Monday, March 30, 2015

Fishing with Rich and Brandy

Fishing With Rich and Brandy

When someone asks to tag along when I’m going fly fishing up this way I don’t mind at all. When he says he’ll bring lunch and home made brandy, well that’s just dandy. You’re more than welcomed.

 Rich had already been fishing when I pulled in the parking lot about 10:00am. I messaged him earlier that there would be no hurry to get here being it wasn’t going to get above freezing temps till 11:00am or so. I found him up creek a bit, on the bank chipping ice off his fly line and rod eyes. I was surprised as there were about 5 other vehicles in the parking area and three other guys in the extreme cold weather in the water.
 We both walked back to the vehicles in which he gave me a quick sample of the cranberry brandy and apple brandy he had made. It wasn’t too potent but a quick wake up call. The cranberry was much smoother than the apple but both were very drinkable and appealing.
 I got my fishing gear on and with other fishermen fishing in front of the parking area we decided to go down creek some.
 The water was a perfect color as far as I was concerned with a touch of a greenish tint. It was a little higher than I would have liked and flowing a bit strong mid stream but there was no doubt the fish shouldn’t have any problem seeing our offerings. As I stepped into the water I had a bit of doubt for the morning catch though. The state stocked this catch and release area Thursday but with the frigid temperature I was feeling against my legs I felt the trout might be a bit sluggish and not to responsive this early. Maybe once the water warmed up it might get better.
 I lit a Cohiba Pequenos just about a half hour into the cold morning of fishing. We spent a few hours searching for a hungry trout but it wasn’t going to happen before noon. We seen a couple of guys catch one or two but the majority of us were just wetting lines and still searching.
 Rich and I moved around the creek searching in new areas for responsive fish for sometime. After the crowd thinned out some we had more areas to fish to ourselves. The sun was warming the creek water and air temperature and I was hoping that would get the trout a little more active. Rich finally hooked into a couple down creek from where I was fishing and waved me over. It appeared the trout were hanging in small schools so once we found a few takers we stuck around and had some fun with them. We were catching them on woolly buggers though I had many more bumps and swats without a hook up than I did with getting one to the net. Rich was having fun catching trout also and I was happy he was hooking up. Here’s a few. 

 A few fish Rich caught

 After having some catching fun and needing to warm up we headed to the vehicles to get something to eat and I was in the mood for more home made brandy with some cheese and crackers.
 After a filling lunch with venison meets ball sandwiches, cheese, crackers and more brandy we were ready to fish a couple more hours. I lit up another Cohiba and we headed down to the water. 

 We started again where we left off but the trout weren’t too responsive. While Rich stayed at it I moved around searching for another school of trout with my offerings. We were practically the only ones on the creek by now as the sun was fading and the air was getting cold again. I found some hungry fish upstream from Rich and called him over. We caught a few more fish on an assortment of streamers, nymphs and egg patterns before we called it quits. My feet felt heavy as iron bars as I stepped out of the water. I couldn’t feel them bend at the ankles from standing in the cold water for so long.
 Back at the vehicles I changed out of my fishing gear as the van warmed up. Rich and I exchanged a grateful handshake for the enjoyable fishing outing we had and he headed south towards the Burgh. Pulling out of the empty lot I lit up a Pequenos and enjoyed the smooth Cameroon tobacco flavor during the drive home. It was good to have the feeling back into my legs and feet as well as the warmth of the heat!!

Rich getting ready to net another 

My last two of the evening


Thursday, March 26, 2015

Between the Raindrops

Between the Raindrops

 I finally got the chance to take a day and fish a Pennsylvania trout stream. Two days after getting back from North Carolina, in early March, I came down with flu like symptoms that lasted a good couple of weeks. The creeks were frozen over and it had been cold most of the time anyhow so I’ve been nursing my sickness and tying flies. I was getting the itch, and it wasn’t from being ill, I just needed time on the water. With the warmer daytime weather the past week or so melted plenty of snow which brought water levels up and cloudy. I’ve been checking the weather reports daily and it looked like Wednesday would be my best bet. It was suppose to be near 50* with occasional showers. I was pretty sure the water level of the Big N Creek would be ok but I wasn’t too sure of the color. It didn’t matter I posted on face book “I’m going fish'n tomorrow. Not sure where but I will be in the water with fly rod in hand!!” And that was my goal.

 The predicted showers showed up earlier than I expected as I drove the 50+ miles to the creek. Crossing the bridge, over the creek, the water appeared with a greenish tint, good flow and not too deep not to wade in. The excitement of getting a line wet was becoming overbearing but I stopped at the fly shop, as I always do, along the creek to say hi to the owner and I always purchase something. It didn’t take long before I was in my van dressing for the fishing engagement.

 Near 50?, bull. It was down right cold. The rain fell in small droplets as I entered the creek. The coldness of the water was quickly felt around my calves. My starting point was just above the shop hole in the wavy current. There was one other fisherman downstream fishing the deep hole. I watched him enough to know he was nymph fishing. I mostly always start out with a woolly bugger. This is not only my favorite streamer but it also stretches the arm muscles and gets the stiffness out of the fly line quicker. With a little extra weight I started to cast the bugger out getting a feel for the SAS 5weight rod. Within the first 5 minutes I got a bump and soon I had a fish struggling on the end of the line in the wavy current. Once he came to the surface the hook gave way and he disappeared below the surface. At least I knew that the trout were willing to take a Woolly Bugger in the cold water and weren’t just lying dormant.
 I kept at it with the bugger and soon I got my first trout to the net. The rain was still falling so I didn’t dare take the camera out of the zip lock bag in my raincoat pocket but it was a nice brown trout about 12” or so. With that I took out a fat Gurkha stogie and lit it up just in case the rain started to fall in bunches.
 As I slowly made my way towards the big, slower current hole, I switched colors of buggers tempting those trout who wanted to exert some energy and grab the drifting/swimming bugger. It wasn’t long before I was able to hook and net a nice trout.

 A sheet of rain blew across the water just after the catch with a chilling breeze. My fingers were stiffening. The water that flowed against my thighs was a constant reminder of how cold the creek really was. Still it was going to take a lightning storm to get me to quit.
 The other fisherman had pulled out a couple of trout so I decided to resort to nymph fishing. With a San Juan worm and a PT nymph for a dropper, under an indicator, I was soon in the monotonous routine of systematized nymph fishing.

 The roll cast looped the indicator up stream and my two imitations followed, for about the umpteenth time. I gave a mend up creek to be sure the indicator didn’t put an unneeded drag on the nymphs. As the indicator passed before me it dropped just enough below the surface that my instinct set the hook. The trout pulled away with a tug and forceful burst of speed. My wet cold hand held the wet cork firmly as my line hand tensioned the line as needed. He put up a good struggle and run before he tired out and I got him to the net successfully. I was able to catch another but the boredom of nymphing the same small area was getting to me and I just had to get some excitement and blood flow through my body. I knotted on a Woolly Bugger and proceeded to entertain myself downstream.
 My casts were across creek, long and well placed where I knew the bugger would drift near boulders, seams and small pocket waters. The water I was now fishing was wide, a little shallower and the visibility was fair. The fish around shouldn’t have any problem seeing the buggers I put before them. I changed colors often and was rewarded with a couple more trout.
 As the afternoon turned into evening my legs were just about numb from being in the water so long. I waded out of the creek and walked my way along the path back to where I started. There were a few more anglers about trying there luck. I stepped in the creek again and tied on a tandem offering. The guy upstream was doing pretty well hooking up to fish so I was hoping it wasn’t going to take too long for myself to get a hook up. Every few casts I would gradually change the depth of my nymph presentation. I changed nymphs a couple of times and knotted on a Dark Hare’s ear. I was hoping the brighter gold tinsel might bring some flash and curiosity to the bottom hugging trout.

 The indicator passed me and I gave the line a short upstream mend not disturbing the indicator. As my presentation drifted further down creek the sudden drop, of the pulled indicator, lifted my spirits as well as the rod tip. The trout took off, surfaced with splashing remarks and dove deep. The 5 weight rod flexed with enjoyment as I cautiously brought the trout near with my line hand. Holding the rod high with one hand I scooped the nice rainbow from the water.
  After about another half hour I didn’t see anyone catching anything and the fellow fishermen were starting to move to different locations. I tied on a Wooly Bugger, having more room to fish, and slowly fished my way down to the bridge which was only about 30 yards away. I didn’t get any strikes so I turned back to the bank and walked back up creek. I was about ready to leave, after getting a bad tangle in my tandem set up but took a break and put on a fresh tapered leader.
 A few more fishermen showed up so I figured it had to be getting around 4:00 or so. I entered way up in the faster water and began to present my Woolly Bugger in the faster current. My legs began to feel the coldness a lot quicker than they took earlier. The sun came out and it did make it a more pleasant evening of fishing. I might have got a bump or two before I got to the slower current beyond the riffles but it was hard to distinguish with the rocky strewn riffles.
 I was getting impatient and hungry but I wanted just one more catch before I left. Maybe I looked funny casting out and using a Wooly Bugger in the slow current hole to those nymph fishermen but I didn’t care. I had already hooked up 4 times on them and was hoping for one more.
 I was casting the bugger covering as much territory as my cast would allow. I felt a bump just before the line straightened out and I was sure it was a fish. I concentrated on the fish and was determined to hook into it. I pulsated the bugger at times as well as let it dead drift. I tried all sorts of maneuvers to get the bugger with tempting action. Every once in awhile I felt a bump but it just wouldn’t grab it. I had thoughts about clipping the marabou tail but I thought it might not have the same effect. It was a case of who had more patience to keep on teasing each other.
 Just at the end of one drift I twitched the rod tip to give the bugger more action. Maybe it was coincidence that the trout struck at the same time of one of my twitches or maybe he just had enough and decided to gobble it up. Anyhow the rod flexed good and with a short jolt I set the hook. The trout stayed deep with fierce tugs and pulls. I kept the rod up as he began to swim up creek before me. He scooted further out but lost his energy in the coldness of the water quickly. I netted the fine brown trout that looked as if he’s been around for awhile.

 With a smile on my face I hooked the bugger into the hook keeper on my rod and waded out.

 It was a cold but well needed fishing adventure that I needed to take the edge off of the long cold winter. Trout fishing one of my favorite creeks that I used to fish with my grandfather before it became a delayed harvest area brought back memories.

 After changing clothes I ate a couple of Girl Scout cookies and washed them down with lemon flavored water. Before leaving the parking lot I lit up a fine Alec Bradley Prensado for the relaxing drive home.


Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Egg Sucking Leech Tute

                                                             Egg Sucking Leeches

 I wanted a thinner profile of the leech pattern than a typical Woolly Bugger. I only used one hank of marabou, with long strands, for the tail as well as palmering the rib with ostrich herl.
 I use chenille for the egg and tied it down between the body and egg. I thought that this was best so there is no thread visible just behind the hook eye.

Hook; #8 4x long streamer
Thread; black 3/0
Weight; .020 lead wire
Tail; black marabou, 1 hank with strands
Rib; 2 strands of black ostrich herl, palmered
Body; black chenille
Egg; pink, orange or fuschia chenille

1. Thread base shank of hook with thread stopped at hook point

 2. From this starting point counter wrap lead wire forward.
Wind a few thread wraps over lead and bring thread back to bend

3. Tie in 1 hank of marabou trimming off just behind lead coils and secure.

4. Tie in two ostrich herls by the tips.

5. Tie in body chenille at bend and extending behind eye of hook over lead wire as shown.

6. Wrap body chenille in tight wraps to just in front of lead wire. Leave plenty of room behind eye.

7. Palmer ostrich herl over body and secure in front of lead wire.

 8. Tie in egg chenille extending over body of leech. Notice I finish by bringing the thread behind and between the egg chenille and body.

9. Wrap the egg chenille forward behind eye than back to body creating a ball.

10. With the chenille behind the thread, and angling back, bring thread up and through the gap. On the other side catch the chenille with thread between the egg and body. Secure with three to four wraps of thread.

12. Trim off loose chenille, whip finish behind egg and I add head cement to thread.

I tie some of these in white, ribbed with gray ostrich herl also.


Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Wading on 'Marbles'

Wading on ‘Marbles’

 My sons brought me to the project area of the West Fork of the Pigeon River for the last day of fishing while I was visiting them in Asheville. It was a drizzly overcast morning. Being Monday we had the river to ourselves. Pulling off at the lower section we got our gear on and headed out. My two sons headed upstream a piece as I started just below where we parked. We were to meet at the bridge downstream a little later on.
 Cold, gin clear mountain water tumbles over the outcropping of colorful granite rocks and boulders. Laurel and young bare trees lined the stream but were far enough from the water level not to cause much hazards. 
 From the bank I studied the terrain down creek. Due to the tumbling water and fast current I decided a Woolly Bugger was my best choice than trying to drag a nymph. With the weather being drizzly I doubted I’d see any hatches though I did bring a small fly box of dries along with me.
 I had knotted on an olive Woolly Bugger and was soaking it, swirling it, in a small pool of water in front of me. From out of nowhere a trout darted and swiped at the bugger. Getting more prepared I looped cast the bugger into the pool from just upstream. We played cat and mouse before he finally got a good hold of the bugger and I set the hook. It was going to be a good day, drizzle or not!

 I found wading the river was like trying to walk on marbles. Not only were the colorful granite rocks shiny and smooth but were rounded as well and moved slightly when I would try to place a foot. There wasn’t the slick slime about the rock bed like in a lot of the creeks in Pennsylvania but I had to constantly be aware when I felt the roundness of a rock below my wading boots. Due to the clarity of the water the depth was deceiving. Except for the few deepest pools the water level was no more than waist high with most of the water depth being only knee deep. With the steep gradient I found there wasn’t any debris such as broken branches or waterlogged logs below the surface. If the bugger did get caught up beneath, an overthrow cast, over the stuck point, and a quick lift of the rod dislodged it.

 My cast was towards the left bank in maybe a foot or so of water as I stood just left of center of the river. As the bugger sank I gave some loose line out and let it swing with the current. I held the rod, near the water surface, towards where I dropped the bugger. Near the end of the quick drift I watched my fly line as the bugger arced downstream. I gave the tip of the rod a couple of twitches and slowly stripped it in. Whack, fish on! The small trout scurried about in the quick current as the tip section of the 7 ½ foot 4 weight rod flexed with the changing current and fish tugs.

 I side armed a cast downstream to my right, beneath some high overhanging laurel. I had the rod extended out to my right level with the water surface, my left hand keeping a hold of the fly line between the reel and fist rod eye. Twitching the rod tip, to make my bugger livelier, I hoped to draw a trout out from hiding along the far bank. At the end of the drift I stripped the long length of line towards me with short stopping intervals. I felt the swiping take and set the hook as the trout continued to swim to my left. It surfaces a few times before I got the rainbow tame enough to net it in the fast current I was standing in.

 That’s the way it was for the next hour or so. Casting out and drawing the hungrier trout out from hiding. I would guide the bugger into the seams along the stream of choppy faster current. Sometimes I would cast long into slow tail outs keeping my distance. Twitching the rod tip before stripping in the bugger or holding the rod tip high as the bugger ‘swam’ in a pocket of water behind a rocky current break was sure to tempt any curious trout.
 I met the boys about 11:30 down at the bridge. With big smiles on their faces I knew they were having a good catching day also. We decided to drive upstream for the remainder of the day. 

 Up river was not much different than the lower section. Marbled shaped rocks covered the riverbed like the bottom of a colorful home aquarium. I looked downstream, lit up a dark wrapped cigar and proceeded on.

  I found the slower deeper pools had plenty of fish but I was actually getting tired of catching 7”-9” trout on just about every 3rd cast or at least getting a swipe at it. I was in search of a big one and I felt it wasn’t going to come out of a deep slow pool. I did pull out a few bigger specks out of these pools but I had more fun risking the faster current with well placed casts and challenging the wildness of the trout that lied in these quicker currents.

  I was just off the right bank, looking down creek, just about shin deep. I just got done fishing a stretch of a deeper run and caught a few more frisky trout. My hands were still cold and wet from my last catch and the half smoked stogy was firmly between my lips. The water narrowed towards the tail out hurrying the current in the shallower water but the water was still 2 ½ to a foot and a half deep. With the sun out now the shallower water across stream was moving at a slower pace and mirrored the bank side trees and big boulders along its banks before flowing into the length of the out cropping of surface rocks which tumbled the current uncontrollably. Downstream, nearer to my side of the river a couple of medium sized granite boulders peaked up from the water surface. These two boulders deflected the oncoming current making a nice wavy flow that sparkled under the sun before entering the more turbulent rocky shallows.
  I cast the bugger midstream, down and across. I let it drift almost to the end of the tail out before lifting my line to guide the bugger between the two granite boulders. I had the bugger right where I wanted it, in between the wavy tumbling current in the ‘soft’ water for an easy take. I gave the rod tip a couple of short twitches and let the marabou tail pulse a second or two beneath. I was about to strip the bugger in when I felt the tightness between my fingers and the rod tip section pulled downstream. I quickly pinched the line, set the hook, and the 4 weight flexed into the middle. Tensioned line slipped through my fingers as the trout started to make a run.
 The trout took me behind the furthest boulder beneath the faster current. I knew I had to play him consciously and keep him from getting into the tumbling rocky waters just a few feet down from him. I coaxed him back into the ‘soft’ water where we hooked up but he quickly swam his way behind the nearest boulder. I lifted the rod high enough not to let the line or leader rub up against the roughness of the boulder. 
 I backed up closer to the bank in ankle deep water not wanting to try and net the trout in the heavy current if I didn’t have to. He decided enough playing around with me and started a real struggling match trying to free himself. I’ve tackled with big trout before so I was confident but it did get a little touchy when he’d get closer to the tumbling tail out. My knots held strong and I pulled him out of that danger twice. When I got him towards the bank, downstream, he didn’t want anything to do with it and scurried with force back into the main body of water. I waded out shin deep and was able to get him into deeper water before netting him. The ‘big one’ I was hoping for was now in my net safely.

I met the boys a couple of hours later back where I had started fishing. Their rods were bent and hooked fish were splashing about.
 We had a grand ole day and headed back to Asheville with big smiles and a lot of excitement to talk about.