2016 will go down for me as one of the more memorable years for a variety of reasons. I have had some wonderful opportunities come my way both inside and outside the world of fly fishing leaving me pinching myself wondering if it was all a dream. A couple of firsts that are very memorable recently happened right off the shores less than a couple hours from my doorstep. You see, there has been a couple of fish species in the saltwater scene that have eluded me for quite some time. I use the term eluded loosely, as you actually have to be on the water fishing for them to have a chance at catching them.
Every fall the shores of New England have a couple of visitors show up from the depths of the ocean to feast on the bountiful bait-balls of a variety of species that fill our waters. The Bonito and False Albacore are a pair of speedsters that show up for a very brief window of time at the end of every summer when the conditions are right. For 15 years I have wanted get a crack at these wonderful creatures but for a litany of reasons they never quite happened. You see, this time of year for me is habitually hectic and my fishing opportunities are usually few and far between until later in October. There have been many last minute calls to head out that I just couldn't make happen, or some sort of tropical storm traveling up the coast thwarted my efforts to get a crack at these fish.
This year, that all changed. In a couple weeks span, everything for me aligned and I managed to check both off of my bucket list. I will say however that it was probably a good thing that I experienced these fish later in life as it is very apparent that the level of addiction for these drag racers is extremely high. Needless to say, the day that I managed to finally get out and fish for False Albacore I made up for all those days that some sort of dilemma kept me off the water. Needless to say, I am haunted by these fish and cannot wait to get back out there for them again sometime hopefully soon before they part our waters till next year.
Many of you have been wondering about these so called "Big Changes" that I have hinted at on social media and in person rather frequently in the last few months and I am here to finally let the cat out of the bag. I am moving my family into a new home as I type this. It's not in Montana, and it's not on the banks of a trout stream but it is a wonderful place that my wife and I can raise our two girls not too far from our current residence. You see, we inevitably outgrew our first house and were in dire need of some more space, not to mention our street was a little too busy for our tastes. Our new house is just the right size, in a nice quiet neighborhood in a very country setting just like the one my wife and I grew up in, oh and it is a little closer to the river so that's a bonus of sorts.
So now you know why I've had to shut down my fly operation for a while, it literally is in boxes right now. The next venture once we settle is will be to build out my shop in the new house, and I will keep you all updated on that once I start mapping it all out. I will leave you all with this, expect some more surprises once that project is all said and done. For now, I have to get back to putting the house together. Tight lines and see you all soon. -RS-
Come on out and join myself and a handful of other great tyers including Steve Silverio, Joe Cordeiro, Joe Calcavecchia and Ted Patlen as we demo some flies on some of the new irons Partridge has released for the upcoming season. Its a great time to stop by, talk some fishing and try out some rods from Mystic. Never a bad time at the Bears Den, one of my favorite shops in the Northeast with a great staff and a tremendous amount of flyfishing stuff. Hope to see some of you there this Saturday afternoon from 12:30-5:00 PM. For more information, check out the Bears Den website, or on the Event Page.
The summer heat is here, and it feels as if it's been here for quite some time now. With drought like conditions since spring, it really feels like September on our rivers. The lack of rain has exposed streambeds leaving many streams at a fraction of their normal size. I really wonder what the impact is on our freestone stream trout, as they are undoubtedly stressed as a result. That being said, the fishing on any of our nearby tailwaters has not only been the only game in town, but it has often been nothing short of spectacular depending on where and when you fish on any given day.
On the Farmington, the standard fare this time of year is rather small; summer caddis, midges, olives, some sulphurs, chocolate duns, and even trico's can be found and are the consistent daily insects. But there are also a few larger bugs kicking around including the slate drakes, some stone flies later in the day or early if they aren't hatching at night, and of course its that wonderful time of year when terrestrial fishing can be nothing short of great if you pick your target areas accordingly. The downside of things this year with current drought like conditions is the Farmington is pretty much the only game in town for trout in our state, so the pressure is very high. Add in the heat wave and the non fishing pressure and the river can feel at times like a zoo. There are some solutions however, starting early or late, or if you are confined to fish midday, seek out areas that are shaded near some highly oxygenated pieces of water and you should find a fish or two.
Water with depth may be very difficult to find under these types of conditions, but trust me when I say this, it really isn't as important as you may think. All a good sized trout may need for a holding lie this time of year is an area less than 2 square feet with only inches of depth. As long as that particular lie isn't being run over frequently by water craft or the errant wader, a larger trout will hold up in water like that as long as there is either some sort of cover overhead in the form of riffled water, shade or some other means nearby with which they can elude any predators. Let those few tidbits help you choose your waters wisely, they have always seemed to produce for me under conditions like that which we are currently experiencing. Conversely, you can always go out and hit some warmwater fishing as it can truly fill the void and make for some exciting and fun fishing as well.
If you are however confined to midday fishing, I cannot express the importance of fishing terrestrials as the midday insect activity may be non existent depending on where you are on the river. Ants, and winged ants for that matter can be a mainstay for many trout as they can errantly fall into the water, especially on a breezy day. Although the ants you may find can be rather small, I often like to prospect water with something a little bit easier on the eyes unless trout are selectively feeding on a specific size or color of ant. Many times when you are seeing no insect activity, yet are experiencing trout feeding on the surface, dimpling as if they are sipping spinners yet you cannot seem to buy a fish on a spinner pattern, chances are they are eating tiny winged or wingless ants that are on the water.
The highlighter Ant is one of my favorite patterns to prospect with during the summer, and has accounted for some rather great days on the water both here on our home waters and on many other streams. I keep a selection of them on hand at all times in the summer as they float well, and are rather easy to see on the water even in the smaller sizes that I tie them. Try tying a few and seeing for yourself, add them to your terrestrial selection, I know you won't be disappointed. They are bouyant enough to even use in a dry dropper rig with some of the smaller nymphs that you may want to use as well, so keep that in mind when your out there. If you need them to float a little higher or suspend some slightly heavier nymphs, simply change the wing material to snowshoe or cdc and you should be able to do so with ease.
If small flies is not your cup of tea, do not be of the mindset that streamer fishing is out of the realm of possibility. Smaller sized streamers can produce throughout the day, especially on those overcast cloudy days and even during periods of high sun. And under low light conditions, you can catch some rather large trout on bigger streamers as well, even with lower water. If this is more your speed as watching floats or tightlining nymphs albeit the most productive means has become a bit of a grind, you will often be rewarded with some very nice fish if choose your time of day and locations to fish wisely, as the photos below depict the outcome.
On a side note, I will be shutting my shop down for a prolonged period of time as work begins to get a bit more hectic as well as some other things going on in my personal life. That being said, the best way to find out if I will be able to tie anything up for you will be by email. I am just going to let you all know right now that most likely I will not be filling any requests for several months. I am still trying to catch up and clear my plate so for those of you who are still waiting on your orders, I am working on those every day to get caught up. As soon as things change and get back to normal, expect a post letting you all know the store is back up and running again. Material requests are always welcome and should be filled without issue, flies on the other hand will not be the case, but your local shops should be able to get a much larger selection of my patterns from MFC so inquire within your local shop.
I will however have some fresh new videos and patterns for you all this fall and winter so keep an eye out for those at some point. There have been some solid new producing flies that I have been playing with for the past 12-18 months that have proven their weight and are worthy enough to share. Not to mention I am starting to fill in speaking dates and presentations with a few clubs as you will see on the calendar. that being said, if your club is looking to have me join you one evening, now is the time to plan your date as my availability has the tendency to quickly disappear. Have a great rest of your summer and good luck out there on the water.