Saturday, July 28, 2012

Size Mattered

Size Mattered

Sometimes it happens. It just eats at me like an oncoming flu though I know it’s just a yearning. It will bug me to no end. I could have caught more trout if I only had the right size. It wasn’t that I was totally ill prepared; I just never figured size mattered so much. The temptation became too much and I had to go back, soon. Back to see what I could accomplish with the correct flies and being the only one on the stream for the day.

 The weekend had passed and though I had fun on my Sunday outing I knew I could do better with a more precise collection of caddis. I just had too many refusals and no shows then I felt were acceptable and it’s been eating at me since.

 During the middle of the week I tied #16 and #18 caddis in precise color and size that I had swatted down the past Sunday. I stayed up till 1:00am the night before and conjured up a Katydid pattern also. My symptoms were subsiding.
 The weatherman called for a 30% chance of rain in the morning, of the weekday I was planning on fishing, with possible passing thunderstorm, I was still going. During the morning drive under overcast skies, and sometimes dark clouds, I thought positive.
 Even when I hit misty conditions and partial wet roads I kept thinking the day would turn out fine. When I got to the stream, without rain, my symptoms were practically gone. I hurriedly got my gear and grabbed my two piece SAS rod that was already set up, in the back of the van, from the weekend. I didn’t waste time meandering downstream as usual but cut through the woods right to the hot spots I left Sunday.

 I stood on the bank looking for any risers before slipping into the water. It appeared the water wasn’t as high as it was the past weekend and flowing more clearly but still the wavy current and river bottom kept the trout well camouflaged. The fish were there Sunday and there was no reason for them to vacate the area. I also know they’ve been fished over by a lot of fishermen with a lot of different patterns. Unlike many fishing project areas these fish didn’t mind as much. They were like a transplanted herd of elk or urban deer that get used to people being around. They will feed or lay about unless there is a major disturbance or sudden interruption in the current before scurrying away. Sunday, trout were rising to caddis within rods length. Some raised just aside my fly line as it drifted with the surface current, so they weren’t line shy. On the other hand it was if they seen my tippet tied to the hook eye. Some would rise to take a closer look at my imitation, refuse and within seconds slurp a natural near by.
 I stepped into the water and waded a few more steps outward and downstream some. Being it was morning I knotted on a Yellow Sally and cast it out upon the wavy current. It didn’t take me too long to change to something else being I seen no rise attempts to my fly. I had tied up a few Katydid patterns the night before just for something different. Being there was no surface activity; I figured just maybe, a trout would like a nice big breakfast.
 I knotted the 6x tippet to the #10 curved hook. I knew this wasn’t the proper X factor to hook size but I hated to clip off the 6x knowing I’ll need it later for caddis. I applied plenty of dry fly dope to the light olive floss body and head. I cast upstream and got a look see on my 2nd drift. With another cast, towards the middle of the stream, I moved my rod up river and then slowly led the Katydid downstream. The take was a non-aggressive gulp as if the trout knew it couldn’t fly away but wanted to gulp it up quick enough before any other trout got a notion too. There was a big grin on my face and a feeling of satisfaction of my new tie.
 The rainbow fought aggressively within the cold water trying to lose the hook. It was a big deal to me that I caught the first trout of the day on my new Katydid pattern. Over the days time I caught one more on the pattern, missed a grabber and had at least 2 lookers.
 After that I switched to a hopper pattern and took another rainbow

Katydid pattern

Crazy Leg Hopper Pattern

 Still not seeing any risers I went up around the bend, also where I caught fish on top on Sunday. This time I spotted a couple of risers. I crossed the shallow riffles towards the far bank. I noticed very few caddis about but evidently there were enough to get a few trout to feed on top. My #16 and #18 caddis imitations worked great fooling these trout. The smaller size fooled way more trout than the larger ones I had to use Sunday. I tossed out the Katydid or Hopper pattern now and than but it was the caddis that the trout seemed to be keying on. 

After awhile I decided to take a stroll down river before lunch. I didn’t catch anything in the half hour or so, so I headed towards the van.

 Sitting alone in the parking area I enjoyed a homemade sub, a couple of pepperoncinis and corn chips washed down with a micro brew. 

It was about 2:00pm by now and time for a good stogie after a satisfying lunch.
I lit up a Bahia Icon. From out of the box, when I received them, I recall the outer leaf to be a bit on the bitter side as if tasting a leaf right from the stalk. The smoke also was a bit bitter during the first ¼ or so. After a couple of weeks in the humidor I hoped this would take some of this bitterness out. The outer leaf had just a touch of bitterness this time and the bitterness in the smoke was much tamer. Maybe it is the nature of this cigar. It wasn’t overpowering by any means and even gave the cigar a bit of sweetness to the darker wrapped outer leaf.

As I walked back along the bank of the stream the clouds darkened the sky. I could almost smell the moisture of rain in the breeze that would filter through the trees and surround me every now and then. I was relaxed, already having quite a few trout caught earlier, and decided not to be so anxious. I cast out and about aimlessly but once I spotted a rise I tempted it until it gave in. I’ve been known to cast enough dries continuously to sporadic or no rising fish to create my own hatch as I’ve been told by others.

 In about a ½ hour rain showed up in sprinkle form. I zip locked my camera, in my shirt pocket, and continued catching trout in the warm sprinkling rain. When I heard a rumble of thunder I crossed the stream and stood under the forest canopy hoping the rain would pass. When it slowed some I went back out and again tried to entice trout to rise as the raindrops dimpled the water surface.

 There was, I figured, two trout that fed in a slow back eddy out from the far bank both Sunday and earlier in the afternoon. The surface current was almost nonexistent and the fish would rise at will whenever they pleased. They refused, not even rose for a look, when I tried for them. My caddis just wouldn’t sit in the almost motionless water long enough before the current between us swept my fly line down, with the imitation being dragged through the slow pool. The rain was coming down a little harder now, loud enough that I could hear the raindrops tapping on the green leaves and my straw cowboy hat. Under the leafy banks the water wasn’t as disturbed by the rain and a trout still fed on the surface occasionally in the back eddy. I moved mid stream, for a better angle and felt the quicker current against my knees and lower thighs. I side armed a couple casts under the outreaching branches onto the surface near the feeding trout. Maybe it was my 7th or 8th cast in the vicinity that the trout finally rose and with that the bubble swirl was obvious. A quick wrist set and I had an unpleasant rainbow on the end of my line. It took off down stream in the faster current. The battle was like trying to control and retrieve a swerving kite in a windstorm. Trying not to let the kite tangle in nearby tree branches and not letting the string over tension and break. I got him in successfully and released him as water dripped from the brim of my hat.
 After a couple more casts, in the rain, I caught a tree branch trying for one more sporadic feeder. The tippet broke while I shook the branch like a squirrel playing about on a limber limb. With that I called it quits as it was obvious the rain wasn’t going to subside and the sun had gone elsewhere.

 Through the woods I made my way towards the road. My straw cowboy hat now felt like a ten gallon hat. My mesh vest and shirt were drenched enough I felt like I was hauling a six pack of beer.

 As I walked towards the van, on the gravel, rocky roadway, I must have looked as if I had fallen into the river. I suppose most 50+ year old fishermen might have been embarrassed being seen this way, wet to the bone, carrying a fishing rod as if not knowing when to get out of the rain. Not me, I’m just a trout bum, this happens occasionally!!!


Monday, July 23, 2012

Katydid tute

 I happen to notice a few Katydids behind the shop the past week. I figured this might be worth adding to my terrestrial collection. I looked on the I-Net but couldn't find any patterns so, with the material I had laying around, I conjured up my own. I made a few and ended liking this one the best. Remember this was just an off-the-tying bench try with materials I happen to have.


Hook: #10 3x curved shank
Thread: Light green
Under body: Green deer hair
Rib: Barred green dry hackle
Over body: Light olive floss
Under wing: Green deer hair pulled back
Over wing: Green swiss straw tied tent style
Legs: Barred olive, shaped
Collar: Green hackle
Head: Green deer hair


1. Thread base hook shank to bend and return thread to behind eye of hook

2. Body: trim a small bundle of deer hair and even tips with stacker.
2a: Measure body from back of hook bend with tips just forward of hook eye as shown

2b: Where you pinched the deer hair, bring this to behind eye and wind 2-3 soft loops so tips don't flair up. continue to wind thread over deer hair towards rear of hook with tighter tensinsion

2c: Trim excess hair around body leaving a flaired butt.
2d: Now wind thread back up to behind eye and holding the tips tightly together with one hand, tie down deer hair just behind eye with tight wraps.

3. Bring thread back to bend and tie in barred green hackle.
4. Tie in light olive floss at hook bend
5. Body; wrap floss forward to behind eye, tie down and trim extra

6. Rib: Wind hackle over body in open wraps, tie down and trim end

7. Under wing: Fold deer hair back over body and tie down deer hair leaving a bullet head behind eye as shown.
8. Cut a section of swiss straw. open completely, fold once and trim corners as shown.

9. Over wing: Tie in the swiss straw, corners cut towards head, above and behind the bullet head tent style over under-wing. Cut to length and trim ends of wing.

10. Legs: Tie in a light olive hackle stem on each side behind bullet head.
10a. Using a pair of hemostats, pinch the leg, where you want the joint, and fold over hemostat prong tightly.

 11. Collar: Tie in barred green hackle behind head

12. Wind hackle behind head a couple of times, tie off and whip finish.

They look good with my cazy leg hopper patterns

First time I used them they caught trout and had a few curious lookers

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Fog and a Brick House

Fog and a Brick House

 When I pulled into the small gravel parking area, under cloudy conditions, it was near 10:30am. I got out and looked over the bank and just a bit downstream there was a woman in shorts, up to her shins, casting a spinning rod towards the far bank. The water, from the mountain fed lake, being released from the bottom of the dam had to be in the mid 50’s, 60 degrees at the most.
‘A lot braver than I am!’ I thought

 My plan was to go after trout with terrestrials using my bamboo rod. When I fitted the butt section into the next section the ferrules were quite loose. I looked in the back of the van for duct tape, not that I really was going to use it, but it was a thought.
 While I was fiddling around packing my wicker creel the lady reached the parking lot and I asked her how she did and mentioned about her wet wading the cold water. She said something to the effect as ’therapy’
 ’Therapy?’ I thought. Usually therapy consists of warm water not cold.

 After she left I put together my G2 Scott rod and put on my neoprene hip waders. I slung on my wicker creel and headed down to the water. I waded and fished a Spruce Moth or a hopper pattern without a rise for about 10 minutes or so. As I lit up a Don Tomas Cameroon I noticed a few caddis fluttering about. I had brought one of my caddis boxes, just in case the fish didn’t want terrestrials. As I was trying to thread the 5x tippet into the #14 hook eye I heard commotion up stream and turned to see the first kayak coming towards me from the bend. Than a two person float boat came into view and haphazardly bumped into an exposed boulder mid stream. After they released themselves they floated by along with two more kayaks. After their voices disappeared down river I puffed on the stogie and felt alone again.
 Within 5 minutes later I heard rustling behind me along the trail. A man and woman were making their way, through the woods, and I noticed they were wearing fishing vest. They stepped into the water about 35 yards down stream. He started flailing his fly rod while she used a spinning outfit. She tossed a red colored bobber like float with something dangling behind. It plopped with a splash in the water near overhanging branches. I’m sure the unwary trout were quite jolted by the sudden disturbance.
 In time I waded behind them while she was undoing their tangled lines. I continued casting terrestrials near the far bank as I made my way further down stream. It wasn’t until I had gotten down below the wide wavy current that a spotted a few feeding trout.
 I noticed caddis fluttering aimless upon the water surface as if they were stunned a bit by the coldness. Some caddis floated motionless while others hopped, skipped and jumped to take flight before they could be devoured by a hungry trout. I opened my 1 caddis box and searched for a caddis that resembled the ones I had seen fluttering about. The cloud cover kept everything dull and shadowy. Occasionally I heard thunder far off in the distant. Casting out I got a few look sees from feeding trout that rose, examined my fly, while back drifting back with the current, and than dropped below without a sample. It wasn’t until I swatted a caddis and noticed its body and wing color before I got my first strike.
 My imitation seemed to drift up and down upon the wavy current for minutes before it reached the end of its drift and started to ’V’. I saw a figure sweep towards it and I lifted back and felt the tension. Somewhere during the struggle, nearer to me, he got unattached and disappeared into the depth of the wavy current. The thunder was getting closer but I was determined to get one to hand.
 I noticed a couple of small Cahills flying skyward at an angle from near the shore. I also noticed a few feeding trout just down stream nearer the shallows. I switched to a light Cahill and, with a long cast, the Cahill settled up from the feeders. The easy-to-see Cahill disappeared with a surface gulp and a swift pull of my line. With that a battle ensued through the wavy current. I got the frisky rainbow to hand as it started to sprinkle. After releasing the trout I cast out a few more times when all of a sudden the sky growled like a male bear defending his territory. I waded upstream to shallower water and crossed towards the roadside bank. Rain came down in sheets by the time I reached the tree cover. The drops were heavy and I didn’t stand a chance beneath the limber leaves. I was more concerned with my camera and hastily walked through the woods towards the road. The rain slowed down by the time I got to the road as the darkest clouds passed. Still the heavy drops found the spaces between my woven straw hat and water dripped from my skull to my face and neck. Out on the road I held my hand over my pocketed camera as if acknowledging the Pledge of Allegiance or Star-Spangled Banner. At the van I climbed in between the side doors and began the process of drying out.
 It was 2:10pm by now. I had driven a little over an hour to get here and I wasn’t done yet. Besides, I had a good idea what the trout wanted and a little rain wasn’t going to stop me.
 After toweling dry and changing into dry clothes I methodically looked through my 2 other Caddis boxes. I put these in a dry vest and added the terrestrial box and a few light Cahill patterns from the wet wicker creel. I climbed into the driver’s seat, reclined the captain’s bucket seat, and closed my eyes as I listened to the pattering of raindrops on the van roof.

 My subconscious told me that the constant patter of rain, on the van roof, was now just a few plops of big drops. I opened my eyes and up righted the back of the captain’s seat. I looked at the clock and it was 3:20 pm, I had nodded off for about 45 minutes I figured. The rain had nearly stopped as I put down the window and gazed out. The puddles in the gravel parking area showed only dimples of rain drops. I got out of the drivers door and around the van I opened the side doors. The air was humid and the rain wetness was more of a hot musty smell than the sweetness that follows an early summer’s rainy day. I put on my dry Bonehead shirt and dry vest loaded with a few fly boxes I plan on using. I decided to use my Scott SAS rod. The quicker action and stiffness will give me tighter loops and will be easier to single haul in the confined conditions.

 There was still a rumble in the heavens but as I looked towards the sky the clouds and rumbling was moving away from the river, away from where I plan on fishing.
 I didn’t waste any time. I walked down the trail and waded across the creek to where I left before the rain storm hit. I immediately tied on a caddis resembling the body, size and wing color I had swatted earlier. I started casting blindly but softly trying to not disturb the water. The rain had ceased for now and the water ran as before with a touch of green tint the deeper the depth. Big drops of water fell and dimpled the surface below the overhanging green leaves.
 The first rise surprised me as I was looking where I was going to place my next cast. I caught a splash out of the corner of my eye but my reaction was late due to lack of concentration. I flipped the caddis up stream just shy of the over hanging leaves. I continued searching and hoping for a rise but I got no responses. The fish had either left the area or the hatch was over. I waded to the bank and went around the corner.

 Upon the bank I caught sight of a few risers eating at will. I stepped slowly into the water off the muddy bank and softly stepped forward for more back- casting clearance. I noticed caddis drifting upon the surface water. On occasion I’d catch a glimpse of a darker oval object turning on a rise and suck one in. Fish began to feed, maybe a dozen or so, and I picked one out and tried for it. It always seems that the first hook up is instant when you got the right imitation. After the battling disturbance of an exuberant trout it’s almost as if the rest of the fish were aware of some danger.
 It was almost as if I was in my own little world. Fish rising, hook ups anticipated and no worries of human activity to disturb my world. Fog rolled like a blanket with the current now and again. It covered the water in a mist, moved down steam as a cloud and disappeared below. In a few minutes another cloud of fog developed around the bend. It would again blanket the wavy current before me. With it a cooler breeze rose from the cold water, touched my moist skin and gave me a little relief from the humidity.

The brown rose from the depth of the greenish tinted water. I watched as if it levitated just below the surface as if waiting for my caddis imitation to reach him. He rose a little more and as his nose broke the water surface my caddis disappeared. The hook set was sharp and his habit of returning to the depth after an easy meal was interrupted by the resistance of a tight line. He dove deep with more force and I let line slip through my fingers. The Scott rod applied pressure and I squeezed the fly line a little tighter between my fingers. The rod flexed a bit more and the line tightened as it swung outward towards the aggressive fighting fish. I let him take line to the reel and held the rod high as he fought with the reel drag, growing weary the longer he pulled. I moved the rod up river and he followed reluctantly and than with a burst cut through the oncoming current like a submerged torpedo. I took in line to keep tension. He whirled back towards me as he felt the overpowering rod pressure and settled down just out from me for a moment. I reeled in the extra line that lay upon the water onto the large arbor reel while holding tensioned line between my finger and cork grip. A couple of spin moves and then after a few tail slaps the brown trout came to hand.

I had been waiting for just the right moment to light up a Brick House Toro and this seemed to be it. The stogie was prime. The tightly rolled inner tobacco made the outer leaf firm. The light up was quick and the first draw was just as mild as any mild cigar would be. With the continuation of the burn was if the tobacco inside started to come alive with a little more flavor and a more medium body smoke. The flavorful tobacco wasn’t overpowering or too mild. Just a good honest smoke and I enjoyed it with each cast.
 As time went on I caught a few more but had more refusals. It was getting harder to place the 6x tippet into the #16 eyes so I started to switch to bigger dries as the light faded. Casting a hopper up stream it fell a good distance up from a bank-side angled boulder. The water current moved it towards me from almost 20 yards away. A trout sideswiped at it from the boulder side. I lifted the rod. I felt the heavy trout but he continued on with his forceful take towards me. I stripped in line trying to keep tension and couldn’t lift the rod any higher to support the oncoming trout. He half surfaced with a head twist and returned below without my hopper. I chuckled as I spit a bit of tobacco juice out of the side of my mouth. “Had him!”
 Maybe I was a little giddy by now. I hadn’t eaten since the morning about 8:00am. I had smoked a few cigars by now and the Brick House added a little extra boldness to my taste buds. My stomach was growling almost as loud as the passed thunder storm. A few more casts with the hopper and I graciously bowed out and returned to the van.

 It was nearing 7:30pm. I changed into decent clothes and headed to the nearest bar and restaurant just down the road. A Smokehouse burger, fries and a Yuengling draught hit the spot. A band played on the patio and I grabbed another beer after I ate and relaxed outside and watched the entertainment.

 On the drive home I took out a Punch Rare Corojo. I knew it would be a strong robust flavorful cigar and I was eager to smoke it.

 The day turned out to be a special kind of trout fishing adventure. Yes, I’ve fished over rising trout before, in the rain and after a shower. I’ve fished quiet creeks, in solitude along a river and in beautiful scenery. But this day was a little extra special with the added blankets of fog that just seemed to roll with the stream flow above rising trout.


Friday, July 13, 2012

Badger Spider Tute

Badger Spider Tutorial

 Summer is here and it's time for terrestrial dry flies. Here is a simple spider pattern that is effective when trout aren't that responsive to other summer time patterns. It could be that this is one they never seen before and looks like a meal worth a taste. I like using this with soft casts, onto slow moving water, under overhanging branches or against partially submerged logs near the banks. 

Thread: Black #8
Hook: Short Shank Curved Hook, light wire #14 and #16
Tail: Badger hackle barbs
Hackle: Golden Badger, oversize
Hook size I am tying on is a #14 with #12 hackle.

Golden Badger Hackle

1. Thread base hook shank and tie in a pinch of badger barbs at end of hook shank.

2. Tie in hackle just in front of tail. Bring thread forward behind hook eye leaving space for thread head.

3. Wind hackle forward in close wraps to thread.

4. trim hackle stem and wrap a thread head behind eye.

5. Whip finish and dap some head cement on thread head

Nothing to it and they will catch those bug eating trout

Monday, July 2, 2012

After the Commotion

After the Commotion

 After the canoeists, after the kayaks and float tubes. After the swimmers, rock skippers, playful children and those wet dogs, the river runs desolate again except for a few fishermen wanting to try their luck.

 I traveled upriver away from the others. Parking along the side of the road, under pines, I grabbed my 6wt Winston Vapor, fanny pack of streamers, poppers and big dry flies, and headed down the bank to the water. The wide section ran with wavy current flow around boulders and over rock formations. I carefully stepped on and over these silt covered rock formations on the river bed for ample room for a back cast. Within easy distance to the middle of the river I pulled out line while looking over the flowing water. My forward cast shot the 6WF line outward and my bead head multicolored woolly bugger plopped into the distant wavy current. I mended up river some and watched my fly line. The bugger drifted and than started to swing in a big arc when the current caught the floating line. At the end of the swing I stripped in the bugger a few times and started another back-cast. I single hauled the back-cast and pointed the rod tip a bit more up river. A couple more feet of fly line exited the tip top and the bugger fell further out than before. During the swing, with a sharp tug, the line drew tight and I yanked back on the rod. Within seconds a smallmouth leaped out of the flowing current trying to shake the hook set free. Rays of sunshine, from the setting sun overlooking the river, glistened off his scaly body. It reentered with a splash, tugged line upriver and again erupted out of the flowing water skyward twisting with aggression. He flopped back in, turned down river and took off. My fly line arced behind with his quickness. I clinched the butt end of my stogie between my teeth a little tighter and held on while line slipped through my fingers. Having slowed downstream I pinched the line and applied more pressure. He followed the flexing rod up river and than once more cleared water with fierce head shakes before plunging back into the current flow. A small battle ensued before I got him swimming my way. Picking him up the bugger dangled from his mouth.

 After releasing the smallmouth I continued fishing for another half hour or so into the fading light. It wasn’t until I snagged up and had to break off that I called it quits for the day.

 Back at the van I changed out of my wet wading pants, socks and felt sole wading shoes. In the drivers seat I reached into my traveling humidor and pulled out a Bahia Icon. Wetting the dark outer leaf with my lips and tongue there was a slight bitterness. Lighting up and the first draw was a smooth pleasing taste. On the road the sky grew dark and the red embers glowed at the end of the barrel while a nice white ash developed.
 Traveling along the river road, while puffing on the stogie, was enjoyable, quiet, peaceful and a great ending to this story!!


A righteous smallie from Saturday