Wednesday, March 11, 2015

It's getting closer

I've now tied 70 woolly buggers this winter.  I still have about 40 more to tie.

Then, it's on to tying Juju Baetis flies in very small sizes.  I had to buy some UV-cured resins and a UV light to tie those flies.

I will get my license shortly.

I've ordered a large number of flies from The Catch and the Hatch in CO.  I'm expecting them shortly.

I ordered a new ceramic bobbin and some lead wire from Cabela's last week for my tying.

I need a couple new fly boxes.

My entry to the Otter Creek Classic is done.  I have a hotel room for the weekend and 2 tickets to the Fly Fishing Film Tour.

I think I'm going to go see the Hank Patterson movie in 2 weeks.

I have 2 more weekends of teaching skiing, but it's getting close.

It was close to 50F yesterday, but a business trip killed any chance of actually fishing.

I saw a post on Facebook from a guy who landed a rainbow here in VT this week.

It's getting close.

I'm so excited.

I still really, really want to buy a float boat to use in the White, the Winooski and the Connecticut.  I will probably still be debating this idea a month from now.

I'm going to PA in 2 weeks, and I'm trying to figure out how to sneak in a bit of fishing time.

It's apparently an obsession.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

It's still winter, but I'm getting ready to fish

I really love reading stories about people who get out fly fishing in the winter.  I wish I had the time to do that, but my passion to teaching skiing pretty much eats up all of my spare time in the winter.

But, I'm tying flies - mostly still working on woolly buggers.  I ordered some Muddler Minnows from a guide I've fished with a couple years ago.

I also bought a sling pack from Orvis at a great closeout price.  I've wanted to try fishing with a pack rather than a vest for a while, but the cost seemed too prohibitive.  I got an Orvis gift certificate for Christmas and they had great closeout prices on their packs.  I guessed correctly that they were in the process of unveiling a new line of packs, but I'm fine starting with the old line.

The Fly Fishing Film Tour and the Otter Creek Classic are on my mind already.

And, I've been working on a list of flies I need to either tie or buy for the upcoming season.  Amazingly, the list contains about 200 flies, split over 15 or so patterns.  Those 15 or so patterns make up 90% of what I use for wet flies here in VT.  Considering that I caught fewer than 15 fish on dries last year in VT, I don't really need to do much tying or buying in that department.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Oh yeah

My birthday was last week, and my wife got me one of those fly fishing tools that I'd love have, but would never be able to justify buying on my own.  I haven't actually ordered it yet, so I don't know what color I'll get.  Essentially it's an Abel hemostat/pliers hybrid that I can use when tying flies to pinch down barbs and then on the water to unhook fish.

Not enough time, but I'm getting some flies tied

I wish I was getting more flies tied, but I just never seem to have enough time.  My first goal for the winter is 90 woolly buggers 10 each in white, olive and black/grizzly, in sizes 4, 6 and 8.  This the start of the size 4 batch - the easiest of the bunch to tie.  I guarantee the white size 4 buggers will be on my line on the opening day of the season in the Otter Creek Classic.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Looking ahead to the next season

My wife and I had a pretty low key Christmas.  We both dealt with some health issues this past year that cost us a lot of money, so we reigned things in a bit for the holidays.  If we were 15 years older, these health issues would be less of a surprise, but I think we just had some bad luck, and I hope it's behind us, for the most part.

I ordered some fly tying materials in December, mostly to re-tie my collection of woolly buggers, which I lost late last season somehow.  That was my Christmas present, and I waited until Christmas day to do any tying.  I got enough material (150 hooks, lots of marabou, hackle, chenille, and beads) to tie at least 150 buggers, split between the tried and true colors of white, olive and black.  I spent Christmas afternoon sipping a very tasty Madeira and tying flies.

After I get caught up on woolly buggers, my next targets will be the classic nymphs - PT, prince, hare's ear, and zug bugs.  Normally, I'd include RS2's in that list, but I tied a lot of them a year ago and didn't use them a whole lot.  Oh yeah, I will need some small hooks to tie one of my new favorite flies from this past season - the ju ju baetis, which supplanted the RS2 for me quite a bit.  Fished in a small size, it is deadly effective as a dropper off a dry fly.

My sister-in-law got me an Orvis gift certificate for Christmas.  I turned that into a chest pack for my time on the water.  I've been meaning to move away from a vest for the past couple years, and the gift certificate plus a nice post-Christmas sale at Orvis made the pack a good deal.  I just hope I end up liking it more than my vest.

Lastly, I'm teaching skiing every weekend right now.  I enjoy the winters and summers here in VT.  I miss skiing in the summer and I miss fly fishing in the winter, but I'm lucky to live somewhere that I can participate in at least one of these sports year round, and there are brief periods where they even overlap for me.

Teaching skiing really isn't a money-making proposition for me.  By the time I count my gas money, food bills at the mountain, beer money, clothing, and ski equipment costs (skiing and fly fishing really do have a lot in common, at least in terms of how much money you can spend for such a specialized endeavor), I am lucky to break even.  Typically, I save my paychecks from skiing and use them to pay for my clothing and equipment.  But, this year, my equipment bill was small compared to most years, so I'm just putting the paychecks in the bank.

If I can avoid touching that money for the entire winter, I'm hoping to buy an Outcast pontoon boat in the spring.  Ideally, I'd love to get the PAC 1400, but I think that boat is really overkill for me here in VT.  I would rarely have three people in the boat, and if I was going to spend that much money, I'd probably look for a used Hyde drift boat instead.  So, I'm targeting the PAC 1200, which can be a 1 or 2 person boat.  The idea of being able to float the White, Connecticut or Winooski without paying a guide is very appealing.  And, I have enough fishing friends (plus my wife and son) that I'm sure I'd have company most of the time I was on the water.

I probably won't know if I can pull this off until the spring, but it's a dream that I'll keep thinking about as I tie flies all winter and spend my days shivering on the mountain.

Monday, December 1, 2014

The Off Season

I know that many of my acquaintances are still out there fishing, despite the foot of snow we got last Wednesday into Thursday.  I saw lots of photos of people fishing the Salmon River out near Pulaski over the weekend.  I saw some photos of nice rainbows and chromes from Lake Champlain tributaries.  I spent the long holiday weekend cooking and stacking firewood and skiing.  I'm pretty sure I'm done with the fly rods for the season with ski season now firmly underway.

I have returned to the last couple spots I fished this season, and my box of woolly buggers appears to be permanently gone.  Perhaps I'll stumble across that box upstream on Ayers Brook next season, and I'll ask a local friend who also fishes that brook to keep his eyes open next spring.

But, for now, I'm assuming those flies are gone.  And, they are hugely important flies to have with me at almost all times.

I mentioned in another post that Orvis had very kindly refunded my purchase price for some wading boots that fell apart earlier this season.  I had fished those boots for 2.5 seasons and they gave me a full refund.  I bought a different brand of boots, but I was determined to give that money back to Orvis.

So, over the weekend, I ordered some hooks, maribou, hackle for woolly buggers, chenille, and beads - enough material to tie at least 150 woolly buggers in white, olive and black/grizzly.  I paid Orvis back for the boots and then some.  But, these are easy flies to tie, they are important to carry in all but the lowest and clearest water conditions, and I now have better hackle material for them than I've been using.

So, I probably won't fish much for a while.  But, I'll be tying flies and dreaming of the next opening day.  I also intend to tie some big, bright streamers that will be useful on Opening Day, in the Otter Creek Classic tournament.  I have a nice selection of big heavy streamers from Montana Fly Company, but many of them are colors too dark for the early season "chocolate milk" water colors.  So, I'll work on some big, brightly colored flies for those conditions over the winter.

Plus, I need to tie some hare's ears, zug bugs, prince nymphs of various flavors, pheasant tails, RS2's, Ju Ju baetis, lots of stone fly variants, and a few other patterns that I use a lot.

So, my "off-season" should still be pretty busy.

Monday, November 17, 2014

I almost fished

Saturday morning, I was getting ready to go fishing.  It was cold and windy, but I knew I could stay warm enough.  My plan was to fish the Winooski below the Bolton power dam.

I was in the garage, setting up my rod, when I ran into a problem.  I'd put on a sinking tip leader and added some 2x and 3x tippet material.  Next, my plan was a woolly bugger as my lead fly.  Except, when I reached for my box of woolly buggers in my vest, instead I found an unzipped pocket and no box of flies.

I spent the next half hour looking all around the house.  I searched the cars.  I searched the garage.  My fly tying gear.  I couldn't find the flies anywhere.

This was a box of flies I'd tied myself.  The woolly bugger is about as easy to tie as any fly out there.  Maybe the greenie weenie or San Juan worm is easier, but I rarely use those flies at all.  After about half an hour, I hopped in the car and drove to the last place I had fished (or at least, that's what I thought).

I looked all around the place where I parked, hoping the fly box might have dropped when I was putting my gear away.  I hiked down to the White River, looking carefully for the flies.  No luck at all.  Dejectedly, I drove home.

The financial loss isn't huge.  I had maybe 40 woolly buggers in that box.  For about $200, I can buy enough material to tie 300 woolly buggers.  I can easily tie 2 dozen of them in an evening rather than wasting time watching television.  If I buy them rather than tie them, I can replace the 40 flies for about $100 plus the cost of a fly box.  Given that I have too many fly boxes already, I won't even need to buy another one.

By the time I got home, it seemed like the air was colder, the wind was harsher, and I opted not to fish.  I watched college football instead.

Today, I double-checked a spreadsheet to see where I'd fished my last time out.  It turns out that I'd fished on Ayers Brook in Randolph, rather than the White River in Royalton.  So, I now have a new place to look for my missing flies, although with the short days, it might be the weekend before I get there to look.

My plan for this week is to tie some more woolly buggers.  I don't have to have them, and I could have fished without them on Saturday.  But, that's a fly I use a lot both early and late in the season, and I feel unprepared without them.

I think I have about 600 flies on hand at any point in time.  I'm sure that I could find other flies that the fish would take.  Or maybe, I was just being a weenie, and I let the missing fly box be an excuse to stay warm on a raw day.

I skied yesterday and I'm planning to ski again next weekend.  Hopefully, I'll find my flies or tie some more, and get out fishing for a bit next weekend.  But, it's also possible that my 2014 season is over.