Sunday, December 30, 2018

2019 - The Year of Streamers

At left, a palmered-style bead-headed rusty streamer in #10 1 xl. I've had good fortune with these palmer-hackle flies because they are most forgiving to tie: in the water the hackle covers all manner of sins.

The bead-head I feel now is a mistake. Weight interferes with the lifelike action. A weighted leader and an unweighted fly on a loop makes a better presentation. Head-weighted flies are "lumps" at current speeds I fish never twitching or oscillating. They plunge.

I loved fishing my soft hackles. In 2018, my most effective technique in Michigan involved the long drift downstream. I used this technique of a slack drift past cutbanks, in front of downed timber, and in the inner edge (towards the middle of the stream) current flows that come from major obstructions.

My drifts didn't drag exactly but they produced enough irregularity that they simulated life in a struggling invertebrate and drew fish out of concealed lies.

Unfortunately, I fished to too few actual fish in 2018. I have only one note on stalking and taking a feeding trout. I fished to habitat. 

SO, 2019: The Streamer.

I like feeling the take. 

I like fishing micro-streamers imitating various baitfish in #5 down to #16 fry. They cast well using single-handed spey techniques.

I like tying the streamers.

I need to learn a little more. I'll look through my copy of McClane's and dig about online for some Carrie Stevens' patterns. I have Sharon Wright's tremendous Tying Heritage Featherwing Streamers but lack much in the way of hairwings in my personal library. I expect I'll be investing in the writing of Joseph Bates.

I'm looking for solid mid-size fish this year: just the chunky 12" kind. I'm told from my reading that many fish in this league transition from invertebrate diets to more piscivorous pursuits.  I haven't found such references in the academic studies yet. I'll keep looking. I have reason to doubt.

Nevertheless, in the winter sessions I'll be going through bucktail and spun this and that. I'll make generous use of the over-hackle dressing for heads because I am convinced that the hydrodynamics of a prey animal is considered by a predator. 

I'll have fun and in the spring, I'll flip micro-streamers along the banks and under sweepers seeking the hungry ice-out fish.

I'm really looking forward to tying fuzzy-bodied soft-hackle streamers. I'm getting my body taper technique down pretty well. 

I hope the trout appreciate that effort.

Happy 2019.


Thursday, December 6, 2018

Trout Fishing Holiday Gift Guide

 At left, the Christmas Tree from 2016 in New York's Seaport District. Photo from Advicrespon and share here from wikicommons for the price of attribution. Nice tree. Thanks!

The Holiday Trout Fishing Gift Guide.

There's always someone asking about gifts. I've gotten two email inquiries already this year.

(10) A three pack of rubberized electrical tape in varied colors.   Fishing takes place near water. Duct tape is great stuff but the waterproof tape is much much better for the myriad of repair issues encountered in the field. This is a truly thoughtful and practical gift.  Thus, it sucks.

(9) Whiskey.   This crowd is full of day drinkers. They'll have lost their flask so anything in a pint bottle (fits in a fly-fishing vest pocket) will work just fine.

You can get three of  little airline bottles if it is just someone you have to buy a gift for because they gave you one last year and you had nowt for them.

It should be at least a quart bottle if you've borrowed gear from the individual in the last year.

It should be a full sized bottle if there is a paycheck involved in the gift transaction. Just sayin'. Don't cheap-out on the boss.

(8) A Flask.    See number nine. If it is for your brother-in-law and you need to borrow his chainsaw, fill it before you wrap it. If his chainsaw didn't start when you borrowed it last year: empty.

(7) A Cooler.  NOT a Yeti cooler. I'm talking Gott or Igloo or a Coleman. Should be the size to hold a twelve pack because ... well, number eight and nine. We know this crowd.

The twelve pack cooler allows for a generous lunch to be placed on top of the proverbial six-pack and ice.

The little six pack coolers are great but for forcing decision of preserving the convenience store egg salad sandwich in July (and a pack of chips) or the six pack procured at the same establishment. We've covered how that decision making process will go and while the beer will be cool, your fisherman will be hot before the weekend is out -- as in raging fever from a sandwich gone "off."

Why not the Yeti? Because nothing says "break my window, steal my cooler, and head directly towards the great pawn shop in the cloud that is E-Bay" like a Yeti cooler in Bumfuck-MethAddictville, Michigan. You know: where the fish live.

(6) A Gift Certificate to the best Italian restaurant in town. Yes, can be a little pricey (thus number six).

If this is a close fishing buddy, you know he needs the points. Anybody serious enough about fishing with you is someone who has a pretty long line of domestic disappointments loaded on their sleigh. Help a buddy out.

(5) A new fly box and a selection of your  own hand-tied flies ... nominally headed for the reject jar. They should be recognizable as ... something. PTN? Hare's Ear? These are great because screw-ups are usually buggy enough to be more effective than the "good" ones we keep ourselves. You had to start early on these though and if you're a trout fisherman, you didn't.

Also, no flies with problems at the eye-hole unless you want to be considered a different type of "hole" when your buddy is on the water.

Or it's  for the brother-in-law.

(4) Wool Socks. Yes, socks. Good ones. Better than you'd buy yourself..

The big over-the-calf wading socks are great. Heavy boot socks will pass muster. After three hours in steelhead temperature water -- or that near-ice stuff running off the mountain on your excursion trip next year -- you will be praised in the minds of the recipient for having style and class in your gift giving choice. Seriously. Nobody has enough fluffy warm wool socks in this game.

This is a tube sock crowd. Spoil them.

(3) A flannel shirt. Not the Wal-Mart variety discount shirt you'd buy at the local Tractor Supply clearance table. A good one. LL Bean does well. Filson has a couple that are just grand. The Chamois shirts from Cabela's/BassPro are nice too. Basically, a better grade outdoor shirt than you'd ever buy yourself. It'll last a decade. Seriously.

You might need someone to "go in" with you on a boat some time in the future. This is the sort of gift for that guy on the list. Besides, they probably have daughters meaning their flannel shirt collection has been heavily raided. I know.

(2) A waterproof camera. Doesn't have to be the super rugged model. It just has to survive three minutes on the bottom of a normal stream or one lifetime encounter with a softball-sized bit of granite.

Your buddy is using a phone right now. He's going to drop it. Then he's going to bitch endlessly about how he was slimed and the case wasn't worth a shit and you'll be stuck with the drama of trying amateur phone rescue (try finding a bag of rice at the stream-side fly shop ... go ahead, try) instead of more fishing.

Save the day before it happens.

(1) A Fold-and-Go Gas Stove Here Yes, it can be a little fiddly. It upgrades the field lunch from cheese-and-crackers to hot coffee and grilled cheese or chili or  a nice tortellini-and-tomato soup.  Civilization at the truck's tailgate is awfully nice.

My Canadian fly-in buddy and I replaced our shore lunch emergency reserve butane based stove (almost burnt down a swimming pool when tested this year after most of a decade in service) with this new folding beast. Amazing difference.

We needed a large wind screen to make it work well but the control was awesome and it folded into our kitchen bag much better than the large bulky square thing it replaced. Also, gave not one hint of any explosive tendencies unlike the old butane model.


No fish gear?

Would you seriously try to pick out another man's underwear? (Something in low-rise mesh?  -- apologies to Bill Murray).

Then steer clear of buying fishing gear for someone other than yourself. You can't do it as well as as they can and any serious trout fisherman has enough gear already. If you are a spouse reading this, I assure you your husband has hundreds if not thousands of dollars of fishing gear you have no idea even exists. Let it go.

** Special Spousal Selection ** 

Here is a concession to the serious gift giving need of spouses. He wants a hall pass. 

That's it. A card with something like "seven days of unaccountable time spent chasing trout" on a little handmade certificate inside a card would delight the guy.

He doesn't want a trip (well, he might ... but you probably can't pick it unless he said "I want to go with the Drunken Trout Fly Shop to Belize") as much as he wants the ability to go on a trip.

Don't want him gone a week? Give him three "free weekend"  passes. No spousal expectations from Friday at 5 PM until Sunday at 5 PM (mostly sober) is a great consideration.

What he needs is a new set of snow tires or four 3-packs of new boxers.

What he wants is to go fishing in the spring/summer/fall.

He'd really like the hall pass to be for additional fishing time in excess of his usual and customary fishing time. We know that probably won't happen (because you'll think .. "I gave you three weekends, how much more time do you need?") and no husband would expect anything but a time-limitation gift from the spousal unit.

Hey. We've been married a couple times over here at the Amber Liquid hangout. We know how this "creeping domesticity" expectation works. That's how wives become ex-wives, frankly.

SO, shop away ... shop away.

The Christmas card this year sent to the trout guys sums the holiday sentiment this year.

It was a gingerbread man saying " bite me."

Ho Ho Ho. (I'm not talking about your mother, Big Bear. Don't sit on me.)


Sunday, October 28, 2018

Lacking Data, We Must Assume Success

The image at left is hosted on wikicommons and is used with the very kind permission of D. Sharon Pruitt and Pink Sherbet Photography of Utah. Thanks for the loan of the image!

Blank page.

It is supposed to be full of measurements and figures and the extrapolation of a population model answering questions of fish-per-mile and the overall success of our Mill Creek restoration program.

First, the water was too high for our fall fish shocking. We've had rain.


A couple weeks later the intrepid Mill Creek Investigative Team convenes and are defeated by a recalcitrant generator mounted on the shocking barge. How many engineering degrees were clustered around the generator that would do everything but generate?

You really don't want to know but trust me, NASA was jealous.

So, my fall highlight was to be the survival of fish in Mill Creek and hopefully confirmation of natural reproduction.  No news is hardly good news.

Maybe we'll have news later.

I've got a roomful of gear and am plotting outings for next year. This year, I may still get up north for some post-spawn streamer work on the Au Sable. I don't like to trouble the fish until after the spawn.

My local shop is plotting an outing to the Driftless in Wisconsin for spring. That has merit.

I have a memorial to attend for the wife of a great outdoorsman and friend. She'd had quite a health battle this past year or so. I'd only briefly met her once -- our friendship revolves around trout and didn't involve the more domesticated elements of life.

I'm going to make a real effort at getting my friend in the ink. He's an excellent writer and has had a solid career in non-fiction and technical writing. He has all the hallmarks of fiction but for accomplishment. Might be an outlet.

At least, I'm going to try to get him to a library for a couple evenings and let him think about something other  than those things that trouble us through the windshield as we roar down the road. Being alone with our thoughts can require a little direction towards industry from time to time.

Are you working on your thoughts about trout? 

I am. I'm thinking the water is bloody cold.

The beer is closer to room temperature. (I keep my cave cooler than yours, I'm sure. I'm the most part bear.).

Don't let it build up in the pantry. Have some.


Saturday, October 13, 2018

The Lamar, The Lamar, The Lamar

At left, fishing a slot channel in the Lamar for spooky cutthroat. Yes, I'm a long way back from the channel and I'm throwing fifteen feet of leader and tippet with a Hardy Zenith in 5 wt.

That's what it took.

I used a Winston BIIIx in 4wt for more moderate casting (though the Winston will throw almost a full fly line if the wind is down). I used a Winston BIIIPlus saltwater edition 6wt for streamers and heavy tandem rigs (and soft hackle tandems down to size 18).

I used a Echo 10'6" glass 3 wt switch rod for swinging flies almost everywhere.

I used a Orvis TroutBum (Superfine, now?) in 3 wt for brookies on the upper Gardner.

We made the excursion to the waters of Yellowstone Park in the third week of September : transition time.

The country was amazing. The waters were everything they should be. The trout were late-season weary of constant pursuit.

The big browns were not yet pushing up in pre-spawn glory. The undercut banks of the Madison were filled with trout. I walked along a five yard stretch kicking fish out of their holes to convince myself the river actually held fish.

The Gibbon was a gem bright and pure in the stretch above Madison Junction. The Yellowstone was well-mannered but giant strong and so prompted bank fishing. The Lamar was low and slow and occupied by fish not enamored with my presentations or my flies.

The Gallatin runs along the valley road of death. We counted 50+ white crosses coming south from Bozeman into the park. 

The brookies had departed the upper Gardner near Sheepeater and we're told they departed for far upstream tributaries.

Fish were caught. Lessons were learned.

I was able to swing for trout in the "channel" between Earthquake Lake and Hebgen Lake.

Overall, I  used more single-handed Spey technique than I would have thought necessary.

We stayed in the Paradise Valley and drove a couple hundred miles a day. Depending on traffic and construction within the park, your too might do as much time in a car.

In a week's fishing, I witnessed one rising trout.

Feel bad about being blanked on Little River near Your House? I was blanked on the Madison. Gonna take a bit to live that one down.

My buddy Mike with his first fish on a fly. He stalked this brown on the Gibbon as it fed intermittently along a grass bank.

Patience, caution, and a restrained desire to cast the piss out of the water resulted in his first brown and first fish on a fly taken on a #16 cinnamon ant (the fourth fly he tied on ...).

Mike's a good fisherman. He's just new to fly fishing.

Not anymore. Look at the grin.

We're looking forward to going back. The Senator said it was his favortie fish camp out of all we've had.

I'm washing my fountain pens now. There is fiction in the wind faint as the first wood smoke of fall.

George - the furled leaders were a huge help to my guys. Thanks again.


Saturday, September 15, 2018

The Big Trips

At right, a Hare's Ear Flymph tied short on a #12 Hends dry fly hook.  Mine are tailless, ribless,  and over-hackled.  They work.

I've been tying these with pheasant hackle since last fall and I like the iridescent quality the feather lends. My photography doesn't do much to illustrate the effect; but, the trout frequently comment on it.

"Fooled me," is what they say. Sometime they add other comments not suitable for these pages.

I'm about to embark on one of those "big trips"  that are full of expectation and enthusiasm and which on occasion manage to deliver the emotional reward worthy of the investment.

I'm flying out to Yellowstone Park for trout and grayling. The whole Amber Liquid crew is making the pilgrimage. Proud of 'em. They're going to take a guide day for detailed instruction on various points they want to learn. I might end up doing the same later in the week.

I've been tying and prepping gear.

I've a full assortment of soft hackles and a good number of Steve Bird's low water Spey flies from the Soft Hackle Journal (link at right) though mine only approximate his beauties. I'll swing the double-hackled Spey flies from a two-handed trout rod using my now-favorite OPST heads. (Echo 10'6" glass switch rod in 3wt. Love this rod for trout).

Steve also has an example of Rene Harrop's green drake I keep staring at over on his site as well. The Lamar Valley waters will have some of the smaller sized green drakes  (I am told these are properly red quills, like I know) next week if I am lucky.

I've read-up on the entomology and was not surprised to see that "green drake" covers a number of examples present throughout the year in those waters. I thought there was only the "big"  guttulata in common exposure. Wrong I was.

I need to buy a western water's guide. I have Ann Miller's Hatch Guide for Upper Midwest Streams but am lacking on the insect guides for "destination fishing." I need to remedy that deficiency. 

In the west, there are the "Henry's Fork" style of green drakes which are the grandis species. Like the eastern variant, these draw fish up in the same fashion of the Michigan hex -- the hexagenia limbata.   But the grandis isn't the end.

In the fall in the Lamar valley,  instead of drunella grandis we seek to imitate the timpanoga hecuba  sub-species. Along the coast there is even another subspecies.  It was here my entomology went  awry.

There is a red quill that looks to me and others like a green drake. I asked a distant friend who actually is an aquatic biologist about these invertebrates and was told "common names rule unless you're publishing." He went on to explain that he's become more a presentationist in his fishing over the years and doesn't worry about the precise nomenclature of the hatch or in the design of his own flies anymore.

"Big mayfly in #8-10-12 with a brownish or copper-greenish cast" was how he described his own efforts at the fall hatch drake on the Lamar.

"They float a long time before flight."

Good enough for me. I'll take a couple sample vials and see if I can pickle a couple in alcohol for some meaningful observation. I feel I've run into Steve Martin's old SNL routine of "what the hell is that?"

New waters. New bugs. A box of flies I've tied myself. A flask of scotch. A can of bear spray.

I'm excited.

I've only tied up 20 white miller caddis and a handful of spruce moths.

I'll probably toss caddis,  hare's ears, grouse and orange, and partridge and yellow for a week solid.

A fellow could do worse.


Sunday, September 2, 2018

...And Summer

Planning for fall overshadows my summer.

I've been to Estes and Rocky Mountain National. I've been to Ontario and the Wabakimi Provincial Park. I've been on my local waters.

I've been occupied with the day job. I've been writing.

At left, planning for Yellowstone with a morning cup of coffee and a sectional map.

Some activities in pictures below.

Rocky Mountain National. Look: lake, mountains. 

A Wabakimi Walleye - this is the expensive fish. You know,  the first fish of the trip. All the fish after this guy were free. This guys costs a lot.

He became a featured part of dinner.

Mike wouldn't take my picture with this one. He was "busy" and thus, "I'm biting your head. I'm biting your head."

After a few days in the north country, one becomes a little punchy.

I have a whole series of shoes-and-canned-beer pictures from the cabin this trip. I have no idea why.

This is Nicholas, the fire gull. He's the cabin's resident gull and he digs in active fire. He's standing on a log in the fire picking at "seed trash" from the prior group that didn't burn very well in the rain. We thought we better get it out of the way so it didn't attract bears.

The trash fire did attract Nick.

Tough gull.

Moose. Saw a moose.

... and a white miller caddis recently tied for the Firehole in September. Soft hackle, of course.

Hope all is going well with all. Have been a gargoyle lately. Will be more engaged on these pages here this month.


Sunday, July 8, 2018

Blue Walleye

Image at left from wikicommons and in the public domain as provided by NOAA.

Nice job on the painting. Thanks for the use.

The blue walleye.

My next adventure trip is by floatplane into the wilds of northern Ontario and the Wabakimi Provincial Park.The water is cold and pristine. The fish are walleye and northern pike.

I eat the walleye.

The proprieties must be observed.

We stay in a cabin with a solar refrigerator which works well enough to make ice. Yes, ice for the evening cocktail. Never skip cocktail hour. It's bad karma.

Everything else is propane or solar. We enjoy hot water showers.

Our activity schedule consists of breakfast, travel by boat, fishing, shore lunch, fishing,  travel by boat, the evening cocktail hour, something on the grill, cards, bed.

This my ninth trip to Wabakimi and I love it more each time.

The water is deep and cold. The lake is  large.

The main lake is seventeen to nineteen miles long depending on counting outlet bay and is about eight miles wide at the broad spot though five miles is a good average guess. The Lower Wabi is ten miles long and seven or eight miles wide with long broad bays extending back off the main body.

The lake complex holds three cabins though one is nearly abandoned now. The outfitter business in Canada is dying as recreation tastes-- and fuel prices -- change with time. We've been the only boat on the lake several trips though we've shared the water with four or five boats once or twice, too.

"No internet?"

There are walleye. About two in fifty are blue walleye. These are a rare specimen regarded purely as myth in some circles. I've held them in my hand. I've eaten them -- though unintentionally.

We harvest on a conservation limit: two fish for consumption per man per day. No party fishing.

Entertainment consists of feeding the eagles.

We haul the guts and carcasses away from our cabin (bears) to a small island guarding our lagoon where we watch the bald eagles swoop-in for an easy meal. The eagles come and usually take the carcass. The gulls squabble over big chunks of guts or over pieces of fish dropped into the water by the eagles' haste.

The crows appear in the end to handle the final cleaning process.

After the first day, two fish in the sixteen-inch range are more than sufficient to feed anglers expending calories sitting in a boat. Portage trips are entirely a different matter though on Wabi, we don't care for portages as the main lakes hold all the action we could want.

When the wind comes up, the big lake rolls with five to six foot waves which provide excitement in a small boat. Last year, we had evenings -- and evenings are long affairs in Ontario with the sun setting finally around 10:00 PM and the light lingering most of an hour more -- where the water was so still the entire surface was a mirror. Not one ripple across fifteen miles of water.

At five o'clock in the afternoon, one is reminded of "the anvil of the sun" section of Lawrence of Arabia. Twenty feet down, the walleye don't mind at all.

The blue walleye we catch seem to have a pigmented coating of slime.

It comes off on the cleaning table and on your fishing shirt. The flesh is normal and the pigment is hard to detect unless it is against something white and then, it is as if you ran a crayon sideways across paper as a block of color.

Certainly sunglasses and careful handling of fish we return to the water causes us to miss many of the blue we catch. Minimal handling in the water while in a net means we probably won't tell if this fish or that is a blue. When we're picking a "lunch fish" for a stringer sometimes we know from our hands though usually, it isn't until cleaning when we can tell.

I look forward to days on the water with my buddy Mike fishing largely in silence -- we know each other's jokes so well we only tell punch lines now -- and scanning the shoreline for bears and moose as we motor about.

We'll fish for pike on the fly in shallow bays in the afternoon.

I don't let pike over 40" in my boat, though.  Nothing like a large angry fish with a mouthful of teeth thrashing amongst your gear. With that slime coat, they frequently end up in the boat on the thrash even when using a lipper tool.

I'm a cradle guy now. Positive fish control.

We'll see if I can convince any pike to do the Canadian tarpon trick this year. Most have no desire to tail-walk though it has happened. We'll see.

"Pay extra."

 Doubles on the turn.


Thursday, July 5, 2018

Mountain Fishing

At left, snow on some of the peaks in Rocky Mountain National Park.

Colorado this year is quite dry. A fire on the other side of the continental divide drifted smoke into the Estes Park valley though it made for a fantastic sunset.

We saw a moose at dusk but were unable to get pictures. Typical of moose.  They're uncommonly shy compared to elk, otters, mule deer, or even bighorn sheep.

I did a little introductory instruction while visiting friends.  I outfitted them with the basics but for rod and reel and pointed them to Kirk's Fly Shop  for a few outings on $10/day rental gear before committing to something else.

Dan's an avid hiker who believes he will enjoy the occasional mountain stream or high altitude pocket lake diversion of a few casts.  Janene is a active sort up for anything. Together, they'll have a blast. They took to the instruction right off and were able to master the rod loading with a Belgian cast quite easily by the session's end.

I have cast the Douglas Upstream 380-6 and think it is a fine hiking rod provided the wind is down. That's the deal with the 3 wt: doesn't like much wind. A mid-day outing on a hike needs something with more authority after the ten o'clock blow comes on ...

I used a 4 wt Orvis troutbum and a 3wt Orvis troutbum on a stillwater session at Mary's Lake. The light rods worked well for instruction.

Below, an introductory set of late-summer flies in both a shirt-pocket day box and a back-up storage box just to get them started.

I didn't tie the big rubber-legged stuff. The rest are mine.

And ...

It's a start.  Dawn and dusk ants have always been late-summer flies which work well for me in the park. I like the mid-thorax tie though i understand why others might not.

I tie my ant bodies with floss, varnish the second-to-last wrap, and glue the last wraps in place by wrapping over the wet varnish -- in this case Sally Hansen Hard-as-Nails.

A little piece of 80-grit wet-dry roughs the floss and takes the sheen right off. One or two passes seems to make it "fuzzy" and dull.

I'm about out of the "cinnamon" floss. I'm going to have to look and see if I can find more.

My royal trudes are a little off-center but seem to do fine, anyway.

Apart from instruction, the social schedule allowed for no fishing. I traveled with my wife.

Bear Lake at 9400' prompted a little "carping" for air when we made a brief walk around the water. I'm not ready for serious backcountry at altitude, yet. Three mile trots on the flat lowlands are not sufficient preparation.

I'm going to have to work harder.


Monday, June 18, 2018

Blanked on the Au Sable

 I made camp on the Holy Waters of the Au Sable. I used the "big tent" which was awesome! Worked great and had its rain break-in. Fine. No issues.

I took my time to ensure a good pitch. Very little "fiddling about" required.

Interior sans chair.
I broke-in some new boots. Loved 'em. Did a quick two mile hike round-trip in them on the South Branch Au Sable moving from one spot to another and back. Very nice. They'll do.

Korkers. I loved my old centurions but with the large booties on my waders, my toes would ache then go numb. I had to get a bigger toe box.

Made some biscuits in the Banks Fry-Bake. These are sourdough-style and I'm not much for keeping a starter alive and not much for cake-style biscuits. I'm more a southern-style fellow. These were a little wet when I mixed them up and so they "caked-out" on me. Cooked-up fine.

I'm just glad they came out AOK in the end. I was sleepwalking through the prep thinking of something else and added about twice the amount of canned milk I intended.

I had a couple Oarsmen while enjoying the river. Let's just say I had a lot of time to think about tactics, fly selection, conditions, and possible valid approaches to likely holding spots.

Lots of time. I wasn't pressured by the haste of catching at all.

 Jeweled damselflies were about on the North Branch. It was a lovely humid afternoon and these were dipping at the water's edge. Trout had no interest in them.

 The rogue's gallery. An isonychia nymph. Hare's ear. Partridge and X, Wire-wrapped this and that.

By the end, I had nineteen of these on my drying patch.

I had a pair of small brookies hook-up on size 17 pheasant-and-orange. Neither made it to hand.

I hooked a small brown on the dangle on a PTN in 15 who hopped twice and threw the hook as they can easily do when taken from directly above.  I had a nice view of his belly.

Nothing to hand. I'm not sure why. It rained Friday night in two different spells before and after sunset though neither enough to do much more than damp the firewood at the neighboring campsite.

It was a dad-and-lad family outing over there of the once-every-other-year civilian camping style. Six or seven boys and a couple dads. Fire trouble. Food trouble. The usual misadventures.

I think they all had a blast. Their Sunday morning departure was loud and boisterously happy. Always a good sign with teenagers when they kick-in to do something with gusto. Results aren't always the end game. Activity and the pursuit of some activity count for a great deal.

Gear left out is going to be wet. Provisioning for the cooking fire is the first job after setting-up the shelter and some of that fuel needs to be protected from the elements.

Camp chairs are buckets if you leave them sitting around.

Hey, it's easy when you know how. If there isn't anyone to show you -- or you've only ever "scout camped" -- then you learn by experience. A good attitude helps and these folks could have been the mascots for good attitudes. Also, the boys were learning to fly fish and that was fun to hear.  Knot tying and practice was a big topic of discussion at the usual teenage boy volume.

Sometimes less than optimal outings are learning experiences of the first-order.

My time on the river this weekend fell squarely into "learning experience." 

I'm not sure if my approach was insufficiently stealthy, my tag of tippet extender on a cutthroat furled leader was poorly chosen, or my persistence into the evening hours was too brief.  I was off the water by eleven each night.

I fished upstream. I fished an up-and-across swing. I fished an across-and-down swing. I made dry fly casts to holding lies with an Adams, a royal coachmen, a drab jingler, and a jingler with a bit of flashy UV dub in the abdomen. I made nymphing runs. I ticked bottom with wet flies on a swing. I fished the top column with traditional soft-hackles.

I missed something. I know it wasn't fly selection because I covered the litany of bugs in various stage that are present in June. I used old favorites. I used other stages of old favorites.

I suspect that I needed to be on the water after midnight.

The hex started last week. Then stopped. The drakes blew through in the period of one week. It's odd for June right now.

I know Au Sable trout are nocturnal. I did not fish after midnight.

They got me. Again. 

Trout Win! Trout Win! (My best Harry Carey).
Great outing. Can't wait to dash again. Will be July with the current schedule. 

Rocky Mountain National is around the corner, though.


Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Dexter Casting Club

Image at left from the EPA archives as hosted on wikicommons. Public Domain photo.

The Dexter Casting Club is meeting on Monday nights at Hudson Mills Park in the stream pool adjacent to the walking bridge. 7 PM until dusk.

I meet on Monday nights through the winter at the Beer Grotto in Dexter where a hardy half dozen gather to guzzle stout and tie flies. I'd say we tell trout (or steelhead) stories but really, there is a great deal of tying in silence.

The Casting Club is an extension of the Monday night effort. Not a club as such. Just a drop-in casting fest with targets.

I've been on the Huron once in the last two weeks for smallmouth.

I haven't been up north fishing trout due to work and spousal social obligations. This weekend, I have a big blow-out graduation party for the daughter of one of my close fishing buddies and while I might grouse a little I wouldn't miss it for the world.

Even with trout-crazed bears, life can get in the way of trout dashes.

Casting on Monday night is at least a way to handle gear and improve skills.

I'd love to be more proficient with my single-handed Spey casting now that I am using OPST heads. After using light tapered line like Wulff TT for so long, the heavy headed OPST stuff takes a little adjustment on light 3 and 4 wt rods.

I do cover more water, though.

So, my snake roll is a little sketchy this year. It could use work. Mine is always a little sketchy.

I'd like to get a better accuracy out of cross-body cast. I'm over powering it.

I need to get my wiggle cast to be more consistent. Ideally, I draw the exact same wiggle pattern each time so my management of where to set the fly is better. I'm all over the map with it now and my terminal accuracy is not  as tight as I'd like. I'm going to need this cast on slow slicks.

Always something that I could do better with the fly line.

Going west, I'm going to need to tune my Belgian as well. I haven't had to really pull all that hard on the horizontal since coming to Michigan. I'm getting soft. A 30 mph blow across the Lamar will make me want to have that puppy doing all the tricks.

So, Casting. All of us non-commercial fishermen can use some tune-ups once in a while.


Sunday, June 3, 2018

Take Me To Your Leader

I couldn't resist. I know puns are the lowest form of humor but come on. It was lying on the floor and I had to pick it up.

At left, an image of the Albright knot (really, a bend ) as illustrated by Dfred and hosted on wikicommons. Dfred has placed the image into the public domain and so we are privileged to use it here. Thanks!

I tie a great many Albright knots because I am in that league of partially mad fly fishermen who ... gasp ... tie their own leaders.

Yes, I also use the plastic extruded leaders sold in every fly shop. They're fine. I really like furled leaders but I've not ventured to making my own, yet.

So, why? Why do I bother with tying my own leaders?

A hundred fifty years ago, a regular Joe fly fisherman would probably have made all his own gear. His grandfather would have done the same. Both might have traded services with a local buddy for some of it. Oats for fly line braid from the tails of draft horses, for example.

A hundred years ago,  some very fine commercial rods -- and by very fine I mean rods that performed uniformly under the same label due to mostly consistent production practices  -- were available through mail order or in the large cities, in a dedicated sporting goods store. E.W. Edwards was selling rods through the Winchester line of stores and through affiliated hardware outlets. Montague and Horrocks-Ibbotson were releasing tons of mass produced cane rods onto the market and most were available in the general mail-order business lines.

The Trout Industrial Complex was running full tilt.

Today, all it takes to go fly fishing is an Amex and a half-hour of instruction, if that. Maybe a recent viewing of  "the film" and a half-dozen on-line videos will suffice. Having our sport be accessible is a good thing.

I like the connection of using an ancient method of deceiving a fish even if that method is admittedly far inferior in success to a home-made brass wire hook and a can of worms.

I cannot plane my own cane. I'm a poor carpenter and a grave disappointment to an uncle whose trades included cabinetmaking.

I am a marginal fly tier and am thankful every time I catch a trout that somewhere in that frog-brain is a great appreciation for impressionistic art.

I can however tie knots. Tying your own leaders requires little other skill.

SO:  the Albright knot.

I've lecture notes and recipes and various volumes with sections on leader design. I still play with my own.

I had this week what I believed was the "wonder leader"  idea which I rapidly tied up last night. Lou the foxhound and I went out to a clear spot beside one of my meadows (which needs a good scything) to cast it.

I used my McKellip M84 4 wt which is just a outstanding piece of equipment. It's a strong 4 wt that casts a beautiful line. It's a great rod.

So, my leader threaded and attached is the extra-large size wool dab representing a big bushy dry ... and collapse.

I have leader designs from others that will throw such a fly. Most require five or seven step-downs through the length which results in a great many knots and some serious attention to the process of composition. I keep trying for the right three-section 12-foot leader that will turn over delicate soft hackles (many will) or land a big bushy dry if the hatch comes on and Big Bushies are on the water.

So far, no joy. Close, but not yet.

Back to tying a bunch of knots and following someone else's template.

Of course, with every leader I am poking a stick (rod?) into the eye of the Trout Industrial Complex. I'm crafting my own gear. I'm defeating the commercialism of our pursuit.

I'm tilting at windmills.

I am doing it stubbornly knot by knot. You can almost smell the moral superiority in the air.

Now, where is that latest Orvis catalog? They come every week.


Tuesday, May 29, 2018


At left, a brown trout on the Firehole River courtesy Mike Cline who graciously released this image to the public domain. Thanks, Mike! Image hosted on wikicommons.

The trout has taken a soft hackle fly. Lovely picture. Tons of personality in that trout.

I'm gathering intel for the big outing to Yellowstone.

I'm putting in my roadwork to be ready both for Rocky Mountain National Park (8200' at Beaver Meadows) and Yellowstone (8000'). I'm a flatlander and I suspect I need more than a three mile trot endurance. I'm working on it.

I need to get out on the water but the vocational concerns bit hard this spring as I knew they would. Things should get better as we age into June. Should help.

The rivers are coming down and bug are coming up. Could be an epic bug year.

I need to go trout camping.

Back to the salt mines.


Thursday, May 24, 2018

Traveling for Trout

When my grandfather was three years old, Teddy Roosevelt traveled to Yellowstone. He's pictured at left in an archival photograph used here from the collection of the Smithsonian Institution.

I don't have any record of his success in catching trout.

I have local trout. I live in a trout state. I'm still excited about going somewhere else to catch trout.

When I was young, loading up a crew for a couple hot summer weeks chasing trout in Colorado was a real treat. We usually camped and of course my uncle, cousins, and friends were all the sort of outdoorsmen with infinite patience whose every easy action brought success.

These memories of a few happy weeks are precious to me. Somehow, the thought of traveling again for the same sort of uncertain boyhood adventures fills me with joy, even if I too squint at the camera.

If the trout cooperate, that too will make me happy.


Thursday, May 17, 2018


File:Grizzly Bear Yellowstone.jpg

At left, a Grizzly Bear as photographed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife folks. Terry Tollefsbol in this case. Nice job.

Our crew is going to Yellowstone in the fall and I'm getting up to speed on flies, rivers, terrain, weather, and the works.

As a destination, it's an embarrassment of riches.

I'm also considering eating nothing but bacon sandwiches all week.  It's what this guy would eat if he could ask.

I'm sitting on the bank and watching the water, eating a bacon sandwich on toast, drinking coffee. 

I could start everyday like that.

Sunday, May 13, 2018


This morning's baked-goods-illustrated segment: mini-muffins. Blueberry, of course. I use too many blueberries.

Sue me.

Muffins are only a blueberry delivery mechanism. Besides, I'm practicing for the Camp of Old Bears in Yellowstone.

It's a trip year. The Amber Angler crew is going to Yellowstone for a Montana outing. Huge trip for us.

I'm going on a fly-in to northern Ontario again in August which is always a blast.

I'm going to Rocky Mountain National mid-summer for some mountain meadow fly fishing. Taking Frau Bear (thus the "meadow" because she isn't going to pack three hours and 2000' of climb to the better alpine lakes). Early morning is the trick to avoid crowds and so, we'll be a dawn patrol along with a couple students under instruction. Pity them.

Hey, soft hackles -- fished wet and dry -- in a mountain stream and at the edges of pocket lakes. Should work fine.

The Dexter Casting Club (not to be confused with the Golden Gate Angling and Casting Club here) is getting off the ground. We're doing a bit of Monday night casting practice and self-paced learning on a local pond.

We'll have sessions on the Huron, too -- after the bitch decides not to drown me. Water is high, fast, and dangerous for wading now. Pretty much like my entire state.

Anyway. Spey work on the river for trout and steelhead practice. Single-hand work on pond for the all-around. Should be good jovial efforts followed by something tasty at the Beer Grotto like the delinquents we anglers are.

Which brings me to these guys:

I've a juvenile (delinquent) turkey problem. These skinny little bastards are scraping the new mulch out of my perennial beds,  smoking cigarettes they roll themselves, and occasionally tagging things with silver sharpies. They make a lot of noise at dawn, too.

"Get offa my yard!"

The good number of these guys hanging around means my growing coyote problem has been addressed.


I get my mileage out of spending money for trips and vacations by anticipation. I stretch the value by using the preparation time for increasing my enjoyment.

I read, study photographs, maps, and satellite images. I read the descriptions and accounts of similar outings. I plan. I scheme. I even dream.

It stretches the dollar.

It's no different than winter tying sessions with a glass of scotch and a fire in the woodstove as I sit with Lou the foxhound in the library, watch the snow, and whip out another half-dozen Royal Wulffs.

I feel the enjoyment of fishing when I am not in the field.

I'm prepping for Yellowstone now because the damn park is huge and opportunities in and around it are enormous. Our group has a great place to stay. I've rented a Subaru to drive around with Leechboy as we hit various spots. Seemed a good choice given a late-fall chance of sleet.

I'm working on the precis brief on the waters of the area -- though none of the Amber Liquid guys will read it. They're impulsive. Makes 'em good companions.

I always feel I need to know the area. They feel that "going" is going to work out. Both ways can work and usually do work out fine.

I shared a book recommendation with The Senator. He too likes to know what he is getting into in order to not miss out on "the good stuff." Stopping at one bend on a river is fine but we both want to know what we're missing around the next bend.

I've set-up my LaTex typesetting software and am producing my briefing in the style of Dr. Tufte (here). It is going well and I'm enjoying the effort at non-fiction.

I've seen a similar layout used for fiction as well (The Selected Works of T.S.Spivet). The novel I reference was sold at auction by the author's agent for an advance of $1M in part because of the book's visual appeal. The marketing department of several publishers all believed that anyone opening the book would likely buy it based on the copious appeal of the side-notes and illustrations.

Literary fiction remains a difficult market despite the occasional gimmick.

So, I'm putting together the precis briefing on Yellowstone. I'm happy.

When the last time a writer said he was happy about something?

It's wet here and I sorted flies in the various versions of "go to field" boxes a couple weeks ago. Anticipation, again.

I sort by size and tone. I've got some color problems in these boxes. There's some size and composition stuff to sort out, too. I don't have my soft-hackle streamers in these pictures.

Basically, after sorting my boxes are still hunt and peck sorts. Meh. I'm not a commercial fisherman. I drink coffee on the water and have time to hunt and peck. It shows.

I do have two new Umpqua waterproof boxes that I'm trying to sort my best utility flies into. I dip my side bag in the water a great deal so I'm using waterproof boxes. Comes with being short-legged and wanting to take one more step. Now that I've tossed the marginally tied efforts into the mason jar, I need to stock the new go-to-river day boxes (one shirt pocket, one side bag -- more than that is just too many flies for prevailing conditions).

Above, the usual motley assortment of fly boxes accumulated over time. I like my felt fly wallet best but flies do slip out. All of these have done some duty as shirt-pocket boxes one time or another.


Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Almost Spring for Opener. Almost.

 Three pictures of Black River country on Friday.  That's between eleven and thirteen inches on the forest service road a couple miles in towards camp.

The guy down there in a new model F 150 was doing fine ... for about another fifty meters.

The problem wasn't so much the snow but the huge amount of water from the melt and the lubricating effect it had on the sand-bed roads.
 An example. I'm on  "high spot" here and you can see how the snow and ice worked to pool the water.
 The road to an alternate campsite. I didn't get to my chosen spot.

It didn't seem necessary.

So, I was making it down the road fine (after helping the lightweight F 150 in the above picture who had a little traction issue on some running water). However, in the advantage of age and experience a little voice spoke up inside my head as I paused to take these snaps before roaring onward ...

At twenty-two degrees on Saturday morning, this water would surely freeze over to sheet ice. That's always unpleasant especially in camp.

Then, It was to warm Saturday night into Sunday morning and there was a great deal of snow to melt. Local road flooding in the forest lanes was highly likely before I eased out at noon on Sunday.

Maybe, I should come back.

Au Sable in the trees.
South Branch unwadable as is usual on opening day.
The Manistee was fast, high, and treacherous.

I suspect the small Deward segment upstream on the Manistee to be high but manageable in spots. The problem being hopping between those spots with the possibility of getting "high banked"  in the flow and unable to crawl out upstream against the narrow channel current.

The Sturgeon was bank-to-bank and isn't a river with paths down the banks.
The Pigeon was better (the camp road above lead to the Pigeon) but again, it is a brushy beast that demands in-the-river wade fishing.

The Black was anticipated to be high but as it is a smaller stream, it would have been manageable were the surrounding conditions better. My desired stretch has a couple miles of bank walking available.

Discretion and Experience had me drive home Friday night.

Those two seldom are available for dates. Normally, they're washing their hair or something and leave me chasing that hot redhead Rashness and her exotic, leggy cousin Ill-considered. Those two account for most of my best stories and more than a couple scars.

 I fished my local Mill Creek ( one five-inch skinny brown )  on Saturday afternoon in a bit of wind. 

I was the only fisherman out. I caught the little brown on a soft-hackle micro-streamer in root beer on the very first half-cast. Then, nothing in two hours.

It was a good outing.

I was able to use my small OPST 175 grain head and tip set-up on a Winston BIIIx in 4 wt. I was casting from the bank in the weeds and brush with no appreciable backcast. I  covered all the water I wanted. Lovely. Worked like a charm.

Yes, the BIIIx is a wonderful dry fly instrument. It also makes a fine all-rounder here in Michigan, soft tip and all. It's pretty nice plastic.

So, opener. I celebrated at home. Had the place to myself this weekend.

 Biscuits in inverted perspective. Cat heads.
 Biscuits converted to biscuits and gravy. Always looks disgusting in pictures but smells so good in person. It's a small bowl.

Okay, not so small a bowl. Lunch, really.
Blueberry enhanced Jiffy-sourced blueberry muffin coffee cake. This beast was indeed destined to Sunday morning at camp but became Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday breakfast treat back at "base camp."

I'll give the up north two weeks. I'll fish the Huron swinging for smallmouth this weekend. Then, excursion outing to the north.

Still, it's opener. I have daffodils blooming and all that snow was four hours north of me,

That's something.


Sunday, April 22, 2018

Pre-Season Jitters

 I call it stress tying. You know: that period between when you really want to be on the water and when the season opens. That's stress tying season.

At left, a highly buoyant Coachman. I've concealed a strip of closed cell foam down his spine.

Yea, looks like it too. Call it a Royal Porkman fly.(well, need some true white and ...)
 My size 17 BWO soft-hackle. Yes, I have  a ton of CDC soft hackles in five (!) colors lined up ... not that I have a clue on the colors. I can't see color so I have no idea why I even bother. Usually, I can remember if I sort my fly box which is where. With five colors all tied on a snowy Saturday in January, I've no chance at all.

Nevertheless, a soft-hackle BWO. Yea, I'll work on it. #17 though. With the right presentation it will work.
 Soft hackle hare's ear flymphy tung-head.

I might need 'em and so I tied 'em. I am not a real fan of contact nymphing. Yes, I can freestyle nymph pretty well. Yes, I'm always rusty on the first outing. Always.

Why is that?

Anyway, I might need something if it is cold and dreary and my fish want something ticking on bottom.

That's not going to be my opener, though.

I've got a bug up my ass about making a couple epic trips this year.

I'm going to Wabakimi and one never knows if it might be my last trip. One of these days, I'll be flying in to spread some of Mike's dad's (also know as Old Guy) ashes in lower Wabi. He stopped going when he turned 80 and couldn't pack his own gear. He didn't need to pack gear at all but you try telling that to one of those old hard as nails bastards. Go ahead. I dare you.

Anyway, one day I'll be flying-in to spread Old Guy's ashes.

Then I'll be flying in to spread Mike's. We've had some of the best days of our lives sitting in aluminum islands on a place damn few people ever go. I love the Ontario wilderness. Stunning.

I fell in love with Wabakimi on my first day there in a boat with Reagan. His last Canadian trip at 78. My first.  Thank you Reagan, where ever you are.

I want the Amber Liquid guys to have this joy. Now, I'm too much of a hard-ass and an asshole-first-class for these fellows to listen to me. Different lives.

Nevertheless, I want them all to know "epic."

Yellowstone offers some of that. I want them to go to Yellowstone.

I want the Lamar. The Yellowstone. The Madison. The Gallatin. The Firehole. Cache creek. Soda Butte creek. Slough creek. The Gardner. There is a decade of fishing there for me.

There's a decade of fun for them. How many evenings around campfires are wasted evenings?


No worries about bears. We share the same temperament. Best to give us both a wide birth.

Opener is next week. I'm building a heavy camp. I'm feeding breakfast. I'm fishing. I'm thinking good thoughts about the fellows who can't make it. Who knows how long any of us might have?

I miss my buddy Dean every week. Maybe I can get Mike to come to Yellowstone, too. I won't let him fish with leeches. I promise.


Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Early Spring Flies, Opener Part 2

 More flies from the recent bench in anticipation of a cold opener.

At left, a coachman style streamer using a dyed guinea fowl as a outer hackle. It's tied on the Alec Jackson 7 1x short, 1x heavy "irons" hook.

Coachman streamer with a blond ginger hackle. It probably is the wrong style for the early/dark theme but it will come in handy soon.

The red ass in size 15. This version uses the red wire abdomen.That's dark claret SLF as the thorax.

I'll us this fly as the deep-point in combination with ...
The Stewart spider in 15. Simple and effective, the Stewart spider with its palmered hackle is a favorite early season choice.  There is a lot in the drift that is dark and lively.

 Grouse and Purple soft hackle. Also size 15.

I bought a new sleeping bag today, A zero degree bag. It's going to bloody cold at night and my thirty degree bag won't be enough.

It snowed again today. Fourth day in a row. More tomorrow.

Might be nice next week. Might not. We'll see.


Sunday, April 15, 2018

Opening Day Flies: Michigan 2018

At left, public domain image of Alanson Dunham of Norway, Maine and snowshoes he's made for the Peary expedition (North Pole, 1909).

Mr. Dunham's creations may have a use come open the last Saturday of the month. Right now, I'm sitting out an ice storm of minor proportion (only substantial power outages and downed trees in my neck of the woods, much as you'd expect). Up north in trout country, they're getting hammered.

I might haul my chainsaw north as I'm expecting the campsites to have received very little in the way of clearing downed timber. We'll see.

Yesterday, attended party at my local to celebrate Dirk Fischbach taking over as the Winston area rep. Dirk's been on their pro-staff forever and is the sort of fellow you want to see do well in the industry. He's a consummate commercial angler always ready with a word of encouragement, knowledge about our sport, or a ready smile. Sometimes all three.

I'm also putting together my year. I'm hoping some of the Amber Liquid guys might go to the Colorado front-range for instructional fishing -- the "learn a new approach" style rather than the "let me put a bobber on that" style. I want these guys to have a blast in a new local scene (they're far more social than I am), gain a new skill and the confidence to use it, and see someplace new. If not Colorado, then maybe YNP.

I'm going to RMNP right before July 4th. Canada on the first week of August back to the wilds of Wabakimi and Woodland Caribou National Park on a fly-in,  somewhere in September after kiddies return to school (maybe the epic Michigan UP trip), and in early October out to points west.

I've got a good year lining up.

Flies for Opener

Opener in Michigan looks tough. Entomologically speaking, we are behind on the seasonal development of aquatic insects. Prospects for the Hendrickson hatch are poor.

Subsurface: streamers under and along downed timber (of which I'm sure we're adding inventory this very second), small nymphs and soft-hackles in the flow and eddies, sculpin and crayfish patterns low and slow.

Hendrickson nymphs will be active. They "practice" in the flow sometimes for several weeks before hatching. I just doubt we'll see dry fly action this year. 

I'm tying accordingly.

I started this effort in the middle of last week as the long-term forecasts and the water temperature survey information started popping-up. Snow in Grayling last weekend and this weekend didn't help much (looks like 6" of accumulation in the past 48 hours). Snow is also forecast through Tuesday up there.

The water has been low but ice run-off is still a great deal of very cold water going into the rivers. It might warm quicker with the lower flow rates but that's a process.

I'm still expecting the fly shop reports to contain "saw some BWO and a couple Hendricksons" three mornings this next week because: fly shops. You don't attract patrons by saying "snow chains required on river access roads."  It's money.

You might see some bugs too if it were your money riding on it. Not faulting anyone.

The good news: the rivers are still full of fish and if you can get on them without combat fishing, so much the better. Nothing wrong with catching fish on streamers and nymphs.

I'm going with attractors: coachmen in soft-hackle wet and streamer varieties; Stewart spiders lightly wrapped with a little non-lead; some hare's ear streamers and flymphs.

Twist my arm and I could spend the entire year only fishing coachmen-style flies. I've tied some royal trude based on what I've seen over on Alan's Small Stream Reflections site (link at right). I'm still working out the proportions.  Look at his. They're lovely.

Friday night lubrication. With the bucket of cold water I dispensed on the opener hopes up above, one can use the liquid courage. Gin, gin, gin, and bitters.

Royal Coachman with a dun hackle. I'm reflecting on early season meaning subdued, darker, and largely smaller. This is a size 15 barbless Tiemco.

 Alec Jackson "irons" hook in 7 1x short 1x heavy. I think these are perfect for early streamers that I won't have to weight.

Nice hooks. I'm using them for trout but I understand one needs to be careful debarbing them (if one does) for steelhead and salmon as the debarbing can stress the hook at the barb and weaken it.

A buddy who now uses "debarbing" pliars and is a steelhead junky says he's never broken one since become aware that his water-pump-pliers method of smashing the barb was stressing the tip. Good to know.

A Coachman streamer tied on the above hook using a large dark orange-dyed "crawfish" colored hen hackle.

I think this is a good search streamer for holes, banks, and timber given the seasonal set-back in the fishing calendar.

I can easily be both stupid and wrong. I'm a rank amateur, remember. Always consult your local commercial fisherman for advice

A more traditional coachman streamer tied with a flag of dyed bucktail tied-in under and behind the dual hackles.

I'm using raspberry dyed coastal deer hair for the tails on this series. Seems to fit the "dark, early" intent as well.

Why the yellow bucktail?

Attractor-style streamer. I'm attracted to it.

I've also been tying some Gartside style maribou soft-hackled streamers in small (10-12) sizes. Meh. Mixed results.

I'm learning to master the materials. Some ways to go.

At left, mating some barred maribou for the micro-streamers in neutral colors.

Practice, practice.

I need to tie up some of Steve's scuplin patterns this week as well. Big soft-hackle heads making the sculpin wake as drawn along the bottom on a tight line could save the day.

There are some fish on the other side of the gloom. Let's be ready for them.