FVTU Awarded the Legion of the Cheeseburger with DIPA Clusters — and on to Marlborough

Many thanks to the FVTU gang for hosting me last night. This dedicated, passionate group of anglers has been supporting me for a long time, so it’s always a pleasure to return — especially since they embrace the concept of, “A fed presenter is a happy presenter.” (Sounds like something B. Franklin would have written in Poor Richard’s Almanac.) Fortified with a sumptuous burger and a lovely DIPA draft, I presented “Tactical Advantage: Trout vs. Angler,” followed by an engaging Q&A session. Thanks again, FVTU!

And now I’m off to Marlborough for the Fly Fishing Show. Today at 2:30pm, I’ll be the Featured Fly Tier. Come watch me tie up Spiders, Winged & Wingless Wets. (I had a blast doing this in Edison!) Don’t go away, because at 4:30pm I’m presenting my new seminar, Modern Wet Fly Strategies. I think this is my best program to date, and I’m counting on you to be there. Both are included with the price of your admission ticket. On Saturday 4/23 I have a class, Tying and Fishing Wet Flies. This is a chance to get some basic tying instruction, along with tips on rigging and presentation, geared toward making you a dangerous wet fly machine. It’s a paid class; you have to pre-register to attend. I’m hoping to see plenty of currentseams readers at the show — please come say hello!

It’s getting to be that time…

A Modest Proposal (Revisited)

A couple of years ago, I made the suggestion that given the current condition of striper stocks — stressed — and that their future depends greatly on smaller fish getting to be larger — breeder size — might it not benefit everyone if we didn’t try to catch a bajillion small stripers?

Once again, I’m revisiting that energy. Ask yourself this question: Do I really need to catch dozens and dozens of school bass at the mouth of the Hous (or wherever you go this time of year where striped bass congregate)?

I invite you to join me in observing this new, off-the-books reg: When it becomes apparent that it’s a small bass on just about every cast, reel up and stop fishing.

Catching another dozen dinks won’t make you a hero. But walking away will.

This session, from yesterday, went up to 11. Things were slow until the tide reached a certain window. Then a rip formed, and it was the Bass-O-Matic. I was tempted to go for 12, but I stopped after this fish. You can, too. Thank you for your consideration.

A belated thank you to MVFF & SEMASS TU; Marlborough Show coming up!

Many thanks to the Miami Valley Fly Fishers and Southeastern Massachusetts TU for hosting me this week. Thanks to the wonders of technology, I was able to be in Ohio Monday night from the comfort of my home office. I had the pleasure of presenting “The Little Things” to an enthusiastic, receptive audience. It was great to meet everyone — I hope we get the chance to do it again! Tuesday I was a road warrior, traveling to speak to SEMASS TU. This is another passionate group of anglers, and I enjoyed getting reacquainted with old familiar faces. I did “The Little Things 2.0,” followed by a most excellent Q&A session, including a long discussion about floating vs. intermediate lines in the salt.

Don’t forget about the Marlborough Fly Fishing Show next weekend. On Friday 4/22 at 2:30pm, I’ll be the Featured Fly Tier. Come watch me tie up Spiders, Winged & Wingless Wets. (I had a blast doing this in Edison!) Don’t go away, because at 4:30pm I’m presenting my new seminar, Modern Wet Fly Strategies. I think this is my best program to date, and I’m counting on you to be there. Both are included with the price of your admission ticket. On Saturday 4/23 I have a class, Tying and Fishing Wet Flies. This is a chance to get some basic tying instruction, along with tips on rigging and presentation, geared toward making you a dangerous wet fly machine. It’s a paid class; you have to pre-register to attend. I’m hoping to see plenty of currentseams readers at the show — please come say hello!

I love wet flies. Come learn why.

“Deadly Elegance” in the current issue of Surfcasters Journal

If you live in southern New England, right now is one of the better times to try to catch a large striper. Herring are coming in to spawn, and the stripers know it. I’ve already taken three slot bass this year, one of them 15 pounds. My implements of destruction are a long rod, a floating line, and large flatwings fished on the greased line swing. You can read about how I’m getting it done in this new piece, “Deadly Elegance or: How I learned to stop stripping and love the greased line swing.” You’ll find it in the current issue of Surfcasters Journal. Issue #72 to be exact.

Surfcasters Journal is an e-zine, and the current periodical bible for serious striper anglers. Whether you’re a surfcaster or a fly angler, it’s loaded with information you can use to catch more bass — and bigger bass. Some of the best striper anglers I know are contributors.
The opening spread of Deadly Elegance, sans copy. You need a subscription to read the article, and you can get one on the Surfcasters Journal homepage. Those are my Bombardiers, a nine-feather flatwing of my creation and a darn good fly for tempting bass that are feeding on herring.

“Striper Moon: A Legacy” film is now online

Director Lorri Shankar’s film about Ken Abrames, “Striper Moon: A Legacy” is now online. You can see the original film poster here. The link to the film, on Google Drive, is here. Enjoy!

A still from the opening of the film Striper Moon A Legacy.

900 Followers Contest Swag

Congratulations to Glenn, Zak, and Steve. As I write this, their flies are en route, and should be in their hot little hands by Monday. In case you’ve never won, I thought this would be a good time to tell you a little bit about the process of how you get your swag.

Wets, soft hackles, striper flies, and striper/steelhead flies adapted for sea-run cutthroat trout. Good stuff, all of it. Clockwise from far left: shrimpy fare, Ray’s Fly Featherwings, two sets of Soft-Hackled Flatwings, doubles of the Ruthless and the Eelie, and center, some of my favorite, most productive soft-hackles.

Once I notify the winners, I ask them what they’re most interested in receiving. Not all requests are doable, but I try my best. A good case in point would be Zak’s flies. He wanted flies for sea-run cutthroat trout. After rummaging through my hook stash, I reckoned I could make it work. So even though I’ve never tied up flies for sea-run cutthroat trout, I was happy with where I ended up. I hope Zak is, too.

Which brings us to volume. All winners do not necessarily receive the same number of flies. This is a function of time, labor, and materials cost. So, if you’re like Glenn, and asked for soft-hackles and wets for trout, you’re probably going to get a dozen flies. Steve wanted some early season striper patterns; those are more involved and the materials harder to source, so I sent him a half dozen. If someone wanted a complex pattern like the Countermeasure, it might be as little as three. As one of my kids’ teachers used to say, “You get what you get and you don’t get upset.”

Enjoy your weekend, and catch ’em up!

How to become an instant expert, or: Fun with truck trout

The Salmon River in Colchester holds a special place in my heart. It’s where my dad taught me to fish for trout. It’s the first place I ever fly fished. And, it’s just about the prettiest little big river around. I used to fish it all the time; the general plan was to hit the Salmon early season, then switch to the Farmington by late spring. Gradually, the pull of the Farmington and its bigger, wild trout took over, to the point where before yesterday, I couldn’t remember the last time I fished the Salmon for trout.

The day I chose to make my triumphant return was chilly, breezy, with a mix of sun and clouds. The water was crystal clear, and running about 300cfs, which I consider to be the perfect height for that river. There was a decent caddis hatch, about a size 14-16, and some 14-16 BWOs. And, to my delight, there were piles of fish to be caught. I fished from 12:15pm-3:30pm, all within the Fly Fishing Only section. While catching trout after freshly stocked trout holds a limited interest to me, I decided I’d just go with the flow and enjoy the moments. And so I did.

I had originally planned to nymph, but then decided to try the tight line long leader micro streamer thing. I wasn’t connecting, but I figured there were trout near the bottom of the run, so I tried a little cast-and-strip, et voila! Casting that long leader with a heavy fly is a bear, but it can be done once you figure out how to wrangle the setup. I ended up catching many fish at another mark on the tight-line hop-and-drop presentation, as well as the strip. Rats! I forgot I only had 5x tippet on the rig, and a broodstock beastie surgically removed the fly. Here’s a chunky low-teens brown that gave me a fine battle for a truck fish.
Some pretty nice haloing for a non-wild char. I’d say my action was 50% browns, 30% rainbows, and the rest brookies. (The high percentage of brook trout surprised me.) I supposed a hat trick is worthy of mention, but you know, I was only a dace or a sucker or even a smallmouth away from the salami. Once I got tired of bailing fish on streamers, I decided to rig for wet fly. Unfortunately, surface activity was sporadic and limited, so no tugs were forthcoming. However, Hendrickson time is coming. Thanks to everyone who took the time to say hello. It’s great to be able to put faces and voices to screen names.

A Busy April: Speaking Engagements and the Marlborough Fly Fishing Show!

It’s a busy month for me, between fishing and writing and speaking about fly fishing. Here are the details:

Monday, April 11: “The Little Things” with the Miami Valley Fly Fishers. This is a members-only Zoom. I mention it in case you’re the person in charge of finding a a speaker for your fly fishing club. Thanks to the wonders of technology, we can meet up even if we are geographically undesirable. Here’s a link to my current presentation menu. I’m really looking forward to making some new fishing friends in Ohio.

Tuesday, April 12: “The Little Things 2.0” with SEMASS TU, at the Mitchell Memorial Club in Middleboro, MA. This meeting is open to the public, so if you’re in the area, stop in and enjoy the show.

Thursday, April 21, “Tactical Advantage: Angler vs Trout” with FVTU, at the Back Nine Tavern in New Britain, CT. Another meeting that is open to the public, and a presentation that most people have not seen.

Friday-Sunday, April 22-23-24, The Fly Fishing Show, Marlborough, MA. On Friday 4/22 at 2:30pm, I’ll be the Featured Fly Tier. Come watch me tie up Spiders, Winged & Wingless Wets. (I had a blast doing this in Edison!) Don’t go away, because at 4:30pm I’m presenting my new seminar, Modern Wet Fly Strategies. I think this is my best program to date, and I’m counting on you to be there. Both are included with the price of your admission ticket. On Saturday 4/23 I have a class, Tying and Fishing Wet Flies. This is a chance to get some basic tying instruction, along with tips on rigging and presentation, geared toward making you a dangerous wet fly machine. This is paid class; you have to pre-register to attend. I’m hoping to see plenty of currentseams readers at the show — please come say hello!

You can see me tie the Magic Fly, aka the Pale Watery Wingless, hear about how to fish it, and learn why it makes such a deadly sulphur imitation at the Fly Fishing Show in Marlborough. Plus — need I say it? — tons more information on soft hackles, wet flies, and wet fly fishing.

A few days ago, on a small stream…

As we bid farewell to March and say hello to April, I’d like to personally thank the CT DEEP for eliminating the closed season trout fishing rule. The old reg made it illegal to fish for wild trout in non-WTMA streams from March 1 though Opening Day. Enough with that nonsense! And let’s go fishing.

Since I had no previous experience fishing the day’s mark this time of year, I was curious about might be happening. As I mentioned in my last post, this not winter/not spring netherworld can be a tricky period. My random conditions drawing got me a low-side-of-medium, crystal clear flow; a mix of sun and clouds; and temperatures that struggle to get into the low 40s. I did see a few stray midges, but nothing that could be considered a proper hatch.

Spring must be close. Always a comforting sight, the skunk cabbage are popping everywhere, a clue that warmer days will soon be upon us.

The method was bushy dry/tiny bead head nymph dropper and the jigged micro streamer/nymph. If it was a deeper plunge, I did the latter. Everything else got the dry/dropper. I was pleased to find a wild char in a mark that has disappointed me no end. It’s really fishy, with plenty of cover and a big boulder that borders a deeper slot. The fish hit the dropper, but there was no hook set. Much farther upstream , I also had some repeated swipes at the dry, but again no hook set. Tug-tug-tug!!! Someone in a roiling plunge really wanted the jiggy thingy, and — stop me if you’ve heard this one before — there was, again, a failure to seal the deal.

I wish I could tell you that it turned on at some point, but those three touches were all I could manage. I wasn’t surprised, but I was disappointed. I suspect further research will need to be conducted this month.

But that’s not where the story ends.

I decided to drive to another mark, the place where I caught Alan last month. (Yes, I’m weird enough that I name fish. Sometimes I name them after real people, like Alan. Other times they’re just fictional , like Gus in this story.) I wasn’t sure if I was hoping for a Hail Mary or just didn’t want to end the session. I drifted the dry dropper through some deeper plunges and runs, then walked upstream.

And there it was. The place where I’d caught Alan. I spent a few minutes observing its wonderfulness. It’s at the head of a longer run. There’s a good, small cut bank with an overhanging tree that will one day fall into the brook. A deep cut runs parallel to the cut bank, and it’s evident why this a prime mark for an alpha fish: cover, current, and the head of the cafeteria line.

This time it took only one cast. The dry vanished from the surface, and when I raised the rod tip I could see that the nymph had been the target. It was a good brookie, and I immediately assumed it was Alan. Into the net, camera readied, shot taken, release completed.

It wasn’t until I got home and saw the photos that I realized that this wasn’t Alan. Wonderful thing, unique spotting! I’ve dubbed this guy “Alan’s Brother.” It all makes sense now. When I was taking this shot, I was thinking that I’d over-estimated Alan’s size. This was certainly an exceptional char for this size brook, but I remembered Alan being bigger. So, it’s good news all around: there’s more than one big old brookie in this town. I hope they made lots of whoopee last fall.

Exploring a new small stream

Last week, I went exploring on X Brook. It wasn’t a great day for fishing small streams; windy, cold front, brilliant sunshine and no canopy. Until recently, X Brook was completely off my radar. Access isn’t easy; you’ve got to do a bit of walking, and it’s surrounded by fairly dense woods and bushes. I thought you’d like to hear how I went about reconning some new water.

First, I hiked through the woods, heading upstream, taking care not to walk with heavy footfalls, and never getting close enough to the water to spook any fish. I made mental notes of potentially fishy areas, like long, glassy pools, and plunges. I wanted to be prepared for them for when I worked the brook downstream.

I kept the fly selection simple. We’re into the netherworld of not spring, not winter, so fish could be hanging out in cold water lies (think maximum depth in any given brook) as well as snottier runs and plunges. A bushy dry with a beadhead nymph dropper would cover two sections of water on any given drift. I also had a tungsten beadhead attractor nymphy/streamery thing to jig in the plunges. I felt like that had me covered for whatever water I encountered. I switched rigs up a few times, but the answer was always the same — no one home, or no one interested.

I was bitterly disappointed that no tug was forthcoming along this shadow line. I mean, c’mon! Really?

One of the things I like to do when I get no hits in a pool or run is see if I missed anything. What I mean is, if there’s a particularly sexy bit of water, and I blank, I like to find out if there were any fish. I start by standing up and making myself large in full view of anything that may be hiding. Sometimes I’ll wave a stick through the water to try to and spook fish. It’s a good idea to take great care when wading in a small stream, especially from fall through mid-spring — you don’t want to disturb any redds or crush unhatched eggs. I was a little surprised (not to mention bummed) that I didn’t see a single darting shadow in any of the runs I disturbed.

Finally, there was a decision to be made: is this stream worthy of another visit? In this case, I think it is. There is enough structure, flow and potential canopy. What’s more, I only explored a small section. It may very well be that where I was is more of a late spring/summer/fall environment, and that the best winter water is elsewhere.

I’ll keep you posted.