Saturday, December 31, 2011

A last minute gift from mother nature

I went for a walk with my wife and daughter today at a nearby preserve that just happens to border a "picturesque" stream.  Not wanting to miss out on the opportunity to catch a trout (or char) on the last day of the year, I brought along a fly rod.  As soon as we reached the stream I abandoned my family and took to the water to take a few casts.  I don't generally consider myself to be a person with good luck, but on this occasion luck was on my side.  After a couple of casts I thought I felt a bump, although a rock was more likely the cause.  Two casts later the fly (Gartside sparrow nymph) was taken by the brookie pictured below (along with three views of its home).  I was completely shocked by the size of the fish, the largest brookie I've caught all year.  Whether or not it is a wild fish I don't know.  I hope it was wild, but either way it was an amazing way to finish the year.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

A few more photos from the trip with BRK TRT

BRK TRT (Small Stream Reflections) eloquently summed up the value of brooks like this.  I certainly hope to stumble upon a few more next year.  You can be sure that I'll be looking.

Can anyone identify this plant?  It almost looks like holly, except that the leaves are rounder and without the spines along the margins.

Monday, December 26, 2011

After Christmas surprises

Taking advantage of the sunny weather, I headed to a couple of nearby brooks that have native brookies in them.  Since I pass by this barn quite often, and always say to myself that I'd like a picture of it, I finally stopped.  In some light it's quite beautiful.

I hiked back to the brook and found it running clear and cool.  Unfortunately, as I worked my way upstream I was repeatedly skunked, even at the pools that I normally get at least a strike.  At one point I looked up from the water and noticed what appeared to be a headstone standing by itself fifty or so feet from the brook.  I crossed the brook and went over to see if my eyes were playing tricks on me, and darned if it wasn't a headstone standing in a pile of stones.  I figured that if it were truly a burial site, then surely it couldn't be for a human, but more likely a pet.  However, the epitaph read:
"A Friend, A Fisherman, A Legend, Louis D'Antonio, 1966  2005".  I'm amazed that I never saw it before, considering it's proximity to the brook.  A quick search on Google lead to a few articles about him and his murder.  Apparently he was from East Hampton and was an avid outdoorsman (camper, fisherman, hunter, clammer) and it was the last activity that lead to his death.  Crazy and sad story.

Finally, in a nice pool that has never been particularly productive for me a fish attacked the Gartside sparrow nymph I was using.  After a very brief tussle it was off.  Undeterred, I cast a few more times into the pool and it struck again.  This time I landed it and took some photos.  The question I have is what is it?  If you look at the mouth (maxillary) you'll see that it does not extend past the eye.  You'll also see that the adipose fin is devoid of spots and the spots on the body are without halos.  These are a few of the characterstics of salmon, in contrast to brown trout.  So is this a small salmon or brown trout?

A natural headstone with a moss epitaph standing at side of the brook and a group of mushrooms clinging to the side of a tree also caught my eye this time.

My second stop was a small brook, which is generally a pain in the neck to fish due to the small trees that run right up the edge.  At least I was rewarded for fishing it one more time.  A beautiful little brookie fell for the sparrow nymph.  It was the only taker on this brook today.  I can't complain.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

One more last time

I read on the Fly Addict forum that fish were still being caught at the Salmon River, so I headed there this morning to see if I could coerce one to take a fly.  Unfortunately, I was not as lucky (or skillful) as the other anglers.  Rather than give up the opportunity to take advantage of the nice weather, I went to a nearby brook to see if I could entice any of its tiny residents to come out and play.  This time luck was on my side.  I had a few strikes and landed two of the brook's native browns.  Nothing to write home about, but nice little fish just the same.  I can now accurately say that I am done fishing until after Christmas.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Last trip before Christmas

I went to my favorite class 1 stream for one last fishing trip before Christmas (unless I can sneak out again).  The forecast was for sun, but as usual the forecasters were not quite right.  Limited sun was more like it.  The water temperature was a chilly 39 deg F.  This time I did not slip on an icy rock and fall in, like my last time out.  The fishing was very slow, although for the first time I did spot a number of fish.  My eyes must be getting better (more likely it was the lower water level).  It took a while but I did ultimately catch two browns, one on a San Juan worm and one on bead-head Whitlock's squirrel nymph.  Once again I ran into BRK TRT.  I hope that my preceding him down the stream did not ruin his time on the water.  Although the number of strikes and catches for me has declined dramatically, I am still enjoying my first fall trout fishing since I began this hobby more than 40 years ago.  Happy Holidays to everyone.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Cold but fun day on my two favorite streams

This morning I headed to my favorite "blue line" discovery to see if I could catch some brookies before the weather becomes less hospitable.  The brook was in great shape, running crystal clear and cold (~38 deg F).  As I made my way upstream I once again came upon a dressed deer carcass lying at the edge of the brook.  I guess I'll just have to get used to sharing the woods with people that don't have any aesthetic sense (putting it mildly).  At least my distaste for the former was offset by catching a few beautiful little brookies, typical of this stream.  The high point of the trip was when I slipped on an icy rock as I crossed the stream and ended up falling on my back into the water.  Adding insult to injury it was right at a small waterfall which I slightly slid over dunking my head.  38 degrees is cold!  Undeterred, I got up and continued to fish.

After enjoying my time at my first stop, I headed to my favorite Class 1 stream for a couple of hours.  When I got there I recognized the license plate on a car parked at the entrance and was pleased to finally meet the man whom I hold responsible for my recent trout fishing madness, BRK TRT (kidding of course).  The stream was running clear and cool (low forties), but not offering up any of its residents to either or us.  After we parted ways I went upstream and finally had some success, two small browns from the same pool using a tan birds nest nymph.  Hopefully the weather will not become an issue as I'd like to return before Christmas.

Friday, December 9, 2011

A couple more Class 1 natives

I returned to the same Class 1 stream, this time with sunshine in the forecast.  The water was cold (43 deg F) and flowing about as high and dirty as it was a couple of days ago.  I tried a few different flies (mostly bead head nymphs) but nothing was happening for me.  I finally had a taker after I tied on a bead head bird's nest nymph.  The second fish I caught revealed its position in the pool to me by rising for something right along the bank (just to the right of the foam).  It took a number of drifts but I finally got it to take the bird's head.  This pattern seems to be quite productive and will become one of my go-to flies in the future.  A different day produced a couple fish in different pools, but still no brookies to brighten the day even further.