Friday, September 29, 2017

Beating Up Stripers with Mike Roy

On Monday Rick texted me, asking if I'd like to join him on a trip with Mike Roy (Reel Cast Charters) again Wednesday morning. Well, I had a serious striper itch in need of scratching so that was a hard offer say no to. And so we found ourselves, both a bit tired, driving to the boat launch early Wednesday morning. It only takes one big topwater explosion to wake you up though. Rick took first blood with a nice bass on a spook right up in the rocks. Inches, inches from the rocks. If we'd been on shore we'd only have got that fish if we were standing 15ft back. I was throwing the spook for a little while, spurred on by Rick's nice fish, but when bass and albies started blitzing everywhere it did not take long for me to break out the fly rod, and once it was rigged up it was in my hand for pretty much the rest of the morning. The fly rod was clearly not a good way to get albies on this particular morning. Rick caught 5 albies, I had a few halfhearted takes. The were busting very sporadically though, and I didn't really feel that I got my fly into the fish. Did I mind? Not at all. I was there for the striped critters.

After all those albies we found bass busting very consistently in the bowl between two small points,and the flood gates really opened. In the fog we could hear pops and splashed all around the boat, and as it cleared the blitzes were revealed.

Rick and Mike fished Albie Snax, metals, and spooks, and they caught a ton of fish. I had on long fishless period, but eventually got into the swing of things and started getting a bunch of bass. The killer fly was my confidence streamer, a deceiver with a pink SF blend body and chartreuse topping. If I got that anywhere near the blitzing bass it got slammed, often in a visually spectacular way. I love topwater eats, but there is something exceptional about watching a bass suck in a streamer, then strip setting hard.

I got a pile of schoolie bass in the 16-22 inch range and one that was probably just barely legal keeper size, all just gorgeous, healthy, strong fish. I've had such a slow few months for stripers this is exactly what I was in need of. Once again, a big thank you to Rick for inviting me and Mike for putting us on the fish. Mike is a heck of a fishy guy.

The hard won fish of the day for me.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

A Most Charismatic Little Fish

I've spent the last two afternoons targeting one of my favorite micro species to fish for, redfin pickerel. They are a bit of an oddball, living in extremely shallow, often muddy and weedy parts of streams. When water levels are up it can be very hard to find them because they tuck back into little nooks and crannies that a fly can't really be cast to.

When the water is low, however, they might come out to play. When the habitat is right for them they are usually very common there, yet they can be somewhat frustratingly hard to catch. The don't seem to adhere to a pattern, and it's rarely ever non-stop action fishing for these little guys. 

Interestingly, skating wetflies and dries is the best approach to tempting a redfin pickerel. Like their larger brethren, when the do decide to eat the fly it is an aggressive strike. 

You'll see a lot more pickerel than you catch when looking for redfins in low water, but that's fun too. They dart around looking for a hiding spot, going from completely still to moving very quickly to completely still again. It's almost like they teleport. Others play the "you can't see me if I don't move" game. That makes photographing them in the water easier than it is with some other fish.

Redfin pickerel are a unique, charismatic little fish, and they deserve more attention. 

Monday, September 25, 2017

One Damsel Eater for the Day

I went out early-ish this morning to look for some hungry carp. I say early-ish because we've passed the autumnal equinox and the sunrise is painfully late. So it wasn't really that early but the sun wasn't yet above the horizon. Carp were not hard to find but they were hard to cast to. I found some of the most aggressively tailing carp I've ever seen. Usually a carp that's tailing well makes very little sound, but these ones were tailing so vigorously they were actually sloshing the water. They would have been easy targets had they not been under a heavily brushed bank. I tried, there was no way I was getting a fly to those fish from shore. In a kayak it would have been easy. The carp I found in open areas were not feeding nearly aggressively, and there also weren't that many of the.

The carp in that pond were not particularly obliging but the crappies were, jumping on the chartreuse mop left and right. That wasn't my goal though, so I changed locations. It took a short time to find carp, and the third I found was bumping through the weeds eating damsels. It's fun to watch damsel eaters, some of them will knock the weeds and eat the macroinvertebrates that fall off, and that's what this fish was doing. These are easy targets, as they typically eat whatever slowly sinks down around their weed clump. I had a damsel on already, and fooling that fish was pretty easy. I would say the fight was to since the fish really had nowhere to go, I just had to wear him down. It was a solid carp for that water body, 32 inches and just starting to show some fall weight gain. 

And that's all I needed. A little bit of a fix for my carp addiction. 

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Mousing For Wild Brookies

No, I'm not in Labrador. I wish I were, but I don't see that being likely in the next couple years. Brook trout are by their nature aggressive and opportunistic fish, so it's not really surprising that they'd take a small mouse pattern even in broad daylight. I put one size 4 Master Splinter variation in my box for today's blue line wanderings, and I did fish it for a while. What I discovered surprised me. But before I get to the mousing I have to start where I started, fishing plunge pools on a new stretch of water and catching beautifully colored char on my Crazy Shrimp.

The stream itself is a familiar one but this section was not, and when I explore new water I don't like to leave anything up to chance, I put on a confidence fly and cover the water thoroughly and carefully. The Crazy Shrimp did not disappoint, and neither did the 20 or so brookies I caught in the new water.

After I determined that the previously unexplored stretch was really sweet, I went to the familiar section and tied on the mouse. It did not take long to get some action, and what surprised me was how well the fish took the fly. Most of the brookies present ignored the fly entirely, but the few that didn't just hammered it! Every missed take was angler error, not fish error, which was very different from daylight mousing I've down for both wild browns and stocked trout. These brookies took the mouse with gusto and aggression, nearly always jumping, sometimes as much as a foot in the air. One did a classic downward take, leaping completely out of the water and taking the fly on the way down.

One of the mos fun parts of the day was fishing the meadowy spring creek section. Most of the fish came charging out from the undercuts, and I missed the bigger ones just by being a bit startled by their speed.

Wanted that?

That was most definitely a productive day. I love mousing, and now that I know it's not only doable but quite productive on a brook trout stream I'm going to be trying to weed out the little guys. I'm looking for the giants. I want a wild 18 inch brook trout from a CT stream and I think fishing mice may just be the ticket!