Friday, July 29, 2016

Two Awesome Dry Fly Days on the Farmington

Right now the only trout fishing game in town is the West Branch of the Farmington, and even that is forecast to drop to bellow fisheable levels within the next week or so. For now though, it is low but comforable fisheable. I prefer it at about 200-250 cfs and it is way lower than that, so streamer fish was not really a priority though every now and then I tied on a smaller streamer and I managed a couple takes from big browns or bows. I used a hornberg ever now and then but I was fishing it as a dry.

On Wednesday Jon and I went up in the morning and met Alan. He had already been out for some time that morning and had caught some brookies and a hefty brown on caddis patterns and a small fuzzy nymph that imitates the little scuplins we were seeing all over the place. We headed to a sot that we all know and that holds a lot of wild brown and brook trout. It didn't take long before Alan was into a very nice brook trout that put quite the bend in his rod.

There were a lot of fish rising as the morning progressed, and I worked a pod of fish at the end of a currant tongue with 7x and a tiny CDC caddis. It took some work but eventually I hooked into a typical rainbow.

I could see a few fish sipping in an area adjacent to where Alan was, so I quietly waded down there and made a cast. Up came a nice native brookie to take the micro caddis. It had a very stunning marbled pattern and fought powerfully for the size.

I went back to the pod of risers again, as they had gotten back into a feeding mood after the rainbow I hooked put them down. It only took me a moment before I was into a nice wild brown, which would turn out to be the primary catch of the day. Out of twelve fish nine ended up being wild brown trout. That is just awesome. 

At that point it was already noon and Alan had to leave, but he told up where he had luck that morning and it was an area I had not fished yet so Jon and I decided to check it out. When we go down to the river Jon headed off downstream. I spotted a couple of risers in the tail of the pool just above, so I decided to sneak up on those fish. There were a few small brook trout on river left, but hugging the bank on river right was a large brown doing a classic head and tail rise for some small winter caddis. I could see the fish clearly and watched how it reacted to natural insects drifting over. Since the water was ripping through the tailout and getting a dead drift with a normal cast wouldn't be possible I waded down bellow the fish and made a pile cast to its left. It ignore the first drift. I repeated the action and it came up and ate the caddis. I let it turn down and gently set the hook. Luckily the size 22 hook held and I brought to hand a nice holdover example of Salmo trutta. 

I went downstream and had a couple small brook trout screwing around with a BHHE before working over some fish in a shallow flat. I had a few takes but no hookups. Where Jon was though I found a whole pile of wild brown trout rising. I caught two on the CDC caddis.

That ended up being that for that section. My friend Dave Goodson met us at the parking lot and we headed up river to one of my favorite sections. Dave worked over a large rising trout will Jon and I hopped around in the pocket water looking for active fish. Though we saw a few, including some big ones, they weren't really in a feeding mood. The story was the same with a big flat pool that I fished four years ago and did well in. I did manage to get two brief hookups on a big streamer, but they weren't on for long. On the way back down I did get another wild brown on the micro caddis, clearly the fly of the day. 

By this point in the afternoon the water had began to warm up that far down so we decided to go upstream to fish some pocket water closer to the dam where the water rarely gets above 60 degrees. I started out with an olive and orange bugger, and it wasn't long before I hooked up with a solid bow. 

Shortly after I caught that fish, the riffle where it had been erupted with a strong caddis hatch. There were some big fish rising, even in the shallowest fastest part. I targeted those fish because I figured that the would be more likely to hit a hornburg skating on the surface. I got two nice wild browns with that technique.

We moved one last time in a spot where we were hoping to get some big nightime browns. I managed one more wild brown and a salmon parr before the light left, but mice and streamers failed to give up the goods for Dave and I as we waited till the last minute. Jon got a really nice rainbow on a woolly bugger and Dave did get a nice wild brookie, but clearly this was not going to be that good of a night.

Thursday afternoon David Gallipoli and I returned looking for the big one. My first three fish were not big, but like Wednesday they were all different species. With the trout slam out of the way that soon I was able to concentrate on the lunkers.

On a whim I decided we should fish that pocket water again. Good decision! We were into fish fairly quickly. David worked up, I worked down. I missed a couple of browns on a big Lime Trude before up came a big rainbow. I set the hook and the fish went away powerfully. It was clearly not a huge fish, but it was in the upper teens in length and VERY fat and boy did it give me a run for my money. It used up every bit of space in that pool, tearing line of the real and jumping and tail walking all over the place. I actually had to give chase! That was my big fish for the evening. I hooked a bigger one five minutes later, probably 20 inches long, but it must not have been hooked well because it did a strong head shake and threw the hook. And, at the bottom of a long riffle at the edge of darkness I missed a take from a large brown trout. I'm not going to let those losses distract me from that one big rainbow though, what a nice fish that was:

Hopefully I will be able to get back up there again before MDC drops the flow again. If not, it's bass or bust for this fly fisherman!

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Yak Fishing in Sweltering Heat

I despise this weather we've been having it's so bad that even the lower stretch of the West Branch is getting a little warm. I am legitimately scared to fish some of my favorite streams right now. So I'm left with still waters and, when I can, the Farmington. I was there yesterday and it was AWESOME. But first I should talk about the kayak fishing lately. I was ought on the lake on Tuesday. I started out looking for some big bass. That plainly wasn't going to happen. I got a few dinky ones but couldn't find the hawg. So between docks and points I looked for feeding carp.

I found a few, and fortunately the one that was willing to eat ended up being the only one that wasn't feeding right between the docks but instead was out in the open. It was cruising around picking up dragonfly nymphs. I put a big black leach four feet ahead of it and it picked it up when it got there. I set the hook late, the fish was already headed towards my so I had to pick up a lot of slack, but it had hooked itself already and it was good an solidly attached. Even better, I was able to get the kayak to firm ground so I could get out and battle the fish properly. 

Ever have this happen? This stupid little bass rammed the back hook of my streamer right into my finger. It still hurts right now.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

I Went Carp Fishing, and I Found This

One of my all time favorite shows is the BBC's Top Gear. I've stopped watching it now that James May, Jeremy Clarkson, and Richard Hammond have gone because they were what made it such a great show. Every show other than the specials had a section with various news from the auto industry. For a number of shows Clarkson added to that new segment by saying "I went on the internet... and I found this:" promptly followed by something that was always censored and never related to cars at all. I always found that to be a funny little bit.

Since I go carp fishing a lot during the summer and at least a couple of days during the week prove to be utterly useless as far as car related blog material, I've decided to start a new segment called "Today I Went Carp Fishing".

So here we go, starting with Monday.

Yesterday I went carp fishing, and I found this:

On the Hunt for Striped Bass and Bunker

Right now the name of the striper game in LIS is bunker. If you want to find stripers right now you need to find bunker. Luckily and perhaps unluckily there was a lot of bunker in the first area I fished on Saturday. The main issue with there being a lot of bunker around, and especially adults, is that the fish there will not be easy to catch even if you were to use a live bunker. There were just so many big adult menhaden there that the few big keeper sized bass were not in a feeding frenzy simply because they didn't need to be. They could just come up, eat one big adult, and then wait until they got hungry again and do it again. So that's what I saw there, every now and then a big bass would come up and take a bunker and then it would go back down. The whole time it happened only four times. Four times in two hours doesn't make for good odds. I had my shots though, but they were with schoolies in the docks. There were lots of juvenile bunker there and though I had two fish pop for a gurgler I couldn't help but think they had filled up during the night and that I had missed my shot by getting up right around sunrise. I din't get skunked anyway, caught a few snapper blues and snagged some bunker which were donated to the snaggers that were collecting bait to chunk later in the day for some big fish at the mouth of the river.

Sunday I was in a great spot at the right tide with good conditions. The day before there had been mayhem in this spot. Bunker were getting destroyed by bluefish, and though none were seen there were probably some stripers underneath. As is always the case with stripers I had shit for luck and the water was dead. At least I got to hang out and fish in a cool spot in the Thimble Islands. 

Friday, July 22, 2016

Eels, a Tiny Fluke, and Connecticut River Smallmouth

The Connecticut River is a great fishery that I just haven't gotten around to learning. Now is as good a time as any to start, right? My good friend Adam has been kid-sitting for a family friend. Dylan is young and very excited about fishing, something I wish more kids would be interested in (obviously). So basically every time Adam is taking care of him Dylan just wants to go fishing. When they ended up getting some nice smallmouth the other day and I asked if he wanted to go fishing he invited me to join them. Before we went to the river though, we went up a small stream I often fish for brookies in to find Americam eels. The way to catch eels in a small stream is to fins big flat rocks with spaces under them. Then, if you know the right method, you can catch them. I'm not going to sit here and explain it to you all because I know eels are a popular bait, and I'd rather the night surf casting crowd buy their eels from the bait shop than deplete the already low numbers in our small freestone streams. We ended up catching three, two of which were returned to the stream while the smallest one was brought to Adam's house to put in one of his fish tanks. If all goes well it will get allong well with the turtle, bluegill, and bullhead that already live there before being released in the fall next year. Dylan ended up catching a little fluke in the cast net later, which we found really crazy because we are a long way from even brackish water, and it will also be released after it does a little bit of growing.

When we initially got to the Connecticut the tide was coming in. It is important to not that where we were, though it is entirely fresh water, the tidal change is the most significant source of currant, especially this time of year. So, instead of fresh water coming out of the North it was being pushed in that direction by the incoming tide. It was really ripping. I had to work to keep my streamers down. Initially I thought I should have rigged a sinking line but I extended the leader to 16 feet and that did the trick. I only had one hookup on that incoming tide, but Dylan got a little channel cat on a popup chicken rig.

When we came back from lunch it was slack tide. I got a couple nice smallmouth right away before working my way down the shoreline with big articulated streamers. The first take I got was on a 7 inch Double Deceiver, and it was a big pike. Unfortunately it took coming straight at me and was so violent that it put about three feet of slack in my line. By the time I caught up it had rejected the fly. I went back up and put on a yellow Heiffer Groomer and put my backpack back on so I wouldn't need to walk so far to re-tie again.

 I messed around at a stream outlet and got nothing, but when I began heading back up I saw what looked like a boil a feeding bass would make. I ripped the Groomer through that spot and it got trashed by a big smallmouth. It jumped and then did the typical battle. I had it to hand after about two minutes.

Unfortunately that was the last fish of the day which means Adam got skunked. That's fine though, he got a few bass the day before anyway!