Friday, March 25, 2016

Naugatuck Report - March 25, 2016 - RIP Fishpond Nomad Mid-Length Net

My old Fishpond Nomad net in happier times

     Most fly fishers can relate to losing a favorite fly. Often times, it happens when a fly falls off a fly patch. It happens to all of us. It happened to me today, actually. I lost the Picasse tube fly with which I had so much success earlier this season. It was a drag, but not as much as my other loss today.

     I was in a hurry to get home this afternoon. Looking back, I was in too much of a hurry. I heard a little rattling as I drove away, but chalked it up to the rod tubes I hastily threw into the back of my car. I got onto Rt. 8N and drove about a half mile when I noticed my Fishpond Nomad Mid-Length net fall from the roof of my car and onto the highway. On no! Through my rearview mirror, I saw a car drive strategically over the net without running it over. 

     I decided to double back and try to retrieve the net. I was pretty sure it made it to the safety of the shoulder. I got on Rt. 8S and made a big loop, getting back on Rt. 8N. I didn't expect to stop on this pass. I just wanted to locate the net. I did, in fact, locate it...right in the middle of the lane! Oh no! Fortunately, there was enough of a shoulder to pull off and retrieve the net when there was an opening in traffic, but I would have to make another pass. 

     I retraced my steps, exiting, getting on Rt. 8S again, getting back onto Rt. 8N, and keeping my eyes peeled for the net. I slowed down and put on my hazard lights as I approached the location. I saw my three pieces! Oh no! Fishpond Nomad nets are durable, but not durable enough to withstand being run over by an eighteen wheeler, apparently. For a moment, I thought of picking it up to salvage the net bag. Traffic was getting heavy and I quickly decided that it was not worth the risk. I drove away, leaving my trusty net to die in the middle of Rt. 8. 

     I was pretty bummed. It was a great net. It even doubled as a wading staff. It would have been the perfect size for most Naugatuck salmon in 2013 and 2014. The 2015 fish were a little bigger, however, and I landed several which did not fit in this particular model. I had already made up my mind to buy the Fishpond Nomad El Jefe model for next Connecticut's salmon season. The mid-length net would have been perfect for shad though. I guess I will have to purchase the El Jefe net sooner than expected. At least I know that I will be happy with another Fishpond Nomad net. I had no complaints with my old one, other than the size. The way I see it, too small of a net is a "good problem."

     Oh yeah...the fishing report. On paper, today was pretty ideal. Air in the low 60s, overcast/light rain, water in the high 40s to low 50s, and a flow of 346 cfs. The salmon didn't quite get the memo. I didn't move a thing. And I lost a good net. Sometimes you eat the bear, sometimes the bear eats you.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Naugatuck Report - March 23, 2016 - Ouch!

Small, but I'll take it if it keeps the skunk away

     My drum lessons were canceled today. No money, no good. The babysitter was booked, so I decided to go fishing to make up for it. It was warm today, about 63ºF when I arrived. The water was 48ºF and was flowing at 380 cfs, which is low for this time of year. It was overcast. I'll never complain about cloudy skies. Today's rig was the 11'9" rod, the Abel Switch reel, and a 400 gr. Scientific Anglers UST Scandi head (F/I/S2). 

     I referred to an old post that had details on a past trip under similar conditions. I planned on starting at the pools referenced in that post, so I figured the information would be relevant. The only difference were the temps, both water and air, which were both about 5-8º warmer today than they were on the other trip. I even used the same fly, a sz. 2 Sugerman Shrimp, though I didn't sink it as much as I did in the trip from a few years ago. I hooked up with a good salmon in my first pass through the pool, so the research paid off. The fish was about 8 lbs. and like to fly. It made two strong, reel screaming runs and jumped about five times. Unfortunately, the salmon came unbuttoned a few minutes into the fight. Too bad...that was the best fight I've gotten out of a spring Naugatuck salmon yet. 
     Subsequent passes yielded nothing and the other pool was occupied, so I moved on. The next pool was a bust, though I saw one jump in the frog water. I decided to move further upriver. In my first pass through the next pool, I fell in! This was my first Naugatuck fall-in. If it was going to happen in any pool, this was the one. I banged my shin on a rock as I fell. It didn't hurt then, but it's beginning to hurt now. It will probably be black and blue tomorrow morning. I thought I wouldn't get water in my waders, but I couldn't save myself. I felt a cold rush of water run all the way down to my booties. My right arm was soaked, as was the lower front part of my long sleeved t-shirt. I thought about going back to the car, but it would eat up too much time. I fished on...

     I moved down one pool and did nothing with the Sugerman. I decided to fish a little deeper, so I tied on a gold bodied Willie Gunn tied on a 1.5" copper tube. That did the trick....SLAM! A fish pulled hard, but no hook up. A few casts later, the fish was on. It turned out to be a little guy. I landed and released him quickly, then made a couple more casts to the lie. BAM! Another little salmon on the hook...expect this one didn't stay on for long. He spit the hook out while jumping. I made it to the bottom of the run and decided to take a final cast. I reeled up my fly line and...WHACK! Fish on. This time, it was a small brown trout. 

     I lost that good fish, got soaked, and banged up my shin. I also lost out on teaching money. It was a good day for March salmon fishing though, so you won't hear any complaints from me.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Some Recent Ties

Blue Picasse (sz. 7) and Tiger Ghost var. (sz. 3)

     Here are some recent ties. I finished tying wet flies for summer fishing. I still have to tie a few tube flies and a some dry flies. I'm glad I started early and worked fairly quickly. There is no historic information or stories in this post, just pictures.

     Dressings for any of the flies pictured here are available upon requests. I will probably take a little break from my usual weekly blog posts. Once the spring runs of fish start up, I will (hopefully) post some reports. As always, if you any questions, don't hesitate to contact me or leave a comment. Thanks for reading!

Green Spey (sz. 1.5)

John Olin Longwing (sz. 12)

Black and Red Frances (sz. 10)

Silver Rat (sz. 2)

Rusty Rat (sz. 1)

Green Butt Blue Charm (sz. 4)

Ghost Stonefly (sz. 2)

Green Butt (sz. 4)

Summer 2016 fly box (singles)

Summer 2016 fly box (doubles)

Small doubles

Bugs & Butterflies (and Mesmerizers)

Monday, March 14, 2016

Gordon's Quill Interview - Winter 2015

Salmon fishing in Connecticut...good practice for springers.

     I apologize for a bit of shameless self promotion this week. The Winter 2015 issue of the Theodore Gordon's Flyfishers newsletter, Gordon's Quill, was recently published. In this issue, my friend and guide client, Warren Stern, interviewed me about salmon fishing in Connecticut, amongst other topics. If you'd like to read it, click this link to navigate to the newsletter. Thanks to Warren and the Theodore Gordon Flyfishers for their interest in our fishery, as well as for all the great work they do in the areas surrounding NYC. 

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Naugatuck Report - March 10, 2016 - Take My Kid, Please

R.I.P. White Winged Akroyd

     The past couple of days could almost be considered a "heat wave" for early March. On paper, today looked like an ideal day to catch some salmon. I haven't been out since January 8, so I was looking forward to this trip. By "trip," I mean "trips." I wove two separate trips into the day, around my son's schedule. I'm looking forward to the day when he can come with me, but that's at least a couple of years down the road. 

     The first trip is the "Plan 58." I have 58 minutes to fish while my son is at nursery school. I only make this trip when I am really confident, which I was today. When I arrived, the water temperature was 46º, the air temperature was 73º (!), and the river was flowing at a healthy 508 cfs. I goofed and left my pack in the car with all my flies and polyleaders. I fished with the one fly I had on me, a sz. 2 Black Bear Green Butt. Nothing happened, so I went back to the car. That ate a valuable five minutes or so. I switched to a 7.0 ips Versileader, tied on a Sugerman Shrimp, and walked to the next pool downstream. No dice. 

     I went back to the top of the run, this time armed with an orange HKA Sunray/Bismo. As the fly swung to the nearside of the run, I began to strip it back to me. Bam! Fish on! After a short fight, I brought a salmon to the net. Instead of wringing out the last little bit of time I had, I felt satisfied enough to leave early. I knew I'd be back later, so I went and got a sandwich instead of fishing through the run. 

     After school pickup and a nap, the babysitter came, I drove back to the river, and phase II started. It cooled off a bit, but the air temperature was still in the 60s. The water temperature had risen to about 50º. The river was flowing at nearly the same level as earlier. I fished four pools in the last two hours of daylight. Nothing happened. I decided to fish a White Winged Akroyd in my last pass through the pool. I thought I had a grab, set the hook, then realized it was a submerged rock. Bye bye, Akroyd. 

     I am happy with my one fish, but I was sure I'd see more action today. Oh well. At this point, I'm just killing time before the spring runs of fish start. If these warm temperatures hold, we won't have to wait long! 


Monday, March 7, 2016

Product Review: Harbor Freight Toolbox Organizer...Tackle Box...Fly Box?

It's no cedar chest, but it gets the job done.

     About 15 years ago, I bought a plastic Black and Decker rolling toolbox from a discount store. I thought I could use it to carry my drum set hardware. When I got home, I was surprised to find a soft sided tool bag inside. The rolling toolbox wound up being too small for the hardware, but the bag looked useful for other purposes. The bag had a rigid bottom and was the size of a piece of carry-on luggage. It was black with orange accents and had little strips of reflective material sewn into its sides. Because the bottom was rigid, folded clothes could be transported without getting too wrinkled. It had several compartments and zippered pockets. They were the perfect place to keep a cellphone charger, business card holder, pair of headphones, etc. To my wife's dismay, this bag became my preferred carry-on/overnight bag. It wasn't the most handsome bag, but it worked really well. I remember checking into the Hanover Inn, in Hanover, New Hampshire, with my favorite bag slung over my left shoulder. My wife looked at me, rolled her eyes, and said something along the lines of, "You know, you look like a real cafone carrying around clothes in your Black and Decker 'luggage.' " She had a point. Soon after, I bought a more appropriate carry-on bag. My trusty Black and Decker bag became my travel fly tying kit bag. As a tying tool and material bag, it works at least as well as it did as an overnight bag. 

Each tray can hold an awful lot of flies.

     Most fly tyers are aware that the craft store can provide access to a wealth of tying materials at a fraction of the cost of a fly shop. As a tube fly tyer, I've found local art supply stores and hobby shops to be just as valuable. When it comes to repurposing items for fly fishing or tying, my new favorite store is Harbor Freight Tools. 

     For a fly fisherman, Harbor Freight can offer solutions to problems we're not aware we have. If I have enough time, I slowly walk the aisles and scrutinize anything that looks like it might be remotely useful. Last year, I bought an inexpensive heat gun which I use to weld loops in fly lines. Around the same time, I bought a small metal bowl with a large, round magnet glued to the bottom. It is perfect for holding hooks. If the bowl gets knocked off the desk, the hooks don't go all over the floor. 

     I had some time to kill the other night, so I stopped at Harbor Freight on my way to work. After staring at the tool boxes for an unusually long time, I grabbed the one pictured here. I have been looking for a good way to store lots of salmon flies in one place, but hadn't considered this option before. Prior to buying this toolbox, I kept summer flies, fall flies, and tube flies in separate plastic boxes. I would have to do a little reorganization to make it work in this box. I deiced to buy it. 

There is ample room above for extra fly boxes and supplies. 

     My spare tube flies fit in one plastic insert. My fall flies fit into another. My spring and summer flies occupy most of two boxes, with dry flies taking up the remaining space. The top compartment is large enough to hold several fly boxes. I don't carry every single fly box on me at once, but I do like to have some stocked boxes ready to go. I have small box with flies tied on double hooks in sizes 8-12. I have a similar box with size 10-12 single hook flies, as well as one for Buck Bugs and Butterflies. I have a box with flies tied on large double hooks, sizes 2-3/0. There is a large compartment box for dry flies. I have a Finsport fly wallet full of tube flies, but I typically carry only one of its loose inserts on me at any given time. I have two small compartment boxes, one with single tube fly hooks and one with double tube fly hooks. I don't need access to all of these boxes at one time, so I am going to store many as possible in the upper compartment of the toolbox. I plan on leaving this fly box in the car during salmon season and while on trips. If I need specialty flies, all I have to do is swap boxes or grab some from one of the plastic trays.

     Eventually, it occurred to me that I had bought a stripped down tackle box. That's pretty much what tackle boxes are now, right? All I'm missing is a little rack on which to store my spinnerbaits. It's ok. I'm not pretentious. If I carried my clothes around the Dartmouth College campus in a Black and Decker tool bag, my spare Jock Scotts and Silver Doctors can live with being housed in a discount toolbox organizer.