Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Finding Color

Finding Color


  I decided to take advantage of the 60 degrees March weather. I grabbed my 7’ 3 weight Diamondglass rod and took off to search for color.

  The soft creamy clouds hovered above beneath the baby blue sky. I didn’t see the sun but it’s warmth was evidently present. As I looked out towards the creek the bare treed forest reassured me it is still a part of winter.

 While I was assembling the Diamondglass rod a guy with a spinning rod returned to the only other vehicle in the lot. When I got down to the creek I had it all to myself, at least for a little while. It wasn’t long before my 3 weight rod was swaying and bowing like the flimsy pine branches wavering in the breeze. Color came to the net in form a trout, a brook trout.

 The narrow creek water fluidly flowed clear rippling over rocks and submerged wood. Along the far bank the water calmed away from the main flow. Rough water surged faster between bigger rocks and deep enough not too expose the bottom settled fish. As my Woolly Bugger swings at times I catch sight of a fish or two dart towards my offering. Sometimes they appear to strike it as if toying with it. Other times it’s just a quick ‘look see’ and a refusal. Sometimes it’s a quick subtle tug. The slow rod action arcs easily without any backbone on a take. Because of this my hook sets have to be forceful and as quick as the take. The rod bows deep in the butt section and at times I see the trout turn away and the rod straightens with a limp line. When I get the good hook set the rod flexes and wiggles protrusively. The brook trout tugs and dart within the rough water sometimes coming to the surface with open mouth trying to dislodge the hook. Within reach I extend my arm and, with the rod arced to the max, net the colorful trout. It’s sides shimmer in the daylight. The orange fins catch your eyes immediately. The yellow spots on it’s silvery blue skin and variegated back are attractive and only appear on such a trout.

After a few more catches I decide to give up my claim to the young folks upstream.
 I look down creek and see there is plenty of good water to find trout. As I wade down creek I make long casts letting the bugger swing. At time I have to concentrate and loop a good cast low so my bugger flips beneath hanging limbs and plops near the far bank. My offering starts to swing with an arced line towards the main current. The arc line momentarily shortens with a slight stoppage. I rear back on the glass rod and the line tightens and the struggle is on. Another colorful brook trout dashes and scurries within the cold water making the rod sections dance in delight.

 Down creek I come to a rush of water that enters a deep pool. A thick tree trunk extends from the bank side half submerged atop the water surface. The main current rushes towards the trunk and slaps against and underneath it. From there the flow banks against land and then bends to the left downstream.

  Casting into the slow section of the deep pool has no takers. I cast a couple times in the rushing water and let the current take my offering down creek and deep into the pool beneath the trunk. I feel a tightness on the line but miss the take. A couple more casts and drifts and I hook into a fish. The rod sections bows and flexes as I retrieve the battling trout from the deep pool. To my surprise I land a nice colorful rainbow hold over. It’s vibrant pink streak is apparent in contrast to it’s black spotted light olive body.

  After the release I pull from my vest a robusto cigar. I unwrap the cellophane wrapper and tuck the wrapper in a pocket. I reach for my lighter as I look down creek.

 After the light up I continue on searching for more color.

  The hemlocks now line the stream more often. Their short blunt olive leaves add color to the winters leafless forest trees. With the breeze their twig like branches sway back and forth above the water. A hazard no doubt but their presence shades the water beneath for needed cover of the trout. Here and there I pick off a brookie and come to catch another rainbow in a deep pool.

 As the sun fades and the air gets cooler I walk my way back upstream through the forest. I reach the section of water I first started. A couple of lads are fishing the section of water where I was so blessed with hook ups and fighting trout. I watch as one catches and lands a trout. His long fly rod barely arcs the tip section as he reaches down to net the trout. They leave soon after.

  I cast a few times in the section they vacated without a hook up. I step onto the bank and head to my truck. I lay the rod on my tailgate and take a bottle of beer from the cooler. While putting away my gear and changing clothes I listen to the riffling water. A breeze causes the flimsy pine branches to sway. Dry leaves skitter across the open yard. I climb in my truck and call it a day. I found color.


Friday, February 28, 2020

Nearenuf Dry Tute

Nearenuf Dry Fly Tute

Originated by H.G. ‘TAP’ Tapply 1950’s

Hook; Standard Dry Hook #12-#18
Thread; Gray 8/0
Tail; Two stripped grizzly hackle stems splayed
Wing; Wood Duck flank feather divided
Body; Stripped peacock herl. 2 for size #12 & #14. 1 for #16 & #18
Hackle; 1 Grizzly hackle 1 Ginger hackle
Head; Gray thread

1. Thread base hook shank to hook bend

  2. Tail; Tie in 2 stripped grizzly hackle stems splayed

  3. Wing; Tie in wood duck feather divided and bring thread to hook bend.

4. Body; Strip 2 peacock herls with eraser. Tie in 2 stripped peacock herls at bend. Bring Thread in front of wings.

5. Body wrap; Wind peacock herls to just in front of wings. Trim off excess.

6. Hackle; Tie in 1 Grizzly hackle and 1 Ginger hackle

7. Wind Ginger hackle. 3 Wraps behind wing and 2 wraps in front
8. Wind Grizzly hackle through Ginger hackle and tie down in front of wing.
9. Trim hackle ends and thread head. Varnish Peacock body.

#18 & #16
#12 & #14


Thursday, February 20, 2020

Blue Quill Tute

Blue Quill

  Here is how I tie the Blue Quill. The photo’s aren’t the best (not a professional photographer by any means) but my aim is to show how I tie split wings using poly on small flies without bulking up the body.

Hook: standard dry #16 94840
Thread: 8/0 Gray
Tail: Light Blue Dun Cape fibers
Wing: Light Gray poly
Body: Stripped light blue dun hackle stem
Hackle: Blue Dun (Ewing)

 Before we start I had ordered and received a Blue Dun Cape from Ewing. It was a weird color and not the shade I expected. I thought ‘what am I going to tie with this?’ Well, in truth I learned when trout are competing for a swarm of a hatch I don’t think they are as picky as one would think.   Another thing is I found in a swarming hatch having my dry look exactly the size and shade of the natural it is frustrating trying to get them to pick mine out among the many on the water. For this reason I found that a larger dry, especially in wavy water, or a dry in calmer water that is a little different in color will draw more attention. If the trout are competing they will be more likely to see and take mine than the many naturals.

1. Thread base hook shank.

2. Tie in tail
3. Tie in a thin diameter of Light Gray poly as if tying it like spent wings with figure eight wraps.

4. Bring poly up, like tying parachute style, and make 3 wraps of thread around the base of the poly. As you see the wings are split and do not bulk up the body behind the wing.

5. Tie in the hackle stem at the bend of the hook and bring the thread in front of the wing.

6. Wind the hackle stem over the hook shank, for the body, and I make a couple of wraps in front of the wing before tying it down.
7. Trim the hackle stem and tie in the hackle. I put the bare hackle stem between the wing when I secure it bringing the thread in front of the wing.

8. I make about three wraps behind the wing and try to get at least 2 wraps of hackle in front of the wing. Clip the excess hackle.

 9. Finish head with thread wraps and whip finish. I add head cement to the head of the dry. Also you can now trim the poly wing to desired length.
10. Front view of split wings completed fly.
 The original pattern calls for winding fine silver wire around the stem body to keep it from fraying from the trout teeth. I’m not sure if the silver wire was meant to also add a little sparkle to the body. It does add weight though to these small dries and I feel a small dry fly doesn’t need any more weight than needed. To this I’ll coat the hackle stem body with head cement or rod varnish to toughen the stem.

For a Blue Dun I tie in the same manner but use super fine Blue Dun dubbing for the body.
Hope this helps.


Tuesday, February 18, 2020

North Mills River Ecstasy

North Mills River Ecstasy

 If you like to trout fish cold mountain streams that flow through a wooded forest away from the civilization of today’s world. If you like fishing in peace and harmony in nature where you can scream and maybe not be heard except by the wild animals that roam these forests. If you enjoy using a light weight short fly rod and like, with delicacy, casting with pin point accuracy under mountain laurel trying to fool wary trout hidden among the bank side vegetation. If you like climbing over granite boulders, wading in narrow passages easy without disturbing the stony stream bed all the while listening to the riffling water that tumbles over rocks and boulders than the North Mills River in Western North Carolina is where you might want to fish and adventure to.
  First I suggest fishing in the project area around the park where the river is wider there. You’ll feel the cold stream water that flows between the valley from way upstream. You’ll learn and get accustomed to wading and navigating the tricky rock and stony stream bed before journeying to the more extreme mountain forest conditions upstream. Though the park section is fished quite regularly it will give you an inkling of what lays above. In the gin clear water the fish are wary of any human inhabitant fishing the waters. There you’ll find stocked trout, hold overs and even some stream bred wild trout if you’re quick and lucky. Long casts and making yourself undetected conforming to the forest and laurel that surrounds you, you’ll have a good chance of hooking up to these wary trout. Even if you’re fishing upstream, high sticking, you’ll have an edge on these trout but patience is still required.

 I step into the stream, in the project area of the park, and feel the calm cold current flow of the water. I make long casts down stream searching for any hungry trout. My casts, though with a weighted Woolly Bugger, are delicate enough that the bugger falls upon the current with little splash with my double taper line. I guide it near hanging laurel branches trying to lure the hidden trout to follow the bugger out into the more open waters. A trout grabs the bugger and the line tightens. The fooled fish wrestles with the tight line. His weight is felt as the 3 weight rod flexes with the battling trout. I carefully bring it to the net.

  As I wade and fish downstream I come to a run of riffling deeper water. I nymph fish the riffles and hook into an aggressive trout. It battles below the surface enough that the trout frees himself and the line falls limp. A little further downstream I drift the nymphs in similar fashion. The floating fly line tip dips in the current quickly. I lift up the rod and the line tightens and shoots downstream. The rod arcs and with that the trout shoots upstream beneath the quicken riffles. I play the trout from under the riffles and have him coming towards me with sharp jerking tugs. Nearer to me I lean forward and net the healthy frisky brook trout.

 After another hour, and a couple more catches, I feel I’m ready for the adventure up river.
  There’s a dirt road, just before the park, that twists and turns climbing the mountain. It dead ends at a small parking area. I see cars and trucks with bike racks attached to the bumpers. There’s a billboard showing where I am on the mountain and trails for bicyclists and hikers, as well as fishermen, to follow. There are two gates blocking the entrance to the dirt roads that lead through the mountains for such activities. I notice no fishing gear or fishing equipment in the vehicles. It appears I may be the only one fishing the mountain stream this early February afternoon. As I assemble my 3 weight 7’ Demon Hardy fly rod a bicyclist pedals to his truck.
  I make sure I have all the gear, cigars and water I need for the journey because there is no turning back, losing time or light, once I start down the gated long dirt road. The road is well used as I walk between the cliffs and valleys. I can hear the water rumbling below but the cliff side to the unseen water is too steep to descend. Onward I walk and come across a couple of bicyclists pedaling their way up the road. Following the road I continue on looking for a safe passage down the hill through the forest while listening to the stream below. It’s just not looking for a safe way down the mountain side but also a safe and easy way back up. I come across some big boulders that I find and a narrow path down the hillside. I step off the wide road and follow the narrow path through the bare tree forest to a flat section of land. I pass an old camp fire as I walk to the stream. The water flows in a hurry over granite boulders, downed logs and under laurel. I step into the cold stream and feel the rocky stream bed beneath my boots.

 I make a couple of quick casts with my woolly bugger getting a feel for short casting strokes but letting long casts shoot downstream avoiding the many stream and bank side hazards. Without any strikes I cross the stream and head upstream through the forest.
  Upstream I find a path back to the water. I step off the bank and let line fall upon the water before my cast. As I raise the rod the Woolly Bugger is caught on something beneath the water. I lift the rod higher and to my surprise I see the flash of the mouth of a brook trout shaking, trying to pull the Woolly Bugger free. I’m flabbergasted. The trout tugs until he gets free before I ever attempt to land him.
  I start casting down stream and let it swing till it comes directing below me. I twitch the line before and during stripping the bugger in. I feel a nimble tug but miss the hook set. It felt more like a short strike on the marabou tail. I make another cast towards the far bank and while it swings downstream I twitch the rod tip. At the end of the swing I quickly strip in line then let the bugger move freely in the undercurrent. I feel the more aggressive take and instinctively jerk the rod and line for the hook set. The trout powers down and across stream in darting fashion. The tip of the 3 weight arcs and then bows into the mid section briefly. The trout bolts to the middle of the stream and the rod tip follows. As I take in line gingerly the trout reluctantly follows with nudging tugs. A nice brook trout lays in my net. 
 I light a Carolina Cigar Company 4 blend and take a few puffs. The shadows disappear as the sun rays finally reach the valley and is now shining down upon the stream. Granules on the granite boulders appear to twinkle in the sunlight like the pearly white sand beaches along the Florida coast under the rising morning sun. The different colors of the quartz minerals in the granite stones, in and around the stream, makes for a valuable appearance to the bland surroundings of the wintry colorless bare forest. The drab olive laurel now shimmer to the brightness as if their leaves are wrapped in satin. I look down stream and enjoy the tranquil valley that encompasses me. I stand, stretch my legs and arms and continue on downstream.
  For some time I can’t get a trout interested. Maybe the warm weather the day before created some kind of hatch or plenty of nymph activity that the trout aren’t hungry. Whatever the reason it is long stretches of water before I hook up with another trout.

  The day grows long and I rest upon a rock beside the stream. I decide to spend another few minutes or so trying to encourage a trout to take a dry fly. I knot on a piece of 5x tippet and to that knot on a Blue Wing Olive. I walk the bank to a section of water where water tumbles over ledges of rocks and spills into a deep pool. I cast upstream into the slower swirling current. I cast upon the calm run of water against the far bank anticipating a take. My attempts are fruitless so I call it a day.
  I nod to the mountain stream and turn my head and look up the mountain side in which I came. Slowly and carefully I follow the path to the dirt road above. At the top I feel a slight cool breeze across my heated face. I pause to catch my breath from the tasking climb. I take a sip of what’s left of the water and start the long walk uphill to the truck. The last of the resounding stream below fades as I turn towards the gate. My truck stands alone in the parking area. The tailgate creaks as I ease it down. I open the cooler and reach for a beer. Today’s adventure was well worth the time spent!!!


Monday, February 17, 2020

Tuckasegee Revisited

The Tuckasegee River Revisited

 Fishing the Tuckasegee River was like visiting an acquaintance that I had fun with a few years back. We had a good time together back then so there was no reason not to visit while I was back in North Carolina and in the area.
  The river was much higher and flowing quicker since the last visit. The water was as clear as a mountain stream though the wavy current gave no visual of what laid beneath unless you were pretty much within a couple of feet. The sky was overcast, gray with little cloud outlines. Raindrops fell more than a sprinkle so I donned my rain gear. Being it was January I was sure the river was freezing cold so I dressed for warmth and put on my neoprene chest waders.
Stepping into the river and wading away from the bank I felt the cold current pushing against my legs. The clear water was deceiving as it didn’t take me long to realize the water level was deeper than it appeared from the surface.
  I started to cast Woolly Buggers and it didn’t take long to catch the three most common species of trout. I hooked up to a jumpy rainbow who showed it’s agility in mid air before falling back in the river. My next catch was a frisky brook trout that practically zig-zagged all the way to the net. The third trout was a brown that skirmished with me in the flowing current before I got it in the net. The rain was heavy at times so for this reason I hadn’t taken my camera for pics.

  It wasn’t easy wading down river because at times the water was too deep near the banks and I was afraid to get stuck in deep water and not being able to get out safely. Trying to wade upstream in the oncoming fast current was difficult especially with the rocky riverbed. I found there wasn’t any particular place the trout were holding. The high water brought them out of there hiding places during low water conditions to explore. I would try to cover as much water as possible roll casting short or long shooting casts with my fast action rod. Since I couldn’t wade too far from the bank I did have to watch my back cast because of trees and limbs here and there.
  On my back cast I would stop around the 12:00 position because of the bank lined trees. I pull down on the fly line for more speed and at the right feel of the rod tip I’d shoot the rod forward. The leader looped behind the fly line followed by the Woolly Bugger. I could feel all the movement in the cork grip as loose fly line zipped through the guides and eyes of the rod. The bugger plopped in the distance upon the wavy current. I raised the rod tip letting more loose line out of the tip top. Than I’d bring the rod horizontal with the surface water letting the floating slack line flow with the current. This lets the weighted bugger sink deeper in the water column before the slack in the line arcs and pulls the bugger downstream. I keep my eyes on the floating line for any signs of dipping or sudden change in the flow. Usually when a trout takes the bugger aggressively on the swing I just don’t see the floating fly line jerk but feel the take between my pinched fingers through the fly line. The lengthier the fly line out the stronger I have to jerk the rod and line back to properly set the hook. The long line tightens on the hook set and snaps off the water surface flinging water in all directions. I grip the cork handle in one hand while the other hand pinches the fly line feeling the forcing pressure of the fighting trout. If the fight is too forceful I’ll let tension line through my fingers. At times if the trout is too aggressively forceful I’ll only keep light pressure on the line and let the fish fight the reel drag. When the trout tires I’ll either reel in line, if there’s a lot of line out, or bring in line with my hands. To tire out the trout quickly I keep the rod up and arced trying to keep side pressure on the trout. A trout’s body is designed to face into the current no matter how strong. Keeping a trout straight down from the tip, in current, isn’t really tiring him out as much as keeping side pressure on him fighting the side pressure and also the oncoming current. Once within reach I bring in enough fly line so that just a little fly line is extending from the tip top. With the net in the water I raise the rod tip enough to reach the trout with the net to capture him.
  After about an hour the felt on my right boot started to split and come apart. The heel stayed tight but the front part started to separate. It was tough wading as the loose sole flapped on rocks and in the current while wading. I waded out and put on my extra pair of wading boots which had cleated soles. The rain had practically stopped so I grabbed my camera before going back into the river. I found the cleated soles weren’t holding the rocky bottom as well as the felt soles. There wasn’t any moss on the submerged boulders and rocks so I had to be more careful as I waded. It was like trying to grip a cement roadway with chains on the tires. There wasn’t much gripping and more sliding.
I continued on casting buggers as far as I could reach. It’s funny how I always think the trout are more abundant in the middle of the river or nearer to the other side. I watched a truck pull up on the road on the far side of the river. Two fishermen got out and entered the stream. The one immediately started wading towards the middle while the other one fished along the far bank. Maybe they knew something I didn’t but I was still catching trout on my side of the river.
The rainbows fought pretty aggressively especially in the rougher current

Every once in a while I got hold of an aggressive trout quickly darting to and fro. When I finally landed the trout it was mostly a brook trout.

 I suppose it was near 1:00 or so when I decided to take a break and eat some lunch. I slowly drove down to the bridge and inspected the water conditions. There was many places I thought would be great to fish but there was no place to park downstream on my side of the river and the banks to the river was pretty steep. My son was to meet me when he got done working so I didn’t want to drive up the other side of the road. I returned up the river road and parked a little further up before entering the river again. I fished another couple hours before driving further up to where there was a bigger parking area and I seen a fellow nymph fishing below tumbling water that was nearly half way across the wide river section.
  I was attaching the rod sections when my son showed up. I told him how I did so far and explained to him the water was high, the current was pushy and the stream bed was rocky so be careful. He got his gear on and headed downstream some. I worked the tumbling water over good and hooked into a couple of trout.

 I watched my son, Jesse Pete, also catch a couple downstream. We only fished about an hour or so before calling it quits. We were an hour or so away from his place and we were both hungry.

  It was all fun while it lasted. Maybe not as relaxing fighting the strong current and slippery rocky bottom but I enjoyed the visit.