Sunday, October 31, 2010

I Am Haunted By Fishes.....

These are the days that determine our creed. the code of our angling ethics.

Yesterday I ended the Landlocked Salmon season on one of my favorite rivers.  Usually during the last few days, as the season close is the 31st day of October, flow is blown out and swollen with snow falling.  Under normal conditions I am fishing in a more southerly location of New Hampshire for the finish.  This year the rains came early and even with the river still high I hoped it would fish well.  It did not.

Starting high up and working down river proved a casting experience.  I knew the fish were there but, for what ever reason, their jaws were locked.  I then decided to check out a run that always holds a number of fish.  It is heavily angled when the water is low enough to access.  By this time the fish have been there for a number of weeks and seen a whole bunch of flies.

Working down from the top of the rapid I was stopped dead in my boots.  Frozen in time and stilled with amazement as there before me was the largest Landlocked Salmon I have ever seen.  Next to that fish was another that was by Landlocked standards a true monster.  My guess was seven pounds or more.  I had a copper bead headed olive leech trailed by a Stalcup Caddis Emmerger on eight pound tippets.  I have learned that when fishing the new co-polymer leaders, available today, I no longer need to be using very low pound tippets.   Tied with Davy knots I have become very strong with the playing of the fish I hook.  I backed myself up into the bushes and made a cast in a dead drift nymph style.  Three casts later the big one inhaled the leech and I was in heaven.  One strong run up river that included a surface clearing jump and then pulled back to my feet.  I tried with my net and the fish bull dogged forward and away.  Close but not close enough.  Two more times and the same thing happened.  As I was working this magnificent salmon back for a forth try my barb free leech came out and the trailing fly caught in the fishes tail.  Having none of that, with one good tail slap she was free.

Now, I have been professing using barb free hooks as this blog will confirm.  But at that moment I lost a fish of a lifetime and I am almost certain that a barbed hook may have held tight.

"These are the times that try men's souls"  Thomas Paine said that.  "These are the times that make me want to throw in the rod".  I said that.

Later, while packing for the day, I stuck myself deep with a size 8 olive leech.   A moment of panic and then  the point being driven home.  It slipped out of my finger with ease.

Today as the vision of that fish dances in my brain, I have been wrestling with the choice of a possible trip to the hospital verses a photo with the largest landlocked salmon of my life.  This is really a hard one...........

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Salmon River Spey Question.......

Reader Question:

How are you?  I was wondering if you could give me some ideas on what type of leader you recommend for swinging Spey flies (size 1.5 to 5 Daiichi Alec Jackson Hooks) on the Salmon River in NY?  I've been fishing the 750cfs flow.  I'm using a 13 foot Dec Hogan with a Balastic Scandi Head.  Any help would be appreciated.....since I'm still very new to the Spey. 
FlySpoke Answer:
If the DH is an 8 weight it is perfect.  You have asked a question with many answers.   You are limiting the possibilities by using the Scandi.  Let's first look at the difference in three different styles of lines.  Each has a belly section that is the part of the line that propels your cast.  The belly on a Short Spey line is further back from the front of the line than a Scandi.  The belly of a Scandi is further back from the front as a Skagit.   The Skagit belly is more a barrel and extra heavy close to the front of the line.  The only other option that is on the horizon is coming from Rio.  It is a hybrid of a Scandi and Skagit they are calling The Steelhead line.  I hope to give one a try soon.

So, on the Salmon River where casting room is limited at times and you are wanting to use larger Spey style flies and you need to use sinking tips and poly leaders, I go with the Skagit.  You call your favorite line company and you tell them the rod you have and they will match the line grain weight exact to the rod.  There are both integrated as well as heads available.  I am using the Rio system and changing heads as needed.

Now, you need to have a collection of tips.  Tungsten gets you really deep.  These you make loop to loop connectors 3 feet, 5 feet, 7.5 feet and 10 feet.  The longer the tip the deeper you go.  You will also want to have a collection of poly leaders.  These are tapered coated mono that are available from a wide range on vendors in lengths and sink rates.  You could easily buy 20 different heads today.  I first purchased poly leaders while fishing in Scotland when no company or store in the US(well, East Coast Anyway) ever heard of them.  Today they are a standard.  Make sure you check the strength as there are now trout options and I go for the 20-24 pound strength.

Tippet is connected to the sink tip.  This now varies depending on depth and the sink tip you choose.  Last week I was fishing Atlantic Salmon in Nova Scotia and the water was up a bit.  I used a 12 foot poly at 6.4 inches per second sink rate with a 10 pound Maxima at 18 inches.  The longer the tippet the higher the fly will ride from the bottom.  This is something you need to experiment with.   When swinging flies for Steelhead the leader does not need to be as small as when indicator or nymph style fishing.  The leader is always behind the fly and the fish really can not see it well from that angle.   If you like fluorocarbon, there is no need to go lower that 10 pound test.  I do not taper the leaders.

The last piece to the puzzle is how do I keep my fly fishing deep without loosing too many flies on the bottom.  I am working on an article right now called "Loosing weight one shot at a time"   I am building trout and Steelhead flies weighted so that the hook rides up and the Spey flies are built up side down.  The amount of weight in the fly is another factor you must understand when choosing the fly on the piece of water you are fishing.  This is not a new concept but one that is not available to the non tier.  

So, I hope this helps a bit.  If you want to stay with your Scandi, then just do the same thing as I say off the tip.  It will be harder to cast and use more room around you but it will work.

If I can answer more specific questions please feel free to ask.

Always the very best,


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Tails You Win, Heads You Lose

A few weeks ago I was fishing one of our northern rivers for Landlocked Salmon. The water was very high, the highest I have ever seen. After working hard all morning in slack water areas and behind boulders, without success,  I made my way back toward the car and met a few very interesting people.  Two Canadians, a couple who had just purchased property in the Great North Woods, and a fellow from Vermont named Mark Wilde.  After a longer time than I am usually willing to take from my fishing day, I'm not anti social but compulsively driven,  Mark and I decided to head down river together and fish a long straight run that is a staging area when the fish are on the move.  My good friend Leo was working his way down river caught up and the three of us made cast after cast and saw nothing at all.

Next we decided to give two different locations a go.  Leo and I went to the top end in the car and Mark wanted to try some of the middle runs. We would meet at 2pm to go to another river and fish for big browns.

Mark is a fishing guide in the state of Vermont and getting another river into my experience would be a positive on the day even if no fish came to hand.

Well let's just say I was a bit off the game.  I found myself sitting down on a big rock as Leo made a difficult trek down river to fish a few pools from river right.   Now close to 2pm I was hap hazardously throwing a few casts in the upper run when it happened.  Bang, I brought a nice nineteen inch salmon to net.  Leo showed up and while he was going to get Mark it happened again.  Another nineteen inch salmon.  I swear they were the same fish.

As Mark and Leo returned we exchange some info and I gave Mark the fly that was working.  Later he showed me the flies that work for him and the difference in the style and sizing was startling.   My box was full of small size 16 nymph like creations and his was chock full of leach looking stone fly  patterns in a number of colors.  The most interesting part of the fly was that they all keel point up.  They are weighted on the top and sides of the hook so that when in the water the hook point rides up and does not hang up as much.  This fishing requires a bottom presentation and this tying technique offers a way to fish more and tie knots a bit less.

Oh, I almost forgot to mention that we continued to hook a few fish.

So thanks to Mark I now have a piece of the puzzle confirmed for the next post.  Maybe I will call it "Loosing Weight One Shot At A Time"

Mark catches fish.  He is available as a guide and I recommend  that you give him a call.  He can be reached through this link: Uncle Jammer Vermont Guide Service.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Margaree Copper Killer

1.5 Alec Jackson Gold Hook
Copper Wire
Green Floss
Red Golden Pheasant Breast Feather
Chinese Red Wool
Flat Copper Tinsel
Copper Wire
Bright Orange Hen Hackle
Red Squirrel Tail
Red Clear Head 4 Coats 

Monday, October 4, 2010

A Moment Might Matter

It was 3am on a Saturday in October and the anticipation that had been building for almost a year was in full gear.  I had a three hour drive, stoked by adrenalin, to be on the river with the anticipation that I would be the first through the run.  I just love using my two hand five weight switch rod to swing and bump for salmon.  No back casts in tree lined areas and the ability to switch over to nymph drifting where needed.  If you don't own one you are missing something very enjoyable.

After meeting my fishing buddy we made the balance of a drive that was sure to be a direct path to the best Landlocked Salmon  fishing of the season.  Pulling into the small parking area there was one other car.  "This is not unusual", I thought, "must just be there overnight", I said.  It was still dark with a glimmer showing over the hill and we started our walk and then in perfect unison, "Oh sh&^%@#"!!!. We saw the head lamps stumbling around the large and difficult to navigate boulders in the woods.

What could it have been?  Five, maybe ten minutes at best.  The difference between getting the most perfect Salmon pool I know or all the others was substantial.  Not that we would be without fish, but the quantity would be dramatically different.

As it turned out the winners to the pool were good friends and members of The Club. They had a great morning while we had a good one.  I'm chomping at the bit right now with only a few days to go before I am back on that water.  This year I'm leaving five minutes early.