“Upstream, Downstream, Small Stream” by Steve Culton from American Angler

“Upstream, Downstream, Small Stream” first appeared in the March/April 2013 issue of American Angler. The article’s subhead sums it up nicely: “What’s the best tactical approach on a high-gradient mountain stream? Let the brookies be your guide.” I wrote this piece after I became fascinated with how receptive — or unreceptive — wild brook trout were to my offerings, depending on how I was fishing. Many thanks to American Angler for allowing me to share it on currentseams. I’m trying something different this time: Instead of the article text and photos, it’s a pdf link.

UpstreamDownstreamSmallStream

Is there a best way to catch fish like this? Yes. No. Maybe. Read the article and you’ll see what I mean.

Bigbuckbrookie

Everglades Report: Absolutely, positively, definitely not in Kansas anymore

I fished in Everglades National Park on Wednesday and it was — well, like nothing I’ve experienced before with a fly rod. I’m not sure what I expected, but like any fishing trip, the day had its highs and lows. I can tell you this: it was never boring.

Let’s start with the mosquitos. There were more per cubic foot of space than I’ve ever seen. Ravenous little suckers, too. The most remarkable thing about them was how quickly they descended upon you the moment you opened the car door — or stopped the boat in a cove. Unlike some of the noseeums I’ve encountered, these could be kept at bay with standard-issue bug spray. Still…wow.

SkeeterMeter

~

This outing was part of Number One Son Bill’s UMiami Law School graduation present. He was spinning, I was fly rodding. We murdered them at our first stop (technically accessory-to-murdered them). To wit: one of the ladyfish Bill caught got whacked by a shark after he released it. The fish floated away about 30 feet when the shark came back and rolled over on it. It gave me a new appreciation for watching trout take spinners. Bill had an Everglades hat trick of ladyfish, sea trout, and reef snapper within 30 minutes. He outcaught me about three-to-one.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

~

The Everglades is an intimidating place. The wildlife ranges from the innocuous (butterflies) to the annoying (mosquitoes, snook, tarpon — we’ll get to those last two in a bit) to the potentially deadly (sharks, crocs.) I was amazed that they let people canoe in a canal where we spotted three crocs in the space of 50 yards. The heat and sun can get to you, too, especially if your last outing was in neoprene waders. Then, there’s the structure of the place. From the point-of-view of a boat in a watery expanse, it looks like any big lake. But its creeks and diversions and coves are labyrinthine, mysterious, and untamed. Our guide, Capt. Mark Giacobba, did a great job getting us in and out of some very fishy looking water. As you can see, he knows how to dress for his job.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

~

We spent most of the day working the mangrove-layered shorelines, but my favorite spot was the tidal pond — I dubbed it “Dead Mangrove Cove” — we poled into. You can’t see from the photo, but in many places the water is only 1-2 foot deep. The snook were not in thick, but there were enough over the course of 90 minutes to keep us on high alert. Now, if you’ve never sight-fished for snook in shallow water under bright sun, you don’t know from spooky fish. I was wholly unprepared for this. We spooked one by pointing at it — and it was 50 feet away. I spooked several starting my first false cast. Hell, I think we spooked a few by just thinking about them. They say that wild brown trout are wary. My new perspective is that that’s just about laughable.  

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

~

It took me a good hour to remember not to step on my line — using a shooting basket in perpetuity will do that to you — while I was casting. The zip ties along the edge of the deck are a brilliant idea when there’s a breeze. So here it is: I blanked on snook. I had one good presentation and follow, but the fish turned away at the last moment. I would have loved a second day to redeem myself, but that will have to wait. The tarpon were even more bashful than the snook. We finally found a diversion where a couple rolled, but by the time we poled over they’d either vanished or been spooked. As the final insult, a school of seven tarpon swam purposefully past the boat as we prepared to leave. They wanted nothing to do with my fly. Bastards.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

~

Objection! Bill outfished his old man! Overruled, and that’s not a bad first snook. Bill just about dropped his cast in the fish’s mouth. Bill confirmed that this certainly made up for those three miserable snowy days in Pulaski a few years ago when he didn’t get a touch. Great job, kid.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Contest swag is on its way!

All good things to those who wait (and my apologies for the delay). The 500 followers contest winners are getting their flies shipped today. Coming to a mailbox soon near you:

Drew gets this section of early season bugs. Clockwise from 7 o’clock: SHBHPT, Hare and Copper variant, Frenchie variant, Squirrel and Ginger, Dark Hendrickson winged wet, Hendrickson spider. 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

~

Pete wins the classic North Country spiders, tied on light wire hooks with Pearsall’s Gossamer silks. Left cork: Winter Brown, Black Magic. Right cork, clockwise from 3 o’clock: Orange Partridge, Snipe and Purple, Grey Partridge, Poult Bloa.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

~

Greg gets this selection wet flies for the Farmington and Housasontic. Clockwise from noon: Pale Watery wingless (Magic Fly), Drowned Ant, Squirrel and Ginger, BWO spider, SHBHPT, Partridge and Light Cahill.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Tight lines, gentlemen. And thanks to everyone for reading and following currentseams. Another 60 or so followers and we’ll do it again!

 

HFFA receives the Order of the Cheeseburger with IPA Clusters (and other ramblings)

Many thanks to the HFFA for hosting me tonight — and for understanding that a fed presenter is a happy presenter. Yummy burger, yummy beer, good company. On top of that, I was gifted some flies and a lovely La Aroma De Cuba El Jefe Corona Gorda. Thanks for your generosity. Thus endeth the 2016-2017 speaking season.

Speaking of flies, my apologies to the contest winners for the delay in getting your swag out to you. I have one more dozen to tie, then off they go. Your patience and understanding is appreciated.

The writing machine is humming along. Look for more stuff soon from yours truly in Field & Stream (summer smallies) and American Angler (streamers for trout). I’ll try to get some article reposts up on this site, too.

Looks like some swollen rivers this weekend. After last year’s drought disaster, I’ll take the surplus.

The Hous at 100cfs. You won’t be seeing any of those rocks this weekend.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

“The Little Things” tomorrow night at the HFFA and IFFF screening in Branford

Come one, come all. This is my last gig before the summer hiatus kicks in:

“The Little Things,” Thursday, May 4, Housatonic Fly Fishermen’s Association, Wallingford, CT. St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, 65 North Main St, 7pm. For more information, visit the HFFA Facebook page.

There’s also the IFFF screening at the Stony Creek Brewery in Branford, 6pm.

Me or beers & movies. Tough call.

Farmington River Report 5/1/17: No bugs? No rises? No problem.

I guided Mina yesterday — a cool, dreary day for most of it. We headed to the permanent TMA and for the first hour we had the place all to ourselves. Mina wanted to delve into the black arts of wet fly fishing. Water was a little higher than I like for wets (440cfs — they’ve since (of course) dropped the flow — and it was cold! 45 degrees made for some chilly legs and feet. Bug activity was also low — some micro midges and a couple caddis, and no H-bombs, at least not while we were there. We covered lots of water before we found some customers. A couple bumps, a couple dropped fish, and a couple to net, but that was more action than I saw elsewhere. Ya done good, Mina, under some tough conditions.

Mina is a thoughtful angler who came armed with loads of questions and a strong desire to learn. Here she is, acing a pop quiz. I have to give props to my last two clients. Both Mina and Vicky were confident waders who weren’t afraid to venture into some more challenging water to get their flies in front of fish. Sometimes the angler that covers more water is the angler who catches more fish.

DCIM100GOPROG0033987.

~

We used a bead head soft hackle of Mina’s creation on point to help get the flies down in the higher flows. This guy (who’s beginning to sport a kype) took that fly on the dead drift. Note the cool cirrus cloud effect on the surface.

DCIM100GOPROG0034182.

Farmington River Report 4/28/17: To the Vicky belongs the spoils

I guided Vicky today and she did a bang-up job banging up some trout under the trusty yarn indicator. Vicky vastly undersold her fishing capabilities to me. She did a great job casting, mending, managing her drifts, keeping a positive vibe, and wading into some challenging water (750cfs, 50 degrees below the permanent TMA). Vicky told me she’d only caught five fish on the fly before today; we managed to hook nearly twice that many and land a bunch, all fat, healthy rainbows. We fished a size 14 Rainbow Warrior on top dropper and a size 14 Frenchy variant on point and took fish on both flies.  Our action picked up once the sun warmed the water (weather lottery winners, us) and a few Hendricksons started popping, but persistence and covering water paid off the most.

The skunk is off. We didn’t see a lot of fish caught, but we sure did see a ton of anglers for a weekday. Thanks to everyone who said hi.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This got to be a familiar sight. Way to go, Vicky!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA