Striper Report: Too stupid? Or just stupid enough?

I woke up at 7:20am yesterday, took Cam to soccer camp, fished the Farmy for 90 minutes, picked him up, did some work, took Gordo to hockey camp, drove us home, made supper, hung out with the family…then got in the car at 10:40pm and drove to Rhode Island.

It poured on the way down, but SoCo was mostly just fog and dense clouds bracketing the universe’s attempt to shine through. Spot A was an estuary; there were bass and bait (silversides and peanuts), but the bass were 80 feet out, sporadically ambushing bait from below, unwilling to chase a fly, and I couldn’t present the way I wanted to. Spot B was the open beach. I didn’t like the easterly breeze, some of the surf was sketchy big, and I decided that absent ay signs of bait or bass, it was too much work. Spot C was some skinny water like the kind you can find around the edges of Narragansett Bay. Second cast, three fly team, on the dangle, BANG! A good fish, 10 pounds, on the peanut bunker bucktail top dropper. Hooked two more then called it a night — or is that a very long day, since I didn’t get into bed until after 3am.

That’s eight consecutive months of a striper on the fly from the shore. Last night’s winning entry was this small bucktail, 2″ long and so sparse you can read the newspaper through it. I love catching bigger bass on smaller flies.

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Housy & Farmy Mini-Reports: Water, water, everywhere

A couple of hardy anglers had the temerity to fish the Hous Friday evening. 1,300cfs is certainly doable, if not challenging. We hit three spots and found fish in two of them. I had my first customer on that marabou crayfish prototype, and it was a solid smallie, just under a foot. I had the brilliant idea that I should try to catch a bass on the surface in that turbid flood, and by casting back to the bank…what do you know, a couple of  customers. Both were too small to get their mouth around the hook, but I’d had my fun. Today the river is even higher and rising. Ugh, ugh, ugh.

This morning I had a 90 minute window, so I nymphed two spots on the lower Farmington. 550cfs, very cold for this time of year. First spot was a blank. Very surprised by that. I know I was getting deep enough because I lost my drop shot tag. Move around, find the fish, etc., so I changed locations and first cast, bang, a hefty rainbow that broke my leader at the top fly junction. After post-loss inspection, the leader above the break was frayed, so it was either compromised before hookup or Mr. Rainbow took me for a ride around a rock. Re-rigged, and landed one of the nicest brook trout I’ve ever taken on the Farmington. Both fish hit the top dropper in the rig, a size 16 Wingless March Brown.

Mr. Long Kype Jaw also has some shoulders and a complete set of dramatically contrasted fontenalis fins.

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Smallmouth candy

I don’t usually do this, but I’m going to share a concept/work-in-progress. What do we know? The Hous is high and it’s loaded with rusty crayfish which smallies eat. I’ve done precious little bottom bouncing with crayfish patterns, and I want to explore that. So: dumbbell eyes, inverted hook, lots of marabou = lots of motion, rusty/orange/red/brown/green colors, a little flash. We’ll see what the focus group thinks.

No name yet, not even the final materials and colors, but if I were a smallmouth, I’d chow down.

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Housy Smallmouth Report 8/1/18: No snow day

A short outing last night, from 7pm-9pm, below the TMA. Once again, I had the river all to myself — I haven’t seen another angler in the last week! It was pouring when I left the Jeep, but it was over by the time I was on the water. Steamy, tropical, just disgusting air. The river was 440cfs, still a bit over where I’d like it, but I’d rather have this than 100. The fishing was OK — that is, I caught another bazillion fish, only this time there were a few more pipsqueaks in the mix. Sure, there were a bunch in the 10-12″ class, but the big one eluded me on this night. Favorite moment: stripping a TeQueely, bang!, and then both fly (now out of mouth) and bass go aerial.

Mysteries as yet unsolved (but I have my theories): Why such lousy action on wets? (water height, and the fish are feeding deeper than surface/film). Why the lack of visible surface action? (see above). After the previous night’s blizzard, why only a few white flies? (weather, different location, nature of the beast).

On the way home, I called Ken (Abrames) and we had a good chat about smallies, in particular fly patterns. I will be heading to the vise shortly to hammer out some of our ideas.

I call these fish “scrappers.” They’re just short of being forearm burners, but loads of fun and completely unwilling to come to the net quietly. (C&R fans, note the water still dripping from my hands.)

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Housy Smallmouth Report 7/31/18: The July Blizzard

More photo shooting yesterday afternoon, then fishing from 6pm-9pm. Visited two honey holes in the TMA. The first was the bomb — it’s footprint is probably smaller than the size of the average house — but when it’s on, it’s on. It’s got subsurface structure, current, and frog water. Good for six bass, one the evening’s best, about two pounds, on the TeQueely. The second was a bit of a drag, with far less action and none of the larger fish I expected. The bass didn’t start showing themselves until well after 8pm, and then it was mostly smaller fish. I’m learning that with these higher than usual midsummer flows that the bass are far more spread out than usual. Still, I caught countless smallies on subsurface and topwater streamers, wet flies, and dries.

As I walked out, I was inundated by white flies. The bass may like to eat them, but I can tell you from unfortunate experience that they don’t taste very good.

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Head shot of a slab smallie. A forearm burner, this one.

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Once they get over a foot long, you’ve got a battle on your hands, especially in flows near 500cfs. Handsome fish.

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Housy Smallmouth Report 7/30/18: Zen and the White Fly

There’s an old zen saying I recently made up that goes like this: “The second white fly cannot come until the first.” Well, the first, second, third, and beyond are here. More on that in a minute.

I spent most of yesterday afternoon banging around the river shooting for my upcoming feature in Eastern Fly Fishing. Evening found me ensconced in a pool that proved to be a challenging wade at 600+ cfs. We had some difficulty, but despite a good-near-soaking stumble, we made it through.

So. At this height the bass were more spread out and definitely not as surface happy as they were last week. I did most of my business from 6:00pm-7:45pm on a TeQueely. The Gurgler was largely ignored. Saw my first white fly at 8:00pm, and although they weren’t thick the hatch built up some steam. As usual, the bass moved into the shallows and frog water as it got progressively darker. They were feeding on the surface (which was also littered with sulphur spinners) but they weren’t keyed solely on the insects. I know this because I did boffo box office with a Countermeasure from first cast to take out at 8:55pm.

Lost in all this white fly madness (sure, it’s fun!) is the black caddis. Size 16, and they were out in force. And I think the smallies like them as much as the white flies. Fish a Black Magic top dropper over an August White on point, and see which the bass prefer. Smallmouth always tell the truth.

That’ll put a good bend in the old five-weight.

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