I was contemplating on dropping it where they could see it or drifting it into their feeding zone. I decided to drift the dry, into the dark shadow, to the trout closer to me, mid creek.

 I dabbed the Blue Dun body with dry fly potion and pulled line out for my cast. 
The double taper line looped forward followed by the leader and Dun. The Dun fell gracefully just upstream from where the shadow of the tree began. I had enough slack in the line for a drag free drift that lead towards the feeding trout. With a splashing surface rise I reared back on the rod and the line tightened.
“Gotcha” I said out loud.
 The trout hesitated, as if he couldn’t believe he was hooked, head shook the line and than shot up creek hoping for freedom. I took in line in a hurry and raised the rod tip to keep tension on the spirited trout. He turned down creek in a hurry when I wouldn’t give him any more line as he started to swim towards the underbrush along the bank. When he got back into the tail out waters he gave a few more head shakes and, feeling he was tiring, I started to play him towards me. A nice morning brown trout reached my net safely.

 After releasing him I dried the small Dun off in my handkerchief and dampened the body with a little dry fly potion to keep it afloat. I crouched a bit and shot a tight loop, under the high tree branches, which dropped my dry within the shadow of the tree. The Dun fell on the surface just out from the laurel and started to drift down creek. A trout porpoised up creek at the dun and I was quick to react. The tight line told me I had another trout hooked and he too gave me another spirited battle before binging him in.

 Working the pool over and riffles for the next hour amounted to just a couple more small browns. I decided to pack up and drive up creek.

 The morning was warming fast. The sun shown down in the cloudless sky and brightened the world around me. There were tiny clusters of midges in swarms above the surface but not a trout was rising. I attempted a few dry flies on the surface and a bugger beneath but couldn’t get a strike. I knotted on a beetle pattern that convinced one trout to taste it. He gave me a runaround battle and finally came to my net.

After that one I decided to fish my way down creek as I did the morning before.

  It was if the trout had lockjaw. For the next couple of hours I spent weaving my way through the forested creek I had little to show for my efforts. I tried the bulky Humpy patterns on the wavy current and as well as buggers beneath. In the slower water, and along its banks, I offered dry flies and terrestrials. Maybe it was the bright sunlight that kept the trout out of sight or maybe they still had sore lips from the day before.
 After a ways downstream I got out and returned to the creek just across the road from my van. I tried a few nymphs and caught one trout that squirmed his way loose before I was able to net him. I had a couple more taps on a nymph but couldn’t get a hook into one. The afternoon sun laid down a heat wave that was overbearing along the forested creek. It was getting sticky and I could feel my pores open as droplets of sweat formed on my forehead. I felt pretty good for the fish I caught in the two days and decided to call it quits.
 At the van I changed clothes and ate a quick snack before taking off heading for home. Fathers day weekend didn’t turn out not too bad along the mystic waters of the Black Moshannon if you ask me!