Wednesday, September 29, 2010

September Ties

September Ties

 The water ran clear so I made long casts with my Triple Threat streamers out into the moving stream so I wouldn’t be detected. The Triple Threat landed just below the pine boughs and I let it swing beneath the quicker current mid-stream. When it got directly downstream from me I began to short strip it in. It cut through the water with little resistance as I envisioned the Polar Fiber shedding off the water and current moving it like a minnow. I felt the line tighten and my rod hand felt the balanced 4wt all of a sudden get heavy on the rod tip. I strip set the hook with a sharp tug and than had to loosen my grip on the fly line from the pulling force on the other end. The heavy fish took the Triple in a deep slower pool below and I was hoping I could keep him from moving into the quick water mid-stream.
 The fish stayed deep and thrashed about as my 4wt tip flexed and rebounded with each thwart. He didn’t seam to want to move into the fast current so I leaned back with the rod to apply more pressure. The 7 foot rod bent well into the middle and I took in line as the fish splashed towards me, just subsurface. His maroon lateral line extended onto his gill plates giving good reason to believe he’s been around for a while. I lifted the rod high with my right hand as I reached down and netted the rainbow with my left. After he settled down I unhooked the Triple Threat and released him back into the stream.

Tying ones own flies are an essence of the sport of fly fishing. It is the substance, in other words, that sets one apart and shows character from those who do not. I’m not saying that those that do not or can not tie their own flies are not true fly guys but one who ties, I believe, have a better feeling of accomplishment when they catch fish on their own fly. I get a greater satisfaction when one catches fish on my own ties and especially if it is a pattern of my own creation.
 I have been experimenting with different Grass Hopper patterns for some years now. I have a tying book that has three pages dedicated to hopper patterns. Some are more realistic than others. The more realistic ones have more material and thus will take more time to tie and more patience to do so. Some are simple silhouette patterns that I’m sure will catch some fish but somehow don’t appeal to me and therefore my confidence level using these patterns will be nil. I believe that confidence catches more fish than luck so a pattern must appeal to me or be proven to catch fish before I have confidence in it.
 Most of the patterns have pure yellow bodies. Behind the shop I have inspected the hoppers around during these hot summer dry evenings. None of the hoppers have pure yellow bodies. Their bodies range from having a faded yellow to brownish to even an olive tint. The only way to match the shade that would fool more trout, in my opinion, is to tie my own. Besides, if I was going to use something with a yellow body and a half decent silhouette I would use a stimulator pattern or the like. I feel if I want to imitate what I see and find along the fields and streams I should at least use a similar color.
 I looked over all the hopper patterns and came up with my own concoction. After tying a few, I felt, they were fairly easy to tie, didn’t take a long time and looked convincible. The only way to find out was to try them out and hope they float well.

                                   hopper pattern

Streamers on the other hand should look fishy. I tie Triple Threats to look and imitate bait fish like minnows. Studying the balance of colors and shades of minnows, from top to belly, I came up with my own blend of Polar Fibers. Adding a few strands of sparkle gave them that shiny lateral line of most minnows. I tied them in a few different shades and the only way to find out how well they work was to try them out. That’s what this past outing was all about.
                                Triple Threat

 Jim and I wanted to concentrate on trout fishing. Because of the low water conditions of the small creeks and warm water conditions of the bigger streams we needed cooler water as to not stress out the hold over trout we would catch. There are only a couple of cooler waterways nearby, the Kinzua Dam area and the East Branch of the Clarion. We selected, on Sunday, the East Branch.

 We reached the East Branch in the early morn under gray skies. Jim took the water temperature and it read at 59 degrees. The bottom release dam keeps the water cool practically all summer. Jim was hoping to get some top water action but with the shady, overcast sky, I didn’t think there would be much of a hatch on this September day. Terrestrials, I felt, were Jim’s best bet and I handed him 2 sizes of my new hopper patterns to try.
 It wasn’t long before Jim hooked into a trout with a nymph midge pattern. I was stripping buggers and my new Triple Threat patterns in the deeper runs and slow water. We fished the morning without any more hook ups. I did have a lazy trout mouth a white bunny leach and another follow a Triple Threat but they wouldn’t take it aggressively and I got skunked for the morning. Jim said he had a few followers on his nymphs but none would take.
 After lunch it warmed up a tad and occasionally the sun would peek down to see how we were doing. It didn’t take long for Jim to disappear around a bend as I slowly worked my way downstream tossing caddis dries, beetles and streamers.
 I caught a small brook trout on a caddis dry before I caught the bigger rainbow, I described earlier, in a nice stretch of pines and boulders. A couple of hours passed by and I headed up to where we started in the morning and decided to practice my nymph fishing for the upcoming Steelhead season.
 I stuck a Hupman Vintage Cameroon stogie in my mouth and took out my nymph box. I decided to use a #10 orange Humpy as an indicator and tied a brown Gold Ribbed Hares Ear as a dropper. I took my time fishing a nice run of deeper water and a slow stretch nearby while enjoying my cigar. I eventually found myself on a big flat boulder in the middle of the river. I happened to look downstream and seen Jim heading my way while fishing.
 On one cast, upstream from my rock, into a flow of choppy water I saw a flash. From my higher elevation, on the rock, I watched the fish rise, take a look at my Humpy and then disappear back into the rippling water. I still had the Hares Ear nymph on but he evidently wasn’t interested in that either. I cast out a few more times but his curiosity was full filled and he didn’t want any more look-sees. I drifted the nymph and Humpy under the pine trees but to no avail. I decided to try one of my hopper patterns to possibly get the trout’s attention again. I had just gotten done tying on the hopper when I seen Jim was within talking distance.

How’d ya do?” I asked
“Caught about 5 trout on top with the hopper pattern you gave me earlier!” he replied. “All were in the fast water and under the pines.”
He also mentioned he caught a few on nymph patterns.

While he was casting and fishing below I cast out into the choppy water. The hopper bopped up and down upon the waves without a rise from beneath. My next cast was upstream further and closer to the bank. I had the rod tip held high and kept my eyes on the drifting hopper. I seen the turning flash of the trout and waited for him to strike the floating hopper.
“There he is” I called out to Jim. “Got’em!”
The fish fought well in the stronger current as the rod showed a good fighting fish. I stepped down from the boulder and reaching down netted the nice trout.

 We fished a little longer until the chill of the water and the coming of dusk cooled things down considerably. By this time I was ready to call it quits. Jim said “he was ready whenever I was” and we headed to the van.
 Back at the van we put our gear away and headed to where we left his truck at earlier this morn.

 Jim and I haven’t fished together for a month or so and it was good to get out with him being he loves to trout fish as much as I do. I still recall the first time we met back in May in 2009. He wanted to learn how to fly fish and I showed him the ropes and helped him out. He hasn’t touched his spinning rod since!!

 After dropping him off at his truck I headed on home through the darkness. The Fuente cigar, I lit up earlier, kept me awake for the rest of the ride home.
" It looks like I have a new pattern that should work for them steelhead!"


more Triple Threats

Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Nature of it All

The Nature of it All

Saturday 9/11/10
With my 3-in-1 back pack loaded with my float tube, fins, pump and fishing gear I head down the forest access lane excited to do some largemouth bass fishing. I would have liked to have gotten out earlier but I wanted to make sure I had a filling breakfast for the days fishing excursion in the remote backwoods swamp in the ANF.
The morning is quietly still on my walk down the lane. The cool morning air keeps my lungs alive and fresh with each breath. The grass is wet with dew as small spider webs are noticeable time to time from the morning dampness. 35 minutes into my stroll I come within vision of Buzzard Swamp. I stop along the trail and take in the scenery and quiet solitude of it all.
 The last layer of fog lies upon the water, soon to burn off with the rising sun. There’s a light haze higher above the pond as the rising moisture dissipates in thin air. Old gray tree trunks stand within the pond as I remembered from my last visit. Maybe a few less branches extend from their frames having broken off from high winds or just snapping from age and wear. Overgrown grassy and green fields grace the outlying area with tan tassels and yellow flowering buds adding a lighter hue to the green vegetation. Strong healthy, forest green, trees partially line the pond as the weaker fallen trees now make good cover, within the water, for pond life. Streaks of white clouds, as if made be passenger jets, catch my attention as they never seem to end forefront of the baby blue morning sky.

 The scenery before me is one that any nature loving puzzle builder would love to piece together. A scene, I feel, that is worth painting on canvas. I can picture this as a wall mural in a ’man’s cave’. I can see myself sitting and looking into this mural imagining and being a part of it at any given moment.

 Within 15 minutes more I stand upon the man made earth work looking down across the pond. The fog has lifted and the water is as smooth as ice, almost conceivable to walk across. Except for a distant crow all is quiet before the pumping action of my two stage hand pump begins to inflate my u-tube.

 Packed and ready to float, I sit inside the tube and Velcro the Vapor fly rod in front of me. Finning backwards towards the left bank I stop within casting distance of a downed, partially submerged, branchy windfall. Small waves roll towards the bank from my presence as I position the fly rod for my first cast.

I false cast line and then plop the frog popper just shy of the windfall. As the popper sits I hear the lip smacking of a blue gill as my bass popper bobs with each peck. I strip it in with gurgling effect. As I fin my way, casting towards the shoreline, I am finally rewarded with an aggressive rise that propels the bass out of the water. With a good hook set and a winning skirmish I bring the bass to my float tube and lip him on the apron. Only about 11” I unhook him and reach for my camera. A quick lively flop or two and he flips back into the water without a picture. “No problem”, 1 bass in the first 10 minutes of fishing, I should be able to produce a few more worth picture taking. Constant casting of poppers and sliders only produce a few ’gills’ with many not able to be hooked by the big hooks on my bass poppers. About an hour goes by when a wind kicks up and constantly blows across the pond. The sun never produces the warmth the weathermen called for. My casting arm and stroking legs get a good work out in the windy conditions. I fin and fish my way around the pond not really feeling I had missed a strike from any bass. By 3:30 I finally call it quits and return to the bank-side. My bass streamers, poppers and big dry flies failed to entice any more bass.

Up on the earth work I push my straw hat tighter upon my pate for fear that the stronger wind might grab a hold and toss it in the pond. I slowly change out of my chest waders and lay my gear upon the grassy area. I place each item strategically in the 3-in-1 back pack and lift it on my shoulders. I take one last look over the wavy pond while I pull out an Arturo Curly Head cigar from its cellophane wrapper. Cupping my hands, from the wind, I light the end and puff on the brown wrapped butt until smoke appears in my cupped hand. Releasing my hands the smoke escapes into oblivion.
 The long walk back is sobering but my surroundings keep my hearing and vision attentive. Bear dung occasionally is found along the path as well as deer droppings. A few barking squirrels are heard when the wind dies down. The cigar keeps me relaxed and not hurrying in my pace. As I reach the van I drop my pack and reach into the cooler for a cold Miller GD. The cold beer quenches my thirst and wets my palate from the dryness of my cigar smoking. After putting my gear away I check the time at 5:20. My stomach growls with anticipation of food. I recheck the straps, holding the canoe on the roof, and take off towards the Kelly Hotel for wings and a brew or two.

Sunday 9/12/10
 I awake to the growling of my innards. I figure it’s either from the wings at the Kelly or the mixture of Jim Beam and Squirt I consumed at Rays Hot Spot last night. I noticeably hear an occasional rain drop falling upon the canoe on top of the van roof. The rain, throughout the night, has ceased and upon opening the side door I conclude, if I hurry, I might be able to get a little fishing in before the next shower. Not wanting to waste time I sip on a glass of Sunny D while gearing up for some river trout fishing. My movement is slow at first but as my joints loosen up I begin to move with ease. I eat a slice of cold breakfast ham and enjoy a thawed out blueberry muffin.
 I string up my 5wt Scott rod and rig it with 7 ½’ of 6x tapered leader. I toss a few trout boxes into my rain jacket pockets and head out to the mouth of the creek that empties into the river.

 From along the bank I watch a flock of ducks drifting with the current, mid-river. A heavy blanket of fog consumes the tops of mountainous trees, hiding any sky above. Thick forested trees stand almost lifeless as there is no wind to rustle their leaves. A few crows caw out in the distant and a lone squirrel barks from across the river upon some unknown branch. His barking denotes hunting season will soon be upon us. The warmness of September will give way to the cool mornings and chilly evenings of the up coming month of October. Soon the forested green trees of summer will mystifyingly transform the forest into the splendid colors of autumn. I can picture fidgety chipmunks and annoying pine squirrels chirping at my presence. I can almost hear the sounds of paws scampering upon dried fallen leaves, ducks quacking along a waterway. a grouse drumming or the sound of a turkey stretching its wings before flying off its roost in the earliest morning light. The musty smell of wet moss will overpower the sweet smell of summer wild flowers and blossoms. The sound of acorns thumping off of dead branches or hollow logs. A deer snort that stops me dead in my tracks, with weapon ready, listening for the next sound to discover its whereabouts.

 I tie on my favorite beetle imitation and cast to the brushy bank. Again and again I cast along the shoreline without a rise. With the cooler night time temps I figure the trout must have moved out into the open river, maybe to the opposite bank. I tie on a woolly bugger and make my way across river. With no hits on the bugger I tie on a #10 orange Humpy. I drop the Humpy upon a riffle created by a few surface top rocks in the shallow water. The Humpy waffles to the tail end without a take. After 2 more casts in the same area I let a long cast of 9’ leader and line out towards a huge creviced boulder. The Humpy drops a couple of feet from its rounded edges. I take up slack as the fly drifts slowly on the calmer water. A fish surfaces with a splash but I’m late getting the long length of line moving fast enough for a hook set and the fly flutters towards me. I cast to another area a few times before returning to the missed fish. This time he rises less furious and I’m ready with the long hook set. I feel the fish on the other end briefly. As he takes line behind an exposed boulder I throw my fly line up and over, downstream trying to avoid a snag. With that, the hook and Humpy flies free and I’m left fishless.
 I fish the bank down to the shallow choppy water. I than fish the river back to the creek mouth. The sky is turning darker and I can smell rain in the air. I reel in and head for camp.

 Rain water that gathered on cupped leaves, overnight, now fall in droplets as a slight breeze feathers the tree tops. I listen to them tap on thicker leaves and thin branches. I shake the wetness off the tent and than begin to dismantle the poles. Daddy Long-Legs sprint to other parts of the tent fabric. It’s strange how they refuse to take to the ground floor until the last moment of completing folding the tent. A few will get caught up among the folds only to be discovered later in a leg tangling pretzel shape.
 I somberly take down the canopy top and frame. My movements are slow as I don’t want to leave but the oncoming clouds look to present a shower of rain that will make a mess of my camping gear. I gather the rest of my stuff and carry them to the gravel area near my van. I return the most used items back into their original places inside my ’camp on wheels’. I place the canopy, tent, water jugs and cooler on the van floor for easy access to take them out when I get back home. A fine mist of rain sprinkles the windshield as I start the 318 engine and turn on the windshield wipers.

 I pull out an Arturo Curly Head cigar and lip wet the Candela tobacco that’s wrapped over the filler tobacco. The light green wrapper is more flavorful and smoother than the natural brown wrapped cigars. I take my time driving along the river watching for wildlife that may appear amonst the forest.

It wasn’t much of a ‘fish catching’ weekend but the solitude and nature of it all always fulfills my ‘Pennsylvania Wilds’ yearning!


Friday, September 10, 2010

Black Hats on the River

Black Hats on the River

A light breeze brushes against bank side tree tops
Drops of rain water fall from their leaf tips
_dimpling the smooth water below
An ant falls among the droplets
A swirl!!!
1' and 6" of 7x tippet knotted to 9 foot of 5x leader
_along with well used fly line lifts off the water
The rod tip bends and in turn
_the shallow water churns
Another fish caught
_by dry fly experience

Water splashes behind
_as the new fly rod flexes rearward
Forward, the new fly line slaps the water
_in turn an olive woolly bugger follows
It plops shy of the bank
Two friends laugh and carry on
_fishing side by side
The inexperienced short strips line
A strike is felt, rod flexes
Forth fish comes to hand
He smiles

Evening falls along the peaceful waters
Smoke takes to air from beneath black hats
River water flows as friendship shows
all is good!

                                donny's first trout on new fly rod!

another on an 'olive bugger'

one on a 'barking spider'

biggest on a 'black ant'

'black foam beetle' lover

brook trout and a good stogie