Showing posts with label Dry Fly Fishing. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Dry Fly Fishing. Show all posts

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

The Green Drake - Sweden

The Green Drake, or the Ephemera danica, is the largest mayfly in Sweden. When it hatches, a short period in late May to early June, the trout goes crazy. Even the biggest trout come out and feed on the juicy insects, and when that happens the fly fisherman should be on the river bank.

Sharpen your hooks.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Happy Father's Day

Happy Father's Day to all of the dads out there!

I had an early Father's Day last weekend with my son, Hunt, who came down from Boston to fish with me and some of our friends in the Catskills.  Hunt worked until 5 before driving down so Friday evening I fished with Steve on the East Branch of the Delaware River.  It was a beautiful time to be on the river with barely a breeze, warm at first, and clear.  As the dusk settled in, the air cooled and sulphurs, isonychias, gray fox, green drakes and caddis hatched sporadically but the fish didn't cooperate beyond a bunch of one-and-done rises that were little more than a tease.  When the sun dropped below the mountains, the sky above us filled with march brown spinners.  The spinners hadn't dropped to the water by the time darkness set in so we packed it in and went to get some dinner and get back to the cabin before Hunt arrived.

(Click image to enlarge)
Here's a march brown spinners that greeted us under the cabin lights.  Check out the length of those tails! 

We were also greeted by this giant cream pattern-wing sedge - Hydatophylax sp. These are very large caddisflies - this one is a good 1.5 inches long! Over 2" including antennae.

Saturday we fished in the morning hitting many pools on the Beaverkill, but the bugs were sparse and with that very few fish were rising.  Being June, we had no interest in fishing nymphs so by early afternoon we called it quits and went back to the cabin to tie some flies for the evening and catch up with Hunt on the last few months in Boston and his new job.

Saturday evening the bugs really didn't get going until dusk, but when they did the fish responded and we took a few nice browns on Iris Caddis fished in the film.

On Sunday morning we fished a bugless Beavekill.  We hit a bunch of pools and all were pretty quiet.  We saw very few anglers as a result.  In the early afternoon though, we noticed a couple of fish working right off the far bank of a wide, flat pool and Hunt decided to see if he could reach them with a biot body/cdc wing cornuta spinner.  He worked hard, making 50' + casts, and over about 20 minutes or so managed to get a couple of soft takes but no hook ups.  Determined, he changed position to get above the fish a little more and after a short while he got a solid hook up that he brought to net to finish up a great weekend.

The only thing missing were Hunt's two sisters, Megan and Leigh, who are always with us in spirit when we fish.

Hunt, Leigh, Captain, Michael and Megan
Have a great day everyone!

Monday, June 4, 2018

It's Green Drake Time

It's hatch time all over the Northeast and our buddy Vinnie got in on the action Saturday catching a couple of nice browns on a green drake emerger while fishing the Upper Delaware River system.

Sharpen your hooks.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

It's Dry Fly Time!

Sorry for the lack of posts here in recent weeks - lots of working, fishing, social crap and tying, but not much time for blogging, although I'd rather be writing than doing the social thing. Not that I don't like people, I just prefer them in small quantities and doses.  And besides, I would much rather listen to the chatter of the birds mixed with the sounds of  the river with no one in sight.   

Locally, things have warmed up nicely and the rivers are at good levels and clear.  The sulphurs have been hatching great this past week with evening spinner falls that rival those of memories past.  There are also good numbers of caddis about, including the egg laying grannoms mixed in with the sulphurs at dusk. Most of the sulphurs are a size 16 and and 18, with some of the larger size 14 mixed in. Here's a great shot of an orange sulphur or pink lady, Epeorus vitreus taken by our friend John Collins, aka Electric Tyer.  This fly looks very much like the pink cahill (Stenacron interpunctatum) that also hatches around now, both a size #14, but with the cahill the fore-wings have distinct dark markings/mottling along the forward edge, and the wings have a pale creamy-yellow cast to them.  For the angler, the pink cahill covers both flies nicely.  

During the day the sulphur nymphs are very active before they begin hatching and fishing a pheasant tail nymph or sulphur nymph can be very productive before hatching begins typically in the early evening.  With all the different caddis hatching right now, an iris caddis fished wet during the day, and as a dry in the film in the evening if nothing else is hatching, can also be very effective.  This fly has become one of my most productive flies over the years fished wet or dry.  I highly recommend it.

Up in the Catskills and in the Poconos, the rivers are fairly high but clear with all kinds of bugs hatching.  The march browns are showing along with the ever present blue-winged olives, particularly on overcast or showery days.  The little dark grannoms (#18) and the lighter of the species, the apple caddis, have been hatching well.  Lighter tan caddis (#14-16) are also about in good numbers.  In the evening be prepared with some egg laying caddis near dusk as some evenings the fish will take them over all the other bugs floating over their heads. AND if you are on any river in the region make sure you have rusty spinners in #12-16 as there have been lots of them showing on the calmer evenings.

The walk to a lesser known pool in the Catskills in a soft rain.

Sharpen your hooks!

Saturday, May 19, 2018

The Catskills

Last weekend we went up to the Catskills again and fished the Beaverkill River both Friday and Saturday before a steady cold rain chased us off the river.  The fishing was good and the hatches mixed; at times there were a half dozen different insects hatching.  When I say the fishing was good, it wasn't easy, just rewarding with some good sized fish brought to net.  On Friday there were Hendricksons, and Blue Quills, Early Brown Stoneflies, Dark Grannoms and Apple Caddis hatching.  Like the previous weekend, it was almost like the trout took turns rising, and I rarely had more than two fish rising within casting distance.  The rises varied; some were splashy and quick (taking caddis), while others were very subtle, barely breaking the surface (taking emergers).  I took a few nice fish on my Apple Caddis emerger, and a few on a Hendrickson Sparkle Dun.

Matt's Apple Caddis Emerger

The Apple Caddis emerger can be fished wet swinging it as you would a soft hackle fly, or as an emerger/dry right in the surface film.  I took the brown above fishing it in the film over a quick, splashy rise in a seam along a fast riffle.

On Saturday we woke to light rain and chilly air temperatures.  After tying a bunch of flies and then having breakfast with the others, I headed back to the river about midday, while the other guys stayed back in the comfort of the cabin.  Hardly anyone was on the river as a steady rain fell.  When I got to the river bank after gearing up I walked up to the head of pool where I had the river all to myself. I few Blue-winged Olives were hatching and after my eyes adjusted to the light and conditions on the water, I saw fish rise above me as I waded out from the bank.  I tied on a BWO sparkle emerger and after a couple of casts over the fish it took the fly.  I landed the nice brown and released it quickly.

Within a short while, depsite the steady rain and chill, there were Hendricksons, and Blue Quills, Early Brown Stoneflies, Dark Grannoms, Quill Gordons and Blue-winged Olives hatching.  The Olives were the most abundant, but after observing different rising fish, it was evident the fish were taking whatever insect happened to drift over them when they were ready to eat.  My olive emerger was soaked so I tied on a Hendrickson sparkle dun and when I looked up I saw a head-dorsal-tail rise of a nice fish about 30 feet out in a slick.  I made a couple of tests casts and once I saw my fly was riding as I wanted, I made a cast to the top of the slick.  The fish rose, I set, and it took my line half way across the river in a flash.  I then got control and gained line on the beast before it made a shorter run.  We did this dance a few more times before I netted the fish you see below.

I managed to bring an other ten fish or so to net before I was thoroughly soaked and my hands stiff from the cold.  The rain was falling harder by now and I had a good day on the water, so i called it quits.  When I got back to the cabin the others had already left, so I packed my things and headed home knowing the forecast called for rain the rest of the day.

Sharpen your hooks.            

Friday, April 27, 2018

The Day Spring Arrived

Sunday morning arrived like no other day we have had so far this year.  It was warm, the cloudless sky was deep blue, and the air had the unmistakable smell of fresh blooms and trees beginning to bud. Daffodils, tulips and forsythia were in full flower while robins, cardinals and other songbirds brought their chorus to the proceedings.  Even better, we met my son Matt and his girlfriend Kelly for brunch and spent a couple of hours catching up and hearing about his new life in Boston.  It was a wonderful time, too short, but they had a long drive home and he had to go to work at 2:00AM.

Fast forward to mid-afternoon Sunday.  When I got to the river around 3:00 PM, the sun was bright through a cloudless sky and a light breeze cooled the warm air.  The water was near perfect; clear with a strong spring flow, and in the low 50's F.   I was a little hyped up after seeing all those hendricksons the day before on the river, and the kid in me was enjoying every moment.  After rigging up my rod, I sat on the bank and watched the water for bugs and risers while I peeled and ate a clementine.  The river was quiet, but it was still early, and my expectations were high.

After a short while of watching and not seeing anything on the water, I tied a #12 soft hackle pheasant tail to the end of my 5X tippet and added some shot about 8" above the fly - this is my go-to  hendrickson emerger.  I waded out and began dead drifting the fly up and across before letting it swing below me in the current so it would rise to the surface as the line tightened.  After a few casts I stepped upstream some and cast above a seam on the far side of the river.  It took a few drifts to get the fly to drop into the pocket, but once I figured it out I took two stocked rainbows a few minutes apart.  One of the fish I thought was a koi at first, but it was this mutant instead.

As the time passed I began to notice some hendricksons drifting my me as well as some dark grannoms in the air.  Nothing rose to the hendricksons despite what seemed to me to be perfect conditions.  The insects were riding the water surface for long periods before taking flight giving the trout plenty of time to rise up and sip the in.  I didn't see a single rise though in the first hour or so of fishing.

Experience has taught me that often when flies are the water and trout are not rising to them in one stretch, another stretch may have actively feeding fish.  So I climbed the bank and walked upstream through the brush and over dead falls to a couple of pools that I thought might have some action.  When I got to the edge of the water I stood and watched the water in the pool in front of me, and the lower end of the one above.  After a few minutes, a trout rose in the tail of the pool above where I was right where the water transitions into the pool I was standing next to.  A short count later it rose again, so I took the shot of my leader, checked my knot at the fly and made sure the hook point was sharp before slowly stepping up the bank to where I could get a good cast above the target. This fish was hungry.  My first cast landed about 2 feet above the fish and it didn't hesitate.  It moved to the fly and took it in a splashy rise, I lifted the rod, and was tight to what turned out to be a nice rainbow trout.

Over the next hour and a half hendricksons hatched sporadically and those that took their time getting off the water where summarily taken from below.  Although the hatch was waning, there were enough to elicit takes, thus I had enough targets to keep things interesting.  I took 6 more trout, all on the same soft hackle emerger fished in the film.  My leader was 12-13 feet long, with the tippet being about 3 feet of 5X, and even without wading over my ankles (which helps a lot on this river), none of my casts were over 30 feet or so.

Sharpen your hooks.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Another Easter to Remember

After Easter brunch this past Sunday, I headed to the South Branch to wet a line just as I have done on this holiday for many years.  Every time I fish on Easter I do it with my daughter Megan in mind.  You see, when she was ten years old, Vinnie and I took Megan fishing after Easter dinner to get both of us out of the house for a while so her younger brother and sister could nap.  We took her to a trout stocked pond in Sussex County and we had the whole place to ourselves.  That windless day in the fog and drizzle, while standing on the muddy bank of the pond, Megan caught seven good sized rainbow trout on a black woolley bugger.  I helped her cast the fly out and then she did the rest and giggled each time she hooked up. That afternoon and her big, dimpled smile is etched in my mind forever - I remember it as though it happened yesterday.  

This year I went alone except for the black woolley bugger in my vest from that day some twenty plus years ago.  That fly, along with one my daughter Leigh tied, and a few my son Matt tied, go along with me on every fishing trip.  The day was mostly sunny, cool and breezy with brief periods of calm.  The river was clear, cold and at a nice level for the 1st of April.  I started out fishing nymphs and after about an hour or so without a hit, I decided to tie on a black woolly bugger and see if the past would repeat itself.

As the afternoon moved on I started to see some dark grannoms in the air and a few blue-winged olives. When the breeze stopped for a few moments, quite a few little black stonefly females fluttered down from the tree branches and did their clumsy dance on the water surface as they attempted to drop their eggs.  I watched the bugs as they mostly drifted along untouched except for an occasional slashing take that was never repeated in the same location.  That is until a fish began rising steadily directly across the pool from me.

I quickly removed the tippet and the bugger from my leader, added a couple of sections to it and a 2 foot length of 6X, and tied on a #14 gray X-caddis.  After a couple of test casts to make sure my leader, tippet and the fly where landing on the water as they should, I made a cast to the rising fish.  My fly landed a foot above but wind blew just as it landed and moved my leader and the fly dragged.  After the fly drifted past the target, I picked it up, made a couple of false casts and with a reach cast dropped the fly  above the fish just after it had rose again.  That fly never had a chance with that winter hungry trout; it went maybe 3 inches before the fish grabbed it and I set the hook.  After a brief tussle, I netted the pretty brown you see above.

As it often happens, more stoneflies began to drop to the water and lay eggs as the sun started to move lower in the sky and with that more fish started to chase them on the surface.  I left the X-caddis on and over the next hour or so I took two more fish, rainbows, by immediately dropping my fly and skittering it over the area where a rise had just occurred.  If you have never taken trout by skittering a fly, when the conditions are right, give it try, the takes are nothing short of an explosion on the fly.

Sharpen your hooks.                            

Monday, March 26, 2018

A One Fly Day

Saturday I took advantage of the nice weather and spent much of it walking the banks of and wading in a few limestone creeks in the Lehigh Valley in Pennsylvania.  It was chilly when I hit the first stream in the late morning, but the sun was bright and quite warm despite the breeze that sometimes kicked up a few notches to a light wind.  The fresh snow of mid-week lay on much of the ground slowly melting, its run off mixing with the creek and coloring it the shade of tea with a touch of milk.  And among the brush and tree roots along the river banks, the first flowers of the year bloomed in small clumps, snowdrops.

At the first stream I fished nymphs in all the runs, pockets and pools that I know from years of fishing this creek hold wild brown trout that range in size from 5 inches to over 20 inches.  I know I was getting my fly deep enough as I lost a few to the rocks that cover the bottom, but the trout just weren't interested.  I even fished a few of Doug Freemann's flies to no avail. After a few hours of getting the skunk I needed to warm up so I walked back to my car, broke my rod down, got in and decided to warm up while I drove to another stream a short distance away.

When I got to the next steam, I was surprised to see only a few anglers spread out over a half mile or so of water.  The sun was high now, and an upside-down, daytime moon hung in the eastern sky looking very white against the deep blue sky.  The river was a little high, clear and a little "warmer" than the first creek I fished at 42 degrees F.  I rigged up again with a small beadhead pheasant tail and drifted it through every seam, foam line and pocket over a few hundred yards of water working upstream.  I switched flies a few times, lost a few, and managed to get one hit that was on for the length of time it takes the fish to turn and show one its tail.

By now it was mid afternoon and it being a beautiful day after several weeks of periodic snow storms, windy days and temperatures below normal, I wasn't going anywhere without catching at least one.  I walked back down stream slowly scanning the banks and foam lines trying to will a trout to show itself.  Sure enough, across a long, slow pool where a partially submerged log created a thin seam below where it split the current, a trout rose and took something off the surface.  A few seconds later it rose again, and I thought, "It looks like a dink, but what the hell."

I quickly redid my leader, added a two foot section of 6X tippet and tied on a #20 Matt's Gnat.  There being a lot of brush along the bank, I had no room for a back cast so I dropped below the fish and waded out far enough that I could get a back cast over the stream below.  My first cast pushed the fly past my target just off of the log, so I let it drift through and below the fish, and the fish rose again.  The next cast was good, but the fly dragged a little and went untouched.  I waited and the fish rose.  The next cast landed about a foot above the fishes last blip, drifted a short way and then was sipped in confidently.   After a spirited battle, I worked my net under the fish and lifted the rainbow you see above.  It measured about 12-13 inches long. I took the pic, removed the fly without touching the fish, and lowered it back into the drink when after a brief rest, it swam out and back to the deep, dark flow along the log.

Over the next hour or so I walked the bank back down to where I started and took two more fish, both browns, and both of them on the same fly I took the first fish on - the fly you see above.  I would have been more than happy to have had headed home with the just the first fish, and really wasn't expecting to see any more rises after that.  Some days are like that; nature gives you a rainbow and a pot of gold.     

Sharpen your hooks.        

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Dispatch From Ed Ostapczuk

Dec. 1st – NJ wild trout stream: Our youngest grandson needed someone to pick him up after school in New Jersey this afternoon, so I volunteered. I did this partly to help family, and partly to attempt to catch a December trout. I had lots of options, for larger fish, both wild browns and rainbows, but I chose to wander a special place instead, in pursuit of little wild brook trout. This is revered soil, steep in American history, paid for dearly by men committed to the ideals of a young nation. Plus I thought I might be able to seduce a few trout on dry flies, maybe for the last time until next spring.

I wandered some trails and found my way down into a hollow. The brook was clear, cold, and very low; somehow I don’t think the Garden State received as much rain as the eastern Catskills did in late October. Fish dimpled as I setup; a few tiny midges buzzed above the brook. Still I attached a #18 Adams, one of my favorite flies for situations like this. Without much effort, I successfully put all these fish down without nicking any. Thus I slowly worked my way up the tiny flow.

Soon I came upon a favorite spot, one that has always produced for me no matter the conditions, one where I think a spring seeps into the brook. Fish dimpled; I nicked two here, then caught my first little wild brook trout, all five inches of a mighty fish.

Continuing on I moved several more fish. Wherever one dimpled, it took my Adams though I fell short of hooking them all. And in likely looking spots, if I twitched the Adams--- a la Leonard Wright, often a fish would appear out of nowhere to grab it. I probably moved about two dozen fish to the dry fly, catching 9 brook trout.

Then around 12:30 conditions changed. For one thing, an overhanging branch stole my only #18 Adams on a sloppy backcast. So I attached a #18 Dorato Hares Ear, but it wasn’t the same, no fault of the pattern I’m sure. Shade creeped throughout the hollow, and masked the brook. Air temperatures dropped, bugs disappeared, and trout stopped rising. This little flow was shutting down for the day.

I spooked a couple more trout in sunlit tailouts, even a fish that probably pushed 8” to 9” long. But I only caught two more brook trout before quitting at 1:15 PM.

Thus today I wandered and fished this hollow for 2¼ hours, catching 11 wild brook trout 4” to 6” long all on dry flies, but only two fish during the last forty-five minutes.

If one has never fished this time of year, or during winter, I feel that angler has truly missed something unique. For one I know when summer fishing at Frost Valley, some days catching trout by the dozens, I often take moments like those for granted and don’t value each individual trout as much as I should. This time of year I believe the angling window of opportunity is very narrow, often one needing to be on the water when fish are active for a limited time. When a trout stream comes alive, when bugs move and fish feed, when a trout--- no matter its size--- puts a bend in one’s rod, and then just like that, everything shuts off for the day, maybe several days, those are magically moments to be appreciated and not diminished.

As Rene Harrop wrote in Trout Hunter, “Treat each trout as an individual and with respect. A wild trout is a worthy opponent; therefore, study it carefully and take nothing for granted.”

Growing up in the Garden State I never knew this environment existed, a sad commentary on my part. For now I’m probably done fishing for December, unless I get a bad case of the piscatorial itch, or we get a very warm day and I try a Catskill stream still open in hopes of finding a few rising trout. But for now, December is in the books.

So that’s it.


Sunday, October 1, 2017

Montana - You Never Know What You Will Get

A week ago today we returned from an 9 day trip to southwest Montana.  We arrived on Saturday the 16th, and after leaving the Bozeman airport and stocking up on food for the week, we hit the highway out to the slide section of the Madison River.  As soon as we got to the mountains, the temperature dropped and the landscape turned white from snow fall earlier that day.  The Madison valley was beautiful and very winter like for September.  After a two hour drive, we reached the cabin far above Raynold's Pass bridge overlooking the Madison River at the base of the mountain where a massive rock slide occurred during the Hebgen Lake/Yellowstone Earthquake of August 1959.  

After unpacking and getting sort of settled in, a couple of the guys got geared up and headed down to the river below the cabin.  Chris and I drove down to fish a favorite section of fast water above Kelly Galloup's Slide Inn that is roughly across the river from the cabin.   At the end of what was a short time on the water, we all had caught a couple of fish.  We ate, then settled down to tie flies and talk about plans for the following day.  

The next day we woke to bright sun and mostly clear skies, and a pretty steady breeze.  We made a quick trip to get breakfast between the lakes, and then after couple of stops to photograph the Madison between the lakes and the snow covered slide, we headed back to the cabin.     

The Madison River between Hebgen Lake and Quake Lake.

Quake Lake and a snow covered slide mountain in the background -  the snow covered area is where the mountain slid away.

That morning all of us fished the fast water, pockets, and long slicks that line the edges of the river,  below the cabin.  A couple of guys went with streamers, and I fished a dark brown #16 serendipity on a short line and did quite well.  All the fish were rainbows that fought hard before being released to fight another day.    

Later that afternoon, we decided to hit the water around Raynold's Pass bridge where the water, while still fast, flattens out enough behind many of the big boulders that we could nymph or fish dries in the event olives hatched.   About mid afternoon, high thin clouds moved over the sun and sure enough blue-winged olives began hatching in numbers, drawing the trout to the surface to feed.  The olives were varied in size, some as large as #18 and others as small as #26.  I chose a #20 improved sparkle dun, which I fished on the end of a 12 foot long leader tipped off with 5X tippet.  The rises were subtle and quick, barely breaking the surface of the fast moving water.  

It took a good, accurate cast, with a drag-free drift to get a look or take. I made many casts onto the fast moving water that didn't hit the spot for every one that did.  With all the currents and slicks between myself and the fish I was constantly moving a little this way, a little that way, until I could find what I thought was the best drift for each fish.  It took lots of line mending and leader tweaking, which was great fun and exactly the kind challenge that takes me to another place and soothes the soul like few other things in life do.  I took as many fish that afternoon/evening as I did in the morning on nymphs, only this time I saw each and every one of my targets.

It was a great start to what turned out to be a tough week of fishing thanks to the fickle weather of Montana.  More to come, stay tuned.

And sharpen your hooks!   

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

An August Afternoon on the River

After getting a few things done around the house Sunday morning, I had some lunch before the call of the river had me heading to the South Branch to wet a line.  The last few nights had been very cool, and that day we had high thin clouds filtering the high sun and perfect temperatures for October in August.  After getting set up, I took the water temperature and it was a comfy 65 degrees F.  This is one of my favorite times of the year to fish - water and air temperatures are such that you can literally immerse yourself in the river by wet wading.     

I started well above the Ken Lockwood Gorge section of the river intending to work my way down into the gorge and then back up.  I really had no goals in mind except to take a long walk/wade in the river on a beautiful day and take in the sights and sounds of the woods; and if a trout should take my fly that would be icing on the cake.  Initially, I had an iris caddis on the end of my tippet, which I fished wet.  I took a couple of rainbows in the first few runs and as I was moving down to fish the next run, a fish rose on the far bank under a clump of multiflora rose bushes overhanging a soft spot in the current.

I quickly cut off the iris caddis, changed tippets to a long 6x, and tied on a #20 Matt's Gnat.  This is my go-to fly when I don't see anything on the water and conditions are such that subtlety is required - slow, clear water flowing like it is thicker than it really is.  I cast the fly well up above where I saw the rise to get a read on how it looked and floated on the water, before lifting and making a couple of quick false casts and then dropping the fly above the fish.  The fly floated along unmolested, so I picked it up and in one motion dropped it a little further above the first spot.  It drifted less than a foot before it was grabbed by a wild brown that after a brief battle measured about 8 inches long.

From that point on decided I would only fish the dry for the rest of the outing.  Over the next 4 hours I waded and walked (around other anglers) my way to the bottom of the gorge before turning and heading back up river.  I fished only the shallower riffles, runs and pockets that most anglers pass on and took quite a few rainbows and wild browns, nothing over 10 inches. As I moved along, I dropped the fly in every foam line that flowed below rocks over the darker river bottom made up of small cobble and stone.  I rarely saw the trout, as they blended in well with the bottom.  It was all about making a solid first cast along with the knowledge/confidence that many of these runs held at least one fish.  I fished this one fly the whole time, retying it on to the tippet after every few fish, and I don't think I made a cast over 20 feet.         

It was one of those days that is very satisfying, not only because of the weather, but especially because my low expectations were met with good results.

Sharpen your hooks.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Another Weekend In the Catskills

Last weekend we headed up to the Catskills again with the usual characters.  This time though, after fishing Saturday evening, the four of us were joined in the evening by seven anglers from Rahway River Trout Unlimited, making for a crowded cabin on Saturday night.  It worked out great though with everyone pitching in with the burger and dog dinner, before we settled in around the fire and talked fishing, fly tying and music.  A few guys had to camp out on the floor in their sleeping bags, but no one seemed to mind.

Earlier, we fished a favorite pool on the Beaverkill, where the sparse hatches of sulphurs, caddis and tiny blue-winged olives brought trout and shad to the surface.  At dusk light cahills began hatching and in the dark we could hear quite a few fish working the surface.  We had a good evening with a couple of trout and two shad, one that was good sized and battled hard despite having swam over 300 miles up the Delaware then the East Branch before taking my Iris Caddis on the lower Beaverkill.

On Sunday morning everyone split up to fish their favorite pools on either the Willowemoc or the Beaverkill.  Vinnie and I went down to angler free pool on the lower Beaverkill.  The day was very warm and humid and we knew that by midday water temperatures would hit 68-70 degrees and put a halt to fishing.  The path to the river was thick with invasive knot weed thanks to the frequent spring rains - every year it seems to grow higher and thicker than the last. 

The river was clear and at a normal level, with only tiny blue-winged olives, some of which were hatching along with spinners falling.  A good breeze blew upstream. Trout rose softly to the little insects drifting on and in the surface film along the far bank where hardwood trees provided shade.  We split up each heading to where small pods of trout dimpled the water surface as they took in morsels that to us seemed way too small to be worth their effort.

I tied on a size 22 snowshoe rabbit foot blue-winged olive to the end of my 6x tippet and then slowly worked my way within casting distance of the nearest working fish.  I made a few test casts, found that my 12 foot leader turned over well, but the light tippet and fly were sent upstream at a right angle thanks to the breeze.  It would be one of those mornings when one had to time their cast to drop when the wind dies for a brief moment.  I cast to the working fish and when I got a good drift, it rose up, inspected my offering, and then drifted back down to the bottom.  This happened several times, and I think the issue was micro-drag thanks to the myriad of currents shifting from the many large rocks lying just below the surface.

After a short while and a few dozen casts over that fish, a trout rose about 25 feet above me in a fast slick.  I let it rise again, pin-pointed its locations, and made a quick cast dropping my about a foot above where it rose.  Almost immediately, the fish came up and sipped in my fly, and after a brief fight I brought the 11-12 inch wild rainbow to my net.  I admired it for a second, removed the fly from its upper jaw and then dropped my net back into the water where the fish swam out to safety.

I fished a while longer, getting more than a few refusals, and then backed out to shallower water where took the water temperature.  It has hit 69 degrees F, so I cut off my fly and reeled in.  Then I waded down to Vinnie and gave him the news, and he too, called it a day.  He had a few good takes he said, but missed them, which is unusual for him. It was a good day for both of us though; how often in late June can you find a pool on the Beaverkill with no other anglers and rising trout?

Here's the fly I have been taking the bulk of my fish on the last few weeks up north.

Sharpen your hooks.                        

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Father's Day Weekend Fishing the Upper Delaware

On Saturday after tying at the Whitewater Flies open house event in Lafayette, NJ, my son Hunt and I headed up to the Catskills.  We landed at my friend Paul's house in Roscoe at 4:45 PM, and by 5:15, we had the drift boat and trailer hooked up to the car and the three of us were on our way to the upper main stem of the Delaware River.   

We floated from the Shehawken access on the West Branch of the Delaware River to Stockport, a short float, but filled with opportunities the whole way.   The air was humid and hot for this region, so we waded every chance we got so we could stay cool in our waders.  The water was cool, and clear, with every rock and stone on the bottom visible, which meant we were very visible to the fish. When we came upon rising fish, we got out of the boat and tossed our offerings from a distance, because if we got too close, they would go down in an instant.  By darkness, we had hooked a bunch of fish, and landed a few, including a nice 20" brown that took my size #20 blue-winged olive emerger just as the sun fell below the mountain tops. 

On Sunday morning, Hunt and I packed our gear and headed to Whitetail Country Fly Shop, to meet Joe Demalderis "Joe D", of Cross Current Outfitters.   Hunt had never been on a guided float trip,so it was a perfect way to spend Father's Day with my son.  We put in at the Shehawken access on the West Branch at just about noon.  Dark puffy clouds glided by overhead, alternately providing shade and hot sun.  We decided not to put on our waders, instead we would wet to keep cool.  We also had the benefit (not) of almost constant wind - it may have kept us cool, but it also made casting a dry fly almost impossible at times.  Joe had one hell of a hard time rowing the boat against the up river unrelenting gusts.

As we made our way downstream looking for rising fish, we realized we pretty much had the river to ourselves.   You could count on one hand the number of floating and wading anglers we saw in the first half mile of water, which usually has 3 to 4 times that many on this stretch on a weekend day. Perhaps it was because it was Father's Day, or because as hard as it was to cast from a boat, it was certainly harder to cast from a fixed position while wading.  On top of that there were no bugs on the water, or in the air, as you might expect.  Despite that, we hit every fishy looking spot (or tried to against the wind) within casting distance.  We had some refusals, and in one long riffle, my son managed to hook three fish blind casting to the edges of soft water below submerged rocks using a deer hair Isonychia emerger. Unfortunately, they were brief hook-ups.  Most likely because the wind kept a big bow in the line between the rod tip and water, making it very difficult to get a solid hook set.  As Hunt said afterwards, "I got them to take my fly, and that's what its all about".

Anyone that has fished the Upper Delaware and its branches knows that more often than not there is at least a breeze just about every day, many days with low, gusty winds  Its a rare day up there that it is calm.  A we worked our way down river, we came upon a large pod of shad milling in a large eddy below a truck-sized boulder in the middle of the river.  With no bugs and no trout rising, Hunt tied on a size #12 copper john nymph to 4X tippet, and cast it at a 45 degree angle downstream and across before feeding out line and letting it swing into the eddy.  As the fly made its way into the target area, he began to slowly strip line in.  The had would swipe at the fly and some managed to take it and get hooked.  He landed two decent sized shad before we decided to pull anchor and look for trout in the riffles below.

After we rounded the bend about a half mile below where the shad were piled up, we entered one of my favorite runs on the Delaware.  Here the river is a gentle riffle that is broken up by scattered boulders provide perfect trout holding water for about 500 yards.  We saw a lot of one-and-done rises that we did our best to put our flies over, with little success.  As we neared the bottom of the run, a trout rose along the right bank in the soft water below a rock.  Hunt quickly cast the Isonychia emerger  he traded for the copper john as we entered the run and it landed about 10 inches above the rise.  The fly drifted over the fish and it rose confidently sipping the fly in like a natural.  He set the hook and the fish bolted up river, his drag buzzing, for about 50 feet before turning and then coming right at the boat and then passing it (see photo above).   After a brief struggle, he eased the fish to the boat and Joe netted a nice wild brown trout.

After that, we continued down river without seeing another rise, and called it a day just as dusk was beginning to draw upon us.  Although the conditions were less than ideal, we had a great day on the water fishing, talking fishing, laughing and listening to Joe tell us stories and share his wisdom from thirty plus years of guiding and fishing this beautiful, big river.  And what better way to spend Father's Day than watching your son work the water with a shared passion and determination for fly fishing, and catching fish despite tough conditions?

Sharpen your hooks!

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Speckled Caddis On the Musconetcong River

Fished the Musky tonight and it was awesome.  The speckled caddis (Hydropsyche sp.) hatch was epic,  with the caddis hatching by the thousands, and the trout on the emerging pupa like a child to candy.  I think every fish in the river was rising tonight.  The last hour of daylight there must have been 40-50 fish rising in the pool we were fishing.  They weren't easy, but a good cast and a drag-free drift got at least a look, and often a take.  All you needed was an iris caddis fished in the film - it's a dead ringer for the natural - and that's what I got all but one of my fish on tonight.  I got one fish on a sulphur usual just after I started fishing and before the caddis really got rocking.

Sharpen your hooks!

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Well-Chewed Flies

We've managed to get out on the local streams fairly often in the last couple of weeks, and the fishing has been great some days, and not so great on others.  Plenty of insects have been hatching, yet the dry fly action has been as variable as the weather.   One day its hot and the next wet and cold.  All of the rain is keeping the rivers up, so there are no complaints here.  And when the fish are not looking up, I've had great success with one pattern, the Iris Caddis fished dead-drift.   I've always had good success with this pattern fishing it as an emerger in the film during a caddis emergence, but after my friend Chris told me a few years back it also works fished wet, I've found it to be one of my go-to patterns in the spring and summer months when caddis area present but nothing is rising.  This past Saturday I fished with Vinnie on the South Branch, and between the two of us, we caught more fish than we could count.  I got most of my fish on the Iris Caddis you see here.  

(A well-chewed, size #15, Iris Caddis)

Yes, its a size #15.  The hook is a Tiemco 102Y, which is sized using odd numbers, and is the hook the fly is traditionally tied on.  It is a down eye, 1X fine, wide gape, forged hook that is black anodized.  Lacking a source for this hook, a size # 14 or 16 dry fly hook will work just fine.  I use them when I can't find the 102Y.

There have been plenty of bugs hatching, and when the fish are looking up, the dry fly fishing has been very good.  Locally, North Jersey, we have had sulphurs, lemon cahills, light cahills, little blue-winged olives, large blue-winged olives, and the slate drakes have started.  Then there are the various caddis that are hatching and/or egg-laying, including cinnamon or ginger caddis, dancing caddis, little dark granmoms, and a few lesser known species.

(Blue-winged olive - size #14 - Ephemerella cornuta)

(Dancing caddis - Mystacides sp. - size #18)

The dancing caddis shown above has been present every day I've been on the river.  They are often mistaken for the chimarra sp. caddis, as they are small, and jet black in color.  The difference is that the dancing caddis has horns, long speckled antennae, and a unique folded wing shape that is twice as long as the body.  You may have seen then dancing (fluttering) low over the surface of the water in small clouds.  They are only important to the angler when they fall spent on the water after egg-laying.  Otherwise, they hatch along the stream edge on rocks and other partially submerged limbs or logs. 

Here's my go-to sulphur pattern - the sulphur usual.  Tie them up in sizes #14-20 for all the light yellow mayflies that hatch for the next couple of weeks.  Also, tie a few with cream bodies in size #14 to imitate the light cahills.  It's a simple fly that takes fish consistently.

Sharpen your hooks!

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Clear Water Dry Fly FIshing In Norway

Here's a great short film about dry fly fishing in Norway on a beautiful, crystal clear river called the Laagen. 

Looks like something I may have to add to my bucket list.

And here's a link with information on the fishing and the river: Fishspot

Sharpen your hooks!

Monday, May 23, 2016

An Evening on the Beaverkill River

On Friday I had meetings in Scranton, PA, so I packed an overnight bag and my fishing gear into the car before I headed out in the morning in order to end the day fishing in the Catskills.  I got to the cabin in Roscoe in the late afternoon, and then quickly headed to the river.  As I drove down along the river, I could see that many folks had the same idea as I did; all of the popular spots had anglers lined up in them.  The lot at Barnhart's was full with about 7 or 8 cars, Hendrickson's pool had a few guys, Cairns of course had a small legion of folks fishing it, and so on down the river.  I went to spot I thought might have a few anglers, but much to my surprise and delight, it was void of fishermen.

The weather and water were perfect.  Thin high clouds muted the sun and the breeze was negligible.   The air was in the low 60's F, and thick with humidity.   The river was at a good level, clear, and in the low 50's.  A fair number of caddis were mingling about above the water, and March Browns hatched sporadically.   The caddis were a mix of early ginger caddis, shad caddis, and smaller grannoms.  A fair number of #16 rusty spinners also dotted the water surface, likely of the Blue-winged Olive species that hatch in the mid to late mornings this time of the year.   As I rigged up my rod on the riverbank, I scanned the currents that skirted the  half-exposed rocks along the far bank, and noted a few rising fish in the seams and eddies.

I waded out past the halfway point and watched the couple of fish rising for a few moments.  One was rising aggressively, likely to caddis, and the other two were sipping in their meal, likely spinners or spent caddis.  I decided to move up to work the one rising just above an exposed rock with regularity.  This was the one I thought was working caddis that were either emerging or trapped on the surface.  I tied on a tan bodied caribou caddis, size #16, and after making a couple test casts, I focused on the target.   After landing a few casts above the target that created drag almost immediately, I realized I needed to get closer and above the target, so I could lay down a parachute cast and let the current bring the fly into the fish's feeding zone from above.

Once I was in position, I dropped my fly about three above the working fish, only to have the fly move in a circle before it got to where the fish was rising.  Multiple current played havoc with my fly and line, which meant I had to drop the fly only a few inches above the fish in order to get a good drift.  It also meant the fish had to react in a nanosecond in deciding if it wanted my offering.  It was the only option.  So I false cast for a bit to feel the rhythm of the rod and line as it laid out in front of me in the air.  Once I was comfortable, I stopped my forward cast as the fly moved past the target, and it bounced back with slack  in the leader while the fly landed only 6 inches or so above where the fish had been rising.   The fly moved a few inches and then a golden shape moved rapidly from below and grabbed the fly like it was just another caddis drifting by.  After a brief but spirited fight, I reached out with my net and landed a nice brown of about 14 inches.        

I had been so focused on the fish I didn't realize until I'd released it that several anglers had joined me down river.  So I moved up a ways to work a few fish that were working near the bank in a short run that had seams and eddies and soft water.  The surface currents were hard to read, and made the majority of my casts worthless well before the fly got near the fish.  I love a challenge, and worked hard over the next hour to get the right cast and drift.  The results were good, but not great, with three fish hooked and one of them landed.  The two that got off I had on for a bit before the hook come out.  I suspect they were not hooked well due to the fact that I had to have a lot of slack in my tippet to get a good drift, so the hook set was less than solid.  Who knows for sure?  I got them to take my fly, which is the whole point, but it would have been nice to land them.  All of the fish took the caribou caddis.

Sharpen your hooks.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Fishing Today and The Next Arnold Palmer

I fished today and did quite well fishing #22 Blue-winged Olives to sipping rainbows in a long, slow pool on the South Branch of the Raritan River.  It was a beautiful day to be on the water; warm, breezy with intermittent sunshine through cracks in thick, dark, fast moving clouds.  There were just enough olives hatching to keep fish looking up as they slowly cruised about the pool.  When a fish rose I would quickly figure out the direction it was headed and then drop my fly softly on the surface a few feet ahead of it.  Sometimes they would change direction, sometimes they would swim right under it, and once in a while they would lift up and sip it in and I'd gently tighten the line with a strip set.  Just the kind of dry fly fishing I love; tough but rewarding.  I used a #22 olive sparkle dun at the end of a 12 foot leader tapered to 24 inches of 6X soft monfilament tippet.

I don't have any pictures, but here's something to put a smile on your face - Little Man practicing his golf in the kitchen.  I'm not sure if he likes hitting the golf ball or the floor more. 

Sharpen your hooks.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

A Beautiful Day On the Water

(Click on photo to enlarge)
After the morning showers ended today, the sun traded places with the clouds and warmed things up enough to make for a very pleasant day on the river.  Air temperatures reached the mid-sixties and a gentle breeze pulled the autumn leaves from the trees and placed far too many of them on the water surface for my liking.  Trout rose consistently in the low clear currents to minutiae only they could see.  It was a beautiful day for fishing, not catching, made even better because my son Matt fished along with me.  That's him in the photo above blending in with the beauty around him as he tied on his fly.

We fished for the better part of the afternoon and had many refusals and even missed a few takes. The trout seemed to get plenty of exercise between rising up to eat naturals, and also to inspect our offerings, sometimes even nudging the fly with their nose before easing their way back down to the bottom.  I scanned the surface over and over and didn't see a thing on the water (except leaves).  We also didn't see any insects in the air but for a lone caddis.  It was one of those days where the fishing was very good, but the catching left us scratching our heads.  About 4:30 we called it a day, went to the local Italian joint, and enjoyed a couple of beers, some wings and watched football.
What a difference a day  makes.  Yesterday it was chilly, raw and cloudy.  I fished for about two hours late in the day, saw lots of bugs, and caught a bunch of fish on a small Walt's Worm fished on a long, light leader without any split shot.  With the very low water, that's about the only way to fish a subsurface fly without getting hung up on the bottom.  I cast the fly across and slightly upstream with a mend and then follow my line with the rod tip watching for any twitches or sudden movement in the line or leader.  A simple, quick line strip to pull the line tight is all it takes to set the hook.  Here's the fly I caught all of my fish on yesterday.

It was great to get out and fish again, and just as good to be here writing about it.  Matt and I plan to fish next weekend and hopefully we'll have better results than we did today.  He certainly works hard at it and is due for a multiple fish day.  I'm looking forward to it.

Sharpen your hooks!

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Beaverkill River Report

Last evening I fished the Beaverkill River between Cooks Falls and Horton and the number of bugs hatching was nothing short of epic.   The air was alive as thousands of grannom caddis hatched and migrated upstream along with Hendrickson duns and spinners, Blue quill duns and spinners, Blue-winged olives, and midges.  A glance into the clear flowing water revealed all of the empty nymphal shucks of these newly hatched insects in the drift.  It was awesome to be in the midst of.
The weather was also unusual for this time of year in the Catskills.  The air was 86 degrees F at 6 o'clock, and with all of the hardwood trees having only mouse-ear sized leaves, it was quite a contrast - summer time heat without any shade.  The water was a refreshing 65 degrees F and very clear.  It would have seemed the perfect evening for dry fly fishing, and it was, except the trout must have been doing most of their feeding below the surface on the easy prey of the struggling nymphs and pupa ascending the water column to hatch.
A few trout did rise along the opposite bank, but only for brief periods before disappearing back down among the rocks.  I was fishing the lower end of a long, flat pool, and once a spotted a rising a fish, I would carefully wade into casting position.  By the time was ready to drop a fly in the fishes feeding lane, it would have stopped rising.  But given the situation and knowing the fish would again start to rise shortly, I would wait it out and sure enough it would start rising again.   I saw only two fish rising, and with each I had to do the aforementioned dance before catching them both on caddis imitations.
It was a wonderful evening to be on the river, and although I expected to see many more rising fish with all those bugs coming off, I had a great time.  Half of me was immersed in a cool, clear river that was teaming with life, and my other half was soaking up the sights and sounds that can only be found among a free-flowing mountain stream on a warm spring evening.
Time for me to go fishing; the boys already have a good two hours on the water morning and I have some "catching" up to do.  I almost forgot to mention, I've got Douglas and two of his friends from the US Youth Fly Fishing Team staying here at the cabin.  They got here just before dark last night and still managed to catch a few from the fast water below the house.  I'll have more on their ventures in a later post.
Sharpen your hooks!