Another winter has come and gone and the 2017 trout season is finally here. It’s been a quiet off-season for me on the blogging front, but otherwise one of the busiest of my life. I had ACL reconstruction on my knee in October of last year (just after my last post) and the recovery and physiotherapy nearly consumed my life for the last 6 or 7 months. I knew it would be difficult, but I did not appreciate the commitment and length of time it would require. It’s hard to believe I didn’t plan the timing of the surgery to coincide with trout season though… but it certainly worked out.
My leg and knee have gained back most of its strength, though I feel there’s still a ways to go before it’s completely normal. At least I’m walking without a limp, back to jogging and bike riding and most importantly: ready to get back to hiking and river wading. Physio has dwindled from several hours a day (at its highest) to an hour or so every other day, so there’s finally time to get back to the other things I enjoy.
Sadly, I don’t have a lot to report yet on the fishing front. We’ve had a lot of rain leading up to opener, which surely put a bit of damper on many peoples’ weekend as lots of rivers were still blown out. It looks like the Hendricksons have started though and with the rivers dropping a bit and calming down, this week should be pretty fantastic in comparison.
I picked up a new toy last weekend – one that I’ve been wanting to acquire for a long time. I was very close to purchasing a new Outcast pontoon before coming across a used Streamer XL-IR in decent shape for a fraction of the cost. It still needs some cleaning up, but it seems to be in great working order and I’m excited to use it this season on everything from river drifts to still water to (small) lakes.
Merry Christmas, Happy New Year and all that! I’ve been pretty inactive on the blog lately… a typical case of the winter blues while I wait 7 long months for trout fishing to re-open (down to 4 now). I hope everyone had great holidays. Santa didn’t treat me to any new fishing gear this year, but a new pair of waders are definitely on the horizon since my Simms Headwaters waders found their way to the trash after last season.
I meant to post these earlier, but never got around to it. I was experimenting with a few Christmas flies last month. Here are a couple first attempts that we hung on the tree. The deer hair snowman was especially fun to tie.
A couple Christmas flies I made with my daughter to hang on the tree
As usual, I haven’t seen much fishing since trout closer. I attended a steelhead clinic a couple weekends ago with a friend and we’ve been trying to setup a steelhead guided trip, which keeps getting pushed back. I’ve convinced myself that I’m simply waiting for the colder weather to drive the mobs of fishermen off some of the more accessible steelhead water – we’ll see if that actually holds true.
Interestingly, my two youngest kids have suddenly become fascinated with fly tying. This isn’t surprising I guess, since they are at that age (junior kindergarten and grade 1) where crafts occupy a large part of their time at home and school. They’re constantly asking to tie flies with me, so I’ve started letting them participate. I always make sure I de-barb my hooks at the vice when tying flies, but de-barbing isn’t quite enough when a 4 and 5 year old are carrying them around the house. So, I completely remove the hook bend, making them safe decorations but pretty awful fish catchers!
My son tells me his favourite fly is the “Wuggy Bugger”. He helped me tie this one and he liked it so much that he’s been taking it to bed with him. It’s not a real Wolly Bugger of course, as it has no hook or hackle, so I hereby declare this new pattern the Wuggy Bugger, as named by my 4 year old son.
My 4 year old son, snug in bed with his “Wuggy Bugger”
I mentioned during the off season that I’d been considering building something to better organize my fly tying tools, which up until now have been stored in a bunch of boxes and ziplock bags. I considered everything from full blown desks to much smaller portable tying stations. In the end I decided to go with a simpler portable tying table, which takes up less space and allows me to easily move my tying area around the house (or even on a trip).
The design I ended up using was based off this one. I used pine for the base and all of the other wood. It’s still pretty bare bones since I have only incorporated my main tools so far. As you can see, there’s lots of room for additional tools and containers, but it’s already much more functional than what I was working with before.
Initial version of my portable fly tying station
Features so far include:
Metal rods to hold spools: thread, silk, tinsel, wire, etc
Slots to hold main tying tools: scissors, whip finish tool, bodkin, thread bobbin, hair stacker, wax, etc
Larger holes for containers
Hangers for larger more awkward tools, such as hackle pliers
Hole to hold my magnifying lamp
Enough table space to hold my vice, a tying book and some materials
Space under the rear ledge to store materials or containers
Possible additions/modifications I’m considering:
Pull-out drawers under the ledge at the back to store hooks, bead heads and the like
Additional metal rods to hold more spools
Additional holes and hangers for more tools and containers
For most my fly fishing years, I have favoured the dry fly more than all other types of flies. My very first trout was taken on a dry fly, my most memorable days on the water involve dry flies and they produce arguably the most exciting takes from fish. I would typically rather prospect for trout with a dry fly than tie on a nymph or streamer, even when the fish are not rising. Considering most fish feed under the surface, this is a bit stubborn.
I’ve grown to appreciate the nymph and streamer for what they are and I certainly fish them more now than I did in the past: but still, I don’t enjoy them as much as I do fishing closer to the surface. Most trout fisherman generally consider these 3 types of flies: dries, nymphs and streamers. There’s also the more recent hybrid emerger, which is fished just under the surface flim, but these are what you’ll find predominantly in most fly shops and fly boxes. Yet, the sport of fly fishing grew up exclusively on another type of fly, one that is largely ignored by most anglers today: the wet fly.
I’m not stating anything ground breaking here. This subject has been brought up by lots of others, on the internet, in books and elsewhere. Speaking of which, I just received a copy of a new book, which is why this subject is fresh on my mind:
Just a quick post to say Merry Christmas! Woke up extra early this morning to 3 very excited kids and things are just settling down. Hope Santa was good to all of you and hope you have a great holiday and happy new year.
While searching the infinite database that is the internet, I came across a couple fun tying ideas that I think I will use as inspiration next year. Enjoy!
Well, trout season is officially over here in southern Ontario, which means my fishing days are going to be limited to some remaining warm water fishing (bass, pike) and possibly some steelhead fishing if I can manage to find a place and time where the crowds aren’t too bad.
My wife graciously agreed to let me spend way too much time on the water this past weekend, to finish off the trout season. I took Friday off work and managed to get out for three consecutive days, all of which were spent on different sections of my favourite local river. By the way, you’ll notice that I rarely mention river names or locations. This is on purpose, in an effort to avoid random lazy people from typing a couple words into Google and going away with sensitive and hard earned fishing locations. If you really want to know where I fish… well, I probably won’t tell you unless you’re family or friend 🙂 But, you’re more than welcome to ask.
Anyway, on with the report!
Friday, September 28th
Friday was supposed to be a full day of fishing, but I slept in a bit more than I would have liked and as usual, I needed to do some last-minute fly tying to top up my box. The main ties included a bunch of Red Humpy dry flies (which are always productive on this river), as well as a number of Simulators and a couple Gartside Gurglers for a bit of night fishing.
Lots of Stimulators in sizes 12-14 would be the main go-to fly during the days
Gartside Gurgler (size 6) for hopefully enticing some hungry Browns at night
A couple of weeks ago, my wife and I took a well deserved week-long trip to a favourite destination of ours on the banks of Au Sable River in Grayling, Michigan.
Grayling is a fly fishing paradise. I won’t go into detail on why this is such a great fly fishing town, but suffice it to say that it’s surrounded by several blue ribbon trout rivers, it’s host to river stretches with nicknames like the “Holy Water”, it’s got more fly shops than most towns have gas stations and it’s the birthplace of Trout Unlimited… you get the idea.
I made an effort not to spend too much time on the water this trip, since my wife doesn’t fish and we had other things planned for the week. Most of the time I didn’t stray too far from the place we were staying. Located on the Holy Water, one of (if not the) best stretches of trout water on the entire Au Sable, it’s just too convenient.
The main hatches for the week included Tricos in the mornings, terrestrials (mostly ants) in the afternoons and some sporadic BWO hatches in the evenings. No overly large trout were had during this trip, but a nice assortment of brown, rainbow and brook trout were caught. That’s one of the things I love about the Au Sable in this stretch… all three trout species are very plentiful and on any given day it’s entirely possible to hook up with trophy sizes in all of these fish.