Well, here we are a couple of days past Christmas. I hope everybody has had a safe, fun Christmas Holiday and that everyone received all of the fly fishing gifts from Santa they were looking for. My Christmas was great and the best "fishing" gift for me came from my son Tyler. The Fishpond Nomad net will be out to good use, trust me. Thanks buddy for a great, and needed, present. With the hustle and bustle of Christmas not what it used to be for my wife and I (our kids are 21 and 19) and being SEVERAL years away from grandchildren the holidays, for us, are a simpler time. After the big day I got to spend a little time the White Clay on Friday and Saturday. I was hopeing to take advantage of the Holiday Stocking that the White Clay Fly Fishers have been doing the past several years. Things were done a little differently this year. In the past the club would do one stocking of several hundred to sometimes over a thousand fish typically right before Christmas. This year the river will be stocked three times; once in October, December, and February. Knowing the river was full of fish had me rigged and on the water by 11:30.
I have been playing with a winter time rig that I learned from my buddy Eric Stroup www.ericstroupflyfishing.com in fact during his last Face Time Fly Fishing show he spent a little time discussing this very subject. During the winter take 3 flies (the maximum number allowed by the state DNR) and place them fairly close together. The Idea is to grab the fishes attention with a smorgasbord of food in close proximity to each other. A single Zebra Midge needs to bump them in the nose sometimes before they will eat it. Certainly they will move no more than a few inches, maybe a foot, to eat such a small meal. That is why you need to be extra diligent to be sure you have covered 100% of the hole you are fishing before moving on. On the other hand a fish is more apt to move several feet if it knows it has the opportunity to fill his gut. I usually will fish a big attractor like a Walt's Worm or a PFN and trail a small Nymph and a Midge, or 2 Midges of different color. This technique has worked quite well for me in the past, especially on stocked fish. One word of caution, be sure to cast an open loop or you will have a mess of tangled spaghetti in short order and be sure to use barbless or de-barb all of your hooks. With 3 flies no more than 18" apart the opportunity to hook the body of the fish with one of the other flies is heightened.
I hit the river solo on Friday and fished from about 11:30 till they shut off at about 4:15. Water temp was 36 degrees and at the warmest part of the day there was a pretty steady Midge hatch coming off. Steady enough for me to switch to a dry and stick a couple before the bugs shut off causing the fish to follow suit. With the water at 36 degrees I decided to fish the deeper pools and cover the water thoroughly before moving on. I pre-tied two rigs, the first had a #14 PFN on point with a #20 Black Mercury Midge and a #22 olive Al's Rat as trailers. The second rig was a #10 Walt's Worm on point with a #18 Flashback PT and a #20 Frostbite Midge as trailers. I have done well with all of these flies on the Clay in the past ant Friday waI no different as I landed fish on all 6 flies.
The highlight of the day came at around 3:30 when several fish started to rise on the far bank from where I was fishing. It stopped as fast as it started, lasting only about 20 minutes. I had just enough time to switch my leader to a dry on 6X. I chose what is quickly becoming my favorite Midge dry, the CDC Puff. This is my buddy Rick's pattern and it is as effective to fish as it is easy to tie. A hook, thread and 2 materials.
Saturday was to be much different than Friday. First off I was fishing with 2 good friends. Jim Stephens whom has been taking private tying lessons for some time now and has become a good friend and my partner in crime Ed "one boot" Hays. We met at around 11:30 and quickly realized there were MANY more people fishing today, the weather was beautiful, the temp was in the 50's and everybody had the same idea. Ed had a few new streamer patterns he wanted to fish so he decided to fish down. Jim and I were Nymphing and fished up. I had already decided to spend the bulk of the day in the area I had the most luck the day before...stake my claim if you will. I don't normally like to do that, but I knew there were fish there and if I was not fishing over them somebody or many somebody's would be. I started with the same rig I had the most success with the day before. In the beginning I actually spent more time talking as several of my old customers that were on the water. Conversations with Dennis, Ray, Bill, Rob, and Adam were a good way to rest the fish in "my" hole and it was nice to catch up with these guys. The fishing was tough and I was having no success with any of the flies that worked the day before. At one point I watched a fish move 6 inches to his left as my rig drifted past him. When the rig was safely past him he moved 6 inches to his right back to his preferred lie. I sent a text to Ed to ask how he was doing and received this picture in return.
At this point I had been fishing for 3 hours and only had one fish landed and another LDR (long distance release). I have switched flies to every combo imaginable and just couldn't get the same results as yesterday. Finally as a last ditch effort as I blankly starred in to my nymph box I decided to do something I NEVER do. I picked a single fly, one I rarely if ever fish, tied the single fly under the indicator and cast it out.
On the first cast I was tight to a good Brown. I had just enough time to fish my way up through the run one more time, which I did landing 3 more fish. Who would have thought, fishing technical all day and the Green Weenie was the top producing fly!
At the end of the day we all compared notes and it turned out to be not too bad of a day. When you are on the water with good friends is it ever a bad day? Off to tie Weenies. Till next time