Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Salmon Fishing in a Rotation

Fishing in the rotation at Gray Rapids, Miramichi River

Fishing in a rotation is not something most American fly fishers are accustomed to doing. When we show up to a trout stream, many of us park ourselves in front of a reliable lie and fish it until we find the right fly and presentation with which to fool trout. When fishing for a non-feeding fish such as an Atlantic salmon, unless there is a big run of fish moving at the moment, it doesn't pay to stay in one place for too long.

Completely covering a pool or run provides the angler a chance to present his or her fly to every fish within casting range. Instead of searching for the right fly for one specific  fish, we're searching for the right fish...one who either feels aggressive enough to take a fly at that particular time, or one who shows enough interest to warrant "working" it. That fish might not be in our favorite lie. It might not even be a fish who showed itself a short distance from us before we began casting. If we keep show our fly to as many fish as possible, however, we stand a better chance of finding one who is interested.

Here's where angling etiquette intersects with angling strategy...

There are very few things more annoying than fishing wet flies downstream only to have an angler enter the run downstream from you. Equally annoying is having someone impede your forward progress by parking themselves in one spot of the pool. A lesser evil (though still annoying) is the angler who does not move downstream quickly enough, thereby holding up one or more anglers fishing upstream from him.

All of this can be solved by fishing in rotation. In a rotation, everyone gets an equal shot at fishing a pool or run. An angler enters a run at its uppermost point, then begins casting. When his preferred maximum casting distance is reached, he takes a step downstream after every one or two casts. When he is far enough downstream, the next angler steps into the pool and repeats the process...and so on and so on...

Just because an angler is the first person to cover a good lie doesn't mean that he or she will hook a fish. I was fourth or fifth in line in the picture above. None of us hooked anything. An angler two places behind me caught a grilse on the same fly most of us were using at the time. We all covered the same water, but he was the one who caught a fish. I've been that guy as well. We all have (or will) at some point. Unless you're fishing behind a real hotshot angler, there's no reason to fret about being the next in line, and even then anything can happen.

Here are a couple of sites I came across with clear guidelines for pool rotation:

Atlantic Salmon FAQ - Ethics and Etiquette

(some of the above only applies fishing in Nova Scotia, but the "Pool Rotation" and "Other Issues" sections are applicable everywhere)

Steve Dobson's Fisherman's Blog - Rotating a Salmon Pool 

Please give these pages a read. Try to remember their lessons the next time you're on a river and you see another angler working downstream through a fishy-looking piece of water. Many of us fish to enjoy a brief respite from the craziness of modern civilization. The last thing we need is to feel like we were followed to the river by the clown who cut the line at the deli counter!

Monday, October 29, 2012

CT Salmon Fishing News - Late October 2012

Waiting for the take

Well, until Hurricane Sandy made her appearance known, fishing had been quite good on the Naugatuck River. In fact, multiple hookup days were quite normal for many of the regulars. I don't know which flies have been producing consistently for other anglers, but the usual suspects have been working for me. LT Specials and Mickey Finns in sizes #4-#8 and the Same Thing Murray in sizes #6-#8 have all worked well for me this week. A #8 Murray was my top producer, hooking four fish for me this week. I use the LTs and the Mickey Finns when it's sunny and the Murray when it's cloudy.

When all else fails or when the pool has been pounded, I go to a Sunray Shadow. Sometimes I cast it directly across stream and let it swing and other times I strip it as fast as I can. I landed a belter of a 10lb. salmon on an orange Mortensen Sunray early last week. Surprisingly, it was a bright chrome fish, something that is not seen too often around here. He fought like a bright fish, too!

The next day, I lost one about the same size which fought even harder. He was fairly close by, maybe about 40' away. He rose twice, very subtlety, for a #6 Mickey Finn. I tried a #10 Murray, but no dice. I put on a #8 Mickey Finn and he grabbed it with enthusiasm. He made several head-high jumps, cartwheeled through the pool and went absolutely crazy. I realized I needed to chase him down to the tail of the pool when I was about a turn or two from my backing. He weaved in and out of a minefield of large rocks and there were some very close calls. He was a good ways downstream from me when I felt my line catch on something. I couldn't get it unstuck and I still felt the salmon on the end of the line. Eventually, I was able to free the line, but the hook pulled out shortly thereafter. It was good while it lasted! I've caught wild Atlantic salmon which didn't fight half as hard as that fish. If they were all like that I'd call in sick to work an awful lot.

The snag that cost me that hot fish

Yesterday, fishing was very sluggish. I hooked nothing, but was able to help my friend's son catch his first Atlantic salmon. He is a very quick study. He hooked this fish on our first pass through the pool. I have a feeling it won't be long before he hounds his father to take him Canada! (then maybe Iceland, Norway, Scotland, Russia...)

First Atlantic salmon!

I haven't fished the Shetucket River this year, but I hear it has been fishing well. Several salmon were caught on dry flies early in the month. I always get funny looks when I fish dries around here but, when the conditions are right, these fish will rise for dry flies. That said, the window for fishing dries is extremely limited at this time of year. Some years it's not a very good option at all. The beginning of this season, before the brief cold snap, was the right time for it. I rolled one fish on a Bomber my first day out, but couldn't get him to come back. Maybe next year...

We'll see what happens after this hurricane passes. I'm afraid it might be a while before the rivers come down enough to fish again. If they do come up a significant amount, I'll be praying that they fall fast so we can get out there as much as possible before it's time to bundle up.

I'm out of salmon fly assortments at the moment, but just holler if you want flies. I can do custom orders. As the water cools off, I'll be fishing with tube flies more and more. Tubes are available upon request. I can recommend patterns which have produced well for me in the past. 

 Make sure you stop by the Catskill Fly Fishing Center and Museum's Arts of the Angler Show. It's at the Ethan Allen Inn in Danbury, CT on 11/10 and 11/11. I'll be tying there along with plenty of friends. Come by and say hello!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Landlocked Salmon Fishing - October 2012

John with fish on
There is a river I had been meaning to fish for a few years now and I finally pulled the trigger a couple of weekends ago. Spurred on by my friend John, we met at the river on a cold Friday morning. The landlocked Atlantic salmon run in the fall and John mentioned this was a good time to hook into a larger fish.

John was a great host and guide and gave me the lay of the land. He really knows the river inside and out and put me on some good water. Eventually, John had to meet his family for lunch, so I was on my own. Shortly thereafter it started snowing! 

These fish were spirited fighters

I fished a highly-trafficed spot which looked like classic salmon water. I wasn't confident about my choice in flies, so I reeled it up. I saw a salmon chase down my fly but she didn't take.  I thought, "What do I do now?" I put on an orange Mortensen Sunray Variant, put the rod under my arm, and stripped the fly in as fast as I could with both hands. That did the trick...the salmon absolutely NAILED the fly and was off to the races. John and I met up again that evening and he landed a nice salmon in some under-fished water. 

Did I mention it was cold? We were up at the crack of dawn Saturday morning. It was a frigid 28ºF. It took a little while for things to heat up, but we were into a couple of fish before we knew it. I got a nice 7 lb. hookbill on a #2 Ally's shrimp. Unfortunately, he was not very photogenic! John got a nice bright fish later that morning. It was fresh out of the lake and very silvery. 

Fresh from the lake! 

It was so cold, my car battery died that night and I had to have AAA come bring me a new one. It was just a minor inconvenience, I suppose. At least it happened after the fishing day was over, so I didn't miss anything. 

I was on my own Sunday morning. I went to a "sure bet" spot, but didn't hook a salmon. However, I did catch one of the lake's scarce run of small steelhead. This little guy was a spirited fighter, but was no match for my Sage Z-Axis 6wt. switch rod. 

Micro steelhead

I make a quick decision to head to another popular pool, hopefully before the crowds arrived. I got a nice salmon in the tail of the pool. I decided to head for home early. I've been burning the candle at both ends lately...working late and fishing early, trying to make the most of the fall. This was a great way to kick off fall salmon fishing for me. Thanks, John!!

Ally's Shrimp does it again

Monday, October 1, 2012

Rosy Dawn - An Evolution

I. Classic
Rosy Dawn

II. Modern
Rosy Dawn - Temple Dog
1.25" plastic tube

III. Postmodern
Rosy's Spawn
Dual Yorkshire Flybody Hooks #10