“Wet Fly 101” at the October FRAA meeting

I’ll be the featured speaker at the Farmington River Anglers Association meeting, Wednesday, October 16, 7pm in Unionville, CT. My presentation will be Wet Fly 101, a basic overview of wet flies and wet fly fishing. Wet flies have been taking trout for centuries, and the fish haven’t gotten any smarter. If you can’t make the September Hammonasset presentation, hope to see you at this one. You can learn more about the FRAA at their website, fraa.org. As always, If you’re interested in having me speak at your club meetings, you can contact me through this site.

 A Hackled March Brown

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And a big Farmington brown who found it to her liking.

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To my First Fifty: Thank You

Fifty people following currentseams? That just blows my mind. When I started this site in late January, I had no idea what to expect, let alone that dozens of people (technically, there are 53 of you) would want to regularly follow my fly fishing and fly tying chronicles. And here we  are.

So, thank you. Thank you for your interest. Your readership. Your questions. And your positive energy.

I would also like to ask you a favor.

Please tell me what you like about currentseams. My goal has always been to provide you with a source of information about fly tying and fly fishing you might not see elsewhere — not to mention writing that (hopefully) doesn’t suck. What draws you to this site? What would you like to see more of?  How can I make it better?  I’d love to hear from you. You can do it publicly in the comments section or privately via an e-mail. And you don’t have to be a follower to play. Everyone is welcome.

Thanks. I really appreciate it.

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Farmington River Report 8/18/13: Crash, Bang, Wallop

If you put in enough time, eventually you’re going to cross paths with a big fish. Yesterday was my turn.

I’m in the middle of working on a wet fly piece for American Angler, and I wanted to try to get some photos of trout-with-soft-hackle-in-mouth. Right off the the bat, I was into a good brown. Then things slowed a bit.

Conditions were perfect: 75 degrees, overcast, showers, water running at 400cfs and a cool 65 degrees. What the bugs lacked in numbers, they made up for in variety: small BWOs, light-colored caddis, midges, and a few stray Isonychia. The bird were working industriously overhead. I was fishing a team of a March Brown soft-hackle as the top dropper, a Drowned Ant soft-hackle in the middle, and a bead head Squirrel and Ginger on point.

Near the end of a mended swing, she hit the fly with untamed ferocity. I’ve encountered enough of these larger trout now that I can tell immediately there’s a big’un at the end of my wet fly leader. The surface erupts in swirling upheaval, and line is bulled from the reel. That’s the last glimpse I’ll have of the trout for a while. Bigger fish almost always go deep, and this one was no exception.

Now, I was faced with the predicament of where to land her. I was surrounded by treacherous pockets and swift currents. I had to manage both wade and battle — this was the kind of fish you really wouldn’t mind falling in for — but I finally  made it to a calmer section to claim my prize. And here she is.

What a gorgeous creature. It would have been nice to get a full-length shot, but I was flying solo, and I wanted her swimming freely in the water ASAP. A quick measurement against my rod placed her at just over 20″.  Clearly this trout could also be tallied in pounds.

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This was the kind of fish that, after you release it, compels you to sit on a rock mid-stream and contemplate your fine fortune in the scheme of the universe. So I did. And I smiled.

I took a few more fish, including one of the larger wild brookies I’ve caught on the Farmington this year, then headed to another spot. Juvenile salmon city, but at the end of the run I saw a splashy rise in the shallows. One cast, a partial swing, and whack! An eight-inch wild brown took the Squirrel and Ginger. I took a few more pictures, then headed home for dinner.

Nice work (if you can get it).

The winning fly, a Hackled March Brown. It comes from an English book published in the 1930s. Makes a fine Isonychia imitation.

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8/14/13 Farmington River Mini-Report

It was a slow day on the river for most of the anglers I spoke to. We were likely done in by the sudden shift in weather and the noon spike of the dam flow (the Upper TMA jumped from 370 to 480cfs; water was lightly stained and 65 degrees). Still, my friend Pete and his brother got into some very nice larger browns in the Upper TMA. As for your humble scribe, I had to be content with a mob of juvenile Atlantic salmon and one lonely rainbow trout. I was committed to the wet fly cause today — I just got an article assignment from American Angler on wets and was hoping to get some good fly-in-trout-mouth shots. Instead, you’ll have to settle for this simple flora-at-dusk portrait:

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Wet Fly 101 at the Hammonasset TU Meeting, Sept. 19, 2013

I’m kicking off my 2013/2014 speaking schedule with an appearance at the Hammonasset Chapter of Trout Unlimited, Thursday, September 19, 7pm at the Wallingford Rod and Gun Club. My presentation will be Wet Fly 101, a basic overview of wet flies and wet fly fishing. Wet flies have been taking trout for centuries, and the fish haven’t gotten any smarter. Hope to see you there. If you’re interested in having me speak at your club meetings, you can contact me through this site.

The Drowned Ant soft-hackle

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A wild Farmington River brown taken on the Drowned Ant, July 2013

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Farmington River 1, UConn 0

Those of us who love the Farmington River spoke out — and our voices were heard. UConn will be using the CT Water Company, rather than the MDC, to fulfill their future water needs.

The following is a quote from last Tuesday’s Hartford Courant:  “The selection eliminates a controversial $51 million plan by the Metropolitan District Commission to build a 20-mile pipeline from East Hartford that would have drawn water from the Barkhamsted and Nepaug reservoirs. Opponents assailed the plan, saying it would draw down the watershed of the Farmington River, a popular recreation spot.”

Yeah, baby. That’s us. Opponents. Assailants. Righteous defenders of natural resources. Thanks to everyone who spoke up, signed the petition, wrote letters, and sent emails.

Grassroots activism is so underrated.

Winner.

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And, winner.

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Farmington River Report 8/7/13: Foul language and rank stupidity. Plus some trout.

“Hey, you gotta move your @#$%ing truck!”

Clearly, this fishing trip was not starting well.

I had just turned into one of the many dirt pulloffs that border the Farmington River. This particular one holds at least three vehicles. There already was a car in it, facing south. I had been heading north, so the fronts of our respective vehicles were pointing at each other. To leave, we’d each have to back out the way we came in. You know, like you’d do at any gas station.  Rudimentary Driver’s Ed stuff.

I got out and started gearing up. The occupant of the other car was on his cell phone, and from what I could overhear, he wasn’t having a happy conversation. He ended his call, and that’s when he shouted out his unpleasant greeting.

“Excuse me?” I said.

“Move your @#$%ing truck!”

“Really? Are you telling me you can’t back out of here?”

More wrathful profanity, and that’s when I realized: disengage. Now. What if he has a gun? What if he comes back with some friends? What if he vandalizes my truck? Sad to say, but that’s the world we live in. I could back out of the pulloff — and potentially, an even uglier scene — simply by acquiescing. Politely. And keep my dignity in the bargain. So I did.

Still, once I got in the water, I couldn’t enjoy it. I kept looking up at the road, waiting to see if my new friend was coming back to look for trouble. Every sound of an approaching car elevated my heart rate. Thankfully, he never returned.

So, what about the fishing? A slow day for swinging wets. Very little hatch activity, but the water was a perfect height at 321cfs and a delightful 64 degrees, ten out of ten for August. I was fishing a Squirrel and Ginger on point, a Drowned Ant in the middle, and a clumsy deer hair wing/head soft-hackle that suggested a drowned hopper or a big stone fly on top. I had several swirls at the big fly, but no takes.

Finally, on the dead drift, the line stalled, I came tight to the fly, and I had a good fish on. I was hoping for something approaching 20 inches, not only from the size of the fly, but from the fact that the fish immediately went deep and sulked on the bottom. A powerful surge up a whitewater channel, and he went on the reel. In the end, it was a mid-teens rainbow. It was the only trout I took in the 90 minutes I walked the run.

My best trout of the day took this monstrosity, still wet and fresh from the fish’s mouth.

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I decided on the spur of the moment to rig for indicator nymphing. The section I fished is a deep run below some riffles. I gave it 15 minutes, and the only trout I took came on the second cast.

A nice little brown who liked the look of Yerger’s Miracle Nymph, size 16.

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The day ended far downstream, where I took my largest juvenile Atlantic salmon of the year, about nine inches long. Bright silvery flanks, and fat. No wonder. When I was taking the hook out, I peered down his throat. It was loaded invertebrates to the point of overflowing. It reminded me of a bluefish spitting up bait. Off he went. Then off I went.

I had to get @#$%ing home.