Thursday, November 26, 2015

Wishing I was fishing

It's Thanksgiving Day.  Sugarbush opened for skiing for the season today, but I wouldn't ski if I could.

It's warm enough that I would go out fishing today, if I could.  But, instead I'm in a hospital bed.  It's hard to imagine I'll fish again before spring.  If anyone really wants to see why I'm in a hospital rather than fishing, the story is on my other blog.

Otherwise, I hope everyone has a happy Thanksgiving.  I hope my fishing friends get into some nice fish today.  While I will miss the usual time with family today, in some ways I'm glad for the relative calm of the hospital. There aren't many patients in the oncology ward, so things are kind of quiet.  The nurses are awesome.  And, I'm hopefully on my way to being healthy for trout season next spring.

As a long-time ski instructor, it's going to be a long, strange winter.  But, I have stuff to take care of for the next few months.  No complaints, just some shifted priorities.

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone.  Tight Lines!

Monday, November 16, 2015

And, I'm Still Fishing

The ski resorts have been able to make some snow, but November continues with above average temperatures.  So, I agreed to meet my buddy Jack and chase salmon and steelhead on Lewis Creek this past Saturday.  We knew we were in between the seasons, but it was worth exploring.

The salmon are mostly done spawning and most have probably returned to Lake Champlain.  And, the local fishing reports showed that no one has reported any steelhead yet.  They are probably waiting for some more rain to push into the river.  But, we gave it a shot anyway.

The drive to Lewis was a bit interesting.  There had been snow at the higher elevations the night before, and the roads were a bit slick.  I have studded snow tires, but I still took it easy over the first mountain pass.  It was 24F at the summit, so the ice wasn't melting yet.  I met Jack, moved my gear to his car, grabbed some coffee and we took off on the next section of the drive.  The next mountain pass had some snow, but nothing dangerous.  We had a few options for fishing Lewis Creek, but we started with the easy and obvious choice - downstream from the Rt. 7 Bridge.  There is easy parking and access to the water there.

I started in some water by the old bridge while Jack headed downstream.  Somehow, on this very cold morning, I managed to slip on a ledge in the water, landing hands first in the creek.  I was able to squeeze most of the water from my gloves, but my hands were cold for the next few hours.

I had no luck throwing a black stone fly and an egg pattern.  As I worked the water down toward Jack, I did see one small fish - either a rainbow or a salmon parr, but it disappeared into deeper water quickly.  Neither of us had any luck at all, fishing down to the flat water as the creek approaches Lake Champlain.  So, we decided to head upstream to the upper end of the open water.  Regretfully, there were two fisherman at the falls that mark the upper end of open water.  As soon as they realized we were also fishermen, they headed downstream quickly.  Regretfully, that is what we had wanted to do, but they were there first and we respected that.  We fished at the falls for half an hour with no signs of fish.  Then, we headed back downstream.  We were parked, planning to fish upstream from where we'd started earlier in the day.  But, we were pretty sure we were fishing a nearly empty river.

I suggested we could fish Otter Creek instead, where I'd had some luck the weekend before.  Jack had never fished the Otter, so we opted for that.  I knew that the killer fly the weekend before had been Prince Nymphs, so I stayed with my black stone fly and added a Prince Nymph below it.  Later, I added a Batman Prince as well.

Within 5 minutes of starting to fish, my fly got slammed by a fish.  I quickly landed a decent wild brown.  This was surprising, because everyone had been catching rainbows the week before.  Regretfully, that fish was our only solid strike all day.  There was a guy fishing below us, and we are pretty sure he worked the same water we were fishing.  He told us that he had caught 8-10 rainbows on Prince Nymphs.  So, we had the right fly and the right water, but we got there a bit too late.

I was cold, but I kept fishing.  I had been upstream from Jack for most of the time, but we swapped positions at one point.  I looked upstream a bit later to see him sitting on a log, with his rod broken down.  I was guessing he's had enough, and the sun was now starting to recede from the little canyon where we were fishing.  I walked upstream to talk to him and he was indeed done, so we called it a day about an hour earlier than we'd planned.

So, nothing on Lewis, although I may get out there in the next few weeks if ski season doesn't start.  And, one decent brown on the Otter.  Given the time of year, any day I don't get skunked is a good day.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Late season fishing

Last week was really warm.  I heard about people taking rising trout on dry flies during the warmer periods during the week.  I desperately wanted to get out of work on Thursday to fish, but there were some complex problems at work that required me to be here.  So, I waited until Saturday.

The weather wasn't as nice on Saturday, but it was close to 50F, a bit breezy, and mostly sunny.  I decided to head to Otter Creek, which I hadn't fished since opening day.  It's been a few years since Otter Creek shut me out for a season, and I wanted one last chance at the browns in the river there.  To be honest, I'm not sure if I caught a brown this season.

I got to Belden Falls just after lunchtime, and I was told that there had been 15 or so fly fishermen in the area just a couple hours earlier.  But, a quick check showed that the water I wanted to fish was open, so I geared up and hiked for a few minutes.

I had a few quick strikes, but couldn't seem to hook anything.  I was fishing a white woolly bugger and a Prince nymph trailer.  I was guessing the missed strikes were coming on the trailing fly, but I couldn't be sure without catching one.  Finally, a fish managed to hit the fly and hook himself.  I was surprised to see that it was a rainbow:

The fish had indeed taken the Prince Nymph and not my woolly bugger.  I fished for another hour or so at Belden with a few more strikes but no more hookups.  From there, I traveled back to Middlebury to the lower dam.  Two other fishermen were leaving as I arrived, but they had no waders, so I was guessing they hadn't fished the water I wanted to fish.  Regretfully, it didn't seem to matter, as I came up empty in the two main spots I'd wanted to fish.

I was now stripping the woolly buggers, trying to provoke browns to strike, and my hands were getting wet and cold.  About 15 minutes before sunset, I'd had enough and I headed back to Middlebury for a beer at Two Brothers.

I only got one fish, but it was better than nothing at all the last time I was out.  It is also rare for me to catch rainbows in the Otter, so that was an interesting change.

It is quite possible that I'm now done fishing for the season.  But, on Sunday, it's supposed to be sunny with temperatures close to 50F.  Maybe I'll give the White River or the Winooski one more shot this season.