Thursday, June 30, 2016

The Right Fly, The Right Presentation

If you think the lack of morning carpin' posts is a result of my not having fished for them much in the past week or so, you were wrong. Every morning I set my alarm for 4:30 and if the weather looks right and If I am feeling up for it, I ride up to the lake. Unfortunately the carp have been in a weird mood for the lake. The water is extremely clear compared to what it often looks like, and that has the carp concerned. They will feed in the shallows, but when they are within sight of the shore they have been extraordinarily skittish. Most of the shots I have had have been to fish that are feeding in 4 feet or more leaving a bubble trail. That is very much uncharacteristic of this lake and it has taken me some time to adapt to this new feeding pattern.

I've been very weary of using heavy flies for carp, as they often seem to spook either at the sound of the bug hitting the surface or the speed of the fall. I realized today that neither of those things would matter at all for fish that were digging in the mud in as much as 6 feet of water. The moment I put on a big JM Hybrid with dumbbell eyes I knew it was going to be the ticket. Third roll cast into a bubbler's path and I came tight to a very angry carp. It made it's move very quickly, breaking me off on a buoy rope. There really isn't much you can do to change a carp's direction early in the fight, so I wasn't really upset. There was still a few fish there feeding.  Cast, strip, drop, wait... the fish let you know when the eat by loosing their minds. Two casts later I was in again. It was a small fish, and the fight wasn't long. I was pleased to get a week long skunk off my back.

Bass Nights

There are a lot of different kinds of bass. I'm a big fan of Costa's series Geobass, in which a group of guys travel the world looking for different kinds of bass. Keep in mind that the term bass is not really biological, it refers to all manor of sunfish, white bass, saltwater species, and ciclids. In New England a fly fisher has some oppertunity to fish for as many as 8 kinds of bass. Over the last couple of evenings I have caught nothing but "bass" of one kind or another: calico, largemouth, smallmouth, rock...

These would have been terrific nights had I not been hoping for a nice fat walleye. Each night lead to a decent largemouth, and I caught the same little rock bass both nights. The first night gave up a bunch of little largemouth and the second some similarly sized smallmouth. A little black bunny leach was the most poductive fly. I realized after a few nights on this pond each week that there was only a short window of opportunity to catch decent sized fish, starting 10 minutes past sunset and lasting until 9:35. After that, it was just beating a dead horse.

Fish of habit... same fly, same time as the day before, same exact spot.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Sifting Through The Dirt

In this case dirt is referring to stocked trout, and what I was sifting for were the gems: wild trout. I got one the water late in the morning, and I had hardly taken a cast when I got a text from RI Brook Trout. Jon didn't have anything to do and wanted to know if I was fishing. I told him where to meet me and got back to fishing since his drive was going to be more than an hour. The wind was gusting, and that always means terrestrials. Ants, hoppers, beetles, caterpillars, ext. That means stimulators in different sizes and colors are all you need. The streams I was fishing have a ratio of stocked to wild trout that is roughly 15/1, which of course means you need to really work hard in order to catch a wild fish. The first couple I caught were stocked rainbows.

Next to a big fallen tree's root ball the stimulator got slammed by a nice fish. It jumped right away and then ran extremely hard, and I recognized it as being one of this streams few big wild brown trout. Unfortunately it broke my 7x tippet by lodging itself in the roots.

Shortly before I had to meet Jon I spotted quite a large smallmouth for such a small stream. It was living in an eddy behind a hard clay point. It seemed to be hanging out mostly over one patch of sand. I thought I could probably catch the fish, but I was sure it had already seen me so I new I had to make my presentation perfect. I decided to stand a foot downstream from the bottom of the eddy on the opposit bank, and to cast at about 1 o'clock, putting the fly three feet downstream and behind the fish. I had on a bead headed Picket Pin, and I knew it would make enough noise landing into the water that the fish would take notice. Then I would let it sink all the way to the bottom before making a downstream mend that would allow the line to drag slightly and pull the fly along the bottom like a crawling nymph. It worked like a charm, and that smallie sure gave the 3 wt. a workout!

After Jon arrived we headed upstream, catching a few salmon par and bass but not finding anything really special. We decided to head back down to a spot where I knew there would be a big pile of trout.

The water was extremely clear and low where these fish were, and it was tough to get them to eat. It turned out that a woolly bugger was the secret. We caught a few rainbows and brookies, none of which were wild, before going up to a tributary that I knew had a few natives in it.

This stream is absolutely tiny, and so any fish caught out of it would be a miracle. There are only a few pools on it that are big and open enough to be fished, and in the first one I fished I caught a gorgeous little wild brookie.

Then I gave Jon a turn, and this is what happened:

After Jon left I went to see if I could get that big brown to come back.  I snuck up on the pool form behind the log, but I didn't see the brown. What I did see was a wild brookie. I put on a yellow palmer and it chomped it down.

That was a pretty good fish to end the day on. As I headed home I realized it had gotten cloudier and windier. Unfortunately that didn't mean it was going to rain a lot, rather it was just a few showers. We need more than that.

Monday, June 27, 2016

My Biggest Wild Brook Trout... So Far

Before my grandfather left CT I wanted to show him some of the state's terrific brook trout fishing. So I took him to one of my favorite watersheds looking for some of the big wild char that live in its streams. I knew that the water was going to be low, but in this area they never seem to get to what I would consider to be too low. But the water does get low and clear enough to make fishing tricky.

I would not have guessed at the start of the day that it would be one of my best days of brook trout fishing in my life.

I started out with a few nice brookies on a beadheaded Picket Pin. The fish were very picky as far as dry flies go, I couldn't even get one to come up for an ant. But I was expecting that a few fish might be more willing to come up as the evening progressed.

As evening approached we realized we did not have much time left so we decided to try one last spot above the highway. When we got down to the stream I noticed a brand new beaver dam, and some rise rings from a good fish just at the corner. I ginked up my stimulator and got into position. I made a short cast to the bush hanging over the pool, then a long cast past and under it. I gave the fly a twitch and up came a brookie, and right away it was clear that it was a very good one. After a short battle it was at hand, my biggest ever wild brookie, 13.5 inches long. That was one of my big goals this year, and I'm so glad I got it done! Even better I got to do it with my grandfather. It was just the perfect end to the perfect day.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Adam's First Largemouth

I wasn't going to let Adam leave CT without catching a fish, so I took him out on the lake yesterday and showed him spots and techniques that would be likely to produce a nice bass or two. Just because I gave up fishing with conventional gear a few years ago for the pursuit of all species entirely on the fly does not mean I didn't or don't know how to catch fish on a spinning rod. When I started fly fishing I tried to carry over methods that I already new, forming new subtle techniques that lead to fish being fooled, hooked, and landed; and some of the new techniques I learned in fly fishing could be transposed into spin fishing as well. Simply put... this fly guy could still put a hurtin' on some bass using spinning gear.

The best technique during that evening turned out to be walking the dog with a Heddon Torpedo. Adam caught both black bass species, and the largemouth was actually his first ever! I couldn't be more proud.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Fishing with the Family

I don't often get to fish with my family from PA, but pretty much everyone came up to CT for a major family event so I've had a chance to fish with my grandfather (Cliff) and my cousin Adam. Last night my grandfather and I went to the Bellpond hoping for a good evening bite that never really materialized, but who cares? Any chance I have to fish with family I jump on it. There were white perch, small ones, schooling up and chasing bait at the surface, but there were no walleye chasing them.

The Master

And tonight we fished a pond that was new to all three of us. I have never fished there before because it is a private camp pond, and I wasn't sure what to expect. I ended up nailing into a nice smallmouth and a little pickerel. We've got a couple more days, and if all goes well we'll get into some more fish.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

I Can't Get No...


I have yet to catch a catfish this year. Keep in mind that when I say catfish I'm including bullheads in that group. I didn't really put any effort into it early in the spring when one of the ponds nearby with a good population was still weed free. Now I am left with luck and sight fishing for bubbling fish, kind of like looking for little carp. Tonight I was hoping to get one of the Bell Pond's many big yellow bullheads. I cast to bubblers after sunset. I hooked up to the first one I cast to and then could not buy another hookup. Bullheads are often tricky to hook on an artificial. You really need one to chew on the fly for a while. A nice bass was the only fish to hand.