Monday, December 20, 2010

Winter's Hope

This is a Bill McMillan steelhead pattern for fishing with a mono leader during the winter.

Hook: Note sure of make or model but it is heavy wire and barbless
Body: Flat Silver Tinsel
Collar: Purple over torquoise blue (schlappen is shown)
Wing: Two yellow hackle tips enclosed by two deep orange hackle tips
Topping: A few strands (6-10) of golden olive calfs tail (olive mohair is shown)
Head: Burgundy

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

12/1/10 The Fun is Over

After the great day yesterday, we checked the shop for the flow and it was bumped up to 7000 cfs, so that put an end to our fishing trip. We decided to stay another day and let the storm pass instead of travelling through it on the way home.

We slept in, then went to breakfast and afterwards went to a flyshop or two before lunch. Hit a few flyshops after lunch and basically enjoyed the day before hitting the road the next day.

Hoepfully another trip is in the near future!!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

11/23/10 Swinging in 3500+ cfs

After a good nights rest we all woke up and wondered what the day would bring. We new rain was in the forecast, but were'nt sure how high the river was going to be due to run off. The previous night 1800 cfs was on the chlkboard at Whitakers.

Dad and I were ready so we hit the road and headed to the UFZ, but before we get to 2A I look down towards the river and whoa!!! Dad look!! The island is under water!! wasn't like that yeasterday!! It's gotta be at least 3500 cfs.

We kept going and arrived at the fly zone but there were too many cars parked. We called Dave and Matt and to let them know we were heading back to the shop to devise a game plan.

While we were in the shop, we confirmed the flow of 3500cfs, and several other anglers came in and said the trib we had in mind was blown. After playing with the dog and BS'ing for a while we decided to go to 2A and see if we could make it up to the Compactor Hole.

It must have taken us a half hour to get up there. The water near the road was waist deep and the next crossing was just too deep to try so we went the back way to find a place to cross safely. After some hiking in the woods we managed to cross and get to the big river. We just looked at each other and laughed as if we all couldn't believe we were going to try and fish, but we did.

We all fished hard but there wasn't any takers for us to play with, but we still had fun. Everybody stayed safe and worked the water hard but it wasn't meant to be. At least we knew how to get back to the truck safely.

During lunch we tried to figure out where to go next, and we decided to stop at Altmar to see how things were. Not much better, but I did see a friend and asked them how they did in the morning. He said they did great in the UFZ and when they left there was only one guy there.

We hopped back into the vehicles, arrived at the UFZ and hastily made our way to the river. It sounded nasty from the road and becamed extremely loud as went down the trail. It looked even worse, but there was room to fish amongst the brush and the 3 other kind anglers we shared the run with that afternoon.

I asked one of the guys if we could fish below him and he said "Sure!! Thanks for asking...just give me some room when I have a steely on." I said "No problem!!"

Dad found a small opening in the brush to fish from and was the first one to hook up. I looked downstream and saw a fish thrashing around while his rod was bucking all over the place. I reeled in and grabbed the net to help him land it wherever we could do so. The sweet female made some great runs and we both thought she was going to head to the next pool but she stayed in the run.

Dad did a heck of a job playing her and led here right into the net. Yeah Baby!! A steelhead on the swing in 3500+ runoff!! Who would of thought. We tried to get a picture but she wasn't having any part of it and splashed off into the dark water. It was a nice fish too. Still somewhat silver and very clean looking with a touch of color.

I went back to where I was fishing and decided to change to a conehead Swarn-A-Bugger, but before tying it on I slid an orange bead on the line. After I had the fly tied on the un-pegged bead would slide down to the fly and give it an egg sucking look.

After about 10 casts, the fly hits the water and drifts about 5ft and right before it starts swinging, the line gets pulled out of my hand so I set the hook. Straight out in front of me a big male steely comes up crashing the surface, takes a jump and motors downstream. The reel is singing and I am loving the rain hitting me in the face while the wind howls. Nothing like having a fish on that puts the weather in the back seat.

After some hard downstream runs I work him back upstream where Dave gave me a hand landing him. WOOHOO!! A nice thick male and just like dad's steelhead, this one didn't want a photo either. It was tough enough to get the hook out, but as soon as I did, two big tail swipes and he was gone.

Dave was next to hook up about 30 minutes later. I hear him hollar and I look up at him to see his line near me but the steelhead is jumping upstream of us!! "Your going to have fun with this one Dave!! Keep him tight," I yelled to him. He did and he also had a heck of a fight on his hands. The steelhead just didn't want to come in when it got close. Dave tuckered her out though and led her right to me and I scooped her up in the net. Again, another riled up fish that took off before we could get a picture and we were ready with the camera too.

Dave got re-rigged and about 5 minutes later he hooks another one!! This one takes off downstream and goes nuts for the first part of the fight. The hook stayed put and Dave fought this one better then the first one he landed. Even though it thrashing around in the shallows, Matt did a good job netting her for his father.

Dave did his little steelhead whisperer inpersonation and we actually got a picture of this one.

Dad had one other good tug and had the steelhead on for a little while, but it came un-buttoned during some heavy head shaking. He had luck on the Swarn-A-Bugger too. It has became a big confidence fly for swinging over the past 3-4 years.

Dad and I flip flopped for a change of pace, so I decided to put on a Purple Swarn-A-Bugger with a pink bead in front of it. I didn't get a bump for a half hour or so, and began to step downstream to see if the fish slid out of the "swing zone." A few casts and nothing so I safely took a step downstream while holding on to the streamside brush.

I made another cast and it made all the way to the end of the swing and BAM!! A silver bullet comes flyng out of the water and sends water spraying everywhere on the re-entry. Boy did this fish pull hard. I thought the line was going to break or the hook was going to pull free with all the pressure I had on her. I had to stop her though or the battle would have been all over.

She stayed below me and did her darndest to get free, but none of her tricks worked. Dad came down with the net to help me land her and when she was ready I led her to him. Scoop....way to go dad!! I took the net, removed the hook and kept her in the water while did got his camera out. He said he was ready so I lifted her up and we took a quick photo. I held her in the water for a few seconds before she strongly swam away from me.

What a memorable day!! Dad and I landed 3 fish on the swing between us, fishing a flow of 3500+ cfs.....who would have thought? Not us, but we made the best of tough conditions and everybody stayed safe.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

11/29/10 Swinging in 1800 CFS

Dad and I put our thinking caps on and layed out few plans for tomorrow that depended on how crowded some of the spots would be.

I thought we lucked out at the UFZ because there were only 3 cars parked, but when we got the paradise pool it looked liked a trout rodeo. We talked to a few guys and then decided to head elsewhere rather than add to the crowded stretch of stream.

We then went to an area that I thought would fish good in the high flow, but I was wrong. Basically we went on a wild goose hunt and got sweaty from a long walk. We hiked back out from where we were and decided to fish on the other side of the Pineville boat ramp since we had about an hour before heading to lunch.

I decided to change flies and try a Crazy Comet, which is basically a popsicle style fly with bead chain eyes. This one was purple in the rear half, black in the front with a lot of flash throughout.

It was a little tricky since the water was over the top of the grass tussets, and I didn't want to trip and take a dip. The casting was close to shore to cover the slower water which felt fishy, but the dangle was a little tough since the fly would swing into the grass and get hung up now and then.

Working my way down the little area we had to fish, I was able to get the fly to swing below the tussets into the slack water....BUMP....great another tusset. I raise the rod to try to free the fly, but the line comes alive and the rod starts to bounce a little. THERE'S ONE!! It comes to the surface and splashes and I see some gold and big head. Cool!! I think it's a nice brownie!!

The head shakes were nice and heavy and I could see him flash, but he stayed down deep, pulled hard but didn't really go to far. I'm sure the cold water had him on the sluggish side.

When I had him in the shallows I lead him to a little hole in the tussets where I could land him and keep him in 6" of water. Dad was taking a couple of pics during the fight so I asked him if he was ready, and we took a few quick pictures of the nice brown trout. He was colored up nice and had nice deep body and a small alligator head including a cool kype too!!

That was it for the morning on a cold day, but at least the sun was out and shining bright. We met up with our buddy Dave and his son Matt who were going to stay for a few days, then we all got lunch and geared up for the afternoon.

Dave and Matt went to the 2A bridge area while Dad and I headed to the mid river to find a safe area to fish. Dad and I got to nice area and saw a guy showing his friend a few spey casts. They saw us and decided to stop and say hello, then they were off to another spot because the flow was too fast for their liking.

As soon as the guys were up the trail I began to fish and on about the third cast I feel a tug on the end of the line right where the other guys were just standing. The hook came out early and that was the only action we had all afternoon. Hopefully the water wouldn't be raised overnight.

11/28/10 Tough Day

The day started out very cold with some snow on the ground, but Eric and I got up early to head out the door while dad stayed in bed a bit longer. We decided to try the UFZ again but there were too many cars present so we decided to go to the trestle area and find some room.

Eric went down the trail to his favorite spot, and I exited a little early to try to swing the top end of a run above 8 other anglers spread out to the tailout. I made a few casts but the water was moving a tad slow, so after 30 minutes or so I decided to head downstream.

I hopped into run that was moving on the fast side for swinging, but I was more than happy to have about 300 yrds to myself and Eric was the next person down. I covered the water methodically and tried to slow the fly down as much as possible, but no luck.

My dad arrived a little later and hopped in above me and he covered the water as well, but no takers. We talked to Eric to see how is action was, but he didn't hook anything and only saw one fish hooked by an angler downstream.

I talked to a guide I know and the consensus was things were slow that morning with only a few fish hooked. The sun wasn't shining and there was still ice on the water in a nearby cove so the temperature must not have risen much since the morning. We were all a tad chilled so we decided to head for lunch a little early. Eric ate lunch and then it was time for him to head home to get ready for the PA deer season opener.

Once we had some fuel in the tank and warmed up our extemities Dad and I decided on heading to the mid-river where we were yesterday afternoon. We had a little more room than the evening before so I started in the very head and my dad started below me.

I switched flies every now and then. I played with big flies, small flies, dull ones, and bright ones, but no luck on any of them. Dad didn't have any luck and neither did any of the other guys in the area. I reeled in my line and headed downstream to the spot where dad had hooked his steelhead the day before. Dad came along too since his little piggies were on the numb side.

I tied the black Irish Crayfish on for confidence and proceeded to work my way downstream. On about the 10 cast or so, the fly was hanging in the slow current directly below me and I felt a familiar tap. I dropped the loop and watched the line dart out of the rod tip, felt a small energetic fish on the end so I lifted the rod. A small 12"-13" silver bullet came up jumping all over the place and had my heart racing for a second.

After a quick fight I got her in and popped out the barbless hook. Dad hopped in after that, but that was it for the evening. Leftovers from Turkey day were on the menu!!

We weren't sure what was going to happen with the river flow the next day since there was some decent snow on Tug Hill and warm weather and rain were in the forecast. As it turned out, the river was raised to 1800 CFS for Monday.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

11/27/10 Tough Weather & Good Fishing

Saturday morning Eric and I got up early while my dad slept in and stayed warm. We bundled up, loaded the truck and headed to the UFZ since Eric was only up until Sunday afternoon. Upon arriving at the Paradise pool, I hear someone calling me and recognize a three friends from home. We bs for a bit and I ask them if I can hop in below them, as Eric went down to the next pool downstream.

Boy was it raw out with some nice wind gusts and an occasional snow squall for the first hour or two. Since I had permission, I started to swing the tailout of Paradise with the same setup and fly from yesterday, except a fresh knot at the hook. For some reason I wasn't feeling the purple Mahogan and decided to switch to an Irish Crayfish in black.

One of the guys above me hooked one on a small nymph and I helped him land it and we took a nice group photo. About a half hour after I resumked fishing I looked downstream to see how Eric was doing and I see him backing up with a nice bend in his rod. I keep watching intently from afar as he plays the steelhead out and begins to land it when the hook comes undone and off she goes.

That got me warmed up a tad so I battened down the hatches a little more and focused on my casting due to the wind. I felt a few small tugs and dropped the loop but nothing was on the end. No matter, my confidence was high and after a few more casts I got a heavier tug. The line was almost straight below me when I felt some weight so I dropped the loop, the line came tight, and I set the hook. A nice, fairly colored up fish comes rolling up on top and heads out to deeper water.

It felt so nice to have a fish on for a little while, since I was practically skunked during the last tip in October. "Keep the line tight and a good bend in the rod and everything will work out," I kept telling myself. A few more small runs, some splashing and headshaking then into shore he came. WOOHOO!! What a great start to the day.

Well that warmed me up a bit, so I changed my tippet like I do after landing any size steelhead, and put the same fly back on for some more action. I fished another 1/2 hour or so then headed down to where Eric was to see how he was doing and see what happened on that first fish. We chatted as Eric kept fishing, then I see his indicator stop, he sets the hook and a nice steelhead comes up headshaking that tears off into the heavy flow and breaks off.

Eric had been doing good on a chartreuse glo-bug and said that first steelhead made his indicator jump uspstream at least a foot. He said the hook popped on the first one and lost another one that was touch and go.

As Eric was re-tying his tippet he asked if I wanted to swing a fly through the area so I said "Heck yeah!!" I decide to start slightly higher in the run to get a better swing. Nothing at first so I start moving downstream to get out of Eric's way since he was about ready to begin fishing again. I get below his spot and the river widens a tad and makes a nice little tailout with some structure.

I make a cast to swing the crayfish in front of a seam created by a large rock, and the line goes flying out of my hand and this steelhead heads downstream cartwheeling, jumping, and thrashing all over the place. I don't know how the barbless hook stayed in but it did thankfully. The steelhead calmed down a bit and I was able to recover the lost line and get him out of the current so I would hopefully have some advantage. Things worked out and I was able to get my hands on him for a quick picture. YEAH BABY!! Two nice steelhead on the swing and it isn't even lunch time yet!!

I put a new piece of tippet on and tied the same crayfish back on the business end as Eric got back to his spot and began fishing again. About 10 casts later I hook up on a small but very fat steelhead that had a lot of gusto. He came in flopping all over the place so we took a quick picture and I let him go to get back to egg munching.

That was it for the morning session. The snow was coming down heavy and the wind was blowing hard, so Eric and I decided to head back to the truck. It was a little sketchy at first with the white out conditions, but it lightened as we neared Pulaski.

We grabbed some lunch, went back to the room and warmed up for the afternoon. It was also time for my dad to get out on the water since the snow headed north to Tug Hill.

After lunch we headed back to the UFZ, but there were too many cars to make the walk to the river worthwhile. We turned around and headed to the mid-river area to find some room for everyone to fish pleasantly.

We hiked downstream to a favorite run and found out it was a little crowded, but there was room for Eric and a spot further downstream that my dad and I could share. I hopped in first, fished in close, then kept working line out until it was time to take a step downstream and cover more water. I had the same black Irish Crayfish tied on since it worked earlier. Who knows...maybe a forth tug?

The wind was still a challenge to cast against, but every so often the sun would poke through the clouds and the wind would calm down. Then it would gust so hard it was easier to wait to cast then try to cast. I repeated the cast and step process and managed to keep the hook from hitting from me in some un-reachable location.

During one of the swings, not long after the fly hit the water, I felt a weight on the end of the line so I dropped the loop. As the line was going out I set the hook to soon instead of waiting for it to come tight. I felt to heavy head shakes when the rod bucked, then there was nothing there. Darn!! Oh well at least I had a 4th tug in one day!! Same fly too.....guess I should tie a few more!!

I kept working downstream and my father hopped in above me and started working some line out. He settled into a nice rhythm, which was then abruptly interrupted when he got near the same area I had just had a tug. I hear him say "YEAH!" and when I look upstream I see his rod bent over, hear his reel sing, then I see a nice steelhead jumping down the river causing a ruckus.

This steelhead did not want to come in, even when my dad got him out the current. He kept on thrashing and rolling, making short little runs. He finally got tuckered out and dad led him over to me. I landed him in the shallows and noticed a an Orange Heron right in the corner of the jaw. Sweet!! I gave dad a fist bump and then took a few quick pictures before the steelhead bolted off.

We all fished until evening, but that was the only fish in the afternoon. It was getting quite cold so we all decided to head back to Whitakers and I made some Jambalaya for dinner. MMMMMMM!!

11/26/2010 First Afternoon

The morning came around the day after turkey day and boy was I still stuffed from the good eats. With lots of leftovers in the cooler, I packed up my remaining things and headed to my fathers house. I met my buddy Eric there and we all hit the road with thoughts of hard pulling, high jumping steelhead in our minds.

After a quick stop for breakfast we hopped on the PA turnpike, headed north to 81, and on to Pulaski, NY. The trip went smooth and we saw a handful of deer and a few turkeys as well.

We pulled into Whitakers around 12:30, checked in and Eric picked up his license since he hadn't been to the river since last year. To the room we went, hastily un-loaded all of our gear, then off to get a sub for lunch before we hit the river.

After getting rigged up we decided to head to 2A bridge to get into the swing of things and start a nice rhythm. I started at the tail of the Compactor with a 6.5 ips polyleader, 12lb tippet and a size 1 purple Mahogan. Eric and my Dad started up higher in the run as I stepped off the tailout and headed downstream to the old trestle.

It was nice to be out in the cold fresh air even though we all got skunked. But that's ok, tomorrow was another day and some snow was in the forecast.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Ready for action

During the last trip I wasn't able to seal the deal on two large steelhead which were on for a very short time, but at least I was able to fool them and get a good look at them. They were the only Steelhead I hooked during a 7 day stay at the Salmon River. One average brown trout made it to my hands, but those two steelhead have been on my mind.

Will this trip be just as good or better? The river is lower and colder. There should be some more Steelhead moving into the system. Hopefully they will take their time instead rushing upstream to Altmar. Perhaps a skated fly along the surface of a tailout? Maybe a somber toned Spey or Dee? Where's that married wing that looks like the winter sky?

It will be nice to be back on the river, stalking the banks, paying attention to the new face of the streambed. Who knows, maybe a few takes in some odd places with a familiar flow and swing. It will be good to be outside in the crisp cold air!!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Feather Wing Spey

Hook: Alec Jackson size 1
Tip: Small oval tinsel - silver
Tag: Floss - Purple
Tail: GP Crest and kingfisher feather dyed purple
Butt: Red Dubbing
Rear Body: medium oval tinsel - silver
Ribbing: medium oval tinsel - silver
Hackle: Blue Eared Pheasant
Front Body: Black Dubbing
Throat: Teal dyed blue
Wing: Black Indian neck, chinese neck, or hen cape

Hook: Alec Jackson size 1
Tip: Small oval tinsel - silver
Tag: Floss - Purple
Tail: GP Crest and Indian Crow Sub
Butt: Blue Dubbing
Rear Body: medium oval tinsel - silver
Ribbing: medium oval tinsel - silver
Hackle: Blue Eared Pheasant
Front Body: Purple Dubbing
Throat: Speckled Guinea - natural
Wing: White Indian neck, chinese neck, or hen cape

Matuka w/ Egg Yolk

Thursday, November 4, 2010

International Fly Tying Symposium

The International Fly Tying Sympposium will coming to Somerset, NJ at the DoubleTree Hotel on November 20 & 21.

I will have plenty of flies and will be tying Spey & Dee Flies along with some other flies to swing for Steelhead and Salmon.

Please stop by and say hello!!

See you there....Frank

Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Season is Upon Us

It's that time of year when all of us start checking out our fishing gear, tie flies, and look for any and anything about Salmon and Steelhead fishing......the juices are flowing!! The days are getting shorter, the nights longer, and the Kings are starting to feel an urge to ascend the river where they were hatched. And we all know the Steelhead won't be far behind as well as the colder temps and snow.

Each season is always different and that is something which I relish. River height, flow, and temperature will all be affected by the weather and the Salmon and Steelhead know how to adjust accordingly.

Adjusting a technique or trying new techniques can be very rewarding and downright enjoyable. There is something special about catching a Salmon or Steelhead while trying something that is new. It is like the first time all over again, yet there is that familiar feeling on the end of the line. I seem to remember those moments the most, regardless of the size of the fish.

Hopefully your gear is up to par and your fly boxes are full. The season is about to be in full swing in a matter of weeks!!