Thursday, June 30, 2011

Three Flies Well-chewed Flies From the Weekend

I tend to be fairly straightforward when it comes to the flies I use and carry for fishing at any given time, and this past weekend was no exception.  My vest always has more empty pockets than those that are occupied by fly boxes and other tackle, as opposed to the guys I fish with, who when they put on their vest add tonnage to their total weight.

I fished a total of 5 fly patterns the entire weekend, and probably no more than 10 flies total.  Of those 5 patterns I did fish, only three patterns were the fish takers.  Below are the three patterns that worked, and the other two patterns that didn't work but were fished, were a blue-winged olive thorax, and the other a light cahill.

First up is the Iris Caddis, which is one of the best caddis emerger imitations we have ever fished.  We've been tying them on size #16 Dohiku dry fly hooks, and the combination of materials and Czech steel make for a very effective imitation.             

Next up, the Isonychia, or Slate Drake, emerger.  These big, juicy flies draw trout from the depths when the naturals are present, and this weekend we got to enjoy the rewards.

Finally, we have the Sulphur Usual.  This pattern in size #18 and 20, was our most successful with the finicky trout of the Delaware.  Despite other flies hatching in much greater numbers - Blue-winged olives and large Sulphurs - this fly brought the most trout to hand.  Talk about a simple but effective pattern!

The other necessary ingredient was a fairly long leader, 12-13 feet in total length, of which 30" was 5X tippet.   

Like I said in the prior post, the fish were not easy by any stretch of the imagination, but a good cast, a drag-free drift that was well-timed, and your reward would be the quick, soft sip of a trout taking your offering.

How sweet it is!     

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

A Few Days On the Delaware

As promised, here's the report on one of the best three day weekends we've had this year.  We arrived on the West Branch of the Delaware early after on Friday, unpacked, had a beer, kissed the wife and went fishing.  The weather was cloudy, humid and windless, perfect conditions for hatches and rising trout.  We were not disappointed, as when we got to the river there were loads of bugs on the water and rising trout.

Before you think it was easy pickings, let me tell you a little about the upper Delaware river system. There are loads of bugs and trout that feed on them, but the fishing is fairly technical and demanding most days, requiring anglers to use all of their skills if they want to be successful.  Just because the fish are rising and taking naturals off the surface, it doesn't mean they'll take your offering just because you present it over their feeding lie.  If you don't believe this, just ask the many anglers that fished this weekend that didn't catch anything.  We saw one drift boat, complete with guide and two anglers, fishing to a number of steadily rising fish without so much as a the course of an hour or so, every fly they cast went unnoticed by the feeding trout, all the while the trout continued to take natural after natural off the surface.  

And their were bugs, lots of them - small sulphurs, large sulphurs, slate drakes, blue-winged olives, paraleps, light cahills, cinnamon caddis, dark gray sedges, duns, spinners and even some stonefly adults.  Here's a large sulphur - Ephemerella invaria - that landed on my tying vise as I tied Friday evening....that's our bonfire in the background.      

The blue-winged olives were everywhere Saturday afternoon, yet we didn't take a single fish on a BWO imitation. Instead, we did well with slate drakes and small sulphurs, which were present in fewer numbers, but clearly the day's special on the menu.  Here's a clump of blue-winged olives I lifted off the water with my finger tip - they were that numerous! 

I took this 18" or so brown on Friday on a #18 snowshoe rabbit foot sulphur pattern.  Take a look at the broad tail on this fish..........powerful fighters and all wild fish. 

And here's a typical wild Delaware River rainbow.  These boys fight like no other trout I've ever caught.  This one was maybe 12-13", but still managed to make my reel sing as he went on a couple of long runs that ripped line line from my reel.  Did I say they also jump clear out of the water when hooked?  

It was a great weekend fishing with friends.  I'll post some pics of the flies I used when I get a chance.  In the meantime, get out and fish! 

Friday, June 24, 2011

Heading North in the Nick of Time

Looks like our timing is just right for a trip north to the West Branch of the Delaware as the NJ rivers are bank full and chocolate milk in consistency. Kevin and I planned this trip a while back and we've been looking forward to it ever since with all the traveling for work all spring.  The rivers up there - the east and west branches of the D - are in fine shape as they are tail waters.  The Beaverkill and Willowemoc are not, and they resemble the NJ rivers.

We'll be camping right on the WB, so the fish will be at our doorstep the whole time, although we're just as likely to hit other stretches of the WB and the EB over the next few days.  The overcast skies should be ideal for hatches during the day, as opposed to when there is bright sun and the fish don't start looking up until just before dark............trout tend to mess with us more when they can commiserate in good light conditions (see previous post).

Post time is in 15, so adios amigos.  We'll be back in a few days will a full report complete with photos and other embarassing details.

I have my hook sharpener, do you?       

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Trout Are On To Us

Vinnie and I hit a stretch of the South Branch we haven't fished this year and did well, but split the species. He caught all browns, and I caught only rainbows, despite fishing within a hundred yards of each other the whole evening and both of us using sulphur imitations.  Probably coincidence, but unusual all the same as wild browns dominate this section of the river. 

And yes, the trout are on to us........why else would they rise sporadically through dusk, and then once the sun exits the landscape and our eyesight with it, do they begin rising all over the place?!

They're setting us up, that's why.

Seriously, they have clandestine meetings behind a big, midstream boulder and every so often they send out a scout to rise in a random foam line once or twice, just to keep us hanging around. If we are lucky, we manage to make a good cast, get a good drift, and hook the bastard when it takes our offering.  That trout damn well knows we are going to release him after we bring him to hand, so it's no big deal; he's taking one for the team, and they all have a big laugh behind the boulder right under our waders.  

Then when it gets dark, they spread out and feed on the multitude of hatching and egg-laying insects drifting on the surface film, all the while knowing we can't see a thing!

I can hear their laughter now..................  

Friday, June 17, 2011

Boxed In and Bugless

Yep, it's true, the minute you write about how good the hatches and the fishing are you get smacked right in the face with a humble pie!

I hit the river last evening, and when I got to the water, I was the only one in sight.  It was about 7:30 by the time I stepped into the drink, and the air was calm, warm and humid.  The water was cool, clear and somewhat on the low side, but definitely very fishable.  As I tied on one of my soft hackled sulphur emergers, I thought to myself how lucky I was to be alone given all the fisherman I saw upriver on my way to this spot.

No sooner did I think the thought than I hear someone in waders stomping through the field behind me to the water.  I turned, he stopped at the water's edge and said hi.  I said hi out loud, and muttered something else under my breath, sort of like, "Crap, not only is someone else here, but he had to do a bee-line straight to where I was."  As far as I could see up and down river, I did not see another soul, yet there he stood on the bank behind me.  What are you going to do?  We exchanged pleasantries; he asked if I was going to wade up or down stream, and although I had intended to work my way upstream I told he was welcome to slide in above me.  As surprised as I was when the angler showed up, he was gracious enough to stop and ask me what my intentions were before he stepped in the river.

He walked up a ways and soon we were both casting to trout rising sporadically near each of us.  I had plenty of water below me to fish, so I was fine........or was I?  No sooner had I thought this, than another angler came in below me to fish.  He gave me plenty of room, so no problem there, but I was boxed in. 

If I had more time, I would have left the river and gone somewhere else if only to have the opportunity to cover water as I fished.  Since there was only maybe 45 minutes of daylight left, I stayed and fished the water around me, frustrated that I was limited to where I could move.  There were fish rising around me, and I caught some, but I continually had to rest them as they would go down after missed strikes or when I managed to catch a fish because of the commotion.  I made the most of it, but generally I like to cover water and move.  Welcome to New Jersey fly fishing.......

Then there were the bugs, or more accurately, the lack of bug activity.  Unlike most other recent evenings, there were only a smattering of sulphurs coming off the water, a few midges and a random caddis for laughs.  At least that was the case while there was light.  Shortly after dark I could see in the headlights of cars going by, that the air was filled with sulphur and cahill spinners as well as various caddis and other flying insects. 

So there you have it. We caught some fish, and who the heck knows what will happen next time we get in the water.......maybe Anonymous knows, but I sure don't.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Bugs and the Trout are Cooperating, So Get Out and Fish!

We've managed to bookend our weekly trips to Boston with some outstanding evening fishing the last two weeks.  Our fishing has been late afternoon into dusk and with anywhere from 5-10 bugs on the water; 90% of the fishing has been with dries!

We have seen large sulphurs, small sulphurs, light cahills, gray foxes, blue-winged olives (several species), isonychias (slate drakes), yellow drakes, paraleps, dark blue sedges, cinnamon caddis, and black midges.  The mayflies have been both duns and spinners depending on the evening.

The trick has been to figure what the trout are feeding on at any given moment, and being observant enough to notice when they switch from one bug to another.  Some nights they have stayed on one insect, and others they have stitched from one to another to another.  Of course, if that isn't enough, one fish may be feeding on the emerging cinnamon caddis, while another is feeding on sulphurs!  Most evenings we have had to use 6X tippet to get the drift we need and catch fish.

It's been loads of fun and challenging.

Sharpen those hooks as you fish, and you'll definitely hook and land more trouts!