Saturday, December 31, 2016

Goodbye 2016

It was a very good year for us personally and we have much to be thankful for: a good job, new grandson, wonderful kids, my son is fishing again, good friends and our health.  Let's hope the rains come, the rivers rise, and we fish more in 2017 - and we'll blog more, promise.

Photo: Audun Rikardsen - Link
  Sharpen your hooks.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

A Chilly Outing

Monday December 26, 2016 -

I finally got on the water at around 3:30 pm.  You see, I had arrived at the river about a half hour before that, put on my waders and vest, only to find that in my haste to get out of the house I forgot to put my rods in the trunk of my car with the rest of my gear. Thankfully, I live only 10 minutes from the South Branch of the Raritan River, so I still had time to get in an hour or so of fishing before darkness set in.

The air was calm, 36 degrees F, and a light mist fell softly making for a raw but pleasant late afternoon on the water.  Did I say that?  Yes, sometimes it feels good to stand in a quiet stream, the cold, heavy air pinching at the bare skin on your face and hands.  It reminds me that I'm lucky to be alive and that all my senses work; it reverses the numbness that sometimes takes over the rest of my daily life.

The river was clear, sort of low for this time of the year, and right around 41 degrees F.  I was fishing my 10 foot, 3 weight, which has become my favorite rod to fish when the air is calm.  It even casts quite well in a light breeze, and has enough punch to turnover a hand-tied leader and small dry in those same conditions. Nothing was rising nor were there any bugs on the water or in the air, as you might have guessed.  So I tied on about 2 feet of fresh 5x tippet to the end of my already 10 foot leader, before tying on a size #16, green, beadhead Matt's Buzzer. The flow of the river across from where I was standing, and where I believed the trout would be holding, was fairly consistent so I dispensed with adding split shot to the tippet and fished by following my fairly straight line and leader with my rod tip, after throwing an upstream mend with each cast.

After about 10 minutes, and a single take that I missed, I decided to switch flies and tied on a #14 weighted Walt's Worm.  I fished this fly the same as I did the buzzer, and took a short step downstream after every few casts.  A few minutes into it, I had a solid take and after a brief fight landed a very dark brown trout that was about 11 inches in length.  I'm pretty sure this was one of the fish from Shannon's Christmas Stocking a few days earlier.

Another fine photo by M. Grobert
I covered most of the length of the pool in about 20 minutes, and although I didn't hook any more fish, I did see a number of fish move and flash in the clear water.  Being that the day was closing in on dusk, I decided to go back up to the top of the run, after which I shortened my tippet and tied on a black beadhead krystal bugger size #6.  Its one of the few streamer type flies I carry now, and with it, I can cover a lot of water in a short period of time.

I cast it right up against the bank, sometimes landing the fly on the rocks or in the brush, and if that happened I'd give it a brisk snap with the rod tip to pop it back into the river.  Either way, once the fly landed, I'd begin stripping it in short, quick strokes with my rod tip low, perpendicular to the flow.  And the fish couldn't resist it.  They came off the bottom like a torpedo to chase it, often hitting it short before turning and sliding back down to their holding position.

It was crazy streamer fishing from that point on, with fish chasing the fly on every retrieve.  I worked every inch of the water, stepping downstream every few casts.  I slowed up slightly, and began hooking up and landing fish.  More often than not, the strikes were short grabs of the marabou tail, but when they wanted the fly, they took it in and stopped its forward motion instantly.  In the last half hour of light I hooked 9 or 10 fish, and landed 6.  As the light faded, a hard take separated my tippet from the fly and I called it a day.

Sharpen your hooks!   

Monday, December 26, 2016

Shannon's Christmas Stocking 2016

A few days ago Shannon's Fly Shop stocked the Califon, NJ section of the South Branch of the Raritan River with a load of browns, rainbows and few tiger trout.  Many of the fish are bruisers, and two of them they refer to as Bubba brown and Bubba rainbow, have jaw tags. 

Catch the Bubba with a jaw tag, release the fish and bring the tag to Shannon's, and you'll win a GLoomis Pro 4X fly rod!  Tim put together this quick video that's sure to get folks out on the water this winter.

Sharpen your hooks!

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Merry Christmas/Happy Hannukkah Everyone

Bryson Carey Reed

And little man, Henley.   

Sharpen your hooks!

Friday, December 23, 2016

A Metaphor

When we cast our fly line, we first accelerate our fly rod backwards, then pause, before briskly moving it forward, only to pause again to let the line straighten out before repeating the process.  The goal is that we want to maintain a rhythm that keeps the line airborne within a vertical plane.  The more line you have in the air, the longer you must pause before resuming movement.  Life is like that, and lately, I have had a lot of line in the air.  Thus the recent long pause.

From early August until early November, I went through the longest non-fishing period in my life since I was a little kid - three months without casting a rod.  The last time that happened had to be over 40 years ago.  When I got back from Montana in early August, all of our local rivers were low and too warm to fish for trout.  Since that time, we have been in a drought situation with the rivers at record low flows, and that combined with a busy work and personal schedule kept me off the water.  

Since then I have fished several times on local waters, and I've been fortunate to have come across rising fish.  My son has fished quite a bit, too, and he has had a few very good days fishing nymphs. All of my fish have come on the Simple Snowshoe Emerger.  With the low, clear but very cool water conditions I've had to employ a long leader and 6X tippet.  The trick is to find rising fish while still on the bank, and then you find the best entry point and very, very slowly make your way to your position before literally planting your feet and not moving them or your legs to allow any wake you made to subside.  When you cast, make every effort not to move your lower body - you'll be amazed at how quickly these skittish fish will go down with too much movement (or a sloppy cast).

In other news, I still haven't fished with a Mop fly.  We participated in the International Fly Tying Symposium the weekend before Thanksgiving. There I did a few seminars and I tied with Tim Flagler, and to my left was John Collins of the electric fly design.  See photo below of one of his wet flies.  My new grandson, Bryson, is doing great, and so is his older brother Henley.  I'll post some photos soon.

Despite working quite a bit, I have been tying regularly, which is always good for the soul.  It's been an almost daily activity since I was about 10 years old, some 48 years, and I still love the whole process of tying and imitating fish foods.

In fact, I'm going to sign off now and head over to Tim's to do another tying video.   Look for it in a week or two.

Happy Holidays to you and your family.