Monday, January 23, 2017

January Rainbows

January Rainbows

 50+ degrees in January? No rain and calm outside? Seemed like a good day to take advantage and go trout fishing.

 From the parking lot I could see the water level was on the high side. It had good flow and the color was a tint on the green side which was about perfect color as far as I was concerned. Knowing the water would be deep along the banks I put on my chest waders. I put together my 2 piece SAS Scott fly rod and lined it with 5wt double taper line. I grabbed some stogies and headed to the water.

 With the chill of the water I didn’t think any trout would be too active wanting to exert much energy chasing a bugger so I decided to concentrate on nymph fishing. I knotted on a Beaded San Juan worm and dropped a brown Hares ear from the hook bend. I added weight to the leader and stepped into the water along the bank.
 I worked the seam along the fasted current just in front of me hoping the trout would be near the softer water and not out in the main flow. It was maybe my 5th drift along the seam that the indicator dropped momentarily and lifted up with my wrist to set the hook. I felt a little wiggle of a struggling fish on the other end of the line. He wiggled and tried swimming away but the 5wt rod was way to stiff to give the little guy any give.

 Back in the fall a few local Boy Scout Troops had a camp out along the North Fork Red Bank Creek in the park. They were gathered together to learn how to tie flies, learn about how to fly fish and the equipment used as well as stream entomology. I’m not sure what the number of kids and scout masters were but there was a large group of them with tents strung out along the park lawn. They were all there to receive their merit badge for fly fishing and had asked the local Trout Unlimited Chapter if we would help them achieve this. I was contacted by the head of the Iron Furnace Chapter and of course made time to volunteer. It was well organized with plenty of instructors. The young men were well behaved and respected us in a manner I haven’t seen a group of kids, this size, act in a very long time. To add to their benefit the TU chapter got the creek stocked with rainbows for the Boy Scout Troop. From what I heard was there wasn’t many fish to be had and the place they were able to buy the fish were in the size 6” to 8” range. I figured this little guy was one of these last fall stocked fish.
 After about an hour I looked down creek and the early morning sun broke through the cloud cover and was shining on the water down creek. I was hoping for a stonefly hatch. Seeing the sunshine I waded out and headed towards the sun.

 I spent an hour or so without any takes. The stonefly hatch never occurred. It might have been because of the high water level. Once the sun shown upon the water upstream I went back up creek.
 I fished San Juan worms in the faster water and nymphs as a dropper most of the time. I found with a little extra weight and eliminating the indicator got my nymphs down where the fish were and was more successful. I caught a few more small rainbows, that were pretty frisky, on an assortment of Hares Ears and little Black Stoneflies. I even caught one on a swinging picket pin. Later in the afternoon the sun disappeared and the air started to get colder. My lower extremities were really feeling the cold water by then and my feet were close to being numb. I felt I had enough fun and waded out of the chilled water towards my truck.
 While changing clothes I finished off the stogie I had been smoking and quenched my thirst.
 It turned out to be a fine January day to trout fish.


Saturday, January 21, 2017

Slush, a Glass and Steel

Slush, a Glass and Steel

 I set the hook and the Wonderod flexed into the midsection. My cold wet hands tightened around the aged cork grip as the vintage rod held firm. When I felt the give and then a sharp tug of the rod tip I knew I had a fish and not another bottom snag. With a couple of head shakes he headed with the faster current down creek.

 The morning was brisk, about 25* when we got out of the truck. We saw a couple fishermen were already casting lines into the cold water of the long pool hoping for a bite. When we got to the creek we watched slush floating on the waves through the riffles that emptied into the pool. The pool current was slowed and with all the drifting slush it made not much open water to drop an offering. We crossed the creek in the riffles and I set up along the pool as Donny broke bank-side ice down from were I stood. It wasn’t long after I stopped moving I felt the chill of the water against my lower thighs through my waders. My feet were still warm from the walk but I was sure it wouldn’t take long for them to stabilize in the frigid water. I felt the crisp air of winter tighten the skin exposed beyond my beard. I began to knot on a tandem rig of sucker spawn to the tippet and my fingers were showing less dexterity caused by the winter chill. I attached an indicator and pulled out line to make my first cast. It looked bleak as to getting a good drift between the drifting slush.

  Time and again we casted out trying our best to get the indicator and offering down to the fish. Our lines weren’t freezing at least so that wasn’t an additional irritation to getting our lines out. I always looked up stream before my next cast, even before my drift wasn’t completed, looking for a better opportunity to drop the offering in a clear path between the slush. It wasn’t going as planned but it was quiet and I was fulfilling that fishing need that built up during the snowy weeks of freezing winter.

  After an hour the slush wasn’t getting much better so Donny decided we should head down stream for more promising conditions. Donny was fighting a snot nosed cold and wasn’t up to his usual self. Though he wasn’t feeling well he still came out. He lives near the steelhead tribs so he can fish anytime he likes but decided to hang out and fish for the day with me which I always enjoy his company and steelhead stream experience.
 Down creek we fished a couple of spots with him hooking into one fresh steelhead that he did get landed. Other than that we plugged along trying to find a pod of steelhead. Anytime Donny was ready to move I always have to cast a few more times just to make sure. On one occasion I was determined to catch a steelhead before leaving. I even commented to Donny “I’m going to catch one!”
 After offering different combinations I decided to try a different approach. I wasn’t sure how deep the water was but the surface current was moving at a good clip. Sometimes I feel the surface current is much stronger than the deeper undercurrent therefore the indicator may be moving too fast on the surface not letting my offering drift drag free in the undercurrent. Not knowing the deepness of the water I also feel my offering may not be getting down in such situations. I decided to take the indicator off and give it a go. I made the cast along a seam of the wavy water that dropped my sucker spawn down into a deeper hole. My fly line drifted just below the surface and, as it was moving with the current, I watched it for any unusual motion. After it passed by me the end of the fly line started to dip and disappear.  I lifted a hook set hoping it was a fish. Sure enough the rod arced and the flexibility of the fiberglass started to dance with the frisky fresh steelhead. It wasn’t long before getting it safely to the bank.

 After the catch we fished a little longer and Donny was now pretty congested and was ready to head out. He crossed the creek and was already on the far bank heading to the path. We actually been out for quite a few hours and I was kind of surprised he stayed out as long as he did. Of course before I crossed the creek and waded out I had to let fly a few more casts.

 The end of the fly line went under in a hurry as the drift was passing through the faster current. I heaved the 8wt rod with force wanting to get a good hook set in the current. The line instantly tightened and shot down creek with the rod tip pointing towards the aggressive steelhead. I called out towards the bank to let Donny know I had another. In the slower current the steelhead swirled beneath and headed back beneath the stronger current. Down creek he swung around frantically before heading towards the flexed glass rod. Before I landed the steelhead it made a couple of trying escapes but the glass rod had enough firmness that I didn’t have to let out any line from the spool. By the time I got the fish to the bank Donny was already close by to take a quick picture of my steelhead.
 With that we headed to the truck. It wasn’t one of the best days we had fishing together but heck; we caught a few even through the hampering conditions.

 After I dropped Donny off home there was still a lot of daylight left. I headed over to a well known section and was surprised no one was fishing the usually crowded hole. I must have fished at least an hour or so trying to get a strike. I tried using all sorts of combinations and even streamers but couldn’t encourage a take. After that I headed down creek to a couple known holes I knew usually hold fish.
 I was wading and drifting my offering along the deeper bank-side water. The water I was wading in started to get deeper so I waded further from the bank. There looked like a good deep section of slow current water, away from the bank, so I took some extra time to fish it before moving on.
 My cast was upstream a good bit and as I kept the rod tip high I watched the indicator come drifting about a couple of yards upstream from me. When it got almost across from me I gave a little mend up creek so my fly line would drift even with the indicator. Just passed me the indicator dropped and I knew it wasn’t the bottom. I took in slack line with my left hand and just as quick lifted the rod with my right. The fish instantly hurried off with line peeling off the soft drag. I held the rod high as the fresh steelhead energetically darted and swam about trying to release the hook. Once it calmed down I tightened the drag and slowly moved myself back into shallower water.
The chartreuse sparkle spawn was stuck fast in the top of her lip. 

 It wasn’t long after that the light started fading fast. I hooked the spawn into a crevice of the cork grip and headed up through the woods and to the truck. Back at the truck I peeled off the neoprene chest waders and changed into driving clothes. I ate a cold sub sandwich on my way to the interstate. 
 Just before getting on the interstate I took out an Aurora Barrel Aged stogie. The toasty brown looking outer wrapper shown some veins but was well constructed and the cigar itself had a firm feel to it. The initial light up produced an abundance of smoke which gradually filtered through the slightly opened drivers window. The initial draw was a toast/charcoal flavor similar to a darkened toasted bun right from an outside charcoal grille. After a few puffs the flavor smoothed out and was quite enjoyable though getting a little bolder the more I smoked. I noticed a leathery taste upon my lips after a while as I continued on, listening to some rock and roll while I was cruising down the highway heading towards home.


Friday, January 6, 2017

Orvis Sling Pack Review 2017

Orvis Safe Passage Sling Pack 2017  
   Bottle, Line straightener and tippet spool not included         
 With a couple Orvis gift cards I ordered a new Sling Pack from Orvis. It’s not that I really needed one because the other was worn out, I just thought it would be nice and more convenient. The whole purpose I got the original sling pack in the first place is for steelhead fishing and cold weather fishing to carry over a heavy coat. The original worked well but some improvements could make the original a lot better. Welcome Orvis Slink Pack new and improved.
 The main big pouch as well as the smaller front pocket appears roomier. Both hold quite a few fly boxes. The big improvement is there are separate compartments inside each. This keeps other needs, such as extra leader, pack of indicators, flashlight, granola bars and such, easier to get to instead of all laying on top of each other in the bottom of the pack. The little zip pocket in front of the front pocket is great for the most used small items such as split shots and single indicators.

 With room to spare

 Next I like the position of where the hemostats are. They are on the shoulder strap that closes with magnets instead of on the pack itself like the older style where you had to turn the pack around to reach them. There’s a place that will hold an optional Tippet bar on the side of the front pocket but I found my tippet spool holder clamps on just as well.
 A new feature is a place to hold a water bottle with a bungee strap to keep it in place.

  I like to carry a wool fly patch for easy access to my useful flies and to dry the flies out. I added some Velcro strips to the front pocket and my fly patch. It stays put and is quick and easy to get to when needed.
 I also like that the bottom of the pack is coated for increased water resistance which is good for when I lay the pack on wet banks, snow or ice. There is a small fly patch on the top of the big pouch but I’m afraid an elbow will knock off any attached flies. It was a good thought though. There is also a place to put a zinger with your nippers just above the smaller front pocket. I rather keep it handier and there is a place on the shoulder strap that it can clip to.
 The bag is made of 400-denier. The shoulder strap is padded and adjustable to fit comfortable over a coat. The overall dimensions are 9” x 5” x 5 ¾” which is about 641 cu. in. It looks like the improvements, as well as the pack itself, will make things more convenient, handy and hopefully last for years!