Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Speckles in the Adirondaks (page 3)

PA. Fishermen in the Adirondaks (part3)

Speckles in the Adirondaks (page3)
Friday, June 12th____________

Jeff and I had our gear ready on the porch, outside of the small room we were staying at, behind the Adirondak fly shop when the guide showed up at 7:00am as planned. He said because of the rain overnight the Ausable would be unfishable and dangerous because of the fast dirty water. He also commented that he checked the Saranac River earlier and that was also dirty and felt it wasn’t fair to guide us in the present conditions and wanted to reschedule. We were staying until Sunday so we asked if he thought the rivers would be fishable Saturday. Without rain he was pretty sure the Saranac would be fishable but we would have to wait and see about the Ausable. Not wanting to sit around all day we asked him if there were any waters close by we could fish. He asked if we fish small streams. “We’re from Pennsylvania” we said, “We’ll fish any water that has fish in it.” After further conversation he drove Jeff to a nearby brook stream to make sure he’d find it. I stayed behind and reoutfitted for fishing small waters. That’s when I found out I didn’t bring my 7’6” Powel rod. I’ll have to fish with my Scott 8’6” long rod. I tried to look at the bright side and figured if there was any long rod I had to use on a small brook it would be my Scott rod. Besides, I told myself, it will be good for high sticking.
Jeff and the guide returned and explained that there were no trails along the brook. It would be tough going and we’ll have to fish pocket waters. He also told us that streamers and buggers should do well. He left us with high hopes and drove over and opened up the fly shop. Jeff changed into hip waders and put together his 7’ 6” 3wt. and we headed on down the road.

We parked alongside the road, in hard packed dirt, that looked like the city/county was going to black top for bicycling. The sky was a mix of gray bottomed cumulus clouds that looked like it might clear up for a nice day. We decided not to take rain gear and headed down through the roadside brush, branchy small trees, partial marsh and high grass. We came to a flat section of the creek with slow moving water. Trees and brush followed along the far bank with a few boulders extending out into the water. It looked like a good place to cast a beetle pattern under. To our right the water converged under overhanging trees and rolled over and around big boulders and rocks. It didn’t look too inviting from where we stood but we were going to give it a try. Jeff and I started off with buggers in the slow deep waters without any bumps. I tied on a beetle imitation, and with enough room over the high grass behind me, I was able to back-cast enough line out to lay the beetle nicely near the far bank. Slowly working down to the fast waters I got no rises from the slightly brown stained waters. Jeff continued to work the slow waters as I entered the thick forested lined, rough water brook stream

Instantly the sound of the rushing of water over boulders spilling into back narrow pools along with water splashing against downed branches and shallow rocks fully occupied my ear drums like a hard rock concert in an enclosed arena. Tree branches loomed over the water in most places shading the brook stream from the rising sun. The thought of stepping into the creek and trying to wade along its banks looked to be taken more cautiously than walking along the forested bank.
Keeping the long rod in front of me I slowly walk along dry land until I find a spot I can drop into the water. Finding this, I peer through my polarized shades to check the depth and rocky bottom before entering. Looking out over the water I find three pockets of water that looks reachable with minimum drag. I tie on a bushy march brown haystack. Pulling line out of the reel I try to side arm cast up and downstream and throw a loop cast upstream with slacked line. The stiff med-fast action rod gives little energy to the short extended fly line and the fresh 9’ tapered leader falls short of my intended target never fully straightening. Continuing trying to cast the long rod with long tapered leader gets frustrating and I have no recourse but to cut about 2-3 feet off the stiffer part of the looped end tapered 6x leader. Making a new loop, of what’s left of the leader, I loop this onto the fly line loop with a handshake knot. My first cast improves greatly and I now concentrate more on reading the creek than worrying about my failing casts.

Jeff passes behind me as I get a feel for my surroundings. He cautiously walks among the broken branches and ferns and heads downstream giving me some workable water between us. I slowly wade my way along the bank holding onto branches and roots while searching for sure-footed ground on the brooks rocky bottom. Seeing some ’good’ pockets downstream and across I stop and notice a few caddis emerging and fluttering along the waters. I tie on a #12 tan elk hair caddis and dab the body of the fly with dry fly sauce. I pull up the elk hair so it will ride high in the water and pull enough line out to roll cast down and across stream. I drop the fly nicely on the upside of a fast riffle and watch the fly ride the waves. Just before a flat submerged rock, that creates a falls on its backside, I start to bring in the caddis for another roll cast when I notice a quick rise to my retrieving fly. Hmm, I grab my fly line and reel in some line into my reel to shorten the overall length of line beyond my rod tip. Looping the line downstream in front of me I hold my fly rod as high as possible and gradually move my rod towards the fly while dropping the rod tip so the fly rides high and moves with the current caused by my own submerged legs. The fish doesn’t come up for it so I loop a roll cast in the middle of a pool before a flat exposed rock. The flow takes the fly away from me as I slowly drop my rod tip to keep my fly upright and drag free. A fish slaps quickly at my fly and I quickly react with the tip of my rod. The first fish is on and I easily direct him towards my side of the brook. Since the small speckled trout is no match for my 5wt. I let him swim below my wake as I pickpocket my camera out of my top shirt pocket. Focusing on the fish, as I hold the rod under my arm and fish in hand is a chore but I do my best. Remembering to lightly push the picture taking button, so the digital camera automatically focuses, I then press the button all the way down and the camera clicks. I unhook the caddis from the fish’s top lip and place the trout back into the water. He has no problem darting off back into his domain. Checking the screen the picture recaptures the yellow speckles with a few red dots with blueish hallows that adorn the side of the speckled trout’s body.

speckle on a tan caddis dry

Across creek, towards the far bank, a small rock creates a pocket of slower water just up from a huge round-topped boulder. Smoother flowing water is on my side of the smaller rock. The odds of me getting a fish across the rushing fast water and boulders, should I so hook up with one, would be almost impossible. I go for it anyhow. I get a good cast upstream from my expected target. My fly line catches on an exposed rock three quarters of the way across stream. This in turn straightens out my leader and drifts my caddis just this side of the smaller exposed rock. I watch the caddis drift towards the big rounded boulder and a fish slaps at the caddis. I backhand set the hook and I can feel the fish’s weight after my fly line lifts off the previous exposed rock. He splashes above the surface with my quick rising hook-set. He heads downstream along the big boulder as my fly line gets caught up in a rush of choppy water midstream. The tip of the rod straightens as the weight of the fish is no longer at the end of the line. I laugh at myself for the attempt and actually hooking up. Jeff appears behind me as I reel in my line to move downstream. In short conversation I tell him my two quick catches and show him the picture of the speckle trout. It seems to boost his confidence as we walk downstream some for more pocket water fishing.

Later on I come to some fast choppy water that has small pockets behind the exposed boulders. I tie on and sauce up one of my own bushy, extra hackled, #12 March Brown patterns. Casting downstream, with ‘S’ bends behind my leader and fly, I watch my fly flow with the waves above the surface current. A fish slaps at the fly just at the end of the straightened leader swing. I’m jerry-on-the-spot and tug lightly on the rod tip. The fish dives behind some swirling water as I lift the rod tip and slowly get onto the bank above a flat rock just below me. I walk slowly down the bank as the fish fights in circles in the swirling water. I reel in line and take out my camera. Lifting the fish onto the moss and green floral bank-side I do my best again to get a quick picture of the active, flopping small speckle.

speckle on my march brown dry

Fishing the stream continues to be aggravating the further downstream we move. I continue to catch and miss trout as Jeff catches and misses a few also but we‘re fishing, learning and enjoying ourselves. We find a good long run with less exposed boulders out in the middle of the stream. I was getting too comfortable casting into the uneven flowing water and my one cast got caught up on a branch over hanging the middle of the brook. Pulling on the line, in an attempt to either break the branch or the leader, the line snapped and there hung my fly, full leader and braided loop. Jeff heard my outburst of disapproval and asked “what's the matter?”
I pointed to the hanging leader with my rod tip just out of reach.

Not letting the forest trees get the best of me I scavenged around until I found a long dead tree branch that would reach the hanging leader. I was unsuccessful trying to latch on to the leader somehow when Jeff suggested on swinging the branch into the leader in hopes of twisting the leader around the branch. So there I was, a 50+ year old man, alongside a brook stream, swinging a long dead branch, like a small kid, trying to get a fishing line out of a tree branch. It worked!!

Getting the line in I clipped off the braided loop and shrink tubing. Picking up a thin stick I nail-knotted the leader back onto my fly line and I was back in business. Noticing more yellow stoneflies coming off the water I clipped off the fly I was using and tied on one of my own yellow sally patterns. First cast, behind a huge boulder, I watched a fish rise and take in the drifting fly. Hook set, fish on, I was back in the game.

fooled by my yellow sally

We fished until about 11:00am and then headed back up to the fly shop. There we talked to our guide and I thanked Fran Betters for the opportunities we had thus far in providing us with information to get us onto fish despite the unfavorable conditions. We headed up towards Lake Placid in hopes of finding decent waters to fly fish in but that wasn’t going to happen. The water was raging between the flooded banks. Water roared and crashed thru narrow passages and the flumes. Where we fished Thursday evening was now a white water hazard. We went back to our small room and after eating lunch, I took a much needed nap. About 3:00 we headed back out to the small brook and our attempts to make fish rise wasn’t very convincing. We each caught or missed very few. We ended fishing the slower flat section near the road without any hits.

Back at our ’humble abode’ I took a box shower and we got ready to watch the Pen’s play for the Stanley Cup at the nearby sports bar. Of course we were the only enthusiastic Pen’s fans in the New York tavern. After our $9.00 burgers and onion rings, beers, second period cigars and a few power shots after a well deserved win, we headed back across the street to our room.

In no time I was asleep as visions of Green Drakes and spinner falls danced in my head in hopes that Saturday fishing the Ausable would soon be here!


our 'box shower'

Jeff with another cast

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

A Touch of the Ausable (second page)

PA. Fishermen in the Adirondaks (part 2)

...About a foot or so, shy of the submerged rock, an elongated figure b-lines straight towards my fly. In an instant he takes my caddis with a surface splash. Already keeping my rod high, and anticipating the take, I yank back hard enough to lift enough slacked line off the water to set the hook. My rod bends good.....
_________________A Touch of the Ausable_________
5:00pm Thursday Jeff and I are in the Ausable wearing raincoats as the unstable sky cursed us with upstream thunder and periods of rain. We headed down the bank, in a drizzle, towards the lightly brown tea stained colored water. Jeff headed downstream to fish a straight stretch of rocky, fast moving water, with pockets of back eddies behind exposed boulders. I elected to fish the tail end of a large pool area and the beginning of the rockier mass of the straight stretch.

After getting over the distraction of the fine figured fly fisherwoman, upstream fishing the middle of the pool, in dark blue spandex that covered her bottom half and long legs, I looked over the rest of the pool to check for any risers. I noticed her thin ankles showed above her blue pair of wading shoes she was wearing as I looked over the water and noticed caddis about. If I hadn’t seen her at the vehicles, as Jeff and I were gearing up, I would had never known how thin she was under her oversized blue raincoat she was now wearing as her bucket hat sat on her wavy sandy colored hair.

Being that the water was a little choppy I tied on a haystack March Brown and cast upstream just shy of a small falls below the big pool. High-sticking, I followed the March Brown with my rod tip as it drifted to the end of the pool. On the third drift, a little further out, I watched the March Brown waver up and down with the small riffles. I seen an oval shadowy fish rise, inspect it, and slurped it in. I immediately raised my rod higher and set the hook. Ya, I called out to let Jeff know I caught my first Ausable trout. The little brown was no match for my 5wt. Scott rod even in the fast current. After letting the little guy go I continued to fish the bottom end of the pool, in the rain, until the fisher-babe gave up her spot covering the large pool area. She headed back across the shallow rocks towards the short incline that lead to the vehicles cautiously tip-toeing as she made her way.

I slowly moved along the large pool studying the waters. Moving further out, from the branchy incline behind me, gave me ample room for a decent back-cast to reach ¾ of the way across river. One trout surfaced along the far bank but wasn’t reachable with my double-taper line. I continued to work the pool over, casting across, mending upstream and letting a caddis dry drift upon the slower rolling water. At the end of one drift, out a ways, I saw a disturbance in the water where I figured my fly to be. I yanked back the long length of fly line quick enough to feel the resistance on the other end and FISH ON! As the fish headed towards me I stripped in line quickly while holding the rod tip up. The fish than took off upstream, but when I had enough line in to put tension on the escaping fish, I turned the trout around. He headed towards the bottom of the pool and closer to me. Getting line and leader under control I brought the 10” brown to my feet. Ok, I thought, this is getting fun and my own hand tied flies work in New York as well!!

I moved down the pool area and squared myself, facing the opposite bank, in an attempt at the rising trout across the river. With my rod at a slight angle I false casted twice, in-line with the water flow. On my last back-cast I swung my rod in an arc high above and behind me creating a big arc in the retreating fly line. I than sharply forward casted towards the far bank with my rod tip still high above me. As my fly line followed the arc and started forward I brought my arm down to a 10:00 position. My fly line, leader and fly followed in a wide loop in the direction my rod tip was pointing. From the 10:00 position I laid the rod tip horizontal and watched the fly fall onto the moving water across the pool. Within seconds the unsuspected fish splashed in an attempt to take my fly but with all the line out, water drag, my hook-set was late,,,, but I did fool the trout!
After a few more casts Jeff’s voice called out behind me that we should move to flatter water for the evening spinner fall should there be one.

We drove downstream to a wide flatter section of good current moving water. We waded out in shin deep water and checked over the situation. Jeff headed upstream for a narrow section that opened up into the flat water we were standing in. I spotted a big huge boulder, up against the far bank, over shadowed by leafy tree branches. Just below this I could see a nice ripple run caused by the jutting out boulder.
I fished my way over missing one small trout that came up after my dry while I was bringing it in. I finally anchored myself, in thigh high water, where I could cast 360 degrees with plenty of room for my back-cast. There were noticeable swirls of water about that was caused by submerged rocks. This is where I figured the trout to be hiding until they came out to feed in the evening just before dark. I took notes of the water, near the far bank, flowing into the jutting out boulder creating a whirlpool. From there the water creased around the boulder with a fast flow but still a smooth surface. At the end of the boulder the water got choppy flowing downstream a ways before settling down in a wide section and then narrowing back into a mass of exposed, strewn out river rocks.

About 12yards across stream I catch a noticeable swirl in between the sprinkle of raindrops. I notice caddis hovering with a few diving onto the water surface. After tying on a #12 tan caddis I lean left and throw a cast that puts my fly upstream from the rise with my loop across current. Taking in line, to shorten the loop, the unsuspected fish rises and takes my caddis. I sharply lift my rod up and back across my body and set the hook on the sipper. The fish darts downstream as I feel the weight of the small trout. I release a 9” brown.
Continuing casting I notice a good leaping rise below the big boulder in the choppy flowing water. I take a few steps closer, but feeling there are hidden fish around me, I don’t want to disturb the waters and again plant my feet. I take more line out of my reel as my fly and line flow downstream. I make a couple false casts to get line out for my long forward cast towards the choppy water. The caddis falls upstream of the choppy water and I watch the caddis bob over a flat submerged rock, where the rise was, but not even a look see as my caddis drifts by. I know it’s not easy for me to cast again with all the line out but I try anyhow. With the rod tip near the water I lift my rod high, stiff armed, while pulling line in with my line hand. This gives me extra line speed. Just before I pause at 2:00 I move my wrist backwards. As I feel the line load behind me I drop my elbow some. Waiting long enough for my rod to fully load, I start my arm forward in the 90 degree position and than forward cast to the 10:00 position and power my wrist forward. I watch the fly line unfold in the air and at the right time, by feel, I let the extra fly line slip thru my line hand fingers and through the rod guides. As the fly falls to the water I tug the rod tip to my left quickly enough to send the fly towards me before it touches down. This puts slack in my line and the fly drifts drag free. About a foot or so, shy of the submerged rock, an elongated figure b-lines straight towards my fly. In an instant he takes my caddis with a surface splash. Already keeping my rod high, and anticipating the take, I yank back hard enough to lift enough slacked line off the water to set the hook. My rod bends good!

The fish runs a course downstream as my 5 wt. flexes with its weight. Turning my body downstream the fish heads to my right towards the shallower shin high water. As I’m bringing in slack line, he turns quickly, causing a surface swirl, and torpedoes back towards where he started. I regain tension on him and let him use his energy fighting downstream against my bent rod. He finally turns and makes a run towards the big boulder creasing the fast flow. I hurriedly take in slack with quick strips and catch up putting tension from his left side as he tries to hold out in front of me. Reluctantly he swims my way as my 5x leader and rod are too much for him to continue his fight. Cradling the fish against my leg I lift the 14” football brown against my belly. Rain water runs off my hat onto the spotted brown as I grab for my hemostats. I take a quick gander at the fish and notice the dark burnt orange that covers most of his whitish belly. I release the hook from the side of the trout’s thick jaw and put him back into the water. I feel him slither but hold onto the neck of his tail until he thwarts with force before letting him swim free.

My caddis dry is tore up and falling apart. In the dimming evening sky I look up and notice spinners moving upstream in the drizzle. Some are hovering and I try to catch one or at least knock one down. This is like trying to hit a humming bird, with their quickness it is useless. I try to make out the body color against the fading light and decide there are white spinners and brown spinners.

I tie on one of my coffin flies and search for rises. Seeing none I cast out aimlessly across stream. Being able to see the white spinner against the darker waters you would think I should catch any strikes. The first strike came quick and missing I figured I was late on the take. When I missed another I brought the big #10 extended body fly in to make sure the point was still on. I tied my coffin flies on swimming hooks that I got from a friend. It’s a gold fine hook with a short bend. It’s the first time I’ve used these and I got to thinking maybe there just not right for this kind of dry pattern. After casting it out again and missing another rise I decided to clip it off and tie on a mahogany spinner.

I look up skyward and see less spinners above. I am sure the rain has held them up. Looking into the water though I see more rises around me. Casting out in front of a rise, I mend line upstream and let my spinner float with the current. A fish rises aggressively and I set the hook with a quick wrist jerk. The trout takes off in an instant and my rod bends quick enough and with force I’m forced to let line shoot through my line hand fingers. He takes me to the spool as he heads to the boulder and than turns and heads downstream into the choppy water. I palm the reel and move my bent rod at an angle to my right to try to force him out of the choppy water and not cross it to the other side. He swings down and crosses the river below me and heads for the shallower water as the previous brown did. I turn my body, keeping the rod high and at an angle, while reeling the line as he continues his circle around me. I now know why a large arbor would come in handy as I wind in line like crazy onto my standard Battenkill reel. He passes me so quickly, heading upstream, my bent rod is now behind him. Swirls of water surface marking his path through the shallows. Once upstream he hesitates as if waiting for me to make the next move. Heck, I just continue swinging my rod around and try to motion him into the deeper part of the river. He nudges with either a head shake or tail swat and tries to head upstream towards the motion of my previous swing. The current and rod strength are now too much for his fatiguing body and he cannot force me to give him any slack to head upstream. He heads for deeper water at a slower pace. Now that I turned a complete 360 degrees, kept my composure and wit, I’m ready to bring him in. putting more tension on the reel drag, I start to reel him in. After a few more bursts, trying to have me give him more line, he quits in exhaustion and holds tight just beyond a rod length. My fly line and leader, under tension, vibrates like a banjo string with each wave of his tail as he tries not to come any closer. I lift my rod back and he strolls over like a helpless pup on a leash. His dark brown olive thick upper body gives way to his dark burnish tan belly. Not a spot of white is visible underneath. Cradling the solid handfull against my fly vest, I unhook my mahogany spinner from his top lip. I position the end of my rod butt up to his tail and notice where his bottom jaw reaches upon the rod shaft. About a couple inches beyond the first single wind. Measuring later came to about 16”.
The heavy brown slips through my wet hand and falls into the water. I move with him to make sure he doesn’t float. He sits on the bottom as I reach down to help him recover. He nonchalantly swats my ankle with his tail as he slowly moves along the bottom towards the deep.

Looking up, the spinners are gone. Upon the water there are still a few risers as I cast to each of them within reach. I Catch a few nice 10“-12”ers but none give me a fight like the two big browns. Jeff finally calls out from upstream and I wave in acknowledgment. The rain starts to fall harder and I head to the vehicle. We converse with accomplishment under the darkness and raindrops as we fit our sectioned rods in the back of the Escape. We find that it is a little past 9:00pm and we hurry back to the room to change and hopefully find a restaurant still open to serve dinner.

That evening we sat at the bar of the Hungry Trout eating ribs and wings and washing them down with cold draft beer. Three gentlemen, to my left, were talking about fly fishing around the area. One brought up about the way Fran Betters flies hold up compared to others he has used.

Hmm, we’ll be getting a box of flies with the guided trip Jeff and I are taking tomorrow…if the river is fishable!!!


Friday, June 19, 2009

Pa. Fishermen in the Adirondaks (first page)

I just got back Monday from fishing near Lake Placid in the Adirondacks. the next few weeks i'll story tell my journey, in parts, from the incident on the way up, to our return visiting a couple finger lake wineries. . we fished the Ausable River, Saranac River, a small brook stream outside of Wilmington and below the Cranberry dam.
Hope you all enjoy!!

Pa. Fishermen in the Adirondacks
(part 1, Thursday 11th, 2009)

.2 Wild Turkeys, 2 Wild Deer and 2 Wild Tires

 From Watertown NY. Jeff took rte. 3, through the Adirondaks, towards Lake Placid. After a sandwich picnic lunch, over looking the Oswegatchie River in Harrisville, I took over driving. Jeff fell asleep shortly after we seen 1 wild turkey and a wild deer along the rte. I was cruising at about 60mph. Listening to Classic Vinyl on Sirius. I had just spotted another wild turkey and deer off the side of the road as I was boppen my head to the music. I was coming up to a left hand bend about 150 yards or so as a tanker truck was rounding the bend in the opposite direction. All of a sudden a semi-tire came rolling across my lane from behind the tanker. I stayed calm and slowed the 2009 Ford Escape, with only 3,000 miles, so the tire would pass before me and roll into the grass along the roadway. As I was timing the passing tire that’s when another semi-tire followed, wobbling across ’my road lane’ without rhyme or reason.
What might have been panic for some I took nervy decisive action. In an instant my brain raced for quick reasoning as the moment unfolded in front on me. Knowing Jeff was in his seat belt, the tanker was continuing the turn in his lane, and a tire wobbling in my lane with no apparent directional course, stopping or causing an uncontrollable skid wasn’t a brain option. The tire instantly decided not to cross the road but wobbled directly at me in the middle of ‘my lane!’ I swerved right towards the gravel berm area. This caused Jeff to wake somewhat. Wanting to keep my left tires on the hard pavement, for traction and stability, I passed the tire within inches as it continued to wobble pass my window. I veered back onto the roadway escaping danger in the Escape! In my rear view mirror I saw the tire come to rest in the middle of my lane as I continued on making the bend in the road.
Still dizzy-eyed from sleep, confused by seeing a big semi-tire coming at us upon waking up and a bit shaken, Jeff finally blurted out ’Jer, what happened?”
After explaining the wild tire experience Jeff decided a quick piss stop was in order. I totally agreed.

 After driving through Lake Placid the Ausable River came into view. Below the magnificent mountains and ski slopes the Ausable cascaded over boulders and rock formations. In places the water funneled through narrow passages than exploded out into an open expanse of strewn out rocks and more boulders. Settling some in the wider sections it would narrow again between its banks and churn and bubble to the next section of open water.
“How in the world do you fish this?” I thought.

 Outside of Wilmington we pulled into the front parking area of the Adirondack Sport Shop. Forgetting about our long drive from Pa., traveling incident and any unfish related thoughts, we entered the shop under sunny skies. Wearing shorts and ‘t’ shirts I’m sure we looked like two vacationing tourists that got some free time from the `ol ladies.
Fran Betters sat in a wheelchair, behind a fly tying desk. The desk was stationed out on the sales floor out from the cashier counter. The 78 year old legend, Ausable Wulff and Haystack developer among other things, was finishing tying a thread head on an Ausable Wulff pattern clamped into his vise. His long white feeble looking fingers moved in a circular motion as he peered above his glasses to see who entered his shop. I introduced myself and Fran said hello and said something to the other gentleman to his right, who was also tying an Ausable Wulff pattern. The second gentleman introduced himself as Pat, our guide, and than introduced us to Fran. We all shook hands and that's when i realized Fran's handshake grip wasn't so 'feeble' as i imagined at first. Pat checked us in and handed us our key to our room out back.

 We entered our room of 1 double bed, 1 single bed, a TV on a combination TV stand/chest of drawers, a night stand and a wicker chair completed our living area. The bathroom was a total of one sink, commode, a pull chain light above a round mirror and a metal ‘box’ shower. Oh, I almost forgot about the dual window fan without an outlet nearby to plug it into. We found that after Jeff removed the Queen size mattress, covering our outside window, we were able to get better air flow throughout our humble abode.

 After thinking about it, the room was clean and for the price better than a 4 walled tent. Besides we didn’t plan on spending too much time in the room anyway, we were here to fish!


Monday, June 8, 2009

Washing of the Sacred Fly Vest

Being that Jeff and I are headed to the Ausable River, in New York next weekend, I decided to wash my fly vest so I look more presentable. Ya, that’s right, washing the sacred, well worn, VEST that gets treated like an old pocket apron at times. Besides keeping everything needed to fish in the pockets, we wipe off our bug spray, fish slimy, plant excretion hands on it. It gets soaking wet when it rains, protects us from jagger bushes and faulty back-casts on windy days. We’ll hang it low on tree limbs, out in the darkness, when we’re camping so every spider, midnight bug and moth can examine it and even hide the night away. Not only that but it also gets used as a cloth net when cradling one of our big catches when we forget our net. Let’s not forget about the beer stains, whiskey stains, dry fly formula and other stains that drips or gets rubbed up against while wearing it. The once or twice a year soaking it receives either in a downpour or when slipping into a slimy rocky stream doesn’t cleanse it by any means.
Though we treat it like a coat of armor, like gladiators, as an extra layer to protect us form heavy brush cover along the creeks it holds our most valuable fishing possessions.

I asked myself, though it may be bad karma, would I rather lose my $280.00+ Scott rod or my $35.00+ pocket filled fly vest? Uh ha, gotcha!! Think about it? I lose my Scott rod and I’ll be saddened like losing a healthy charismatic girlfriend I’ve had for years. My favorite Scott rod that moves like an extension of my own arm or hand that casts delicately and precise or deliberately fast but accurate. I guess if i would lose it, it would give me a reason to buy a more modern one! But then again I would have to learn all about it, just like a new girl friend!! It’s just awful to think this one out.

My vest, on the other hand, every pocket filled with fly fishing gear and then some? All the fly boxes and flies I’ve hand tied and accumulated over the past 20 years or so? All the lethal tied patterns I time tested and came up with in a deadly pattern? All the ‘gadgets’ lost? Line straightener, nippers, hemostats, etc.? Spools of tippet, leaders, lead, indicators, knife, honing stone etc.? Tough choice?!

Anyhow, emptying my fly vest last night, to wash it, I found things in the pockets I had either forgotten were in there or wondered how they ever got in there in the first place. After taking out all the fly boxes, gadgets and the zip-locked toilet paper, bug spray, thermometer and other normal fly vest gear, I started to search the pockets more thoroughly. I didn’t want anything to gum up the washer or scratch the inner dryer drum.

Starting with the inside pockets I found two old stogie butts accompanied with burnt ashes as well as tobacco crumbs resting in the crease of the pocket. I wondered why my vest smelled like stale cigar each time I opened the side doors, of the van, as my vest hung on the convenient, easy to get to, hanger rod. In another pocket I found two or three, couldn’t tell, lumps of Dentyne gum remnants. They were as hard as a rock. I wonder how long they’ve been in there.
My front top pocket I found an old, brown finger stained, toothpick. I’m sure I put it there some time ago for tying nail knots but then again one end did look a little chewed up. I wondered what I was saving this for. It’s wood, not like I would have been littering if I would have thrown it on the ground among the dead tree branches and sticks lying upon the forest floor.
In a bottom pocket I found a few ’quick snaps’, I use for bugger and streamer attachments, in between the small sticks, leaves, stems and dried floral arrangements that happened to fall in my pocket while walking along the stream thickets. What looked like a small piece of fuzz ended up being a #16 nymph and what looked like one of my beetle imitations, which may have fallen from my fly patch, happened to be a real dried up dead beetle. I guess my beetle imitations are pretty realistic after all.
The last pocket I checked was the one I carry my split shots and lead in. I don’t use split shots much unless I’m fishing real deep or real fast water. I like using the matchstick shaped lead strips instead. I feel these distribute the weight more evenly on my leader and I have found I get less hang ups on the bottom. In my lead pocket I take out a few used split shots, with teeth marks, and an array of twisted lead strips in various lengths.

With nothing else left in the pockets I looked at the stains around the bottom left pockets and the middle right pockets trying to figure out why they are so much more stained than the others. My upper right pocket, that hold my hook hone, has small holes in both corners. The puncture holes above my top left pocket from reattaching my license. My bottom zipper pocket’s zipper is broken. Some day I’ll figure the best way to sew some Velcro to it. There’s a stain on the top left shoulder of the vest and how it got there or what stained it is beyond my comprehension. I wondered if washing the vest really would come out much cleaner. I wondered?
It was time to throw my outdoor stained fishing vest in the washer and dryer so it would look fresh, clean and presentable for my trip to the Adirondacks.

So much for a clean vest!!
At least it smells fresher!!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Little Mahoning Creek Revisited


The weather people were as unpredictable as could have been about predicting Saturday’s forecast. One channel claimed rain in the early morn. diminishing by noon and 70 degrees. Another claimed cloudy in the morning with rain and possible thundershowers in the evening. Another said something different than the first two.

I had my saddlebags packed and my fly fishing gear in my Loomis backpack ready to put on the bike if I felt it wasn’t going to rain. The thermometer read 52 degrees as I walked outside to get a taste for the weather at hand. The sky was on the gray side but there was no smell of precipitation in the air. The road was dry and the cloud cover was moving slow. Back in the house I put on warm riding clothes and grabbed the saddlebags and backpack and walked on out to my waiting American iron. I attached and bungee corded the gear to my bike and started the big ‘V’ twin. After pulling out of the garage I let the Harley rumble that familiar tone in the drive as I returned to close the garage door. Putting on my leather du-rag and fingerless gloves I rechecked mentally, in my mind, making sure I didn’t forget any fishing gear I might need for this morning fishing. Straddling the Softail seat I raised the kickstand and headed south on the road out of town.

Jumping onto the interstate and cracking the throttle to speed I could feel the cool air on my fingertips, face and creep up my sleeves under my jean jacket, sweatshirt, duo fold and lightweight polypropylene undershirt. I could feel the wind gracing my legs and knees just above my 10” high leather boots. The cold didn’t bother me though because in an hour or so I’d be trout fishing and return home, hopefully, under the bright sun and warm air.

Now easterly bound on the interstate I look up and the sky is picture perfect with hues and shades that remind me of an oil painting of a seaward sky in the early morning. The lower layer of the atmosphere has a slate gray cast and just above this, lighter shades of gray mixes in with semi-white clouds. In the foreground, between patches of the clear blue sky, white sprouting clouds reflect bright light that is given off by an unseen sun somewhere beneath the horizon of trees and hills. To add to this, streaks of pink and orange combine to add color to the mix of the overall semi-cloud cover.

The short jaunt into Brookville I fill up with fuel, put a chew in my mouth, and head south again down rte. 36 towards Punxy. Up and down the hills of open road I lean into bends as the Harley rolls forward. I occasionally check into my rear view mirror making sure my 5piece fly rod is still stuck fast in the Loomis side pocket. Soon I’m toe tapping to some Bocephus tune, in my head, making up words as the rumble of the ‘V’ twin plays bass.

After the long uneventful ride I slow the cycle down as the creek appears to my right. Trees that line the banks cast shadows upon the crystal clear water. Rocks and small boulders now protrude noticeably in the low water conditions than they did a month ago in the early spring flow. I pull off the road in a convenient parking area with enough room to change into my fishing clothes and gear without fear of getting run over. I peer into the water, below where I park, through my polarized goggles and see a pod of trout within two feet of a man made deflector. I’m excited and start to unpack my gear and change into fishing attire.

I put on my lightweight LLBean hip waders and Orvis packable wadding shoes. Put on a button down shirt over my short sleeve shirt and piece together my Kettle Creek 5wt. Rod and Clearwater reel. After strapping the fishing fanny pack around my waist I clean off my sunglasses and snug them over my eyes. With my Fly Shop cap on I’m ready for some action.

Slowly wading across the water, upstream from the pod of trout, I check out the surface water for any bugs or mayflies. Reaching the other side of the stream I position myself across from the unseen pod of trout that I marked off mentally in my mind from my parked cycle. While tying on a foam beetle imitation I hear a splash and I raise my head to see a circle of water just out from the deflector under the maple tree. ‘Alright’, I think. With a good knot in my 6X tippet I set myself up to cast to those morning breakfast waiting trout.

With a deliberate easy motion of my med-fast rod I false cast ‘way’ upstream from the pod of trout to get enough line out and than cast ‘just’ upstream of the pod of trout as my beetle plops into the shadowed water as if it fell naturally from the streamside Maple tree. Within a foot of a drift a mouth breaks water and I quickly set the hook on the unsuspected trout. I force him out of the pod to mid stream trying to cause the least amount of warning to the rest of the fish. He fights between the small peaks of exposed rocks as I guide him towards me. I release the 11” or so brown trout and reposition the foam beetle on the top of the hook shaft. My next few casts produce nothing as I’m sure the trout are a little wary of a fisherman’s presence.
I move to my left a couple of feet and sidearm cast, across stream, over the pod. I stop and back up my hand at the end of the forward cast to let the beetle follow through putting it downstream from the rest of my fly line. It takes a couple of different placements of the beetle to finally cause a rise to it. Having too much slack I miss the take. Purposely I straight cast just short of the missed strike in hopes of a quick response but my beetle just drifts downstream without a touch. Casting back up towards the head of the pool I get another strike and play this one towards me. I release a small brookie back into the creek water. Without any takers for awhile I notice a fly emerge out of the water that was possibly a march brown and soon after that, what I unmistakably felt, was a sulphur.
The sun was shining more brightly now and I only had about a half hour for the shade to disappear upon the water under the Maple tree. I tied on a piece of 7x tippet anyhow and to this I knotted on a sulphur parachute. Casting above the trout and letting the parachute drift accounted for a good fighting 12” brown. Continuing casting and fishing a car pulled up and parked behind my cycle. A young man got out and proceeded to adorn himself in fishing attire. I continued my fishing and again hooked into another trout on the parachute. After releasing the trout I called out the young fisherman and asked if he was the person who is to accompany me for some trout fly fishing. Sure enough it was Mark and I called out to him to get on down here. I pointed to the pod of trout with my rod and told him to look down into the water from the road. I could see and heard him exclaim in amazement about the amount of trout I showed him. It wasn’t long for him to join me on my side of the stream.

Upon quick greetings I gave him a few flies and tried to explain how I was drifting the dries over the pod of trout. I waded downstream a bit to let him take my spot. The sun was brighter now and with no visible hatches I knew things would be tough going. Sure we could have drifted a nymph of some sort into the group of trout but what fun would that be. There weren’t any huge trout in the bunch so catching trout below the surface just didn’t seem that exciting to me nor did it seem that exciting to Mark either as he also casted dry flies to the pod.

We eventually made our way downstream to a good size pool with visible shadows of nice size trout. Not getting any to rise to our dries we resorted to nymph fishing. White always seems to work for me, if not to catch trout but to at least attract attention to see if any trout are active. I tied on an Albino Stonefly and roll casted across stream to the far bank. Crouched down on the heels of my feet I mended line upstream so my fly would drift into the pool before my fly line. Mark stood watching, casting something also, into the back of the pool. While we were talking I seen my fly line dart forward but I missed the take. Again I drifted the nymph deep and Mark was able to see fish actively follow my stonefly. I finally ended up persuading one to take my nymph and I set the hook. It didn’t take long for him to somehow release himself but that’s fishing. I gave Mark an Albino Stone and he immediately tied it on his tippet. As we worked the pool Mark ended up catching and releasing a good size 14” trout. I had caught another but upon getting him close to shore he released himself also.

By noon it was time for me to go. I gave Mark another Albino Stone and I wished him luck as I started my way to my cycle. After changing into riding clothes and packing my gear I started my awaiting bike up. As the engine came to life, I thought 'I would have really liked to have stayed and fished more' but other plans were promised back home. As I traveled along the stream I looked through the trees and seen Mark still fishing in the deep pool.
Little did I know, until the next day, that he had a good fight with a ‘tiger’.

These were the pictures he sent me that I found in my inbox.
He said the tiger trout was about 18". i have no doubt he was right!!

read more about 'fighting the tiger' at http://tailingloops.blogspot.com under the title 'Big Success on the Little Mahoning'