Tuesday, August 15, 2017

A Little Walk In The Valley

Last Saturday Jeanette and I took a nice walk through one of Connecticut and Massachusetts loveliest valleys. It is almost wild, the fact that not very many people about. It is home to bear, deer and a moose or two. We spent close to 5 hours walking and viewing the land and mountains. There were some interesting rock formations as well as several little streams. I hope you enjoy the walk.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

The "Ausable Stonefly" Mystery Solved

I came across an interesting pattern in my surfing travels. The fly was labeled as an Ausable Stonefly and the article claimed it was tied by Fran Betters. The text was that Fran had tied a few of these and sold them in his shop. I can't recall the fly on his website years ago nor could I find it in his pattern book. So from the not so good photo and a few materials that were thought to be what was used in the fly I tied up a couple of them. The fly I tied was close but not quite to the photo that was posted.

This is the first fly I tied using the materials they thought Fran had used. Tail and wing were woodchuck, body was orange Australian opossum, brown body hackle, grizzly hackle for the head, and orange thread. These materials were staple items on Frans tying desk and it seemed logical that they were true except for the fact that the color of the wing was much more brownish.

Well I thought I'd try the fly and see how it was received. The brookies pounced on it. Looking at the fly it is designed for rough water, almost unsinkable. It would bring big fish up in fast water.

So in my quest to get the wing color more in line with the original I searched for some woodchuck I got from Frans shop. The small patch gave me the right brownish color needed. Problem solved "Not so"...I only had enough to tie a few flies and where was I going to source more of this unique color woodchuck.

So I was in "Upcountry" and found some some Nutria..I then tied this fly and again the color was close but Nutria does not yield enough hair.

Ausable Stimulator tied by Fran Betters....Jan Betters photo
At this point I felt it necessary to go to a very good source one who could set things right. That source was Jan Betters. I asked her if Fran had ever tied an Ausable Stonefly. In the email I sent her a photo of the one I tied and she responded that he had tied the fly but he called it a stimulator. She said that he liked to use the fly for the large drake hatches in the Adirondaks. The fly above was tied by Fran and you can see it has all of those wonderful attributes of a Betters fly. She told me that the wing and tail material was actually rust orange dyed deer hair.

Jan Betters photo
She sent along this photo also. In her words...."is when we were playing around one morning after fishing Lake Placid during a hex hatch. We caught a male and female and when they were still alive the next morning, Fran suggested we put them with the fly we were using. This was the result. Picture’s worth a thousand words,eh?

Here is the fly tied with the materials she said were used. Deer was used for tail and wing but it is nor rust orange, I'm working on that.

Here are the four flies I tied using different wing materials. I don't think Fran would mind with my fumbling with his pattern. Thanks to Jan Betters for her wonderful insight.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

The "Watchet" And Some Olives

What the heck is a "Watchet"...well this is my attempt at tying this old English pattern. I have the basic ingredients only the necessary hackle is one that was not available to me. It's color pattern and sparse dubbed body make this spider quite an attractive morsel to trout. I have not tried this fly here on my local waters though I have plans to.

In my last post I made mention of an insect that was all over the stream where I was fishing. I photographed it and tried to recreate it as close to the natural. The Pearsall's silk is very close to the insects natural body color and has a partridge hackle for leg representation.

This is a variation of that fly. Here I use a dark colored partridge feather which is close to the natural coloring of the the insects legs. While this difference is subtle it could make for a more decisive strike.

In this variation I have put a few wraps of dry fly hackle and then the dark partridge feather in front of it. This makes the fly float on the surface, similar to the natural.

Here is a side by side comparison of all of the flies. The bottom one is tied on a size 18 hook. Other than the color difference in the hackle all three contain a silk body and light olive dubbing.

Monday, August 7, 2017


Headwaters can mean one or many tributaries converging into one large river. In the case of small streams the headwaters takes on a different meaning. Most of these streams start as a spring or perhaps a small lake or pond and in some cases a little of all. The stream I'm talking of here begins as a swampy area with several underground springs pumping water to the surface. The waters start there unobstructed run down the hills, picking up more springs as well as a few small creeks and seeps each giving more volume to the stream. This water is cold and is a necessity for wild brook trout.

Yesterday I ventured up one of these streams to it's headwaters. It was a beautiful walk and the reward was some nice views as well as a few wild native brook trout.

The rains of late had brought the stream up even as I moved further upstream.

A gorgeous set of natural waterfalls. An obstacle for the brook trout, well maybe.

I noticed many of these along the stream banks. They were a pretty green with a few brownish legs. They did not have wings, but when dropped into the water they ran across the surface with blinding speed. Reaching into the fly box I found a close resemblance and tied it on. That fly served me well this day.

Usually when you trek this far up into the headwaters you'll find smaller brook trout, but these jewels were just perfect.

This is the fly I used. It's a Olive and Partridge. A bit darker and larger than the natural ones I saw but it was close enough.

Judging from it's girth this brookie has found a good food source.

So after four hours of rock hopping and laurel busting I brought my sore body back to the car. I stopped to pick a few wild flowers and a bluejay feather. All was good on this day along the headwaters.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

"Grouse And Gold" With A T-Shirt

The Grouse and Gold soft hackle. This is a common fly, well maybe not so common, but the materials are and have been in use for centuries. The first is pretty simple in both material and ease of tying. Grouse is a feather that is pretty forgiving, and it does not slip or break easily as some fathers do and it has that mottled look that is very appealing to trout. The recipe is...Hook #14, Body, Gold Thread, Thorax Olive Squirrel, and the Hackle is Grouse.

This is a variant of the first fly. The difference is the thorax which is a holographic thread. I can't give you the name of the thread for it was given to me by another fly tyer and either I forgot what he told me or he never mentioned it.

I did fish this fly and received mixed results....I'll give it another workout soon.

A camo t-shirt. Mark over at "Fishing Small Streams" uses a similar shirt and has suggested it to me that I do likewise. Well Mark I did and it does help conceal me much better on those little streams. This shirt was a bargain at 10 bucks, it is lightweight and does not make one sweaty and clammy as some camo shirts do. Thanks buddy.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Ghosts In Brook Trout Forest

The morning air was thick, the humidity could be felt, and the little breeze that was stirring did nothing to keep the bugs grounded. This was the start of a day in brook trout forest. The stream was flowing nicely, low and clear. Movements would be seen and there would be no place to mask ones self from the keen eyes of the wild brook trout that call this stream home. People who have fished with me know that I always fish with a downstream presentation, but this day an upstream approach was called for.

In several pools I observed the figures of brook trout, and suddenly they were gone.

In this pool a brookie was stationed almost motionless, it was sharp eyed and would not miss a morsel of food that may be floating in the current. A short upstream cast and the brookie was on the fly.

Lovely,wild and in beautiful condition.

This is the 2nd of August, and the streams water was a cold 58-60 degrees. What a difference from last year.

Several of the pools were quite deep and they all held brook trout. As the title of the post says, "ghosts" for they vanish into nowhere.

Another representative of this fine stream.

We received a good rainfall yesterday and I wish I could be on this stream today.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

First Outing In A while

Well a week after the crash I was able to get free and find some time to fish. The place the Farmington river. A beautiful fishery and so much better than last year. Water flows are still to high for my liking but I find the slower pockets and work them. This day was one of looking at beauty rather than catching beauty, but there was some of the latter and it was earned.

Stepping into the river I made my first cast, a nice drift. I picked up my line and slowly cast again. The fly was moved back and forth by the current until it stopped and straightened out. As i lifted the rod tip a fish hit, and he hit hard. I had a good hook-up and the fight was on, and then off. Boy that was a nice fish. I was to continue fishing for a couple of hours without so much as a bump.

Even without action in the water there is action along the sidelines. This little pollinator was busy as a bee. He had lots of competition.

I reached a lovely section of water and moved some flies through the slow seams. On one such drift my line stopped and suddenly went upstream. I pulled and the hook set.

Finally a wild Farmington brookie was at hand. He was gorgeous with the sunlight glistening off his back. With that I called it a day.

I was blessed many times today, and I say thanks.