Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Birds and the Kebar-B's

Sakasa Kebar-B
Spring has arrived here in the northeast and it's signs are all around us.  The red maple's seeds are growing larger and leaf buds have broken.  Common violets are in bloom in the front yard.  And bird song is louder and more prevalent each day.  On the water, various mayflies are hatching and ospreys can be seen snatching a meal of brown trout from the various lakes and streams here on the island.

An osprey on a nesting platform
Another common sign of spring is the low hum of bees busily going about their lives.  A little while back I tied a different sakasa kebari I call a Sakasa Kebari-B and thought this would be an appropriate time to do a little post about it.  I wasn't looking to imitate any specific species in the order Hymenoptera, just a general "bee-like" pattern.  I'm hoping that the yellow-black contrast will be some-what enticing.  But I guess I will that judgement up to the experts with fins.

Sakasa Kebar-B
Hook: Mustad C49S scud hook #12
Hackle: Hungarian partridge
Body: Black uni-thread 6/0 and Pearsall's Yellow silk thread 

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Marmota monax Meets Mr. Kebari

Chuck's Sakasa Kebari
When I was growing up there was never an abundance of mammals to be found in my yard.  There were a few chipmunks, a rabbit or two, and the occasional deer, raccoon, or skunk passing through.  The one animal sure to be there year in and year out was Marmota monax, also known as the woodchuck (or ground hog depending on where your from).  There was always a family of woodchuck's living at the edge of the property in the backyard.  They tended to stay there too, happily munching on grass.  Occasionally they would make a foray closer to the house for a snack they would upset my Dad.  But I always enjoyed them.  I was thinking a little the other day after re-reading some old posts on the forum at TenkaraUSA.  One of the forum members is tying flies based only on locally found materials such as feathers and fur.  That got me thinking what flies I could do.  At almost the same time I happened to also be reading through Fran Better's Fly Tying Guide and there it was....the woodchuck.  Fran used to use woodchuck guard hairs for tails in his Ausable Wulffs and bombers.  He also suggested it could be used for Usuals.  Since I already had a patch of woodchuck that I used for tails on my Ausable Kebari, I though I would give this fly tying material a try on some different flies. 

A Chuck's Sakasa Kebari & a Usual made from only woodchuck

I think the Chuck's Sakasa Kebari is very similar to my Ausable Kebari.  However, I think using woodchuck, instead of Australian opossum, for the body may give not only different floatation properties but it also gives the fly a "buggier" appearance.  The woodchuck Usual certainly looks like a different colored Usual but will it float like the original?  I guess I will just have to go out and spend a couple of hours surveying some trout.  What a chore that will be!  I like the way these flies came out and look forward to more experimentation with this great material.  I guess the next time I visit my parents and go out into the back yard I will have a new found appreciation for this member of the squirrel family and have to wonder to myself.....How many flies could a fly tier tie, if a fly tier could tie flies from a single woodchuck?

Monday, April 18, 2011

A Thing of Beauty

First Rainbow.
 You may have thought this post would be about the trout I love to chase more than any other, the brook trout. However, I wanted to place the spot light on a fish I had an early infatuation with.  I grew up fishing warm water with worms and spinner's and was quite happy with it too.  But after a trip with my grandfather to a local mall and seeing a tank full of beautiful rainbow trout, I was determined to catch one of those fish someday.  Problem is that rainbows are not native to NY and many of the places I fished would not support stockies either.  So the dream of catching one always remained in a dark little corner at the back of my brain. Last year I read a very interesting book on this beautiful trout titled "An Entirely Synthetic Fish."  Even though I read quite a bit I don't usually do "book reviews"  but I picked this book up and thought it was an excellent read.  I would definitely recommend it to anyone who loves these fish, ecology, or just an interesting story.  The one thing the book also did for me was to spark my interest again for catching rainbows.  Up to this point I brookies and browns have been my thing but yesterday the rainbows reigned supreme.  I headed to White's Pool on the Nissequogue River and found it really crowded.  Me and my Tenkara rod found a small section along the left wall of the pool and went to work.  Everyone else was using spin gear and I got a few funny looks and some questions but was generally left alone.  After awhile I saw those other guys pull in one brown or brookie after another and began to wonder if I should go back for my spin gear but I like my tenkara and decided to stick with it.  Good thing too, after a half hour I hauled in my first rainbow, then another, then another, etc.  They averaged 9-10", small by the standards of many and not wild, but each gave a spirted fight.  The last one gave me a memory I won't soon forget.  After hooking up this little guy he began to put on an aerial display.  Most fish I catch kind of thrash at the surface but this guy was special.  Three times he broke the surface and launched himself 2-3 feet above the water and as gracefully as possible(it that is even possible to do it gracefully) tried to throw the hook.  In my opinion, it was spectacular and a great way to end the morning.  As I waded back down the river I remembered how as a kid I always wanted to catch a rainbow.  When I think about, a day like that made the wait worth it.  I will always remember my first brook trout and brown trout, where I was and what I caught them with.  Now I have the memory of my first rainbows to go with them.

Friday, April 15, 2011

And Second Place Goes To........

Updated version of the Bubble Kebari
 Well, as a many of you may already know, one of my entries into the Montana Fly Company's contest placed 2nd!  I found out last Friday through an e-mail by a  fellow outdoor blogger and Tenkara angler ,which started my weekend off on a good note.  I must say, I'm still pretty happy about it and want to thank everyone who has said such nice things about my Bubble Kebari and how it placed.  And to be honest, after perusing through many of the other flies entered and the fact that a sakasa kebari style fly is on the fringes of all the kinds of flies being tied here in the US, I didn't think it had a chance.  Many of the other flies that I saw were outstanding and deserve a place somewhere in MFC's catalog. 

I also want to thank The Montana Fly Company and The Outdoor Blogger Network for this opportunity.
I had a lot of fun tying the flies and participating in the contest.  If you get the chance, try and check out the MFC, they offer an outstanding selection of flies (Disclaimer:  No, they didn't pay me to say that.  But they really do have some cool stuff).

Other Bubble Kebari's
However, despite how well the fly did, I have decided to update the Bubble Kebari a little.  I have always used silver mylar tinsel wrapped like a collar for the "bubble."  I like the look of it but I hate working with mylar tinsel.  One mistake and the whole damn thing unravels itself.  I have decided (after the suggestion has been made a couple of times) to use a small silver lined fly tyers glass bead. I like the way it looks alot but it's a bit heavier.  I guess if I want to keep the fly real high in the water column I will do it the old way but I really can't wait to give these newer versions a try. Overall this was a very positive experience and I look forward to trying it again.  The most gratifying aspect, to me at least, is to know that someone or several people out there find value in the flies that I have tied and that when they hold up some nice brookie or brown trout or whatever my fly is the one hanging from it's mouth.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Spider Kebari

What the heck is it?
So last night I'm sitting at the tying bench (a.k.a. my snack try table) and I'm trying to think up something new when I came up with the "thing" pictured above.  I have been tying a lot of North Country Spiders lately and wanted to go back to doing some sakasa kebari.  Sometimes I find that when I start out with a idea or destination in mind I wind up somewhere else.  That's what happened here.  I wanted to tie a s.k. that would incorporate deer hair....something like a cased caddis that I could use on still water that would float right in the surface film.  In addition, having the reverse hackle, little tugs and twitches could give it some life.  The fly above doesn't quite match the image I had picture in my head but it might work all the same.  The more I stared at it the more I realized it looked like an orb spider, sort of like a banded garden spider that is common out in the backyard.  So I call this fly a "Spider Kebari."  Spiders may not be a main staple in a trouts diet but I'm sure a few get picked off here and there and they are definitely found near water edges.  As the season goes on I guess I find out if it works or not.  It's kind of funny how, at first, I thought I had just wasted my time (and my first attempt at spinning deer hair) but after looking at this guy for a's kind of grown on me. 
Spider Kebari
Hook: #12 Mustad C49S
Thread: Uni-Thread 6/0, Olive
Hackle: Hungarian partridge
Body: Coastal deer hair, bleached

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The Nissequogue River and White's Pool

View of Beat #3 on the Nissequogue River, Caleb Smith State Park
Now that trout season has officially begun in New York, I thought I would, now and again, do a post that would highlight some of the places I tend to fish. In today's post I thought describing the Nissequogue River on Long Island would be a good idea.  The Nissequogue begins as a series of natural springs that merge and flow north, through Caleb Smith State Park, towards the Long Island Sound.  It can best be described as a spring creek.  It is one of Long Island's premier trout streams (along with the Connetquot and Carmens River) and has a long history.  For much of it's history (at least since colonial days) much of it has been held in private hands or by gentleman's hunting and fishing clubs.  Currently, it is run as a NYS park.  What's kind of neat about it is it is run much like an English chalk stream. There is a "beat system" to it.  Anglers make a reservation for a particular beat and for a 4 hour period will have one section of the river entirely to themselves.  Long Island is known for it's salt water fishing but believe me the fresh water options can be pretty crowded at times and this beat system can make for a very relaxing fishing trip.

Man made structures present in places to create fishing spots
 The river is at times stocked with Browns, Rainbows, and Brookies.  However, there is natural reproduction of browns and brookies, which is nice.  Some of the trout can reach impressive proportions and make this a place worth visiting if your in the area.  I fished beats 3 and 7 last Saturday afternoon and was surprised to find only one other angler and myself on the river.  That is very unusual for opening weekend.  But the fact that I (and the other angler) couldn't seem to even scare up some fish may have had something to do with that.  Fishermen in the morning session seemed to have had better luck.  There was also a decent hatch of March Browns coming off the water and no trout rising to them.  Well it was still very nice to be out on the water.

White's Pool
To try and save a little face I headed over to White's Pool to try my luck there.  White's Pool is another favorite place of mine to fish. The pool is the head of the tidal portion of the river.  It's also just downstream of the last beat in the state park.  What's interesting about the pool is that because it's tidal and has brackish water you can catch anything from three kinds of trout, bluegill, largemouth bass, yellow perch to saltwater fish like striped bass and snappers (baby bluefish). 

Looking downstream of White's Pool
When I arrived late in the afternoon, I put my Tenkara rod aside and elected to use my ultra-light spin out fit and some Mepps spinners, just for a change of pace.  I'm glad I did.  Within minutes I had a 12" brookie in my net with a Mepps Thunderbug hanging from it's jaw. 

A nice Brook Trout
For the next 40 minutes it was several casts and a hit, several more casts then another brookie, etc.  All brookies were averaging about 12" so I figure they might be stockies.  A biologist at the DEC informed me that that was exactly what they were and that they probably came from the park I had just left!  This was a pleasant way to end the day.  With two trips under my belt, this season is starting out the way I hoped it would.

Another nice brookie

Sunday, April 3, 2011

At Last!

First Brookie of 2011
  Year in and year out, I enjoy watching the cyclical progression of the seasons.  Fall is followed by winter.  Winter is always followed by spring and then trout season and then finally summer.  That right, on my calander there are 5 seasons!  And Trout Season is here at last!  Actually on Long Island there is no closed season for trout in many places but if I want to catch wild brookies I have to wait till April like most every one else in NY.  After a long winter I could look for a place to catch the biggest and fattest fish I could find but I actually prefer the solitude of the woods with a small bubbling brook and the chance for wild brook trout.

This year has started off on a good note.  Despite the cool weather and the water running a little high in places I managed to bring a few nice little brookies to hand.  Just to be out on the water and casting around would have been enough for me but the trout made it extra nice.

Brookie #2

Another brookie with a mouth full of Ausable Kebari
I also elected to use only one pattern on this trip.  One fly I have eagerly been waiting to try is my Ausable Kebari.  I have sent some of these flies to other anglers and have been glad to hear they have done well with them.  This fly will probably never reach the mythical status of an Adams dry or Royal Wulff but I still find it very cool to know there are some anglers out there who will land a nice fish with a fly that I tied.

All and all it was a very nice first outing of the season and I look forward with great anticipation to the coming days when I can get outside and spend some time pursing one of my favorite activities.