Monday, March 31, 2014

Upper South Branch of the Raritan River Trout Stocking

Due to an outbreak of of a fish disease at the Pequest Hatchery, the Upper South Branch of the Raritan river is not going to be stocked by the state this spring from the river's source in Budd Lake downstream to the lower end of the Ken Lockwood Gorge - some 20 or so miles of river. This stretch of the river is home to wild brown, brook and rainbow trout, and the state does not want to infect these wild fish by introducing trout that may be diseased.  This stretch of water, particularly the Ken Lockwood Gorge, is one of the state's most popular trout fly fishing destinations owing to good hatches and plenty of access.

Thanks to Shannon's Fly and Tackle Shop in Califon, and other local merchants, and many individuals, this stretch of water will be stocked this spring with trout from a private hatchery. Shannon's has set up a link on their website to take donations, and many area merchants have donation boxes on their counters. Here's a short video Tightline Productions has produced on the campaign.


Saturday, March 29, 2014

Blue Red Quill........

It must be the long winter, and now the rain, that is making me a little, wait, I'm a fly fisherman, it comes with the territory.  I picked up this beautiful, blue dyed Whiting grizzly hackle cape today for tying salmon flies, and when I saw the quality of the hackle, I had to tie a Catskill style dry fly with it.  So here goes, a blue Red Quill.  Imagine if that hackle was medium blue dun?  It sure will tie some nice salmon flies, but this is one ugly fly that most likely will never see a trout stream.

Sharpen your hooks!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Tying the Red Quill

When winter fades and the days warm the flowing waters of the Northeast, something miraculous happens on our trout streams. The aquatic nymphs of the mayfly called Ephemerella subvaria by the scientific community, mature and hatch into winged insects we fly fishers call Red Quills and Hendricksons.  The Hendrickson and its imitation represent the female of the species, and the Red Quill the male.  When this happens, the trout just happen to be getting their spring appetites up and running, creating ideal conditions for the fly angler. 

Last year we did a video on how we tie the Hendrickson, and now we complete the pair with the Red Quill. Both flies being tied in the Catskill style tradition of fly tying.  We typically tie the Hendrickson in a size #12, and the Red Quill in a size #12, and more often a size #14, the male being smaller than its counterpart.

Here's a photo of a natural Red Quill, taken by our friend Dennis Cabarle, somewhere along the Upper Delaware River.  Unlike many of the mayflies, the male and female of this species are distinctly different. While the male is smaller and a deep mahogany color, the female is larger, has small eyes, and its body is a grayish tan with hint of pink.  Both are wonders of the natural world that fish and fisherman alike look forward to seeing each and every year.      

In New Jersey, this species typically hatches in April, usually around the 10-12th of the month.  And in the Catskills, late April and early May, depending on the river and water temperatures.

Thanks to Tim and Joan Flagler for another fine video production.  If you all knew how much time and effort Tim puts into editing these videos, you would truly be amazed.  I just tie the fly, he does the hard stuff, and he does it as well as it can be done.....I may do some voodoo when I tie, but what Tim does is magic.

Sharpen your hooks!  

Monday, March 24, 2014

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Tying the Bivisible

Here Tim Flagler ties a classic pattern and also provides some helpful information on hackle and winding it, particularly the importance of having a uniform, level thread base to wrap your hackle over to avoid getting splayed fibers as you wrap.     

Sharpen your hooks!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Spring is Finally Here

We have had a very long, cold winter, but today we celebrate the sun passing over the equator on it's journey northward to bring us longer, warmer days.  I'm sure winter will try to come in the back door once or twice more, but it will be short lived, and besides we have the sun on our side now. Most of the snow pack has melted, and the rivers are in good shape.  With any luck this spring should bring us normal water levels around here and decent hatches to fish over.

We had some fairly heavy rains last night, which brought the river levels up quite a bit; you can bet they look like chocolate milk right now.  If they come down and clear by the weekend, we'll try to get some time in on the water and report back to you all with a long overdue fishing report!

Sharpen your hooks!

P.S. My daughter Leigh was taking Henley for a walk today and snapped this photo with her cell phone of a gator next to the pond near her apartment.  I just got back from visiting them yesterday, and the only thing we saw was a cold rain the whole time.  I'll just have to go back soon.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Shannon's Hot Stove Evening - "Match the Hatch"

Tim Flagler of Tightline Productions and Jim Holland of Shannon's Fly & Tackle Shop in Califon will be giving a presentation on early spring hatches titled "Match the Hatch" on Thursday March 20th. The event will begin at 6:00 pm at the Raritan Inn in Califon.

Tim is local to the area and has been fly fishing and fly tying for better than 30 years. He is also a video producer and his fly tying videos appear weekly on the Orvis News blog, MidCurrent, Caddis Chronicles, Global Fly Fisher as well as many other websites.

Jim, co-owner of Shannon's Fly & Tackle, has been fishing and fly fishing his whole life. In addition to his full time job as a teacher, Jim writes a fly fishing column "What's Hatching" for the Black River Journal.

Tim & Jim will be demonstrating simple, stream sampling techniques that allow anglers to directly observe what types of food are available to trout at a given time of year. Specifically, they'll be discussing early spring. Having observed what's available, participants will then be coached through tying several imitations.

Cost of the evening is $50.00 per person ($30.00 for members) and includes dinner and tying materials. Please bring vise, tools and thread.

Contact Shannon's for more information and to register at (908) 832-5736

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Witness To Another Miracle

Like so many others before me, I have had the good fortune in my 55 years to have 3 beautiful children, who are now grown and doing well on their own.  Yesterday, I flew down to Charleston, SC, where I got to hold the forth miracle in my life, my daughter's son, Henley. There are no words to describe the wave of emotions that wash over ones soul when their child bears a child; here's a picture to speak those 1000 words.

Friday, March 14, 2014


Our young friend Doug Freemann and his fishing buddies, Rob, Bryson and Alex, have started their own blog "thingy" as Doug calls it. It's called Barb-Free, and will feature writing and photos of their fly fishing adventures, fly tying and other fly fishing related subjects, as experienced by four teenage boys that prefer to be distracted by the outdoors, cool waters and trout, instead of a computer monitor.

You can check it out here: Barb-Free

Wish the boys luck this weekend, as all four of them will be fishing in the Trout Legend comp on the Gunpowder River in Maryland Saturday.  Go get 'em boys!  We will look forward to reading about it on Barb-Free in the coming days.

Sharpen your hooks!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Tying Matt's Cinder Worm

We changed things up with this video, going with a saltwater pattern I designed some 20 years ago or so.   Cinder Worms "hatch" in the Northeast early in the striper season - late April through July as you go northward up the coast - and when they do, striped bass go bonkers for them as they drift to the surface en masse under the cover of darkness.  

After getting frustrated one evening while stripers boiled all around us without even a hit on the flies we were using, I vowed to come back the next evening with a suitable imitation.  At the time, a friend of mine was experimenting making furled leaders.  After watching him furl (twist) the leader materials into a tight, strong leader the next day, it occurred to me that I could apply the same technique to a fly to create a worm-like body.  The trick to it is simply to twist the dubbing loop of SLF fairly tight, so that when you fold it in half, it furls back on itself.  And, the bass took the fly like candy the next night. 

The technique can be applied to any worm-like pattern.  I use this technique to tie a sand worm, also for striped bass, except that I tie in dumbbell eyes at the head, eliminate the deer hair, and wrap the dubbing noodle all the way to the eye.  For these two flies, make sure you tie them with SLF, I've tried other materials, and none seem to work nearly as effectively.

Thanks again to Tim and Joan Flagler of Tightline Productions for another fine video.

Sharpen your hooks!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Atlantic Salmon in Iceland - Awesome Footage

I think I need to talk to Doug about putting away his comp nymphs and taking a trip to Iceland after seeing this video........ 

Sharpen your hooks!

Monday, March 3, 2014

Lancaster Fly Fishing Show

We had a great time this past weekend at the Fly Fishing Show, the last one of the season, tying flies and catching up with many of our friends from Pennsylvania.  Things were steady all day Saturday, and we tied lots of flies and rarely got to stray from our tying station during the day. The fly tying seminar I did on extended-body mayflies went well, with good crowd showing up to watch and ask questions.  I was paired with Bob Popovics at the tying station on the exhibit floor, and we had great time talking shop and sharing our latest fly patterns. On Saturday evening, 25 of us descended on the local Irish restaurant for dinner and libations.

Sunday was fairly busy in the morning, but I think the weatherman scared a lot of folks away in the afternoon.  The afternoon was bittersweet, with Joe Humphrey's doing his last casting seminar of his long and stellar career teaching fly fishing and doing the shows.  At 89 young years old he is retiring and we will miss him and his wonderful personality, big smile, and his gift for teaching folks of any age and in every walk of life, the joys of fishing with a fly rod.  We watched the entire demonstration and took it all in as though it was the first time.  We will miss you, Joe.

While we were inside at the show doing our thing, Doug was down in West Virginia fishing in a Trout Legend competition both days.  He did well, placing 15th in a field of 40, on rivers he had never fished before.  He said it was very challenging, yet he managed to take fish in every session - nice going Doug. 

Finally, I'm going to finish with this photo my grandson Henley doing what he does best.

Sharpen your hooks.