August on the Au Sable

Luckily the annual Au Sable River fishing trip is back, with added friends. Typically it’s been my friend Bill, who introduced me to the river back in the ’90′s, and who actually introduced me to fly fishing in 1980. This year his brother-in-law Roy and his son Giuliano joined us for a full day.

20130823-222344.jpg Bill

20130823-222450.jpg Roy

20130823-222555.jpg Giuliano

The weather was fantastic, but the fishing was slow. In the morning I was the only one to catch anything, and as you can see below, they were all fingerlings.

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The afternoon only saw Giuliano catch anything, as he seemed to find his groove. It was interesting to watch Roy, who has one of the most beautiful relaxed accurate cast I have ever seen. He tells me he hasn’t been fly fishing for years, but I’m guessing he practices on the weekends down at his pond. My buddy Bill almost got skunked, but finally managed to catch a few fingerlings late in the day.

We stayed for the Ephoron (White Fly) hatch, which was weak but impressive. You always see just a few around dusk, and then the flurry begins. I don’t have a picture of the flies, but you can see some beautiful shots of them over at the www.TroutNut.com web site.

That evening the flies hatched, but the rise was limited. Only Giuliano managed to hang one lunker, but unfortunately it jumped off. I did see it jump and it was a good 12 inches. By 10:00 we were freezing (at least I was) so we headed home.

Another great day, and annual trip, on the Au Sable River. Thanks gents for a great time.

Added pics-

20130824-172109.jpg Roy

20130824-172201.jpg Giuliano

TheFlyFishingProf (note the flies on the water)

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Can’t get out to fish so I spent a bit of time lawn casting

I’ve been looking to purchase a Hardy Perfect reel for over 10 years and about 2 weeks ago finally found an affordable 3 1/8″ one in good condition. This is the first time I’ve actually handled and had a chance to disassemble one. It is everything I had hoped for and more. The craftsmanship and engineering is exquisite.

For once I decided to go with what I considered one of the top fly lines, the Rio Gold in wf5f, with a matching Rio leader. I loaded up the reel last night and when I got home from work today grabbed one of my bamboo rods, a F. E. Thomas 8.5′ “Elmo.”

I went out in my front yard, began to cast and in no time had launched the line 60′. Next time I’ll grab a lighter bamboo rod since the balance with the Hardy reel was off, but the reel is a dream to cast and the Rio Gold line, well there’s a reason it’s considered one of the best. It easily shoots 15-20′ when you release it. I’m looking forward to fishing the rig ASAP

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20130619-195411.jpg.

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A short trip to the Duck Pond

This morning I decided to take a quick walk over to the local duck pond.

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It’s only a five minute walk and is scheduled to be dredged sometime this summer. I was told it averages ten to eleven feet in depth, but presently with all the silt, it’s only about four feet deep. I haven’t fish the duck pound for about three years and I’ve only seen small pan fish in it. One side has back yards of private houses as its shore while the other side is public.

I decided to use my Orvis impregnated bamboo rod, 8′-0″, with a 6wt Lamson reel.

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As I was setting up the rig I spotted a family of turtles sunning themselves on a log in the middle of the pond.

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I spent about thirty minutes casting and enjoying myself when it was time to head back.
Short but sweet.

FlyFishing in the Great Smokey Mountains

The week before Easter weekend 2013 the family and I traveled down to Gatlinburg, Tennessee to visit some friends of ours, who had rented a cabin for the week.

Traffic on Main St. Gatlinburg TN

Traffic on Main St. Gatlinburg TN

Suggestion – dont arrive driving through Gatlinburg proper.  The traffic is a nightmare.

My friend Alex, who we were staying with, was interested in having me teach him how to fly fish so I dug through all my gear and put together outfits for the two of us.  The day my family and I arrived, Alex and I stopped by the local FFishing shop and got some maps and our day license.  The guy at the shop was great and even stayed open a little pass closing time to let us get some flies, and of course gave us tips on where to go.  The person at the shop said to try Pigeon Creek, which was actually right near where we were staying.

We got up around 9:00AM, since the local guy said the fishing typically started rising that time of year around noon and would quit around 4:00PM.  Now that is a long stretch of fish rising!

Alex Suited Up

Alex Suited Up

When we arrive the air temperature was about 65º F, but the water was a chilly 43º F coming off the snow covered mountains.  Since it was Alex’s first time casting I thought we should find a nice open flat stretch. (Clear as Gin!)

Nice Flat Stretch of Water

Nice Flat Stretch of Water

It turned out Alex is a natural at casting.  After 15 minutes he was going at it as if he had been doing it all his life.

Right at 12:05 they started to rise to the west side of the stream and in the shade of the trees. The only problem, you couldn’t see what was hatching, thus must be very very small.  The Guide at the Fly Shop had told us they’d bite on 16-18′s, and to use a dropper configuration, but this produced nothing.  So…. we tied on smaller, and smaller flies.  By about 1:00PM there were probably 16 trout rising in front of us.  Only one strike for the day, and that little rascal spit that dry fly out as soon as it touched it.

The big news, I managed to (yet again) take a swim in the cold cold waters.  This time I fell in up to my neck, and watched as three full boxes of flies started floating down stream.  After scrambling for 5 minutes I did manage  to get all three boxes.  Alex asked if this meant the end of the trip.  My reply, “H__L No, I always carry a spare set of waders.” So I stripped down and switched to my neoprenes.  Here you can see my clothes drying on the car.

Clothes Drying

Clothes Drying

Note to self, besides being bracing, hypothermia sets in quick in 43º water.

Right on que, the fish stopped biting at 3:55PM, and we had nada for the day, although it was beautiful fun.  Next time i’ll bring 28 size dry flies.  :-)

Late December 2012 Fishing Trip Down at Wolf Creek Dam.

My fishing buddy, John Hiett, and I headed down to Lake Cumberland State Park in Kentucky Saturday night. We didn’t let the snowy weather or the cold temperatures stop us (the temperatures ranged from 23F-36F, or -5C-2.22C). That night we stayed at the lodge, which is a nice break from the normal ‘sleep in the van or tent.’  The lodge is about 50 years old, and interestingly enough, my father had a hand in designing part of it.
Lake-Cumberland-State-Resort-Park-52  A view of the lobby

Sunday morning we rose early and had your typically southern breakfast, biscuits, gravy, sausage, eggs, juice and coffee.  We then loaded then van and headed for the trout run.  On the way there we saw deer and and wild turkey.

Wild Turkey Turkey

Trout Run at Wolf Creek Hatchery The Trout Run

Since we are living in the future, there’s a web cam there for all to watch.

http://wcnfh.com/cam0.php  (you’ll probably have to cut and paste)

John and I immediately rigged the rods with droppers.  Any old dry fly on top that was white, and a copper john (red) about a size 16-18.  John right away caught the fattest one of the day, a fat triploid male rainbow over 1 1/2 lbs.

IMG_4444 John with his Fat Triploid

After we both caught a few on nymphs, surprise surprise, the damn trout started to actually rise!  36F and there were very small, very small, bugs on the water.  I tied on a 26 gnat and couldn’t believe it when they actually started going after the fly.

Me with the Dry Fly on Me with a Dry Fly on

Now this place is a ‘put and take,’ and in the end john and I caught probably 25 all together and kept 15, for a total of 8.5 lbs.  The big adrenaline rush for me though was a hog I hooked that weighed 4lbs+.  I managed to get it to the shore, and as soon as John went t net it the beast took off and snapped the line.  Figures.

DSC01639 a Mess O Fish

We had to end the day early since it was a three hour drive back, and I promised the daughter I’d read her to sleep.  All in all a great trip.

Tenkara Fly Rods

In March of 2010 I was shopping for a pack rod and came across this funny looking fly rod that said it was fished without a reel.   For the lay person, the term Tenkara fly fishing (japanese = テンカラ, literally: “from heaven”, or “from the skies”) is a traditional type of fly fishing practiced in Japan for about the last 200 years.  The rods are primarily used for mountain stream trout fishing, and are super light, compact, are easy to carry when hiking, and easy to travel with - just throw it in the carry-on luggage. Think of the rod as a move towards the Zen of fly fishing. The minimal amount of gear to fly fish with, and a minimal amount of action while casting.

Tenkara has been virtually unknown outside of Japan until the first company to introduce and popularize tenkara outside of Japan, Tenkara USA, was founded in April 2009 in San Francisco, California, by Daniel Galhardo.

After some research I decided on the 12′ Iwana rod.  It has a 6:4 action and is perfect for small mountian streams. The stats are as follows.

Closed size: 20 1/2 inches (52cm) including 1/2″ cap  (the case is close to 23″)
Segments: 9
Handle length: 11 inches (23cm)
Weight:2.7oz (76.5grams)

The rod arrived in a nicely designed aluminum case.  Inside is a well sewn tie sock.  I was surprised by the lightness and beautiful attention to detail when I slid the rod out of the sock.  The rod came with the line and a few flies.  To rig up the line is a breeze, you just loop one end over the red attached line provided on the rod, and slide your looped knot down to the knot on the end.

Casting is a bit weird at first since there’s no line to load.  But once you get the hang of it I’d say it’s similar to casting my 4 weight rods.  I’ve attached a few shots of me in action, and you can see the bend of the rod through the cast.  The biggest kick I got from using the rod was when I was climbing over boulders and scrambling through the dense under brush.  You just have to telescope the rod closed, and then slide it open when ready to fish again.

A final note. I’ve broken the tip section twice now (just doing your normal stupid things-don’t ask). Compared to any other rod company, where you have to ship the rod in and pay quite a bit to have a new section built, the Tenkara USA company has a replacement parts section on their website where you buy the replacement tips for $7 + shipping and then repair it yourself. They have a video that shows you how to unscrew the bottom and in less then a minute the rod was repaired. I had to replace a tip on a 4 weight Winston rod this summer, $50 for shipping and handling and $185 for the new tip. For that price I can buy about 19 new tips for my Tenkara rod. At the rate I’m going I’ll have done that within 5 years.

Bottom Line — buy one of these rods and carry it at all times.

  

   

 

What to do when you haven’t been fishing in awhile.

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted.  It being the end of the semester, all the committees I’m on or chair, that and having an only child that is 6, I wonder how anyone finds time to write a blog.  Well now I’m sick in bed, (you try being around all those petri dishes called kids and students and not get sick once and awhile) and I have free time to type away.

Babcock cabin.

Since I haven’t had any time to fish lately I thought I’d write a bit about a past trip.  This trip took place two summers past, and took place at Babcock State Park in West Virginia.  I planned to meet my buddy John Heitt, who was driving over from Kentucky.  I arrived first and drove down to the cabin we’d reserved.  The cabins were built as part of Roosevelt’s work program administration (WPA) and are the old style log cabins.  Inside you walk directly into the main living space, which has a large river stone fireplace, two old falling apart rocking chairs, a dining table, and a queen size bed.  Off to one side there’s a small kitchen, a small bedroom, and a bath with shower.  Upon opening the door all the mice scampered for cover.  When I say all, I’m talking possibly 3 digits worth. “Make note to self, hang everything from ceiling.”

It ain’t even big enough to eat!

All in Bloom

John was still about an hour out so I decided to hike down to the stream below the cabin.  No easy feat since it’s a deep gorge.  I scouted around and came across a few paths.  Headed down through the rhododendron, which were still in bloom in July, and careful not to slip and slid, I made it to the bottom in one piece after about 15 minutes.  I visually marked the spot at the river with an arrow shaped from a bunch of stones.  When you grow up hiking in the Appalachian Mountains you know how easy it is to get turned around and lost in all the thick growth.

Whooper of a fish.

Stream with boulders.

The stream was perfect, although tight.  I started fishing hole-to-hole and headed down stream.  The trick to this type of stream fishing is to cast to the spots under the large boulders.  After about 30 minutes I hooked a whopper of a minnow.  My task completed I started back for the spot I had marked.  Once I found the marked spot I moved to the so-called path and began the trek uphill, using the rhododendron to pull myself up.  About half way up I ran into the first ‘was it the left or the right path?’  At the toss of a mental coin I went for the left path.  After 15 minutes I figured I took the wrong turn, but not to worry, I was still headed up hill.  This had to run into the access road sooner or later.  Finally after 30 minutes of climbing I made it back to the cabin and found John unpacking.  John drives a van, which is always fully equipped to camp out for about a month.  No kidding, the man has everything in there.

Once we were both settled in we drove over to the small lake connected to the park, rented a boat and stated catching fish.

Like Glass!

Me fishing the hole.

As the day wore on we figured it was time to hit the stream and fish for trout.  There’s a pool that is directly below the main administration building, which originally was designed to be a swimming hole.  It was now silted up but perfect for fly-fishing.  On the first cast to the far side of the pool I caught a beauty of a brown.  After about a total of four keepers between us we drove back to the cabin and had a great trout dinner, and then off to bed.  That night it rained cats and dogs and the next morning we discovered the streams completely blown out.  For the rest of the trip was looking at beautiful scenery, since neither one of us caught a thing.

Steelhead Fly-Fishing on the Chagrin River

This past Sunday Craig Yingley and I headed up to the Chagrin River towards Willoughby, Ohio to try a bit of fly fishing for Steelhead.  The day was beautiful with bright sunny skies and the temperature in the upper 40′s.  I took Craig to a spot he had never fished before, one that was shown to me by a guide last year.  When we arrived we did a quick ‘once over’ and saw that there were about six fishermen, with only one fly casting.  We asked if anyone had landed anything and one fellow pointed to a guy across the river saying he’d seen him land about a 2 footer using a minnow as bait.  We then suited up and started wading down stream.  The spot where we were headed was around a bend and out of sight of the fishermen we had just left.  This first image shows the area once we had turned the bend and on a gravel bar.  The water was low, but still seemed to have enough depth to hold some fish, and had a bit of color from the leaves, with the big question being, was there enough color to allow us to not be seen by any steelhead.

Just past this sand bar is the run where we were headed.  The run is about 50-75 yards long and looked great, but as we all know, looks doesn’t mean you’ll catch fish.  As the saying goes, ‘If you ain’t losing flies you ain’t fishing close enough to the bottom.” Craig and I figured we were doing everything right since we were losing flies on every other cast.

After a few hours at this spot we decided to head to a place that Craig knew of.  The spot was further up stream by about 15-20 minutes driving time.  I had never been to this area before, and when we hit the water I told Craig that it looked great, not a sign of any buildings around, and hardly any people.  The only folks we saw were a group further way up stream that seemed to be spin casting.  As we waded in a fellow fly fisherman joined us.  He told us he was just starting out, and then said that the river had really changed since he had last fished this area, which was prior to hurricane Sandy.  He pointed to one huge tree that was over over on the far side of the river and said it had washed about 100 yards down stream from where he last remembered it was located.  We started casting at a spot Craig said had previously held fish, again, no luck.  Craig then made a great comment, “The thing about steelhead, they’re not like trout, which will spend their whole life in one area.  Steelhead are on the river for one thing, to head up stream and spawn.  Where you find them one day doesn’t mean they’ll be there next time.”  Oh so true.  So after a day of not even one strike, we of course blamed it on the low water, it was too clear, they just weren’t eating, and hell – for all we knew there was just to much glare off my bald head!  I did get Craig to take a picture of me casting.  So here’s one of me hamming it up for prosperity. 

With a holiday coming up, and if we get any rain, maybe I’ll try again this weekend.

 

Joining the blog world of fly-fishing

Maybe it was all the blogs I read posted by Alistair, or maybe it was meeting the Scot in person, but for now I’m blaming him on getting me into writing about my fly-fishing experiences. Oh course this is the last thing I have time for so I thought I’d give it a try.

Here it is 13 November 2012, my first entry, and I haven’t even been out to the rivers this Fall for a bit of Steelhead fishing. What I can do though is post one image from the last year season, and maybe a few other pics to show I actually did some fishing this year. Of course you can always go over to The Urban Fly Fisher for some of Alistair’s stories on my exploits in the Land of Scots. http://urbanflyfisher.com/charles-graves-a-dedicated-man/

So welcome to the fly-fishing prof’s inaugural posting, and maybe one day you can say, “I was there when it first happened.”