Thursday, August 25, 2016

Rough Weather

Dan and I did something rather ill advised this morning. Instead of carefully focusing on weather forecasts up until we went to bed last night, we both trusted a forecast I looked at at about 10:30 a.m. yesterday... and boy was that an inaccurate one! Instead of light winds and glass calm surface when we got to the flat at 4:45 this morning there was winds of a steady 10 knots gusting to 20 and, for an early morning on LIS some rather obnoxious surf. We went to the an East facing beach for a little while and it seemed dead. Then we went to River's End and talked to Mark for a little while. He confirmed there had been very little bird play on the East side of the Connecticut so we went back to the spot we had just left because it was at least calm there. Maybe we could at least get some sea robins or fluke. Dan got one robin, I got two snapper blues. We went back to the beach because in the daylight we could actually negotiate the surf. We caught nothing but were successful in finding structure that will no doubt produce some stripers when the fall run is actually on.

The calmest place... devoid of predators.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016


A pretty epic show as already in progress when Dan and I got down to the beach last night. stripers and blues were already chewing up silversides and the gannets were there in force. It was an awesome sight and one that always makes an inshore fly fisherman exited. Needless to say we rushed to get geared up and into the water.

The blitzes were some of the best I've ever been able to actually fish, but as is always the case with a sand flat blitz they moved around. Fortunately there were sea robins around to make the brakes between the bite worth while. The first one I caught really doesn't count as I literally hand lined it. It was screwing around by my feet and I dropped the clouser on it and jigged it around with my left hand and when he ate I punched. Pretty  cool. And when we hooked a robin incidentally it usually had buddies follow it in. At one point I was unhooking a robin and I watched one of his two buddies swim off behind me. I told Dan to but a cast there and sure enough he hooked up. But the thing with that first one I caught? I couldn't get it off soon enough because right as I put the camera away a blitz started right in front of us!

It was awesome to have blues and a decent amount of stripers just chewin away right in front of us. The best part was we would hook into a couple of fish every time the blitz was near us, where as the spin casters a little ways down the shore caught maybe two fish while we were there. We usually doubled up too. 

So I caught nothing but blues and sea robins at that spot, but right at the end Dan nailed a little schoolie. When the action died completely we moved to another hot spot, where there were lots of adult bunker and a few better stripers popping. I got a few blow ups on a bunker pattern but did not connect. Dan on the other hand did, with the best fish of the evening!

Every time I go I get more impressed. I just can't wait to go back!

Monday, August 22, 2016

Better Flows and Sea Run Brown Trout

We got a healthy rain storm last night, which though it did bring the stream flows up also brought the water temperature up by about 10 degrees... not good. I checked my home river and although it's flow was perfect the temperature was a balmy 75. Not good for fishing. It is perfectly normal for a big storm to bring up the water temps like that, in 2014 I recorded the temperature of my home river at 82 the day after a heavy rain storm and the next day it was already down to 64. So instead of looking for wild browns and brookies there I decided to go hunting for some Iijoki strain sea run browns on a very different and much colder stream.

I fished streamers and nymphs on the swing as has proven successful for fooling sea run trout many times before. Today the creek chubs and shiners seemed determined to give me a hard time as for two hours that is all I caught.

Eventually in a nice pool I got a couple of grabs with a black leech. When the fish was rested but wouldn't come back I changed to an Ausable ugly which was promptly taken by my biggest Iijoki so far. If you want to determine whether the fish you have caught is an Iijoki, look at the pectoral fins. Inland fisheries has made identifying these fish easy by clipping one of there ventral fins.

I said goodbeye to the Iijoki and continued on my way. I got a few more takes and a largemouth bass before calling it quits.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Bluefish are Awesome

I'm totally addicted. Inshore fly fishing is awesome. Stripers on the fly are awesome. Bluefish? Awesome. Anyone that says they don't enjoy catching bluefish on light tackle is full of it. They are so much fun.

Yesterday I went back to the shore to look for some more blues and hopefully some bass. I went with Mark, not the same Mark as Friday though. I met this Mark at the Bell Pond last week. I was totally surprised to see someone else fly fishing there, as was he. We have since gone looking for carp a few times as that is what he is currently getting interested in, but when I told him there was action in the salt he was all about that. So it was that we stood on a crowded beach watching birds work a school of bait in wade-able water at about 6:00 PM yesterday. We rigged up and got in the water where we immediately found big schools of bunker. Unfortunately the bluefish that were there seemed reluctant to come in to chase the bunker and were instead focused on silversides about 40 yards further out. Before we reached our wading limit I spotted a sea robin very close to me and began working my clouser near it. It chased it around and got more and more worked up every time it ate and I pulled the fly away until I eventually hooked it. They may be considered a trash fish by many but I think they are a very fun fly rod species, and when Mark hooked into one later on he had to agree.

(courtesy Mark Alpert)

It really didn't take long to get into some bluefish. As the evening progressed schools would push through and Mark and I would usually double up, and then after two or three fish there would be a short pause. It wasn't serious melee, but there were plenty of bluefish smashing silversides which could often be seen leaping in the wake of their attackers.

The fish we were catching were by no means big, but compared to any other fish their size that I've ever caught their strength was unrealistic. If we had been there for the kind of blitz that was occurring last week I can't imagine how tired we would have been. I had one blue of about 17 inches get the backing into the second stripping guide. They all went airborne, and a few behaved like tarpon, spending more time in the air than in the water.

Eventually the action on subsurface flies seemed to die off, though Mark actually hooked a fluke on a quick retrieve, just as the sea robin he had caught had done. Odd behavior for a bottom fish. Once the bluefish seemed to quit hitting I tied on a gurgler and was imediately getting some unbelievable violent topwater strikes. After two bluefish to hand an three missed the surface fly got exploded on by something different. Striper! Three casts and a lost bluefish later the gurgler got gurgling about 15 feet from me and this fish was behaving differently. I knew it was a schoolie because instead of aggressive pumping headshakes it was doing more authoritative pulls. It took more line than most of the blues too.

Unfortunately that was the only striper between the two of us and once it was dark the action stopped all together. Though that doesn't really make sense, that's how it works sometimes. We left happy with how we had done. I had more fun on this trip than on any of my other salt water trips to date.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Small Stream Warm Water Fish

After I quit on my spring creek the other day I fished like a madman. I was searching low and high for brookies in a stream where I have caught them sporadically. The flow was healthy but the water temperatures were on the warm side, and even when I found a nice cold section I didn't find brookies. That doesn't mean I didn't hook fish, they were just the "wrong" kinds: largemouth, rock bass, redbreast sunfish, bluegills, fallfish, creek chubs... eventually I gave up on the salmonids and instead of half assed quick run and gun style fishing I slowed down and targeted specific fish. Though it was a small stream and the fish were sized to match I ended up getting a lot more out of the day than I expected.

I chose my last hole and decided that instead of just fishing it through I would sit on a huge midstream rock and wait and watch. I didn't change from the Hornberg I had on, I knew I wouldn't need to. The first fish I caught in that little section, just before I climbed up on the rock, was a nice largemouth. For this creek it was a big bass. But as I relaxed on the rock a bigger one would soon reveal itself.

Just lounging on that rock and making precise, calculated casts was a great experience. I took my time, enjoyed the wildflowers, and admired the fish instead of looking at them only through the camera lens. I found myself smiling to myself while taking in every detail of a small rock bass.

I had caught and released a few small bass when I spotted a larger one entering the pool. Instead of targeting that fish I took a break, knowing it had already seen my fly and would put the other smaller fish on alert. After my five minute rest I cast the Hornberg into the middle of the pool and let it flutter down. When I saw it disappear abruptly I set the hook. I knew immediately which fish I had on. After a very spirited battle I landed the king of the pool.

An hour later I knew I had to leave, so I gently slid off the rock and waded up to my exit point, still smiling about what a great afternoon it had been.

Friday, August 19, 2016

My First Blue on the Fly

This morning Mark Steiner and I went to a favorite spot of his where, last night, he had one of the most epic days of salt water fishing of his life. Hoping that the bait would still be around and therefore that the big blues and stripers would be there tearing them up, we got to the beach right at low tide to catch the first few hours of the incoming. There were fish there, but not for long. I got some crazy wakes and blow ups on my fly before I finally stuck a fish. It turned out to be a nice bluefish, fortunately hooked well to keep from biting through my 20 lb mono leader. In that shallow water it fought like a small tarpon, going airborne several times. I was impressed. I can't wait to catch a really big one! Oh, and they are just gorgeous fish!

My Best CT Brookie Day Yet

Generally the goal of a brook trout outing for me is just to get some beautiful fish to come out for flies. On a few streams I often have high hopes of getting a ten incher. Yesterday I got five of those! Five brookies eclipsing 10 inches- I wouldn't have believed it if it weren't for the stream I was fishing. After all, there are roughly 300 that size in my secret spring creek, and plenty bigger. Though I ended up breaking off a 14 incher on a grey ghost (is this CT or ME?) in the very first pool I was still surprised when the first brookie I caught was 6 inches. That usually takes some doing in this tricky stream.

In the "Rootbeer Pool" I saw some giants but as is usually the case I spooked them before I was able to get my fly in the water. Further up however I watched a few fish taking terrestrials that were being blown into the water. I dropped in my hornberg, dressed well with flotant, and it was taken by the first large brookie of the day. In the 52 degree water it fought like a fish twice its size. It was so stunningly beautiful too!

After spooking but not catching a whole lot of brookies on my way upstream I had my first sandwich before going back down to Rootbeer.

I carefully crawled into position at the Rootbeer Pool. One I was there I had to shoot my fly through a tiny gap in the branches. It took my about ten minutes of trying to get that done. When I did, up came another nice brookie to chomp down the little soft hackle.

I worked my way back down to the bridge pool. Before going through it I flicked a good cast underneath. I got a strong pull and was into a solid hard fighting brookie. My third 10 incher of the day

On my way back up I fished the bridge pool again. This time it gave up two really nice brookies. The first took the hornberg as a dry and jumped like mad. It was one of the prettiest brookies I've caught.

The second fish took with a strong pull, and by the way it peeled line off the reel I new it was the best of the day. A solid male of around 11 inches, this brookie made it clear I did not like being hooked. It was one of the best fights I've had with a brookie on my 6'6" 3 wt rod! And a good end to my trip to that stream. I fished another stream that afternoon, but that will have to wait until a later time....