Speaking Engagements for Fall and a New Presentation

I’m marking up my calendar with speaking engagements, and you should be too. So far, it’s a busy October.

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Tuesday, October 15 at Thames Valley TU (subject tbd).

Wednesday, October 16 Capital District Fly Fishers (Albany, NY, not confirmed but very likely, subject tbd).

Thursday, October 17 Farmington Valley TU (subject tbd).

Speaking of speaking, I will have a new presentation ready for fall: The Little Things 3.0. More seemingly insignificant things that can have a huge impact on your fishing. Giddyup!

…rehearsing and nursing a part, we know every part by heart… (Bonus points if you can ID the classic cartoon theme song that’s from!)

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R.L.S. Black General Practitioner

What’s the best shrimp fly pattern? You could go with the philosophy of, “There ain’t no best,” and you’d get no argument from me. Or you could weigh in with the General Practitioner — and you wouldn’t be wrong.

General Practitioner = G.P. = Impressionistic shrimpy goodness.
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Trey Combs writes in Steelhead Fly Fishing that the original prawn was tied by Colonel Esmond Drury in 1953. The General Practitioner then got really famous as a west coast winter steelhead pattern. Today there are all manner of versions and colors; this one is a variant developed by Ken Abrames as published in A Perfect Fish.

Ken introduced me to the pattern many years ago. He handed me a black G.P., and with a knowing confidence, told me to fish it as part of a three fly team. Sadly, I’ve long since lost that fly, but I still have one of Ken’s olive G.P.s. tucked away in the never-to-be fished-again archives. When tied just so, G.P.s are magical creations that bask in their impressionistic glory. Picture this fly near the surface on a greased line swing or a dead drift, easily visible to a striped bass even in the mucky outflow of a salt marsh. Wait to feel the weight of the fish — and then hang on. Stripers love shrimp, and when they are keyed on this bait, feeding on station, they will often ignore all other offerings and stripped presentations.

R.L.S. Black General Practitioner

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Hook: Atlantic salmon 2-8
Antennae: Black and blue bucktail, mixed
Head: Black golden pheasant neck feather
Eyes: Golden pheasant tippet
Body: Gold flat tinsel
Ribbing: Gold oval tinsel
Hackle: Natural black
Carapace: Metallic black turkey feather
Back: Same
Tail: Same
~
A view from below. You can imagine all those hackle fibers gently quivering in the current and whispering to a striper, “I’m alive…”

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Tying Notes: Ken called for an Eagle Claw 253, but I like the badass black of Atlantic salmon hooks. No gots turkey feathers? Me either, so I used dyed black pheasant rump. The majority of the black G.P.s I’ve seen use far too much bucktail; remember, you’re tying the antennae of a grass shrimp (the steelhead pattern calls for 10 bucktail hairs; I used 20) not an opaque jig. To form the eyes, cut a V-shape in the tippet and then lacquer with head cement. The “eye stalks” will narrow from the head cement. You don’t have to use the tinsels; gold braid works just as well. The body and top feathers are somewhat of a pain; tie in the carapace at the tail, then tie and wind the tinsel and hackle to the mid-point of the shank, tie in the back (like a little roof), continue forward with the tinsel and hackle, then tie in the tail feather, again like a little roof. Make a spiffy head and go fish.

Guide Trips and All This Damn Water

Many of you have reached out to me regarding guide trips on the Farmington, in particular learning how to fish wet flies. My advice remains the same: we should wait out this water volume. Yes, the Farmington is fishable at this level (850cfs and change in the Permanent TMA as I write this) and yes, I know of people who have been catching trout on dries. But if it were me, I’d be focusing on nymphs and streamers at this water level. So: if you really need to get out on the river, sure, let’s do it. There are a ton of fish to be had. But if you really want to focus on wet flies, let’s wait until the water gets to 500cfs or below. (Don’t even get me started on the lower Farmington — 1380cfs right now — or the Hous, a disgustingly high 2710cfs.) And of course, there are always small streams. You know where to find me.

Last year at this time it was sunny and the Farmington was — dare I say it? Wadeable.

DCIM100GOPROG0034989.

 

 

Steelsmallheadmouth Report

Gordo and I tried to go steelheading this spring. Really, we did. We got deluged out in April, so we re-booked for May…and got deluged out again. After running at a nominal 500cfs, Brookfield jacked the Salmon River flow up to 1.2K 48 hours before our date, effectively creating a steelhead superhighway to the lake. And just for good measure, they bumped it up to 1.7K while we slept, giving us an off-color 2.2K below Pineville. Mother Nature felt left out, so she decided to make it rain.

(Insert heavy sigh here)

So we took our lumps like men and went to plan C: try for smallmouth and pike on the lower end of the Little Salmon River. I’d never fished it, and we were so close to the lake you could see it clearly from our take out point. The pike were a no-show, but some slabby smallies saved the trip for us.

What’s a steelhead run to Pulaski without a little snow? So what if it’s freakin’ May…

MaySnow

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Gordo got the first fish of the day, smallie that could have been measured in pounds rather than inches (19 if you’re keeping score). The kid’s a trouper, never complains even if it’s cold and wet and utterly miserable (and the steelhead trip has been ruined…again). If this is our lemonade, we’ll take it with a smile. And a shout out to Row Jimmy, our steadfast guide who’s always positive and is a man with a plan.

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Dad didn’t do too poorly, either. The takes were more like stoppages than savage tugs — think, “Oops, I’ve snagged bottom.” Then the bottom pulls back. I missed one strike before I realized what it was. Once advised, I carried on with great success.

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Small Stream B Comes Through; Big Stripers Continue Their No-Show

I wrote about my first springtime small stream outing last week. It was at a brook that has been on a bit of a slide in terms of numbers, and this disappointing trend continued. Small Stream B, however, continues to go great guns. I fished it for 75 minutes, first time this spring, and I pricked dozens. Fished a bushy dry on top and a size 14 Stewart’s Black Spider dropper for most of the trip, and the char went nuts for the dry despite the elevated water levels. Did a little micro streamer action, too, which is always fun. Bravo, Mother Nature!

Most of the action came topside, but this lovely gem fell victim to Stewart’s Black Spider.

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If you’re looking for a new way to have some fun on a small stream, try a micro Zoo Cougar. I usually tie these on size 2-6 streamer hooks, but I believe this is a 14. Chuck it or drift it (the deer hair head keeps it on the surface) down the pool, then make some drunken, frantic strips back. The fly will wake and dive and drive the brookies absolutely out of their minds. Color is probably insignificant.

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Now to the stripers. You’ve heard me say that every year is different, and with 2018 and 2019 goes the proof. Whereas last year was off-the-charts good for big bass, this year is not-so-much. I spent some time late last night greased line swinging a proven run that was dead as Julius Caesar. (Sigh.) Well, persistence will hopefully pay off.

“Mouth of the Housatonic River” from Eastern Fly Fishing

Gadzooks! Ten years since I wrote this? How amusing to sift through the archives and find stuff that came out of your brain when nobody knew your name. “Mouth of the Housatonic River” is a quick-read primer on the spring striper bite. There are a few almost-funny jokes, and much of the information is still pertinent. The article first appeared in the July/August 2009 issue of Eastern Fly Fishing. You can read it by clicking on the link below:

MouthHousEFF

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Striper report: So that’s why no one was here

An empty parking lot is can mean several things, among them: it’s a ridiculous time of day (it wasn’t). No one is hip to the spot (everyone is). There are no fish there (ding-ding-ding). So I celebrated my 18th wedding anniversary with an EP Carillo corona gorda and tried to enjoy some blissful solitude. Even a constant, soaking rain couldn’t wreck my casting practice. And so it goes.

Why I like RLS Easterly colors (grey dun, silver, peacock, fluorescent yellow) during an easterly blow. Even in dingy water, this soft-hackled flatwing really pops.

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