Sunday, September 22, 2013

Believe It or Not

Believe It or Not


 My back was aching, from work or something I did at home, and my right biceps and shoulder was hurting, from a softball game 4 weeks ago, so I called off work. I took two Aleve in the morning and by 11:00am I was bored out of my mind. I decided to take a drive up north to a trout stream, sit and relax while smoking a cigar in the peace and quietness of the Allegheny National Forest.

  As I’m sitting along Tionesta Creek, with my feet up on a log, smoking a Connecticut Yankee stogie I noticed a rise up creek from a shading maple tree across creek. I see nothing flying around and, because of an occasional breeze, only leaves and petals drifted on the slow water surface current.
  This is September mind you, the creeks are low and clear this time of year. The trout that are around are usually in deeper holes or in the shade escaping from the sun and the warmer temps. Because of the cool nights and overcast days lately the water temps had stayed cooler than normal. I didn’t except to see many, if any, fish rising except for maybe a terrestrial.
  When I seen another rise, down creek out from the boulder strewn far bank, I couldn’t take it any more. The Aleve had relaxed my arm and shoulder and the ache in my lower back was almost gone. I just happen to bring my fly rod and gear. I snatched it up and slowly waded out to give it a try.

The water was calm and the warmth of the sun felt good. I stripped off a piece of 6x tippet from the tippet spool and knotted it on. A brisk breeze, now and then, blew foliage upon the water so I thought maybe a grasshopper or beetle pattern might get a fish to rise. Casting out the hopper pattern didn’t work but when I cast out the beetle pattern towards the rise, up from the overhanging tree, I caught my first trout.

I sent the beetle in the general direction of the down creek riser but he didn’t take notice. I happen to see one tan caddis come off the water and decided to try one of my # 16 tan caddis patterns. The rise came in the form of a quick slurp and I set the hook immediately with my wrist. My second trout came to hand and I was all smiles.

I would stand and wait till I seen another rise and than go for it. More often than not it didn’t take but a few casts to hook up with another lazy sipper. I forgot all about my aches and pains for awhile. I even caught a couple of smallmouth on the small caddis.

 One strike was so ferocious, at the caddis, that it reminded me of the bass I caught on poppers a couple of weeks ago. It was one of those big inhaling takes that erupted the water surface. When I yanked back the rod I didn’t even feel a touch of its mouth on the end of my line. I didn’t switch to a bigger fly or bugger yet but kept him in mind.
  My finest catch was when I seen a rise within inches of one of the boulders along the bank. I made a nice smooth loop that rolled outward and dropped my fly within a couple of feet of the boulders. I thought for sure he’d rise to it but the imitation caddis just drifted by. My next cast put the caddis within a foot and the drift was near enough but still nothing. I ended up dropping the caddis right up to the boulders. The current slowly drifted my dry along the reaches and sure enough he took it with a swirl. The long hook set was perfect and he scuffled about as I brought him to the net.
 When everything calmed down for sometime and no trout rose I decided to cast out a #10 Humpy. I worked it near the far bank and where I had missed the big gulper. When nothing came up for it I switched to a woolly bugger in hopes of catching the gulper. I ended up catching a rainbow that got off near while I was trying to net it and one smallie. By then it was around 4:00 and I decided to hit the trail.

 Now I got to thinking as I drove through Marienville. Just maybe there might be a few trout sipping something off the water down on the Clarion River. I wasn’t in any hurry to get home and my aches weren’t too aggravating. I turned down route 899 and headed to the river.

  I was just trying to relax sitting upon the stony bank-side looking out over the calm water flowing towards the riffles to my right. I have caught many of trout in this section so I already had a small Adams knotted on a long leader with 6X tippet. A few tiny midges were flying about and now and again a dragonfly or two would buzz over the water. It was maybe a good half hour while smoking a Punch Churchill that I noticed the first sipper. With the moving current, on the glaring surface, if I wasn’t looking in the general direction I would have missed it. It was almost like a small baitfish sipping tiny midges but it made a swirl upon the flat water to prove something bigger beneath. I rose slowly and calmly waded into the water down stream, at an angle, from the sipper. After a couple of false casts, to get more line out, I let go a long line and my parachute Adams fell upstream and just this side of the sipper. I watched as the dry drifted nearer and soon I saw the trout appear just below the surface and snatch it up. With a twitch of the rod backward, set the hook, and soon the trout was scurrying about as I was bringing him in.
The next rise I seen was within minutes of my first catch. He was sipping sporadically out in front of me quite a ways. I waded out midstream and started my false casts. I laid a soft line upon the surface which put the dry a bit upstream of the sipper. After a couple of passes he too sipped and got hooked.

 I was pestered by two more sippers for some time that wouldn’t take my fly. I refused to tie on another pattern, and maybe I should have, but the evening was dimming and the sun was now behind the tree tops. I found one more sipper that took my dry before calling it quits. He gave me a good tussle on the 4 weight before I got him to the net. His golden belly told me he’s been around awhile.

 On the way home I started to feel my lower back aching much more and my arm and shoulder was reminding me that this fly fishing exercise wasn’t all that great of an idea to heal those muscles.
Oh well, a couple Aleve before bedtime may make the pain go away.


Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Annual Hike to the Bass Pond

Alone on the Bass Pond
Sept. 14, 2013

  It was Friday during work that I thought I haven’t visited the bass pond this year. I checked the weather report and though it was suppose to be cool, around 65 degrees, there was no chance of rain. Being it was near a 45 minute hike through the forest to the pond, the rain thing matters. Last year I got caught in it and wasn’t planning on doing the same. Friday after worked I packed my float tube, chest waders and gear into my back pack. That evening I put the gear in my van for my annual pilgrimage to the bass pond.
  Saturday my internal alarm clock woke me at 7:00am. It was a mere 47 degrees outside so I took my time and made a double bacon, egg and cheese muffin. I wasn’t in any hurry to get out there in the chilly conditions. By the time I got to the parking area it was near 9am and I could already tell the temperature was changing but slowly. The sky on the other hand was still over cast. After mounting the pack on my back I made sure I had a good selection of cigars and flies. It was time to take a hike.

As I walked down the grassy trail I reminisced about all my earlier adventures to the pond. I learned to be patient and to float the pond as to not fin against the wind if at all possible. I had never fished the pond this late in the year so I wasn’t sure what to expect as conditions go. Usually I hit it on a hot August day but being September, and cooler conditions, I was just hoping for the best.
  There was a noticeable cool breeze that blew along the trail. The overcast sky didn’t give much hint what was to come. The gray and light clouds looked like a jigsaw puzzle spread out on a blue card table. They were sorted just not fitted together just yet. When I reached the point where I was in vision of the pond it looked just as I left it last year. The tall feeble trees stood within the water not to grow any higher. The brush along the pond was green and the surface looked to be washboard from the wind.
When I got to the last bend I knew it would only be another 50 yards to the place where I would pump up the float tube and prepare for my float.

 From on the earthwork dam the pond looked inviting as usual. A little more windy where I stood but I knew it would be a little calmer on the water, at least I was hoping. Finning against the wind all day isn’t that enjoyable to say the least and it makes it hard to pin point a cast between the lily growths. The weathered trunks of trees that rose from the water appeared to be ageless. The clouds above started to open up and let the sun shine through more often.

 I pumped up the float tube and filled it with my fly fishing gear. After donning on my fleece pants, the pond water is spring fed and though it is in the open doesn’t get warm as most ponds due, I put on my new chest waders. After assembling my 4 piece 9’6” Clearwater rod and I attached the mid arbor reel with wf5f 7 weight line. At the water I put on my flippers and I was ready for a day on the water.
 I finned over to the left side of the pond but the wind was against me. After a few casts and fighting the breeze I looked to the far side and noticed the water wasn’t so wavy. Checking out the situation I decided to fish the right side up to the distant bank and let the breeze blow me back towards my exit point. I decided to concentrate on fishing the lily beds and limb cover along the banks instead of blind casting in the deeper water around the rising feeble trees. As I crossed the deep section of water I just enjoyed the warmth of the sunshine when it shown itself.
  I already had a frog popper attached to the 8 lb tippet and threw a few casts along the lone island as I finned my way to the backside where the lily pad growth began. The wind didn’t seem to be too much of a problem and the water was much calmer. Slowly finning my way up the right bank I caught a couple of small bass but none worth a picture or to get excited about. What was telling is that they were interested in coming up for my popper so I stuck with it.
 I made a good cast towards an open cove of the water lily growth. The frog popper plopped and sat quietly for a moment. With a quick short tug the frog popper gurgled up some water. With smooth strips I started to swim the frog towards me and than the surface water erupted in a boiling spray of water. I yanked the rod back and felt the resisting force. He felt like a big one. He cleared the shallow cove as I watched the wake holding onto the cork grip tightly. He dove deeper to my left and tried to wrestle free. In a split second he rose and subsurface with a few tail swats that sprayed water about before he forced himself deep again flexing the rod deeper into the midsection. He turned and swam towards me and I figured he was going under my float tube. I held the 9’ 6” of rod out as far as possible with a locked wrist not giving him any more line so as not the get him tangled in my legs or flippers. He retreated with the rod pressure and surfaced again right out in front of me. After another skirmish I reeled in line and he splashed about until I got a thumb in his lower jaw!
  After that fine catch it was time for a rewarding cigar. I reached in the back pocket of the float tube and pulled out a Punch Churchill. I wet the outer leaf with my lips and tongue for a taste of the brown flavored outer tobacco. I nipper off the end cap and lit the end of the barrel with a cupped hand. Twirling the cigar between my lips and teeth I made sure the foot was lit around the edge for an even smoke. The tasty cigar was a nice reward for the nice bass I had just caught.

 Slowly moving and casting along the shore line lily beds it wasn’t long before I captured another bass that slurped up my offering. It wasn’t as big but put up a good battle.
 The next hour or so I started to circle my way towards the left side of the pond. I weaved my way in between the lily pad beds casting into channels and crevices that opened between the growth and stumps. At times I was able to touch bottom stirring up the dark brown sod that lay beneath. I was surprised I didn’t get one to rise to my frog popper. As I was working my way to the far bank I noticed a few dragon flies about. When I got within casting distance of the bank I knotted on a blue striped dragon fly pattern and cast it out within the slower pools of water. One cast put the dragon fly in a pocket of open water inside the lily pad growth. I was sure to draw a strike but the imitation sat there without notice. On my back cast I turned towards my next target and didn’t realize there was one of those feeble trees behind me within back casting range. When I went to cast forward I felt something grab the imitation from behind. I froze instantly not wanting to break off. As I turned I noticed the dragon fly dangling below a gray outstretched limb. With a couple of swings and tugs I found it was no use to try and convince the limb to give it up. I pulled the strong tapered leader until it snapped. After knotting on a length of 3X tippet I continued on my expedition with another frog popper.
My cast fell short of my intended target area near a stump that was a few feet from the weedy bank. I started to swim it back for the next cast when the water surface noisily exploded and water erupted where my popper should have been. I reared back on the rod, with my line hand holding the fly line tightly. I felt the strength of the fish between my fingers and cork grip as the rod flexed outward. I let line slip through my fingers as the fish dropped below and struggled beneath. All of a sudden I felt the rod relax within my grip and straighten as the tension eased between my line hand fingers. I watched as the frog came to the surface and wavered with the swirls just caused by the commotion. I just started to swim the frog back in disgust when WHAM, in a blink, the bass rose and clobbered the frog again right before my eyes. I yanked back the rod with authority and felt the rod bend above me. The bass took deep with authority and I moved the bowed rod in front of me and let him take tensioned line off the spinning spool. He whirled around to my left and my float tube turned freely upon the water surface with me holding the cork grip tightly without any footage below. He struggled outward but the pressure of rod and reel drag took its toll. As I felt him tiring I steadily reeled in line as he tugged. Nearer the float tube I avoided the popper and brought him to the apron.
 After that catch I lit up a La Perla Casadore. The Habana Criollo outer leaf and Dominican inner tobacco made for a good enjoyable medium smoke for the last hour of fishing. I caught a couple more small bass in the general area and a very hungry bluegill. Later on I caught one more nice size largemouth before calling it a day.

 Up on the earthwork I let the deflated float tube and chest waders dry under the sun while I started packing the other gear in my back pack. I took one more glance out over the pond before putting on the pack ready for my departure. Along the trail I listened to the birds’ chirping and a few chipmunks scampering about. The leaves rustled with each gust of wind and the cool air felt good. I surprised a few deer in a field and they leaped across the trail in front of me making their escape. When I reached the gated trail my van sat in the parking area alone beneath the setting sun. I packed my gear inside and took my time driving down the dirt road to the main road.
It turned out to be an enjoyable successful adventure and now it was time to get some wings and a few brewskies at the Kelly hotel.


Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Hip-Hopper Tute

Hip-Hopper Tute
Here’s a Grasshopper pattern I came up with for when the smaller hoppers are around. It is tied parachute style so it will be easier to see, land upright 99% of the time and has a great hopper silhouette and color. I find that the smaller hoppers are more greenish and especially during a wet season. When it hasn’t rained for awhile or a dry summer I have found the grasshoppers are more of a olive/brownish color.
  For the body I use a mixture of golden olive/BWO dubbing. For the head of the hopper I use the same mixture but add a little caddis green in the mix.
  Before starting prepare a set of legs by taking about four strands of pheasant tail fibers and tie them in a knot. For the over wing I take a turkey wing feather and color it with an olive green Prismacolor marker. This gives the wing an olive cast. Then I coat the feather with flex cement and let it dry. This keeps the fibers together and stiffens the fibers.

Some of the material and preparation.

Hook; 3x long curved hook. #10,#12,#14
Thread; Blue Wing Olive #6
Tail: Red Feather fibers tied short.
Wing Post; White Poly yarn
Underbody; White poly yarn extended along shank
Body; Mixture of golden olive and BWO dubbing mixed
Over wing; Turkey wing feather section colored olive tied tent style
Legs; knotted pheasant tail fibers.
Head; Same as body with some green caddis dubbing mixed in
Hackle; Grizzly olive hackle feather wound around wing post. (Grizzly is a good substitute)

1. Thread base hook shank and tie in short tail of red feather fibers. Bring thread forward behind hook eye as shown.
2. Tie in poly wing post behind eye, leave plenty of room. Lay excess poly along hook shank and trim at tail. This will help give bulk to the body.
3. Wind thread over poly towards tail and back up towards post covering poly along shaft.

4. Take a mixture of Golden Olive and BWO dubbing and dub body towards tail. With more dubbing, dub body back up behind wing post.

5. Tie in turkey section, tent style, as shown leaving room behind wing post. Then trim end of wing just extending beyond tail.

6. Tie in each leg on each side of the down wing.

7. Using same dubbing for body add some Green Caddis dubbing to mix. Dub a head before and after the wing post leaving room behind hook eye to finish fly.

8. Tie in a Hackle feather as close to wing post as possible.

9. Wind hackle feather around wing post keeping hackle down towards head.

10. To knot the thread behind hook eye without getting the hackle fibers caught use a hollow tube as shown. Wind the thread around the tube twice and than fit the hollow center over the hook eye. Push the thread towards the head under the hackle. I usually do this three times and then tie off and add a drop of head cement.

Finished product
What the trout see

A few trout that took my Hip-Hopper

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Buggers, Hoppers and a Gurkha

Buggers, Hoppers and a Gurkha

  The past Monday, Labor Day, I wanted to get out and do some trout fishing. I intended to go to central Pennsylvania for some wild trout fishing but the weather didn’t look promising and I didn’t want to waste the money for gas and time to have to turn around because of a thunderstorm. Instead I headed north east to some cool waters. I been wanting to try out a new grasshopper pattern and seeing hoppers in fields and around home I had a good feeling there should be some around the area of the trout stream I’d be fishing.

The new grasshopper pattern is a parachute style. I blend an olive with green dubbing together for the body. An olive shaded turkey wing feather for the down wing with an olive hackle tied parachute style around poly fibers. With a red tail and pheasant tail fibers for legs I call it the Hip-Hopper. It should land upright on every cast, float longer and hold up even after hook ups.

  I figure it was about 9:30am when I pulled off the side of the dirt roadway along the creek. I was surprised to see two vehicles with New York license plates parked along the roadway as well. I took my time gathering my equipment and making sure I had all the flies and plenty of spooled tippet before trekking off. I remembered my camera and took a few cigars. I decided to walk up the road some before entering the stream. The clouds were a mixture of white and gray that continued to intertwine together. It was hard to figure out what the weather had in store so I was glad I got out early.

 When I reached the water I checked the level and clarity. I decided to go with a woolly bugger and work my way down creek to see where the New Yorkers were. Casting into a wavy current of water I was surprised by a strike so soon. I had him coming across the undercurrent towards me when he rose and the hook shook loose from his lips. I wasn’t lackadaisical after that. When I got around the bend the two New Yorkers were fishing a slow current pool. The guy nearest me looked as if he was stripping a streamer of some sort while the guy further down was drifting nymphs under an indicator. They were in a good location for where trout hang out and I was just waiting for one of them to hook up.

My line pulled outward on the swing and I twitched the rod tip back. The fish on the other end followed the force of the pull. He fought actively in the cool water skittering across the surface as I brought him towards me. The splashing noise made the guy nearest to me look my way to see what the commotion was. I released the trout back into the cool waters

The third trout I caught on the bugger appeared to come right out of the paint shop. Its reddish lateral line and gill cover was bright and shiny like fresh paint. Its pectoral fin was brushed in crimson. The dark speckles about its body were like tiny black paint splatter from an outward shaken brush. I dislodged the olive woolly bugger from its white painted lips and let it scurry away from my open palm. 
 It was a short while later that the two men waded to the bank and walked up the trail and reentered the water upstream from me. I did notice the one guy catch a trout before I caught one where they both were fishing earlier. An hour had passed and I was getting bored with the underwater fishing. I had noticed a few risers now and again but couldn’t distinguish what they were sipping on. For the next half hour I cast a few different caddis and midges about without any takers. With the sun peering out now and then the water would surely be getting warmer and maybe the trout will get a little more active and hungry. I knotted on the woolly bugger and started to wade and fish my way down stream.
Later in the afternoon I stood just out from the bank looking over a stretch of good water. A Gurkha Centurian was clinched between my teeth and the smoke, from the burning end, rose upward and than wavered downstream with the light breeze. From upstream, around the bend, the water narrowed some and waved within the pool of water before me. The current slowed quickly as the pool widened. Across stream pine boughs extended from the far inclining bank with places just high enough to possibly, with a sidearm cast, to get a dry fly underneath. I was able to see a few submerged rocks along the far bank and being shaded I was sure a few trout would be about away from the open water and sun. The water flowed slowly before me and then picked up some speed before tumbling over a log wall that extended from both banks. The air around me was much cooler and with the sound of the water falls, downstream, had me feeling a bit more confident that the pool would hold some hungry trout. There were tree branches and brush behind me so casting might be tricky but I’ve been used to these conditions and moved myself to the best position possible.

  I knotted on the new hopper pattern and pulled line from the reel. With a short stroke and quick twitch of my wrist the hopper flew threw the air and landed near the far bank upstream from where I stood. My fly line floated upon the slow current of water towards the drifting hopper. I took up some line as needed as the fly line and hopper drifted across from me. From across stream I saw a trout scurry downstream towards my hopper. With an attacking slurp he took the hopper and I lifted the rod and set the hook. The trout continued downstream with speed with a hook in its jaw. A good fracas ensued with the trout surfacing a time or two and one leaping appearance before I corralled him in my net.

By the time I heard the thunder of a storm in the distance I caught a couple more on the hopper but it wasn’t easy to get them to rise. One was a a colorful brook trout while the other, completing my trifecta, was a young wild brown.
I walked along the brushy trail heading back upstream to where I caught the rainbows on my Woolly Bugger. The storm was still in the distance and the clouds above were moving slowly. I tried a few dry flies but couldn’t get any trout to rise. The strong wind blowing the tree limbs told me that the storm would be here soon. I made my last cast and headed for the van. By the time I got to the van sprinkles started to fall. As I changed out of my fishing wear the sky opened up and an all out rainfall fell to the ground. It was only 3:30pm but with the dark sky above it didn’t look like the storm would pass anytime soon so I started my journey back home at a leisurely pace as the windshield wipers cleared my vision.

 Overall it turned out to be a relaxing time with a few fish caught on my new pattern. I plan on being back soon; hopefully the trout will be in a hungrier mood.