Monday, December 27, 2010

The Calm After the Storm

The east coast got hammered yesterday and last night, and we were fortunate enough to be just west of the real mess.  We got about 3 inches of snow, but the wind is still ripping through the trees and the wind chill was and is around zero tonight.  No fishing today, but here's a few pictures of the local trout stream looking just fine as it flows into 2011.

Mr. Q and I are still going fishing on 01/01/11, ice or not, cold or not.  If he catches anything, I'll post it here and show his pretty face.

Happy Holidays and if you got a gift card, use it to get yourself a good hook sharpener.  It's about time!!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas Everyone

Wishing all of you a happy and healthy holiday season! 

The goal of life is to make your heartbeat match the beat of the universe, to match your nature with Nature.           Joseph Campbell 


Monday, December 20, 2010

I Should Show Up More Often....

The other day I was talking to my agent, Mr. Q., who prefers to remain anonymous, and he told me I needed to post on my blog more often.  So I am doing that now, because he leaves for Chicago tomorrow and might not get to read it after today until after the holidays.  And that would surely be a bummer for him, as he frequently likes to bust my balls under his other pseudonym, "Anonymous".

He is right of course, but as much as I love to write, I prefer this to be an exercise in originality rather than like so many other blogs that primarily regurgitate someone elses creation.  That's not to say I haven't spit up a few items written or created by others, I have, but do so sparingly.

I tend to have more to say when I've been spending time on the water, and lately, I've been spending most of my time in Boston.  So I see this twice a week from the train:

And this on Friday afternoon as I return to Gotham: 

But this is what I really would like to see:

So imagine if you will, standing knee deep in this cool, flowing stream under a late afternoon sun on a late September day.  The green leaves dull as Autumn begins to steal their color. The river is low, but the cool, humid air has kept it perfect for blue-winged olives to hatch and ride the surface while small wild brown trout sip every other one in.  Think of it as the ultimate happy hour for both trout and angler.

Sharpen your hooks, you never know when that monster is going to take your fly. 

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Got a New Camera

It's been too long since I posted here, which tells me I've been working way too much and not thinking enough fly fishing.  I almost posted again the other day about another Ms. Leatherlungs on the train ride home Thursday, but I decided I wasn't going to do two posts in a row about long-winded know-it-alls that ride the train and talk as though they are in a room by themselves.

When I have been home, I've been tying quite a bit and writing, so when a friend gave me a new Sony 12 pixel camera, I had to shoot a few flies.  The camera is an inexpensive DSC-W230 - like a $200 camera - he won in a raffle.  The thing takes a decent picture.

Here's a Blue-winged Olive soft hackle emerger I tie that has a pheasant tail abdomen and tail, olive gray dyed austrailian opossum, and a hen hackle collar.  This one was taken with only my tying light on it.  The color is fairly accurate.  

This one was taken with only the overhead room light for illumination. 

These are a bunch of soft hackle Hendrickson emergers I tie in the same manner as the above BWO. They are for a fund raiser the Central Jersey T.U. is doing.

Here is a beadhead Bird's Nest that I used the flash on the camera to take, and the color is exactly as the eye sees it. 

Here's one of my caribou caddis that I took from below, and this one also has very accurate color.  The shape and silhouette aren't bad either, if I were a trout, I'd sure as hell eat it!  

And here is one of the big boys that has been hanging around out back of the house.  He has 9 points, and his rival, who was up on the top of the hill with the does has 10 points.  The two of them duked it out last Saturday and the big guy won after some serious antler crashing - it sounded like a couple of people fighting with broom sticks.  The battle lasted about 5 minutes and was mostly pushing and shoving and banging antlers, no physical damage was done to either buck from what I could see; the 9 pointer suffered a bruised ego, if deer have such a thing.  He walked slowly away with his head down and tail between his legs.  It was cool to watch, they're beautiful animals.  I just wish they would not eat the this point they can't, because they ate them all already............

I'm hoping to fish tomorrow after we get a tree in the A.M., and will post a report if I do. 

And I'll sharpen my hooks!!  You should, too! 

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

Enjoy the day!!

Sharpen those hooks!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Do People Listen to Themselves? I Think Not....

This one's not fishing, so read no further if you're looking for a hatch, pattern or other fly fishing related facts and/or fiction....  

I commute to Boston via Amtrak Acela on a mostly weekly basis because the drive sucks, and I can get some work done since the train has WIFI, albeit pretty unreliable and slow most trips.  It still beats driving the N.E. corridor.

Here's the deal, early Monday morning I hopped on the train in Newark anticipating the usual 3+ hour train ride in relative peace and quiet. At NY's Penn Station, quite a few people got on, including a 40-ish woman that chose the seats across the aisle from me.  At the time, I didn't even notice her, as I was already working and ignoring the human cattle drive going on around me.

Shortly after we left the station, everything changed.  It was as if the woman had moved in - she had a spread of bags and books, newspapers and food, laptop, magazines, and other assorted clothing and personal things that soon were spilling out onto the aisle.  Picture a college dorm room in a 5 by 3 space complete with older, oblivious female student.

Did she read, or work,or eat or otherwise utilize any of the crap she exploded with?  Nope, she was soon on her cell phone, which she had discreetly placed on speaker phone so as not to strain her delicate ears.

After everyone had heard about her weekend of entertaining and how rude her guests were for not doing the dishes before they left, someone politely asked her to turn off the speaker function.  She did, and soon hung up.

Then she quickly called someone else, rattled on for a bit before turning the speaker back on, telling her listener to be careful what she said as there were a few nosy people around her.  Again, someone asked her to turn off the speaker, which she did, before mentioning how she hated the train as the people that took it were mostly low class and didn't mind their own business.

Then she began talking about the recent elections.............

"Of course, I voted.  Did you?"


"YOU voted for Cuomo?!  I didn't! I wouldn't vote for an Italian, ever......they're all mafia!"


I guess she thinks Paladino is Irish? 

Sharpen those hooks, you never know when you might need them.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

"West of the Mississippi" Gallery Opening - JB McCollum

JB McCollum, whose photos you have seen here and will see more of in my next book, is having his second photography gallery opening of the year. The work he will be showing is from a road trip he took this past summer covering New Jersey to Montana and other western states.

What one can expect to see.. wild life, plant life, landscapes, underwater work, and celestial images of the stars above.

Opening night will be November 12th.   Closing date will be December 12th.

Opening night the doors will open at 5:00 and close at 10:00, adult beverages and cheese will be served (naturally soft drinks will be available for those that prefer something non-alcoholic).

Location: 16 Schooley's Mt. Road Long Valley, NJ, 07853

After the opening, the show will be open Monday, Wednesday, and Friday thru Sunday.

3:00 thru 6:00 Weekdays - 10:00 thru 2:00 Weekends

Go and see the world as JB does through his eye, you'll be glad you did.

One of these days he may even start sharpening his hooks!!!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

It's Official, I Went Fishing Today

Between the drought this past summer and spending my weekdays in Boston, I haven't fished for weeks.  So when Dr. Bill B. sent me an email during the week inviting me to fish with him today, I jumped on it despite the early morning start.  We met at a Minimart off of Route 78, grabbed coffee and an egg sangwich, and then proceeded to the Musconetcong River, along with his friend Frank.  What a morning; calm, cold and clear, the morning sun making the river side foliage radiate with color.

The water was around 50 degrees, the air was in the mid 40's when we started and it didn't get much higher than that as the morning progressed.   The river was low and crystal clear, it's moderate flow a conveyor belt for the myriad of colored leaves in and on the water. With my polarized sunglasses on, I could see every rock, sucker and trout under the water surface.  In one spot, there had to be 30+ suckers hanging just above the bottom, individuals within the group occasionally moving from side to side to avoid drifting leaves.  Below them, a couple of nice trout moved about nervously, most likely because they sensed my presence as I approached them.  Even though I took slow, careful steps, I was no match for the trout's sensory instincts in the clear, calm water.   Sure, I still drifted my nymphs through their feeding lanes off the end of a long, fine leader and even managed to hook one of the trout.  He didn't like that, and quickly darted upstream and unhooked himself.  

So I decided to get out of the run and walk upstream to check out the long flat I hoped would have some rising fish.  Here's Dr. Bill at the top of the flat casting woolley buggers to the banks and stripping them back after letting them swing below him.

Before taking this picture, I had stood on the bank and watched the water as a nice brown trout sipped tiny insects from the surface between the leaves not far from the opposite bank.  I took baby steps to get to this position, knowing how easily I could spook the fish, and after taking the photo I stood in place for a few minutes to make sure it was comfortable.  I had tied on a fresh piece of 6X tippet to the end of my leader, and to that I tied a #16 ginger caribou caddis, while still on the bank.  A couple of casts later, I had him to net.  A nice 14" brown that didn't have a mark on it anywhere.

 A close up......... 

A short while after I landed the brown, a rainbow started working the surface about 25 feet down stream from where the brown had been.  The wind had picked up by now, making casting the tiny fly tied to the end of the fine tippet tough.  I'd make a couple of casts, miss the target, and wait until the wind settled.  Eventually, I got my fly in the trout's feeding lane and it took it like candy.  After a short battle I netted a very nice, 16" or so, rainbow.  No pics, as soon as the fly popped out of its jaw, it managed to pop out of my net.

Here's the fly I got both fish on. 

By late morning the wind was howling, the clouds moved in and out blocking the sun just enough to make it feel much cooler than it was, and we all had other things to get to, so we called it a day.  For the last day of October, it was a very good day with good friends, and the wonderful surprise of taking a couple of fish on dry flies when that was the last thing I had anticipated today.  

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Vote the Environment

                                                                           [Yvon Chouinard. Photo: Bill Klyn]

An editorial from  the boss of Patagonia, a note about voting.........

My friend Tom Brokaw recently wrote an op-ed about an issue gone missing in this election -- the war, the two wars, we’ve been involved in for the past decade, that so far have taken 5,000 American lives and a trillion dollars out of the treasury. Tom’s call for voters to take a more sober look before casting ballots on Tuesday inspires me to call attention to another issue that goes unheralded in this election, and every election in recent memory.

The health of our environment never makes it to the top list of voter concerns. But it has everything to do with all the major issues our elected officials face. Everything we make ultimately comes from the ground, or what’s beneath it, or from our common waters. Every job and every economy depends ultimately on the health of the natural world of which we’re a part.

We’ve seen a decade of record heat around the world, more-virulent storm systems, the evacuation of a major American city and, just this fall in Pakistan, the flooding of an area the size of Italy with seven million homeless. New drilling techniques for harder-to-reach oil created the largest oil spill in history. Fresh water, a resource for which we have no alternative, is being drawn down all around the world faster than it can be polluted. The major fisheries are depleted or close to depletion. The fish at the top of the food chain will poison us if we eat too many in a given month. A gyre of plastic waste twice the size of Texas floats the Pacific. There are fewer species of all kind, flora and fauna – fewer strands to the web of life. They’re disappearing at a rate unprecedented since the meteor hit the dinosaurs.

And when it comes to war, as with politics, follow the money. Once you see past the rhetorical fog of curtailed freedom or misapplied justice, you’ll find an important resource base, or access to one.

What is to be done? Plenty – and on all fronts. Well-meaning people have brought every one of these questions to the attention of their fellow citizens. People everywhere are learning what they can do to harm nature less in the course of their ordinary day. Some of these people are politicians. We have to assume that the people we elect to office care, and care deeply, about finding the human means to live as part of nature. But they don’t always make it a part of their political program.

For example, George Bush, in his retirement, collects rainwater and uses geothermal energy to run his house in Crawford. “We’ve tried to live our life that way, you know, without thumping our chest,” he said in a recent interview. “We just did it. Not for political purposes, just because we want to live our life.” The presidential library he’s building at Southern Methodist Univeristy will be LEED-certified.

That’s good, but not enough. We need a lot more senators, congressmen and women and governors willing to both “live their lives” and stake their political fortunes on the work we need to do to keep the planet habitable and life possible for our children. The private feelings we all share for our compromised, endangered natural environment must translate now into a steady stream of responsible action from communities, which includes government and business. That stream will also translate into jobs.

What can you do today? Vote as though your life depended on it. Before you mark your ballot, check the environmental record of the person you’re voting for. The League of Conservation Voters’ environmental scorecard provides a good place to start.

Via: thecleanestline

Sharpen your hooks, and VOTE!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Small Worlds - The Big Picture

Magnified 30 times, this is an image of a Hydropsyche angustipennis (caddisfly) larva head made by Fabrice Parais, of DREAL de Basse-Normandie in Caen, France. (Courtesy of Nikon Small World)

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Stick Bug, Not Stink Bug and a Not So Teensy Spider

If I wanted a photo of a stink bug, I could get them in spades this year.  They are everywhere, including the stomachs of trout.  Now we just need to come up with a viable imitation.  Do you wonder where they are coming from? I do.  Up until the last few years, I don't remember seeing more than a few in an entire year, now the things are everywhere.  Our mailbox is full of them everyday, thankfully they don't eat paper.

Here's an unusual big, the stick bug, as it rested on the side of our house the other day.  Pretty cool, but it doesn't look like something trout would be able to eat, although I imagine if one were blown onto the water near a feeding lie, it would elitcit a splashy rise.  As you can see, my photos don't compare to J.B.'s.......I'd love to see how he would frame this one.

And here's another fine photo I took of another visitor to our home.  This is one serious spider.  About an inch from jaws to the end of its abdomen!!  And how about that pattern on its back, nature's paint brush at its best.  

As for fishing, it ain't happening for me right now.  The state did stock our major rivers and streams this week, so there are plenty of trout in them to be caught.  Despite the recent rains we have had, the rivers continue to be on the low side.  I guess it was so dry for two straight months, the ground water table needs to come up before the streams will recover to normal levels.  Hopefully, I'll get out for a couple of hours this week before heading back to Boston later in the week for a spell.  I think I have to find some streams up there to fish, too..........

The guys who are fishing, are taking fish on small BWO emergers, midges and caddis on the surface.  If you want to take one of the big breeders they stocked this week, your best bet is a woolley bugger.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Musky One Fly Tournament Update

A couple of weeks ago I posted the announcement for the Musky One Fly Contest that was being held this past Saturday October 9th.

The results are one caught anything.  Seriously, that's not a fisherman's lie, that's the truth!  I was not present, and do not know how many anglers participated, nor do I know what flies they may have had such poor results with.  It sounds as though power bait may not have worked.  At least they had perfect fall weather................maybe too perfect.  Bright sun and slight breeze.  

So, the organizer, New Jersey Trout Unlimited, will be announcing a new date for the tournament with high hopes that the planets of the fishing Gods will be in better alignment. 

That's why they call it fishing, and not catching.     

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Fall Fishing is Here

Looks like our rivers finally have recovered and are flowing at fishable levels.  Now I just need to work less and go fish.

In New Jersey, the state will stock the major rivers and streams this week with trout, which will supplement the holdovers from prior stocking dates.  Despite the rough summer - low flows, warm water - quite a few trout likely survived, and of course, many of our streams have wild fish.  So you don't have to wait for the state to stock fish to catch trout. 

Believe it or not, the fall can bring some fairly good dry fly fishing.  There are still some caddis hatching, and the little blue-winged olives will hatch for the next month or so on many rivers.  The Giant Autumn Sedges hatch sporadically, mostly after dark, but the they do show on the water enough that trout will take an imitation fished in likely holding areas.  It's a big caddisfly, size #10-12, that is burnt orange colored in both wings and body.

The little, or tiny, blue-winged olives that hatch are quite small, size #20-16 and even smaller.  They have slate gray wings, and dark olive brown to gray brown bodies.  The wings are taller than the body is long, so it's sometimes easier to look for the wing silhouette on the water than the fly itself.  Trout will take them will a subtle sip, leaving only a series of fine concentric, expanding rings after taking the fly.  Look for trout to feed on them in the soft water just off an eddie or foam line.  Your positon in relation to the light on the surface can make all the difference between seeing the raindrop-hitting-the-water like rises, and not seeing them.  So as you approach a run or pool, walk slowly and change your angle as you scan the water surface - bend down or squat low so you are looking out across the surface, which can reveal the tiny bug's wings against the silvery water background. 

As I've said many times here, stay the heck out of the water (and low), and only wade when you have to to reach the fish or enable a backcast.  Do everything you can to not alarm the fish or move water. 

Also, keep in mind that we have yet to have a good frost.  So terrestrials are still very present and the trout will be well aquainted with them by now.  When nothing is rising or hatching, I like to fish an ant or beetle to likely trout holding spots, working my way up along one bank, fishing to the center and far bank as I go.  A small grasshopper will work, too.  My wife and I went for a walk along a popular fishery yesterday and we stirred up many hoppers as we walked along the path.

I've probably posted these before, but for those of you that want to see some of the flies I tie and use this time of the year, here's a few:

A well-chewed blue-winged olive.  Thorax style with a CDC wing.   

My Giant Autumn Sedge pattern, tied with an orange dyed elk hair wing. 

And finally, although not mentioned above, I love to fish a traditional leadwinged coachman in the fall.  I fish it on the swing, dead-drift, and using the lift method a various times during the drift or the swing.  This fly works great for some reason in the fall.  

Go get them before the leaves start filling the water and making fishing that much harder - not that you have to stop fishing, it's just that you'll spend more time removing plant matter from your fly than fishing in a couple of weeks.  Not that it matters, at least you'll be fishing!

Shapren those hooks.  

Thursday, September 30, 2010

You Really Would be Surprised ........

Here I am sitting on a train going umpteen miles an hour along the coast of Connecticut, on the way home in NJ, from my new second home in Boston.  I haven't fished in weeks, the rains are supposed to come, yet I haven't seen a drop today.  Just steel gray, low hung clouds and tropical winds turning over the fading leaves of early Autumn.

I have received via email, a basket of complaints from NJ fisherman upset that the fall stocking of trout in NJ has been postponed. Oh, the horror. 

Our rivers are very low, too warm, and not suitable for an allotment of trout that are destined to be yanked out of the rivers to die unceremoniously on some guys metal stringer.  By the time they get them home, the fish will be stiff as a broom handle and have faded to the palest of colors, eyes milky and fixed.  Some, a small percentage, will make it to the broiler or frying pan.  Others, the majority that are taken, will wind up freezer burned and crusty with ice, or just tossed in the waste.  All for the sake of showing off what a fine angler one can be when casting to fresh out of the hatchery and hungry due to being fed on a routine basis trout.

Let me stop here for a moment to remind myself that I have been guilty of this in the years of my youth.  It's the path of us all - youthful stupidty and ignorance that over time ages into experience, and hopefully the ability to appreciate the fact that we don't have to conquer or exterminate everything lower in the food chain than us. 

Today I am repulsed by that behavior, yesterday I was a part of it.  I think we can all say that about some element of our past lives, and it's healthy to remember those things that we now view differently - to see that we have changed for the better.

Enough of the awareness stuff.  The reality is that the state will stock a week later than originally planned.  And although many trout will leave the river involuntarily within days, the other reality is that many will stay and thrive.  Fewer than are taken, but still, more than enough to keep the four-season fisherman in trout.

Many of the fish that escape the "meathunter" quickly adapt to their new environment.  They find sheltered lies.  They learn to feed on all the natural prey that inhabit the river system through trial and error.  They don't have hands, so they sample the items that pass by them with their mouths and learn what satisfies, and what doesn't.  They will even ingest pebbles, stones and other detrius in the water column with no harm.  Despite their artificial beginning to life, the hatchery trout that are fortunate enough to either avoid capture, or get caught by a catch and release angler, manage in amazing ways to survive.  Like everything else in nature, the strong survive.  Some even thrive long enough to spawn many months later.

How many or what percentage is something I can't even begin to answer.  But I do know that in the coming months enough trout will have survived the initial weeks of the fall stocking that they will be there to be caught by the persistent angler.

Oh, and they will be that much harder to catch..........

So sharpen those hooks!                              

Saturday, September 25, 2010

A Day in the Life of a Yellow Sally

Here's a cool set of photos that J.B. McCollum shot of one of my Yellow Sally imitations.  J.B. who recently graduated from Roanoke College, is doing all the photography for the book I'm currently writing and he's been messing around with fly shots.  I think you'll agree his photos are the tits.

I love this shot.  It clearly shows how the fly looks from the fishes POV.  Notice how clearly visible the tippet is.  I guarantee the trout can see it as well, but as long as the fly is drifting drag-free, they don't give a damn.  To them it's just another piece of flotsam on/in the water.  If the fly looks unencumbered, apparently the trout don't see the "connection".  The hook point is alos pretty darn visible, but again, they don't seem to mind.  There is a school of thought though, that on heavily fished waters, the trout over time do begin to associate the hook point with negative consequences...........I'm on the fence on this one, but stearing toward the "they don't care side".  I still believe that trout don't care as long as the fly appears to be drifting freely. I'll save long version of my thoughts for the book...........

And here's the proof in the pudding.  A very nice brown taken on the fly by J.B.'s dad, Bruce.  Now we're talking photography, what a shot.  

See what you have to look forward to when the book comes out?  Even if you don't buy my drivel, you'll get to enjoy some rocking photos by the kid!  These are just the tip of the iceberg. 

Game on!  Sharpen those hooks. 

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Musconetcong River One Fly Tournament

On Saturday, October 9th, NJTU will host the first Musky One Fly Tournament for the benefit of our work in this watershed. Entry fee is $100 and is fully tax deductible.

Anglers will compete for bragging rights with 100% of the proceeds to benefit future Musky restoration and protection work. Walk ins will be welcome, but for planning purposes, please email Brian Cowden. Come on out and support a great cause!

Details are here below (please click on the link provided) or contact Brian Cowden, TU Eastern Staff’s Musconetcong Home Rivers Initiative Coordinator at: [email protected]

You should definitely sharpen your hooks for this one!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

School Bus-sized Boulder Damages Madison River Dam

PPL Montana employees are working to contain damage to the Madison Dam near Ennis caused by a school bus-sized boulder that dislodged and smashed into the western crest of the dam early Monday morning.

Read more here:

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Finally, the Last Montana Pattern........and It's a Good One

That's right, we aren't fishing around here much, although it is possible with the cooler water temps.  It's just that I don't like bugging the trout when they are confined to only certain, deeper stream areas due to the low water conditions.

When we weren't fishing dries in Montana, which was often during the day, I went with a few good old standby nymph patterns.  The Serendipity (the original brown style with a claret head), LaFontaine's sparkle pupa, and the standard Pheasant Tail nymph.  The Pheasant Tail outfished them all, as it usually does on the Madison River in July.  It does a great job of imitating most of the smaller mayfly nymphs that inhabit the river, thus it works great when fished with confidence.

Here's a well-chewed one that took a bunch of fish one windy afternoon at the Slide.  I fished it straight upstream as I walked the bank, never casting it more than 5-6 feet off the bank.  Most of my casts were only a foot or two off the bank, and many of the fish I took I was sight fishing to.  For such a simple pattern, it really work wonders and it very durable as you can see.  I took over a dozen fish on this fly and could probably take another dozen or more before it came undone from those little razor blade teeth trout keep in their jaws....that is, if I didn't loose it first on the bottom or a tree branch.

Tie some up and fish them.  They are just as effective in the East as they are out West.  The entire fly is tied with pheasant tail fibers and fine copper wire.  I do use thread to tie it, but the original tied by Frank Sawyer used the copper wire to bind the feathers.  Both versions work well.


Sunday, August 22, 2010

More Caddis and Some Montana Moon Shine

You've seen my posts with my Caribou Caddis dry flies.  Here's the same fly with a snowshoe rabbit foot hair wing,  I used this fly one day on the Madison River, and despite high winds, caught fish on it right up until dark.  I fished it with 4X tippet, the leader totaled 13-14 foot in length.  Long leaders are required if you want to catch fish with consistency with dries when the rivers are so clear and at summer levels.  At times the wind made it tough, but with proper timing of your cast, you could get your fly where it needed to be with the long leader.  It took tons of patience and concentration, and at times the wind was so fierce, I would just grab my fly and wait a bit. 

Here's the well-chewed fly complete with the end of the tippet still attached, and as with the Caribou hair version, I use a trailing shuck of zelon, so it serves as both an emerger and an adult.

Montana moon shine over the Gallatin River:

Go get 'em, and sharpen those hooks!

Friday, August 20, 2010

My Montana Morning Go-to Fly

Early morning was about the only time of day the air was calm, and so the caddis took advantage by laying their eggs.  I used one pattern, a simple egg-laying caddis with either a caribou hair, or snowshoe rabbit foot wing, to imitate the naturals.  The well-chewed pattern here is tied with snowshoe rabbit foot hair.

It's a simple fly to tie, using some of the techniques I use on my other flies.  As you can see from the above fly, after taking a number of good fish, it is durable and will continue to take fish........until I break it off on a back cast! The egg sac is imitated with caddis green zelon, and although the natural's egg sac is a darker green, I believe the exaggeration helps triggger strikes.

Hook: TMC 100 #16-18
Thread: 6/0 Olive
Egg Sac: Caddis green zelon
Body: Tan dubbing
Underwing: Clear zelon
Overwing: Snowshoe rabbit foot hair or caribou hair
Thorax:  Touch dubbed natrual hare's mask

Awesome fly for anywhere caddis are found.

A little Montana distraction.............................

Earth laughs with flowers. Emerson

Thursday, August 19, 2010

A Little More on the Missing Link Caddis

Just returned from a few days in Boston - business and pleasure - a bunch of meetings and Karen and I celebrated our anniversery with my stepdaughter Julia, and also hung out with my daughter Megan and her friend Jon till the wee hours of the night.  Great time in a great city with my favorite people.

Anyway, I've been thinking I should give you all a heads up about this wonderful fly called the Missing Link Caddis.  Mike Mercer is the originator of this concoction and it's a winner.  I've used here this past season and, of course, in Montana.  It's easy to tie and covers a wide range of caddis behaviors in terms of the silhouette.  The spent zelon wings and the up-right elk hair wings combined with the thin sliver of a body provides an impression of several stages of caddis - at least that's what I think, you may have another view, either way keep a few in your  box and fish them.

So how do I tie this fly?  Sparsely, and a little different than the originator.  I like to keep it as simple as can decide for yourself as I'll provide the skinny here:

Hook: TMC 102Y #15-17
Thread: Olive
Abdomen: Olive thread
Rib: One strand krystal flash - coat with head cement to secure
Thorax: Tan dubbing
Spent wing: Rusty dun zelon divided by the thorax
Upright wing: Elk hair
Hackle: Medium dun.  Mercer wraps the hackle parachute style around the wing and the butts of the wing, standing the butts up over the hook eye.  It also pulls the wing more upright.  I wrap the hackle collar style where I tie in the elk hair and trim it on the bottom, and it works just fine without the craziness of trying to wrap it parachute style and tie it off.  I can do it, but why, when you can wrap it otherwise and save time and get on to the next one?

Have a ball, take your time, there's always tomorrow.               

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Montana - Flies that Worked

It was the probably the toughest visit I've had to the Madison River in all the years I have fished it.  Despite historically high numbers of trout, the hatches were unreliable and the weather less so.  There were plenty of bugs about, but for some reason they rarely hatched in concentrated numbers.  By evening, there would be tons of caddis fluttering about the cabin and bushes along the river, but they had hatched throughout the day.  In most years, the caddis would begin to hatch late in the afternoon and peak numbers would be coming off the last hour or two of light, sparking a trout feeding binge.  We also saw plenty of mayflies, but again, no concentrated hatches came off on any of the days we were there.  The best we had was evening spinner falls that did produce some great fishing as long as the wind wasn't blowing at gale force levels, which was rare.

That said, plenty of fish were caught, but most days I had to work for each and every one of them.  No complaints, that's just the way it was.  I learned a lot while fishing in difficult conditions and always had fun just being on the water in beautiful country.

On one of the calm evenings, the spinner fall was epic.  Here's a well-chewed, #16, foam spinner that I took many fish on before I had to change to a new one.  The wings are snowshoe rabbit foot.

On another evening, we decided to go over to the Gallatin River to fish the meadows in the YNP section.  Having fished this section many times in past years, I knew we would encounter pesky flies - they look like house flies, but they can bite like a horsefly.  We wore long-sleeved shirts and after covering any and all exposed skin with bug spray, we off to fish.  The flies were the worst I've ever seen them here, and we lasted about an hour before high-tailing it back to the car for relief.  The flies were thick and aggressive - they managed to get into our shirts and ears, and even up our noses!  Flies 1, fishermen 0.

After the bug fest, we headed down river and parked just above where the Taylor Fork enters the river.  Here there were no flies and the river was in perfect condition and the sky windless and clear.  I walked up river after spending some time near where Bruce and JB were fishing, and found fish rising in many of the pockets, runs and slicks to caddis.  I used two flies that evening to take many nice fish on top, some of them quite large and healthy.  A #15 Iris Caddis, and a #15 Missing Link Caddis.  The fish took them aggressively and they fought even harder.  It was a blast.

Here's the well-chewed Iris Caddis:

And here's the well-chewed, but not showing it, Missing Link Caddis: 
More flies that worked on our trip to come.  In the meantime, sharpen your hooks, and look outside - it's finally raining here!!!!   

Saturday, August 7, 2010

A Few More Pics

Still  playing catch-up since returning from Montana, so I figured I'd post a few more pics quickly until I find enough time to write about some of the fishing, flies and experiences we had.

Here's a large bull elk resting in the shade next to the Gibbon River in the park.  This thing was huge as you can see from the size of his rack.  Too bad he was camera shy and refused to turn his head.

Late in the day on the Henry's Fork River, the sun decided to collaborate with the skies and put on a light show.  The fishing was good that evening, and this was a wonderful ending to a few good hours on the world's largest spring creek.

And finally, here's Karen fishing a nice riffle off a center island on the Madison River.  

Stories and other tid bits from our trip to come, first the honey-do list needs to be whittled down.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Back From Paradise

Just returned from Montana to the wonderful heat and humidity of good old New Jersey.  If you're thinking I'd much rather be there than here, you would be very right.  Only a few years until I/we make the move permanently.

Karen and I had a great time out there, although the fishing and the weather were as fickle as ever.  Some days the fishing was great, others it stunk up the place.  We had bright sun everyday, but it's duration varied and was typically interupted by dark skies and precipitation.  We had wind, rain, showers, and one day hail that was so big it hurt like hell when it hit you, even with a hat and rainjacket.  Don't get me wrong, the weather may have been down at times, but we pretty much took it in stride and had a wonderful time.  Karen and I spent time in Bozeman and on the Madison River, as well as several days in Yellowstone Park, and in Idaho.  Lots of good food, fishing, hiking and hanging out with our friends Bruce, Megan and J.B.

Got to run, but here's a pic of a rainbow to get you started.  Much more to come.................

Live, for just existing is a waste of life...............and sharpen your damn hooks!          

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

A Few Summertime Flies

Summer is terrestrial and trico time on our rivers, that is, when the water temps are low enough for trout survival.  This week, that means no trout fishing in our area, but you can still tie a bunch in anticipation of better days.  There are also a few nice Pennsylvania limestone creeks that will be cool enough that have serious trico hatches.  Do teh fish a favor though, and carry a thermometer so you don't fish in water that is over 68-69F.

Here's a fur ant - side and trout view.  Simple to tie - black fur and dark hackle. 

And here is a foam beetle I like to fish - side and trout views.  Another simple pattern that is very effective. 

And finally, a couple of trico patterns I like.  This first one is Al's Trico.  It's tied backwards on the hook with the tail being mimicked by the tippet.  It's very visible with the grizzly hackle, which is good for blind people like me.  I like to blame my poor distance eyesight on the fact that I've been tying since I was a wee lad, but the reality is that I'm just getting closer to being an old geezer.  Not that the reading glasses I have dangling from my neck all the time is any indication...........   

Here's a standard trico spinner tied with clear zelon wings.  Again, simple and quick to tie, just the way I like them.  The trout don't give a hoot whether they have the right number of tails or even legs, its all about size and presentation.

Tie some up and go get them trouts!  And sharpen those hooks, especially when they are so very small........