Wednesday, April 10, 2013

A Quest for the Perfect Lewiston Lake Emerger

It has been a wonderful year since my last post.  I've made enough fly tying connections to have open orders all year long.  I just have to tie as I can to fill them.  I had a "bucket list" day at the lake, netting 101 fish in an afternoon.  It should have been a wonderful experience, but I got caught up in the "what if I only get 97?  Have to keep fishing".  I could barely walk the next day from all the crouching down to release the fish.

I had the wonderful experience, two weekends ago, to cruise the lake with my trolling motor while a fish cruised parallel to me and at the same speed.  The trout was just below the surface, rising to sip a submerged item, showing it's back to the air, and then continuing on in the same path and speed.  There was sporadic subsurface / film feeding going on for hours.

In the past I have had success throwing a leech pattern past sipping trout, retrieving the fly with my intermediate sink line, and have hooked lots of trout as they attached a prey item equal to 1000's of midges.  However, it would be fun to use dry flies to hook these cruising trout.  Reports from the locals stated that they were very selective that week and wouldn't take the usual offerings.  Therefore, I have found a quest!!!

A quick search on the Internet yields many emerger patterns, with many variations.  I would like to find a surface film fly that out fishes all others on Lewiston Lake.  In designing the possible flies, I realized that emergers can be tied with three simple parts (tail, body, wing), and can be
designed to float at different levels relative to the surface film.  A fly that has CDC/Foam, and Antron for body and tail, should float high in the surface film, while a fly created with mallard for the tail and wing, with a fur dubbing should "float" just below the surface.  Having two floating parts out of 3, or two sinking parts out of 3, allows for variability between the two extremes.

So, with 3 tail material (mallard dyed wood duck, white antron, brown antron), 5 body materials (brown dubbing, olive dubbing, brown antron, olive antron, pheasant tail), and four wing materials (white antron, foam, CDC, and mallard), there are 60 combinations.  Obviously I'll try just a couple of variations to see if one style outperforms the other.  Looks like it is going to be an interesting adventure this spring and summer.

Take care,

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Bottlebrush Fly

I have been searching for a great fly, one that people will pay for, is so easy to tie that 30 an hour is a piece of cake, and nobody else ties it. My retirement would be paid for at as little as 10 hours per week, tieing flies while living in the Bahamas.

While searching for Berroco Crystal FX eyelash yarn to tie Singlebarb's Mutt fly, I bought a skein of Martha Stewart's Black and Charcoal eyelash yarn. The "eyelashes" are really long, much longer than on the Berroco Crystal FX, and I like the effect. A bottlebrush fly is the result, easy to tie (only marabou for the tail and a body from the eyelash yarn. I haven't seen it in the water but it looks like an extra long wooley bugger with a thinner body (and I'm a proponent of thinly bodied flies).

The variations shown, from bottom to top are: Two unweighted bottlebrush flies. The middle fly has the eyelashes cut shorter with a slight taper. The next fly is weighted with lead wraps producing a thicker body, but still less than a normal bugger, and with clipped fibers. The fly at the top of the screen is a weighted beadhead bottlebrush with the fibers cut.

The yarn is 100% polyester (78% polyester and 22% metallic polyester). It is best to trim the fibers with a regular pair of scissors as the polyester is tough to cut through -- and should be bullet proof against trout teeth.

I will be testing these on the lake this spring and summer -- maybe they will be great and I'll be the only one using the -- so be it -- but they look great!!

Take care,

Monday, February 20, 2012

Chipolte, Chipolte, Chipolte

Okay -- I have just gotten back from 13 sessions of professional tennis at the SAP Open in San Jose (watching, not playing lol). I lucked into baseline front row seats and as long as I keep buying them, I get to keep sitting in them. My daughter at UC Davis and my son at Cal State Chico came at different times to help watch and root.

One thing we do is live off a diet of Chipolte burritos and bowls during the week. Great stuff and healthy -- much healthier than I normally eat. Thus, a new idea popped into my head.

First, a little background -- I am morbidly obese and have been an overeater for 35 years -- got divorced at 220 lbs fifteen years ago and am now over 320 lbs. I've been beating myself for decades over my lack of will power and compulsive overeating. It was / is horrible and feeds into a cycle of overeating, loss of self respect, etc (yeah, not much fun reading this)

HOWEVER, it turns out that I am allergic to wheat (gluten). It turns out that when one is allergic to a food, craving of that food becomes part of one's daily routine. My kids encouraged me to go gluten free and I was afraid of the cravings for wheat -- if they were so bad when eating wheat (pizza, breadsticks, pasta, cookies, etc), what would they be like when not eating wheat?

WITHIN 24 HOURS THERE WERE NO CRAVINGS. I am now no longer hungry all day, and can walk by the 3-dozen cookie packs in the grocery store without buying one and devouring it within 24 hours. No, I am not telling you what to do -- just found out that when I eat wheat I want pizza and cookies and pasta. When I don't, I am not interested in them.

SO, I decided to make my own Chipolte refrigerator. In the first picture above you will see containers filled with: turkey, ham, grated cheese, black beans, sour cream, salza, brown rice (forgot the shredded lettuce). I also forgot hot salsa (got the medium and my first bowl was too mild). My first bowl was good, but I have a ways to go.

If Tom Chandler finds this post -- yes -- I will make one with a hot dog and slaw --- but on the weekend -- not the night before school.

Tight lines all -- I'll be fishing for the perfect home made Chipolte flavor.


Friday, September 2, 2011

August -- 2 trips to Klamath chasing Steelhead

I got up to the Klamath River twice during August with the first trip being documented in this blog. I made it up two weeks later (and two weeks ago) and put 4 hours in at Blake's Riffle. I got on the water at 4:15 and fished hard to 8:15. The trip was eventful for a number of reasons.

One, I took a hiking staff with me into the water. It worked great but I thought I could collapse it and put it inside my waders. As I fished I felt the next best thing close to having a stick "up my rear". It didn't allow me to bend or twist. I then got a good idea to slip it through my wader straps and sit along my back. That worked out great. However, the short time I had the pole in my waders created a LEAK in then, right about hip high ---- aarrgghhh.

Two, I fished everything I had -- fast and slow water versions of the Silver Herniator -- Assassin's, Copper Assassin's, Brindle Bugs, small black Wooly Buggers. Nothing worked. Then, at 6:45, the sun was off the water. At 6:50 my Assassin got smashed by a half pounder and I got it to the net. The next five casts were struck by a fish with no hookups ...... then nothing. A spin fishermen caught a large half pounder, about two pounds, but he wasn't happy because it wasn't an adult (both of my half pounders this year didn't weight 1/4 of the fish he released lol). I stayed on the water for another hour and then left.

I am planning on heading up this Saturday, and hopefully some fish are hanging out around Blake's Riffle. I plan on using a full floating line with a sink tip on it during the day -- to get the fly to the bottom throughout the drift since they haven't been taking regular swings during the daylight hours. Regardless, it will still be fun.

I have posted a picture of the Klamath River that I downloaded from the net. It is of an unclaimed mining area but it looks a little like Blake's Riffle. One has to walk out in shallow water for 75 or so feet to cast out to the deeper water. The golden colored rocks are beautiful but pretty slippery and I find that without a wading staff I almost fall two or three times on the way out to "fishing water". I will get a picture up of Blake's Riffle soon -- my camera is in my car lol.

Take care all,

Saturday, August 13, 2011

The Herniator (Modified)

It is rare when one can meet the inventor of a a fly that has become a standard for an area. I had that opportunity today when I walked in to the Eureka Fly shop and met Tim Paxton, the inventor of the Herniator fly. The Herniator is a must-have fly for the Klamath River, especially when seeking Steelhead. The Herniator, as I've been told, is great for slow water due to the soft hackle and wing that will move gently in the water. Fast water evidently pushes the hackle and wing into the body.

Tim told me that the commercial versions of his fly will work, but he added an underwing of peacock. He stated that the peacock underwing supports the outer wing while also pulsating in the water to add another level, sound, to the equation of getting a steelhead to strike the fly.

I decided to design a "fast water" version of the Herniator. The three changes I made were: 1) a cone head held perpendicular to the hook with wraps of lead; 2) Tim's original underwing of peacock herl; and 3) grizzly hackle instead partridge. My hope is that: 1) the cone head will get the fly into the correct depth in faster water; 2) the peacock underwing will keep the outer wing off the hook; and 3) the somewhat stiffer and shorter grizzly hackle will act similar to the hackles of other famous steelhead patterns like the Moss Back and Brindle Bug. I will find out tomorrow when I head back up to the Klamath to try to hook some half pounders.

The fly on the left in the picture above is the standard commercial tie of the herniator: 2x hook, silver bead head, peacock metallic ribbon, peacock herl, peacock flashabou, and partridge hackle. As stated above, this tie is for slower water to allow the partridge to pulsate through the drift of the fly.

The fly on the right is my attempt at a fast water version of the Herniator: a 2x hook, silver cone head stabilized with lead wraps, peacock metallic ribbon, peacock herl tied in at the tips, then tied on top to create the underwing made from the stiffer sections of the herl, peacock flashabou, and grizzly hackle tied in the wet fly form.

So, tomorrow, I put the fly to the test. Hopefully a slug of halfpounders will have moved into Blake's Riffle by tomorrow morning. I would love the chance to test the fast water version of the Herniator in addition to my chamois worm fly.

As a final thought, there must be something about highway 299, a road that travels from Eureka to Redding. Tim Paxton of Eureka invented the Herniator in addition to several other patterns and Mike Mercer from Redding has invented many patterns that are the essential standards for the Trinity River (which follows 299) and all types of water found in the West (and I'm sure they will work all around the world).

Tight Lines All

HTC 10b: Steelhead

I tied flies for a day to make a new box of flies for the Klamath River. Hopefully I would run into a pod of half pounders (small steelhead under a couple of pounds -- usually 12 to 20 inches), adult steelhead, and possibly salmon. I tied a dozen each of Assassin's, Copper Assassin's, Moss Back's, Silver Herniators, Copper Herniators, and a Worm Fly that I hoped would work.

I headed up to Blake's Riffle yesterday evening to find only a pair of spin fishermen entering the water. The entire riffle was vacant of fishermen. I went to the top of the riffle and almost fell in several times on my way out into the water. One has to wade out about 60 feet to thigh high water to be able to reach the deeper water and swing your fly through the deep water and into the edge of the riffles.

I entered the water at 4:30 and was fortunate to have a half pounder "suicide hit" my Assassin Fly on the swing at 5:00. It jumped out of the water twice and I was glad I brought my 7 weight rod (all my other rods are at Lewiston Lake). In the fast water the 12 to 14 inch fish made me put in on the reel instead of just stripping the line in by hand. I got it to the net and took the photo above. Again, I'm disappointed in the quality of the picture, but using an inexpensive water proof camera with one hand while a half pounder squirms in the net while standing waist deep in fast water while standing on very, very, slippery rocks: cannot complain too much.

I ended up catching two "quarter pounders", fish about 8 to 10 inches long. One was silver and looked like it just came out of the ocean while the other looked like a juvenile trout that had not left the river. I also caught about 6 "eighth pounders" or 4 to 6 inch fish, probably smolts. It is amazing how hard the smolts hit the fly as it is swinging across the current.

I fished for 3.5 hours, moving down the riffle after 3 or 4 casts at each spot. After an hour I got my footing down and could move down the stream safely. After 3 hours I was getting tired from casting, stripping line back, and moving down the riffle while always making sure that I was stable in the water. I left with about 45 more minutes of possible fishing time -- usually the best time, but for safety I called it a session and drove home.

I plan to give the Klamath River a couple of fishing sessions until my tennis teams have Saturday matches, leaving my Sundays for grading and getting ready for the upcoming week in school. Although I have fished at Blake's Riffle before, this outing had the feeling of a Heritage Trout outing and releasing the healthy juvenile steelhead back into the water was awesome.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

HTC 10: The Coastal Rainbow

On the way home from southern California I stopped at Lewiston Lake. I decided to fish the next morning to catch the final fish in the HTC challenge. I was told that Lewiston Lake, part of the historical drainage of the Trinity River, would count as a location for a Coastal Rainbow that would qualify for the HTC.

I headed out at 10 AM (real early for me), and there were many, many midge husks in the water. The Callibaetis Mayflies were hatching, lightly, so I decided to fish midges under an indicator. After two hours moving around the lake I decided to head in. On my way in I saw a fish jumping near the northern corner (farthest from the marina) of the island just across from the Pine Cove Marina. I dropped my anchors and decided to give the area a try.

I can tell that the lake is again being stocked. I actually saw fish in the 14 inch range cruising around my boat. I cast my line into the water along the back side of the island and my flies were attacked on 6 consecutive casts. I hooked 4 and landed 2. Then, as quickly as it started, that spot was done -- no more hits.

I stayed in the area because I could see fish swimming by occasionally. The midges stopped flying by and the Callibaetis appeared to be coming off the water a little better. I changed my top fly to a size 16 flashback PT nymph and my bottom fly to a size 18 tungsten bead zebra midge (from a top burgandy zebra midge and bottom tungsten bead blood midge (both size 18)). Eventually, my line was ripped across the water as the largest fish of the day (approx. 16 inches) smashed the PT nymph and I quickly brought it into the net.

I did take pictures of the first fish caught as the 10th HTC fish of this quest. However, again, my Olympus left me with pictures that were disappointing. However, after looking at pictures taken by my old Nikon Coolpix last year, many of them were also out of focus. I think the problem I'm having is that I'm guessing at the focus as I have an active fish in a net with one hand while trying to take a photo with the other. I also cannot see the digital screen very well because of my poor vision at close range (I'm now one of the old guys who has a set of dollar store reading glasses hanging around my neck lol).

So, I have a picture of yesterday's fish that I could turn in to HTC awards, but it is really out of focus and all one shade of green. The photo above is from July 26 of last year and qualifies for the HTC challenge. I'll send in yesterday's picture to the HTC challenge so my qualifying fish will have all been caught between June 29 and August 2, 2011 -- just for the fun of it.

I'm pretty burned out from the southern California trip and four hours on the lake yesterday without enough water. I'm sure I have material to reflect on this summer's experience. I'm glad I did it, as a personal quest, and catching a Golden Trout in it's native waters has been a life long goal for me, and now it has been done.

More later.......including new tennis courts at Fortuna High, a new tennis season about to start, and my 28th school year. Life is pretty darn good.