Thank You Ottawa Flyfishers, Ken Abrames Audio, and time change for Saturday’s Nymph Tying Class

Thanks to the Ottawa Flyfishers, I am now officially an internationally-known fly fishing speaker. We had a most excellent time last night via Zoom. I talked for an hour about “The Little Things,” my original presentation in the series, that can make a big difference in your fishing success. We did Q&A — I love Q&A — for a few more minutes, then wrapped it up with social pleasantries. A wonderful group of dedicated, enthusiastic anglers. Thank you very much!

Kenney’s in the house! Ken Abrames is doing a series of talks on YouTube: “Kenney Abrames begins a video talk series with this short audio where he discusses his connection with nature.” I know as much about it as you do at this point. I have not yet listened to the first but I’m sure it will be loaded with keen observations. You can find the first talk here.

Finally, I had to switch the time for this Saturday’s “Favorite Nymphs” Zoom tying class to 3:30 p.m. There’s still room if you want to attend. Once again, the day is the same, Saturday, February 20, and the new start time is 3:30pm. The cost is $10 and you register by sending me the fee through PayPal. This also seems like a good time to thank those already enriolled in the class for being so gracious when I had to change the time. I’m lucky to have so many good people who are part of this website!

I did not get to fish Leisenring’s favorite nymphs last year as much as I would have liked. There’s always 2021…

Tip of the Week: Target water near shelf ice when you’re winter streamer fishing

Shelf ice can be a problem when you’re out on a river — NEVER walk across shelf ice — but it can also be a difference maker when it comes to catching, especially on a river like the Farmington. The Farmington River has hatches of W/S (Winter/Summer) caddis. These bugs emerge, then scoot across the surface of the water towards the shore to mate. Trout know this — not in a cognitive sense, but rather in a programmed-by-nature way. If the water is deep enough, and there’s enough current, you can often find Farmington River trout hanging out near bankside structure in winter, especially ice shelves.

That makes these areas a priority target when I’m winter streamer fishing. If I find an ice shelf over deeper, moving water, I like to pound that water with my bugs. Sometimes I’ll even land the streamer onto the ice shelf, then gently pull it off into the water. The trout will tell you if they want the presentation to be a dead drift, slow retrieve, fast(er) retrieve, or swing.

You can’t really see it in this video, but I’m actually landing my streamer on top of an ice shelf that extends several feet off the bank. On this day, the only hits I had came from using this tactic.

No Tuesday Zoom tomorrow 2/16 — what do you all want to hear about next time?

I have a private gig with the Ottawa Fly Fishers tomorrow night, so no public Zoom. We’ll go for normal resumption of services (I like the way that sounds) on Tuesday Feb. 23. In the meantime, I’d like to hear from you. What subjects would you like me to talk about? If I see something that looks like it has wide appeal — and it’s something I feel comfortable talking about, I’ll certainly consider it. Last week’s Small Stream talk was well-attended, so I many do another variation on that theme. The ball’s in your court.

I received a question the other day about cinder worms in CT: when/where, etc. They can be impossible to predict, but I find that when the Connecticut state flower is in bloom, and the moon is new or full, that’s generally a good time to look for them in your local estuary.

“Favorite Nymphs” Zoom tying class is NOT today. It’s next Saturday, Feb 20 @1pm

I hope that clears up any confusion. Still plenty of room if you want to join us a week from today, and you can find out more here. That is all.

Words flowing through the writing pipeline

Busy-busy-busy is the word around currentseams headquarters these days. I’m pleased to announce that I have a couple projects in the works for Field & Stream. Both are striped bass related. The first is how to make a best fishing days striper calendar; the second on lessons that striper fly anglers can glean from surfcasters. I’ll let you know when they come out and how you can read them. But since I have not yet taken fingers to keyboard, off I go to my lonely writer’s garret…

I’ll be tethered to my laptop for the next several hours.

The Big Eelie featured in On The Water’s “Guide Flies”

This is my third (I think) year participating in On The Water magazine‘s “Guide Flies” column, written by Tony Lolli. You’re familiar with he concept of a guide fly — a pattern that is typically simple to tie and can be relied upon to produce day in and day out. (Or night after night, as it were.) The Big Eelie delivers the goods. Developed by Ken Abrames, this pattern imitates larger sand eels. Part flatwing, part soft hackle, the Big Eelie is understated elegance at its finest. I think what I like most about the Big Eelie is that its template — four pencil-thin saddles and a marabou collar — lends itself to as many color combination as your inner artist can conjure up. My Rat a Tat Big Eelie, based on Ken’s larger flatwing, is just one example. Have at it and hold on tight!

Here’s a link to a PDF of this page:

New Zoom Tying Event: “Favorite Nymphs” Saturday, Feb 20, 1pm

My third winter fly tying pay-per-Zoom event is Saturday, February 20 at 1pm. Like the others, this will be about 90 minutes of fly tying/tie-along instruction. The cost is $10. To “register,” you send 10 bucks to me at PayPal (ID is swculton@yahoo.com) and I’ll send you the link to the meeting. Favorite Nymphs will cover some basic, useful patterns that are proven producers. Again, the focus is on template and technique. You should have different color threads, different hooks, beads, tools, etc. You should have at least one hen hackle/hen cape — Whiting makes a good basic hen hackle — or some other kind of soft hackle, whether it’s grouse, starling, partridge, etc. The “right” color is not critical, but if you want to go all in you should have grey or brown or black. The point is, if you don’t have a specific color hackle, you can find it later. Questions? You know where to find me.

Many of you will want a complete materials list, so let’s plan on these patterns: Soft-Hackled Bead Head Pheasant Tail, Bead Head Squirrel and Ginger, Frenchy Variant, Blue Glass Bead Midge. You’ll need 2x short scud hooks (anything from sz 12-16 for the first three and a size 18 or smaller for the last); metallic beads, your choice color, to match hook size; blue glass seed beads (mine are the Mill Hill brand; you can find them online or at a fabric/craft store, sized to your hook, and if you can’t find them you can substitute a tiny metallic bead of your choice); small copper wire; extra small silver wire; pheasant tail; ginger/orange dubbing (I like Angora goat); a squirrel skin if you have one (if not you can substitute a small soft hackle); bright contrasting color Ice Dub, your choice of color; high tack wax (like Loon Swax). Again, if you don’t have some of these specific materials you can substitute/make do as we are just learning some basic patterns and techniques.

I also like the Rainbow Warrior variant, a high confidence pattern. Scud hook, silver bead, PT, opal tinsel, rainbow sow scud dubbing if you have it. Maybe if we’re ambitious we’ll get to this one, too.

Currentseams Tuesday Night Zoom, Feb. 9, 8pm: Small Stream Fly Fishing

Small streams and wild trout are a passion, so tomorrow night I’ll be talking about thin blue lines and the exquisite gems that live in them. If you haven’t been getting the Zoom links — I send them out Tuesday late afternoon — please check your spam box. See you Tuesday night!

Today’s burning striped bass conservation question: How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?, or: Can the ASMFC bore a striper to death?

In case you missed it, the ASMFC’s Striped Bass Board met last week. You gotta love this group. The Commission’s inability to grasp that striper stocks are in trouble, and that they are charged with recovering that stock, is almost staggering in its perfection. That unspoiled incompetence was on full display during the proceedings. The Commission is, as Bobby Knight said, “a legless man who teaches running.” Do you know what they did for 2 1/2 hours? They performed a deep dive into the urgent matter of tube-and-worm rigs. Or, as Charles Witek of One Angler’s Voyage described it, debating “how many angels could dance on the head of a pin.” Never mind those pesky issues of collapsing bass stocks and overfishing.

Meanwhile, rogue ASMFC states like Maryland, Delaware and New Jersey maintain their laser-like focus on how they can kill more stripers. (You know, out of mercy. They don’t want any stripers to starve to death.)

What’s a concerned angler to do? First, read this excellent essay from the ASGA’s (American Saltwater Guides Association) Tony Friedrich. Next, don’t give up hope. We all know the ASMFC’s process is irreparably broken. The ASGA is our current best hope to effect change within and for the ASMFC. So, finally, support the ASGA. They’re doing good work. They have a plan. They need you to be involved.

Thank you.

Q: How many ASMFC Striped Bass Board members does it take to change a light bulb? A: C’mon. The ASMCF can’t change a damn thing.

Farmington River mini-report 2/5/21: A tough day for streamers

I spent two-and-a-half hours yesterday early afternoon banging around the Permanent TMA. Cloudy, 37 degrees, water about 250cfs. The mission was streamers and the method was tight-lining/jigging and then full sinking line with more traditional patterns. I hit three marks and only found fish in one, and they were more concerned with smutting on some midges than whacking my streamer. I did get one take, but it was so soft I thought it was the bottom; I did a tip set and by the time I felt the head shake, the trout was off. So it goes. By the way, many of the river’s parking pullouts are not plowed, so easy access is limited.

Speaking of reading fly fishing books and discovering little gems: John Nagy’s Steelhead Guide 4th edition is where I found the pattern German’s White Nightmare. It’s the one at upper left. I keep a few in my box for trout, and it was a good choice for the full sink line in yesterday’s lower flows. Oh — it was also the only pattern I had a touch on all day.