Monday, May 16, 2011

A quick report from sunday after the rain

Decided to head out to one of my favorite local waters the Natchaug River today. I had a guide trip there two Fridays ago and then took my 3 girls there the following Sunday. The two guys I guided did very well as did my 3 daughters. Met my Buddy Carl at 10:30 head through the hollow over to Eastford, closer to the river we got the harder it rained. When we got to the spot we were going to fish it was raining like mad and thunder and lightning was close by. We put waders and rain gear on and the rain slowed enough and the T&L stopped so we rigged up and headed in to the first deep run, water was clear but there was a lot of leave litter and buds floating just under the surface. so my idea of a dry and dropper was out. I rigged up a couple of nymphs and started to drift the outside seam and let Carl fish the inside seam. It took all of 3 casts to hook a big rock and break off both nymphs. I had on 6x as this spot if one of the now infamous state of Connecticut trout parks, they stock once a week thru Memorial Day. It gets stocked on Wednesday or Thursday most weeks so by the weekend the fish have been pounded. It also has a decent amount of larger holdover fish but they seem to be more than a bit tippet shy. Well the next hour and a half was a repeat of this, a few casts hung up on something pull it free. Half the time I would have to retie one or both flies on. I kept moving down the run but still the same thing. Then I noticed as I was lifting to make a roll cast a trout followed the nymphs right up to the surface. I moved to the head of the run above Carl and started to swing a yellow caddis pupa and a sparkle pupa. On about my 4 or 5 swing I hooked a small rainbow and landed it quikly. That was the only fish for almost two hours, so we moved a few pools down river to a deep pool with a good side channel and back eddy with a back wash flowing into it. I fished the same two flies for a while with not fish, then I noticed a flash about 20 feet across from me just above the tail out. I changed my bottom fly to a Tung Head green rock worm, third cast line stops I set the hook into a good fish after a good showing I landed a beautiful holdover Bow of about 16" it's body width all but filled my hand. I release this fish and watched the spot again saw another flash a little farther upstream. Made bad cast but was able to throw a couple of big mends into it and hooked another Bow this one was only about 12" but it had tons of spots on it's back and really big fins just a pretty fish. I got one more small bow from this spot and noticed fish were still flashing. So I put Carl in there because he only had a little while longer to fish. He tried for about 20 minutes and hooked two but they came unbuttoned right away. He had to go so I decided to work my way into the next pool . Saw some olives hatching but no fish rising so I put on a beatis biot emerger and a bead head pheasant tail below it. I fished into the deeper most part of the pool and as it was starting to come up off the bottom a fish took. It was another bow about 12" ,over the next hour and a half I hooked another 7 fish landed 4 of them.I  lost two with bad hook sets and one took me into some brush. all of the trout were bows except the last one it was fat 13" brown trout. It started slow but ended up to be a good day, some fish and great company.


Saturday, May 14, 2011

A good start

Last week I had a guide trip with a couple of new fly fishermen. We went to an area that the state stocks regularly just so they could get a few fish, after all that is what it is about. One of them is getting back into fly fishing after a 10 year absensce and the other guy is a raw newbie. First thing I did as we were rigging up was go over what they wanted out of the day. They both wanted to learn as much as they could and if they caught trout that was gravy. So we discussed the ways trout feed and what was good holding water. This strech of river is great for teaching as it has all of the classic types of holding water. We started out at a long deep run, from the high bank we could see a bunch of fish working the bottom for nymphs. I put on a couple of nymphs and a thingamabober for each of them and we started at the top of the run. As we approached the water, I explained to them why it is important to try and were drab colored clothes when fishing an area like this. With the water being fairly flat and about 3 or so feet deep the trout have a good window to see above the surface and can detect movement at a good distance. That is why I have wondered about the bright red or salmon colored wading jackets and vest edges some companies have been marketing.  They may be good for large western rivers but small eastern streams I think they might be a bit out of place. We worked our way down this run and a couple of fish were caught which caused some smiling pictures to be taken. As we reached the lower end I notice the big pool below us was now empty and there were trout rising in a few spots. we move to the bank walked down to this pool and watched the rises for a bit. I explained to them about the different rise forms and what they ment. These were plashy caddis rises so I took of the nymphs and indicators and we move just upstream front the upper most rising fish. I tied on a yellow bodies soft hackle and explianed how to best drift it to the fish. second drift the trout takes but the youg guy instantly grabbed the reel handle and the fish came off. I told him to let the fish go a bit crazy at first just keep in contact with it, if you try to reel or keep the line too tight they will come unhooked. we worked our way down thru this pool and they hooked a few more fish, at the tail there were 3 nice fish all rising to what looked to be spinners. I set them up so they could each make a short accurate cast to one fo the fish. I then took my net and ran it thru the water below the fish. they turned out to be taking sz 14 rusty spinners, probably the last of the Hendrickson hatch. They took some time to get the cast and drift right but the fish seemed patient on this day. Thye each got a rise and hook up. one was a nice rainbow the other a snall brown. By this time they had to leave so we walked back up to the trucks to leave they both had a good day and I hope they learned a few things. With the end of the hendrickson hatch it reminds me of a few pointers I want to pass along.
             When the Hendricksons have started keep an eye out for the first of the beatis hatches to start. They will be size 16-18 olive brown duns with dark grey wings and legs. You will know you have one when you pick it up or see it sitting still and it actually wags it’s tail up and down almost like it is nervous and wants to dart the heck out of there.  They like to hatch in good numbers on overcast / misty days. When it is cool out and they take more time to dry their wings a parachute or CDC winged, blue winged olive pattern is tops. If it is warm try a regular Catskill style dune or thorax dun. Always have a few rusty spinners in the same sizes as the spinner fall will come right near the end of the hatch. These little gems must taste good because trout seem to take them with a little more gusto than other mayflies this time of year. Near the end of this hatch you may also see some of the paraleps ( blue quills) mixed in with them they are a size 18 with a mahogany brown body. The traditional blue quills and blue duns work ok but in the last 5 or so years I have been tying a red quill pattern in size 18 and the fish seem to like it, I don’t know if it get more fish than the other patterns but I have confidence in it and that is the actual magic in fly fishing, having confidence in what is tied to your tippet.


Wednesday, May 11, 2011

welcome to the highlands

So I have come over to the dark side as my buddy JT said. I started this blog because my 13 year old daughter taunted me into it. I am a fly fishermen and that is what this blog will be about. I named it fishing Connecticut highlands because that is what I do and that is what my guide service is named. No the blog will not be me trying to drum up busniess as i have all of that I want. I want to pass on timely info to others who can use it to better their fishing.
                 So just a little about me.  grew up in Eastern Connecticut and have spent most all of my life here. I began fly fishing at about the age of 12 or 13 and have been fly fishing ever since. I have done other types of fishing (bass fishing with all the fancy gear) but always seemed to pick up the fly rod when I needed to clear my mind. I became a fisherman early in life, I have a picture my mom took when I was in about 1st grade of me with a brown bullhead on a stick with a string at the end. From what my dad says I caught it in the store drain up the road from the house and took several more (mom love to eat them) over that spring. I remember my first trout I was about 9 or 10 and was fishing behind my aunts house with my cousin Mickey and I got a nice rainbow on a fly and bubble ( they were all confirmed fly fishermen) the rest as they say is history. In the last 13 years I have guided other fly fishermen, it started out as a favor for a friend who owned a shop and had a customer who wanted to go out to learn to fly fish. I found I like to get others into fish and teach about fly fishing and casting. So I did a few more "trips" that spring and have been doing them ever since. Four years ago a good friend opened a fly shop in our town and I have been "helping" with guiding though his shop as well. It is just a part time deal as I need to work 40 hours to feed the family.
        I have also been tying flies for a long time. It started not long after I began fly fishing, seems flies were a bit expensive so I got a basic book and some hooks, thread and the lot, began tying. At first I used a pair of vice grips taped to a table as a vice but eventually I got a thompson AA and started tying using what I could shoot with my 22 rifle and I mowed lawns and baled hay for extra cash for hooks and other supplies. when I was about 16 I had gotten ok at it and would get guys I meet who wanted some of my creations. One summer in high school I actually sold some at the campgound we were seasonal at. In the mid 90's The same friend with the sport shop needed some streamers tied up so I did it for them, then a few weeks later it was some thing else and then another until it was to the point people wanted my flies. I have been tying for a few shops and guides who I know in New Hampshire, Maine and New Brunswick Canada. I tie about about 5 or 6 hundred dozen a year now. Many of those are for friends who want a specific pattern for a trip or hatch.
                 Over the last 35 years a lot has changed in my fly fishing and in fly fishing in general. I was talking to my dad and aksed what it was like to fish in the golden age he said " what, your in the golden age" the equipment is better, less expensive stuff is better than the most expensive stuff was 25 years ago" the states are managing the resources better and the internet makes it easy to learn new places and make new buddies. the more I thought about it the mnore he is right. I have one philosphy about fly fishing I never try to force fish to take what I want to use, I let them tell me what to use. That is to say if I go out and the fish are holding on the bottom feeding on the behavioral drift of nymphs, I am not going to put on an adams dry and try to force a fish to come up and take it. I will put on a nymph and fish it. conversely I will not put on a streamer or nymph when every fish in the river is looking up and rising to a hatch. I will put on the closest fly I have and cast to the risers. To be a good fly fishermen you need to be flexible. That is not to say you can't fish dry flies to rising trout with your left hand only on Wednesdays but don't preach to others that is the "only" real fly fishing. If it is done using a fly rod and reel and a fly on the end of the line it is fly fishing. Look for more blod posts in the future and I pormise to pass along as much good info as I can and not try to sell you anything.