Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Have you ever forgotten your waders? Part II

Though my fishing trip (fortunately it was only going to be a half-day trip) ended as soon as I found out that I had forgotten my waders, I quickly developed a "Plan B".  I always have a small waterproof camera in my vest, but I realized that I also had one of my "pretty decent" cameras in the glove box. It's not a dSLR, but a high-performance compact camera I would happy to be my sole camera on vacation.

So, not wanting to go home right away, I decided I would enjoy a couple of hours along the river taking photos.  If I couldn't capture any fish, perhaps I could catch a "keeper" of a photo!

A beautiful building in Millers Falls.  It was completely vacant.

I found myself spending more time looking at the old mills and bridges than ever before. At this point today's post might be a bit OT (off topic) as mill town architecture and fly fishing don't exactly fit together.  But both deal with the life of the river.

Before the mills and dams, the Millers was filled with Atlantic salmon during their spawning runs.  The salmon would swim upstream from the Atlantic Ocean into the Connecticut River, which travels north through Connecticut, bisecting Massachusetts and then becoming the border between Vermont and New Hampshire.  Its flow starts in northern New Hampshire, in what are called the Connecticut Lakes.  The Millers River and the Deerfield River are the two biggest tributaries in Massachusetts.

The history here along the Millers is old and the towns were once filled with the economy of the paper mills and tanneries.  The water was polluted then, of course, just as it was in other areas of the country where raw waste was dumped into the river.  The water is "clean" now, but PCBs still exist in the bottom sediment.  Though the fish seem healthy, it is not wise to eat them as PCBs work their way up the food chain.

The three photos below were taken in Orange, MA.

I have caught every species of warm water fish imaginable below the dam to the left.  The trout fishery is quite a bit downstream (and also far upstream) from here.

Viewing upstream toward the dam.  (For those into photography, I took three identical photos at different exposures and combined them in photoshop to get this image, as I wanted a reasonable exposure of the dark buildings without overexposing the beautiful blue sky and puffy clouds.)

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Have you ever forgotten your waders? Part I

After my day of panfishing earlier this week (see the previous blog post) I decided today was the day to get out to the Millers River to find a few rainbows.  As usual, I packed the car and then ran through my mental checklist, starting with my feet and working up my body.  Here's how the routine checklist goes: boots, socks, waders, wader belt with wading stiff attached, fishing shirt, vest, raincoat, sunglasses, hat with flip-down focals.  I also have a bag with an extra set of clothes. 

I can't believe I mentally checked off "waders" and merrily drove off for the one hour trip to the river.

The only problem was that my waders were hanging in the garage where I'd left them to dry after the last trip.  And there was no way I was going to wet-wade with nylon cargo pants and Teva sandals. My trip ended as soon as I arrived.

So, am I the only idiot out there?  I hope others have done this.  Or, something similar.

I actually forgave myself fairly quickly because this sort of thing (for me) is bound to happen.  It seems I do something like this every five years or so. 

The last time it was my fishing reel.  But my friend Paul always has extras of everything in his car (he drove) and he came to the rescue with a reel and spool of the exact line weight to match my rod.

The time before that I left my boots at home. That was maybe 10 years ago.  But that trip was saved by a pair of sneakers in the back of my van.

Tomorrow is Fathers Day.  Perhaps it will be easy for me to get to the river.  The van is packed (I didn't take anything out of it) and my waders are in a pile by the front door with my keys on top of them... but I think I will put them in the van as soon as I hit the "publish" button on this post, just to be safe.

First day of panfishing this seasn felt a bit weird... plus a few pictures

I spent Thursday morning fishing one of my favorite ponds for sunfish and bass.  Though it is usually during the last two weeks of June that I get in my first day of float-tubing for panfish, this year nevertheless felt a bit weird. 

That's because by now I typically have logged in multiple days of trout fishing on at least two of my favorite trout rivers.  High water is periodically a problem on rivers and streams, and this year was no exception.  Not only does high water make wading difficult, but it interferes with the stocking program. 

It also seemed that whenever I had time to fish, there were threats of thunderstorms (not my favorite thing), torrential rains, or tornado warnings. (You may have heard about the record-breaking tornadoes we had in Massachusetts, in May.)

Then, when the fishing looked good I had family commitments and then a long weekend at a college reunion (I'm not complaining about the family commitments and the reunion... they were far more important than fishing!). 

The bottom line:  I haven't been out much this year.  So, fishing today made me feel that I've missed a big part of the season.  Well.... that's life.

Below are a few images:

This is the first bluegill of the year.  A real 8.5" beauty.

Above is my first sunfish of the year.  A real beauty 8.5 inches long.  I measured every large and every small fish I caught, which I do from time to time to get a sense of the fishery.  I caught about 50 sunfish though I only found them in bunches along two 30-foot sections of the shoreline.  The circumference of the pond is about one mile.  Anyway, the smallest was 8" and the largest (pictured below) was 9.5".  This is typical.  If I didn't know any better I would say sunfish are born 8" long!  I wish I knew the biology of this.  Where are the small fish?  I can only speculate that the large ones are more aggressive, or that the small ones are taught to wait in line (LOL).  Perhaps it is because I use big flies, the one used today being 1.5" long on a size 8 hook.

This was the largest, at 9.5"

Nearly void of color.  Post spawn?

The fly of the day was a brown Conehead Combo on a size 6, 2xl hook.
Here's the recipe:

Held in water, you can see how nicely soft hackles like mallard and marabou display themselves.  I used three of these. The first two remain in submerged logs.

I also catch the occasional bass.  Just two today.  Now, if I were willing to fish with spinning gear and shiners I would have a ton of big bass to show you!  But I will leave that kind of fishing to others.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Are flies still packaged this way?

My dad found this Grey Ghost from LL Bean in his stuff the other day.  He doesn't know where it came from.  He doesn't (nor did he) fish, so its a quandary.  But I love the old packaging and can't remember the last time I saw a streamer packaged this way. 

It seems that all the shops I visit now have the little wooden bins all set out in a grid. On the other hand, I don't buy flies, so maybe in some shops (even LL Bean?) they still come packaged up like this.