Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Wild Trout Weekend

This past Saturday, I met a friend of mine to go fishing for small stream wild trout on dries.  We ended up having an awesome day, and while we didn't keep count, we estimated that we probably combined for about 50 trout brought to hand, and we both also missed our fair share.  We also both got the PA trifecta: a brookie, brown, and rainbow, all in the same day...though not form the same waterway.  It can be done, and I hope to accomplish it this summer, but we had a blast with the fish on two different streams on Saturday.

This entry will be more eye-candy, and less words, so take a look at the pics and enjoy...

This is what we were after...
Cahills were coming off, but very sporadically.  
Ironically, this was a good thing, as it kept the fish open-minded, not keying on the hatch.
My buddy's largest brown of the day.  
Now that I'm looking at it, it could be a stocked fish that wandered up into the little stream.

Tried some underwater shots.  
Getting the hang of it, but still have a long way to go...

My friend was cleaning up on a light Wulff I tied up the night before, while I took trout on a Stimulator.

The last fish I caught was a beauty.  A 12" wild brookie.
Unbelievable colors.

The release.

Well that's it for now.  More pics from this trip in a future update.  But that should be enough to get your envy going.  This weekend I'm planning on hitting bigger water for bigger fish.  Hopefully, with some success, great pics should follow!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Chasing Wild Trout

The definition of 'small stream' varies widely from fisherman to fisherman, but I think that this little one would qualify on anyone's list.  This is 1wt water...

Light lines, light tippet, creative casting, and slow, stealthy approaches are the name of the game here.  I spooked more fish than I caught, but it was nice to get back to truly wild trout.  It's a very different kind of fishing, compared to the typical trout fishing experience here in PA.  You don't need a perfect cast or drift, you don't need to flawlessly match the hatch, and the fish are generally voracious little creatures, very willing to attack any vaguely buggy-looking imitation you throw their way.  The challenge comes in the form of the crowded surroundings, almost never open enough for a proper cast...and the spooky, wary nature of the fish that sends them for cover if they spot you.

A wise angler is always keeping in mind where his shadow is being cast, making sure that it is away from the water he intends to fish.  Also, its a good idea to walk slowly and softly, as even the vibrations in the ground caused by careless walking might spook a fish.

Crouching or kneeling is often a good idea as well, for two purposes.  First, you will cast less of a shadow, and stay out of a fish's view better from a lower position.  Second, it increases your casting room ever so slightly, which, in this type of situation, can be the difference between a tangle in a tree that will spook every trout in sight and a well-placed cast that lands you a fish.

I ended up with three fish yesterday afternoon, exploring a new stream I'd never visited before.  I found a decent access point, and for the most part stuck pretty close to that area the whole time.  Next time I visit, I'll probably venture farther downstream, as it looked like the stream got a bit wider down there.

Friday, June 11, 2010


Hello Everyone,

I just wanted to make a quick note to apologize for some of the technical difficulties the site has experienced lately.  I've done what I can to fix it, and as far as I can tell, everything is in good working order again.  Thanks for understanding, and thank you for continuing to read Dharma of the Drift.

Tight Lines,


PS. The interesting little creature that has so graciously posed for this entry's image is a Least Brook lamprey.  A non-parasitic freshwater species native to the coldwater streams of this area.  They are somewhat rare and usually pretty shy, but this one, with its spawning coloration, was perfectly content to attach itself to my hand for a few pictures, then swim back to the rock streambed last spring.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Alone on a Freestone

After getting chased from the water Saturday evening (tornado watch), I was determined to get back to the creek as soon as I could.  Lucky for me, that was the very next day.  Sunday I got back out on a local freestone stream known for its rugged terrain and fast well as the stream raised rainbows and browns in its pools...  

Got the car parked and my 7'9" 3wt St. Croix Avid put together, and headed off down the railroad tracks that parallel this part of the creek.  As I walked i was pleased to note that a few of the popular holes close to the road were vacant, which seemed to be a promising indication of an open stream farther down the tracks, away from the road.  About a quarter mile in, I disturbed a small doe that bounded up the hill before I had a chance to get my camera out.

As I walked I recognized many familiar landmarks from my one and only trip to this creek last year...while a few things had changed, this high-gradient stream in southwestern Pennsylvania was still very much as I remembered it.

Eventually, about a mile or so down the tracks, the stream came back toward the rails, and passed beneath an old metal bridge.  Almost there...

At this point, I decided to go ahead and throw a few loops.  Crossing the bridge, I swung my green bucktail through the transition water where these rapids emptied into a large, slow pool...a rare feature for this stream. Within a few casts, I brought a small rainbow to hand.  This creek isn't stocked with adult trout like many streams in this part of the state, but rather, a few years ago, it was stocked with fingerling fish, that were then allowed to grow and mature in this natural environment.

From here, I turned away from the tracks, and headed down a dirt road used by ATVs and off-roaders, until I came to a pool I'd fished last summer, and started fishing my way back upstream, swinging wet flies and small hairwing streamers, since the trout didn't seem to be reacting to the sparse hatch of caddis that was coming off.  I was picking up these small rainbows pretty regularly, anywhere from 6 to 10 inches long.

Before long, I found my way back to the tailout riffle of the large pool that started up by the bridge...

Fishing a small pocket of slow water up against the far bank, I caught my nicest fish of the trip, a chunky brown about 15 inches long.  In the fast water with the 3wt it was an exciting battle, and by the time I netted him, the fish was very tired, so rather than keeping him out in the air for a photo op, I got him back in the water as quickly as I could.

As I fished my way back up, past the railroad bridge, I hooked a few more rainbows, eventually stopping to get a drink of water and enjoy the scenery.

Eventually, my fishing brought me back toward the area where I'd parked, and with no indication of a significant hatch on the way, I decided to make my way up the steep gravel bank with the benefit of sunlight.  There were a handful of light cahills in the air, but similar numbers had been present for over an hour, and I hadn't seen a single rise to anything all day, so I decided to head for home.  All in all a really relaxing day on the water...and I didn't see even one single other person all day.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Classic Wet Flies, Part 3

I've been at the vise pretty regularly over the past week or so, and, in addition to restocking the dry flies I've been going through, I've also made time to tie more of these beautiful patterns, most from Bergman's book.

Any deviations from the pattern as listed in Trout are noted.


Tail: Brown Mallard
Body: Green Floss
Rib: Yellow Floss
Hackle: Brown
Wing: Slate


Tail: Brown
Body: Pink Floss

Hackle: Brown

Wing: Slate


Tag: Gold Flat Tinsel

Body: Yellow Floss

Rib: Gold Oval Tinsel

Hackle: Dun
Wing: Slate

Hardy's Favorite

Tail: Golden Pheasant Tippet

Body: Peacock

Rib: Red Floss

Hackle: Brown
Wing: Mottled Turkey

Note: This patten is not shown in Trout.  According to Bob Petti's Classic Wet Fly page, it's from Helen Shaw's book, which is on my list of must haves.

Indian Yellow

Tail: Ginger

Body: Light Brown Floss (Golden Brown shown)

Rib: Yellow Floss
Hackle: Ginger
Wing: Mottled Turkey

Irish Turkey

Tail: Yellow

Body: Green Floss

Rib: Yellow Floss
Hackle: Brown
Wing: Mottled Turkey

Last Chance

Tail: Scarlet Mallard Quill Slips

Body: Yellow Floss

Rib: Black Floss
Hackle: Brown
Wing: Slate

Light Caddis

I tied this one from memory, without referencing the pattern, and there are a few key deviations from the pattern, however, I feel the fly turned out really nice given my skill level, so I'm still putting it up here.  Like the Hardy's favorite, this pattern is also not shown in Bergman's book, but rather a pattern that I saw on Bob Petti's page over at Global Fly Fisher, which he referenced from Helen Shaw's Flies for Fish and Fishermen.

Tag: Silver Flat Tinsel (none shown)

Tail: Golden Pheasant Tippet

Body: Peacock

Rib: Orange Floss
Hackle: Brown
Wing: Slate (Mottled Turkey shown)

I know these flies are far from perfect, but I'm having fun tying them, and my skills are improving, albeit slowly.  From this group, I think the Esmeralda, Irish Turkey, and Light Caddis turned out the best overall.  Over the weekend, the Indian Yellow caught a fish: a stream-raised brown, stocked as a fingerling a few years ago, in a small water filled with similar fish, proving that even somewhat ugly ties will still fool fish.  Aside from my own inexperience, though, I think these, and all the other classic wet patterns are really among the most beautiful flies...not quite so elaborate or gaudy as the full dress atlantic salmon flies, but with a simple, elegant look, and they're practical enough that they will actually get tied on, as opposed to some of the intricate salmon flies, which belong in a shadowbox, and not in the water.

Please, as always, leave comments!  

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