Ontario In March – Fly Tying Classes and Demos

Everything is official now. I am heading to Ontario on Thursday, March 12, and presenting a fly tying class that evening at Grand River Outfitting and Fly Shop in Fergus from 6 – 9 PM. Here is the information posted on the event on the Grand River Outfitting and Fly Shop website:

www.http://ontarioflyfishing.ca/event/gro-presents-don-bastian-grand-river-caddis-patterns/

The class will feature all of my original caddis patterns: The Hatching Caddis Adult, Hatching Caddis Pupa, Floating Caddis / Mayfly Emerger, Floating Caddis Pupa, plus two more proven and deadly caddis larva patterns. These flies, if you have them in your box, will certify your readiness for most any caddis hatch / situation you encounter. Just have a range of sizes and colors… 😉  And here is a link to the shop: www.http://ontarioflyfishing.ca/

Mary and I will be meeting part-time shop employee, guide, instructor, and good friend, John Hoffmann for a relaxing afternoon and dinner before the class.

Friday evening, March 13, I am presenting a fly tying class at First Cast Fly Shop in Guelph, from 6 to 9:30 PM.

Here is a link to the event at First Cast:  http://www.thefirstcast.ca/event/don-bastian/

Rates and reservation information is now posted for both shop classes. The Niagara Region Flytyers Event has a few remaining tickets for sale to the public, at $20 each.

Saturday March 14, I am presenting a fly tying demo in St. Catherines, for the Niagara Region Flytyers Club, to be video -played on a TV screen, time of this demo is from 11 AM to 4 PM. There will be a couple breaks in this five-hour session. One highlight of the classes and demo will be the tying of Bastian’s Floating Caddis / Mayfly Emerger. Specific information about the patterns in these sessions can be obtained from the fly shops. As yet I am not certain that the event in St. Catherines is open to the public.

Bastian's Floating Caddis Emerger.

Bastian’s Floating Caddis Emerger. This pattern and its variations will be part of these sessions. This fly is deadly. One of my customers posted on the Orvis site, “it should be illegal.” 😉

During and after these classes, Mary and I will be hanging out as the guest of my close friend Rick Whorwood, who resides in Stoney Creek, Ontario, a suburb of Hamilton. We have been close friends for twenty-five years. Rick is a fellow musician of sorts; he has “some guitars” and recently bought a vintage 1967-ish Rogers Drum set, champagne sparkle pearl. He started taking drum lessons recently and while he is learning fast – he used to drum back in his teenaged years – he wants me to show him some of my chops. 😉 Mary plays guitar as well, and she’s a heck of a good singer, so I think the two of them might be doing a little jamming. Maybe even the three of us…

My vintage 1975 English-made Premier Powerhouse 2500 drum set...prior to the start of a local gig.

My vintage 1975 English-made Premier Powerhouse 2500 drum set…prior to the start of a local gig.

This is going to be a great trip! Anyone interested in these classes, please feel free to let me know in the comment section.

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Bastian’s Floating Caddis / Mayfly Emerger

I had announced this on my facebook page last week, but I also wanted to post something here. I am pleased to announce that the Orvis Company has picked up for the third year, my original pattern, “Bastian’s Floating Cadddis Emerger.” It is offered in their online catalog:

http://www.orvis.com/store/product_search_tnail.aspx?keyword=bastian%27s+floating+caddis+emerger

This pattern was created in 2006, a revised fly that began in 1996 with my original Hatching Caddis Adult pattern. It has been field-tested in Pennsylvania; on Penn’s Creek, Big Pine Creek, and Spring Creek. I also used it successfully on the Beaverkill in New York, and Montana’s Madison River, and my brother has used it on Maine’s Penobscot River for land-locked salmon. It has also proven itself as a very effective still-water fly. Since its release with Orvis, a customer and his wife from Massachusetts, who guide with the 2014 Orvis Guide of the Year, Tim Linehan, used it on the Missouri River in 2013 and hammered ’em. Tim had not seen the pattern previously and was surprised by its success. He bought some from me afterward.

Here is a photo of Susan Ukena with Tim Linehan, and a fine Missouri River rainbow that took my emerger – a #14 tan:

Sue Ukena and Orvis 2014 Guide of the Year, Tim Linehan, with a Missouri River rainbow that fell to Bastian's Floating Caddis Emerger.

Sue Ukena and Orvis 2014 Guide of the Year, Tim Linehan, with a Missouri River rainbow that fell to Bastian’s Floating Caddis Emerger.

I also wanted to get the fly on the MyFlies.com site, but could not in good conscience place the same pattern there. So I made two changes in the pattern, number one, the way the hackle is applied. On the MyFlies.com version, Bastian’s Floating Caddis / Mayfly Emerger, I side-lash the legs. And number two, I added a chartreuse foam indicator to the top of the fly and the neck, between the body and head section. This helps improve visibility of the fly, which rides on the surface. It is called an emerger, but this fly is actually a dry fly, even though it is unconventional in its appearance as a dry fly. Another thing about it, even if swamped by surface turbulence, it remains in the film. That is why the hi-vis indicator is helpful. Plus I have successfully for the last three seasons, doubled-up and used a tandem dry fly rig with this pattern; a sulfur dun and a ginger colored “sulfur” version of Bastian’s Floating Caddis / Mayfly Emerger. The larger, high-floating, more visible dun pattern keeps your eye tracking the drift of the emerger as well. Trout flash, swirl, boil, or just show themselves under the dun, and they are generally always looking at, or most times, have taken the emerger. This is why I have trained myself to be quick to strike at any sign of a trout. Even with just 10″ of tippet between the dun and emerger, the dry fly does not always give indication that the trout took the emerger. They are faster and quicker on the “take and spit” than most of us ever realize.

There are about ten or eleven articles here on my blog related to this pattern. Use the search tab, type in “Floating Emerger,” hit the enter key and they will come up. Lots of photos, success stories, tactical stuff, tying instructions…it’s all there.

Here is a pic from the MyFlies.com site:

This is the gingeerr colored veersion of Bastian's Floating Caddis / Mayfly Emerger, this KILLS on Speing Creeek and any stream where the sulfurs, Ephemerella rotunda exist.

This is the ginger-colored version of Bastian’s Floating Caddis / Mayfly Emerger. This fly KILLS on Spring Creek and any stream where the sulfurs, phemerella rotunda exist.

A customer here in Pennsylvania recently ordered some of these. Here is a quote from the e-mail I got the other day when he received his order:

“Received the flies. Once again, I am just stunned at the character of these flies in person, I am not surprised they are so killer.”

These flies are available from Orvis, or from MyFlies.com. I also offer them in custom colors and sizes, I have tied them as small as #20, and as large as a #10 – 2x long in brown as a Slate Drake Emerger. Now all we have to do is wait for Spring…

Spring Creek – Again

I paid a short visit to Spring Creek last evening. After all I was in the area for something else, and figured while nearby, why not? Turns out my friend Bill Shuck, a regular www.flymphforum.com tier, mentioning to me in an e-mail yesterday about the “cold front” putting the trout and bugs and fishing “off,” was right. There wasn’t much happening.

The high temperature for the day was barely sixty-five degrees, and the sun never even poked its head out, not even for a minute. I thought the sulfurs would be hatching gangbusters and trout would be up everywhere, but only in my dreams. I had driven down to State College to attend a visitation session for Gloria Humphreys, the wife of one of Pennsylvania’s celebrated fly fishing authors, Joe Humphreys. They were professional and personal friends. Gloria passed away on May 20th.

So after paying my respects I drove to Spring Creek, found a spot, geared up, and tied on my usual two-dry-fly tandem rig, a Sulfur Poly-wing Parachute Dun and my Floating “Sulfur” Emerger – which as noted in the article and links from my previous post, started its life in 2006 as a Floating Caddis Emerger. Orvis added it to their fly catalog in 2013, and have continued it for this year as well. http://www.orvis.com/store/product.aspx?pf_id=7R6A[/

I discovered two years ago that the same pattern, augmented for size and dubbing color, also does a “spot-on” mimic for emerging mayflies. At least that is the conclusion I have drawn, after hooking well over one hundred trout on that fly last season and this season, all while fishing the “sulfur” hatch.

I walked downstream to a slower, deeper section of water and watched for rising fish. Nothing was happening, there were no rises. I gave it all of one minute, which on Spring Creek at this time if year and time of day, if they are rising, I would have seen a dozen or more trout up. So I walked upstream, knowing what my next course of action would be, but for confirmation, I said aloud to myself, “If there are no trout rising, I’m going to fish the riffs and pocket water. No sense of fishing a pool with no rises.” Yes, I do talk to myself, sometimes it is the only way I can get expert advice. 😉

I stepped into this spot:

I entered the water just below this spot, got some line iout, and when I was only about four feet from the bank, started feeding line downstream to a deeper section.

I entered the water just below this spot, got some line out, and when I was only about four feet from the bank, made a cast downstream and started feeding line to a deeper section. A trout rose to the Floating Sulfur Emerger on the first drift, but he missed the fly. I caught one trout in about eight inches of water maybe three feet from shore. When a lot of fishermen are about, they usually scatter the trout from these shallow sections…for a little while at least. Most anglers don’t bother with this water, they are “pool oriented.” Their mistake. The area between the two rocks, not twenty-five feet away, produced two hookups and three additional rises.

Next I worked my way up to the area in the above photo, standing in water about a foot deep, and by this time I had not moved more than fifteen feet from the bank. I blindly cast about to the pockets, seams, and into the riffles, relying on experience as to where might be a good spot for a trout to be. None of this water was more than a foot or so in depth. Right away I caught this fish:

This first trout took the Floating Sulfur Emerger.

This first trout took the Floating Sulfur Emerger. He hit the fly when it was about eight feet from my rod tip. You can see the front end of the fly in his mouth. I hooked two more right after this one on the same fly, but they wanted no part of having their picture taken, so they rather rudely excused themselves by making my line go limp.

I rose and missed more than a dozen trout in the course of the evening, and it is important here to note; why I chose to fish the shallower water, pockets, seams, and riffs. There were no trout rising in the pools. I did not want to waste my limited time by “looking for rising trout.” The fish in shallower water are generally always more prone to impulsive feeding when something presents itself, even on the surface. These fish are accustomed by now to looking for sulfur duns and spinners, and also Baetis, or BWO’s, so that was my logic behind the choice to fish dry flies in the shallow water. Plus, I could get close to the trout with out spooking them, able to make accurate presentations, short drifts through targeted zones, repetitive if necessary, all while making pretty short casts. Also a factor besides this, there were trees hugging both banks and extended limbs so I had to keep it short. Managing your drift is easier when casting to close range target areas; most of the time I had about six to ten feet of fly line beyond the rod tip. My leader was about eleven or twelve feet long, including the typical George Harvey front-section formula of about six feet of 3x, 4x, and 5x. In this type of water, and in most dry fly scenarios, one does not want the leader to straighten out, but rather remain somewhat coiled and snaked about on the water’s surface in S-curves. This promotes drag-free drifts. George Harvey’s leader designs are from the 1940’s, when gut leaders were still used, and his formulas predate the present “Czech”, “French,” “Euro,” whatever you choose to call it, leader designs, that are being touted these days as “new.” In fact, one of these days, I’ll write a piece on the reality of every single aspect of this “new” method of nymphing – rods, leaders, flies, technique, all being as old as the hills. It’s all hype and marketing.

I saw just a handful of trout rise, and I did not have a great evening on the water, but I had a good evening on the water. Most of the trout that rose took, or tried to take, the Floating Sulfur Emerger, but a number did come up after the dun as well. Another thing I noticed; there were more Baetis in the air than anything else. This is typical – chilly, all-cloudy day, that is what they like. I saw duns on the water and in the air, but perhaps Bill was correct; the cold front had put the trout “off.”

Here is a pic of the first trout to take the sulfur dun:

First trout of the evening on the Sulfur Poly-wing Thorax Dun.

First trout of the evening on the Sulfur Poly-wing Thorax Dun. This fly is a modified design of Vince Marinaro’s Thorax Dun; the poly-wing version was created by Barry Beck. I made further material composition modifications, particularly the use of the Sexi-Super-Dyna-Flexi Floss for the “quill body” abdomen, and I generally use poly yarn for the wings rather than the old “Poly-Fluff” or Hi-Vis” – now called E.P. Fibers he used to use.

Here is an upstream shot of the section I fished:

Section of riffles, pockets, seams 0- shallow, but the trout are here.

Section of Spring Creek riffles, pockets, seams – shallow, but the trout are here. Note the larger exposed and submerged boulders – structure – these create breaks in the stream flow, “seams” where currents of two different speed intersect – creating holding areas for trout, allowing them comfort while having the ease of opportunity to intercept drifting food items. Work these areas properly, either with a nymph or a dry fly, and it’s Game On!

Here is another important point I want to make: In the comment thread from the previous article, Bill Shuck mentioned about how more than once he had been on Spring Creek and spooked the largest trout in the stream just by stepping into the water, because sometimes big trout are near the bank, even in shallow water.” Most of us look for the trout where we expect them to be. Happened to me last night. We all probably spook more trout like this, because while we think we’re pretty good angler / predators, we really don’t pay attention enough of the time. If I had been looking, I would have seen a brown trout about nineteen inches long, up ahead of me, on the right, in just eight inches of water, so close to the bank that the long grass slightly overhung his position. When I was about twelve feet off, of course looking and casting out into the stream, his take-off made a resounding splash, a plume of silt, and a large wake as I watched him scoot off.

Right then, I gave myself a little more “expert” advice; by saying aloud, “Expletive. If I had been looking for that fish, I would have seen him first and been able to make a couple casts.” Here is one more pic of a trout that liked my Sulfur Dun:

Spring Creek 5-29-14 006Enjoyable evening on the water. I learned a few new things, got more affirmation of some of the things I already knew, even entertained myself by singing a little bit while fishing, and had a good time. This is about catching fish though. Don’t let anyone fool you by summing up a poor day or few hours on the water, saying, “It’s just good to get out.” That is, in fact, true. But realistically, how many of those people would continue to fish if they got skunked, again, and again, and again, and again…hardly any of us would go out if we couldn’t hook up now and then.

Hopefully you found a few informative and educational things here and among the other articles on my blog to help you get “tight lines” on future trips.

Spring Creek – First Trip 2014

Yesterday afternoon a friend, his son, and me went to Pennsylvania’s Spring Creek with hopes of catching some sulfur mayfly activity. We did. This article is a brief report on that trip.

The day was bright and sunny, and we selected a section of the stream to fish from the west bank, allowing for the sun to be at our backs. This gave us the advantage by reducing glare and minimizing eye strain, and also hid us from the fish because they have the glare in their right eye. We fished a section flowing from right to left. I always consider that whenever possible.

I started the first twenty minutes or so by giving my friend’s son, Sam, a lesson on nymph fishing. This was a refresher course on a demo that I had given him a few years earlier. As I narrated the approach, casting, targeting, drift management, striking, moving the indicator depending on the depth and current speed of the target area, and hook-setting, I had a couple strikes, and then, the one fish I did manage to hook, was lying in a most unlikely location, which added significantly to the learning impact of the lesson. The trout was holding in just a riffle, shallow, barely fifteen inches deep. Object lesson learned: “Don’t pass up any potential spot, even it you think it is too shallow, at least not on this crick.”

We hooked a few trout on nymphs, then adjourned stream-side for an early dinner of baloney and cheese sandwiches with mustard, before the hoped-for evening hatching and feeding activity. We started fishing again about five PM. Only an occasional trout rose, so I stayed with the nymphs and worked my way upstream through some riffles and pocket-water. I hooked a few trout, but nothing to write home about. For a change of pace I decided to start tossing a dry, or rather, my two-dry fly rig that I started using last year. This set-up is a sulfur dun of various styles with my Floating “Sulfur” (Caddis) Emerger trailing off this fly with about ten inches of 5x tippet. I tie it to the hook bend. After I made about three casts, I hooked a trout on the Floating Emerger. Took his photo as he reluctantly posed for me. The very next cast another trout took the emerger. I thought, whoa, this is gonna be great! Well, it was, almost, but not right away.

My first Spring Creek trout of 2014

My first Spring Creek trout of 2014, taken on my Floating Caddis – Mayfly “Sulfur” Emerger, a #14.

I walked downstream to a pool where my companions were, checked in with them, and since they had a few risers, and caught a few trout, I decided to move below them and try some riffles and pockets. I caught this guy on a #14 Sulfur Poly-wing Thorax Dun:

First trout that took the sulfur dun

First trout that took the sulfur dun in my two-dry fly rig.

I keep both these drys close together because they never alight with the tippet stretched out. The intent is to prevent the two flies from getting into current lanes with different speeds. If I have twelve inches of tippet between the two flies, the two patterns are often only a few inches apart. Trout can see both of them, I believe, and make their choice. The Floating Emerger was rising more trout in the afternoon, but as the hatch intensified, they seemed to prefer the dun, though all along trout continued to hit both flies.

We did not have a heavy hatch, and not a lot of trout were actively rising; it seemed sporadic at best. Still we caught trout. After hooking and raising several trout in the water below the pool where my companions fished, I started back up through the same section of riffles and pocket water I had fished previously, and decided to tie on a #12 Sulfur Parachute Dun. Why a size twelve, you ask? Well, some of Spring Creeks sulfurs are nearly that big, I’ve seen enough of ’em over the last twenty-five to make the assessment with certainty. The other reason, and there are a few are: It was about seven PM, and a larger fly would be easier to see on the rough water I was fishing, and also easier to see as daylight faded into dusk. A larger fly would float better. A larger fly would be easier for the trout to see as well.

So that’s what I did, and trout took the large sulfur dun with no hesitation. The first trout I rose was in a fast riffle, and he smashed the fly; he was about fourteen inches. Every fish that took that fly, whacked it, but then again I was fishing faster, rather turbulent riffle and pocket water and they don’t have a lot of time to think about it. I like the challenge of fishing like this because it is very difficult to get the fly to drift naturally in many of the likely-looking spots. The heavy water allows me to get close enough to almost “dap” the flies on the water, very similar to close-range high-stick nymphing, because often I had only a few feet of fly line extending past the rod tip.

This trout was the fish of the day for me:

Sixten-inch Spring Crek brown taken on a #12 Sulphur Poly-wing parachute Dun.

Sixteen-inch Spring Creek brown taken on a #12 Sulphur Poly-wing Parachute Dun.

And since he, or rather, “she” was a nice trout, she warranted a few more pics:

head out of water, in the net. I always try to keep larger fish in the water, and always do when I'm photographing the fish by myself. And with a net.

Head out of water, in the net. I always try to keep larger fish in the water, and always do when I’m photographing the fish by myself. And with a net. You can see my fingers underneath her. To those unaware, the absence of a kype or hooked jaw, indicates this trout is a female.

And here she is posing in a lovely full-body image:

16" Spring Creek Brown, taken ion a #12 Sulfur Poly-wing  Parachute Dun.

16″ Spring Creek Brown, taken on a #12 Sulfur Poly-wing Parachute Dun.

I took another smaller trout later on:

Smaller trout, about ten inches,

Smaller trout, about ten inches, you can clearly see the parachute dun. When I want to photograph trout like this, I actually bring the trout in close, then before I touch the fish, I turn on my camera and hit the macro button. Sometimes after doing this the trout gets away, but I don’t care, I’m releasing it anyway. Once the camera is readied and “on,” I grab the fish, snap a pic, unhook the fly, and they’re quickly back in the water. I wet my hands first. When doing this I have the fish out of the water for about 5 – 6 seconds.

At this point I want to say, anyone keeping fish out of the water for photographs for more than ten seconds after you have played them into submission, presents the risk of harming the fish through lack of oxygen. Speed it up, preferably, respect the fish, and keep them out of the water as little as possible. Imagine someone holding your head under a bucket of water to take photos of you immediately after you just ran the 200-yard dash. That is the position the trout are in when we bring them to hand. And don’t get them on shore where you can drop them and have them slip and flop out of your grasp and die from trauma after being released. I recently read a study on steelhead trout, tagged with radio collars in the Pacific Northwest, where a significant number were dying after being caught and released. The data discovered that most of these fish died of head trauma, caused by thrashing about or being dropped onto the rocks on shore, and not from being hooked with rod and reel.

And here is the intact rig with the actual flies that did the deeds:

Size #12 Sulfur Poly-wing Parachute Dun

Size #12 Sulfur Poly-wing Parachute Dun with a #14 Floating “Sulfur” Emerger, patterned exactly after my Floating “Caddis” Emerger – the only change is the body dubbing color to ginger and I use orange thread. There was only eight inches of 5x tippet separating the two flies. Both flies are treated frequently with floatant.

This two-dry system works. I plan to try a Sulfur Dun and Sulfur Spinner together, that way the trout won’t treat me with disrespect like they did last year one evening, when the dun hatch fizzled out, and there were tons of spinners in the air, I thought I knew better and tied on a spinner. I ended up casting the spinner to about fifty rising trout, only to hook a handful of them. Turned out the dun hatch reignited and went gangbusters from about 8:15 until dusk, and the trout took the duns to my dismay, but I learned that lesson. I should have recognized that sooner. In the type of pocket and riffle water I was fishing, a Dun / Spinner two-dry fly rig will work. I’m about to test that out. 😉

Here are two links to articles on the Sulfur Emerger I wrote last May 2013, including the recipe and tying instructions:

https://donbastianwetflies.com/2013/05/31/bastians-floating-caddis-sulphur-emerger/

https://donbastianwetflies.com/2013/05/31/bastians-floating-sulphur-emerger-part-ii/

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.

Bastian’s Floating Caddis Emerger – Again

This will be short and sweet. You remember my friend Dave Lomasney from York, Maine. I posted his striper photos here last week. Well, he wanted the tying instructions and recipes for my Floating Caddis Emerger, so I sent them to him. He e-mailed me this evening, these photos:

Maine brook trout - photo by Dave Lomasney, of York, Maine.

Maine brook trout – photo by Dave Lomasney, of York, Maine. The trout’s eye is a little odd. Hmmm? Probably due to some type of natural injury. See the fly in his lower jaw?

Here’s the macro:

Close-up of Bastian's Floating Caddis Emerger in jaw of Maine brookie. The fly was also tied by Dave.

Close-up of Bastian’s Floating Caddis Emerger in jaw of Maine brookie. Photo by Dave Lomasney, the fly was also tied by Dave. Nice work Dave!

Dave said he tied the pattern on, and hooked up something of good size on the first cast, but it took him into some brush and got him snagged up and broke off his 5x. He tied on another fly and got this fish, and a few others. That was in two hours, and Dave said it was slow. But I told him in my e-mail reply, “Slow fishin’ is better than no fishin’, and catchin’ a few trout is better than no trout.”

Thanks for giving my pattern a try Dave! It does work.