Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Tying the Autumn Splendor Streamer

Like I said in recent previous posts, Tim has been looking forward to hitting the streams this fall when the rivers rise and the trout become active for big meals.  Here Tim ties the Autumn Splendor, a perfect pattern for big fish in swollen fall rivers.  This is one fly that will get down to the fish in a hurry.  With all of the rain we are getting (it's about time), this will be a good choice in the next week or two...and beyond.

Sharpen your hooks.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Sunday's Brown

Here's a short video Tim took of the brown trout I caught Sunday evening on the South Branch (see previous post).

Sharpen your hooks!

Monday, September 21, 2015

Unstructured Time - We Fished!

Late Sunday afternoon I got the bug to fish after spending the weekend working outside and playing some golf.  I knew the river would be super low, but also knew the recent chilly nights and warm but not hot days would keep the water temperatures cool enough for the fish.  When I got to the river it was about 5:30 PM and Mr. Tightline Productions, Tim Flagler, was already there getting geared up. Tim is one of those guys that even though we hadn't talked in a few weeks, we just pick things up where we left off and move forward.  By the time we had our gear on and rods rigged, we covered a lot of ground both literally and figuratively.

It was a beautiful late summer evening with clear skies, the sun low in the Western sky, and a light cool breeze carried the undeniable smells of Autumn - drying corn fields, freshly cut straw and hay, and leaves nearing their last days of forming canopies to protect shade lovers from the high sun of summertime.  When we walked up the river, I was stunned at how low the water level was. I dropped my thermometer in and after a few minutes checked it to find temperatures in the mid 60 degree F range. After a quick assessment, we decided to head downstream to a few deeper runs and pockets.

I stopped at a deep pool that had good flow and was in the shade.  Tim continued downstream a bit intending to hit a few relatively deep riffles and runs.  After watching the water for a few minutes I decided to tie on a small, weighted Walt's Worm since no bugs were in the air or on the water.  My leader was about 10-11 feet long, tapered to 5X.  I did not add any weight to the tippet, the current was slow enough I thought that the weight of the fly would get it down naturally if I cast it carefully with a slight upstream mend.  On the second cast, after a short drift, my line twitched ever so slightly and I set firmly into the jaw of what turned out to be a good-sized, beautifully colored pre-spawn brown trout.

I worked the pool slowly after that continually watching the water surface for rising fish, but to no avail.  There were a few dark caddis in the air by now and some late season light cahill spinners.  As the sun fell and the sky darkened, random fish would rise here and there, but they were all "one-and-done". So I patiently plied the currents with the small nymph working hard to maintain drag-free drifts in differing levels of the water column.  After some time I was rewarded with a nice rainbow trout that was a few inches bigger than the brown that was strong and determined, jumping several times before I got it to net.

Soon Tim had headed back up and when he reached me he told of a couple of decent fish he caught, also on subsurface flies.  We had only fished for about an hour and a half, but it was wonderful to be back on the water immersed in the subtleties of flowing water and all that thrives above and within it. The time is unstructured, but everything else is clearly defined by the ever changing boundaries of nature.

Sharpen your hooks.        

Sunday, September 20, 2015

The Red Quill

Here's one of my favorite traditional Catskill dry flies, the Red Quill.  It imitates the male Hendrickson, Ephemerella subvaria, mayfly that hatches in mid-April here in New Jersey.  There is something very special to me about tying and fishing these patterns that I can only describe as being akin to eating comfort food - everything in life just seems balanced and peaceful. 

(Click on photo to enlarge)
Sharpen your hooks!

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Tying Vinnie's Isonychia Nymph

This is what we are tying in anticipation of Autumn fishing; its a pattern my buddy Vincent came up with some years ago that works quite well.  You can tie it as shown, or wrap some wire weight along the shank to give it some mass so it gets down quickly in the fast runs and pockets where the naturals are found.  I tie it both with and without weight - for the weighted ones I tie in a short length of red thread on the bottom of the head so I can tell which is which.  If you like to fish two flies, a weighted Iso nymph is a great anchor fly.  For your dropper fly, go with something small like a pheasant tail, RS2 or some other midge pattern you have confidence in.

Any 2X long nymph hook in sizes #10-14 will do.  And yes, I used 6/0 Danville black thread......sometimes you have to give the olive thread a day off.

Sharpen your hooks!   

Monday, September 14, 2015

Henley and Matt

Hopefully we'll be fishing this coming weekend now that things have cooled and rains have brought the rivers up.  In the meantime, I thought I would share this picture my oldest daughter took of my son walking with the little man at the Bronx zoo last weekend.  

Sunday, September 13, 2015

NJ Wild Trout Stream Challenge

Fly Fishers Wanted: New Jersey’s self-sustaining wild trout populations are looking for a few good champions. 

The NJ Highlands Coalition is looking for a few good anglers to participate in the first annual NJ Highlands Wild Trout Stream Invitational Fly Fishing Event, to be held on Saturday, October 17, 2015, rain or shine. This catch-and-release event is being sponsored by the NJ Highlands Coalition and coordinated by Shannon’s Fly & Tackle Shop. For the inaugural event, the objective is to promote public awareness of New Jersey’s official freshwater fish – the eastern brook trout, Salvelinus Fontinalis. Unlike most tournament-style contests in which the angler with the largest or most fish wins, this event is intended to promote public awareness of the state’s officially designated wild trout streams and their resident wild trout populations. The steam producing the largest number of wild trout will be declared the winner, and the anglers whose numbers have contributed to the winner will be recognized for championing the stream.

The event is open to twelve (12) self-selected two person teams, first come, first served. There will be no rain date, and the event will be cancelled in event of flooding, hazardous weather, or poor stream flow or temperature conditions. Anglers will meet at the Raritan Inn, 528 CR 513, Califon, at 8 AM on the morning of the event for orientation. A registration fee of $50 per angler will be collected then. Please contact George Cassa at (908) 892-6238 (cell) or by email at to reserve a spot for your team or to request additional information.

On the morning of the event, each team will draw an envelope containing the names of two streams together with map, driving directions, parking and access information. Each team will be assigned a morning stream, to be fished from 9 AM until noon, and an afternoon stream, to be fished from 1 PM until 4 PM. Each team will keep track of its own number of brook, rainbow, and brown trout caught and released.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

The Kintner Boy - A Fly Tying Video

Yep, we got some rain today.  Quite a bit, too.  The ground was thirsty though and sucked it all up. The rivers gathered what they could, but it didn't amount to much.   Tim must have known this would be the case; here's a panfish/bass fly he demonstrates along with some cool footage of its effectiveness.  Seems that Kintner Boy can't get a break; first it was sharks, now it's bass and panfish.

In a summer of no rain and low water, this fly is the JAWS of life for many fly fishers.

Sharpen your hooks.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Journey On - Life in The Lamar Valley

The Lamar Valley in Yellowstone National Park is a special place where the great fishing is made all the more wonderful by the valley's beauty.  A vast valley that is home to herds of buffalo, grizzly bears, and cutthroat trout filled rivers and streams that is lined by majestic mountains that reach for the big sky in all directions. Watching this video reminds that I must go back there very soon.

Sharpen your hooks.

Tying the Shakey Bealy

The South Branch is at historical record lows right now - the mean historical flow rate is around 50 cfs, today it was 16 cfs.   Water temperatures are reaching the 80 degree F mark everyday, and we hope the trout are finding refuge over springs and in deeper holes.  We also hope anglers are using their better judgement and not fishing.   We certainly are not fishing, but Tim Flagler is still looking forward with optimism to the fall fishing and better flows. Here he ties a fall soft hackle pattern designed by the late Nick Nicklas of Blue Ribbon Flies in West Yellowstone, MT, originally for the big fall run trout that swim up the Madison River from Hebgen Lake into the upper river in the park. Tied in the sizes Tim shows here, it's a good fall pattern in the East, too.  Tie some up!

Sharpen your hooks and do a rain dance.