Thursday, September 29, 2011

September Chrome

September Chrome

  I had a chance to get to Erie for steelhead earlier than usual. It wasn’t a banner day by any means but going 3 for 5 on Saturday got my juices pumping and excited about this years season.

When the indicator goes under you rear back with more than a wrist set. You hold on tight like holding onto the roller coaster safety rail in front of you. From the second you set the hook and feel the tension you have no idea how long the excitement will last. Maybe it will be a quick break and you’re left with a cheap thrill. Maybe he’ll fight long enough that you think you got control but somehow he disconnects and the land line falls silent. You don’t know whether to be happy that you at least got the feel of a fight or depressed because you didn’t land him.
 I’m not talking about steelhead that has been in the creeks for months that lost most of their forceful fight and stamina. I’m talking chrome, fresh steelhead right from the lake within days. The chrome fish with powerful thrusts, whip lashing head thwarts and stamina that never seems to exhaust.

The second I lifted the rod to set the hook and felt resistance I knew I had fresh chrome. I could feel his shaking thrusts before he bolted away. As I gripped the cork handle tighter and the reel started to scream I was excited. Than, upstream, the sight of the steelhead burst upward out of the water. Water splashed from its body and his chrome sides shimmered in wetness from the rays of sunshine. He reentered the water only to quickly propel himself skyward again. It was if he was showboating when he whipped his twisting body around before the splash down. The line tightened again as the rod flexed down creek this time with the speeding run. Once again the steelhead exited the water surface. I was afraid this would be the last I seen of him. I noticed the orange, golden sucker spawn imitation, my top fly of my tandem set up, vibrating while following the air born fish. He fell back into the water with a barreling splash and continued to struggle down creek. With 5x fluorocarbon, that’s around 4.8 pound test, I didn’t want to overstress the tippet strength. Since the fresh steelhead didn’t want to give up just yet I got out of the water and followed him down stream. I got to where I was able to put more side pressure on him. He turned towards the far side where logs jammed along the bank. I gripped the rod tightly and leveled it to the water tugging upstream. He subsided and started to reluctantly fight towards me. Nearer me he desperately tried to make a run for it but his stamina was exhausting. The acrobatic chromer was the 2nd of three I landed thus far.
 The last strike and hook set was nearer to me. He raised from the bottom of the tinted water enough I was able to see him. I watched as he forcefully whiplashes his body trying to release the stonefly attached to the side of his mouth. I needn’t call out ‘fish on’ as the subsurface struggle created a sounding turbulence upon the water that all turned to see the commotion. The thick steelhead than cut through the water away from me and propelled his body up through the surface. With a big splash the chromer reentered the water and shot up creek.
“Coming right” I called out alerting those fishing up creek.
 The rod flexed more and my arm muscles tightened as I clinched the cigar tighter between my teeth. I tried to hold the rod high trying to keep as much line out of the water as possible. Palming the reel he slowed and turned down creek towards my direction. In the shallow water, in front of me, we played challenging games. The closer I got him to the bank; time and again he’d turn, thrusting his silvery body away from me. I kept the line taunt and rod bent trying to turn him each time. It took patience but I finally got him within my grasp and lifted him to shore.

After that it was time to meet up with my friends and fish the lake.
We didn’t catch any at the lake but the steelhead I caught earlier made my September sample of fresh chrome satisfying.

Around 2:00 in the morning I awoke with aching arthritic fingers. My right shoulder was sore from casting buggers into the wind at the lake. The inside of my right elbow was sore as well as my arm muscles. The fighting of fresh chrome had taken its toll. I took two pain relief tablets and laid there conjuring up the fighting of each steelhead before falling back asleep.


Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Shelton Laurel

Shelton Laurel
North Carolina Fish’n 2011

 Even with a long 10 hour drive ahead of me, I just couldn’t leave without fishing the morning. I figured I can fish to at least 11:00am and leave from there to travel homeward. Giddeon took me north of Asheville, Monday morn., to the Shelton Laurel Creek. We found the Shelton Laurel flowing lower than normal and by the time we got there the sun was already up bright and early. We checked a few areas and decided to fish the deepest pools we came across. With cars passing by on their way to work, we parked along the road and put our gear on. I decided to use the 5weight bamboo rod for this short expedition.

The mountain water was sparkling clear as it flowed between bankside brush, around exposed rocks and pebbled shallows. The narrow channel emptied into a long deeper pool which also received water from a smaller mountain creek. Giddeon started at the narrow channel below the riffles as I started casting weighted buggers in the deeper pool. After about a half hour of no strikes or followers I decided to fish my way downstream a piece. The deep pool emptied into a channel of exposed boulders that caused rough choppy water with good pocket waters. I drifted a dry along the bank seam and behind boulders without a rise. From there the water emptied into a long pool around a bend in the creek. Up against the bend and down creek the water pushed against a boulders and trees that rose up towards the road. There were a few boulders that had fallen that created good deep small pools.

I switched to a nymph and worked this water over with an indicator. When my indicator finally was pulled under I found a creek chub had taken my dark hares ear nymph. After about my third chub I heard Giddeon call from up stream. I walked around the bend and seen Giddeon standing along the long deep pool.

His 7’ 3weight Wright & McGill fly rod was flexed down into the butt section of the rod while he struggled with a fighting fish. He got it close enough to him and called out it was a big smallmouth bass. The fish turned down creek and unknowingly headed right for me. From up creek Giddeon led the fish, with bent rod, towards me where I was able to get a hold of him. After a picture I went back down creek and continued to catch and tease chubs.

 It wasn’t long after that I decided to quit playing with the chubs and headed back up to the long pool. Turning the bend again Giddeon's fly rod was flexing deep into the butt section. He was playing another big fish but this one fought with quick turns beneath instead of pulling tugs. The fish didn’t take to the current down towards me but cut through the water up creek. Giddeon played him well and got the fish near his legs before I was able to reach him. After unhooking the nice wild brown trout he gave him water as I snapped a picture before he released the brown back into the deep pool. He said it took a #16 Adam!

 We fished for about another half hour or so until the women showed up around 11:00 or so. It was time for me to depart and head north east towards Pennsylvania. We bid fair well as a father and son do. A tight handshake and a shoulder hug.

 On the drive east on the windy road of route 212 I passed a few tobacco fields. The first field was still green as the long tobacco leafs stood tall under the sunshine. The next few fields I found tobacco leaf stalks tied together like corn stalks one would see in Amish fields during harvest time. The tobacco, in these stalks, now were more yellowish and tanned than green. I seen a tractor pulling a bed full of these dried leaves into a well weathered wooden aged barn.

 After it was evident that no more tobacco fields would be seen the further we traveled, after the Shelton Laurel, that followed the road, disappeared through the forest and after the excitement of the weekend came to a calm, I sat back in the drivers seat. “It was neat seeing these tobacco fields” I thought.

I looked down between the bucket seats and seen the white with red lettered tube lying upon the van floor. I picked it up and unscrewed the cap. I remember Glen telling me the Macanudo Portofino cigar was mild and smoother than what I’m used to. I slipped out the long slender smoke and inhaled the fresh tobacco aroma that escaped from the tube. After lighting it up I found he was right. The smoothness of the cigar was a good relaxing mild way to start the long journey home.

Thanks Glen for the mild smoke to end this mini vacation.

Thanks Giddeon and Krista for a wonderful time.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Diamonds and 'Bows'

Diamonds and ‘Bows’ Along the Davidson
North Carolina Fish’n 2011

 On Sunday we woke up early and headed for the Davidson River. Giddeon parked along the highway up from a campground. He wanted to hit this section early before the campers, swimmers and kids throwing debris in the water awoke. As we assembled our gear I noticed the white and green diamond shaped sign, attached to a tree, that designated this as hatchery supported waters.
 We climbed down the steep bank, over basketball sized boulders and came upon a deep swimming hole. Bigger boulders lined our side of the steep bank as the other side was obviously the side to be on for fishing with a fly rod. After wet wading across the cool clear water, to the sandy far bank, I took the time to take in my surroundings.

Back home in Pennsylvania we would consider this water a creek more so than a river. There wasn’t anywhere I could see that I couldn’t cast from one side of the bank to the other without too much effort, except for the swimming hole, mind you. Even the water flowed clear and clean looking like many of our mountain creeks. Boulders and rocks peeked out from the water level as water rushed around and bubbled some on the downstream side. Water flowed over sub-surfaced flat stone causing different crosscurrents, clashing together in never ending riffles. This made for quick reactions on the fish’s part if they were to rise for a dry presentation. The riffling effect should give good cover of leader and tippet under the morning sunshine that sparkled off the river water.

 I circled around the small swimming beach area and came to the entrance of the swimming hole. Here the water ran clear and with good rolling flow. The river bed was an assortment of small stones and rock that gave good camouflage to any still setting trout hugging the bottom. I tied on a white wooly bugger and cast out to check the undercurrent. The white bugger was easy to see in the clear water and gave me a chance to see the depth it would swing and drift. This would help me determine my upstream mends and applied weight as I wade downriver. After a few test runs I switched to an olive bugger and added a weight strip about a foot or so up from the bugger. Within four more casts the first stocked rainbow came to hand.

 We fished the deep swimming pool quickly, as it didn’t seam anything was very hungry. Downriver Giddeon took time to fish some blow downs while I continued downriver. Seeing the bottom of the river, was very deceiving. It looked shallow in a lot of the areas but once I got there, what I thought was shallow, ended up to be at least knee deep most of the way. This slowed me down a bit and I took time to cover more area before moving downriver further. By the looks of things you would think that there was a trout behind every submerged boulder but the bugger wasn’t producing anything. It took my drifting a nymph before I was able to hook into another rainbow. Giddeon switched over to nymph fishing also and we caught a few small stocked rainbows before he decided for us to drive upriver to newer territory. Besides, the camping kids started to wade in the water, along its banks, looking for crayfish. Soon after that it was dog exercising time as a big splash caught my attention upriver. I turned to see a lab splashing in the shallows than swim to the thrown branch drifting in the swimming hole.

 Giddeon stopped at a cleared parking area along the road. He showed me the yellow and red diamond sign that designated this section of the Davidson River as Catch and Release. We headed down the well traveled path to a conglomerate of big granite looking boulders that just about dammed the water across the narrow river. Water pooled before one of these granite looking boulders near us, while just out from this, water tumbled over long flat rock just beneath the surface. This caused a good flow of white wavy water and current that flowed quickly towards the far bank. There wasn’t any doubt that the depth below was deep. Against the far bank shelves of granite rock protruded into the deep water hiding any sign of the bank itself. Laurel branches overhung the deep pool and made for a nice shady area where trout could escape from the rising morning sun. Giddeon headed upriver and gave this lower section for me to fish.

 I was determined to pull a trout out of this deeper pool. I used buggers, nymphs and even big dry flies trying to coax a hit. Maybe I spent more time as I should have here with good intentions that never came to be. Looking downriver I seen a few dimples in the long stretch of flat water and decided to turn my attention to these apparent hungry trout.
 The afternoon sun was upon me now and full view of the middle section of the river. There wasn’t any action in the shade along the far bank that I could see. Most of the inconsistent rises were just down, and around, a big overhanging Maple. Its limbs were scarce and the few scattered leaves, upon these branches, weren’t much shade to the water below. I noticed a few dimples now and then down further in the middle of the river but I was going to concentrate on the ones just out from my side of the bank. A good, soft, angled cast should get the fly near enough without much surface disturbance under the rising noon day sun.
 My first few casts would be in front of me to see how my new mosquito pattern floated and its visibility. With more of a wrist cast, for the short distance of the 9’ Scott rod, I mended upriver, in the air, before the mosquito fell to the water. It drifted upon the surface current from the deep pool above. I watched as it kept the same drift as the foamy bubbles that surrounded it. At the end of that drift I cast out a little further and mended line as I did before. I held the rod tip high, just upstream from the drifting dry. A trout took air, engulfing my fly I suspected, and I lifted the rod back instantly from this surprise attack. I remember seeing the trout’s orange underside as it porpoise out of the water, facing upstream, before reentering the river. Not sure how I missed the trout but my 7x tippet and tapered leader flew back and hung over a tree branch behind me. I turned to see my mosquito hanging form the limb as if it was caught in an invisible spider web. After untangling the line I cast out a few more times in the foamy current without another rise. I slowly waded down the shore line trying not to disturb the silt beneath my wading boots to get into a position to cast downriver.
 There was a dimple or two about a foot or so from my side of the bank below the Maple tree. Occasionally a rise would come within the slow moving groups of foam bubbles that drifted along. The water was clear and with the sun behind me I kept my distance and my movements slow. I suspected the trout didn’t know I was around yet so I concentrated on my first cast to make sure the fly line didn’t splash upon the water or shadow upon the surface as I false cast to get line out.

 I was glad I decided to take the 5wt G2 Scott rod. With its medium action I would be able to move my casting arm in a slower motion as to not attract attention to the fish downriver. The natural finish blank kept any sparkle of sunshine reflection from alerting the fish. The weight forward Clear Creek olive line should be a good camouflage color with the forest that surrounds me.

 In a medium slow casting stroke I false cast out and towards the far bank as I let line out with each stroke. My last forward cast I turn my elbow and forearm pointing my rod downriver to the direction I want my Mosquito to follow. The olive line loops easily and at the end of the cast I wrist the grip back a bit. The fly stops its forward motion and drops to the water surface before my leader. The fly line lies upon the water in S bends as I intended. I take in line to straighten the big arcing line some and watch my Mosquito flow with the foam bubbles.

 This is where patience is a must. Watching the fly moving in extra slow motion upon the almost still water gets monotonous. Waiting for the dry to reach the most recent activity downriver gets uneasy. I wanted to look away for other risers but I knew the instant I look away I may miss the take.

 The S bends straighten even more. A trout surfaces…. about a foot away from my visible Mosquito. The suddenness of it makes my wrist twitch but I have control and keep from flinching any further from disturbing the drag free drift. I push line through the rod eyes helping the dry drift further on, drag free. The trout never rises again and I watch my dry start to drift towards the near bank as the line straightens. I slowly move my rod up lifting the fly line off the water. Than with a smooth quick rising back-cast I bring the rest of the line and fly off the water and into the air. I cast again dropping the fly nearer the last rise. After the drift I shorten my back-cast and let the line fall in front of me. I reel line in and concentrate on how I’m going to cast beneath the Maple limbs and get my fly to drift to the subtle rises beyond. I start a false cast as before bringing my forearm level with the water and sidearm the rod with a quick stop on the forward cast. The line arcs, as I back up the rod tip, and the fly loops under the Maple tree. The #18 Mosquito falls upon the water like a, a, a Mosquito thinking its landing on skin. It drifts downriver; I’m sure within sight of the earlier sippers. At the end of the drift, I don’t want to scare any fish with a sudden lift so, I slowly drag the fly across the water. The Mosquito follows the thin 7x tippet that is almost invisible upon the surface. From under the tree limb now I lift the line with more force. A fish grabs at the skipping Mosquito. I try to stop my back casting motion but I’m too late. The 7x tippet snaps under the forceful pressure and I’m again left fishless. Grrrrr!!!!!!!
 I tie on another Mosquito but no risers are seen in the next fifteen minutes or so. I’ve been had! I slowly wade the bank down river and attempt to get a trout to take a slow moving nymph. I watch as fish after fish appear from the middle of the river towards my drifting nymph. It’s as if they examine the nymph than look over and see me looking at them in anticipation. They turn away and swim back to the whereabouts.
 The slowness of it all is wearing down my patience. I wade out further towards the middle of the river and while the waves and water surface settles back down, from my movement, I trim off the 7x tippet. I knot on a good length of 6x fluorocarbon. To this I tie on an olive woolly bugger and decide this is my last offering. I reach in my pocket and pull out a Vintage Cameroon. After lighting the medium body, but smooth drawing cigar, I take a good puff and look over the situation. I decided to work the bugger along the far shore line and let it swing down river.
 I got within casting distance of a shaded area just out from the far bank. A lone crooked branch reached above the water surface with one limb dropping into the water like a dropped antler tine. The water looked shallow but I was experienced by now of the illusion in the clear water. My first cast, before the branch, produced a good strike. I got a good hook set and finally got a nice rainbow to hand. It wasn’t until later I found he spotted the camera lens with water but was worth keeping the picture. After a couple more rainbows in this shady area I continued down river.

 The wide section of flat water flowed among shallow rocks and than turned towards the near bank. It flowed around and through bank-side dead branches and slowed into a deeper section among bank-side boulders. There I had a good fight with a long slender rainbow. I wasn’t able to get my net out in time to net the frisky fighting rainbow on the 6x tippet. When I got him in the shallow water near shore he propelled himself upward off the pebbled bottom . When he slapped back onto the water the woolly bugger came unhooked and he slithered his way back into the deep pool.

 By now I was wondering where Giddeon was when he suddenly appeared on the path above the bank. I followed him back to his truck and he said he found a good pod of trout upriver he was teasing and catching a few. We traveled upriver one last time for some evening fishing.

After parking near another Diamond sign we followed a long and winding trail to the river again. I figured it should be quiet and less fished than the sections we had already tried. To my surprise we found an old camp sight on each side of the banks. It wasn’t long before I came across two other fishermen. I did see quite a few trout but they were well aware fishermen were in the area. I caught one trout in the shade of the far bank before Giddeon showed up again and we headed back up the trail towards the truck.

We quenched our thirst roadside before heading to his house in Asheville for pizza and beer!
Another good day, missed a bunch, but still had a lot of fun!


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Wilds of the Cataloochee Valley

North Carolina Fish’n 2011

 Spent a beautiful weekend with my son, Giddeon, in Asheville North Carolina. We fished the Great Smoky Mountains and through the Pisgah National Forest. Though I missed quiet a few trout on dries, wasn’t quick enough on the hook set, I did manage to land a few. Giddeon on the other hand caught plenty along with a couple of whoppers.

Wilds of Cataloochee Valley

Where else East of the Mississippi can you find a quiet rolling mountain creek where elk, deer and turkey can be seen roaming the forest in the wild? Where can you catch wild trout, if you’re stealthy and quick, in a clear unpolluted mountain stream? You gently cast a 7 foot 3 weight towards the shady bank, under a canopy of trees, just out from laurel branches. While puffing on a short stogie you watch the dry fly drift in and out of sunlight that is setting above the high mountain tops. All the while hearing the bugling of a bull elk that echos throughout the valley as you fly fish in pure delight. The Great Smoky Mountains is the place it can come true!! Little wild trout streams and wildlife.


Friday, September 9, 2011

Mosquito Tute

Mosquito Tute

 Ever since I seen this pattern it looked buggy to me. Though it doesn’t look at all like the pattern’s name, those blood thirsty insects, it looks insectly to me. With its contrasting colored body and Adam grizzly tail and hackle it has to bring some curiosity to maybe bring some trout to the surface.
 I’m headed down to the Davidson River in North Carolina to fish with my son this weekend. I’ve done my research and read that the Davidson can be frustrating at times being it gets fished frequently and the fish get to see all kinds of patterns. Being that they get finicky, thinking out of the box, by showing then something different, could make for a delightful day.

I once read that being fish have no hands they can only inspect something by sight. If it looks like food they have to mouth it to feel the texture and determine if it’s digestible. In this respect sometimes the imitation just has to look buggy or curios enough to get the trout to taste it. I feel this pattern might just fool a few of them finicky trout to the surface.
 I’ve used the stiff Moose Body hair before for Drake tails, Adams parachutes, and antennas and on crayfish patterns. When I pulled four strands of moose mane, and seen the diameter, I thought ’how was I going to wrap this on a #18 hook shank for a body.’ to my surprise moose mane is real soft. I found spinning the hair with my hackle pliers, a couple of times, and then wrapping it around the hook shaft was easy.
 So here’s an easy tie for thinking outside the mayfly and basic terrestrial box.

Hook; standard dry fly #14-#20 (if there are #14 mosquito’s around I think I’d find somewhere else to fish) I used Orvis big eye #18 hook for demonstration.
Thread; black or gray 8/0
Tail; grizzly hackle fibers
Wings; optional. I tie wings on the #16’s
Body; moose mane, dark and light hair
Hackle; grizzly

1. Base thread on hook shank and tie in grizzly tail. (Length of hook shank)

2. Pull four moose mane hairs off in light and dark colors mixed.

3. Align tips together and trim straight across where the hairs won’t be to thin or weak.
4. Tie in, by the tips, at tail extending the tips along the shank for bulk.

5. With hackle pliers spin the hairs two full turns and wrap the hairs towards the hook eye in close wraps.

6. Leave room for the hackle and tie off.
7. Tie in a stiff grizzly rooster hackle feather as shown

8. Wind hackle one in front of the other (about 3-4 wraps) leaving room for the head and tie off.

9. Make a nice thread head and whip finish.

Pretty simple and I hope effective.

Hopefully we can make a few of them finicky trout rise.
I suppose in the afternoon, under the hot Carolina sun, my son and I might just relax along shore sipping Carolina sweet tea, sharing our fish excursions and smoke’n  Vintage Cameroons!!


Monday, September 5, 2011

Cortland 'Big Sky' Review II

Cortland ‘Big Sky’ Review II

This is a continuation of the ‘Big Sky’ review of the 9’ 4weight rod I did earlier this year. Back than I was given the opportunity to use the Cortland rod on a Pennsylvania stream by a Cortland Rep. At that time I strung it up with a DT4F 444 fly line. You can read about it at

 Well I had the pleasure again to test it where it was designed to be used, under the ‘Big Sky’ and on a big river out west. This time, paired with the Cortland Precision Dyna-Tip Platinum weight forward fly line made this rod work to perfection.
 Using a 5weight and a 6weight rod earlier in the week, on the BigHorn River, I decided on Thursday to give the ‘Big Sky’ 4weight a go on my birthday. I fitted a mid-arbor reel on the reel seat. The reel balanced the light rod pretty even with maybe a little more lightness in the tip section. Being that the river was flowing high, from the water release of the YellowTail Dam, we’ve been using 10-11 foot leader/tippet. I had on 3 split shots above the top nymph of the tandem rig and drifting them under an indicator. The water was moving with good flow but clear enough to be very fishable. The guides said that because of the increased discharge of water there was a very few chance to none that fish would be rising due to the conditions. From the drift boat as well as wading along shore getting the tandem rig out there was done with ease as the fast action rod handled the weight and long casts with the least amount of effort that I thought was adequate. Time and again I would cast out into the rolling river and mend upstream watching the indicator drift atop the water. Once I found a pod of trout I was on my game. Fighting big wild browns and ’bow’ against the flow of the current wasn’t anything the 9’ 4 weight couldn’t handle. It gave me a more positive attitude about fishing a long 4 weight for big trout in open water.

You can read about my birthday expedition at.
A couple of weeks after I got back from Montana I took the ‘Big Sky’ to Oil Creek for some dry fly action. There was an occasional cross wind blowing upstream from my left to right. There was a few fish rising in the shallower water across the main body of water some 20 to 25 yards away. I was using a 9’ tapered leader. Being that the water was gin clear, and slightly rippled, I was using 6x tippet. There were a few caddis about so I was casting #14 elk hares and also #16 paradun Adams. Though the wind would catch the small dries at the end of the cast the fast action rod along with the Dyna-Tip line got the dries within the vicinity with less effort than what I would have expected. After catching big trout in Montana I felt guilty using the 4 weight for the 9” to 13” stocked trout but my intentions for the day was to use the ‘Big Sky’ with dries. Again the rod performed to a satisfactory level.

I can’t find anywhere where the blank is available but if I do get my hands on one I already have a custom rod builder that will do the honors of building a rod to my liking. One of his specialties is his one of a kind custom made cork hand grips!
It’s definitely a few thumbs up for its performance and good looks for the price. A weight forward line is a must to feel the rod load better and perform at its best.