Sunday, July 31, 2016

1st Fish!

1st Fish on the Fly

A great moment with my oldest. Her first fish on a fly.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

South Jersey Topwater

Small Pond Topwater Foam 

A short stop between chores on some South Jersey small water. With the CGR 7wt always in the truck, a small box of freshly minted foam gurgler replacements went in the pocket.

The best bass of the night. They hit a #4 Gurgler running. Even had a couple 10" Chain Pickerel thrown into the mix. All were making slashing strikes, often missing on the 1st attempt.

In the short 1 1/2 hours before dark,  it seemed the gills that rose to the Gurgler were all chunks, but unlike the bass and Pickerel the gills just sucked in the fly with that tell-tale "click", and ran straight for the vegetation upon hookset. 

A couple dozen fish before dark make chores seem, not-so-bad.

See you on the water!

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Tubing Glenloch Lilies

Tubing Glenloch Lilies

After a couple days of oppressive heat, the temps dropped to a comfortable 90 degrees with a breeze. With a chance to drop the tube in for the last hour and a half of daylight, on went the fins. 

With a lot of smaller stuff thrown in, the Gurgler proved able to bring the largest of the gills to the top. 

The night was owned by the Black Gurgler, and the fly that started the night....ended the night. 

The Gurgler 

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Tying the Little Gill Streamer

Little Gill Streamer

The Little Gill Streamer is simply a variation of a well-established technique in tying hair bodied streamers. For this variation I use Superhair and target Bluegill Fry.  I have the most success with this pattern on bass in open water. Particularly when there is a large channel between lily pad pods. Fished on a floating line and standard mono leader, this fly is very effective when stripped just below the surface in varied rhythm, giving the streamer a struggling appearance.  

Little Gill Streamer Recipe

Hook:  #4 Stinger
Thread:  Black
Weed Guard:  25# Seaguar Flourocarbon
Body:  Olive / Blue SuperHair
Head:  Bug Bond
Coloration:  Black / Red marker

Thursday, July 21, 2016

It Was a Froggy Night

Really?....A #2 Foam Gurgler? is with mixed emotions that I show you this Gill. Although it is one of the biggest of the year for me. But the cast before this, I was in the process of lipping a "Scouts Honest" 5 pounder, and it kicked off just as my thumb touched it. A heckuva a fight nonetheless, and a heavy fish on the 7wt glass....but in the end, the fish was the victor.

Now, back to the Gill. I caught several 1 - to - 1 1/2lb largemouth over the course of the evening. All on the Gurglin Frog. But after this Gill....they just didn't seem worthy of a pic. 

Sunday, July 17, 2016

A New Fly Fisher

A new Fly Fisher in the family

With an Orvis 101 course under her belt, and an anxious oldest was finally able to get on her first fly water. It was her first chance as well to christen her Mary Marbury 6wt Suprefine. She did both in fine fashion in the same place that most of us began...bluegill water. 

1st FISH!!!!

And the story begins

After a short period of getting accustomed to the tube for the first time, casting sitting down for the first time & setting the hook on a fish for the first time with a fly rod...Things clicked.

In no time she was wandering off to catch her own fish.

Even Dad caught one. 

And after catching trout in the Northwest and Alaska, and surf fishing the East Coast with spinning gear.....a New Flyfisher is added to the family. 

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Old Glass New Groove

The Profile 800 8' 7wt found its groove

After having the Profile rebuilt, I had been struggling to find the perfect match that would make this rod feel perfect in the hand. It felt way to tip heavy for me, and just didn't seem to throw a nice loop without a little "help". As a result, it would tear up my wrist and shoulder after a days fishing. That all changed last night with a short evening trip to the pond in the 94 degree heat. I had decided to bump my CGR 7/8 up to an 8wt bass line to help with larger bugs. It throws a 7wt line perfectly, but I don't have an 8wt rod otherwise. SO, I picked up a new Orvis Hydros Bass taper and took it out during the week.  I was disappointed to find out that the CGR struggled with the 8wt bass taper, and even more disappointed that I had seemingly wasted money on a line I really didn't have a rod for. Then yesterday, I decided to spool the line on an Orvis/Martin 67SS reel and see just how the Profile handled it?  The result?.....a rod came to life. The 7wt with the heavier Martin fell right into the hand, and threw that 8wt line clear into the running line like it was nothing. It was shooting line straight as an arrow 10-15 feet into the orange running line with a #2 hairbug.  I was pleasantly surprised since it actually feels at first like a very soft 7wt.  

1st fish on the new line, took a #4 FBC.

The Foam Butt Caddis....or the "Big Butt Caddis" as I refer to the mutant warmwater version...stole the day.  The fish were looking up, but not for anything of size. 

They were thick and aggressive though, with at least a slash or slap on most every cast. Which was made even more fun on the glass smooth water. 

Just a perfect night for fishing on top. 

The largest Gill of the evening

While the bass were feeding as well, nothing of size seemed active. But the smallish fish were taking the fly willingly with explosive rises. 

About a dozen of these half-pound clones helped to make the night fun. 

But the night was really made for me most of all, by the Johnson Profile and 8wt line. The rod truly struggled with a 7wt line as marked. And the new line took it from a rod destined for the corner of my den, to a real joy to cast. 

See you on the water!

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Tying the Gurgling Frog

Gurgling Frogs

The Gurgling Frog is an adaptation of the Gartside Gurgler style foam head and body, with a bit more movement added along with a small frog theme. It's simple to tie, extremely durable and very effective.  The versions to be tied are limited only to your imagination. But this one, is a winner and remains in my box. Plop it down on the edges of the lilies...let it sit for a moment...give it a short 1" twitch to add life...let it sit again...then begin a 2-strip retrieve with a pause in between. More often than not, it gets taken on the first small twitch.

Gurgling Frog Recipe

Hook:  #2 Stinger
Thread:  Black 210/Danville
Tail: Olive Bucktail
Legs: Barred HackleTips
Body:  Green Fly Foam
Abdomen: Sculpin Wooly-Bugger Chenille
Hackle:  Barred Chestnut Silicone Legs

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Embracing the Heat

95 Degrees and sunny means there is only one place to fish

You can lament the heat in July and accept fishing for trout for the only 2  productive hours of the day at dawn/dusk. Or....grab a wide-brimmed straw hat and jump in the U-boat. Yesterday as the heat began to build, I started thinking about damselflies and lily pads. The more humid it got the more I thought some of the local ponds would light up.

The evening began with a light Foam Butt Caddis

Not finding anything on the edges, I moved out to the pods of lilies in the deeper water and quickly began to pick up fish on top with some nice fat fish finding the apron of the tube.

They seemed to be hovering around the tops of the pads.  The takes were steady between smallish gills and half-pound bass, with a healthy smattering of good fish mixed in.

Sometimes regardless of size, you just have to enjoy the colors.

The largest fish considering species was this slab of a bluegill

Spot on 10 1/2" lip-to-tail

As the sun dropped behind the trees, the FBC lost its luster. So, I switched to a version of the Gartside Gurgler and instantly brought up fish. They didn't just roll under this fly, they attacked it. Often times missing it in the frenzy a couple times before finally nailing it.

This mossy-backed version of a bluegill chased the Gurlger for 6 feet before it finally caught it. He's either going blind or he's too hungry to think straight.

After a dozen or so dinks, the Gurgler finally brought the largest bass of the day to hand.

I hit the boat launch tired, thirsty and sweated wet enough that I wondered why I even bothered to wear waders. But I reckon kicking through lily pad fields with bare legs and shorts would not have a very good outcome.

All-in-all a great night on the water. The fish were willing to play and there were enough with size to keep things interesting.

The Gartside Gurgler

See you on the water! 

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Tying the Swift Streamer

The Swift Streamer

I began tying the Swift streamer for a gentleman who had a cabin along Swift Lake on the south side of Mt St Helen's in western Washington. He wanted something to fish for the Dolly's that were often found at the top of the lake, where it was fed by the East Fork of the Lewis River. The spin fishermen did very well there with orange Rooster Tails, and he wanted a fly that would replicate that spinner. He loved the pattern and said it also did well for him on the Kokanee in the lake as well as for local steelhead. I tied it for him over the course of 4-5 years before leaving the area. Though I fished that area often, I had other favorite patterns I preferred and actually never fished the pattern on the water it was tied for myself. I decided however give it a try as a trout streamer in the northeast  a few years later and found it to be a very productive fly here also. 

Swift Streamer Recipe

Hook:  #8-4 Daiichi 2370
Thread:  Flo Orange 70d Ultra Thread
Rib:  Fine Gold Tinsel
Body: Tying Thread / Peacock Herl
Wing: Pheasant Rump x2
Hackle:  Furnace Hen

Note: The original pattern was tied with an Orange Uni-Floss Abdomen & Orange Uni-Thread instead of the Ultra Thread used now

Monday, July 4, 2016

Shakespeare's Back Cast

Fly Fishing Shakespeare

In an attempt to offer that I am not simple single-minded, or socially malnourished in my approach to life. I offer a glimpse of what could have been, had Shakespeare himself experienced a proper brungin'up.

Hope you have all had a great 4th!

Shakespeare's Back Cast

Come, let’s away to stream;
We two alone will fish like Herons o’ the cage:
When thou dost catch a fish, I’ll kneel with net,
And ask of thee forgiveness: so it shall live,
And cast loop, and set hook, and tell old tales,
And laugh at hatching Mayflies,
And hear poor rogues talk of work and strife.”

Adaptation from:
—Lear in King Lear

Saturday, July 2, 2016

The Witching Hour

1st Fish of July

The 1st of July found me standing waist deep in a small South Jersey lake as the sun began to sink into the western treeline. The 10 knot winds of the day had suddenly seemed to calm as the now glass-like water surrounding me began to take on a golden hue. I tied on a #2 deer hair was witching hour. 

OK, OK, OK....(cue "My cousin Vinny").....So, not exactly Your Honor.

Actually, I was standing in knee deep mud, thigh deep aquatic vegetation and 2 feet of water, that combined, did-in-fact come up to my waist. 

BUT....that slight change in setting does in no way take away from the fact that it was indeed "witching hour", and as the waters surface changed, the boils were beginning among the lilies. 
Normally, this lake is good for bringing up a few nice bass and towards dusk the largest of the bluegill begin to "look up" as well. Tonight would be different however. 

Taking it slow to avoid too much surface disruption I worked my way into a position where I was able to work several smaller clusters of lily pads. Then I settled back to watch for a few minutes to let things calm down and try to locate any obvious feeding fish. The struggle with my patience paid off with what looked like a decent fish in a cluster off to my left, so I began there. 

My first cast dropped  the popper about a foot shy of the pad edges and almost instantly a fish rolled it. On my end however, being wired-for-sound and in the moment I ungraciously decided that I did not want that fish to eat my fly just yet, and I'm pretty sure I ripped it away before Ol'bucketmouth could even close his lips. My next cast was to the right about 4 ft....and there was nothing. Irritated with myself already for missing that fish my next cast grabbed a small floating island of algae that I knew enough to avoid. Not helping my cause I grumbled at myself while cleaning pond scum from my deer hair offering. Another boil....same fish....all is not lost. Now stop shining, hitch up your knickers and catch him.  

But what ensued was like being in a Disney movie with my conscience on both shoulders.

On my left....Joe Pesci. "You're an idiot! You didn't even let him turn before setting the hook!  You moron! You blew it! AGGHH, why do I even bother?!"  

While on my right....Morgan Freeman.  "Just take a breath. You got this!  We've been here before....just give it back to him again, and when he takes, give the old One-Two-Set.

Too often I tend to get in an argument with my left shoulder. But I have my moments of clarity every now and again. So, giving a nod to Morgan, I calmed down and dropped my popper back on the edge of the lilies once more. As the rings settled....nothing. I twitched the popper once slightly just to give it life...and the water boiled. A quick mental count and on the end of two I set the hook to my first fish of July 2016. It wasn't a monster. But it was a healthy representation  of that waters average fish.

I had begun on the right foot for the night. Maybe it was a sign that all would go well and tonight would be the night of big fish and lifelong memories? Then on the next cast my popper was grabbed by a marauding chain pickerel of about 20 inches, which took me straight into the nearest lilies where it spun me around like a carnival ride, terminally tangling me.  Wading over I was hopeful that it would remain on the line, but what I found  after fighting my way to him and disturbing half the lake was a tangled mess of leader and lily stalks. And on the end...a chewed up tippet minus both fish and popper. 

My left shoulder snickered......"Nice.....reeeaaal nice...."