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.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

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.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

 

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.)

DCIM100GOPROG0012939.

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.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

~

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

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

~

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

DCIM100GOPROG0012917.

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.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Housy Smallmouth Report 7/24/18: Feel the burn

And so we break the seal on summer smallies. The Hous was stained and rising (450cfs+) and warm, the air was thick and damp, and the smallies were on the hunt. I fished below the TMA — what a walk! — from 6pm to almost 9pm. Started out with a white cone head Woolly Bugger, and its production level was uninspiring. I wondered if they might like something a little darker in the stain, so I tied on a TeQueely. BANG! First cast. So I fished that for a while, cleaned up, then switched over to a Gurgler. Hysterical topwater action ensued. At 8pm I tied on a bug I’ve been prototyping and testing for three years now (I will release it very shortly, so stay tuned!) and the smallies attacked it with extreme prejudice, sometimes moments after it hit the water. No white flies yet, but I made my own hatch at dark with a White Wulff, landed one, and ended on a high note.

And I had the entire stretch of river all to myself.

Fun with Gurglers:

~

Hello, boys, I missed you! I got into dozens of fish. The pipsqueak factor was very low, with this bass being typical of the evening’s take.

DCIM100GOPROG0042757.

~

Last night was textbook: increased activity once the sun went behind the mountains, a feeding spike from 7:30pm-8:30pm, then shutdown at dark. Smallies will move into shallows as dusk approaches, and that includes some of the bigger fish. This guy was patrolling in about a foot of frog water. He clobbered the bug as soon as it landed. I can always tell it’s a good fish when my forearm starts to burn mid fight. Lousy photo, but this slob measured in the low teens and was the best bass of the outing.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Farmington River Report 7/19/18: Generation Next

Yesterday I had the pleasure of guiding the next generation of Farmington River fly anglers. Patrick and his cousin David and I spent the afternoon walking a stretch of water I call “The River Wild.” Wow, a lot of anglers were out enjoying the weather. Seemed more like a Saturday than a Thursday in the middle of the summer. The fishing was slow, but both Patrick and David got into fish. I had Patrick fishing a Stim with a small BHPT dropper, and David fishing a two-fly wet team. The trout liked the Stim and the top dropper on David’s rig, a Squirrel and Ginger. Good job, guys. That was fun, and keep on keepin’ on!

David working the seams of run. We moved into this pool moments after another angler left, and connected with a trout on our second cast.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

~

This is Patrick’s first ever Farmington River brown. He hit is a snotty riffle in about 18″ of water. 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Afterwards I went dry fly fishing. Holy crowds, Batman! Nine anglers in Campground Pool at 5pm. So I sought my pleasures elsewhere. I had a tough night of sorts — I fooled well over a dozen fish (they were on larger sulphurs, Dorothea, and tiny BWOs) but only connected with four of them. I completely botched the hookset on one; another broke off at my tippet/leader connection (that’s the end of that old spool, and if you catch a nice brown with a Hendrickson Usual in its mouth, please remove it); the remainder made it in and were released to fight another day. We are now firmly in the summer dry fly fishing pattern. That is, lower water, smaller flies, trout on emergers and spinners, hatches (and therefore action) that seems to randomly wax and wane. I recommend a long tippet/leader setup  (I’ve been going about 13 feet) and be advised that the fish may not be feeding on those bright yellow bugs. The 7:30-to-dark window continues to be productive.

I think it’s about time I headed over to the Hous for some smallies…