Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Keep it Stupid, Simple

If you enjoy what I'm doing here, please share and comment. It is increasingly difficult to maintain this blog under dwindling readership. What best keeps me going so is knowing that I am engaging people and getting them interested in different aspects of fly fishing, the natural world, and art. Follow, like on Facebook, share wherever, comment wherever. Also, consider supporting me on Patreon (link at the top of the bar to the right of your screen, on web version). Every little bit is appreciated! 
Thanks for joining the adventure, and tight lines.


I've been patiently watching the local bodies of water over the last seven days, looking to see if and when there'd be safe, fishable ice in the neighborhood. I started to thoroughly enjoy ice fishing last year, and this year I'm hoping to take it to another level and catch some big fish through the ice. I also intend to start selectively keeping perch, bluegills, and crappie. I don't do this much in the summer because most of my local fishing travel is done via bike, and I like to be out for hours. Not the best scenario for bringing fish home to eat. But with cold weather I can carry fish on my person much more readily. Basically, I've been very much looking forward to this ice season, which has never been the case any other year I'd ever fished.

Today I found safe ice. It was beautiful, strong, clear ice well above my comfortability minimum 2 1/2". I am a tall and scrawny person, I weigh a lot less than average. For anybody else I wouldn't advocate anything less 3", as is the generally accepted safe thickness for a single person. What I didn't find were willing bass or bluegills. I also couldn't get to where I was sure they'd be because it was surrounded by sketchy ice were plants were through the surface. Always avoid these areas when the ice is new and less the 5 inches, the plants absorb heat and today it took one hit with the hatchet I was using to cut holes to break through that stuff... put both feet on that stuff and you're going in even though right next to it is perfectly safe ice. This is why carrying a spud bar and knowing how to use it really is smart if you are a beginner like myself.




You may be noticing the bulk of the text so far in this post has nothing to do with the title. Now is where I get to that. I wasn't sure I'd find safe ice, so I came prepared with a backup plan. Or at least I thought I came prepared. There are a fair number of brook trout streams in close proximity to the places I was checking, if I failed to find sacatch any fish through the ice I could switch gears and go for brook trout. When it became clear I wasn't going to be getting my first fish of the season on the hard water I payed a visit to a particularly small brook trout stream on the way home. I hiked into the ravine and began rigging up only to find that I had left the reel at home. Without skipping a beat I pulled 7 feet of line off my spinning reel, tied it to the tip of my rod, stuck a jig style Green Weenie on the end, and went about fishing with very little concern as to how well it would work. You see, I've done this before intentionally to see how far I could "dumb down" my gear. I've used a trimmed maple sappling to fish a small stream before. I've also learned to cast a fly line without use of a rod, just carrying a reel in my pocket and using my arm to shoot the line into tight spots. I caught brook trout doing so. And did I catch fish today using a 7' 4lb mono leader clinched to the tip of my 3wt?

Of course I did.


The takeaway of this, as the title suggests, to keep things stupid simple. Complexity, in general, is more prone to fault, especially in small stream fishing. You certainly don't have to go to the extent of whittling down a sapling to use as a rod or learning to cast effectively without one. But you will probably have a better experience doing this type of angling if you keep your tackle simple. I regularly carry a small but not limiting selection of flies, a short, light rod, a small, uncomplicated reel, one leader on the spool, another in my bag, and one or two spools of tippet... that and whatever other non-fishing-specific necessities I must bring when fishing small water. I often don't bother with waders. I am less likely to loose things, less likely to break expensive equipment, and my bag is comfortably light so I can maneuver very easily.
And that's that.
Keep things right at the edge of being stupidly simple.

Sunday, December 9, 2018

The Realities of My Pursuit

If you enjoy what I'm doing here, please share and comment. It is increasingly difficult to maintain this blog under dwindling readership. What best keeps me going so is knowing that I am engaging people and getting them interested in different aspects of fly fishing, the natural world, and art. Follow, like on Facebook, share wherever, comment wherever. Also, consider supporting me on Patreon (link at the top of the bar to the right of your screen, on web version). Every little bit is appreciated! 
Thanks for joining the adventure, and tight lines.

My constant pursuit of new fish species has been far more rewarding than I ever thought it would be when I started. There are too many fish species on this planet to catch in a lifetime, much less on a fly rod. The hunt is never really the same. Techniques, locations, gear... it may be close, even the same at surface value, from one species to another, but there is always something new to learn. Always. Sometimes I learn enough before catching a new species that I get it on the first try. Sometimes, as with my grass carp campaign, it takes a bunch of trips to same body of water to learn enough to succeed. And, sometimes, you drive more than 140 miles in a day only to fail to locate your query. Such was the case this Sunday for Noah and I.

We wanted to intercept the Northeast's second herring run. Every late fall and early winter Atlantic herring make grace us with their presence, starting up north and progressing south as waters cool. They often bring the last big striper bite out front before making themselves targets for shore bound anglers looking to extend their saltwater fishing just a little longer. Unlike the spring river herring run, Clupea harengus do not enter our inshore and nearshore water to spawn, not in December. Atlantic herring spawn in the summer, and are not anadromous. The early winter herring run here has more to do with changing water temperatures and food availability. Hoping to intercept some big schools of these silvery, slim bodied fish, Noah and I jumped in the van and drove into the urban jungle.


There are parts of this state that I have not thoroughly explored. And when that is the case it is a smart idea to enlist the assistance of someone local. Lucky for us, Noah and I were stepping onto the turf of my good friend John Huber. Before we went off on or herring mission, he gave us the tour of some of his trout, striper, and bluefish spots. We saw and fished some good water although the conditions were not ideal. And I found some sweet old glass coke bottles and some quartz crystals, so it isn't just the fish that will draw me back to these spots. 


After we parted ways with John, we fished or tried to fish a number of known herring spots. Nobody seemed to be out there targeting them, which was problematic. Typically if they are around there are folks out there in the cold loading up sabiki rigs with fish to take home. We saw signs of life, we were there for what should have been the right tide, fishing the right stuff, but we did not get so much as a bump. There is more to be learned here. 


I wanted to salvage the skunk, I've had a few this week trying to find safe ice (there was none). A wild trout stream on the way home gave up the goods. A pretty fish it was, but not what we did all that driving for. 


These are the realities of my pursuit. On any given day I could chose to go after something I've caught many times before, or a new species. If I got for what I've caught before I'm liable to have better success. I am also not as likely to learn as much. But when I've caught most (not all) of the species in close proximity to home, it becomes more costly and time consuming to go for something new. Is it worth it? Hell yes it is. 

Whether or not I will catch #101 before I go back to Florida remains to be seen, but I am going to try. 

Friday, December 7, 2018

It's Time for Frustration

If you enjoy what I'm doing here, please share and comment. It is increasingly difficult to maintain this blog under dwindling readership. What best keeps me going so is knowing that I am engaging people and getting them interested in different aspects of fly fishing, the natural world, and art. Follow, like on Facebook, share wherever, comment wherever. Also, consider supporting me on Patreon (link at the top of the bar to the right of your screen, on web version). Every little bit is appreciated! 
Thanks for joining the adventure, and tight lines.

"Frustration" is an equal and accurate replacement for "sea run brown trout fishing"... it is that time of year again, the time when I start visiting tidal rivers to look for the most ghostly salmonid in the state. I have not caught an adult sea run brown trout since 2014, and that was the first one I'd ever caught. Fishing for them is usually cold, usually slow, usually in fairly drab surroundings... but the mere thought of catching even one big, chrome brown trout makes it something I do with regularity. And yesterday it was these rare fish that I went looking for, and these rare fish that I didn't find. I had a 30 fish day, but that didn't stop it from being frustrating.


The first stream was dead as a door nail. Nothing doing, no bait, no evidence of any fish at all.I started out swinging a Magog Smelt, worked my way downstream through the first set of runs before the stream turned to all slow water. Then I worked back up from the opposite side with a nymph and egg. This is very typical of my approach on a small-medium sized sea run trout stream this time of year. I didn't spend much time there, though, and didn't want to. It didn't feel fishy at all.


The next stream was a different scenario entirely. There were a lot of fish feeding. An absurd amount. They were almost all ugly little stocked brown trout. I couldn't keep them off my flies: nymphs, wets, small streamers, big streamers, swinging, bottom bouncing, fast stripping... it didn't matter, those little hatchery fish latched on again and again. It was fun (or just funny) for a little while, but then it got old. I couldn't get away from them, they seemed to be in every hole and run. 




In the end this was a little less frustrating than the bulk of my sea run brown trout hunts, many of which result in complete skunkings, no fish of any kind hooked. But it left me a little annoyed because I now new I had to rule out one of my closest potential spots because of those darn stockers. They'll be in the way for months to come. 

This is not the last time I will intentionally go get frustrated this winter. Hopefully one of the times I go out intending to get frustrated, I somehow won't. 

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

The Bomber Takes December

We started December with a couple really warm days, and I knew looking at the weather forecast that it would be smart to knock out y monthly dry fly fish early. I could very well be ice fishing by the end of the week. I spent some stream time on Monday, and I must admit the choices made were not ideal. I spent way to much time looking for some high water big browns, which was just a total failure. I caught more ugly stocked rainbows than I did small wild browns. No good. But I managed to peel myself away from the brown trout water to look for a brookie on the dry.


I put all my hope in the good old Ausable Bomber. If I were to fish one dry fly on small streams for the rest of my life, that would be it. And just in time it came through. When the fish need a wake-up call, I twitch the bomber at the end of the drift, and sure enough that's what sealed the deal this time. 


I knocked of December nice and early, that's good. It takes the stress off, because I will be in a state with essentially no trout for more than a week at the end of the month. Now I can focus on other thing. Bigger brookies, big browns, and ice fishing (hopefully). I do love winter. 

If you enjoy what I'm doing here, please share and comment. It is increasingly difficult to maintain this blog under dwindling readership. What best keeps me going so is knowing that I am engaging people and getting them interested in different aspects of fly fishing, the natural world, and art. Follow, like on Facebook, share wherever, comment wherever. Also, consider supporting me on Patreon (link at the top of the bar to the right of your screen, on web version). Every little bit is appreciated! 
Thanks for joining the adventure, and tight lines.

Monday, December 3, 2018

Sticking Hard-Mouthed Fish with the Fly Rod

I have become a bit dinosaur obsessed in the last year. Not the extinct variety (though those are wicked cool), the fish variety. Gar. Bowfin. Snakeheads. There is very little in freshwater that I have become more interested in recently than these armor plated, bony mouthed, prehistoric fish. They fascinate me endlessly. I have a life goal revolving around these fish: catch at least one of every gar species and one of every snakehead species on the fly. I am much closer to my gar goal with both Florida and longnose gar under my belt; I haven't caught either northern or bullseye snakehead yet but I will. To get the rest of the snakehead species I will have to go to Southeast Asia. And I promise I will before I die. But bowfin are very similar in behavior and shape to snakeheads, so I can shed some light on hooking them even though I personally haven't yet.

This is not a guide to finding these species. It isn't a guide to specific fly patterns. It isn't about presentation either. This is a guide to how to make sure, if you are going to target these species, that you can do the single most important thing after the fish eats: Get them stuck and stuck good. Because driving a hook into these specie's rock hard mouths can be very difficult, sometimes even impossible. This is...

RM Lytle's Complete Guide to Stickin' Gar, Bowfin, and Snakeheads 


KEEP YOUR HOOKS SHARP

There are no excuses. If your hooks are dull you are going to blow that shot at the gar, 'fin, or 'snake of a lifetime. Buy sharp hooks and sharpen them after each use. You should already be carrying a hook hone with you. If you aren't, get one. Snagged in a log? Sharpen that hook. Hit a rock on the backcast? Sharpen that hook. Just caught a good fish? Sharpen that hook. It should be so sharp that it only takes minimal pressure on the point with your finger tip to make you bleed... but I don't recomend doing that on purpose, so test it on newspaper instead. It the barb doesn't bury in a rolled up newspaper with one sharp pull... sharpen that hook. 



KEEP YOUR HOOKS STOUT, BUT NOT TOO STOUT

This is not the scenario in which you want some sissy aberdeen hook. It's also not the scenario straight up shark hooks either. You need a hook that is thin enough in diameter to bury in cartilage with one big swing or a few strip-sets, and stout enough to put up with being chomped on by some of the toughest jaws of any freshwater fish all the while being pulled on really hard with heavy tippet and a heavy rod. One of my favorite hooks for this application is the Tiemco TMC811S. They come real sharp out of the package, maintain that sharpness well, and set into a bony fish's mouth with relative ease. 



ALL ABOUT THAT TREBLE

Flies with treble hooks are probably not a common product in your local shops, but you may want to consider tying some if you intend to target gar species other than longnose. Don't go really big, Just use a size 8 treble and a 28mm Chocklett's Articulated Big Game Shank to tie your fly. Once again, make sure you keep those points needle sharp. 


GO SMALL

So you aren't about trebles, that's okay too. Go small if you want a better chance to stick Florida or spotted gar. Use an articulated fly or topwater with two size 10's, 8's, or 6's. These small hooks will bury with less effort than a big hook, and these smaller gar species aren't going to bend them out. They'll eat almost anything anyway, I actually got a few to eat small nymphs in the Tamiami canal and they stayed stuck far longer than any that took a big streamer. In fact, had I not gone down to a very small fly I doubt I would have caught even one. 


SHORT LEADER, HEAVY TIPPET

There's no sense in trying to hide your leader from these fish, they're so tough and gnarly they don't even care. Instead, tie up a short very strong leader that will stand up to the strain of a really hard hook set. A five foot leader to 20lb tippet will do exactly that. Fluorocarbon is preferable for subsurface presentations, especially since all these fish are very toothy and will abrade your line, but I use Trilene big game any time I'm fishing topwater since it floats and is dirt cheep. I have not yet had a bowfin or gar bite off, but I have had to change tippets after landing them. 


RODS WITH BACKBONE

Don't screw around with light rods for these fish either. If you want to stick them well, use a rod with backbone. Rods in 8, 9, and 10 are appropriate, even though it would be possible to fight these fish effectively with a 6wt (hell, I got my first gar on a 5/6 glass rod). But at close range I've found a hard set up and to the side is optimal, and a noodle glass rod or super slow action graphite won't provide the brute force I want. An 8wt is ideal for small gar an bowfin. For larger gar, big bowfin, and snakeheads, a 10wt is not at all overkill. And for real monsters like alligator gar, a 12wt or even a 14 or bigger is ideal. Fast action graphite with a good comfortable fighting but and a lot of pulling power will help you drive that hook home. 



STRIP UNTIL YOU CAN STRIP NO MORE

All of these species hold onto the fly after they'v eaten it. Unlike a trout mouthing bits of organic matter, nymphs, and other junk in the drift and spitting half of it back out, a bowfin or snakehead or gar has already decided that your fly was food before it put it in its mouth, and it's going to keep it there for a little while. Give the fish a second to really suck it down. Then strip set like you're trying to bury that hook into a cinder block and don't stop until the fish forces you too. You may have to tape your fingers after four or five fish, so be it. This is just what you have to do. When sight-fishing bowfin or snakeheads in the weeds or on fry balls this won't really fly. Instead, got straight up Jimmy Houstan on that sucker, cross his eyes and cross them good. Sweep that rod back and to the side and strip hard at the same time. 



DON'T EVEN USE HOOKS

So, longose gar are a little bit special in this realm. You probably won't hook one, so don't try. Not only is their snout bony as hell, it's so skinny their's not much between the inside of  the mouth and the outside of the mouth for a hook to encounter. Instead of frustrating yourself trying to actually hook one, Use rope flies. Nylon rope and other fine-fiber materials tangle in a longnose gar's many needle-like teeth, acting almost like velcro. I would't forgo the hook entirely, but not because it might stick in a gar... you don't want to miss out on the bass of a lifetime because it came along and sucked down a hookless gar fly. When a gar eats a rope fly, just let it toy with it for a couple seconds to get the fibers all nice and tangled in its teeth, then lift the rod gently to begin the fight. You'll want both a jaw spreader and pliers to get a longnose gar unstuck, not only for your safety but because letting one swim off with a bunch of nylon stuck in his teeth is just rude.
For for big spotted, Florida, and alligator gar, rope flies won't work nearly as well though.



NO STRETCHING!

There's no room in this game for a stretchy fly line. Use a floating line with a strong core. Less than supple is not a problem fishing for these species as the water is rarely cold enough to make your coating even more stiff and prone to tangling. You want is little give as possible. I, personally, am still looking for the optimal line for this fishing, but I've gotten much closer with Airflo.  


LOST FISH ARE A PART OF THE GAME

When you fish for bowfin, gar, and snakeheads, you are going to miss and loose fish no matter how sharp your hooks are, no matter how hard you set, no matter how perfectly tuned your gear is. It is just a part of the deal. Get over it, get back to fishing, and put every ounce of available effort into sticking the next one. 

Stick them hard. 

If you enjoy what I'm doing here, please share and comment. It is increasingly difficult to maintain this blog under dwindling readership. What best keeps me going so is knowing that I am engaging people and getting them interested in different aspects of fly fishing, the natural world, and art. Follow, like on Facebook, share wherever, comment wherever. Also, consider supporting me on Patreon (link at the top of the bar to the right of your screen, on web version). Every little bit is appreciated! 
Thanks for joining the adventure, and tight lines.

Friday, November 30, 2018

100 SPECIES (and hybrids) ON THE FLY

Today was do or die day. I was either going to catch my 99th and 100th life list fish today or go home frustrated and have to come back in three weeks for redemption, making that trip more stressful than necessary. Fishing salt water would give me the best chance. I picked a spot on the Indian River and got about an hour to spend there. I was hoping the place was going to be just packed with species, unfortunately it wasn't. The first fish I saw were finger mullet. Then big fat ones that were eating algae off the rocks. I knew my chance of getting one to eat was very slim but any time one made itself a target I cast at it anyway because there was only one other species in abundance in that particular location, more on that shortly. Out of the blue, one of the smaller fish in one of the schools I cast to calmly swam up and slurped down my red and orange woolly bugger. Not at all how I envisioned catching my first mullet, but if I've learned anything over this life-listing adventure it is that fish like to ignore the rules. 

Life list fish #99: striped mullet, Mugil cephalus



The other aforementioned abundant species was sheepshead. These buggers pose a pretty solid challenge. They were being pretty lazy, not really feeding at all, and had almost no interest in my flies. I got a couple half hearted follows. I wandered away from them for a little while to look for easier targets but could not find the puffer I was looking for. I made a couple casts at a small stingray and watched a spin caster land what looked like a snagged pleco and a small trout. I was ill equipped to fish for trout with my 3wt and minimal fly arsenal. Eventually I went back after the sheepshead I rolled a few rocks, and besides finding a few blennies I was too lazy to change up to target, I found some small crabs. I decided to suck up my pride and just see if these fish would take a live crab. I impailed one on the fly and walked back down to where the fish were and dropped it next to a boulder that had probably 15 sheepshead around it. One came over and made quick work of the crab, but once it was all gone he seemed to still have a real interest in the fly. He took repeatedly, and I hooked and lost him twice with not bait on the fly. This got me thinking. I hurriedly went about collecting more crabs, which I broke into little bits. I then hurried back to the sheepshead, tossed the lot out there to where the fish were sitting and milling around, and watched them go bonkers as it all dropped down to them. I cast the fly into the mix and the fish were on it quickly. They were much more suspicious of the fly because it didn't taste or look anything like crab legs, but that didn't stop them from taking it. Four fish were hooked and lost before they got shy again. While I collected more crabs I got a text that signified my time was limited, very limited. I sprinted back, chucked the crab parts out, sunk the fly into the zone, and watched a sheepshead come up and take. This one stayed pinned, thank goodness. 

Life list fish #100 : Sheepshead, Archosargus probatocephalus



So that's it. I've caught 100 different species and hybrids on the fly. I think now I'll just go back to trout fishing, permanently. Nothing else. 

HA! As if. The more I fish the less I can stand to trout fish a bunch of consecutive days. Nope. I'll be doing the same things I have since I started this quest, and there are only two things that will stop me. Death or running out of new fish species to catch. It will be the first scenario undoubtedly, but that won't stop me from trying. To cap off this short, nearly full blown panic mission, I got to see dolphins essentially blitzing on adult sheepshead. It was quite spectacular.

Photo Courtesy Malachi Lytle

Photo Courtesy Malachi Lytle



If you enjoy what I'm doing here, please share and comment. It is increasingly difficult to maintain this blog under dwindling readership. What best keeps me going so is knowing that I am engaging people and getting them interested in different aspects of fly fishing, the natural world, and art. Follow, like on Facebook, share wherever, comment wherever. Every little bit is appreciated! 
Thanks for joining the adventure, and tight lines.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

New Species and Florida Bass on the Fly

Some of the most easy fishing in Florida exists in the many hundreds, if not thousands of neighborhood ponds, lakes, and canals. Aside from the very numerous bass and bream these water bodies also hold copious amounts of other native and non-native fish. Though the fishing is easy access is basically impossible for the vast majority of these water bodies. Luckily though my grandparents live on one, and though it doesn't have a huge number of species I haven't caught it has a few. The most abundant are the ubiquitous eastern mosquitofish, and I do intend to catch one of those little buggers eventually the ones here seem to be, on the whole, too small for hook and line and indeed too small for all but very fine mesh nets. Other than that I had no idea. Noah and I caught Florida black bass and coppernose bluegill. In my first few casts here this time I caught a run of the mill Florida 'gill, which we hadn't caught in December. They do look very different from the bluegills we northeasterners are used to though. I call them peacock bluegills now because their three dark bars and  green, orange and yellow coloration kinda remind me of peacock bass.


Coppernose bluegill were very much in the minority this time, but they were around. Florida bass though, were not. The were at times blitzing on the mosquitofish yesterday. I didn't see that today, but I suspect the water temperature was cooler even though the air was warmer than the day before. Water takes longer to cool and warm. Always, always keep that in mind and fish accordingly. Yesterday I got a bunch of bass on and Empie Shiner tied by Geoff Klane, and also on a black and purple gurgler. They weren't huge, or even average for this area. But I was fishing 6'6" 3wt, so it was an absolute riot. 






My first new species of the trip was a sunfish. I'm slowly chipping away at the sunfishes and will hopefully have all of them within the next few years. My 15th sunfish species ended up being Lepomis microlophus, called redear or shellcracker. Their appearance is not dissimilar from pumpkinseeds, but they are less round bodied and have a much bigger more up-turned mouth. They specialize in eating snails, hence the name 'shellcracker'. Not only was this my first new species of this Florida trip and my first new sunfish species since my last trip down here

Life list fish #97: redear sunfish

Later that evening, in a mix of bluegills and possible hybrids (maybe more on that later) I hooked something that I initially thought was a small turtle. After a few pulls the thing just came up to the surface, poked its nose up, and slowly slid in. As soon as I saw it in the water I saw that not only was it a fish but it was a new species. It was a tilapia. And there arose an unforeseen challenge. I new very little about identifying tilapia species. There are something like 5 or 6 of them in Florida. A few were ruled out easily enough, but I got stuck between three species and couldn't fully ascertain which of the three this was: blue tilapia, Nile tilapia, or Mozambique tilapia. I spent much of the rest of the night obsessively comparing photos, texting friends, and sending photos to a few of best multi-species anglers and fish identification experts I know of. I put a post up here with just a title and two photos that I never intended to keep up so I could more easily share those photos, so some of you already saw this fish. After all that, I am still not 100% sure, but I'm going with the ID Roy Leyva and Martini Arostegui suggested: Mozambique. 

Life list fish #98: Mozambique tilapia, Oreochromis mossambicus



So, two new species on the first day was a pretty good start. Today I didn't catch anything new but then again I didn't really do anything that would make that likely. We spent most of the day at Kennedy Space Center, which was awesome. We saw some dolphins in the Indian River, which was awesome. And I saw a big old redfish and a big old gar in different parts of the canals around the space center. Also awesome. So no complaints whatsoever there. But tomorrow will be do or die for breaking 100. I don't expect it to be too difficult though.

If you enjoy what I'm doing here, please share and comment. It is increasingly difficult to maintain this blog under dwindling readership. What best keeps me going so is knowing that I am engaging people and getting them interested in different aspects of fly fishing, the natural world, and art. Follow, like on Facebook, share wherever, comment wherever. Every little bit is appreciated! 
Thanks for joining the adventure, and tight lines.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Going Into a Florida Trip With 96

A few nights ago Noah and I went out at night, fishing some small streams, looking for redd raiders. A lot of things like to eat trout eggs, and including a bunch of different fish species. Some of those species, like creek chubsuckers, longnose dace, slimy sculpins, tessellated darters, central mudminnow, and others that either both or one of us had not yet caught. With flashlights and careful, slow wading, we searched the stream bed in the dark hoping to find something we hadn't caught. And we did, in one run that had a couple redds in the tailout we found sculpins.

Life list #96 (species): slimy sculpin, Cottus cognatus. 




This species is listed as "of special concern" in CT, and as such should care should be taken if one is caught, be it on hook and line in a minnow trap. Handle carefully and release quickly. In some states sculpins are a popular fish to use as live bait. Under no circumstances should this be done here! Nor should nighttime spotlighting micros if you don't have an intimate understanding of the fish species, the stream, and how to identify and avoid redds or cyprinid mounds.  After quick photo sessions both Noah and I watched our beautiful, charismatic little sculpins return to their nocturnal routine. We left that stream shortly afterwards to look for a darter for Noah, no such luck. At least not finding one big enough to catch without a tenago hook.

So, I'm going into a Florida trip with 96 species and hybrids. Catching four new species in four days in Florida should be about as easy as catching one new species in a year here in CT. But I don't want to shoot myself in the foot before I even get there. Next time I report, it will be from the land of the exotic invasives, hopefully with some crazy new fly caught species.

If you enjoy what I'm doing here, please share and comment. It is increasingly difficult to maintain this blog under dwindling readership. What best keeps me going so is knowing that I am engaging people and getting them interested in different aspects of fly fishing, the natural world, and art. Follow, like on Facebook, share wherever, comment wherever. Every little bit is appreciated! 
Thanks for joining the adventure, and tight lines.