Friday, April 29, 2011

Summer Solstice June 21, 2011 1:16pm EDT

There are two days each year that get me going.  The first is the Winter Solstice because I know when that day comes and goes I can start the count down till Spring.  I fish all winter long, here in New England, and notice when it is still light out at 5pm.  I notice that when I travel in the morning those days in February that the sun is coming up as I rush to my destination with sugar plums dancing.

The second, and most important day, is the Summer Solstice.  The longest day of light, and in the season of Salmo Salar, represents the start of the most important fishing period possible.  Yes, I do angle in late May and early June for the big bright hot springers, but the Solstice starts the days of plenty.   There are certain rivers like Matane and Moisie and a number of others that run later into July and August as the best time.  For most of North America, excluding the fall run rivers, the end of June and early July is prime. 

There is only one last thing that makes the Solstice ever more special.  That is when a full moon coincides and  creates the perfect alignment and experience.  The attached photo was taken on June 21 on a full moon Solstice at 10 pm.  We were just finishing the day at Toms Brook on the Restigouche.

If you are working on plans for this year or next, these earth science dates are what you need to offer yourself a better chance at a successful trip.  If the full moon is on the 15th of June, then you might see a few early fish, but you would still be better off to push your dates forward a bit.  If the full moon falls on the 20th or later then go for that time and you should be golden.  There is something very special about June 24th for me.  I think it might be that I have been successful on that date more than any other.

Location, location, location is a times old truth but timing, timing, timing can turn the location into a beautiful day.


Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Below Then Above The Bridges Of Matapedia

I love fishing from a 26 foot or larger Gaspe Boat.  The secure feeling and ease of river placement makes the experience a real thrill. Your guide has the ability to point out exactly where the fish will be and you can cover a great deal of water while moving from pool to pool.

My first endeavor into this style of Salar angling came in 1985 on the Matapedia River in Quebec.  The river was not new to me but hiring a guide with a boat was.

The lower river was very different back then. What has happened over a short period of time is mainly the result of clear cut logging. When you remove the trees, sometimes within a short distance from the river bank, a number of bad things happen.  The major problem is that the amount of water, after a heavy rain, that rushes into the river flow is accelerated to the point that the hydrological effects are far greater than these rivers have ever naturally experienced.   The water in flow in harder bringing extra sediment.  The forest does not act as a sponge releasing the water slowly so the river is then subject to low and warm periods during late summer.  The extra sediment is carried down river and causes the lower stretches to fill in and widen.

Let's just say the lower pools of the Matapedia are not what they used to be. Some are completely gone and reside only in my memory.

During those days, Atlantic salmon were in a downward cycle.  The North Atlantic Oscillation was severely positive and the result was you could only catch and release one fish per day by law.  I met my guide and we started below the bridge within sight of where the Matapedia meets the Restigouche. By 10AM I hand tailed a twelve pound bright June salmon just down river after a few drops.  The problem now facing me was what am I going to do for the rest of the day.  I felt lost and needed to fish.

The next morning we road the boat up river to a pool just above the bridge in Ste. Alexis de Matapedia.  This morning was not going to end early and I chose to use an eight pound leader.  I don't understand the logic, but it is what I did.  On cast number four I received the jolt of my salmon life.  This pool is the place where the largest Matapedia Salmon was angled at fifty six pounds.  Now, I didn't have a fish of that size on my line but what I had was at least twenty five and more like thirty.  The first charge was up river to the right of the boat and the line was throwing a wake and splash that I had not experienced before.  It looked like a rooster tail behind a speed boat.  Then, a sudden burst of added acceleration and , SNAP!

I fished all the rest of that day and the next and the next without another take.  I fished hard and felt so stupid.  A world famous Matapedia guide I met many times, the late Richard Adams, would have been very upset with me for using anything lighter than twenty five pound test in June.  Had I not been so brash to think that this was an easy game and I could temp the fate of the river, I would have had a fish that would be most anglers top trophy.

Today the catch limit is two salmon released for the day on the Glenn Emma water.  Or two grilse and a salmon should the grilse come first. This is not the law. but is the chosen rule of sportsmen in Quebec.  Personally, I have had a number of three and four fish days in my life.  Mostly in New Brunswick where there is a four fish limit by law.   I have had far more zero fish days, just for the record.

So what is the point of this story?  I think it is that I should never take a fish for granted.  Treat every precious moment as if it could be your last and savor in what is, and forget about what might be.  Always do what is right..................


Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Figuring Out The Key To A Successful Day

Sometimes a good quality fishing day takes going through each learned possibility until you hit the right combination.  This year though,  it has been a bit harder than having the luxury of making a good guess.
During the past month, I have been fishing one of our spring run landlocked salmon rivers.  Twice a year these fish will move out of the lakes, and up the tributaries, making runs for different reasons.  In the spring they are targeting spawning fishes eggs and roe.  They also will feed on the smelt that are spawning.  In the fall they make their own spawning run.  This can be exciting fishing and I wait in heightened anticipation for these brief days of plenty.

This year has proven to be one that has my thirty seven years of spring river experience a bit mystified. I would have thought by now that we would be deep into the season.  Yet a mere trickle of fish have moved up from the holding water in the lower river.  The suckers have made their way in good numbers yet the salmon and trout have hung back.  There is a mysterious lack of lake rainbows that should be spawning as well.

When things seem out of timing, I always look to nature for the reason.  Sure as can be, man can play a roll in a disruption of nature and with that possibility ruled out nature is the key.  It is not a matter of going through the fly box with proven winners or changing line or weight or anything we have power over.  You must look to a deeper reason.  You must understand and go to where the fish are comfortable by nature.

 Rainbow trout will make a spawning run when the water is approximately 42 degrees Fahrenheit.  Smelt will want to have the water over 39 degrees and according to my observation they wait until the water is in the 45 degree range.

What does this have to do with it?

As most of us will agree, winter just does not want to flip over to spring this year.  The nights have been cold and the days moderate at best.  There was a good quantity of ice and snow and everything has been moved back.  The river, I have been fishing, has just hit 44 degrees for a day time high and is dipping back each night.  I expect things will change as they always do according to this simple fact of science.  Everything revolves around the food source for the young that are to be born and the perfect temperature that is needed must be met for nature to allow the progression to begin. Last year was equally as strange as the fishing started a month earlier.

The river is high, the comfort zone has been met and I expect to be into some great fishing in New England over the next four weeks. 

The fish know when it is right............I'm still learning!


Sunday, April 17, 2011

Fly Tying Tip #111

Although this might take some time, the time saved overall is enormous.  For what seems like forever,  I have been keeping all my materials in bins, draws, poly bags, plexi glass containers,  and jars.  I had no system for knowing exactly where a certain item is stored and I spent a great deal of my precious tying time just looking for that exact item needed.  I would do a lot of, "Oh yea, I remember that stuff".

So, start to name and number each and every storage container .  Then make a list in category, then name in alphabetical order then by bin and bag.

Something like.......
Golden Pheasant Crest - Draw 1, Jar 2
Natural Pheasant Tail - Bin 10, Poly 14
Peacock Herl - Draw 1, Box 4, Poly 3

Oh, that's where I put that roll of Angora yarn.  You get the drill!!!!  No need to do this all at one time.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Indicators Need To Travel With The Brakes On

Many of us are nymph fishing with the added use of indicators and weight.  I see many fly fishers incorporating this set up, yet I have never noticed one with ideal weight distribution.  I have seen the center pin boys on the Salmon River in New York using the right stuff.
First, let's understand that in any river the flow speed at the surface is very different from the flow speed at the bottom.  If you are fishing with an indicator in moderately fast water and have your first weight three to four feet from the float then you are dragging the weight.  The reason is that the surface current is faster than the bottom where the flow meets resistance from an ever changing path.   You have added weight, to get the fly down, and that causes the place on the leader where the weight is located to move slower than the bottom current.  This is a matter of physics and the energy necessary to push the added weight. Let's use the physics and understand what might happen if the heaviest weight was placed three inches below your indicator?  Then a few more, that are progressively lighter, were placed in intervals down to your fly.  Do you think that you could cause the indicator to move slower than the fly?

This is but one way you can use weight distribution to enhance a certain river situation.

Dead drift, or a drag free presentation, is considered the most appetizing to trout.  I like to call this a natural presentation.  The fly does not move faster or slower than the waters current column, nor does the fly swing and move side to side.  For me the indicator has two main purposes.  The obvious is to show a take.  The less obvious is to always have your presentation moving in straight lines down river.  The ideal situation is to feed the fly directly into the fishes mouth making sure that the leader is not in the fishes face first.  The only way this can be accomplished is to have the fly be the lightest part of the set up and moving in front of everything else.

Your weight choice should be a non toxic egg shape design without the easy removal ears.  I like the dark green color.  The added ears makes it easy to remove the weight, but will complicate your presentation because of spinning.   A well rounded collection from medium to very small sizes is desired.  You can use a small drop of Crazy Glue to make placement positions on your leader.  This will help keep the weights from slipping and not have a need to smash down the weights. 

Each situation creates a different choice you must make.  The faster the surface water the more weight that should be added just below your indicator.  Slow current might require light weight under the indicator and a long tippet from the lowest weight.   Each segment of river is totally different from another and if you want to maximize your day you will need to make choices.  The most important part of this puzzle is to equalize the speed of your indicator and fly. 

Do not confuse indicator float fishing with indicator Czech Nymph fishing.  They are completely different in structure.  I will have another post ready soon to go into that important topic.