Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Clear water during the melt

The weather two weekends ago was pretty amazing. It was about 60 degrees and there wasn’t much snow in sight. I wanted to get out and fish but I was afraid the water would be really off color and super high. I decided to head out to my favorite brook trout stream that I thought would clear the fastest of any nearby. I was right, the water was clear but not as clear as it has been. I have seen it so clear you might re-think what a clear gin might look like. I could still make out the blue spots on the side of brooks in the calm pools. Stealth is key on this stream but since there are fish pretty much everywhere it is almost impossible to walk up to the stream and not spook something. The best bet it to find the plunge pools or faster riffles and start as far back as you can. I thought nymphing would be my best bet so I didn’t even bring my custom 6’6” Lamiglass small stream rod. Besides, there were intermittent wind gusts that would really test my patience later. I had a 3wt loaded with my new Shark Skin line and a 6x 9' leader. I tied on 18” of 6x tippet and thought I would give a Royal Wulff a try. My first cast landed about 2 feet from the really rough water in a plunge pool and instantly the water erupted around it. Wow, it must have been a long winter for these little guys. I pulled in a nice 7 incher.

It was a little tricky getting used to the new line. All this shooting slickness and floating was a little strange after fishing with my 3 year old Mastery SA line with the first 3’ converted to and intermediate sink tip due to excessive use.
I fished a few more spots up stream and circled back to a spot I never really had any luck in. It looks really good but I never really hooked a lot of fish there.

I switched to a Parachute Adams #18 and got a hit right away. I ended up landing about 10 fish from that spot and a few nice sized 10” fish.

There was no consistent hatch but I did see quite a few fish feed on the surface over the course of the day. There were midges and something else bigger I didn’t get a look at but was likely a Baetis (Blue Winged Olive). Maybe even a size 16. Pretty big for March but it was 60 degrees outside which is pretty unlike March. Funny thing was, I never even had to switch to something specific on top to get strikes. I love brook trout. You know it’s a good day when you stop setting the hook on fish you think are too small. The wind finally got the best of me and I was struggling to even hit the stream when gusts would pick up. I took down my rod and headed up stream to a section I haven’t fished to scout it out for next time. There were a few cars parked and maybe three guys fishing up there. I hadn’t seen anyone besides hikers all day. I kept my distance and watched for a minute. The first guy I saw was launching perfect loops and seemed to be in compete control. I hope that is what I look like out there but doubt it. They guys walked back my way and one of them looked a lot like Andy from the graygoat.com. It was him, we talked for a minute. What a nice guy. I thanked him for updating conditions and providing such great info about Minnesota and Wisconsin fly fishing. Cheers Andy!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

WS season opener

I fished the Wisconsin trout opener two Saturdays ago. I went to, probably, the most crowded worst place to go for the opener, the lower Kinny. I couldn’t get out until about 1 in the afternoon and when I got to the lot at the park there were a group of guys getting ready to head out. There were three of them and I asked if they had any luck earlier (they were wearing waders when they got out of the truck). The bigger guy in the very nice Sims waders said they did okay over on the Rush in the morning. All three guys had fly rods, one had a nice lab tagging along. At this point I reailzed it was going to be a rough day. I forgot my reel with 3wt line and only had my reel with 5wt. Yep, only brought the 3 wt rod. I strung it up anyway, I wasn't going to let a 2 size overweight line ruin my first day out. I realized I’m not going through leaders like I used to. I had at least 8 feet left on a nine footer from last season. I’m pretty poor and I don’t tie my own leaders (see tying leaders and throwing beer cans, a previous post) so I used it anyway. I tied on about 18 inches of 6x and a trusty pink squirrel. I stated the walk out to my favorite spot knowing that if there weren’t three guys and a dog there someone would be for sure. The walk down was interesting. The ground was still mostly snow covered and I have felt soled wading boots because that is really all they sold when I got mine. They suck in the winter. I can’t afford $150 bucks for a new pair of boots so I fall a lot in and try not to break my rod for the third time (thank god for the Winston guarantee (calm down, I only have a $200 Ascent and it has the same warranty as the big boy rods).

There was a guy in my favorite spot so I headed down farther, two more guys in spots I usually skip. Hmmm, bad sign. I kept walking and found the three guys with the dog. They were standing about waist deep in about the middle of a spot I usually cast to, not wade in. Much to my chagrin, one of them hooked up and landed a fish as I was taking a few pictures up stream.

I had to walk out quite a ways and finally found some good water. I hadn’t fished the spot I started at and was happy to find it. Crowds are good for something. It was a little fast for early season, I’ll have to come back when the water warms a little and the fish get some energy back. Browns are notorious for laying back in the calmer water in pools. I caught one on the squirrel and moved on.

I switched to a bead head prince nymph (all #16s) and fished another spot just down from the three guys who were still, amazingly after 1 and a half hours, catching fish in the same spot. Life is not always fair.

I moved back past the crowd and walked back over to my favorite spot and, thankfully, a guy was just leaving. I moved in and decided I would give the old two nymph rig another chance. I tied on a size 18 orange scud to the bend of my bead head prince. Once I did that the action really started. I caught 5 in about 45 minutes. Two small fish on the scud and 3 bigger ones on the prince.

I’m not sure it always works out that the bigger fish go after bigger flies but it happens more often than not. The two nymph rig is the way to go. I had no trouble casting it and had no tangles. As long as the taper is set up right its easy. ~7.5 feet of tapered 5x leader-BH prince nymph-18 inches of 6x-scud. Overall, it was a good day. The weather was warm for March and the fish were biting.