Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The Best of Both Worlds - Wedding and Fishing!

Well, what a great summer this one turned out to be! Our oldest son, Brian got married Aug. 10th. in Sheridan, Wyoming. Christie is a wonderful gal and they make a fantastic couple. It was a long 8 months waiting for the wedding and now that it is all over I wonder how quickly the time did go by. I had four weeks out in Wyo. and can't believe I am back home now. 

Along with the wedding preparations Rob and I did manage to get some fishing in. We haven't had both our boys together in many years so the one late morning when we could all get out and fish was extra special. That day will remain extra special for Rob; being out with both his boys.

Sam, Christie, Brian, me and Rob
Aug. 10, 2013

Christie asked me if it was possible for me to tie some boutonnieres for the wedding party. So after getting some help and looking at salmon fly patterns I got to work. Her wedding colors were silver and blue so my goal was to work those into the flies while trying to keep each one unique. Once I finished them I carefully wrapped each one in tissue paper hoping she would not be disappointed but at the same time leaving myself plenty of time just in case she wanted me to re-do any of them. I quickly got word from Brian and Christie that the flies were just perfect! 

So along with the wedding was a little bit of fishing. 

I used Brian's pickup and would drive to Ranchester, Wy. to fish Tongue Canyon. It was a brief ride of 25 miles and the view of wide open spaces was a sight to see. I will admit that I was a bit nervous heading out and fishing alone but.......

This was a spot that I had loads of fun at. I used Brian's short 3wt. rod for this river. There wasn't enough room for two handed casting so I was back to single hand and after a bit of a rough start it all worked out. The first fish turned out to be a 12" whitefish and after that it was all bows on that first day. The pool pictured above will be fondly remembered for the 14" bow that came rocketing out like a surface to air missile. He tailed danced across the water not once but twice and all I did was laugh. Seems like a very silly response but what a sight that was to see. At one point I took a break and shared the pool with an older gentleman who wanted to let his lab chase sticks and swim. Why not, right? So I got out and talked to Keith for what turned out to be an hour or so. He was pretty cool to talk to and he asked me what brought me to Wyoming. I told him that my son was getting married and I came out from Connecticut for the party. He laughed and said, "Seems like you have the best of both worlds; a wedding and fishing." How right he was! 

The next day when I met another lady fly fisherman. She told me her husband had a pistol and wanted to know if I had one too. I asked her why he needed a pistol. Her response was, "Well, for the bear, moose and cats that hang out in this canyon."
Brian didn't tell me anything about cats. And I am pretty sure she didn't mean your typical domestic cat.

He told me to be cautious for rattle snakes but not cats. 

When I got home that day I told him what she said and he laughed and shook his head. "Of course they are up there. You just gotta watch out for them." 

The other river I explored was the N. Tongue up in the Bighorn Mtns. Rob and I fished this twice.

We did run into a moose and her calf this day. She was hanging around in the willows close to the river. We were sure to make a long walk around her to avoid pissing her off.

The first trip there we ran into some guys from Minnesota. They had been fishing for a couple of hours and hadn't "caught shit" as one of them said. Seems someone told them to use streamers on this part of the river and that the big ol' double bunnies would do the trick. He asked me if I had any and I told him yes but I had already tied on my fly of choice - purple and starling #12 wet fly. It worked wonders down in the canyon and well, why change a fly that had a good track record? So off we head, Rob and I going farther down river from these guys just to give them some room. As I started to drift my fly down a seam I happened to look up and saw one of the Minnesota guys watching. 

I hate that. I just get too dang nervous when someone does that.

But.....no sooner had I made a second short cast when
I had my first cutthroat on.

Streamers. Sure.
When we got home we told Brian what they said to use. He laughed and told us that quite often the locals will tell out-of-staters to use stupid stuff like streamers just to goof on them. I never did put on a streamer. Both trips up there the wet fly worked like a charm with one fish after another hitting it hard.

The second trip up there resulted in a rather unique way of fishing. Brian and Christie had headed off on their honeymoon and took the rods we had been using. So we borrowed a couple of different rods. We did have one reel that matched but the other reel was the one that I used on my Mystic 4wt. with the Ambush Triangle taper that line kept sinking. (I brought this reel out to use while teaching Brian how to two hand cast) Since the water was pretty skinny it didn't take too long for the fly to get caught up in the rocks. So I took off the Ambush line and scratched my head. 
What to do.
What to do.

There is a saying, "Creativity is the mother of invention."
So I went to work. 

I pulled out one of the leaders I normally use for Scandi casting. It has a 30# butt section and gradually tapers to 6x. The leader was about 16' long and my thinking was to attach it to the running line and see what happens. I loaded it up and with some quick steeple casts it worked pretty darn good. So good that the fish in the above picture was fooled and spanked that fly. 
Not bad. 

Not bad at all for a wedding with some fishing!

Tongue Canyon

Brian learning how to two hand cast.

Now THAT is a thunder cloud.

Here's hoping that everyone else had as good a summer as I did and as I get ready to begin another school year I will have plenty of happy memories to get me through.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Slow to middling fishing....

Well, I did manage to get out last Friday afternoon / early evening for some fishing. The temperature had dropped some but more importantly the humidity also dropped. It finally felt pretty decent to be outside.

I spent a nice quiet evening on a pretty stretch of the river and waited to see what was going on. It was, to say the least, very quiet.

Slow to middling.

It was so slow I could have counted the number of flies on one hand.

However,unlike the last time I was able to get out, this time the fish did start to pop up now and then which is always good. They were just starting to get cranked up when the switch turned and they shut off.

Slow to middling.

Cripes, what a weird summer this is turning out to be.

But since I was out I kept plugging along. I tied on one of the purple and starling wet flies and was blessed when a fairly good sized brookie snacked on that. I had to wait a bit before I got another one on and that time it was a rainbow.

I hung out by myself until dark and then headed home, feeling somewhat refreshed by the cooler temps and lower humidity.

That was it for Friday.

Saturday the weather was starting to change again and not for the best. It would seem that the heat and humidity were making another run for us. So late in the afternoon a group of us headed to a different spot on the river where the water was nice and cold.

Again, the insect activity was slow to middling. We didn't see more than two or three fish break the surface and we stayed there pretty late. For the first time I saw a water moccasin and for a small snake he sure had an attitude.

I hate snakes.

I was just getting ready to walk into the river when there he was, right at my feet. That guy may have been about 2 feet long but in my reality world that sucker was 10' long and nasty.

It doesn't matter how long (or short) he was since he made me stop dead in my tracks. He stared at me with his tongue flicking in and out and you could tell what his thought bubble was, "Go ahead! Make my day!!"

I hate snakes (did I mention that already?!) and this is the third snake so far this year. Shoot, there was one snake the other weekend that I got so close to I must have scared it because the darn thing shot up and out into the water in an instant. I don't know, nor do I care to know, what kind it was. It hit the water and headed downstream. But this one from Sat. was holding his ground and I graciously gave him all the room he needed.

So once I decided that the coast was clear of snakes I headed out into one part of the pool and tied on another wet fly. It took a while but eventually I had a really nice rainbow on.

Sunday we headed out but the temperature was starting to crawl back up into the 90's again. This time we did manage to see some, not a lot, but some bug activity. The cedar waxwings were diving on the water as soon as they could for a bite to eat. I was mesmerized by how close to the water they could get and barely dab at it and head back up to the trees. Those birds are really fun to watch.

The fishing wasn't too bad early in the morning but as the temperature closed in on the 90's (again) and the humidity picked up the fishing bottomed out.

I had planned on staying until after sun set but by 4pm I was toast. Literally.

It was my turn to be slow to middling.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

When there's too much thunder and lightning and tornaodes...tie flies!!

So far the summer can be summed up in a couple of words


HUMID - lows of 76F and dew point 72F. 

THUNDERSTORMS - enough so that the house shakes

LIGHTNING - oh yeah, it is popping all over

TORANDOES - three the other week, one just yesterday

FLASH FLOODS - my all time favorite. River runs high, starts to get to normal and then runs high again.

One of the best quotes to date is:

"This has been a horrible fishing season for me. The only seasons I've had worse than this one were ones I didn't go fishing at all. I have high hopes it will turn around for me in the fall, but maybe I'm being foolishly optimistic."

When I read the above I just couldn't help but laugh. It has been tough. Last time I was out I was wet wading at night and still sweating. The water seems too warm too early this summer. So.... I am hanging out in the ol' fly tying room doing up some wet flies. Here is a small sample of what I have been doing.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Full figure flies

Whew. It's a hot one today ladies and gentlemen. The current temperature is 94F and the "real feel" is 100F. Yuck. 

I call these my "full figure" flies. These won't lie down flat in the water because of the bump of dubbing at the front of the fly. I have used that same kind of bump when making my steelie flies so why not for some trout flies? I used a streamer hook and attached some 30# stren that I use to attach a #4 stinger hook. Cut off the streamer hook and voila - aren't they lovely?

I prepare the streamer hooks by adding the bump of dubbing on first. Add a drop of super glue to the dubbing and let it dry. The bump is what keeps the profile of the fly when in the water.

I covered the shank of the streamer hook with either dubbing and wire or some silver braid up to the back of the dubbing bump.

Then in front of the bump I added schlappen followed by some tinsel flash. With the above fly I didn't add flash I added dyed peacock hurl. Some of the flies have another layer of schlappen before I added some blood marabou for the outermost layer. 

Here are some others....

For this one I used minnow back fringe instead of the tinsel flash.

The stren keeps the fish from shaking off since they cannot get the leverage they need to rid themselves of the fly. I plan on using these with my Mystic switch tomorrow evening.

July 4th. and dive bombing blood suckers

Spent yesterday with Rob and Cleo fishing. Our trip started up in Massachusetts where the Farmington River runs into the Colebrook Reservoir. The water was a decent level but man oh man, it was h-o-t.
I rigged up the Mystic 4wt. switch and one of my leaders; only I took off the 30# butt section. Why? I left the intermediate poly-leader on and it is next to impossible to cast with that heavy butt section. The next time I am out I am going to take the poly-leader off and use the entire leader/tippet that I make.

I found some nice shade to cast and swing flies through and worked on that for a while. Since I was wet wading I eventually ended up kneeling down in the river as I tried to keep cool. I am sure that must have looked "strange" but hey, it worked. I was still able to reach all the water I wanted to and keep cool at the same time. 

After working that part of the river for a while we moved on down to the Still River. With all the rain we have had it had a pretty good flow rate as well. We fished that for a spell as well. Didn't see any fish and no hits.

We moved on down to the Farmington at Church Pool because we found a friend of ours fishing under the bridge. Jerry was using his Sage TCX 5wt.. and 330 Scandi. Since there were too many people splashing and swimming and having a grand ol' time for their holiday we headed down the back side of Church and fished down to the wood shop. It was nice and shady and while the river was a bit high through there it wasn't too bad. However, what was bad were the mosquitoes. Holy smokes, Batman. 

Those dive bombing blood sucking monsters were everywhere and they were not shy. We had some pretty good action though this stretch of water and by this time I had switched to the Mystic 9',  4wt. Reaper. That is a nice rod and has a pretty good snap to it. We found some browns but the water was on the warm side. It has been a very strange year for fishing the Farmington and right now it is not one of my best. So much water that it floods some days and then tapers off only to flood again. Right now the rains have held off so perhaps the flow rate will stabilize.

Cleo was a sport getting in and out of the car and standing in the water trying to cool off. She even found some mud to lay in and take a long nap. She probably thought we were all crazy but I can tell you that despite the heat and humidity we still had a good time.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Online magazine -- Swing The Fly!!

Just saw this in the Salmon River Spey news. Looks like a great on-line magazine that is FREE and you can't beat that. Take a look at the website below and enjoy.

Swing The fly

Thursday, June 27, 2013

To see what I can see

I finally got around to sitting at my fly tying desk late yesterday evening as I prepared to make some leaders for this summer's fishing. I have a window that is right across from me and every so often I pause from what I am doing and just look out. Since the room I am in is on the second floor I do have quite a nice view.

Last year after the Hurricane Sandy I was sitting there watching the clouds swirl and then the full moon popped out. It was quite the impressive sight! I was able to see the slate grey clouds back-lit by the moonshine swirling in a northerly direction. The trees were gently swaying as the storm slowly made it's way up the coast. After a while I could see the clouds change direction as they started to move in a southerly direction, still back-lit by the moonshine. The storm was on the move further up the coast, leaving lots of damage along the shore but also leaving a beautiful image in my mind that I will not likely forget.

I also have a beautiful front garden that I can spy on from my vantage point. Actually, the garden takes up pretty much all of the front yard which means less grass to cut! But at times it also holds secrets that can only be seen from above. Like rabbits. There are three cottontails that hang out in the garden. They have the most marvelous antics to watch.

The three of them will charge around the plants as if they were playing a game of bunny hide and seek. One will sneak up on the other and scare the Be-Jesus out of him/her. The rabbit that gets "scared" literally jumps two feet up with paws a-flailing. It is quite the comical sight. 

On some days there are dozens of butterflies flitting from flower to flower. They will hang around for hours and just as mysteriously as they appear they will suddenly disappear.

In the late summer as the cone flowers have bloomed and are starting to go to seed I will have several gold finches balancing ever so delicately on the head of these flowers as they gently tug at the perfectly ripened seeds. Each year the number of finches has grown and in late July I start looking and listening for their calls.

This is the newest section I added this spring. I imagine that next year I will simply join the two sections into one. May as well as that swath of grass between them is getting smaller and smaller.

Part of the garden I have set up for my birds. They get quite the treatment here with fresh water and bird seed on a daily basis. I have yet to find a "squirrel proof" bird feeder. Correction: the one that is hanging claims to be squirrel proof but it isn't!

Once in a while I even have some mallards that show up.

So back to my window and leading tying last  night.

I took a look out to see what I could see and I saw. Snow.

Snow? Naa...wait a minute that's not snow. What? Feathers? Really? Feathers gently floating down past my window from above me.

Ok. Wait a second here. There are quite a few feathers falling down here....
Oh oh....

The hawk.
Yup. I have some hawks that take to hanging around the joint and once in a while I will see a poof of feathers in the front yard where either a red tailed hawk, broad winged hawk other predatory bird has had a snack.

With this in mind I headed out the front door to take a look up to see what happened. Just as I suspected,   a broad tailed hawk had snagged a sparrow and was busy pulling the feathers off while perched on top of the chimney cap.

He finished off his meal all the while keeping a wary eye on me. I didn't dare go get the camera because I didn't want to spook him, but it was cool watching him until he finished and flew off. 

So now I will get back to my desk for some more leader building and then perhaps some fly tying. Oh, and I will keep an eye out my window just to see what I can see.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Summer of 2013 will be one for the books

The title of the blog says it all. This is going to be one fantastic summer.

First of all my oldest son, Brian is getting married in August to Christie, a lovely young lady. I absolutely adore her and they are the perfect couple.

Brian and Christie

So I have a big wedding to go to in August out in Wyoming.
That's right. Wyoming!! Yee-haw. Home to open ranges, cowboys and big rivers for fishing.

You heard me right. Fishing. Mother and son fishing....hopefully if plans go accordingly.

I am heading out a week or so before the wedding and Brian and I are going to try to get out. He wants to learn some two handed casting and at the same time we can fish together. It has been a long time since we got to fish together, it should be a memorable time.

Christie won't mind because she is an avid outdoors kinda gal as well. She likes to hunt, fish and go camping right along with Brian. Christie asked me to tie some boutonnieres for the wedding so I did a dozen of 'em based on salmon fly patterns. I can't show any pictures of them yet because their big debut will be on their wedding day. After the wedding I will share some pictures. I was pretty nervous making the flies but all in all I think they are great. Better yet, Brian and Christie love them.

So now I am going to start tying some flies for the trip. Maybe even make a wedding box of special flies. One for Brian and one for Christie.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Monday, February 11, 2013

Blizzard. Beauty and ice.

Friday, February 8th.
School was cancelled on Friday as most of New England waited for the impending blizzard. The winter had been pretty mild up to now with some snow storms but nothing of any significance. What little snow we did get had already melted so I took this photo of the backyard as the "before" picture.


By late afternoon this was all the snow we had and I was starting to think this was a bust!
But by 5pm Friday evening the wind started howling and the snow really started to come down.

By 4am Saturday the wind had drifted the snow up to the back door and we had to push it out just enough for the dog to go outside. She bounded down the steps as she usually does and then hit the landing. As she touched down she ended up being completely covered by snow! She promptly turned around and ran back into the kitchen.

Shortly after 5am Rob and I were out and trying to clear a path for Cleo.

Yeah, we love our dog. We made a nice path out to the yard and a couple of wide spots for her to "take care of business".
While I am sure Cleo was thankful for the work we were doing for her she still didn't want any part of hanging around outside!
Once we took care of the back it was time to tackle the driveway. The only way to go out to the driveway was through the back door and garage. The snow had drifted up to the front door and steps and we couldn't get out.
Amazingly enough the wall of snow did not collapse one I opened the door.
Yeah, I know, I know but where the hell else was I supposed to toss all that snow?

Because as you can see we had piles of it on both sides of the driveway.

So Saturday was spent cleaning up.  We even got enough room at the end of the drive for Rob to feed the crows.


On Sunday we decided to take a trip up the river. It was 9F, sunny and absolutely beautiful. I was drawn to the contrast of bright snow and the dark ribbon of water.

This is a very good spot to fish!

I can't wait to get back into these spots!

So there you are. Blizzard. Beauty and ice.