Boat Dog

One of my friends and a fly customer, Steve Sawczuk, from Plainville, Connecticut, invited me this past winter to join his group again at the Wantastiquet Trout Club near Weston, Vermont. We arrived on June 16th, and spent several days there. Fellow fly tier and friend, Roger Plourde, was there,  – See my Silk Gut for Sale Post – that’s Roger, he still has some available. He is also from Plainville and was an invited guest as well. Last year Steve invited me, and I ended up taking Abigail, my Cocker Spaniel, along. We had great fishing to evening hatches of yellow drakes, and we hoped to hit that hatch again. We were a week later, but last year the weather was unseasonably warm early on. There were six of us in the group: Steve, Roger, Dick Heffernon, Bill Keister, Ray Riley, and myself. This year Abigail tagged along again, and Zeb, a Border Collie mixed-breed, owned by Ray, another Trout Club member, joined the group as well. He and Abigail got along great. Zeb rides in the boat. Abigail on the other hand, at eleven-and-a-half years of age, has never been in a boat in her life. That was, not until this past June 17th.

Zeb and Ray

Zeb and Ray returning to our camp at the Wantastiquet Trout Club.

On Monday afternoon, I decided to try taking Abigail in the boat. At first she was hesitant, in fact, probably terrified is a better description, because I could not coax her to come to me in the boat. I actually had to get out of the boat and catch her, then physically carry her back to the dock and place her in the boat. Once we motored off, she pretty much settled down and was about as passive and uninterested as she possibly could be about the whole experience. We drifted and anchored and motored about, trying here and there, catching a decent number of trout, and yet Abigail seemed, well, bored, which she expressed by lying flat on her side. But she’s a very low-key dog anyway, unless there is some possibility of her snagging a morsel of food. It doesn’t matter if it’s a dog treat or people food, regardless, she wants it, twenty-four-seven. I feed her one cup of kibble per day and a few other treats, and that’s it. Whenever she’s in a group of people, no matter how many, if only one had some food, even a stranger, Abigail becomes their new best friend. She was a little overweight for a couple years when my mother-in-law was caring for her during a rather unsettled period of my life from 2008 to August of 2011, but once I got her back and got her food under control, she’s right where she’s supposed to be with her weight.

Arriving at camp there was an immediate problem, because Zeb is fed with an “open feeding” policy, and the very first thing Abigail did upon entering the cabin was to follow her nose, zero in on Zeb’s bowl and start eating his food. I wrote Ray in an e-mail beforehand indicating that she would do that. The poor little girl is now also about ninety-percent deaf. Fortunately even as a pup, I trained her not only with voice commands, but also simultaneously used hand-signals as well. That has proven to be fortuitous. When she was a younger dog, it was a good feeling to simply give her a mere hand signal and have her come, sit, stay, etc. Now, it helps a great deal, and could even save her life.

Anyway, with each occasion that Abigail got into the boat, she got more used to it, and I believe she grew to enjoy it more and more. The first two times when we docked up after fishing, she was afraid to make the three-inch jump from the seat of the boat to the dock. But the third and subsequent times, she left the boat without hesitation.

Abigail

Abigail – the “Boat Dog” – surveys the lake as Ken Hall, aka Quill Gordon, author of Fish in A Barrel Pond Blog, handles the trolling motor, guiding us to a “hot spot” on the lake. Sorry to cut your body out of the photo Ken, but Abigail is the star of this show. Besides, your pictures are coming up soon.

This is a photo of our camp.

This is a photo of our camp. That’s Ray on his cell phone, talking on the porch because you can’t get a signal inside. Funny how moving just a few feet makes the difference in the signal strength.

heavy weather moving in.

Heavy weather moving in Tuesday afternoon on Wantastiquet Lake. At the time I was in the boat with Dick Heffernon, another guest in the party. We had a bit of an experience with this approaching storm.

On that Monday afternoon I was with Dick in the boat, and the storm was well to the north at first, though we could hear the thunder far off. We were hopeful that it would pass without incident. After a little while, there seemed to be darkening clouds gathering more to our immediate west, and we thought about moving the boat closer to camp, just in case we had to bolt for the dock.

Clouds and rain in t

Clouds and increasing wind create ominous conditions of an imminent storm.

At about this point, I looked to the west, and there appeared to be a bank of fog moving in. But I knew it was no fog bank. It was rain; the kind of rain that is so heavy it can cut visibility to near-zero. Visibility was still good, however, and I estimated the rain was about two miles distant. Dick and I quickly agreed that we’d better haul our butts toward shore. Roger and Ray had passed us about five minutes earlier, calling the fishing over for a while, with the thunder approaching and getting louder.  But right before we made the decision to get of the water, Dick got his fly line got tangled around the propeller on the trolling motor. I dropped the anchor to keep us from drifting down the lake, which would have carried us farther away from our dock and camp. When Dick raised the motor up, he could see that there was no hope of untangling his line from the prop, considering the wave action effecting the boat, plus the reality that Dick would have to be possessing the body of a professional gymnast or a contortionist circus performer to assume the necessary posture and balance to do the work at hand. And that he is not, nor am I. Option number two was to row, row, row the boat back. But there wasn’t going to be any singing of that traditional campfire round during this trip.

Just then a fantastic, jagged, sprawling, and very bright jolt of lightning streaked across the sky over the mountain to the north. The ends of its long, scraggly fingers dipped below the horizon, perhaps a strike somewhere. I quickly pulled the anchor, mounted the oars, and started rowing. We had to travel about a quarter of a mile. When we were about 100 yards from the dock, the wind increased exponentially in velocity, seeming to blow about thirty or more miles per hour. It came up very fast, and despite my best exertion of rowing strength and efforts of guidance with the oars, we missed the mark and the boat settled against the shore, fortunately though, only about thirty feet from end of the dock. By now it was starting to rain, luckily for us not pouring, but the wind was blowing like it was during the storm scene from the movie The Wizard of Oz. Except in our situation there was no funnel cloud, no musical sound track, and the Wicked Witch of the West was not flying across the sky on her broom threatening to cart me and Abigail off to her lair. In retrospect that would have been a perfect and entertaining time for me to do my best falsetto imitation of the Wicked Witch: “I’ll get you yet, my pretty, and your little dog, too! Ah, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, h-a-a-a-a-a!”

Dick and I managed to reach the dock, chain the boat, and get out of Dodge. It had started raining, though not real heavy yet, which was a good thing because we had to walk about fifty yards to our camp. Just as we reached the safety of the cabin, the wind and rain arrived with a vengeance. Indeed, in less than one minute the rain was so heavy we could not see across the lake, and in fact, we could barely see the dock fifty feet away. The cabin porch faces directly to the west, and the wind drove that rain right through the screens onto the porch and everything on it. Fortunately a half-hour later the storm had passed and the lake was again calm. We watched as a few trout started rising, but we made a trip to the grocery at Londonderry, and after returning, we hung around camp, enjoying camaraderie, libations, and cigars while waiting for dinner. I also set up my fly tying stuff and hoped to tie a few more extended-body Yellow Drakes, since most of the guys took trout on them Sunday evening, despite that fact there was not really a big hatch of them. What I actually ended up doing that afternoon was repair several flies that I had given Steve and Roger. Steve had one of my Yellow Drakes from the year before, that the hackle came partially unwound – see this post from Fish in A Barrel Pond Blog: http://fishinabarrelpond.com/2012/06/25/trout-candy-eye-candy/ So I repaired it for him, a simple matter of attaching a new hackle feather.

I’ve never had one of my extended body drake patterns fall apart in any way, but Roger had one where the thread ribbing over the extended abdomen came off. I basically made a new abdomen, cut off the old one, and attached the new one in its place. Ken was watching me do this work, and the guys were all getting a big kick out of it and commenting on “Don’s Fly Repair.” At one point Ken made the remark, “Would you like to purchase a Service Agreement with that fly for an additional five dollars? Guaranteed repairs for the life of the fly.” By the time I completed the repairs, it was time for me to clear the table for dinner. I had made lasagna ahead of time on Sunday morning before my departure, chilled but not baked it, and also created a tossed salad, and a fresh-made pecan pie (I made it myself) that was still warm when we served it right after dinner. If you checked the post above, you’ll note from Quill Gordon’s photos that the weather was nice enough in 2012 for me to have my tying stuff permanently set up on the cabin porch. That was the year we were sipping the “Weapons Grade Head Cement Thinner, aka Moonshine. 😉 It was too cold this year. We had a few night time temps in the upper forties and low fifties.

I don't know whether Abigail was looking or sniffing, probably both.

I don’t know whether Abigail was looking or sniffing, probably both. Something seemed to have her attention. Perhaps she saw a fish.

Abigail, Queen of the Boat.

Abigail, Queen of the Boat.

The middle seat became Abigail's favorite resting place.

The middle seat became Abigail’s favorite resting place. Yeah, as her owner, I’m partial and prejudiced, she’s a beautiful little girl and her beauty is only enhanced by her sweet disposition. Ray noted her facial markings are appropriate, her eye mask makes her appear like a little bandit. Indeed!

Ken and I motored about, here and there…picking up an occasional trout.

At one point we passed close to Ray and Roger.

At one point we passed close to Ray and Roger…and Zeb.

Zeb is very interested in what goes on in the boat. He sees trout rise and practically goes on point if they surface close to the boat. He knows the sound and the reason of a reel drag, and has learned to associate that sound with a hooked fish. He still gets excited even if one of the anglers in his boat merely strips off more line to make a longer cast. He loves being in the boat so much that he’ll just go sit on the dock and wait, hoping to go fishing.

Ken Hall

“Quill Gordon” has a fish on.

Ken, aka Quill Gordon, wrote a post on his blog and made a few remarks about our visit and my time with him in the boat. To check that out follow this link:

http://fishinabarrelpond.com/2013/06/22/stubbornly-waiting-for-drakes/

The Caddis Emerger Ken refers to in his writing is my Floating Caddis Emerger, or more appropriately, my older pattern called the Hatching Caddis Adult, which is also another surface caddis emerger pattern.

On Tuesday afternoon, I was with Steve in the boat. We trolled a bit and drifted here and there. He was fishing various nymphs and drys with a George Mauer Sweetwater bamboo rod, a seven-foot, nine-inch seven weight. I used my sink-tip and was casting a Wooly Bugger. I managed to draw only two strikes, and Steve had done nothing. I said, “I’m thinking of putting on my Floating Caddis Emerger, I can’t do any worse with that than I am with this Bugger.” Next thing I know, in barely three minutes, Steve has a fish on. I asked, “What did you get him on?”

“You’re not gonna believe this, but I got him on your emerger pattern,” He replied.

“No s***!” I exclaimed. I hadn’t even noticed that he changed flies. Steve soon got another trout. By then I changed to a floating line and also put on a Floating Caddis Emerger, a tan-bodied pattern. Steve caught another trout. And another. And another. Meanwhile I could not buy a strike with my fly. I inspected his, and it was one of some that he had tied during the winter, with a darker ginger-brown body than what I had. What we both found interesting too, was that if no trout took the fly after the cast was made, rather than pick up and cast again, Steve worked the fly in slowly with a hand-twist retrieve. It would remain on the surface, or just under the film, so he’d either see a surface take or a swirl and feel the strike. And as my luck would have it I had left a container of those flies at home on my tying table. By the time he tallied seven trout on that fly in less than an hour, Ray and Steve trolled by. “Are you guys getting anything?” Roger queried.

“Steve is kicking my ass with my pattern,” I answered laughingly. Steve chuckled with obvious satisfaction.

“What’s that?” Roger inquired.

“My Floating Caddis Emerger,” I said. “The tally for our boat is: Steve – seven, me ZIP!”

A little while later, Steve offered for me to try casting his Mauer bamboo rod. He had mentioned that earlier, since indicating in an e-mail that he’d he recently bought that rod, I replied that I had known George Mauer for a few years before he passed away. The wind had died down and the lake was flat. I can’t say what the trout thought this fly was, because there were no caddis about, other than an occasional stray. Yet as we drifted about fifty yards from shore near a small cove, the first trout that rose within casting distance, fortunately for me, rose twice, just as I was making a cast. I was also standing up, which helped me adjust quickly. I was able to immediately alter my distance and targeting, and sighting the two rises in succession I determined the fish was moving from right to left. Trout in lakes and ponds seldom remain stationary as they do in flowing water. They cruise for food and it’s always a crap-shoot when you try to target a rising trout in a lake because he’s got a three-hundred sixty degree radius for possible movement and change of direction after the rise. I led the second rise by about four feet, hoping he was moving in that direction, and as luck would have it, he must have seen it hit the water. The trout came right up, slowly, we could both see the fish. He tipped up and without hesitation, kept coming and gently sucked in the fly. “Fish on!”

I offered Steve his rod back, but he was relaxing in his chair, smoking a cigar and said, “No, you go ahead.”

“Thanks! I’ll take you up on that.” I replied. We drifted a while, I cast here and there, enjoying the feel of the rod, and occasionally Steve turned the prop on the trolling motor a bit to keep the boat positioned just off shore. The next trout I took I did so while I was fishing blind, in other words, casting without seeing any rises. The water was flat calm and suddenly as I watched my fly, I saw something white off to the right, it was moving, then I realized it was the belly of a trout. Then I saw the shape of the fish. He was closing the distance to the fly, rising up, and just like the first trout, never stopped until he reached the fly and confidently gulped it in. Fish on again!  It was a very good feeling that we had success with my pattern during rather adverse conditions. Or at least the conditions did not seem so adverse, it was a nice, calm afternoon, it’s just that the trout were not on the feed.  Steve and I tallied nine trout that afternoon, to the other guy’s couple, or maybe three per boat. When we got back to camp, I made myself a spicy Bloody Mary and set about tying a batch of ginger-colored #16 Floating Caddis Emergers.

Quill Gordon brings a trout to the boat.

Quill Gordon brings a trout to the boat.

On Tuesday evening Ken offered to take me in the boat. Abigail and I graciously agreed. The photo above is of Ken landing one of the fish he took. I took two fish on my Floating Caddis Emerger, since we really were not seeing Yellow Drakes in numbers to say there was an actual hatch. And this was after Steve had done so well with it earlier in the day. But alas, I lost my last Floating Caddis Emerger in a fish, doing something that I know from experience I should not have done. Life is like that. On occasion we do the wrong thing even when we know better. I grabbed the 5x tippet and held on to it, trying to remove the fly from the jaw of a fourteen-inch brown, and when he made a sudden lunge, I hung on, and he broke the tippet knot and took the fly. I could have replaced it with one of two well-worn Floating Caddis Emergers, but I have retired both of them from service, except that I ask them to pose for an occasional photo to demonstrate their effectiveness. The photo posted there, of one of them, in late December of 2012, and again below, was one I took thirty-four trout with. The foam overback is all chewed and tattered, but otherwise the fly is intact. I ended up using an older pattern, another original fly I created in 1996 that was actually the predecessor to my Floating Caddis Emerger, mentioned above, it’s called the Hatching Caddis Adult. There’s a whole ‘nother collection of fish stories about that pattern as well. I’ll add that pattern and recipe and fish stories here sometime next week.

As I fished the Hatching Caddis Adult, a dry fly pattern similar in a number of ways to the Floating Caddis Emerger, I demonstrated to Ken how, if during a retrieve or pull of the line, that fly, due to its components and design, when treated with floatant,  submerges, but then when you stop, it resurfaces. The pattern literally breaks through the surface film. So does the Floating Caddis Emerger. I had demonstrated that about three times, even saying, “Watch this!”

Ken said, “That’s pretty cool,” and just then, SWOOSH! A nice trout struck the fly. But he missed, there was no connection when I raised the rod tip. But the point was made with additional emphasis from the fish. Nice!

A well-used Bastian's Floating Cadis Emerger, this fly lanede thirty-four trout in May of 2006.

A well-used Bastian’s Floating Caddis Emerger, this fly landed thirty-four trout on Spring Creek, Pennsylvania, one day in May of 2006. This pattern can be ordered from Orvis, http://www.orvis.com/store/product.aspx?pf_id=7R6A

I recently created a revised version of the Floating Caddis Emerger pattern that I have been selling. Bastian’s Floating Caddis-Mayfly Emerger with a ginger body, as I’m calling the revised pattern is available to order from me. I made a couple alterations to change the fly so it would not compete with the contract I have with Bastian’s Floating Caddis Emerger with the Orvis Company.

Bastian's Floating Caddis-Mayfly Emerger

Bastian’s Floating Caddis-Mayfly Emerger. I decided to add the chartreuse foam strip for an indicator to improve visibility of the pattern. The other difference is that instead of a single hackle wrap, I side-lashed hen back fibers for the legs.

Other than myself, the first anglers to test the new Hi-vis version of my Floating Caddis Emerger were Tom Ukena and his wife Sue, of Northborough, Massachusetts. They were on the Missouri River the first week of June, guiding with Tim Linehan, the Orvis 2013 Guide of the Year, and they really did extremely well with that pattern, taking as Tom wrote in an e-mail, “a good number of great fish, 18″ to 21”. I’ll be making a separate post about that fly before too long.

There was a nesting pair of loons on the lake this year.

There was a nesting pair of loons on the lake this year. The male stands guard not far offshore from the nest, and believe me, we knew he did. Not alarmed by our boats, but when a great blue heron flew over he cut loose with a loud, raucous, threatening series of calls and wails that I’m sure, included what would pass for loon profanity. The heron kept his distance.

The female loon on the nest, incubating two eggs.

The female loon on the nest, incubating two eggs. The top of her mate’s head is in the foreground.

On Quill Gordon’s Stubbornly Waiting for Drakes post, there is a photo of both loons and their freshly-hatched chicks on the water. And a bunch of yellow drakes too. Check it out!

PorterCove

Porter Cove on Wantastiquet Lake. I was in the boat with Bill, and while there I took two trout on my Floating Caddis Emerger. One of them was a fifteen-inch brown that smashed the fly like a largemouth bass hitting a plug. The water here is quite shallow, and since it was flat, I had to make some pretty long casts, probably sixty feet, to take trout. That’s one reason why I favor a six or seven-weight rod for boat and float tube fishing. Too much effort to struggle with a three or four-weight, especially if it’s windy and long casts are required. Even if you can cast fifty or sixty feet with a three-weight, it usually requires an extra effort of false casting. I believe ninety percent of all your casts can and should be made with only two backcasts – including your pickup stroke. In the end the reason for this is all about increasing your fishing efficiency.

Sunday June 16th on my way to camp, I stopped at the American Museum of Fly Fishing in nearby Manchester on a prearranged visit. Deputy Curator Yoshi Akiyama had the remaining seven plates of the original Orvis flies that were published in Mary Orvis Marbury’s book Favorite Flies and Their Histories, 1892, gathered together for me to photograph. They were not there in June in 2012 when I made the initial series of photos for my upcoming book, Favorite Fishing Flies – 1892. On my way back to Pennsylvania on Thursday June 20th, I stopped again at the museum and photographed another dozen or so flies from the 1893 Orvis Fly Display that I had not previously included. I’ll be adding these pattens to my book, increasing the number of additional fly patterns to about two-hundred twenty-five, beyond the two-hundred ninety-one from Marbury’s book. By the way, the new display, The Wonders of Fly Fishing, is now open at the Museum.

And so concludes another visit to Wantastiquet Lake. We all had a great time!

I just threw some seasoned chicken thighs on the grill, turned the heat down low, and I’ll leave them slow cook for at least an hour. In the meantime, I’m going to go make myself a spicy Bloody Mary.

Penn’s Creek Success

Through my friend and fellow fly tier, Eric Austin, of Delaware, Ohio, I was invited to join him and a group of other anglers for a few days of fishing Penn’s Creek while staying at a private cabin near Weikert over Memorial Day weekend. We hoped to see some green drakes, and as things turned out, we did. The first evening we fished the Cherry Run Pool, and afterwards we were guests for dinner at a cabin on the pool. Dessert that night was homemade blueberry and pecan pie that I had baked that afternoon. Kept in a wooden pie-saver, they were actually still a tad warm when we served them after dinner. I did not know it beforehand but pecan pie is Eric’s favorite. Incidentally, Eric is one of the contributing tiers for my upcoming book, Favorite Fishing Flies – 1892.

There were Great Red Spinners in the air, a few sulphurs about, plus some caddis and a few Blue-wing Olives. Our fishing start time was delayed by a passing thunderstorm, so we did not actually get on the water until after 7:30 PM. I took one sixteen brown on my March Brown Sexi-Floss Spinner, size #10, hooked and lost another decent fish, and rose a few more. Most of the other fellows took some trout as well.

On Friday we all traveled over to Bellefonte and fished on Spring Creek. We had sulphurs hatching there and everyone had a good day, mostly taking trout on drys. I was using my tandem Sulphur Dun and Floating Sulphur Emerger that day, which I had written about in a separate post on the success of that tandem rig during five previous trips to Spring Creek this May. Friday evening saw us back at the Cherry Run Pool on Penn’s Creek, and upon our arrival there, on the water floated the greatest number of March Brown duns I have ever seen anywhere in my life. The air temperature was quite cool, it was drizzling a little, and the duns drifted and fluttered helplessly on the surface, many of them unable to get airborne due to the cold temperatures and drizzle. Along the entire several hundred yard length of the pool, fish were up. The six of us stretched out along the pool. I was using my BXB March Brown Extended Body Dun, and caught some fish just by standing on shore and casting to rises near the bank. All six of us took some fish; at the end of the evening I had three smallmouth bass, two chubs, and two brook trout, which were actually both of decent size.

The following photos are nearly all from Saturday, when we traveled to Coburn, Pennsylvania, stopped at The Feathered Hook Fly Shop, and then drove downstream a short distance to fish. We parked along the road and basically fished an adjacent short section of the creek. A couple trout were rising already at eleven AM. Bruce got into position and hooked and lost one, then Eric Austin took Bruce’s place when he moved. Eric worked several rising trout under some overhanging tree limbs. He rose a few of them, but did not connect. Eric then moved downstream where he took a nice trout. Bruce caught one near where Eric had been fishing. Our host and camp owner, Tom Wilson, had a few things to take care of, plus he had heard that the green drakes started well downstream the day prior, and he wanted to certify that with the possibility that we might fish that hatch in the evening. Me, I took my time and decided to have lunch before I started to fish. I walked Abigail a little bit, got out a lawn chair, ate my sandwich, had a beer, relaxed and watched the water and my companions. When I did get in the water, it was upstream from the rest of the guys. I saw sporadic rises, rose a few fish, but it was tough. I failed to connect with anything. At that point, as I was sitting on a mid-stream rock, around 2:30 PM I saw a green drake dun. Then another, and another. Before I left that spot, as I was just sitting on a midstream rock, watching the water, I counted eleven green drakes duns. There were sulphurs hatching on the increase, some caddis and a few other bugs, but still nothing other than the odd single rise here and there. When I did cover a rise with a sulphur dun it was to no avail. I finally walked back to my car, pulled out the lawn chair, grabbed a beer and sat and watched the rest of the guys fish. We saw a few more green drakes taking to the air, counting a total of twenty-three in addition to those I had already seen.

By now Eric and Bruce had taken five nice trout. Bob had settled into position where Eric started, casting to three or four rising trout – the same fish that had been rising for about five hours – and for over three hours, he had a couple rises but did not connect. About 3:45 Tom returned, and came over to chat with me. He said the drakes were definitely on below Weikert. We then watched Bob casting to those rising trout. Tom said, “He’ll never catch any of those fish, he’s getting too much drag.” And then he turned and walked over to talk to Eric and the other fellows, who had all returned to the cars within a few minutes. I kept watching Bob, and no sooner had Tom walked away, when Bob set the hook and had a bend in his rod. “Fish on!” I exclaimed. I got up quick and grabbed my camera.

Here are the photos I took that day:

Eric Austin,

Eric Austin, working several rising trout in Penn’s Creek below Coburn under the trees.

Eric

Eric is still casting to those fish…note the nice upstream mend in his line.

Bruce

Bruce covers a rising Penn’s Creek trout.

Eric

Eric moved downstream, where he later connected with three nice browns.

This is the first in a series of photos with Bob playing the nice trout - after more than three hours of casting to this fish, he finally got the "right drift."

Fish on! This is the first in a series of photos with Bob playing the nice trout – after more than three hours of changing flies and casting to this fish, he finally got the “right drift.”

Bob

Bob brings the trout in closer.

Bob works the trout closer to the net.

Bob works the trout closer to the net.

The fish is not ready to give up.

The fish is not ready to give up.

Closing on on the net.

Bob eventually led the trout to the net.

Bob netted this trout, and from my location, I estimated its size at nineteen inches. This was the sixth trout taken that day, by him, Bruce, and Eric, all on various sulhur dun patterns, ranging in size between 16″ and 19″, in just a 125-yard section of Penn’s Creek. This was in the Trophy Trout Section, and these fish were all of legal harvesting size. Eric took three of the trout on the Swisher-Richards No-Hackle Dun, a favorite pattern of his. Bruce had two, and Bob, just one but it was the best fish of the day.

Penn's Creek, May 25th,near Weikert. Each light greenish-yellow spot on the water is a green drake dun.

Penn’s Creek, May 25th, near Weikert. Each light greenish-yellow spot on the water is a green drake dun. This is in an open water section with no special regulations.

A zoomed-in image iof the same section, this shot provides a better view of the green drake duns.

A zoomed-in image of the same section, this shot provides a better view of the green drake duns on the water.

A cabin neighbor of Tom’s, Ed Torchia, was fishing here. He took a nice smallmouth bass that was rising. Bruce, in our group, landed a bass about 17″. Fish were up in this entire section. I tied on one of my BXB Green Drake Thorax Duns and went below the dam to the tailout and landed the only trout I saw rising, the fattest ten-inch brown I’ve ever seen in my life. I guessed if that fish had been eighteen inches he would have weighed four pounds. Most of the fellows took some trout. The highlight of the evening for me was an 18″ brown that I saw rising, and he took the Green Drake dun on the second or third cast. That fish got off just as I was netting it, so there is no photo of my story. You’ll just have to trust me, but I have a witness, Tom saw me playing the fish and got a look at it as it flopped over the rim of my net. I later hooked and then lost another trout of about the same size.

The real delight of the evening was that of the six anglers in our group, four – Eric, Bruce, Bob, and Dean, had never seen a green drake hatch in their life. It was pretty spectacular. Ed stopped by Tom’s cabin later in the evening and said that this pool, from 2:30 to 3:30 PM that afternoon, produced the largest hatch of green drake duns he had ever witnessed, and he’s spent years on Penn’s Creek during the drake hatch. In all it was a great weekend. New friendships were made, fellowship shared, fish were caught, cigars were smoked, beverages quaffed, fish stories were told, and plans were made to do it again next year. Thank you to my friend Eric for the invitation, and thanks to Tom Wilson for hosting us at his camp.

Big Montana Brown Trout

A friend of mine lives in Bozeman, Montana. Originally from Dayton, Ohio, Doug Daufel and his twin brother, Dan, were tying flies commercially for Cathy and Barry Beck’s fly shop while they were still in high school. I’ve known “the twins” as we always called them for over twenty years. Good guys, excellent fly tiers, both of them. They also worked for Mike Lawson at Blue Ribbon Flies during the summers of their college years. Because of their connection with the Beck’s they met and got to know a number of fly fishing celebrities. We always thought it was funny because when they applied for jobs at Blue Ribbon Flies, their references were Cathy and Barry Beck, Charlie Meck, and I believe Lefty Kreh.

Doug e-mailed me this photo of a big brown he recently caught in a lake in Montana. I don’t know the name of the lake, but he caught the fish on a #8 conehead JJ Special which is basically a brown Wooly Bugger with a brown and yellow tail with yellow rubber legs. I thought a fish like this ought ought to get a little publicity. You too Doug! Doug mentioned it’s the largest brown he’s ever taken. He was fishing with his girlfriend, and reportedly she had a larger brown on but the tippet broke before Doug could net the fish. Thanks, Doug, for your permission to post the photo.

My friend Doug Daufel of Bozeman, Montana, with the biggest brown he's ever caught. The fish was not taped but it's around 28".

My friend Doug Daufel of Bozeman, Montana, with the biggest brown he’s ever caught. The fish was not taped but it’s around 28″.

Pale Morning Dun Patterns

As a companion Four-pack Set to my Sulphur Dun Ephemerella invaria patterns on http://www.myflies.com/ I am also offering the same series of mayfly dun pattern styles for the Pale Morning Dun, which is also in the same Ephemerella genus as the sulphurs, the PMD species being named excrucians.

Since I have personally only ever encountered one PMD hatch, I took some information from the site Troutnut.com – http://www.troutnut.com/hatch/459/Mayfly-Ephemerella-excrucians-Pale-Morning-Dun and I would like to express my thanks for the helpful information presented there. Troutnut has a lot of good, no nonsense aquatic insect information. I recommend visiting that site.

Since the Pale Morning Dun is one of the most widely-ranging and long-lasting hatches of its geographical distribution, I considered the marketing aspect of my fly tying livelihood and decided to offer the PMD in a series of pattern styles as I did for the widely distributed sulphur mayflies of the east and mid-west.

The “PMD’s” are a very eagerly anticipated hatch on many streams, particularly in the mid-west and western US. These mayflies occur with variations in color and size depending on the location, from a #14 to a #18. This offering of four different dry fly pattern types and hook sizes is intended to increase the anglers chances of success when fishing a PMD hatch. Trout can be selective to pattern types, particularly on flat water, so it is beneficial to the angler to be prepared with more than one style and size of dun pattern when fishing this hatch. This proven collection of Pale Morning Dun patterns helps solve the difficulties of fishing PMD drys to finicky trout. All four dun patterns are tied with split tails.

Pale Morning Dun dun patterns, left to right:

Pale Morning Dun dun patterns, left to right: Parachute Dun, Thorax Dun, Comparadun, Quill-body Comparadun, hook sizes here are #14. All flies tied and photographed by Don Bastian.

The PMD Comparadun is a no-hackle pattern that rides low, yet stays  on the surface film. The light natural color deer hair wing is highly imitative and easy to see, and the split tails stabilize the pattern and offer added mayfly realism. Comparaduns land right-side up on nearly every cast. They are an excellent pattern choice for smooth water and moderate riffle currents. This pattern has a slim, dubbed abdomen with a thread ribbing and a more robust thorax, providing a natural imitative mayfly silhouette for increased realism. This design factor helps trigger confident takes from trout.

PMD Comparadun

Hook: Standard dry fly hook, #14 – #18

Thread: Danville Flymaster Light Olive #61

Wing: Natural light deer hair

Tails: Light dun Microfibetts six fibers split 3/3

Abdomen: Light olive rabbit dubbing, abdomen reverse-ribbed with tying thread

Thorax: Light olive rabbit dubbing, built up larger than the abdomen to present a natural mayfly silhouette

Head: Light olive

PMD Comparadun

Pale Morning Dun Comparadun

The PMD Quill-body Comparadun is a personal pattern design variation that has a more realistic body silhouette with a slim, waxy-smooth abdomen that contrasts with the more robust fur-dubbed thorax. The abdomen is made from a synthetic quill material that is highly translucent, and it also floats, thereby adding increased flotation to this pattern. This shade of light olive on the abdomen very closely imitates the natural color of the PMD’s.

PMD Quill-body Comparadun

Hook: Standard dry fly hook, #14 – #18

Thread: Danville Flymaster Light Olive #61

Wing: Natural light deer hair

Tails: Light dun Microfibetts six fibers split 3/3

Abdomen: White Sexi-Floss (aka Flexi-Floss, Dyna Floss, Super Floss, etc.) Winding the white Sexi-Floss over the light olive thread creates a very translucent abdomen. The Sexi-floss is tied in at the thorax. (See my other posts on this topic, use the search tab). The translucent nature of this material allows the thread color to predominate. This stuff is the best synthetic quill substitute available. And, it floats! This increases the pattern’s buoyancy.

Thorax: Light olive rabbit dubbing, built up larger than the abdomen to present a natural mayfly silhouette

Head: Light olive

PMD Quill-body Comparadun

PMD Quill-body Comparadun.

The PMD Parachute Dun is made with the same abdomen of synthetic quill material as the Quill-body Comparadun, and has a dubbed thorax, but it has a poly-post wing and a parachute hackle. The advantage of parachute duns provides a highly-visible, low-floating, imitative design. It is generally considered a better dry fly pattern for fishing riffles, runs, and typically rougher pocket water than the no-hackle Comparadun.

PMD Parachute Dun

Hook: Standard dry fly hook, #14 – #18

Thread: Danville Flymaster Light Olive #61

Wing: Light dun polypropylene

Tails: Light dun Microfibetts six fibers split 3/3

Abdomen: White Sexi-Floss (aka Flexi-Floss, Dyna Floss, Super Floss, etc.)

Hackle: Light dun or ginger – I anchor the butt of the hackle stem to the base of the wing post

Thorax: Light olive rabbit dubbing, built up larger than the abdomen to present a natural mayfly silhouette

Head: Light olive

PMD ParachuteDun

PMD ParachuteDun

The PMD Thorax Dun offers yet another pattern variation that helps fool trout. The wing is placed a little farther from the hook eye than the Parachute Dun, and the hackle is wound conventionally, but clipped on the bottom. Like all the patterns in this set, the Pale Morning Dun Thorax Dun features a split tail with the synthetic, translucent quill abdomen and a fur-dubbed thorax. Like each pattern in this collection, the Thorax Dun offers a different silhouette on the surface. Being prepared with multiple fly pattern designs for any mayfly hatch is an asset to the angler.

PMD Thorax Dun

Hook: Standard dry fly hook, #14 – #18

Thread: Danville Flymaster Light Olive #61

Wing: Light dun polypropylene

Tails: Light dun Microfibetts six fibers split 3/3

Abdomen: White Sexi-Floss (aka Flexi-Floss, Dyna Floss, Super Floss, etc.)

Hackle: Light dun or ginger, clipped flat on bottom

Thorax: Light olive rabbit dubbing, built up larger than the abdomen to present a natural mayfly silhouette

Head: Light olive

PMD Thorax Dun

PMD Thorax Dun

PMD Four-pack Selection - Boxed Set.

PMD Four-pack Selection – Boxed Set. Set includes three each of the four patterns: PMD Comparadun, PMD Quill-body Comparadun, PMD Parachute Dun, and PMD Thorax Dun and can be ordered in size #14, #16, or #18 (single hook size per set).

Set of Four – These four PMD patterns are also being offered together in an attractive boxed set. The set is identified with a printed label, a signature card, the flies are mounted on foam strips, and they are beautifully packaged in a clear plastic case. This attention to detail and quality of the boxed set makes this a tasteful gift.

What it imitates: Ephemerella excrucians mayfly sub-imago, Pale Morning Dun (PMD)

When to fish it: The PMD is an ubiquitous mayfly, very abundant throughout the west, and there is a wide range of dates for their emergence. It is often best to consult local sources for hatching information. Despite their name, they often hatch in the afternoon and evening depending on conditions and locale.

Where to fish it:  Pale Morning Duns inhabit most water types, tailwaters, spring creeks, freestone streams, rivers, and some ponds and lakes, except warm water and infertile high country lakes.

How to fish it:  PMD patterns can be fished on 5x to 7x tippet, depending on water type. This hatch is prolonged, and on heavily-fished waters, trout can become drift-shy, requiring very precise presentation to fool them into taking your fly. Accurate casting and drag-free drifts are essential for success. On smooth water long leaders of 12 – 14 feet are necessary. Two or more pattern variations of the PMD can increase your chances for a good day on the water.

To place an order for the duns or the set visit: http://www.myflies.com/Pale-Morning-Duns-Four-Pack-Selection-P830.aspx

Gone Fishin’

I couldn’t resist making this post. This title refers to a great classic song by two of America’s most iconic musicians, singers, performers, celebrities: Bing Crosby and Louis Armstrong. I never even heard it until MyFlies.com owner, Sharon Butterfield, sent me a link to this site:  http://upchucky.org/JukeCity/1951/OldJukes/player.htm

She knows I love music, and music trivia. I was just listening (again) to the year 1951 where this song is included. This song – the lyrics – apply to fishin’, and the excellent, very entertaining performance by Bing and Louis is a humorous banter as they tease each other about which one of them is the most lax, lazy, and irresponsible, leaving their work and chores and is not around and can’t be found, but instead, have- Gone Fishin.’

It’s definitely worth a few minutes of your time.

Here is a link to a collection of photos and the song:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XdxYS_zVByg

Here is another version featuring more old black and white and a few color photos, the audio version is also not remastered, and it really sounds like you’re listening to a worn old vinyl LP album.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pA3P0oVDB0Y

Enjoy!

Edit, June 27th: I just happened to think, this song would have made a great addition to the script of the movie, Grumpier Old Men, with Walter Matthau and Jack Lemon, good movie, and God rest their souls.

Split Ibis Wet Fly

Here is another old wet fly pattern that historically was a part of our fly fishing heritage in the form of the traditional Lake Flies and smaller sizes of trout flies. I present the Split Ibis – both my tied version from the recipes of Ray Bergman’s Trout, 1938, and also another antique fly from the 1893 Orvis Display at the American Museum of Fly Fishing in Manchester,Vermont.

The Bergman recipe for the wing reads, “white, scarlet, white, scarlet, married,” while visual inspection of the Orvis pattern starts with the scarlet on top. Normally in written married wing recipes, the order of components is written from the top down.

Here’s my version:

Split Ibis wet fly, tied and photographed by Don Bastian.

Split Ibis wet fly, tied and photographed by Don Bastian. Note the tail of golden pheasant tippet fibers, in comparison to the married tail on the Orvis version. The hook is a Mustad vintage 3399 Sproat Bend.

Split Ibis:

Hook: Standard wet fly hook #1 to #10

Thread: Danville Flymaster 6/0 #100 Black

Tail: Golden pheasant tippet

Ribbing: Oval silver tinsel – addition of ribbing is my personal variation to reinforce the body and provide more flash

Body: Flat silver tinsel

Hackle: Brown

Wing: White, scarlet, white, scarlet – married

Head: Black

I apply four or five coats of head cement, finishing off with black Pro Lak on most of my wet flies and streamers.

The Split Ibis is included among the Lake Fly pattern in Mary Orvis Marbury’s book, Favorite Flies and Their Histories, 1892. It is pattern number 78. Here is my photo of the Split Ibis from the 1893 Orvis Display.

Split Ibis from the 1893 Orvis fly display.

Split Ibis Lake Fly from the 1893 Orvis fly display. The hook is approximately a No. 1 or 1/0. Note the body of oval silver tinsel, and the yellow part of the married tail is severely faded.

Split Ibis – Orvis Version

Tag: Flat gold tinsel – not visible on this pattern, but it can be seen on the Plate Fly image, plus I have my photo of the original plate fly; there is a tag of flat gold tinsel

Tail: Scarlet and yellow, married

Body: Oval silver tinsel

Hackle: Brown

Wing: Scarlet, white, scarlet, white – married

Historically the Split Ibis was a favorite Lake Fly pattern, successfully used for native brook trout and landlocked salmon. My niece, Emily, tied this pattern and has caught brook trout and salmon with it in Maine’s Moose and Roach Rivers.

Fitz-Maurice Lake Fly

This pattern as represented in Trout by Ray Bergman is a little different than the old, original 19th century version I discovered on the 1893 Orvis Display Plates at the American Museum of Fly Fishing in Manchester, Vermont. Bergman’s book obviously includes the Fitzmaurice as a trout pattern, while as represented in size on the Orvis display, it could be a either a Lake Fly, intended for brook trout and landlocked salmon, or a Bass Fly, or perhaps both.

Here is the version replicated from the recipe of Trout:

Fitzmaurice wet fly, recipe from Trout by Ray Bergman.

Fitzmaurice wet fly, recipe from Trout by Ray Bergman.

Fitzmaurice, Trout version:

Tag: Oval gold tinsel – the addition of the tinsel tag is mine, note the flat gold tinsel tag on the Orvis version

Tail: Peacock sword fibers

Butt: Black chenille

Body: Red chenille

Wing: Bronze mallard

Hackle: Yellow

Head: Black

Following is my photo of the Fitz-Maurice from the 1893 Orvis Display:

Fitz-Maurice

Fitz-Maurice from 1893 Orvis Display, hook size is approximately a #1/0. The Lake Flies were traditionally tied in sizes this large, as were the Bass Flies.

Fitz-Maurice – Orvis Dressing:

Tag: Flat gold tinsel

Tail: Peacock sword fibers

Body: Rear 1/2 red chenille, front 1/2 black chenille

Hackle: Golden yellow, wound full over front 1/5 of hook shank

Wing: Gray mallard, two whole feathers; this could be classed as a spoon wing. The stems were tied reverse-wing.

This pattern has a gut loop eye, often referred to back in the day as a snood. The chenille is very dense, most likely a fine grade of silk chenille. The Fitz-Maurice is not listed in Mary Orvis Marbury’s Favorite Flies and Their Histories, 1892, but as you can see it is on the 1893 Orvis Display, and it will be among more than 200 additional 19th century fly patterns, beyond the 291 in Marbury’s book, that will be listed by name with the accurate recipe, determined by visual inspection of actual flies, and from study of my collection of fly photos, in my upcoming book in progress, Favorite Fishing Flies – 1892. The additional fly patterns from the 1893 display include flies in all categories of Marbury’s book: Hackles, Lake Flies, Trout Flies, Salmon Flies, and Bass Flies.