Well, all of the excitement of Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday are all over as I type this. I hope everyone had a happy and safe Thanksgiving holiday. If you chose to go out to the stores on Black Friday (you are crazy) I hope you found what you were looking for, and if you were shopping online today when you should have been working, I hope you didn't get caught. We had a great holiday in the Irish Flies household. I had a great dinner with my wife on Thursday, got caught up on some work, and even got out on the water a couple of times. Before we talk about the fishing lets talk about the progress on my Winter fly tying project.
My new Tacky Fly Fishing Day Pack is now full and I will be posting more of the fly recipes in the coming weeks. Tonight I am going to share a new Olive Nymph I have been working on and an old standby.
A few years ago Hareline Dubbin came out with a product called Synthetic Quill Body Wrap. I believe this was originally designed to be used for dry fly bodies. Well, it makes a great nymph body also. I tie this pattern with and without a hot spot (although I am gravitating toward the hot spot as a favorite) A dead ringer for the small Baetis nymphs that are a staple in the winter diets of our local Trout, this fly will quickly become a go to pattern. Here is the recipe...
Hook; TMC2499SP-BL #16
Bead; Tungsten Black 3/32
Tail; Coq De Leon Light Speckled
Abdomen; Hareline Synthetic Quill Body Wrap BWO (SQB28)
Hot Spot; UTC florescent orange thread (optional)
Thorax; Senyo's Laser dub Sculpin Olive
The second pattern I would like to share is a pattern I have been fishing for a long time. I really don't know if it has a name or the origin of the fly, I have seen versions of this pattern everywhere. Basically a buggy, dark nymph this fly can represent a plethora of aquatic insects. The biggest fly in my winter box. The buggy, dubbed abdomen and thorax on this pattern make it easy to hide a under body of lead. I will often use this as an anchor fly in a triple nymph rig.
Hook; Dohiku #302 size 14
Bead; Black Tungsten 7/64
Under body; 10 wraps of .015 LEAD wire
Tail; Coq De Leon Light Speckled
Abdomen; SLF Fox Squirrel Thorax dubbing
Rib; Lateral Line Flashabou
Thorax; SLF Dragonfly Dark dubbing
As mentioned I got to get out on the water a few times this past weekend. On Sunday my buddy Ed and I headed to our favorite wild Brown Trout tail water. We arrived at around 10:30 and fished till just about dark. It was a great day on the water with several fish landed. I fished a "tight line" rig the entire day. I had a Rainbow Warrior on as a point fly, and a Cinnamon Toast and the Hot Spot BWO as droppers. (I will highlight the Rainbow Warrior and Cinnamon Toast in my next post in this series) I guess I must have guessed correctly, because I landed several fish on each of the three flies.
Now is the time to get your Winter boxes in order. I just looked at the extended forecast for December and it looks like we will have mild weather at least until the first of the year. Winter fishing can be some of the "hottest" fishing of the year. Till Next time...
If you are interested of any of the patterns in this post custom orders are available. Please use the links at the bottom of the page to call or contact me.
I must admit, I am having trouble focusing as I attempt to type this blog post. If you ask my boss he may say a similar statement as I struggled through the work day today. I returned yesterday from a trip to north western Pennsylvania to fish for Steelhead in the Lake Erie Tributaries. This trip actually started over 2 years ago when myself and a couple of friends attended a seminar given by Greg Senyo at the Reading TCO fly shop. After seeing the presentation we talked on the way home and decided to book a trip. Originally scheduled for November of 2014. If you remember the Great Lakes area was POUNDED with snow last winter. We kept an eye on the weather and the day we were supposed to leave our fishing spot was covered with 7+ feet of snow. A quick call from Patrick Robinson of Steelhead Alley Outfitters and we realized there was no way we could pull this trip off. We tried to reschedule a few times, but schedules just would not allow it. Fast forward to this year. Wanting to stay away from the snow we scheduled earlier in the season. Snow was not the issue this time. Rain, both not enough, then too much were the challenges this go round. In the weeks leading up to the trip the area, like most areas in the east, had received very little rain. The rivers were low and throughout all of the communication with our guide one theme rang true, "we need some rain"! You have all herd the phrase "careful what you wish for" the day we were supposed to leave the Great Lakes area received the remnants of Hurricane Patricia and several inches of water were dumped in a 24 hour period. Now, rain is usually a welcome sight in Steelhead fishing as it usually gives a push of fresh fish into the river system. That much rain that fast can be an issue. I was literally walking out the door when my phone rang and it was Dustin, our guide. "Can we move the trip back a day"? First 7 feet of snow. now a bunch of rain...I was beginning to think the Steelhead Gods are against us! A few quick calls to my buddy "One Boot" Ed and the Hotel, arrangements were changed and we were set to leave a day later and stay a day later.
As mentioned we were fishing with Steelhead Alley Outfitters. If you are looking for a premier outfitter I would highly recommend checking them out. Our guide for the two days was Dustin. A young kid full of piss and vinegar with a drive to catch fish rivaled by nobody I have met in the recent past. Our goal was to catch our fish on the swing during this trip. "Swinging" for Steelhead is a term used to describe a type of fishing where you position yourself above the fish. A cast is made down and across the river, usually with a two handed rod, and you allow the current to sweep or "swing" the fly to the fish. With the water coming down after the heavy rains we decided I would swing and the Ed would Nymph.
We worked the first run for about an hour with no joy. We moved up river into a sweet looking run. Dustin positioned me in the middle and had me to fish down to the bottom. Ed started up a little higher in the same run and started Nymphing his way to the top. about 15 minutes into the second run I saw my first sign of life. A boil in the vicinity on my fly. Did I imagine it? Was it real, or was it wishful thinking? These thoughts were going through my mind when I got my first bonafide Steelhead tug on the next cast. Nothing snaps you back to reality and makes you focus like that jolt of lightning in your rod hand. The very next cast a fish (I have no idea if it was the same one or not) hit the fly at the end of the swing with a violence that can not be described with words. I threw the steel to him and got a solid hook set. One hard run and three aggressive head shakes later the line went limp. I was cussing myself thinking I had broke him off. I soon realized the fly was still there and a quick inspection and I realized what happened... bad ass fish!
As Dustin and I were looking at the straightened hook I looked up and saw my buddy's rod doubled over and he was yelling "fish on! "
With the Skunk out of the boat our confidence continued to grow throughout the first day. By the end of the day we had hooked 12, landed 8 (4 on the swing and 4 on the nymph) with the best fish being 32 inches and estimated over 10 pounds. It was truly a great morning and one neither of us will soon forget!
That night at dinner the discussions centered around the days events. The one thing we were both amazed at were how thick the fish were across the shoulders, and how strong they are. One thing was for sure, it would be hard to sleep that night and we could not wait for tomorrow!
The next morning brought sunny weather and low clear water, not ideal conditions. Dustin was out early that morning scouting water and after a few texts it was decided we would fish the same area we fished the day before. While gearing up at the truck we decided to take one 2 hander and two nymph rods. I was amazed at how much the water had dropped over night. I "swung" through the first run and I did stick one and after 5 on the swing I wanted to get a few on a nymph rig.
Imagine you are nymphing for Trout with an indicator rig. Now imagine the indicator going under and you come tight to the fish, only it is not a 13" wild Brown, it is 26 inches of fired up Steelhead that is as mad as a Bald Faced Hornet! I can say I don't think I would want much more fish on my seven weight NRX, and this is the first time I can remember seeing the backing on this rod.
I finished out the day with the nymph rod as did Ed. We managed 8 more fish on the second day with Ed landing 5 of them. The 2 day totals were 23 hookups, 16 landed, 5 on the swing and 2 fish estimated over 10 pounds by our guide. Here are some of the pics from the second day.
I sent an email to the operations manager for Steelhead Alley Outfitters to thank them for a great experience and to let him know they created a couple of monsters. If you are interested in booking a trip check out the SAO website here. I have been toying with the idea of hosting a trip through Irish Flies to fish Steelhead Alley next fall. If you are interested please feel free to contact me. Till next time...
What a great week the first week of September was. My wife and I spent the week on vacation in Rehoboth Beach. Since both of our kids are getting older and starting lives of their own we have been vacationing solo for the past few years. Some will say it is too crowded, others will say the traffic is unbearable, both of these statements could be considered true. Over the years we have really come to enjoy this quaint little beach town. Now, this was not a "fishing" vacation (my wife would say it is never not a "fishing" vacation). It was also not a "working" vacation, but I did plenty of that as well. The point is with just the 2 of us it is not hard for me to sneak in a morning or two of chasing some Saltwater Speedsters with the fly.
I haven't fished the salt on a regular basis for some years. The decline in the salt fishing coupled with super high gas prices (remember when gas was over $4.50 / gallon) forced me to stay more local with my fishing some years ago. Things are different now and I plan to, at least in my fishing, live the "Salt Life" a little more in the future. It took a little planing, but I hooked up with my buddy Shawn Rakes of Sussex County Fly Fishermen for some early morning (or was it late night) fishing from his 20' skiff.
Saltwater fly fishing is all about the tides. The fish typically feed at the peak of the tides and kinda go dormant during the slack portions. The tides have no clock so if you want to chase them you better wrap your mind around the fact you will be keeping some strange hours. So the alarm went off at 2:00 am and I was up and out the door in short order.
The wind was absolutely howling so a quick text to Shawn to bring an extra 9 weight. As mentioned this was not a fishing vacation. We took my wife's Mustang for the trip and space was limited. The car is awesome, but the trunk is the size of a postage stamp! I took one 2 hander and one 7 weight rod, as soon as I stepped out of the door I knew the seven weight NRX was gonna stay safely in the tube.
We met at the boat ramp at 3:00. The rods were rigged, the boat was launched and we were on our way. This boat is set up perfectly for fly fishing. The tunnel hull rides dry and it sits just above the water. All of the cleats are recessed so there is no danger of catching your line and there is a huge casting platform on the bow. The 115 Mercury brought her up on plane with ease as we motored to the spot we were fishing.
This type of fishing requires precision and teamwork. One guy maneuvers the boat while the other casts to the structure. When fishing structure while the tide is running at it's peak is not for the faint of heart. Driving a 20' boat within fifty feet of hull ripping structure requires a skill set, and for 3 hours straight Shawn kept me within comfortable casting distance of the fish.
What fly are we fishing?
I asked Shawn what bait is in the water and what fly we would be using. He kinda smiled and said we would be fishing the "Rakes Dock Light Special" Sean developed this adaptation for dock lights Striper after many years of this type of fishing. Many years of experimentation and "tweaking" have gone into this pattern, it is a spot on match for the 3" Silversides and Bay Anchovies that congregate around the lights and shadow lines that form when the sun goes down.
We were a little early for the tide and it took about an half hour for the water to really get going, once it did it was game on! The picture quality is a little suspect...it was 3:00 am, dark and misty but I think you get the idea.
I guess we landed just south of 20 Bluefish up to 5 pounds and 3 Striper in the mid 20 inches. A good morning for sure. The beauty of living where we live is we have legitimate fishing opportunities available to us 12 months of the year. The Fall Salt run is just getting started! Be sure to get out there before Ole Man Winter tightens his grip. Till Next time...
P.S. Irish Flies has obtained the recipe for the "Rakes Dock Lights Special". If you are interested contact me if you would like me to tie you a few. If you fish where there are Silversides or Anchovies you will be glad you did. Just don't ask me how to tie it...I have been sworn to secrecy.