Sunday, April 29, 2012

A Good Day and Comments On The "One-Fly"

First brookie of the day
Today was a good day.  It began with a quick trip to White's Pool on the Nissequogue River to do a little bit of  fishing before breakfast. The trip was worth it as I picked up a pair of brook trout to get off to a good start.  However, as the morning progressed, I hooked a few other "surprises."  Using a #14 Killer Bug (the same used to catch the brookies) I caught a handful of shad (alewife).

Largest shad (alewife) of the morning
Shad (alewife) are a nice change of pace from some of the other fish I usually catch.  The best part is they are great fighters.  The one pictured above put on a nice aerial display.  It was a good start to the day.  At this point, I want to make a comment about the "one-fly" approach used by many tenkara anglers.  For those readers who are not familiar with traditional tenkara, the one-fly approach is a method of fishing in which the angler uses only one type of fly for all of their fishing.  The type of water fished or the hatch that may be coming off are not important.  The philosophy being that the anglers skills and presentation are perfected to a point where fly choice becomes irrelevant.  I love the concept and have been trying to work my ways towards it by reducing the choices available (I'm an average angler for the most part).  However, I think if you are going to carry one fly box with one type of fly, why not carry just a few extra of some other type just in case?  I have fished White's Pool a number of times this year and have found the "one-fly" approach to work like a charm.  However, each time I have fished the "one-fly" has been a different fly!  I have used the same three flies in each trip...a #12 bead-head Royal Sakasa Kebari, a #14 Killer Bug, and a #10 olive woolly bugger. Each time only one particular fly catches all my fish for the day and only one.  Today it was the Killer Bug that did the trick.  The last trip was the woolly bugger.

I may be working towards a "one-fly" approach but I'm glad I haven't gotten there yet.  Having a little selection has proved to be the difference between a number of successful trips and one out of three trips being successful.  It's just my opinion but I think many anglers could benefit from a reduced selection in the old fly box.  Less time tying and choosing flies means more time with a hook in the water.

Stream side flower
Pool just up ahead
But I digress.....I was saying it was a good day. After fishing what more could a dad ask for but to spend a beautiful day outside with his family.  The kids and I started a little garden project today.
After visiting a local nursery we brought home a variety of seeds and seedlings to start our garden.  It was a little chaotic but in the end the plants were planted and watered.  We even had time to mark one of my favorite phenological events of the season...the first Baltimore Oriole.  Their appearance, like a clock tells me it's the last week of April every year.  I think it's important to do such things with kids to get them outside and give them a better appreciation of Nature and the work that goes into getting food onto the table and marking the changes of the seasons.  Hopefully, it will lay a foundation for some valuable lessons or at least bring back fond memories when they reach adulthood.  Like I said....It was a good day.

My garden buddies

Friday, April 27, 2012

The Fly That Started It All

The Orange Partridge
If you are a frequent visitor to my blog or just happened to stumble upon it, one thing becomes abundantly clear...I have "a thing" for sakasa kebari.  As one peruses through these pages, they will find this site littered with sakasa kebari of all sorts (and contrary to popular belief I can tie all manner of flies).  The truth is, they were not my first love...that is strictly speaking fishing flies of course.  The flies I first became enamored with were the North Country Spiders and soft-hackled flies.  When I began fly fishing three years ago I began my search for the flies I would use before I even purchased a rod.  After reading several books (specifically, Sylvester Neme's books) and searching the net I found some flies that would fit the bill for being a cinch to tie for a beginner, not cost an arm and a leg to make, and be effective.  North Country soft-hackles, such as the Partridge & Orange (or Orange Partridge, as listed in T.E. Pritt's 1886 book North Country Flies) met all of those criteria.  I also have a "thing" for the rich tradition of fly fishing literature and history.  The P&O goes back a long long way ( another reason to use can you argue with such longevity?).  The P&O is a simple yet elegant fly.  It is a versatile fly and can be used to represent a number of aquatic insects from hatching nymphs to emergers to caddis pupa.  There are a number of variations that are tied with or without a gold rib and/or  hare's ear dubbing for a thorax (the one pictured above is tied as described in Pritt's book).  Which ever way it's works.  The only drawback I could find to these flies was that they needed to be fished in relatively fast water to give life to the hackle and that sometimes the hackle would collapse along the hook shank, negating the advantage some of the advantages. That is when I discovered the sakasa kebari, a fly with the versatility, effectiveness and a history as long as the P&O.  The main advantage of a SK over a P&O lies in the direction of hackle.  A forward facing hackle allows the fly to be manipulated by the angler in various ways to impart the illusion of life and not have to rely solely on the current.  And they are just as easy to tie as any classic North country Spider.  Now, SK's make up the majority of my fly box and flies that I fish.  I really love SK's but deep down there will always be a soft spot in my heart for for the P&O and it's brethren.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Amawalk Browns

First Amawalk Brown of the day
Sometimes you just need to be spontaneous.  After a rather long week at work and the fact there is finally a weekend on the family calendar without any major obligations, I decided at the last minute to head up to Westchester to fish a favorite stream of mine...Amawalk Outlet.  This stream is part of  New York City's water supply system and is regulated under "artificial only" rules.  To get there required getting up at 5am and driving an hour and a half from Long Island.  But it was worth it.  I managed to have large stretches of the stream to myself for several hours, not something I would often enjoy on Long Island.

Amawalk Outlet downstream of Woods Street Bridge
Caught a couple of browns right near this rock
In a "nutshell".... it was a pretty nice morning.  I managed to bring a half dozen healthy looking brown trout to hand and had a few LDR's.  All of them were taken on a size 14 Killer Bug.  On this stream, as well as a number of other streams in Westchester and Putnam counties, a Killer Bug is just about all you will ever need.    I did fish a couple of sakasa kebari, with a few bites and hook-ups here and there but the Killer Bug was the hands down winner.


In addition to the browns, there were a number of other stream-side residents present.  There was an abundance of midges and mayflies hatching, especially in the sunny patches.  Spring peepers could be heard in many areas along the stream.  Mallard ducks were swimming in several places and evidence of others that passed during the night could be seen everywhere.

Deer tracks
 In my opinion, a few hours stream-side is all I need to recharge my "batteries."  What better tonic could there be for stress relief than being able to stand knee deep in a cool mountain stream and hold such a beautiful work of Nature?

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Strike One, Strike Two, Strike Three...You're Trout!

Brookie number one.
I figured the title for today's post was appropriate for several reasons.  The beginning of April is the start of trout season as well as baseball season.  Admittedly, I am more excited about trout than baseball......I'm a Met  fan....that should say it all (yes, I will still admit to being a Met fan even after the last few years).  Another reason for the title is that my first three strikes at White's Pool were all brookies.  They were all around 12" and I suspect, like last spring, that they are stocked trout that made their way downstream on the Nissequogue River from Caleb Smith State Park.  But that doesn't matter they were still fun to catch.

Number two.
A few more small yellow perch rounded out my morning.  All fish were caught on my Yamame rod and a  small bead-head olive woolly bugger.  I drastically reduced my fly selection for fishing this year and after going through most of what was in my fly box the bugger was what did the trick.  I plan on working towards a "one-fly" approach but it's a day like today that keeps me from getting there.  In the end it doesn't matter how I fish (as long as it's legal) just as long as I get a chance to get out and enjoy myself.

And number three.

Sunday, April 1, 2012


April 1st.....Opening day of trout season in New York and another year on the calendar has passed.  I had planned on writing a post describing how I plucked a number of beautiful little brookies from an idyllic mountain stream.  However, the "angling gods" decided that was not to be my fate today.  I could have gone to any number of stocked streams looking for rainbows and browns but I wanted a small stream to myself pursuing my favorite quarry.

The day began grey and kind of raw.  The water was running clear but low, which may have had something to do with my luck (or lack of it).  Not a single bite on the day, in fact I only saw one brookie the whole morning.  So I decided to give up and explore a little.  The way I figure, just getting to spend some time outdoors I win anyway despite the lack of trout.  The little cascade pictured above actually drew me away from the trail for a photo opportunity.  I find the concept of serendipity fascinating and moments like this are exactly why.

While I was taking a few photos I couldn't help but notice the item pictured above at my feet.  Here was a deer scapula just sitting there and it got me thinking. The scapula was all that was left from a deer that had once roamed these woods.  I could not help but think that here amidst all of the signs of spring and rebirth and  renewal, signs of death and the end of various cycles were still present.

New spring buds
A dead hemlock means life for insects and in turn the woodpeckers who feed on them.
Newly emerging Canada Mayflowers
I may not have found what I was looking for on this first day of trout season but I was reminded or the continual cycles going on around us at all times and the wonder it inspires.  For that, I will always be grateful and never disappointed.....but a few trout will never hurt.