The Rats Nest

Saturday, April 23, 2011

What a Week

So I've returned from Ohio and Steelhead Alley where I managed to fish four new rivers for steel, and one other for browns.  The trip was a great get away and I had a very good time despite some tougher fishing conditions.  I met up with my friend Mike Schmidt of Anglers Choice Flies and he was the most gracious of hosts.  I am not a guy who likes to buy flies, as you all probably know.  But, one look at the creations that Mike has for you streamer and steelhead aficionados, and your sold.  I managed to sneak an order in for some of his outside the box articulated streamers, and he had them waiting for me when I arrived.  If you are a big streamer, big fish guy, or love to chase steelhead on the swing, I HIGHLY recommend checking out what Mike has to offer.  Believe me when I say you won't find anything like what he ties anywhere. 
Mike with a nice Mad River Brown a Schmidt Streamer in it's Maw
We started on a local brown trout fishery and moved on to fish 4 other steelhead fisheries in 2 days.  The conditions were all over the place, up a little and off color (fantastic swing water), to low and crystal clear.  Never mind Saturday when we both fished in the worse weather ever.  35 mph steady wind with 55-60 mph gusts, trees were literally falling down all around making presentations very difficult. 

No worries, we still managed a handful of fish and an even bigger handful of smolt.  Oh, I almost forgot, Mike was the sucker king that day landing a pile of suckers in full spawning colors.  Gee, I wonder what the fish were eating?  After some tough fishing we settled in and watched a couple of fishing movies, ate a great dinner and slugged a few Oberon's, a very good beer from Michigan, Mike's home state.  One of the movies we watched was a new one titled Tapam.  Talk about crazy, two guys with the Tarpon bug decided to fish for Tarpon out of Outcast float tubes.  To say the footage was nothing short of insane is an understatement.  If you can, check that film out, it is truly awesome. 

Lots of these guys in a size 16 yesterday
So back home and lots of water, like we got pounded with rain again.  So much so that the MDC had to run almost 2,000 cfs from the Hogsback dam for a few days.  They dropped the flow back yesterday to a modest 700, but with water temps barely touching 40 degrees, it was no wonder the fishing was S-L-O-W....  On a side note, the bugs are coming and starting up in numbers, albeit later than normal.

Another Perseverance Fish From a Tough Outing
I guess April is holding true to the old adage, "April showers bring May flowers" theme.  Hopefully things heat up this week, I anticipate we should start seeing some Hendricksons reaching the TMA later next week, but that's my educated guess.  

Stay tuned for more periodic updates, fly videos (hopefully) and some outside of Connecticut adventures. 

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Things Are Picking Up, Slowly But Surely.....

Got a few of these.
 So today goes like this, supposed to guide a couple of very nice guys  looking for some dry fly action.  Although there has been some to be had, albeit even if it is down on the mud flats of Church Pool, the pickings have been slim to say the least.  Rather than battle with a dozen other fisherman over one pod of risers, and cold water temps we opted to reschedule.

The olives are pretty much late this year, so the only game is small midges in the morning and later in the day, some caddis also small, and the errant stone fly which is slowly but surely dwindling to nothing. 
Head shot with the Rock Candy Larva in the mug.  Nom Nom Nom

 So, what does that mean?  You guessed it, I got a bit of water time.  Learning from a close friend who is handy with the thermometer, I found out the temps are starting to touch 41-42 in the TMA.  Being the venturesome soul that I am, I braved the 15-20 mph gusts and fished a pair of weighted nymphs today, in what some might deem "The French Style" of nymphing.  I think the name is a bit ridiculous, but that's a topic for another day.
A bunch of these guys today....

 I roll the dice and target some medium depth lies, places that I have been having great difficulty pulling fish out of in the last few months.  The gusts of wind forced me to use some flies much heavier than what I would typically use, but hey that's called improvising.  Started out at 9:00 AM, by 10:30 I had 7 nice fish in hand out of a spot the size of a small Volkswagen, and maybe 18-24 inches deep at best.  Even though 5 out of the 7 were what I think fairly newer Rainbows to the system, I did manage 2 very nice holdover browns, one with an orange elastomer by the left eye, and the other without.  
Lots of these flying around today.

Realizing that an abundance of stockies as I like to call them, could be nothing short of a fluke I decided to try elsewhere before I got a little too comfortable.  The next run I hit I managed to pull a couple more stocker rainbows, and a couple more nice buttery browns.  All on some fairly large nymphs mind you.  Although I didn't see olives, I did see many caddis, a few stones and a blanket midge hatch.
One of the better red sides...
 I ended up breaking my day in half, and by lunch break I had a cool 13 in the net.  I joked over a nice sandwich and bowl of soup at the Rocky River Sweet Shop with a couple of fellow fishing friends and debated on going home or staying for a few more hours.  If you haven't been there yet, check out the Sweet Shop, not only do they have killer Ice Cream, the sandwiches are the real deal. 

Another nice holdover brown
 Reluctantly after the gluttony, I put the waders back on and headed up river about a mile above my starting point from the morning.  I  was rewarded with more of the same including a pair of 19 inch holdover browns in back to back casts.  Realizing that this was a great place to end the outing, I packed it in and headed to the gym to work off the high calorie meal I had a few hours earlier.   So at the end of a 3.5 hour stint, I managed 2 shy of 2 dozen for the day.  Not too shabby all things considered.  Only a matter of time and the whole river opens up.  Can't say that I can wait, 3.5 miles of the same water is getting a bit old, even if it has been producing well. 
Looks Like this guy's had a rough winter

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Persistence Pays

John Working A Nice Drift
 Opening day of Baseball season, longer days of daylight, birds singing, water temps rising and fishing feeding more and more readily each day.  These are some of the things I look forward to each and every spring.  When the Final Four is in check and the bats and gloves are out, I know that great fishing is only a few weeks away.  Kicking off my 2011 guide season a little late this year, my first trip on the second to last day of March is rather unusual considering the last 3-4 years I managed a trip or two a week right through the winter.  I guess this past winter had a lot to do with that,  making each and every day on the water that much more enjoyable and worth while knowing that the worst weather is behind us, well, sort of.
Mid Presentation

The Reward After A Long Day
 I mean, what could be better an April Fools joke than waking up to fresh snow on the ground, miserably messy roads, and a bitter chill in the air.  I damn near snapped a tooth this morning while I gritted my teeth in disgust at the sight of that damn white stuff falling on my lawn that I finally could see again.  At least the filthy white garbage melted by mid afternoon. Well enough of the complaining,  back to the first trip.

John and Andrew are true die-hards, they grin and bared what most people would have easily given up on.  A day of missed opportunities could best sum up our time up.   Wanting to work on their nymph skills,  with the water temps still in the high 30's, we rigged up with indies and a pair of nymphs and hit some high percentage water.  A few good hook ups early, but dropped fish left us optimistic, but weary.   A quick demonstration of some of the nuances of the craft had me hooked up at a most inopportune time, and I opted for the break off, as poor Andrew had just run drifts through the same piece of water for at least 30-45 minutes.  After hitting several  high percentage runs without anything to show for it,  John managed to squeak out a respectable brown with about 10 minutes left in our day.  Persistence paid in this case, as is evident in John's smile.
Waiting For Scenes Like These

All was not lost, as Andrew and John both said although humbling, today was an eye opener at the very least.  Being used to fishing during the prime months of May, June and July, the two felt a bit spoiled at the fact that fishing that time of the year is a much different game, where fish tend to hook themselves, and less concentration is needed upon every inch of your drift.  Even though the boys walked away with a bunch of new tips to add to their nymphing bag of tricks and few fish to hand, they were very excited on the things that they learned, ad are eager for warmer days, greener foliage, blanket hatches,  hungry trout and the chance to employ their new tricks.

I too can't wait for things to feel more like spring, I just hope we don't have a repeat of last year when it went from snow to 90's without anything in between. 

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