Sunday, April 15, 2012

Tying the Egg-laying Grannom

The Light and Dark Grannoms that have been hatching the last couple of weeks are beginning to return to our rivers and streams in the evening to lay their eggs.  When they do, the trout will key in on the egg laden females with their bright green egg sacs, and feed with abandon.  The interesting thing about this caddis is that some will congregate on a partially submerged rock or log and crawl down below the water surface and place the sticky green sac on the side of the object, and others will drag their egg sac along the water surface so the surface tension pulls the egg sac off and into the drift to sink to the bottom.  Some trout will hang behind the rocks or logs and feed on caddis that become dislodged, and others will feed on those caddis that are drifting and skittering along the surface.  You will witness both egg-laying behaviors in a single pool.

What makes this pattern so versatile is that it can be fished to imitate both of the egg-laying behaviors described above. It can be fished dry, both dead-drift and with some drag, to imitate that behavior.  And it can be fished wet, with a small shot about 6-inches ahead of the fly on the leader -cast it above the log or rock where the caddis are massing and let it swing around the object into the current below where the trout will bang it as it drifts by. I've worked the length of a pool using one fly the entire evening, switching from fishing this pattern dry or wet as I go, taking fish throughout the run.


Hook: Standard Dry #14-18
Thread: 6/0 Olive Danville
Egg-sac: Caddis green zelon
Abdomen: Natural gray Australian opossum
Underwing: White zelon
Wing: Snowshoe rabbit foot hair
Thorax: Natural hare's ear - touch-dubbed

Sharpen your hooks.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Easter Trout Hunting

Yesterday, I managed to get out to the South Branch of the Raritan for a couple hours with Vinnie, on our annual Easter Sunday fishing excursion.  As is usually the case, the wind made its annual appearance, but otherwise the sun was out and the air was moderately warm.  We first fished a well-known section that was void of anglers, and then we went to a more secluded part of the river that is loaded with wild fish.  Again, we did not see another angler.

The river was low and clear, much as it usually is in July or August, but fortunately much cooler than it is then.  We saw bugs, not tons, but enough to get the fish to feed on top.  With the sun being so strong, it likely was too bright for the bugs to hatch given we were on the water from about 3:30 to 6:00.  I heard from Jim at Shannon's that the bugs really got going once the sun moved closer to the horizon.  What can you do?  Had to get back home for the big dinner.

The bugs we saw were Hendrickson duns and spinners, Blue Quills, Light and Dark Grannoms, and a few Blue-winged Olives.  

In the morning I tied a bunch of Hendrickson Cloud Emergers, and in my haste to get to the river, I forgot them.  So I used a soft hackle Hendrickson emerger, and that was the only fly I fished as it worked like a charm.  Here's the well-chewed fly after a very good afternoon on the water.

That one fly took wild brookies, wild browns, and a couple of  rainbows.  One of the rainbows was a fat stockie that fought great before being quickly released.  And the other may have been wild, you be the judge.  

One of the brookies.

A nice brown.

And here's the smaller it wild, or is it natural?  BTW - The South Branch does have naturally reproducing rainbows.  This one had no fin wear, and white bands along the fore fin edge.

So there you have it, lots of trout caught on one fly on a beautiful afternoon in the company of a good friend.  Vinnie also caught a bunch of fish, all of his on a thorax style Hendrickson dry.  He used his 5 weight, while I used my 2 weight...guess who worked harder to cast in the wind, but was too stubborn to switch to his 5 weight? 

Sharpen those hooks, its works.  Check out the fly above, the hook point is shiny because I sharpened it a few times......    

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Tying the Catskill Style Hendrickson

This time we go back to the days when dry flies were tied with all natural materials, and tie one of our favorite dry flies for early spring - the Hendrickson.  The fly itself is not too hard to tie, but it was a little tricky for Tim to film and then produce, but again, he nails it.  For best viewing, maximize the video on your monitor.

Catskill Hendrickson

Hook: Standard dry fly
Thread: 6/0 Olive Danville
Wing: Woodduck flank fibers - divided
Tail: Medium dun hackle fibers
Body: Mixed 1/3 tan, 1/3 pink and 1/3 gray fur dubbing
Hackle: Medium dun 

In the video, I use two hackles to show how that is/was done, as that is how I learned to tie this style fly many years ago.  Back then, 1960-70's, we didn't have genetic rooster capes, instead we tied with Indian rooster cape hackle, which was shorter with fewer hackle barbs than what is available today.  Now I mostly tie them with one hackle from a genetic cape tied in in front of the wing and wrapped back to the body and then forward again.  We'll show you this method at a later date.  Also, the original Hendrickson was tied with pink urine stained fox fur for the body, but I tied it here with rabbit since that is more widely available.

Sharpen your hooks, and good luck on opening day if you decide to brave the crowds.  

Monday, April 2, 2012

A Close-Up Look at Didymo's Effects

I pulled this video about the effects of Didymo off the Orvis News blog, as it really is an important issue for everyone that enjoys the use of our rivers and streams - fishermen, boaters, hikers, etc.  Even those with dogs can spread Didymo.  All the dog has to do is swim in one stream and then another shortly thereafter, and that can spread it, as it can get stuck in their paws and/or fur just as easily as it can a wading boot. 

From Phil Monahan, the Orvis News editor: "Anyone who cares about rivers needs to watch this 25-minute film that follows the progression of a Didymo bloom in the Gunpowder River in Maryland. You'll be astounded by how quickly the river is transformed as the bloom progresses, and a once-clear freestone stream becomes a gunked-up, brown mess. If you ever needed a reason to take personal measures that halt the spread of aquatic nuisance species, this ought to do it. Didymo is no longer "someone else's problem." Thanks to guide Jason du Pont for his dedication to this project."

Nice job Jason, thank you.  And to you, too, Phil.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

The Current Situation

I spent the week in Hartford and Boston working, while others texted, called and emailed me about how good the fishing is in the New Jersey-Eastern PA area.  Everything from, "Get your ass out here""I'm kicking trout ass on your flies, can you tie me some more?"  Needless to say, I'm glad some of you are getting out and enjoying the stupid fishing the early spring warm weather has brought us.
From the reports, it looks like the Hendricksons are hatching in New Jersey along with Dark Grannoms and tons of midges.  The Quill Gordons are also hatching on some streams.  I spent some time along teh South Branch today, and saw plenty of Dark Grannoms in the air and on the water, but nothing taking them.  There were also a few Hendricksons/Red Quills, and Olives. The gorge was packed with anglers, some guys said they did well, others not so well.

From the looks of it, it would seem the Hendrickson hatch will be one of those that occurs over a few weeks, with some days seeing good hatches, and others sporadic hatching.  My guess is we (NJ) won't see heavy, concentrated hatches over a week like we do most years, instead it looks like the hatch will go on longer and be less sporadic.  This doesn't mean the trout are not keyed on to the bugs, they are, and a well placed hendrickson imitation to an actively rising fish should work.  If that doesn't work, go to the caddis.

My recommendations for surface flies would be:
Iris Cadds #14-16 with a green or olive body
Gray or apple green caddis adult #14-16
Hendrickson emergers or dries #12-14

With the caddis imitations, I wold err to the smaller side, mostly #16.  We should start to see egg-laying grannoms once the air temps stay on the warmer side during the day.

We still are seeing some pretty heavy midge activity some days, too.  So be prepared with a midge pattern of your choice.  I like my Matt's Gnat or Mathew's Zelon midge.

Go get 'em.