Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Fly Tying Tip #117

Marabou makes a great wing material for streamer, wet flies and leeches.  It is sometimes difficult to work with because of it's natural fly away softness.  I find it easier to handle, at certain times, when wet.  Don't use chlorinated tap water or saliva as they have smell that a fish can detect with ease. Use natural spring water and pre-clip where you want to tie in the feather.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Matapedia 2011 A Sum Of 2 Parts

Part 1(The Set Up And Anticipation)

There are some days that I can't help but feel excited.  Today, I was able to clear my schedule so I can travel to Quebec for a few days on the Matapedia River.  Now the thought of hitting the Gaspe is all I usually need, but this year is different.  The reason is simple and becoming additional clear day by day.

Matapedia River At The Location Of The Largest Capture Ever
54 Pounds
Ste. Alexis de Matapedia   Habersham Pool
For the last forty years I have seen all kinds of conditions having angled Atlantic salmon on many rivers in North America and Scotland .  I started salmon fishing during a period of decline and watched the numbers in some rivers hit zero with others on the brink.  Now, due to what I believe is a natural climate cycle, the Atlantic salmon, as well as a few other North Atlantic cold water species, are experiencing a dramatic increase in size and numbers.  So far a three year trend that I hope continues.

So, I was sitting in my office today, with a very demanding schedule. I made the decision that it was an impossible and intolerable situation not be fishing when the best runs of my entire life with Salar were in gear.  My rods and flies have been ready for months and beyond tying a few choice temptations, I can hit the road and not look back.  My anticipation is high, too high for my own good, and the reports keep getting better and better every day.

I use three different rods for this river because there are different pools and runs that I will visit that demand the correct tool.  I already know the water conditions, the weather forecast and the locations that will be of most importance.   I am looking forward to the rhythmic dance of the single Spey with a traditional long belly and fifteen foot rod.  I am ready with my thirteen foot Scandi set up for Ste. Florance and will welcome using my 10'4' switch with a big dry fly should the fish be looking up.   The two hand dry fly flick is a blast and I can do the job well.

I'm as ready as I can be and will give you the details next Thursday.

Part 2 (The Report)

Sunday morning I set my alarm for 4AM.  Light comes early to the Gaspe and I wanted to make the most of the day.

Lord Mount Stephen built a fishing camp in 1870 on the banks of the Matapedia where the Causapscal River enters.  Later in 1917 the property was purchased by wealthy American and English speaking Canadians to form the Matamajaw Salmon Club.  They picked the sight because it represents one of the finest salmon pools in Canada.  The Causapscal will receive more than one fish over fifty pounds each year to the counting fence and the pool holds fish from mid May through the entire season.

I arrived at The Forks at 4:30 and was not surprised to be angler number twenty.  After waiting two and a half hours and watching seven salmon landed I started my first pass through the pool.  The people of Quebec are the heartiest of souls, friendly and kind,  and they take their sporting life very seriously.  The catch is more important than the fishing and they angle with great purpose.  The first person on the pool arrived at 1:30AM.

I made four passes through the pool with various flies as well as presentations and was not able to find the magic.  As well, over my blink your eyes two days I visited Le Tank, Heppel, Matalic, Cullen's, Alice, Ruthierville and Clark's Brook.  I fished hard and was constantly trying to open the door.  I saw salmon everywhere that I just could not get to take.  It is so frustrating to have such a bountiful table set before me and not feel that pull.  I watched each and every cast for what I knew was the right swing.  I was mumbling,"take it, take it, go ahead, take it," more than a few times.  But it was not meant to be.

Every trip I make to the Gaspe ends in the same way.  I drive across the Inter-Provincial bridge out of Quebec, up the Restigouche River on River Road and at the moment I make the sharp left turn away from the river's sight I am longing to return.  It will take me a bit of time to understand, or more than likely, I will never find out.

What a great season for Atlantic Salmon.

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Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Fly Tying Tip #116

There are two ways to make bare Peacock Eye quills for quill body flies.  The first is when you want to make just a few.  Take an eraser and gently rub the quill from top to bottom until all the barbuals are removed.

The second and far more efficient way is to use bleach.  Take a disposable tin baking tray and put enough bleach in the bottom to fully saturate the entire Peacock Eye Feather.  Agitate in the bleach for 30 seconds or so and watch the strips become bare. Rinse liberally in cold water to neutralize the acid bleach.  Hang to dry.  Take care not to over bleach as the stems can become brittle.  Wet in spring water to soften when tying.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Good News For Penobscot River Atlantic Salmon

Now 3049 As of September 5th
If you are a reader of this blog then you know that I have been a proponent of natural climate cycles influencing ocean habitat.  The dramatic increases all over the North Atlantic in numbers and size of Atlantic salmon are, I hope, a sign of things to come over the next ten years.
For so many years I traveled to fish for Atlantic Salmon in  Maine.  The earliest run was on the Penobscot river that flowed through the City of Bangor and then on to the Atlantic Ocean.  I tried hard for that Presidential salmon, the first caught for the season, but it never happened for me.  This is a big river and also one that was blocked by the first up stream dam called Veazie.

In the middle of the dam was a stone block fish ladder that was very inefficient.  This was a good thing for fishing as they would stack up in the pools below the dam.  Later a new ladder was built to capture the fish to be transported and used for the stocking program.  Because the fish captured were the original genome the raising of these fish has a viable possibility to sustain the run.

A number of years ago fishing was closed on all Maine rivers as the Federal Government contributed funds so long as the salmon are considered endangered.

This year we are seeing a dramatic increase in early numbers when compared to the past few decades.  Some of the reasons are clear as the netting buyouts off Greenland.  The one factor that is also in  place is the cycle of ocean environment now in a good trend for a number of North Atlantic cold water species.  It will be interesting to see what happens with the North Atlantic Cod as well.


Monday, June 6, 2011

Selective Feeding Of Large Rainbow Trout

In your mind, imagine you are at a fine restaurant.  You have been to this establishment enough to know the order to which you rank each and every item on the menu by taste.  You know what is the best of the five different meals on the table in front of you.  Your palate is finely tuned and blindfolded you can tell the difference.

My guess is that given the choice, for most of the next hour, you are going to consume the one you like best. That is, until the kitchen runs out.  Even though the steak is really good tasting you like the shrimp better.  The shrimp is a smaller food than a the steak, but that is what you like even though you must work harder to get full.

I went fishing yesterday.  The weather was the best of what New England has to offer in the late spring.  Mid seventies and the feel of a crisp dry Canadian cloud rolling by.  The sun was strong, yet not as oppressive as it can sometimes be.   I arrived on the river at 6:30am and felt alive with anticipation.  Leo was on his way and not far behind.  A perfect scenario.
Just as Leo arrived, the river started to come alive with insect activity.  Two different looking caddis, a multitude of midges and sporadic mayflies.  I thought it would be easy to make my fly sellection, seeing the abundance of those size 14 caddis.  I had hoped that the change had accrued form early steak and eggs feeding and over to surface emergers and dries.  It would make for a very interesting day and I was sure I was ready.

By 8am the sun was high enough that I could see into the crystal clear water when standing up on the river bank.  What was before me can only be described as heaven for a trout angler.  Big fish were moving very rapidly around the pool.  There was none of that lane feeding that you alway hear so much about.  These fish were gorging themselves and not making a dimple on the surface.  If I were not able to see in the river, I might not have known the fish were even there.

It did take me a little while to understand what was happening. I was able to get three fish to take on size 18 flies. That's right, the fish wanted the midges.  After going through the caddis larva, then to emergers and even dries with droppers it was the Jailbirds, Red Ass and wire body Chironomid flies that did the trick.  This lasted for a while as I watched the number of hatching midges start the reduce.

Then the fish started to show.  Nothing big and flashy but head to tail porpoising that said to me the dream could happen.  I went back to the caddis dry with dropper and after a very long time had a fish take the dry.  Then Leo had one to an Elk Hair Caddis and I landed one on a black body EHC.  This was all done with many minuets of waiting for rises and the rises were few and far between.  There was no rhythmic feeding and we got the feeling that anything we made happen was a blessing.

That was the day.  Although we stayed on the river until 7pm with the caddis hatching like the snow in January at 6pm the action was done and complete much earlier.  The fish had so much to eat of what tasted the best that a second course was not needed.

So, what should I take away from this experience.  The first is that I was ready for the situation.  My fly assortment is well rounded with a large quantity of every style, size and color of flies required.  Two comments that Leo made were taken to heart and followed.  He mentioned the midges and he said to me that sometimes black ants can be used even early in the season.  The big thing I came away with is that I can never assume that the obvious is correct.  I must always look deeper into each situation and willingly change my plan as the environment changes before me.  Sounds like life to me.....