Monday, April 30, 2012

Beware Née Po Po

Quill does it again. If you pee your pants laughing, don't say I didn't warn you.  

Welcome to Monday

Two fishing trips (one sans skunk). One river clean-up. One Youth Education Day. Oh, and working like hell. That's a pretty full week.

Back on the 22nd my chapter of Trout Unlimited celebrated Earth Day by cleaning up the banks of the Pootatuck River* in Sandy Hook, CT. It was our first stream clean-up and it really couldn't have gone better. Over twenty volunteers assembled in the rain (the first in about a month) to scour the banks for trash. The river's banks were surprisingly clean though we still managed to pull all the usual, and some unusual trash objects from the river.

The middle of the week brought a TU event on the Beaverkill after which I managed to fish a bit. I owe you a report on that one but the short story is the fish were there and I caught a few.

Saturday we had thirty students and their parents join us for our annual Youth Education Day. We spent the day with kids from our large Trout in the Classroom program tying flies, casting, doing macroinvertebrate sampling and introducing them to trout from a local hatchery. There's nothing more rewarding that teaching kids about our sport and if you ever have a chance to get involved with something like this do yourself a favor and volunteer.

Last night I rounded the week out with a trip up to the Housy for a few hours. A complete waste of time. While things at home were sunny and calm, an hour north it was windy and the fish weren't rising or responding to a streamer or even munching on a tan Caddis pupa. The big skunk. I should have fished the stream down the road. Hindsight.

Now it's back to the working like hell part and maybe a trip some evening to a local stream. Life is busy but when you've had the opportunity to do a few things that feel like good deeds, it's the good kind of busy.

* Yes, here in the East, we kept the Indian names of things (mostly). In the late seventeenth and eighteenth centuries it was a small consolation to the native populations as we took what was there's though we generally got the spelling wrong. By the early in the nineteenth century, we were done with all that pretense as Lewis and Clark "discovered" rivers out west and named them. "Hey, there's the Madison, Jefferson and Gallatin, we friggin' discovered them!" By the way, Sacagawea's camp name was Alice. That other name had too many syllables.

Friday, April 27, 2012

An Open Letter to Angling Retirees

Those of us who work every day really hate are disgusted by are insanely jealous of those who ply the angle during the week. There you are, standing in our favorite haunt casting to fish that are out of our reach; living the dream.

You bastards!

Sure we skip out early once in a while and sometimes we tell the boss that we're at a client meeting and we steal some time on the water. But we lack the flexibility. A good hatch on the Farmington? You're there. Raining like the devil? You paint the bathroom.

And when we finally scratch a day on the water? Nothing keeps us off. Hell, we'll even fish if the tide is running in the wrong direction and the river is ten feet above flood stage. But more than our lack of quality fishing time, nothing bothers us more than to see someone out there when we're not.

Most of you stand there stoic. Plying the trade. It's as if you don't even care if you catch a fish. And you pretend that the rest of us don't exist. It's just you and the fish.

For the love of god, at least wave to us. We know it's the equivalent of you flipping us off, but when you just ignore us, it hurts. We can't live vicariously through you if we hate you. So, show some love. Turn the hate into something milder. Like insane jealousy.

But lest you think this turns us into pals, fear not because there are many reasons to harbor ill will. Those hours on the water allow you to develop encyclopedic knowledge of the river. You've waded it high, you've waded it low and even though your ancient legs are wobbly, you know the location of every stone and could wade it blind.

And you know where the fish live; perhaps the best reason for the deep resentment.

So fish away you bloody bastards. We'll gaze upon you longingly, hope to see a bent rod and pray that someday we'll join you down there on the water.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Painfully Obvious Tip #4

Wading a river can be tricky business. Some rivers are known for having greased boulders waiting to spill anglers into their depths; the Housatonic is one these rivers.

When I'm gearing up stream side, I always glance over at the staff folded snug in its sheath. I never bring it out on small streams but always bring it on anything wider than an easy cast. A few weeks ago the low water tempted me into thinking that the Housy's boulders would be less slick and the wading easier. I left the staff in the car.

Stupid. Stupid. Stupid.

Only by the grace of God and some small miracle a wobbly moment left one arm wet to the elbow and the waders, thankfully, not topped.

Which brings us to Painfully Obvious Tip™ #4:
If you have a wading staff, bring the friggin thing. You might not need it. But when you do, it's better if it's on your hip instead of the car or the garage.
 Stay safe out there. 

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Gone Fishin'

I took the day off today. I'm up on the Beaverkill hoping to be entertained by eager trout.

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I may post hourly updates. Or I may not.

Either way, Follow the Feed!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Opening Day. Trout Season.

Ross and Heather at the beginning.
I fish every Opening Day, not because it's Opening Day, but because Opening Day is a Saturday. Any Saturday is as good as the next when it comes to fishing and I'm not going to fish or not fish just cause everyone else is doing it or not doing it. I'm going to fish cause it's what I do.

Regardless of the day, I stay far from the known haunts of once-a-year anglers -- you know these places by the piles of worm containers, empty Rapala boxes, and tumbleweed-sized tangles of Stren. I'm usually on some small stream that is now available to me after being closed for forty-five days.*

I took the boys out a couple of times on Opening Day. We visited a trout pond that's stocked by the state. We were there with three hundred of our closest friends. The last time we fished there two small boys fished next to us. The older boy hooked his younger brother on the inside of the mouth with a treble hook. That was the last time we went there. I decided it was safer to stay away from State run enterprises on Opening Day.

This year I arranged for a float trip on Opening Day. This would get us some distance from the masses and give us a shot at some trout on a river I enjoy fishing. Chris shared a boat with me and my friends Ross and Heather were rowed about by Tom Harrison.

The morning was a bit chilly but by mid-day the sun was out and it had warmed up nicely. We nymphed. We swung and stripped streamers. No trout. No fish of any sort. Maybe a few touches. But nothing in earnest.

Last year's floods left lots of beaches where the vegetation was scraped off the banks.
Lunch came and went and we were back to swinging streamers. Still nothing.

As we drifted through one run Dan saw what he thought was a Smallmouth bed. It's April, easily thirty days before the males should be preparing beds, so obviously he was hallucinating but when we saw another we rowed over for a look.

And saw a Smallmouth Bass.

And with a large streamer plunked onto his bed, I caught him. A small guy, likely a male, but it was good to finally have a tug on the line.

Smallmouth #1
So now we were hunting for Smallmouth beds and while they weren't numerous there were some to be found. A few were easy casts but most were in those places where Smallmouth like to hide -- under a branch, behind a log, beside a root ball.

The second or third bass was the best of the day. She was up on a bed wedged in between a root ball and two downed trees. It took a few casts to get in the zone and the wind came up at just the wrong time rippling the surface but an intuitive*** strike put a nice fish on the line.

Now the task was to land it.

I learned a lot about weaving a fish line in and around obstacles. Dan was a great coach with shouts of "rod high", "rod low" and "Oh shit, that's a nice fish, dude".

No pressure, but I got it done.

Probably the best of the day, though there were a few that were hefty.

While the casting wasn't easy, when it all came together the bass made it worthwhile. The six weight rod made the fight even more dramatic and fortunately we were fishing 2x so we could put some pressure on the fish when we needed to urge them away from some sort of woody cover. The fish were nice; all solid. Some were three pounders, maybe more.

A token trout
What's most exciting about Smallmouth fishing like this is that it's sight fishing. The clouds and the wind didn't always coorperate -- so some of our casts resulted in spooked fish or missed strikes -- but when you could see the fish and see the take, it was stupid, good fishing.**

The lower portion of the river we were fishing had been reliable trout water in the past so we were hopeful that the late afternoon would bring some trout to the net. Unfortunately, it didn't happen. I did manage a lone Rainbow late in the day but the last fish of the day was a chunky Smallmouth I took out of a riffle of all things.

I had a chance to fish an Orvis "prototype" rod. It was a 6 wt rigged for streamers. It cast well though I find sinking lines make you feel like you cast far better than you really do.

I thought "The One" was the most hyperbolic rod name ever.
But I think "The Second Coming" gives it a run for the money.

By the end of the day I did have a bit of that "I went trout fishing and all I caught were these lousy Smallmouth" feeling. But to complain about picking up a bunch of hard pulling Smallmouth would seem ungrateful for the fun afternoon that it was and potentially disrespectful to the fish and my hard working guide who found them.

If you haven't done it, Smallmouth on a fly is great fun. Just make sure you're fishing stout leaders and a rod with enough backbone to make it happen. A great way to spend the start of trout season.

*Yes, that is the entirety of the closed season in Connecticut. And there's tons of good water open under the Trout Management Area program. It is a blessing.
** Yes, a tired phrase, but it does describe the activity well.
*** Lucky

Monday, April 23, 2012

Quick Sips: Recent Ramblings

A mixture of Twitter ramblings over the past week or so:
  • This is today's "Coolest Gadget Ever": A super efficient wood burning camping stove that generates electricity!  
  • After bazillions spent on "education" and new invasives checkpoints, guy infects a whole lake and gets... $500 fine? [Keith writes about absurd fines on those spreading invasives via TroutUndergrounds Twitter Feed]
  • River Mud writes re: Pebble Mine. Great context: "We are literally killing our life support system" Worth a read
  • The Conservation Curmudgeon enters the fray with a rant on lawns. I look forward to seeing where this goes. [A new conservation blog]
  • Was trying to find some info re tippet and stumbled across podcast search function Podcast found! [I was surprised how well the search function worked]
  • Support by purchasing your sticker today  
  • provides casting tip: It's all about acceleration and stops. With some bonus guide wisdom!
  • Man touches another man's rod and 427 pound tuna is disqualified of IGFA record
  • A stunning time lapse on dam growth in the US over the past 200 years. via Trout Underground
You can keep up with all my Twitter ramblings by following me over there. ------>

Sunday, April 22, 2012

It's raining!

Finally, it's raining.

The rain started today during our stream clean-up. We had about twenty volunteers who got pretty damp but helped to put a respectable pile of debris in a dumpster.

The rain is expected to last another day or so. I'll be making no complaints. The river gauges are starting to turn a color paler than bright red!

More water. More bugs. More trout.

Last night

UPDATE, Monday morning: Blue equals 90th Percentile flows! Now if it'll only keep raining.....

This morning

Friday, April 20, 2012

Crippled Mayflies

Were you offended by the title of this post?
A Challenged Emerger

Well, I wasn't; at first.

Don't tell Rosenbauer, but my favorite emerger pattern is the Quigley Cripple. It is an effective emerger pattern that mimics a Crippled Mayfly that trout seem to find appealing.

But they should find it more appalling.

Last evening I looked at the list of search terms that bring folks to my industry leading stumbled upon occasionally read blog and found the term "Challenged Emerger" as one that had led some poor fools readers my way.

What's a Challenged Emerger? Google it. You'll find that it's the name of a new fly; new to me at least.

A Quigley Cripple Challenged
Emerger that I tied
So I got to thinking that it sure looks similar to a Quigley Cripple style that I tie and then it struck me -- political correctness has struck the fly tying game!

Are all "Crippled" flies to be renamed "Challenged"? What rubbish!

But then I got to thinking.

I am a fly angler by choice. I catch and release (mostly). I have a great deal of respect for the fish and fisheries that support my habit.

But I think little of the foodstuffs that support the trout. I enjoy seeing a struggling mayfly get slammed by a hungry trout. Dead and dying mayfly spinners get me excited about the possibility of easy fishing. And don't get me started about the poor crippled challenged mayflies that will never have a chance to live a full life, swarm with the lasses and lads and find a mate; they're the finest of things to imitate mock. Am I this insensitive?

Worse yet, am I one to mock them by tying flies that imitate their twisted, deformed visages and use them as bait to lure trout to the surface?


So from now on I will tie no more emergers.

I will not fish those I have but instead confer upon them the respect that is reserved for mayflies everywhere not just their full hackled brethren .

Cripples no more!

No longer the outcast.

Author's Note: For those of you with less finely tuned humor centers, this is sarcasm and satire with a hint of absurdity thrown in for good measure. It is not intended to be a reflection of my feelings on the human condition or anything else other than commentary on how idiotic it is to change the name of a fly pattern the mimics a maimed bug because the word cripple, the common term to refer to maimed mayflies, appears in its name.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Painfully Obvious Tip #3

I fish small streams often. The fish run smaller and even the big ones, those that measure longer than a foot, have so little room to run that one rarely needs to do anything more than strip them in after they've exhausted themselves. The reel is there to hold the line. It's not for playing fish.

Last weekend I visited a large river for the first time this season. The fish aren't much larger (though there's always hope for one) but they do have plenty of room to run. So, while many can be stripped in, there is the odd one that will give you a run for your money and the reel, and it's drag, will come in quite handy.

Which brings us to Painfully Obvious Tip™ #3:
Check your equipment. Ensure that the drag on your reel isn't ratcheted down all the way like it was at the end of your last trip. Otherwise a large fish will make you its bitch and steal your flies.
I don't regret losing this obviously nice fish.

It was a learning experience.

BONUS P.O.T. for bait anglers:
How to keep your bait off the bottom

BONUS VIDEO*: These fish were stripped in**

Brown Trout from Sipping Emergers on Vimeo.

* Yes, I was too lazy to add a cool soundtrack (i.e. banjos or some such thing) or video of the drive to the river or some foot level video of me walking to or from the river. And I wiped out the sound from the camera cause, as Owl Jones points out, all you can hear are squeaks and gurgles. Video really is a pain in the ass.
** On a reel whose drag was set so tight that it would foil fish catching six days hence.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Dickey Mo

The other day I was discussing with Ann (yes, she suffers endless rehashing of angling episodes) the fish from Saturday that I had hooked on the Rusty Spinner and then lost. My life is pretty full of work these days so I'm eager for any thought to distract.

She tells me to put my big boy pants on and go get that fish. She even suggests how I might carve out the right amount of time one evening to do so.

So I do.

And I did.

It's a long drive for just one fish, but I hate to disappoint the lovely.

The Scene of the Crime

From behind the same rock.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Book Review: The Royal Wulff Murders

On Sunday, I spent a whole lot of time writing about a two hour fishing trip. You suffered read saw those results yesterday.

Today, I'm done with the writing stuff. I recently read The Royal Wulff Murders by Keith McCafferty. It's a good book. Here's my 140 character summary:*
Flyfishing artist (p/t private eye) flees VT for Madison Rvr Floozie hires him to find a fish Angler murdered Targeted himself Solves crime
And a 140 character review:
Light page turner that has fly fishing, conservation and murder. Solid characters. Love interest a bit contrived. Twists galore. Good heft.

*Crap. That took me twenty minutes to write. Shorter is harder. That's only 139 characters. Sorry, I owe you one.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Bigger Water

Hendricksons. Again.

A buddy of mine told me that Hendricksons hatch around 2 p.m. each day. He may have said three, now that I think of it, though two still sounds about right. Regardless, he said the time that I've now forgotten with a certainty that made it so and that telegraphed that this was a truth; just one of many found in our sport.

I thought of this around 4:30 p.m. as I drove north. Of course, I was fishing my favorite time to fish -- when I was able to do so.

As I've told you before, the Hendricksons were early and I was driving up to the Housy to see if I could find some rising fish. I had never targeted the Hendricksons before but that seed was planted and now was the time to harvest the thought with action.

I think I have the size and color correct. If only the
trout were eating them.
I intended to fish this one hole that runs right up against the Route 7. It's a popular place; good dry fly water. I expected that on an unusually sunny and warm Saturday afternoon I'd find the pull-off packed. Fortunately, there were only four cars in a lot that can hold eight or ten.

There were also three anglers, only two of which were in the water. The third, a wadered guy leaning against a cherry red Dodge Charger, watched the water. He said, casually, that he hadn't seen a rise all day. He told of Hendricksons on the water, he had seen them since early afternoon, but the fish weren't on them.

As I opened the back of the car, he wished me luck and rumbled south.

Evening was coming. The sun was rolling over the western ridge. The far bank was still in the brilliant sun that had marked the day but the shadows were deep on the near bank and that's where the fishy water was. I thought it a good sign. Good cover. Few anglers. But still no rises.

When I'm driving to fish I generally take my time. The roads to most of the places I like to fish are scenic and invite a meander. I don't dawdle, but I don't rush either.

Though I have this somewhat idle attitude whilst driving, when the car stops, suddenly I am in a rush. It's inexplicable. If I rush, I get on the water in ten minutes. If I take my time, it'll probably run about twelve. Regardless of the logic, I'm moving with purpose. Time's a wasting and the sun'll be gone in two hours or so. The heart rate is up. The trout beckon even though they refuse to rise.

By the time my feet were wet I no longer think of time. Just the craft.

The first thing that struck me as I hit the water was the smell. I hadn't smelled it in a while. It wasn't the damp peatyness of the Farmington but the smell of the Housatonic. Damp, too. But different.

It is said that smell unlocks powerful memories. Walk into a grade school anywhere and that smell -- probably some cleaner or floor varnish they've all subscribed to for ages -- will bring you right back to 3rd grade.

This smell does just that. Memories. Of trout.

I'm coming up through the tail of the pool. The head is the best water and I left it to the two guys already there though as soon as I'm halfway across they abandon the post. Perfect; though I have a bit of walking in deep water to do.

With nothing on the surface I'm staring at an indicator bobbing above a Lightning Bug and a soft hackle Green Caddis. The only excitement for the first half hour is a moment when I'm on the verge of swimming. Apparently the four foot long boulder I stepped on has a dunking mechanism. It tips 45 degrees and my foot slides rapidly downstream. I am still not sure why I didn't go down. Magic. Angels. Something.

Shortly thereafter I'm into a good fish. Energetic. Strong. Upstream. Downstream. Near. Far. Taking line. On the reel. Plink. My flies are gone. That got the heart rate up enough to stave off the evening chill and reminds me not to set the drag on the reel so damn tight.

A guy fishing from shore spots a rising fish too far for him but a long yet manageable quartering cast upstream for me. I swap out to a series of emergers but all I manage to do is spook the trout.

I haven't cast forty feet of line in a while and it's good to exercise the muscle. Long casts are fun though I find in trout fishing managing all that line usually means you're missing trout even if they take a swipe at the fly.

I recall one time a long cast worked out well. It was up on the Deerfield. A trout was rising tight to a boulder in thin water sixty feet away, downstream. Head and Tail. Big Fish. I move closer. But it's still fifty feet of line and I'm worried about spooking him. The first cast is short by six feet; second cast is spot on. It was a lazy, big fish cause it graciously waited for me to move fifty feet of line before the hook sank home.

Up in the heart of the pool there's easy wading up the middle with channels on both sides though the west side is the better of the two. Again there is a paucity of risers and I'm nymphing again.

I net a black, neoprene Lamson reel case. If you dropped one, I've got it.

A splash upstream catches my ear as I watch the indicator downstream. I glance back but can't see a ring. A few boulders that obstruct the west channel disturb the current enough to obliterate any fish sign.

A few minutes later I hear it again. And then again. And my peripheral vision snags the movement. He's right on the far edge of the first boulder. He's rising steady now. It's too dark to see to what but my gut tells me it's time for a #12 Rusty Spinner.

I wade upstream of the boulder so I can avoid the current as it splits around its mass. The top of the boulder is just below the surface but the ripples are drift killers.

I make a few casts short of the boulder just to test if I can see the fly on the water. Once I've got it's form nailed I start for the trout. Two casts are not where they need to be but the third is clearly in the zone. And it floats by unmolested.

The next cast is also in the zone. And the trout rises on cue and sips it eagerly. In that moment, seconds last minutes and in those intervals hope is born.

The tug on the line is strong and the fish is downstream. Slick wet line slips between my fingers as the slack is taken up and he's on the reel and the drag is light.

The fish slips into a trough and starts headshaking and making dogged thrusts for the bottom. The rod tip bobbles and weaves. The current is strong and I try to unbalance him by putting some side pressure on him. It's a great tactic. Unless, of course, your fly has the most tenuous of grasps on trout lips.

At least I am allowed to retrieve my fly. Sadly, without ever having seen the fish.

For the next five minutes I cast a glance about the waters near and far hoping for another riser. None are visible. I wade across the head of the pool and climb the bank for a better vantage point. Still no risers.

The ride home was also idle. There's no rush to return while visions of splashy rises replay in one's mind; there are new memories to savor. And the hope that was born by the sip of a trout lives on for the next time spinners are on the water.

I think it's time to tie a few more Rusty Spinners.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Painfully Obvoius Tip #2

I was fishing a small stream a couple of weeks ago with a dry-dropper rig. I was using a caddis emerger below a small stimi and was having pretty good results.

I've only recently discovered the joys of dry-dropper rigs, being primarily a nymph angler, and I struggled to get small nymphs on the dropper, which have a tendency to float, to reliably submerge themselves.

Traditional weights, say beads or a wrap of wire or a split shot, are over powered even in their smallest form and would eventually sink the dry fly. The best thing seemed to be a small piece of tungsten sink putty. But the next problem was how to keep the tungsten putty in place. On a leader, I can usually mash it around a tippet knot and it doesn't slip.  However, on the dropper tippet, there's no knot.

Thus, Painfully Obvious Tip™ #2:
If you don't have a knot, make a knot.
Yes, I see your mind is reeling from the enormity of the task. Let me further elucidate.
Tie the dropper tippet with two pieces of tippet, one twice as long as the other. Use a Double Surgeons Knot to connect the two and tie the fly on the end closer to the knot (i.e. the shorter side). Apply the appropriate amount of sink putty to the Double Surgeons Knot.
It's ground breaking thinking such as this that continues to up my game and make you weep with the rage that can only be borne by insane jealousy.

This may work better as a video series. Or DVDs.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Book Review: Essential American Flies

Good saddle hackle and the heft of a good book are two simple, yet fine, joys in life.

Good saddle hackle
Whiting trumps others
I don't often have the need for good dry fly hackle. I nymph a lot so dubbing, assorted animal parts and flashy synthetics make up the bulk of my tying. The few dries I tie usually rely upon deer hair or rabbit's foot for flotation. But there does come a time when one needs more Stimis for dry-dropper rigs or a a turn of hackle for a Quigley.

The hackle I have, Metz capes, is generally crap. Sparse. Twisty. Tapered. Did I mention how sparse they are? Everything a dry fly hackle should not be.

For a long time I've looked longingly at Whiting saddles. They're described as lusciously dense and true to size and splendid to wrap. I never got around to buying some and now on account of the global hackle shortage they can only be found in hair salons. But thanks to ebay and a few fly shops selling online, Whiting 100s are pretty easy to come by. I ordered some.

After tying my first Whiting hackled fly (a yellow Stimi), I declare them worth every penny. Luxurious. Dense. Twistless. Save your pennies. Buy some.

Metz Cape on Left. Whiting Saddle on Right. You decide.

The heft of a good book
I'm a sucker for a good book. I don't mean one that tells a good tale or informs on something relevant or important. I'm talking about the feel of the book in the hand. The construction of the binding. The texture of the cover. The feel and, yes, the smell, of the pages. Those of you who understand are nodding slowly in appreciation, perhaps envisioning one of your favorite books; one with good "hand". The rest of you think I'm friggin' nuts (and are dreaming up "hand" puns to put in the comments).

On the subject of fly fishing and fly tying I have several many too many just the right amount of books. Fly tying books by their nature are "how tos" and the best are either reference materials for how to tie certain stuff onto hooks (the Fly Tier's Benchside Reference  comes to mind) or are pattern books. Of course, the internet and its myriad websites and tying videos has largely made the pattern book obsolete. I especially use the web for finding pattern recipes and find pattern books less useful and desirable these days. Unless you're a "book person" books with patterns aren't as valuable as they once were.

Which in a long winded way brings me to subject at hand.

I was up in Manchester at the mother ship and saw the new book by Tom Rosenbauer, The Orvis Guide to Essential American Flies. I didn't know what to expect though as I thumbed through the pages I thought, "Ah, a pattern book, I know how to tie these flies, let's move on."

But as I held the book and thumbed through it again it was one of those books that just felt right and so I made the purchase ($35 at Orvis but you can get it for $23 on Amazon) and gave it a read.

This book does have recipes for the flies that most of us carry when trout fishing (with a few saltwater flies as well) so is a valuable resource for tiers from that perspective. Almost all the photography in the book is by Tom and is top notch. I need to shoot him an email to learn his techniques for shooting flies in the vice; crisp and detailed.

Detailed, illustrated instructions
Each section includes the history of the fly and in most cases first hand personal accounts of Tom's discussion with the creator of the pattern. Some of this history is not only the history of the fly but the history of our sport. One or two of the stories I knew but the others were new to me.

The step-by-step instructions are illustrated, detailed, include tips as well as Tom's own brand of humor (those of you who listen to his podcast will know what I mean). My favorite is in his instructions on the Royal Wulff:
...If you put too much tension on these wraps, the thread will creep up the wings and those black winds over the white wings will show up in the finished fly. And no brown trout more than six inches long will ever take your fly when it sees how sloppy it is....
Who knew there was so much variation
in Elk Hair?
Each pattern also include popular variants of the fly and its recipe. Each pattern that introduces a new material has an extensive sidebar on the material, how to select a good specimen as well as material variations that can be used for different purposes. You'll also be introduced to techniques for handling materials as well as discussions about how to fish the flies.

Did I learn anything from the book? Yes. The history stuff was mostly new to me. I now have an appreciation for the use of the various types of Elk Hair I own and I can now tie a Stimulator in the proper proportions.

Overall, I rate this book very high and well worth the purchase price. Not only is it a good pattern book but it condenses tips and techniques you might find in a tome like the Benchside Reference to those that are relevant to patterns we all use. And as a bonus, you get it all in the Rosenbauer conversational manner that is so effective in the podcast.

Buy some good hackle. Tie some of the classics.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Painfully Obvious Tip #1

I was fishing a small stream the other day. It's a stream that I know well. I observed another angler working a run that I had pulled a fish out of earlier in the day and asked him how the fishing was. "Slow" was the response. As I observed his technique, I had no doubt that this was true.

So, to this angler and anglers everywhere in his situation, I offer Painfully Obvious Tip™ #1
When fishing to downstream lies on a small stream resist the urge to stand where the fish are and cast to where the fish are not while wearing a bright red sweatshirt.
This lad should have been wearing something duller than a fire engine red sweatshirt and should have observed the water before getting in. He was smack in the middle of the prime holding water; that other water isn't worth fishing.*


*Except when it is, but it's usually not.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012





Yes, it's all about me. And it's all over on the Outdoor Blogging Network.


Standing in goose crap

First Blue Gill of the year
Ideally, I'd like to be standing in Sand Hole on the Housatonic River some evening this week fishing to the early Hendricksons. The reality is that the one hour drive for an hour or two of after work fishing is an equation that doesn't close and I still haven't finished the taxes or updated the TU website or done a myriad of other things that need to get done.

Last night, around 6:30 p.m. I thought that maybe a quick trip up to the farm pond would be in order. There's no longer a proper farm up there. Today, the old farm house, really more of an estate-like thing, governs a tastefully organized housing development. They do still farm a bit of hay in the field below the house.

The old caretaker's house sits at the edge of the pond. and two or three new homes, the new crop in town, sit back in the woods a ways.

Two of those houses have green, green grass going all the way down to the pond and the town owns a bit a property along the road that gives access to anyone who desires. The town mows a portion of this about once a season so they've cultivated some prime tick habitat in the form of waist high weeds.

Sam and I were down here last weekend. The water was still too cold for the blue gills to be on the redds and we cast a bit halfheartedly and gave up after a half hour or so. Apparently the warming trend that put trout and mayflies in the mood hadn't yet affected small farm ponds.

I fancied a cigar and a tug on the line and when I pulled onto the side of the rod a swirl near the reeds said that the fish were active. I couldn't see any redds from the edge of the water but I tied on a small green caddis emerger, the blue gills aren't too picky, and put it below a ball of strike putty and cast out.

The fishing was steady. The gills would take a fly twitched. They gills would take a fly on a slow retrieve. They even took the strike putty a time or two. Spring fishing for gills is easy fishing; the sort of fishing that's great for a beginner or easy fun for someone who's been at it longer.

I was going to have a cigar but two factors caused me to pause. First, when you're catching blue gills at the rate of one a minute or so you have little time to light up. Second, when your line is standing in water and coiled on land that is covered in what only can be described as "too much" goose crap, you really don't want to be putting your hands anywhere near your mouth.

One of the homeowners across the pond let out his retriever and the dog quickly herded the thirty or so geese on his lawn, into the water. This guy probably wonders why the geese are so prone to appear on his lawn and probably blames proximity to the pond.

The reality is, it's his own damn fault. If he just maintained a reasonable vegetative buffer around his portion of the pond, the geese wouldn't avail themselves of his beautifully, Scott-built, lawn. But as soon as the geese were off, he pulled out the spreader and commenced to fertilizing. Brilliant.

I played with the gills until it started to cool and the sun slipped below the hill behind me and the strike indicator was no longer distinguishable in the gloom.

Even though I stood in goose crap and inwardly railed at the lack of vegetative buffers it was nice to get some blue gills on the line. I'll have to take Sam out some evening this week.