Wednesday, June 24, 2009

More Weight!?!?

A recent discussion with a friend has prompted me to share some ideas with all of you. Our discussion was centered around nymphing, and more specifically the use of weight. My friend was sharing a story about fishing a deep run that he was nymphing with another friend. Neither of them were catching fish with the nymph rig that they were set up with. My friend, who was unsatisfied, added more weight! He then proceeded to hook up several times in that run and take some nice trout while the other friend caught nothing. What they couldn't see at the time, was was a little drop off in the run that the trout were holding in.The one friend who didn't add weight was drifting right over the fish.

This is a tough topic because so many people that I meet on the stream fail to recognize that they need more weight when nymph fishing. And for what ever reason, they have trouble accepting that fact. I think it is because of a number of reasons. But perhaps the biggest is that they probably have caught many fish before without the use of a lot of weight. Why change? And this is where most people get stuck....including myself!

For slow, shallow and even runs the need for more weight isn't usually a factor. But in every other nymphing situation, I have found that the addition of more weight has made a difference.A huge difference. It can make a day of a few nice fish into a day to remember.

I recall such a story from a year ago....we were all fishing a nice deep pool with a good current at the head that seemed to drop off sharply. We were fishing the middle and tailout of that pool with good success. The only problem was, we could see some really nice fish holding on the other side of the pool sitting near a cut in the stream bead. We would drift and drift trying desperately to get our flies in front of the fish. We would even cast further upstream to try and give our flies more time to get down. The trout just sat there finning away in the current. Then a friend and I added more weight. An additional small split shot was added just above the other. This was they key. It put the fly in front of the fish and soon we were hooking up with these larger trout holding on that cut. The addition of weight made a day of 8" to 12" inch fish into a day with some really nice wild 15" and 16" inch browns.

More often than not the addition of extra weight will get your fly to the fish faster and keep it there longer. And in my book that means more opportunity to catch that nice trout, and more of them.

What I start off with when nymph fishing, is a size bigger split shot than I think would I need. I then adjust my indicator to keep that weight bouncing along the bottom. I add the weight about 4 to 8 inches above the fly(sometimes closer), and adjust accordingly. Some fish will need that fly right on the bottom. If this is the case, put the weight just a few inches above the fly. If you can't get the fly in front of the fish or you aren't getting any strikes...Instead of casting further upstream(to give it time to sink) add more weight! Add a small amount of weight at a time. Until you get that fly in front of the fish. I have found(for me) that casting further upstream to give your fly the time to sink doesn't work as well as adding more weight. Any little current or lift of the rod will move the fly out of the range of the fish, and by the time the fly is on the bottom again, it has drifted well past the fish. That little bit of extra weight will keep that fly in front of the fish longer!

I know that not every situation will require the addition of more weight. But more often than not, it does! And I am only talking about dead drifting a nymph here. With the upcoming summer months, when trout will often start to pool up and will not move as far to take a fly, it will often require precise dead drifts to regularly take fish.

Photos by Lucas Carroll

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Oatka Creek; June 16th

Yesterday morning I was able to fish Oatka creek in Scottsville for about an hour or so. And It started with taking a few stream samples to find out if the rumors are true. The rumors of golden stones! I had heard reports of some guys seeing some stones flying around in the evening as of late, and based on what I found, the rumors are true!

My samples turned up the standard march browns and crayfish, but also some really big golden stone fly nymphs. I'm talking a #10 or better. And plenty of them. A lot of fun to watch them crawl around. And they are really fast too!

Now the fishing - I could see fish rising in the flat water above the bridge in Scottsville. The trout were gently sipping away at something I couldn't see. Midges? Small mayflies? I made a guess and put on a small mayfly emerger. It soon became apparent that I did not have the right fly, as not one fish even moved to look at my fly. I then went to a small midge emerger. And this too was ignored by the trout. I then remembered that the trout have been seeing lots of mayflies come off the water in the evenings. And again the next morning if the conditions are right. This prompted me to tie on a #14 hair wing march brown dry fly(even though the trout were feeding on something much much smaller.) This change seemed to work. I was now getting trout to look up and even move towards the fly. But still no takers. So what do you do when you seem to have the right fly, but still no taker? You go down in size of course! So on went a #16 march brown dry. Boy was that the difference. Almost every trout was now moving to the fly and many fish came up to take it. But I had to be right on with my cast and it had to lay softly on the water.

I think the reason why the march brown pattern worked so well was because the trout have been so conditioned to seeing them and feeding on them for several weeks now that they just can't resist taking advantage of a well placed dry. This tactic has worked well for me in the past too. In fact I have had some of my best dry fly fishing in the mornings. I am beginning to realize that the trout may just be more willing to take a properly presented mayfly during peak hatch periods in the morning, than during any other time during the day. But, like anything else it probably requires more research.

Look for golden stones in the evening along with everything else. That means you can probably start fishing a #10 or #12 stimulator during the evening hatch.

Enjoy the photos!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Oatka & Spring creek beat down

Luke has been putting his time in lately at Oatka and Spring creek. A lot of time. Enough time to make me a little green in the gills. He has even been joined on occasion by Jessie and his wife for some fly rod bending action. In fact since the 1st of this month he has logged more hours on the stream than the New York state senate has in Albany. Oh wait a we still have a New York senate?

Anyway...the fishing has been great! At least that's what I've been told. Dry flies, emergers, nymphs, scuds, really doesn't matter, the fish need to eat and those guys have been feeding the trout a regular diet of what they want.

Prolific evening hatches have the trout feeding on sulphurs, march browns, light cahills, midges and of course caddis. And there have been some green drakes as well. Which means that if you hit it right, you could catch some nice trout with a very large dry fly. And compared to some of the smaller mayflies we will be dealing with late next month....these green drakes are like sailboats on the water. Huge tom HUGE!!!

Both Jessie and Luke had a good time fishing together last week for an evening catching some fish on dries and bugs in their teeth. Or at least it seems that way from some of the pictures I've seen. Oh well, I guess a little extra protein wouldn't hurt. Speaking of photos....all the photos you see here were taken on his new camera.

If you can't get out there for the evening hatch....don't worry, Luke has that covered as well. Nymphing with small flies, and I mean small, like size #26 midges to be exact, has been a great fly fished deep. It must be nice to be able to see the hook when you tie those things up Luke. I guess those days are over for me. I'm lucky if I can tie on a size #20 fly! Anyway....Luke and his wife went out this past week as well, and each caught a number of fish in the "Honey Hole." And if you don't know where the "Honey Hole" is...well let's just say it's a prime piece of water. Especially in the summer. And I'm not giving the "Honey Hole" location away....ha! Ummm, I just remembered that I think everyone who reads this already knows where the "Honey Hole" is.

Enough about the "Honey Hole" lets talk about Spring creek...or is it Spring brook? I forget. Like the name, the trout seem to confuse most anglers. But not Luke. Or Jessie for that matter. Those boys have put a beat down on those spring creek fish like what the Orlando Magic did to the Cleveland Cavaliers. Cleveland, like Spring creek has(or had) a reputation of being tough, the best the east had to offer. In steps Orlando(Luke and Jessie) and systematically destroys Cleveland leaving them to ponder what went wrong. I would have used the Yankees vs. Red Sox analogy, seeing as I am a big fan of the Yankees. But after what has happened recently, I don't really feel like it's worth getting into. Bloody Red Sox!!! Okay enough about sports. Luke took a few photos earlier this week of an obscenely large brown trout that is now swimming around the creek terrorizing both fish and man alike. A fish that he was unable to catch. It seems as though it was the only fish to escape the fly fishing stylings of "cool" hand Luke. Hey wait a minute that the fish Jessie hooked on our May fishing trip in the Oatka? The now fabled 40" incher? Anyway....Luke again caught many trout using smaller than normal flies. Size #26 midge larvae I was told. Hey, what would be the word for more than one larvae....larvie, larvy, larveas? Just a simple question really...isn't it? Sorry about the tangent. Back to fishing news....Luke also caught a very nice brook trout. A fish that seems to have eluded me at spring creek. But then again I don't get out to spring as much as I would like. But that's okay. At least that's what I tell myself. And I must say that I do really enjoy hearing all the fly fishing reports from everyone. Bob, Jessie, Luke, Rich, thanks for not indulging too much! I can only take so much....ha!

Please spend some time looking at Luke's award winning photography!!!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Oatka creek; June 2nd

This morning I spent an hour fly fishing at a new spot on the Oatka. The Wheatland Center road access.

As soon as I walked down to the water I could see both sulphurs and march browns coming off. There were a few fish rising here and there sucking in mayflies that stayed too long on the water. It looked like it would be a fantastic hour of fishing....right? Well, only sort of.

After a few casts to a spot that a fish was rising, my fly disappeared and I set the hook only to find no resistance and a missed fish. I fished the flat section of water for 15 more minutes with no more hookups, and when I came to a series of good looking riffle sections I changed to a #16 flashback PT nymph. I cast and I stepped down, I cast and I stepped down. I worked every inch of those riffle sections with no pull downs. And as I came to another flat section and saw more fish rising, I changed to a #16 march brown dry. This seemed to be the right fly as every natural that was coming off was the right size and color of my imposter. I worked the upper section of the flat water getting some good takes after a good cast. But it was not to be, as every fish that took my fly, I missed. I then switched gears and worked the lower end of the flat water below the tailout. I was now casting upstream to fish. This was working much better and soon I had a good fish take my fly under. I set the hook and felt resistence. But a quick head shake and he was gone. I did that one more time before I checked the hook and found that it was bent. After I bent the hook back to it's normal shape I began to cast to more rising fish just a bit further upstream. And again my fly disappeared. And again I felt a good fish and then nothing. It was gone. Another examination of the hook revealed the same bend. Off with this fly - I will never use light wire dry fly hooks with my 4 weight anymore. Lesson learned!

The action slowed a bit and I moved back upstream. I tied on a "standard" wire #14 march brown dry fly and began to work some fish in a riffle section. This was the key!! Soon I started to get some takes but I was still missing fish. I took a deep breath and slowed down. The next fish that took my fly was a solid hook up. And I finally landed a nice 12" wild Oatka brown. Whew!

I worked those riffle sections cast by cast. Taking a step every time. And yes...I lost a few more fish before I had to go. But, the point is that the dry fly action was great this morning! The fish were really turned on to the march browns. I had the right fly. I put in front of fish without spooking them and they took the fly. I just couldn't get my act together today. But, that's okay! I have had so many really fantastic mornings, afternoons and evenings, that I have to realize it's "fishing" not "catching" that is the joy of fly fishing. At least it is for me.