Friday, September 30, 2016

Email From John: The Delaware

John is my brother. Plying the waters of the east with fly rod and naturalist's eye and heart. He loves the Delaware. This is an email describing a recent trip. He evokes the fabled Henry's Fork, a place he and I have visited together for many years. Sounds like we need to be visiting the Delaware together. I already have a solid invitation to join him next June. Can't wait.

I had a really nice 4 days on the delaware river.  not because i caught a lot of big fish, but because i just fished. and fished.  or didn't fish.  and poked around and took my time.  if this is what retirement is like, them i'm all for it.

where i spent most of my time reminds me so much of fishing the HF (Henry's Fork) - slow flows, lots of weeds, big fish inhabiting virtually every reach, run, and pool, making themselves known in tantalizing and ofttimes frustrating ways. And persnickety.

I was fishing pull-offs as part of my strategy for learning more about the river -- simply driving up the two-laner alongside the river and stopping and looking at the river at every pull-off (there really aren't that many of them); if i saw anything of interest, i stayed.  If not, i left.  Poking around.

this is how i found a very nice spot where i found a good number of fish, more than a few of which were Big.  And a nice BWO hatch about midday.  Except i caught one of the bugs and there was nothing blue nor olive about it - all light gray.  Made mental note to tie some for the following day.

I did manage to hook a couple small and a couple medium browns on a hodge podge of flies, none of which looked at all like a little gray mayfly.  (size 20-22).  The afternoon devolved into an HF afternoon's activity of watching the water hoping for some clear answer as to what to use to catch fish.  Meanwhile, I kept hearing a large fish swirl, rush, suck water, and otherwise raise a commotion on a fairly regular basis.  This was all happening close by,  upstream of the pocket of water formed by a bit of a downed tree/snag.  That particular area should be reminiscent of a nice spot that you and I fished regularly, Jim, in the back channel - the foam mat that formed on the upstream side of a downed tree trunk just below that long grass island.  You, mostly, and I (at least once i think) could almost count on finding a large fish lurking just under the front lip of the foam mat, ready to suck in some trout candy if it happened by.  and the candy was usually in the form of a flying ant.  Am I right? (He's right. That was an epic trip.)

So, there i am with my nose to the water on the delaware, and what should float down through my window? a small reddish flying ant. holy crap. I have a flying ant! I tied on the HF version and used it on some fish below to zero effect. Hmmm. I had some blackish flying ants that Harrop tied (Rene Harrop), so i tied one of those on (i think our patterns are juicier) and decided to walk up and at least see if i could figure out an approach to the big fish.

It was/is almost exactly like the HF situation.  I figured the only thing to do was to try to drop the ant maybe a foot above the edge of the foam mat and let it drift slowly, oh so slowly (the flows were low) closer to the edge and along side it at the same time, and if necessary, let it dip just below the leading edge and not get snagged.

so, i lobbed a cast and the fly landed pretty much where i wanted it to.  Immediately, and i mean immediately, the fish lunged out and grabbed the ant and the game was on.  In this place, the water was about mid thigh deep, and the weeds were about knee deep.  Just like the HF.  So, this fish did some donuts in front of the foam mat, stayed out in front and didn't go back in, and then did some nifty moves that involved porpoising in and out of the weed bed.Then everything stopped, except that i knew the fish was still on because i could see it, and i could feel it.  But i couldn't retrieve because everything was balled up in the weeds.  So i approached carefully and was gradually able to free my tippet from the weeds so i had a direct line back to the fish.  Except that now i had quite of load of weed having off my leader.

in the image you see about 19-20" (or more...?) of fish, and about 40" of weed clinging to the leader. Not good. If you could see it in the image, which you can't, you'd see him looking up at me out of the corner of his right eye, and he's saying 'go ahead, make your move'.
I was pondering.  I realized that, notwithstanding the appearance of the image, i was very close to that fish, and that i might just be able to net him directly without further ado.  So my move was to go for my net.  I'm pretty fast, but he was faster.  As soon as i reached, he bolted; more donuts, then directly between my legs, and then twice around my left leg.  And then it was all over.  the tension i felt on the rod was merely the fly digging deeper into my new waders.

fun though.

The following day, same place, i used all four of the teeny gray mayflies i tied the night before with no luck on the fish further down the pool.  They were there and they were eating. but nothing i was giving.  i tried all the tiny stuff i could find, did droppers (hate those), even tried midge larvae, pupae, and adults.  Then as an after thought, i tied on a partridge and orange soft hackle (LOVE them).  first cast immediately hooked a smallish brown.  second cast, immediately hooked a decent brown.

third cast immediately hooked a Big fish that in about three seconds took all my fly line then dove into the weeds. I brought back a baseball sized clump of weed on one of my leader knots. But that was a really fun fish. Big. Did i say it would have been a Big one?

No Gravity

Multimedia fly fishing.

No Gravity from Natalie Franceva on Vimeo.
Fly fishing is a lot like painting- sometimes a bad cast will catch fish as a bad brush stroke can add to a painting. Our fishing adventures don't end as we leave the river, they continue in our studio as we work on a new painting or photographs and videos that we've taken during our adventures.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Fall Smallmouth Fishing James River

Getting my smallmouth thing on.

Fall Smallmouth Fishing James River from Blue Ridge Outdoors on Vimeo.
Mid-September is the perfect time to fish the big rivers for smallmouth bass.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016


I dug through some boxes this afternoon and located all of my fly fishing equipment. That comes under the heading of "unpacking" so it was all good. It's just a coincidence that it means I can now actually go fishing with it.

It was a little poignant to clean off the fly patch on my vest. There before me was the record in flies of my 2016 Washington fishing season. When I finished removing all the flies I was left with the proverbial clean slate. Time to begin fly fishing in Indiana again.

Why not sooner than later? I slipped away after supper and headed to the nearby lake to stretch my casting muscles.

I began on the dock. It felt good to cast again. I had a 5X tippet on, and fished a few different small flies, from mayflies to griffith's gnats. I knew there were fish under the dock, but I was still convinced there could be bigger bluegill and maybe crappie, and maybe even bass, out in open water.

Dead drift, twitching, a slow strip, and even drowning the flies and stripping them in, brought no evidence of fish life. I tried a small muddler greased to float and again moved nothing. I wasn't so convinced anymore.

I crossed the causeway and cast the muddler out past the weed beds in the main lake. (My backcast was tailing out over the road behind me, so I had to watch for passing cars and bicycles. One cyclist hit his brakes hard enough to squeal the tires, but I would have missed him by a mile.)

The muddler got immediate attention, but it seemed that the fish hitting it were too small to get a grip on it. I tied on a little light caddis and caught the first fish in Indiana. Why not a bluegill for the first fish? You can bet it won't be the last bluegill.

With the coming of dusk the lake lit up. Fish were active all along the shoreline and in the weed beds. Some, I surmised, must be bass. I switched to a muddler and worked it. No bass this time, but one very feisty pumpkinseed managed to get its mouth around that big fly.

So the fly gear is out and organized, and the rod and my casting arm are limbered up. My 2016 Indiana fishing season is underway.

The Danish Danica

So sweet.

The Danish Danica from Chiel Robben on Vimeo.
The highlight of the season of northern European dry fly fishing is without doubt the Ephemera Danica mayfly hatch. Follow along in a weekend in late May where a group of friends found a Danish spring creek which hosts a particularly large population of these mayflies - and the trout that follow... Music: Female Forest - Step by Step.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Another Successful Outing

I haven't been able to swing a solo fishing trip yet, though I have researched the area and know just where I want to go when the window opens. I look forward to that.

For now, though, I'm having a blast right near home with my fishing buddy, Sebastian.

Even for a three-year-old fishing can be a contemplative sport.

Until the bobber darts out of sight and it's time to jump up and do the fish dance.

This was his personal best Bluegill. So far.

I still put the piece of nightcrawler on the hook and take the fish off the hook, but he does the rest. He figured out pretty quick that the good fish are close to the dock.

Like this one.

And it's Fall, and the leaf hatch is underway, so he's learning to deal with that. This one was a whopper of a sycamore leaf.

That big round red and white bobber is his favorite. Now and then, though, he likes to try the Mickey Mouse bobber, maybe for luck. I got it for his Aunt Laura when she was a little girl some thirty years ago. It has never floated upright, and it didn't bring Sebastian any luck this time either. But I love seeing him using it.

On this trip I was fishing the whole time, too. I had a big wad of nightcrawler on a good-sized hook about three feet under a bobber, and I cast it out as far as I could. There were fish under the dock, but I wanted to see what I might find out in open water.

The answer was "nothing." Sebastian outfished me again. In my book, that's another successful outing.

Kiruna - A Fly Fishing Adventure

Brothers and fly fishing just go together.

Kiruna - A Fly Fishing Adventure from Niklas Kristensson on Vimeo.
My brother and I went on a remote fly fishing adventure in the far north of Sweden. Sleeping in a tent along a river in Kiruna. We had a great time catching trophy brown trout, grayling and arctic char.
Music: Ugly Casanova - Here's To Now

Friday, September 23, 2016

"September" by Linda Pastan

"A Shepherd and his Flock" Jasper Francis Cropsey (1823-1900)

it rained in my sleep
and in the morning the fields were wet

I dreamed of artillery
of the thunder of horses

in the morning the fields were strewn
with twigs and leaves

as if after a battle
or a sudden journey

I went to sleep in the summer
I dreamed of rain

in the morning the fields were wet
and it was autumn

"September" by Linda Pastan from Carnival Evening. © W.W. Norton & Company, 2009.


Escape to the upper Laerdalselvi River in western Norway. Bring the big net.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

And So It Begins

It may be a little premature, but I'm going to officially kick off this blog.

We just came rolling into southern Indiana from the West--Washington State, to be more precise. We lived there for ten years. Shortly after we arrived here I mentioned to a clerk at the grocery store that we had just moved to town. She asked from where, and I told her. The guy in line behind me overheard and muttered, "You f***ed up."

No, not really. I think I understand where he was coming from. We did leave behind some beautiful country, and some wonderful fly fishing. I will miss that. But moving here was not a mistake. It's a highly anticipated family reunion.

I am now officially retired, and this is where I wanted to live. We are now living near our three daughters and their families, and our fourth daughter and her boy, and one of our two sons, moved here with us. That means that all five of our grandchildren are close by for the first time. I love to fish, but I love my family and spending time with our grandchildren more.

I've lived in Indiana before, so I'm familiar with warm water fly fishing. Then again, I previously lived in northern Indiana. Southern Indiana is new country--and new water--that I'm eager to explore. The smallmouth opportunities abound here. And for a trout and steelhead fix, Michigan is just a few hours away. I've spent lots of time there, and can still remember every inch of the Pere Marquette River from the Clay Banks to the Green Cottage.  And every year I hope to travel back to the West to revisit some of my favorite waters there.

Now, though, the exploring has begun here. The backbone of this blog will be simple reports in words and photos of my fishing experiences around the area. I don't have a personal vehicle yet, so I won't be going too far afield until I get one. But it turns out you don't have to go too far afield to catch fish around here.

Just ten minutes from our house is a pleasant little bluegill and bass lake nestled in a nature preserve. It was the perfect place to take my three-year-old grandson, Sebastian, who had been pestering me to take him fishing since the day we arrived.

He went right to work, with some worms freshly dug from our yard, and had the honor of catching the first fish in Indiana.

And then he did it again.

Way to go, kid.

We crossed the road to the other side of the causeway where he let me use his rod to throw some bass plugs while he threw rocks.

But Sebastian was the top fisherman of the day.

While we drove home he might have been dreaming of catching the Big One.

Meanwhile, his Grandpa was dreaming of this new country and all the unknown waters waiting to be discovered.

Flyfishing Sanxas


Flyfishing Sanxas from Luke Bannister on Vimeo.
Flyfishing Saxnas. (Flugfiske Saxnäs)

A late summer fly fishing trip up to the mountains of Västerbotten County in Sweden.
A cold North wind slowed the hatches, but the clear waters and stunning surroundings made for a great trip. For more information about fishing this amazing area take a look at