Monday, July 28, 2014

Another new (to me) White River tributary

I only had a couple hours this weekend, but I took advantage by visiting a tributary of the White River.  Just like the tributary I fished on Monday, this is one I have driven across many, many times.  I've often talked of fishing there, but until Saturday, I never had.

Monday morning, on a different tributary, I had encountered cool water.  This time, I was surprised to find the water just under 70F.  I know that the Middlebury Mountaineer has reported seeing temperature swings of 10 degrees in a day on some small streams recently.  This stream might have been cool in the morning, but it was barely safe to fish there Saturday evening.

The hardest part about fishing this stream was getting to the water.  The bridge over the stream is way above the stream with a steep descent to the water.  A nearby pull-out provides even worse access - an eroded wall of dirt that cannot possibly be safely navigated.  I finally found another place to park and hiked a bit to get easier access to the water.

Overall, this stream was smaller than the one I fished on Monday.  And, I quickly noticed that most of the deeper water was incredibly still.  I initially worked a deep hole for a bit, but a snag created enough turbulence to scare away any fish that hadn't seen me yet.  I did return to this hole a couple hours later, and despite my stealth, I saw no signs of fish.  So, I headed upstream.

On Monday, it seemed like I'd found one fishable pocket after another.  On this stream, I had to hike a bit between possible holding spots.I was about a quarter mile upstream, working the riffles above a deep, slow pool when I saw my first fish.  The fish rose to the fly and then changed its mind.  But, a few casts later, that fish, or another of similar size, took the fly.  It was a wild rainbow, about 8".  I landed and released the fish as quickly as I could, given the water temperatures.  That hole provided one more strike, but I missed it.

Upstream I went.  I found a fairly nice riffle just above another big hole, and this spot produced one more small rainbow.  The next few riffles gave me nothing.

Next, I tried a deep pool that was well protected by a huge boulder and low hanging trees.  I managed to avoid getting snagged and I got some good drifts, but no fish rose to the fly.

From here, the travel got difficult.  This stream took a big hit in Hurricane Irene, and there is still substantial debris that makes navigating the stream challenging.  After working through a bunch of debris, I found a series of nice looking riffles and smaller pockets of water, but I had no luck whatsoever.  I tried a few different flies, although I stayed with dries the entire time.  I went smaller (size 18 parachute Adams) and brighter (size 16 yellow humpy), but a size 14 Elk hair caddis was all that produced strikes.

As I continued to head upstream, the light was fading on me, and suddenly, I was at the bottom of a very long, slow, shallow stretch of water.  I took that as a good sign to head back downstream.  A re-visit to the first pool I'd fished produced nothing, so I headed home to cook a late dinner for my family.

Two small wild rainbows.  That's it.  I hoped to get to the New Haven on Sunday, but some early thunderstorms messed up those plans.  Next weekend, I have a lot more free time than I had this weekend, so I'll plan on the upper New Haven again.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Finally got out again

This is why I'm clearly an amateur and not a guide or someone who writes for the fly fishing magazines.  I fished yesterday and it was the first time in over 4 weeks.  I had tried to fish one evening late in June, and the water was too warm.  Since then, life has been full of work, a wedding, a long weekend of volunteer work, and some health issues for my father-in-law.  Fishing wasn't at the top of the list, especially with my favorite streams being unfishable due to warm water.

Yesterday, I took the day off work.  My wife and I had done some volunteer work from Friday through Sunday and I wanted the day to recover.  But, I also needed to get out to fish, so I got up early yesterday and headed to a tributary of the White River.  I was assuming the water temperature would be cool enough to fish, and I even got my waders on and geared up before measuring the temperature.  It was 61.4F - perfect.

My last time out, I'd ended the day fishing a parachute Adams as an attractor (truthfully, that fly was on because I was able to see it as it got dark the last time I'd been out), while dangling a size 18 Ju Ju Baetis below it.  The nymph had taken the fish last time.  There were no bugs in the air, so I figured I'd start with these same flies.  The stream was small.  It was really just pocket water.  But, with the water so clear, pocket water is perfect; it allows you to sneak up on fish from downstream without spooking an entire large pool if you make a mistake while wading.  And, I did spook a number of fish and got to watch them swim away despite wading carefully.

On my 4th or 5th cast, a rainbow slammed the parachute Adams.  It was a wild fish, about 9" or so, and just beautiful.  I snapped a couple photos and released him.  I realized it was my first fish on a dry fly this season.

The fish hit the fly so hard that he destroyed the "parachute" part of it, so I switched to a BWO with a dropper.  Shortly after switching flies, I saw a couple BWOs in the air, so I was hopeful that I had the right fly.  But, the fly produced nothing at all.  I was seeing some fish in the crystal clear water, but they didn't seem interested at all.  I started to notice a few caddis flies in the air, so I made a quick fly change.  I also got rid of the dropper and just went with a size 16 Elk Hair Caddis.  About this time, I also emerged from the tree canopy into a stretch with sunlight.  I had to be extra careful about my shadow and the shadow of the fly rod.  I'd also switched to 6x tippet, assuming the only fish in the stream were fairly small and I wanted the finer tippet in the clear water.

The first small pool I hit with the caddis yielded nothing, so I moved upstream a bit.  I found a spot that looked perfect, until I realized that casting was going to be tough.  The little pocket I wanted to target was just below a drop-off.  There were rocks on three sides, and just below my target area, a downed tree was an additional hazard.  I made a few short casts into the closer water, working my way towards my prime target.  After nothing on those casts, I went for the prime spot and managed to land the fly perfectly.  I was still trying to find my fly in the foam when the fish hit.  As soon as he felt the hook, he flew downstream towards the tree.  I managed to not get hung up and a couple minutes later, landed my second fish of the day.

A second cast into the same location produced another smaller rainbow.

As I worked my way upstream, I had a blast with the caddis fly and the rainbows.  Over the next two hours, at least 20 fish hit the fly, rose to it and then snubbed it, or simply inhaled it.  I think I ended up getting 7 to the net.  None were bigger than 9" and a couple didn't make it to 6".  But, the fish were beautiful and fought like much bigger fish.  It was great to watch them take off like rockets when they felt the hook.  And, with a 4 weight rod and 6x tippet, I had to be careful to not let them snap me off.

In the last stretch that I fished, I was essentially in someone's back yard.  I hooked 4 fish in a 10 yard stretch of water.  I'd bet the people who live there have no idea what a great fishing resource they have in their back yard.

I had never fished this tributary of the White before, but I'll certainly fish it again.  My next time out, I'm planning to hit the next tributary upstream from this one.

If you really want to know where I was, drop me a note and I'll tell you.  When the pictures were posted, the geo-location information was stripped.  But, I'd suggest just exploring.  These tiny, cool streams can be amazing, although they can be busts as well.  But, this one is on my list to visit again.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Too busy to fish, regretfully

I was shut out one weekend by high water temperatures in my local streams.  Since then, some water bodies have cooled off a bit, but we also had a lot of rain.  And, I've had all kinds of stuff going on that has prevented me from getting out fishing.  Next weekend will not involve fishing due to a family wedding.  The weekend after that, I'm doing volunteer work all weekend.  By then, it will be August with lots of warm water.

I need to get rid of my job and all of the other things in my life that are messing with my fishing.