Friday, January 25, 2008
Monday, January 21, 2008
Thursday, January 17, 2008
And indeed there is. To me anyway, any time is a great time to fish. Winter, just like any season, has its fishing moments. No, fish do not go into hibernation as animals do, nor do they quit feeding. And catch them on the right day, and well--you can just have a ball.
Every year and almost without fail our winter guided trips produce some of the largest fish of the year. It just seems to work out that way. Whether its ripping a big streamer through a deep hole or bottom bouncing/dead drifting a large nymph or wooly bugger (you know dead drifting a wooly bugger is deadly if you have never given it a try....), or fishing a spawn or egg fly, whatever the case, fish just seem willing to take a bite of something big. Maybe its they feed less and want a lot of calories when they do, I am not sure that I know. I know tailwaters are often the opposite, and places like East Tennessee's South Holston River are like that. Thousands (like 5000-6000 trout per mile) of trout feeding on midge pupa and blackflies and where if you are fishing a #20 or 22 you are way out of line......
Wherever the place, and whatever the circumstance, I'd have to say winter is one of my favorite times of all. Give it a try.......maybe you'll discover the same.
Saturday, January 12, 2008
Such questions always come up, in fact that is the #1 question that should come up. When Larry said, "I'll email you a picture of it", what I got was the picture to the left and I thought to my self.....that's brilliant. Just as I measure mayflies when trying to match a particular hatch, this fly was pictured next to a ruler in mm. Al Caucci and Bob Nastasi in their excellent books "Hatches" and "Hatches II" also measured the bugs they captured onstream the same way. Measuring bugs you are trying to imitate is a foolproof yes foolproof way of making sure your fly is as close to being the correct size it can be.
How can that be? For one, hooks differ slightly in shank length depending upon which manufacturer's hooks you are using. ORVIS and Daichii (my personal favorite) are standard length hooks, while two popular hooks - - the Tiemco 100 (wide gap hook) has a slightly longer hook shank and the Mustad 94840 has a slightly shorter hook shank. Thus, measuring the body size of an insect and then tying it in millimeters is one way to have the correct size no matter which hook you are using. This can be critical in cases where you fish regular hatches on local tailwaters like Virginia's Smith River and East Tennessee's South Holston and Watauga Rivers.
A small metal, wood, or plastic ruler with a mm scale on it is all you need. In fact, if you are trying to match a hatch or a particular insect or food item you don't even have to carry a ruler with you. Simply carry a paper index card and a waterproof Sharpie type marker, lay the insect on the card, and mark the exact length of the body. Under it write the type of fly you suspect it to be, time of day, and where you found it (riffle, run, pool, bushes, etc.) Such information can be very valuable both now and in the future.
So , is size that important? You bet. Normally, in our fly fishing classes we stress the importance of size, shape, then color and in that order. By far my experience has been that size is the most important factor in any case. In fact, even if you are on the water and don't have a fly that looks just right in terms of appearance, but can match the size of it to what's hatching, you at least have credibility to the fish in one respect. And that, as my time onstream has shown me, can sometimes mean the difference between at least a fish or two rather than nothing. And that always beats getting a "platinum bagel" ( '0')!
Friday, January 11, 2008
Wednesday, January 9, 2008
Tuesday, January 8, 2008
Over the past couple of months I have gotten lots of questions about the fishing trip with WXII NewsChannel 12's Austin Caviness. Its really interesting that the only thing it took is an email and a phone call to get the ball rolling. Actually I was here one afternoon just tying flies and the thought had crossed my mind about his show and contacting him about possibly doing a segment. One email to him and a phone conversation and it was on the calendar.
I have done segments before with other folks from the local news stations, all of them lots of fun and the people very interesting and fun to be around. In that way, Austin was topnotch. If there's a nicer guy out there doing what he does I do not know of him. He's the same guy you see on the News doing the weather, and let me tell you - - - - the guy is a serious hunter and fisherman. It didn't take too many casts to see that he could fish, and was obviously no stranger to the fly rod. It only took minutes for him to hook up. Our original plan was to fish a few holes, enough for some footage and get him into a fish or two for the camera.
With a frontal system moving in, and clouds very thick, the fish were on, maybe wide open would be the right way to put it. In two pools we'd caught some really good fish, maybe a dozen or more, and plenty of footage for sure. Austin's camera man said,"Boy we usually don't have this problem....too much footage." It sure was good.
I watched as Austin fished every rig I handed him, nymph, dry , dry /dropper, emerger. He really put it to those Helton Creek fish. Our plan was to fish maybe an hour /hour and a half or so, but it was good enough that Austin didn't want to stop. It was good enough too that his camera man even got in on the action, catching maybe half a dozen fish of his own. Needless to say, what was going to be fish for an hour or so and get some footage and be back on the road by noon turned into fishing until 4pm and then quickly taking the waders and other stuff off and blasting off for home. It was a great day, we caught maybe 30 or more fish all together, a good day anywhere. Our plan is to do another segment this winter, on fly tying and I will be looking forward to that.
As I said earlier, Austin is one of the nicest folks I have ever met. Only a few minutes with him and you felt like you were with a long lost buddy from high school. He 's great......literally, at about 6'6" or 6'7" he really is. To see the clip from our onstream segment you can click here .
Sunday, January 6, 2008
Friday, January 4, 2008
Tuesday, January 1, 2008
Well, the New Year is now here and thinking about January makes me think about some of my favorite fishing. Customers who know me well know it as "Icebox fishing". Hard to imagine that the past few days, particularly when the thermometer is pushing 60F and we sweat a little as we take the Christmas decorations down and stow them for another year. And maybe that new rod will come next year.....
In any case, the time of year makes me reflect on what makes winter fishing so unique. Maybe one thing about it is just that it seems that all the odds are stacked against you and to still catch fish puts some sort of imaginary and unspoken medal on your flyfishing vest. Maybe its the often total solitude that winter fishing can bring as the worse the weather conditions are the better your guarantee of some peace and quiet. Or maybe if there's snow, the kind of silence and serenity that a little of the white stuff brings. Or maybe that its just that itch to get out fishing, a passion that burns inside that maybe is willing to endure a little pain and suffering, if that's what it is, just to make one more cast and catch one more fish. I think its all of those things......if we're honest.
I reflect on some of the unusual trips I have had in the winter. I have fished along with friends before only to have one of us fall and submerge up to our necks in cold, mountain water. Yikes!!! Not one of those floundering stumbles where you catch your toe on the edge of a rock while trying to cast and still make an upstream step ( a surefire way to go down, if you haven't tried it or can't like me wait long enough to get into a good position and then cast), those types of stumbles happen often enough. You know, the kind that causes a tremendous splash and gets the attention of anyone within an earshot of your position. Those are embarassing.......but lack the grace and the completeness of a good ol' face first or complete fall that soaks one head to toe in ice cold water. These falls are not for the weak or faint of heart.....no, they have an ability like nothing else to awaken one, and quite quickly. No, these are falls that would score a 9 or 10 if someone were in a tree stand on the bank and playing judge. I am not sure what hurts worse, the pain of ice cold water soaking you from head to toe on a day where its barely above freezing, or the embarrassment of having to crawl out of an stream with everyone watching only to go back to the car, strip to your underwear and blast the heat wide open for a solid hour. And as bad as that sounds, underneath all of it is an intense desire to get back out there and catch one more fish.......
When winter comes I also think of the trip when my wife Kathy and I had hiked into the Slaty Fork of the Elk River in West Virginia. When we hiked in it was around 35F or so, and drizzly, but with the feeling of impending snow. She had grabbed the wrong jacket and found herself after an hour or so pretty damp and feeling quite cold. Were we not catching fish it would have been easy to turn around and head out. But it started to snow heavily, and it was getting colder, and we had to find some way to make a fire. Looking in my vest I perused through all of the wonderful gadgetry, great as it is at doing flyfishing things..., and realized all this great stuff was of no use for what we needed. But I had one old tube of a favorite paste type floatant, it was called "Dave's Bug Flote". It is a product distributed by Umpqua, and marketed as Dave Whitlock's floatant formula. I now wonder if Dave must have found himself in our shoes at some time in the past. All I know is that I gathered some sticks and leaves and applied some Bug Flote to the rubble and with a few strikes of the lighter was able to start a fire. The flyfishing retail spirit inside wondered if I had just discovered a new , marketable use for Dave's Bug Flote.....whether I did or didn't my wife and I certainly appreciated the nice, blazing little fire that now flourished before us. So remember that, if you need to start a fire, always count on Dave's Bug Flote.
One last tidbit I remember about that West Virginia trip was that my wife's brand new SAGE LL 586 fell from a tree it was leaning against and landed right across the fire while we had walked about 20 yds down to the river. When we walked up, I shrieked as I saw it lying there, across the fire, blank burned into and a brand new ORVIS wonderline scorched in two. It was one of those moments where I felt tremendous loss and comfort almost at the same time, once I realized the rod thankfully had a warranty. To our good I sent the rod back to SAGE and they faithfully repaired and returned the rod to me in new condition. I also wondered if they asked themselves how someone managed to burn a new fly rod in half. Like everything though, the embarrassment passed with time, at least enough to be telling you now.
So there you have it, winter has had many interesting moments for me. I forgot to mention that we caught fish.......rainbows.......lots of them......with no one else fishing......in a fresh fallen snow......how much better than that can it get? Til next time..........enjoy your cold weather fishing...