Saturday, November 26, 2016

Naugatuck Report - Late November - Blah, blah...Cascades...blah...

Shumakov Cascade

     Kind of tired...don't want to put much thought or effort into this at the moment, but this blog is my "fishing journal" (juicy data stored off site!). Forgive my laziness...

Day before Thanksgiving...lend rod and reel to Val (check out his art and fly tying!) for him to test out...tie him a fly an hour before he gets to my house...not enough time for head cement to dry, so I use Solarez instead. Fly is a sz. 6 Cascade...Val catches 30" salmon first pass through pool...mission accomplished...

Saturday after Thanksgiving...finally, a day to land a fish for guy fishing with Rapala w/multiple treble hooks...frustration at lack of respect for regulations sets in early...growing more irritable throughout the day...put my time in, catch one salmon at popular pool...took a Cascade tied on an aluminum Shumakov Long Range tube...tied the fly for Russia 2012...nice to see it work after sitting my pack for 4.5 years. That was the only action of the day...

Cascades (in various forms) seem to be put producing every other fly for me at the moment.

Stuff to do, then bed...back at it tomorrow...Fun, as always, but sort of looking forward to playing drums full time again...over and out

Val's fish while I cleaned the gutters

Friday, November 18, 2016

Naugatuck Report - November 17 & 18, 2016 - The Last Warm Days of the Season?

Wayne's first salmon of 2016

November 17, 2016

     I was pretty giddy about the 17th. It was two days after a good rain. The river would be clear and dropping. Temps were expected to reach 60º. I had a guide trip that day and I was very optimistic. 

     I didn't pack enough clothes. It was windy and never felt as warm as it was supposed to. The fish took forever to wake up, not until around 2:00pm. Wayne landed the fish pictured above and pricked another, both on a sz. 4 Cascade. Fish were somewhat active in the afternoon. I thought we might have a red letter day, but it didn't go that way. Still, catching and releasing one salmon per day is pretty much ok with everyone, myself included. It was a fun time, despite feeling cold all day long. 

     While we were fishing, Wayne and I saw a good sized salmon jump close to shore. We covered the fish, but it wanted nothing to do with us. As the sun began to fade, I began to think about the next day. It was supposed to be even warmer, which shouldn't be hard to achieve given how cold I felt all day on the 17th. I was debating whether or not to fish for 90 minutes while my son was at nursery school. It's a big gamble. I could use the time at home, alone. 

     I thought out loud, to Wayne, "I'll tell you what's going to happen. I'm going to go to bed early tonight, then wake up around 3am to pee. Then, I'll debate whether or not to check the streamflow level on my phone. I won't be able to resist, so I'll check it. Then, I'll think about fishing and I won't be able to fall back asleep. Gah...maybe I should just stay home and watch a movie." 

     Wayne said, "Send me an email and let me know how you make out tomorrow morning."

A rushed Cascade, head not totally dry

November 18, 2016

     I woke up at 2:52am and went to the bathroom. I debated looking at my phone for about 10 seconds before I realized my prediction sort of forced it to be my destiny. The flow was about 120 cfs. I was still sleepy, so I might be wrong. As predicted, I lied awake, thinking about how far the river would drop by my 10:00 ETA. Cascades have been working well, but all I had left were big ones tied on tubes. I considered tying one at 3:30am, but I tried to fall back asleep instead. It took a while, but I got a couple more hours of shut eye. 

     Around 7:30, I gave in to my son's demands to watch some dumb show on Netflix. I gave him something to eat and I slipped away to tie my #8 Cascade. I knew this fly would be the one so long as I didn't forget in the vise. I put on one coat of Cellire and let the fly sit. Around 8:30, before the Cellire was totally hard, I added a coat of Sally Hansen's, then brought the fly down to the car. 

     After school drop off, I was suited up and casting by 10:00am, just as planned. The sun was out and the wind was gone. I was sure I was going to hookup and hookup quickly. Everything felt right. I threw about six casts before my hunch was confirmed. A nice salmon grabbed my swinging Cascade and it was game on. By 10:07, the fish was landed. Mission accomplished. 

This fish was about 28" and just barely fit in the net. 

     That was the only salmon I could nail in my 90 minute window, but I was definitely happy. I also caught a brown trout which I regret not netting. It was about 14" long and the most perfect looking trout I've seen come out of the Naugatuck River. The fins were perfect and all erect. The color was perfect. It was fat and in great shape. Was it a wild fish? It sure looked like one to me. It was the icing on the cake. 

After...a trip that went exactly as planned

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Naugatuck Report - November 11 & 12, 2016 - Tactical Changes

This healthy male found a Cascade tube fly in a sea of leaves.

     In the past, I've said I don't necessarily post about my guided trips. However, I've been guiding way more than fishing lately, so posting about the trips is the only way I can generate these reports (for the time being). Our low water woes continue, but they are countered by consistent action (also for the time being). Up until the past two trips, the Mickey Finn was getting the job done. As the water dropped, so did the size of the Mickey Finns. It pays to be adaptable, because things took and abrupt turn the past two days.

     November 11 was a warm, sunny day. It was also windy as hell. I mean, really windy. The leaves fell in full force. I started the day with a small Mickey Finn, as per usual, but I quickly realized it wasn't going to work out. First of all, it hooked too many leaves. Also, it wasn't going to be seen with all of that mess in the water. I switched to my "leafless" Ally's Shrimp tube fly. That solved both problems. It wasn't long before the angler had a salmon in the net. Next time we changed flies, we tried a similarly sized Cascade tube fly. In short order, he did it again, landing his second fish of the morning. Then he did it again, landing the fish pictured above, also on the Cascade tube.

     When leaves litter the water, the low water/small fly thing seems to go out the window. The best decision was to give the salmon something they could see and feel. Luckily for us, they hit the flies hard enough to stay hooked up.

Ally's Shrimp tube fly w/"leaf guards"

     The wind died down today (11/12). The temperature dropped quite a bit, too. At least the leaves weren't bad. I suspected the salmon would be sulking, so I rigged up an extra rod with a 3.9 ips sinking Versileader. We tried the Mickey Finn first but, like yesterday, the salmon weren't having it. Plan B was to drag a Grape marabou tube fly through their lies. The fly was fished low and extremely slowly. I usually want a fish to chase, but I didn't think it would happen today, so we would settle for pissing them off. The plan worked, hooking two salmon. Unfortunately, the takes were very subtle and the hooksets were too precarious to hold. Despite that, two hooked is a good day. 

     The moral of the story seems to be, "What worked last week might not work this week." Also, "What worked yesterday might not work today." Observe the salmon's patterns over the course of multiple seasons and you'll be able to alter your game plan in a pinch. Keeping a journal helps. I'm about to update mine right now. 

Marabou tube flies 

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Connecticut Salmon Fishing Tip - Something to Consider When Fishing Low Water

A size 14 Mickey Finn got the job done today.

     The other day, I watched a friend of mine hook and lose a salmon. I'm not sure what he hooked the fish one, but I think it was a relatively large fly. Some very unscientific polling indicated that others had recently lost salmon on medium-to-large flies. On the other hand, I (and my clients) have been having great success hooking and landing salmon on small Mickey Finns lately. Some of these Mickey Finns are quite small, down a sz. 14, 4X long trout streamer hook. Good technique and strategy probably has something to do with the high percentage of landed fish, but not it's not the whole picture (more on technique at a later date...).

     Low water often dictates the use of smaller flies. Ok, we get it. But the salmon seem to be going after large stuff, too. So why are they coming unhooked so easily on large flies but are staying hooked up on the small stuff? I don't the fly size is the culprit so much as the thickness of a hook's wire.

   The water is extremely low at the moment. It's historically low on the Naugatuck. When a fly is swung (or stripped), then taken by a salmon, the current is almost no help when it comes to driving a hook into the fish's jaw. My theory is that heavy wire (or even medium wire) hooks just aren't penetrating the fish's jaw with enough force to stay embedded.

     Enter the small Mickey Finns, tied on very light wire hooks...If I tried to push a knitting needle through the palm of my hand, I'd have to push with some force. On the other hand, if I pushed a small sewing needle through my palm, it would require very little force. I think our positive hooksets have been a result of using fine wire hooks. Very little force is needed to drive these hooks home, which is perfect given the current conditions. Not to mention the flies are small enough not to set off any "red flags."

     Salmon have been consistently taking Mickey Finns in sizes 10-14. The only drawback is that the hooks bend easily. However, the fish have not been big enough for that to be much of a concern (yet). My advice...ditch the medium-to-heavy wire hooks until the water comes up. Use finer wire hooks, such as trout hooks and/or low water salmon irons.


Update: After writing this, I found an interesting article that helps support my theory.


Saturday, November 5, 2016

Naugatuck Report - November 5, 2016 - Go Small!

A real dandy, in his "tartan breeks" 

     Quick report today...I'm too busy to bother writing anything but the basics now. We had a good guide trip angler, two salmon landed and another pricked. The highlight was the healthy cock fish pictured above. 

     The water is super low. In my opinion, it is time to go small and/or try dry flies. All the action today was on a sz. 12 Mickey Finn. If they're on 12s now, I am going to try 14s next trip when the water is even lower. Sure, you can probably catch some on larger flies, but why risk spooking a good fish? The fish above is as nice as any I've seen so far this season and he took a small fly. Don't mess with success. 

     That said, I really wouldn't mind some rain and lots of it. 

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Naugatuck Report - November 1, 2016 - Quick Trip, Quick Report

It was "one and done" today.

     I had a couple of hours to fish this evening, so I braved the horrendous traffic on I-84W and made my way to the river. It was surprisingly warm today. The air was 71º when I checked it and the water was 64º. That's a world of difference from the last time I fished, when it rained and snowed. 

     The pool I wanted to fish had seen a couple of anglers pass through. It was low, clear, and warm, which says "small fly" to me. I knew it wasn't likely the fish had seen something small and somewhat dull, so I tied on a sz. 10 Almost. It wasn't more than a dozen casts into the day when I hooked and landed a salmon. Luckily, my buddy Rog was there to help me net it, which was nice for a change (I usually fish alone). 

     And that was it. There's nothing else to report. I didn't hook anything else and saw only one salmon jump. The fish felt sluggish today, I guess. I have my theories why, but they're just theories. One salmon to hand is fine with me. I've been skunked enough times to know I shouldn't complain!