Monday, October 31, 2011

Have a Spooktacular Halloween!

Halloween is one of the greatest days of the year on any kids calender and I just wanted to wish everyone a night filled with ghosts, ghouls, and lots of candy!  For all of the adults who may be driving to and fro tonight, just a reminder, take it slow.  With dreams of snickers bars and peanut butter cups dancing in their heads the little ones might be running from house to house with reckless abandon.  I hope everyone has a safe and Happy Halloween.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The FrankenBug

The FrankenBug, green
With Halloween right around the corner I thought this post might be appropriate.  I'm always scribbling down ideas for new variants of sakasa kebari.  Sometimes I start tying the image of the fly as I can picture it in my head but wind up giving up part way through due to the difficulties in tying the fly or the plain ugliness of it.  Sometimes, however, I think I hit upon a good idea.  Many of my best flies are actually combinations of the best features of other flies.  I think this fly fits that idea. I have tied two different versions (green and orange) and I call them "FrankenBugs."  Mary Shelley's classic monster was made of parts from other humans.  This fly is actually composed of three separate flies tied together.  The first part is clearly sakasa kebari with it's reverse hackled partridge feather.  The central part of the body is essentially a killer bug as the TenkaraBum Chris Stewart ties it.  The third and last part consists of green or orange antron fibers surrounding the killer bug body.  This is much like Gary LaFontaine would tie a Sparkle Pupa.

The FrankenBug, orange

What will trout think of it?  Who knows but with the trigger points such as the life-like hackle, the meaty protein rich-looking center body and the antron fibers creating air bubbles I might just catch a few fish with it.  With the season slowing down in many places, I may have to wait till next year to give this fly a full workout but when I do I hope to have good results to report .  For anyone interested I have posted the recipe for this fly below.

The FrankenBug

Hook: Mustad R50-98480 dry fly, size #14

Thread: Pearsall's gossamer silk thread, brown

Hackle: Hungarian partridge

Body: underbody of fine copper wire and Shetland's Spindrift wool (sand color)

colored with a prismicolor marker (sand color) This part is tied like a killer bug.

The overbody is a loose grouping of orange or green antron fibers tied in at the rear of the hook

and folded over to be tied in at the front of the hook.

Monday, October 17, 2011


The Peterskill
An anniversary's purpose is to mark the passage of time.  We all feel the need to mark or note important points in our lives such as birth, death, weddings, tragedies, triumphs, etc.  I personally can not explain why we, as a species, do this but I guess it's a need we all have that stretches far back into time.  I do understand and appreciate the need to mark time in other ways such as what hour, day, or season it is.  These time points have a direct bearing on how we interact with each other and our surroundings on a daily basis.

An Autumn walk through Minnewaska State Park Preserve, NY
I personally like to mark the passage of the seasons.  It helps me to appreciate the beauty of all that surrounds us.  It also helps to remind us that life is finite.  Take in all that is around you for you will only pass this way once and that even during the cyclical changes that occur year in and year out you will never experience the exact same day twice.  A few days ago was the one year anniversary of this blog.  I didn't celebrate it with a lot of hoopla or noise, I simply made a note of it.  Though I had different intentions when I set out on this trail (the blogging trail), I have come to enjoy your company(all of you) and am thankful for the chance to keep doing so.

Awosting Falls, Minnewaska State Park Preserve, NY

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Marcy Dam Mayhem (MDM Bucktail)

Marcy Dam Mayhem
As a post script to my Adirondack trip I am posting about a fly that I designed and had intended to use to catch brook trout at Marcy Dam.  I have recently (sort of) become very interested in bucktail flies and streamers, esp. those created by Carrie Stevens.  I wanted to create a pattern that would be effective and that I could later write landed me a number of fish.  I would have liked to say that I caused a lot of "mayhem" among the local brook trout at Marcy Dam but if you read my post regarding my trip it's somewhat hard to catch fish from a pond that for all intensive purposes no longer exists!  But I digress...and present the recipe for anyone who may be interested in trying it out.

Marcy Dam Mayhem

Hook: Mustad R75-79580 streamer hook, size 12
Thread: 6/0 Uni-Thread, black
Body: Uni-floss, orange-overlaid with peacock herl (secured with wire rib)
Rib: fine gold wire
Tail: golden pheasant tippet
Throat: Red bucktail
Wing: White bucktail

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

October Is A Time For Fall Colors and Punk Rock

The Punk Rock Sakasa Kebari

When I go fly fishing I generally only like to fish flies that I have tied myself.  There is a certain extra sense of satisfaction I get from knowing that a fish brought to hand was done so with a fly I tied.  However, every once in a while I see a fly that I would like to fish and I propose a "mini swap" with the creator of the interesting fly.  A few weeks ago I saw just such a fly.  The Punk Rock Sakasa Kebari is the creation of Ashley Valentine of  Ashley (generously) offered to send anyone some of her flies to try out and give their feedback. I immediately proposed a mini-swap and Ashley and I exchanged some flies.  This past weekend was my first opportunity to go fishing since receiving them.

With my 11' Iwana in hand and only a some Punk Rock's and some of my own Royal Sakasa Kebari's I hit the trail to have a little outdoor enjoyment.  The effects of Hurricane Irene are still plainly visible  along many streams in the Hudson Valley and after last weeks "adventure" in the Adirondacks  I wonder if I was going to have similar luck.  After a few casts....nothing was biting so I moved onto the next pool.  This was repeated several times and I began to think "come on! not again!"  Then I felt the first little tug and my attitude changed.  Within a few minutes I had my first brookie.

First Brookie on a PRSK
It didn't take very long before I had several more.  I'm pleased to say the Punk Rock Sakasa Kebari performed very well.  In fact I finished out the rest of the outing without changing to any of my flies.  I also like the fly for aesthetic reasons.  Like Tenkara, the fly is a simple tie consisting of hook, an olive colored thread body and a purple starling hackle that has great motion in the water.  When wet the colors are very "life-like."  Ashley only began tying a couple of months ago but I believe she is well on her way to becoming a very good fly tier. 

I love catching these guys!
Bottom line...If you can only have a couple of flies in your box, this is probably a good pattern to have.  Going fishing is always a kind of highlight to any weekend for me but nothing beats spending it with my wife and the two little angels.

Alina and Bella enjoying some hot apple cider donuts at the orchard
I ask you, what could be a better weekend then spending time with family, going on hayrides, visiting pumpkin patches, enjoying cider and donuts and catching brook trout?

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The Power of Nature

Near the headwaters of the West Branch of the Ausable River, Adirondacks New York

When I thought about writing this post I thought it was going to be filled with pictures of Adirondack foliage at peak color and tales of a wilderness experience that included cooking freshly caught brook trout over an open campfire.  It's funny how nature had a different experience in mind for me.  For years I have made an annual pilgrimage to the Adirondack mountains in upstate New York to enjoy the great north woods.  The last few years the trips have been spotty for one reason or another including the birth of my children but this year I got the green light to go for a weekend.  Keep in mind to drive to the high peaks area from Long Island is about  6 1/2 hours.

Marcy Brook downstream of Marcy Dam

So with the jeep packed with gear I headed out at 4am this past Saturday.  I had been keeping an eye on the weather for the last few days leading up to the trip and there was a 40% chance of rain for the weekend...not too bad.  To make a long story short, the rain varied between drizzle and downpour the ENTIRE time!  I'm pretty sure that would have been a 100% chance.  That was Nature's first little surprise for me.  Maybe I should have thought something was up on the drive up the NYS
Thruway.  The Thruway crosses many little rivers and streams along the way and all of them (The Roundout, the Wallkill, Catskill Creek, The Esopus, The Mohawk River, and Hudson) were very high and the color of coffee with heavy amounts of cream in them.  Upon arrival, my first plan was to hike  several miles to Marcy Dam to fish the brook and pond for some brook trout.  After a while sloshing through the mud I arrived to find NO POND!  Mother Nature's second surprise for me was the result of Hurricane Irene.  The tremendous rain from the storm blew out the dam and drained the pond (along with my brookies).
Marcy Dam with the top portion and the walkway gone.

The pond was reduced to a trickle draining through the middle. I had brought my Tenkara Iwana rod with me and fished in the brook below the dam without a single nibble.  The picture above probably explains why.  I was told by a fellow hiker that there were around 27 new slides on the surrounding mountains.  I wouldn't know...another of Nature's surprises was heavy fog which prevented me from seeing any scenery beyond a a couple of hundred yards.

Twisted walkway with debris piled against it along the trail.
The hike, while cold and wet, was nice and I did see a mink while fishing, which was pretty cool.  The first day was a bust and I was hoping day two would be more productive.  I figured if it wasn't then I would start the long drive home on the early side.  I have always wanted to fish the West Branch of the Ausable River and that was day 2's plan.

West Branch Ausable River just downstream of the bridge crossing the Adirondack Loj Road.
In the morning, with continuing rain, I put on my waders grabbed my Iwana and headed down the banks and into the river.  I chose to fish the upper portions of the river near it's beginning because I am always more interested in brookies and a smaller stream experience.  The water was high and very stained.  I ran through every fly available to me and not a single bite could be felt nor rise be seen.  With the conditions I guess I should not have been surprised. So after only 2 hours I threw my hands up in the air and audibly said "I give up!"

 I love coming to these mountains and taking in everything about them.  The only thing I could take home from this trip is that no matter how big or important people may feel they are they are always going to be at the mercy of the power of Nature.  When Hurricane Irene came through Long Island it left us without power for a week and a massive mess of downed trees and power lines.  I never thought for a minute I would still feel it's effects months later on the other side of NY State.  Lesson learned.  That's the power of Nature for you!

Roaring Brook Falls from Rt 73