Saturday, September 6, 2014

September!!!

Here is the deal from the first week of September. A most difficult month for consistency. Could be cool, blazing hot, rainy or a possibility of a hard frost. Playing the hand we are dealt with daily. Walking away from the table either breaking even, winning or owing the house.

Large to medium sized rivers and streams are slowly coming around. Flows are floatable and just barely wadeable for most. Drift boats, spey rods and solid wading skills up front. Nymph rigs with a micro selection getting it done most days. Sixteen as the heavy, eighteens as the money. Five X works for us. Streamer bite slowish. Mock charges. Kind of like the loud mouth bully who eventually gets his ass kicked. That ass kicking is coming. Soon. The dry fly game is short and slow. Again micro with the start of the Slate Drake showing up. Large dry patterns getting the look and not much else. Flows are on average poor and inaccurate. Keep that in mind on your trips this fall.

This is probably getting old but here it is; SMALL STREAMS ARE ROCKING RIGHT NOW. Dry all day everyday. Brookies, Landlocks, Rainbows and a few Brownies thrown in depending on our chosen water. One to three waters per day on average. Three and four weights along with the Tenkara to break it up. Ausable Wulffs and Bombers, X Caddis, XXL Griffith's Gnats and terrestrial patterns round out the dry line up. Soft hackles for the down stream presentation when we can't get the dry delivered.

Grab a day or two for this fall before they are gone. Everyday that is open we are filling with friends, family and a few select bird dogs.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

The Start.

Right now things are starting to change. The leaves, fish, water temps, libation choices, layering option and fly selections. Small waters are the most consistent right now. The larger waters we guide upon are improving a little bit everyday. Flows are reasonable for now and will probably drop after this weekend we a predicting. Then again the management team that dictates such responsibilities sucks. So there's that.

Indications of change include:

Brook trout and landlocks starting to change color and shape.

Smallish streamers working well. Very well.

Mornings are extended due to conditions.

Deer are a bit darker.

Shitty pumpkin spice autumnal micro brews starting to litter the local coolers.

Welcome Hunters signs.

Losing light fast.

Slate Drake nymphs appearing.

Way too many garden veggies.

Logging road dust index at Very High.

Labor Day. The people who brought you the weekend. Have a safe one. We are looking at a very busy couple of months. Not just with guiding but photography projects and private back country trips. Please be patient with blog posts. They will continue show up at an unscheduled time. Like a hatch.



Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Late.

It's summer. Reports are late and will continue that way until the list gets whittled down. Thin blue lines for the last two weeks have taken up most of our time. Dry patterns, willing trout (a few salmon also) and unmolested cool water all add up to a great summer trip. No need for predawn starts or the late evening waiting for the hatch routine. Nice to break up the season.

Patterns of note; Chubby Chernobyl in purple, red, golden and black, Foam Ant, Lawson's Beetle (size 12), X Caddis, Adams Parachute, Big Secret Cricket, Royal Stimmy and The Patriot. Pretty simple selection and heavy on the terrestrial type. Float high on every drift. Take the time to prep those offerings and change them out when they no longer ride well.

Three, four weights or Tenkara and a very light kit help one to cover more ground with less weight. Add either the wet wading system or waist highs and you're off. Tailgate refreshments in the Yeti for the breakdown. If you've done the trip right you will have a cliff jump into a deep pool to round out the day. It is summer after all. Enjoy it and take full advantage of this season.

By the way the majority of Maine's small streams close at the end of September. Make time now.



Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Summer Skills.

High summer season is here in Maine! You can do what some friends of mine a doing right now (here is the list; Alaska, Wyoming, Montana, The Gaspe, Idaho, New Hampshire and Newark). Jealous? No. I've been to Newark, it sucks.

Here are the skill sets we are using right now:

Night fishing with large dry flies. Think waking steelhead/Atlantic salmon type flies. Also mice patterns. Afraid of the dark? You ain't going to like this game. Silence interrupted by very loud gulps and surface thrashings. Also the occasional buck snort that scares the crap out of everyone. Of yeah having a Dobsonfly land in your shirt around three a.m. is also highly entertaining. Especially if it's your fishing partner or client. Worth the creative language and screaming like a girl sound.

Early a.m. streamer trips. Interrupting the commute home after a night on the prowl. Way fun, some of the baddest browns seldom seen. Not a numbers game. High wildlife interactions. Deer, osprey, eagles, beavers, fox, herons and last week a pack of coyotes who followed me in the predawn for fifteen minutes. Noisy crew those coyotes.

Micro nymphing. Eighteens and twenties in the riffles. Short leash rig midday. Small indicators and 5X. Keep yourself tuned up for the fall.

Headhunting early a.m. or late (wicked late). Everything from caddis, spinners, BWOs, ants, and our number one hatch breaker: The Beetle. Yup we love the beetle. The one pattern nobody uses. Thank you. Now move along.

Small streams. You know about our addiction to the thin blue lines. Dry all day. Terrestrials rocking right now. Black berries as a stream side bonus. Three weights getting bent. Orvis Super Fine Fiberglass finding a niche in the lineup.

September dates are filling up quickly and will be gone before you can say "Where did summer go?" Get the most out of the rest of this season and prepare for the best of the rest.

Friday, July 25, 2014

July Stuff.

It's summer and we fill the days as best we can. We offer the following; Half day wade trips either wicked early or we stay wicked late. Both about equal in terms of success. Evenings tend to have a spinner fall right around "I can't see shit" thirty.

 Full day small stream trips for one person. Perfect for the small rod dry fly guy or gal. One to three streams per day depending on location. Native brookies from parr to ten inches the norm. Plus a few surprise large guests one would not expect.

Introductory spey casting lessons. July and August are a great time to learn the basics of spey casting. With a solid month of practice you will be ready to fish the fall with confidence. Our teaching method focuses on developing solid skills to actually catch fish. That's kind of the whole idea behind using a spey rod. Many have forgotten that point and are completely geeked out about the cast only.

Summer is the time we fish the other side of the clock personally. Starting anywhere between 1-3 a.m. We seek the predators seldom seen during the day. Large articulated streamers, mice patterns, waking bombers and large foam creations round out the fly selection. Being very familiar with the terrain helps as does not being afraid of the dark. It's a totally different world on the river at night. More on this later. I've got to get up in a few hours to do another night hunt.


Thursday, July 10, 2014

Tenkara Review.

This past May and June we were given the opportunity to try out two Tenkara rods from Patagonia. We jumped at the chance and quickly came to realize that these rods just might be the best teaching tool for fishing available. Ever.

 We see a large number of beginner anglers every season and the one common weakness they all share is casting a fly. We've been to numerous casting instructor clinics over the years and have gained a great deal of help in connecting the student with the cast. None have been easier then the Tenkara rod. Why? A fixed length of line is an asset. You can only cast that length so you are never trying to gain distance. Anglers love to throw long for no apparent reason. Personally we like to catch fish, in close, without much effort. The weight of these rods in the hand also lends to less fatigue and over gripping. Two common problems novice casters develop early on.

The best part of the Tenkara style from a guide's point of view is you can get people into fish very quickly. Having a client succeed within a half hour or less is a huge confidence booster. Almost every scenario/technique was a downstream wet fly swing. I'll choose this technique over nymphing almost every time. It's easy. It teaches one to read water. It's a simple cast and mend. And it works. It works even better with a Tenkara rod. (Never thought I'd say that after swinging flies for twenty years with everything from a light four weight to a 13' spey rod). We've always prescribed to leave the client with more than they came in with. Meaning when I guide I don't set up a nymph/bobber rig, rack up numbers and blow smoke. Teaching a beginning angler to fish well on their own is the goal. Good guides want clients to turn into good anglers. Tenkara lends itself to learning very well.

 The huge advantage of Tenkara is the one truth in fly fishing. The longer your fly is on the water the better your chances of actually catching a fish are. Pretty simple rule. Drifts with a Tenkara are longer due to it's overall length and the complete control one has over the line, leader and fly or flies. The whole idea behind this pastime is to catch fish as the great author/illustrator/climber/fly dude Sheridan Anderson once said.

A few highlights:

Wet Fly: Just awesome. Easy, fun and simple. Take a step back and introduce yourself to the soft hackle. You will wonder why you have so many flies in your collection. Four or five patterns will cover you for most of the season. Imagine that. Just a few flies. Not Tenkara style flies either. The old school soft hackles that have been around since dirt.

Nymphs: Czech style. One or two patterns. No indicator. Complete drift and depth control. High sticking with a 10'6" rod is easy due to having no reel, line or backing to hold up during the drift. Very sensitive to delicate takes and hook sets are faster due to having no junk(split shot, indicator) to slow the set down.

Dries: Tied with the wets for first place. Unbelievable drifts combined with easy accurate presentations and one can become a Shop Vac. Super fun and productive. We threw from size 10 to 18 with equal results.

Streamers: The one aspect I did not really like. To be honest I concentrated on the above techniques and was so successful I felt I didn't need to delve into the streamer game.

The question most have is how do I land a fish. It's pretty easy with fish under 12". Simply tire them out quickly and hand line them in. My two best tests resulted in me having complete confidence in the system. The first test was a double hook up of two 12"-13" brook trout . Took my time and scooped both up in the net. The other test was a 17" landlocked salmon that jumped four times with an added tail walk for good measure. I simply waded toward skinnier water and released the salmon easily. Using a Ketchum Release Tool eliminates the need to handle fish and is a great addition to a Tenkara system. I figured those two scenarios were all I needed to figure out the Tenkara fish fighting/release game.

What about larger fish say in the 18"-22" range? I'll hopefully be the first to let you know.

Is Tenkara the last word on fishing? No. Neither are spey or switch rods or fiberglass one handers. What Tenkara does do better than any other type of equipment is enable a novice angler to be able to fish on their own with confidence. Also not being burdened with tons of unnecessary equipment and trinkets. What it does for the experienced angler is provide an effective tool to simply fish with. There is a lot more to that last sentence. Try it and see for yourself.

If you're interested in learning more I highly recommend 'Simple Fly Fishing Techniques For Tenkara And Rod And Reel'. Available at Patagonia. The wisdom within is well worth your time. Don't get all Tenkarygeeky (new word for Wikepedia) like what has happened to the spey world. Just simply fish for the pure joy of it. Much like skiing, climbing, trail running and other numerous activities that have gotten soul less at times. Keep it simple.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

The Fourth.

The feel of summer is here. Long hot days, afternoon thunder showers and life lived by the alarm clock. If you are booking a trip and you don't want to get up early or stay out late you are setting yourself up for disappointment. We won't book futile trips or the make lemonade out of lemon b.s. smallmouth bass sessions. I'll take that back we do smallmouth bass trips. Ours are a bit specialized. We hunt down, catch and kill everyone of these illegally stocked vermin where legal. We call it our blood lust special. Call for further details.

Small streams are very good right now. Especially for the DFO angler in search of solitude and wild natives. Foam fly patterns, caddis and terrestrial bugs getting it done. The Fire Engine Ant the top searcher this week.

Large waters require some work. Feeling lazy? Don't go there. Wading is doable and productive if one is willing to work. Tough nymphing, tougher streamer work. Dry fly getting the smack on the FIRST cast. Your best cast. The FIRST. We observe numerous anglers over the season. One thing becomes clear after about the second month and it's this. People love to pound water, cast endlessly and not change anything! For the love of God change something! The key to playing a seasonal game is to change incrementally with the season. Example: We are seeing the end of an awesome Golden Stonefly run (another in September, Don't you just hate missing out, this guide is a jerk), the Alder fly emergence is about to erupt. We are looking forward to the change. Watching those size eights getting the eat really gets old.
Summer requires certain ideas and techniques. Here are some random tips for a very enjoyable summer season: Fresh headlamp batteries, working alarm clock, small indicators, midge nymphs, stay hydrated, swim after fishing the pool, canned adult beverages take up less room than breakable bottles, large foamy pink and purple dry flies work, never underestimate the power of the BuzzBall, Mouse season is now, 5X, wet wading rules, nothing breathes well when it's 90 degrees, snorkel a run for an eye opening experience, midday naps keep you fresh for the long night ahead, mowing the lawn sucks, that's why there is a rabbit symbol on the throttle, use it, book now for a summer or fall date or dates, kill every bass you catch (where legal of course), travel light and fish at least one small intimate piece of water this season.