Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Ivy Pheasant Craw


For southeast Minnesota fly swap 2016.  Ivy being the dog that brought a pheasant home for my neighbor.  Neighbor being kind enough to let me uncoat the pheasant, tack the whole deal to a scrap of sheet rock and salt it down for a while.  Indispensable addition to tying shop; many uses.  

Basic concept is a fly that is kind of between a streamer and nymph and as such can be fished as either.  Or both depending on how you look at it.  Goal for trout fishing is a fly that dead drifts well, twitch drifts and also can be strip-retrieved.  Or in the case of carp, a fly that headstands and presents well on the bottom of the river or lake.  Long time ago I submitted a fly for this swap called a "symph" and it was kind of along same line but I like this one a lot better.  

I'm into deleting steps; a generalist.  At this point I like being in my shop and tying flies but I don't get a lot of enjoyment in tying complicated patterns.  No rib.  No full body hackle that needs pinning down.  These are the materials.  Dubbing, bead chain eyes, thread, wax, #8 hook, pheasant feathers.  The feathers for the tail/pincers are up by the pliers; those for the soft hackle collar are under the box of hooks.  You see many other options there too.

Only real care that needs to be taken is to strip off fibers and lash down the two tail feathers such that they both curve outward.  Soft loop is good.  You can set them right on top of the hook; no need try situate them on respective sides.  
Dub body.

Soft hackle collar and then a couple more turns of dubbing around eyes.  Whip finish in front of eyes.  Done.

Heavier eyes would be even better but the bead chain works okay for headstand.  This being great attribute  for carp fly as has been noted.

9/13 done; will get rest soon.  Thanks to RB for coordinating swap.

Sunday, January 31, 2016


Third Outing for the Kid

Some good lessons here.  Worth it to walk for a while (all relative here; I mean "a while" for a kid); get to the good holes.  This water's no secret; nice option for beginning anglers.  But still some marching in snow to get to the guarantee spot as GVS would say.  He had zero problem detecting takes with the tandem nymph rig.  Went 1/2 right away at a couple smaller holes.  Then at the big banger, like last outing, pretty distraught at losing a couple fish after fighting for a while.  Wanted to quit.  I said take a break instead; come back in ten minutes.  The riotous scene below is what followed.


He executed some basic mending on this day; good twitches.  Also saw what a difference it can make if your nymphs are 4.5 feet below indicator instead of 4.0 feet below indicator.  Fish here was 13 maybe 14.  One of the two caught at once (link goes to video).




This fish was a point of instruction: held for a while and made him watch how two hands work together; how angler can hold a fish steady; don't have to horse in, etc.  I hadn't touched the rod (excepting help with a couple tangles) before this point; was just watching and enjoying.

He said the two fish deal was the deal of the day and as such he hung it up.  All in all good outing.  I can find pretty good happiness at this point to just fish through others.  I came in for seconds on the same hole; few drifts in picked up a BKT and took that to be the signal to head home.  Photo credit to J on both images.

Alaska: Day Six Captions

Five full days five different rivers.  By this time we were perfectly sated; anything beyond would be just bonus.  That was my vibe anyway.  So it felt very timely and right to sacrifice some numbers in favor of a big fish hunt.  While we had some truly large trout to hand (three RBT taped at 25.5" over first couple days) we knew we had a great chance to top that number on this day.  It was a feeling of could put a serious bookend on the deal today but really nothing to lose. So no Roman Centurion as figurehead ; rather the dog-at-ease; the symbol for the final day of what was already the trip of a lifetime. 

Brought a stiff 8 wt and glad for it.  It shined on this day (thanks neighbor for loan).  Not an expensive rod.  Just a cannon.  Big water here.  Swinging from the boat; big Dalai lamas.  Bunny fur.  One backcast and shoot line.  Mend some.  Fish all the way through including holding for a good count when the line was out straight downstream.  Careful study and feeling.  Guide watching the line occasionally yelling set set set.  

Of all the days this one was 100% the most "guided" as it would pertain to the details of the fishing.  Previous five days the guides brought us places, got us set up  and then multi-tasked their asses off taking care of us and essentially making friends throughout the day...   but very little was said in the way of drifts, techniques, fighting fish, etc.  On this day though, given the potential for a trout of legandary status, the size of the water and the heavy current, the guide demanded some particulars: don't touch your drag; it's set how I want it. Don't palm your reel.  Don't rail on these fish they have trout mouths not carp mouths.  Keep your rod up.  Wait; keep that fly in the water a little longer.  Etc. etc.  And I found that I really appreciated it all.  It was constructive and worked well; good dynamic.  Pretty early in the day this 25.5 came to hand.  

We caught a number of "smallish" RBT in the 18-20" range and then I hooked what appeared to be a giant chrome rugby ball.  It went airborne and shook; just beat me.  Which I can accept just fine.  I replayed my actions and was good with each; sometimes fish win.  Not too many minutes later I hooked this one.  Notable.  The fly line was not only gone from the reel but out of sight within maybe ten seonds.  Giant arc of backing at the horizon looking downstream.  Ran so far as to get into unsafe water such that we could not follow.  No way we are getting the effing fish; no way I kept saying.   Look she's in a damn giant rapid.  Keep the faith he said.  That fish doesn't want to be there any more than we do.  And here she came then swimming back upstream; me taking up backing burning with focus trying to stay tight as possible.  She did come back.  Some great secondary runs and then we out of the boat; fish to hand.  Taped without error at 27.0" inches biggest trout I'd touched at that time.


Proof that it's possible to look heavy.


Another good example of angler teaming with guide.   I had a barely-notable 18-19" RBT on one side of the boat and DF was working the other.  He was about to pick up and fire again when guide said wait, wait keep your fly in the water this is a good piece.  Second later DF hooked this one which after a great confrontation we taped at 26".  Nice work by both angler guide landing this fish.

Early on I asked what is typical batting average for this water and method.  Meaning of takes perceived how many fish are landed.  I think he said about 50%.  I stated that my goal was to beat that number.  Not to win anything in particular but to indicate that I applied myself well enough and focused such that the outcome was best it could be.  I got to 11/13 and stopped counting.  Granted one of those lost was an aboslute slob trout that we all really wanted to see.  But I'll take it.  We'll take it.  We released a lot of pretty nice bows without measurement or photo.   Toward end of day we stopped to look at this beauty leopard and taped it at 23.5".  


Seemed about right.  Each day brought something new; some new facet of presentation, water, species, travel and companionship.  It's now end of January and I still think about this adventure daily; will stick with us all; bind us together.  Thankful for it.

Wednesday, January 06, 2016

Four Trout Chapters


Returned from Alaska September 20, 2015 and since then have had time on the water four different days, each of which is noted below.

I. First trout.


October 24, 2015.  After trout harvest done; before deer season.  Good time to get a young kid his first trout on the fly.  That was my thinking.  Just two of us walking popular water.  And in fact we did see a number of fly anglers out and about; those taking advantage of our new state park season.  I generally never fish this water but our goal was just a single trout to hand and I figured that could be managed in the confines of the popular easy walking no hiking stream reaches.  We started out on low probability water just to get some practice flipping and drifting.  Within about five minutes of watching him I felt terrible because I knew that I should have taken him out earlier this year; it was apparent that he was ready to catch some fish by way of this method.  I had underestimated him it seems.

A fellow angler gave up his post on this slow water; passed it along to JW.  Said bunch of rainbows in there.  Go get one kid.  So we stationed.  He flipped and drifted; I watched from the bank.  New thing for me but I am quickly understanding that I'd be largely satisfied to watch kids from the bank.  Great perception of a subtle indicator movement here and he set the hook on what we thought was his first trout; turned out to be WSU which is fine; another specie on the fly is what it means.  Can see in the photo he put the nymph right in the top lip.  Maybe suckers actually have a monolip and therefore he put it at the top of the circumference of the lip.  And the hat: it was white; I dyed it because fishing hats should not be white.

Upstream a couple holes.  Recognizable water.  He was flipping and drifting with the 2 wt; one BH nymph, one splitshot (I tried very hard to not use a splitshot but I understood him to be drifting over so many fish it became unbearable and I said give me that rig right now I can't take it) and an indicator.  He needs a little room behind him given he is a rookie; few hangups on backcasts but actually not bad at all; I've seen adults hang up with greater frequency.  He worked the hole for a while; nothing.  I said come on man let's move up I think you beat it down.  He said no I want to stay here this is a good hole.  Second presentation after that note was well placed right above the plunge point and the rig dallied at the head of the pool; understand the fly sank well and then as the indicator started downstream a couple feet it jolted.  I said nothing because he had already set the hook.  #14 beadhead in the top of the mouth.

Nice fall colors; deep mouthed male.  Maybe 12 inches; we didn't measure.  Some notable teeth.  

Eleven year old dude.  Walking out, direct quote: After I hooked that trout I felt like I could do anything.  I think that is a kid confirming what we know to be good medicine.
 II.  Year 2016.

On January 1st after a morning of chores and hanging with kids at home, I slipped out for two point five hours of fishing.  Winter opener; all trout streams now accessible.  According to my time stamp this photo was taken at 13:13 central time.  Token image of the first fish of year 2016.  I think it was around ten inches long.  My goal here was to nymph in the sun; put up some numbers in short time and head home before dark.

Couple drifts later the indicator stopped and slowly descended; the descent common to a winter trout take but also common to hanging up on bottom.  But find a reason to set the hook; that was an early imprint from JM.  I picked up the rod; something solid and not moving.  Held; held.  Then it did start moving.  Like a giant sucker.  For a long time I thought I had hooked a giant cold white sucker at the bottom of the pool.  Only after I saw the fish from above did I understand the magnitude of this deal.  2 wt and 4x tippet, so care was required.  The fight was not dynamic but rather a slow powerful and bullish affair.  She tried to jump up the pool head at one point but was just short; fell back into the pool.  No net and no fishing partner, so had to walk her downstream to a midchannel bar.  As if she wanted to be landed, she parked herself perfectly in the submerged veg on the bar, which allowed me to bound into the water and in one shot, tail the fish (put the pressure on your own knuckle not on the tail says CK).  I took a photo of her by the rod; measured with handspans, and then went all out and set up the camera on timer.  Don't usually do that but glad I did in this case.  Then a couple photos holding her in the water.  Release was good; she seemed to have solid energy; swam back to the hole.  My estimate on length after much recreation and study, looking at all reference, is 30 inches.  To the nearest inch.  LOD twitch drift was what made it happen.

Should really post this fish with a ~15 incher in the same position.  

Bit of mass.  Big head.  Body somewhat depleted after spawn.  No real colors.  Kind of looks like an Atlantic Salmon.


After that big fish I kind of just walked around for a while.  Didn't seem like much else to do.  Drank tea by some old trees.  Then I tried the bead rig we used in Alaska.  Caught some fish on it.  Then went home.  The end.

III.  Day with sons and DF.

Wanted to let my karma rest for a bit but really wanted to be on the stream.  A visit from DF was good.  Two of us guys took the boys out on the local water.  GOALS: get trout to hand for DF, for JW, and if everything is working, maybe even get one for the little guy.  One hole in and after one perfect drift this beauty came to hand for DF.  Nice start.  Well done.  Out from under some HI cover.

Older boy has hippies now but the little one still needs a buck over the water.  It was moderately cold but the sun was out.  Fairly easy walking.  I credit this guy for never complaining once about cold or snow or any condition other than his brother bugging the hell out of him.

video
The remedy for the kids (incessantly hitting each other with sticks, yelling, etc.) was to get them fishing.  Which I suppose makes sense.  Older boy JW nymphed two holes.  First one he was 1/1 and he set the hook so hard he pulled the trout out of the water; arcing through air into snow; quite a trip for smallish fish.  Number of sensations there.  The next hole was the big hole; many, many fish have come to hand here.  DF hooked and caught some; then JW stepped up.  Didn't take long.  He hooked five and landed one.  One he brought almost to net but it took him below the undercut and rubbed him off (a liability of the two fly rig).  He was quite distraught which I took to be a good sign; an indicator of intensity and passion.  He did very well discerning takes; subtle changes in the path or altitude of the indicator.  I enjoyed wielding the net; even used a telescoping handle feature.

Walk out at dark when the day is done.

One more trout day while kids in school.  I have an Iowa license and goal was to catch a bunch of fish nymphing and selectively keep a limit; bring home for a meal.  I went crazy and drove ~50 miles one way.  

I got a "tip" that said check out stream X.  Really good.  I went there.  It was terrible.  Shallow, choked with veg and no holes to speak of at all.  I spent 1.5 hours reconning the whole deal, down to the mouth.  Never made a cast.  Can't remember last time that happened.  Deer, turkeys, pheasants, geese but no good holes.  So I drove on to a stream that I know somewhat well; not intimately but somewhat well.  What a contrast.  This day could have been a study in nymphing water: garbage vs good.  I fished a series of holes.  Deep water like that pictured here.  This is where winter trout lay up.  Figure dozens of fish in there.  Caught quite a few.  Next hole.  Same deal.  Get rig down.  Catch fish.

No trout here.  Until second split shot added.  Then fishing a new stratum, catching trout.  Iterative weight increases and moving indicator.

Poorly tied BH scud begets grimed thumb and full creel.  Plenty of fish released but five now brining.  End of a nice trout flurry; will retire now for a while in the cold; watch football and consider next moves.

Sunday, January 03, 2016

Second fish of year 2016.
30 inch female BNT.


Friday, December 18, 2015

Alaska: Day Five Captions


Many acres not walked by man.  Do the acres follow the topography or do they rest on the two dimensional survey.  Is it a measure of land surface net, or a measure of width x length.  This question came to mind but acres were not any sort of pivot here.  Many places that would receive no footstep of erectus; no tire tread.    And that we could fly in here.  De Haviland Beaver. That we could make our way to this place; that we could land on water and joint our rods and walk upstream.  That alone is adventure.  The setting; the swashbuckling.  Facets of adventure and good fortune; angling a privilege even; and that good fortune.  To set down on plane floats and wade to shore with your mates.  This is the substance of good chapters; good memories; will we remember hours in hotels and in cars; we will not but we will remember how we together addressed some task; some task of understanding the inflow to the lake; the pushing against the current and finding fish in holes.    And I'll be damned if it wasn't exactly three months ago; quarter year that we set down here.   9/18/15 was our fifth day; uninterrupted focus on kinship and fishing; a careful study of both.  I know that there are impacts and effects profound and some understood others more subtle; I accept all. 




The guide with essential gear.  First buckshot then BB and then slug.  Because there are some that may have to find out how blue steel feels.  

Berries just berries but who knew one could walk on hillsides on top of blueberries, peering down into water for fish colored and marked and outrageous as clowns in aqua.

Photo from DF.  The bear beds were common; like deer beds here in MN.


The day's main focus: Dolly Varden.  Colors.  Kype.

A favorite image.  Guide BK working with JM looking for giant silly fish in amongst the salmon.

We had to stop every fifty feet and look: what is the place and how are we here now and what can we do that would be considered sufficient to engage it well and leave on good terms.

First big one BK thought I was going to pull out of the water on the hookset I was so excited and I set the hook so hard after walking the egg home.




Our leader JM.

Corner hole like home only full of giant kyped clowns. 



This one I hooked on egg and lost.  Cried like a little bich and threw my rod in the water.  BK calmly picked it up and handed it back to me and said don't worry you can hook him again on a streamer.  27.5 inches.

Fish made the hollow.

Hard to believe that 20 inch bows were tertiary.  I think we took a picture of only one.

Beak.

Imagine spending a day giving your best effort to NOT hook these fish.  They were catchable.  Aggressive.  We worked to keep flies away from them so as to target the dollies.


Here are the two walking out fish.  The running out fish running because the plane was going to leave and we were late as you would hope and expect.  BK had saved them on the way in and so on way out we slid down the hill and each made one presentation.  Two of the most badass fish I've come across.  To cap a top day; arguably one of the top all time.