Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The North Atlantic Oscillation 2012-2013

I love this chart because of my understanding as to what it means to an Atlantic Salmon angler.  If you study it, all the information you need to predict what the coming season will bring is right in front of you.

We don't need more time than the first day of spring each year to grasp reality.  First let's take a brief moment to understand what this chart about the North Atlantic Oscillation represents.

Six years ago I started to study this climate phenomenon.  The direct relationship between low pressure and high pressure zones over the North Atlantic that dictate the available food supply for salmon during their winter months.  I have written in detail on this topic and you can review some of my findings on this link.   NAO Link

For the purpose of this post I would like to talk about the comparison of resent history and what has happened as far as quantity and size of returning fish over the last ten years.

If we call the red parts of the chart positive and the blue negative we have the basis of what the oscillation is to nature.  Positive is when the meeting place of the low to the north and the high to the south is north of the exact mid point between south and north of the Northern Hemisphere.  This map shows the results of positive and negative effect.
What you will notice is the arrow that is created by each of the two patterns.  In positive there are more storms traveling closer and through the areas where salmon winter.  In negative there is less activity and calmer conditions in those critical areas.

It becomes a simple process of understanding that when a species that lives close to the surface and relies of a concentrated food source to survive, any disruption in that relationship will cause added demise and weight of the predictor   The more climate activity over the winter that is created the greater the fall off.

Now let's go back to the first graph and analyze a few recent years.  The easiest being 2011.  Remember you are looking at the winter months and must take into consideration the end of 2010 and the beginning of 2011.  Is there any correlation that the deepest negative in the Oscillation occurred in the previous winter of one of the best salmon seasons in memory.  Look at the period between 1982 and 1994.  Certainly these were the dark days when we looked to find fault with everything from sea lice to seals as the reason for our salmons decline.  During the years between 2002 and 2008 there was as varied a range of success as the varied years in the chart.  Is it possible that natural climate changes that have happened since the dawn of time are to blame for good and bad alike?  I think so.  Here is another bit of the puzzle.  Why did the Stripped Bass populations grow so large during the 1980's through the early 1990's and coincidentally is the same period the salmon were in decline.  I suspect for the same reason only in reverse is true and I also think that dance is in the cards for the future.

So now we come to this winter and what we think is going to happen.  What do you think?  Looking at the chart for this winter it would seem to be somewhat even between positive and negative   The only other factor is if the beginning of a winter season is less important that how the winter finishes. Clearly the last two months have had greater negative position and this becomes a critical factor.

My feeling is that we are going to experience a very healthy early season this year and given some sense of relative weather patterns that are stable the overall picture is looking up.

Two things that I would have you do for your own conclusions would be first to consult any logs and history that you personally have gathered as well as go back and read the reports in the summer issues of the Atlantic Salmon Journals.  Perhaps you can be as convinced as I am as to where all the salmon have gone.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The Evolution Of Lee Wulff's Surface Stone Fly

Can you imagine any fly commanding a price of $3.00 in 1975?  The late and great Lee Wulff is remembered for many things relating to our wonderful sport of the angle.  He is the creator of the fishing vest, salmon tailer, the Wulff series of dry flies and the one item that is in every serious salmon anglers box, a modern version of the Surface Stonefly.
Tiger Stone Ghost Gremlin
The original, that you could purchase from Lee, was a hook with a molded plastic body that incorporated the parachute post.  The wing and spun hackle was all put together with glue.  No thread was used.  This made the fly light enough to be fished as a dry fly when cast up stream and then as a wet fly as it moved down stream.  The same concept as the Hornberg.  Over the past thirty years the evolution of the fly started in the valley of the Grande Cascapedia.  There it resided as a major part of the years catch in two distinctive versions.  The Black Stone and the Green Stone.  If you look at these photos you can see that the main theme is in tact as a few recent upstarts have taken center stage.  Each has the same formula but only the materials are different.  If you are headed to Quebec then a few versions of this fly are a must.  Stone Ghost Video

    Black Stone                    Stone Ghost                  Stone Ghost Gremlin

Friday, March 15, 2013

Is Your Fly Fishing As Much As It Can?????

I am a firm believer in the law of averages.  An average number of casts will produce an average number of fish.  I am also a believer that I can increase my personal average by the level of efficiency of my casting.  I watch other anglers all the time.  I am always interested in learning and for me the way to learn is to watch and then discuss what is happening.  I am very fortunate to have a circle of friends that are very proficient and willing to share.  Some I have known a long time and some I have just met last week.

The anglers that I especilly enjoy are the ones with the beautiful false casting ability.  Back and forth with no tailing or open loops extending line far to the other shore.  Or the anglers who are using indicators and weights with line choices that force them to make two and three rolling casts to get everything out there.

These situations are such a waist of precious time in a fast moving and limited day.  In my opinion the best casters are the ones that can get their fly from the end of a fish taking drift to the start of the next fish taking drift in the least amount of time.  I'm not saying that having a beautiful casting stroke is not a good thing or using a poor line choice will not catch fish.  What I am saying is that I am always making my equipment set up in a design to make as many drifts in a day as possible.

Al Buhr once asked me, "what is the best cast to use"?  He said, "the one that gets his fly from when it isn't fishing any more to where it is fishing again in the least amount of time".

The next time you are out fishing give this some thought.  It just might be the difference between a good day and a great day.  Keep your fly in the water and your casts per day above average.


Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Dee Flies Are Not Spey Flies

There is something very special about Dee Flies.  They represent patterns that seem to have moved on from the somber creations of the river Spey but did not go so far as the gaudy flies that came over the water from Ireland.  Each river had it's own distinctive brand of flies and materials.  I think the word Spey is over used and limits the course of history.

These are fishing worthy patterns today because the wings vary in color and the dubbing represent a similar look to our modern green but styles.

One of the best resource books for these flies is from Bob Ververka and called Spey Flies and How To Tie Them.  If you can find a copy for a reasonable price you will be very lucky.  Having a well rounded collection in your library is needed to have the full history of patterns and materials.