SmithFly review in Deneki’s weekly newsletter and El Poquito in the TFM 12 Day’s of Christmas

Last week the good folks over at Deneki Outdoors posted a review of SmithFly’s gear on their Blog. And this week that same review appeared in their weekly newsletter in the top spot! Totally awesome!

It’s frankly an amazing review, and I’m eternally grateful to them for the positive thoughts. In case you were wondering, no I didn’t pay them for that and you can read their mandatory FTC CYA material over here . I did send them some samples to test out. Please visit their site for the whole review, here is one of our favorite parts though.

Your core fishing gear goes in the pouches, with each pouch loaded according to a specific fishing situation.  For example, you might make a streamer pouch that has your streamer fly box, 1x and 2x tippet, a measuring tape, a hook file, some bullet weights and forceps.  Your baetis pouch might have your baetis fly box, 3x – 6x tippet, dry shake, extra tapered leaders and nippers.  Making sense so far?

So if you’re doing some trout fishing in January and you’re joining your buddy in his drift boat, you grab your baetis pouch and your streamer pouch and slap them on the outside of your boat bag.  Inside the boat bag goes your lunch and thermos and maybe your nice camera.

SmithFly Pouch and BeltPouch attached to belt.

The next weekend you’re fishing the same piece of water but this time you’re on your own, on foot.  This is where the system shines – just grab that streamer pouch and that baetis pouch, strap them onto your wading belt, and hit the road without worrying that you’re forgetting your hook file or your measuring tape.  It’s a great concept.

I’ve been trying to sum it up like that for a while, I think they did a marvelous job of nailing exactly why the system is soo cool, and I’m not just saying that because I cam up with the idea… ok I am slightly biased since it is my little start-up business type thingy.
Secondly Look for our AD in the holiday issue of the Drake too, can’t wait for that!
Oh and check out the Fiberglass Manifesto’s 12 Days of Christmas for a chance to win your very own SmithFly El Poquito.
Things are starting to get a bit crazy around Fiddle and Creel / SmithFly world headquarters, and that’s a good thing. If only the rivers would drop so we could get and hook into some Lake Erie steelhead…

Firehole River – Catching is heating up

Fly Fishing in Yellowstone reports that the Firehole catching is looking good. Looks like a good time of year to be there. And I learned a new word… salubrious – adjective -health-giving; healthy : salubrious weather. • (of a place) pleasant; not run-down.

. Despite the salubrious daytime temperatures it’s Fall in Yellowstone Country.

.. The golden meadows and cool evenings summon us to bits of water not visited for a couple of months. The Firehole River has, again, become a catching destination.
.. There are fewer elbows on the river right now. There are, however, massive numbers of voyeurs encircling the meadows as the testosterone laden elk begin their Autumn shenanigans. There are also creative parking geniuses along all the roads: and all is well with the world.
.. Evening caddis fishing truncates the mid day terrestrial frenzy at about 6:00 PM. A few Baetids have been spotted after the brief but intensive thundershowers.
.. Zipper-legged pants, pastel shirts, and $200 fishing vests are sprouting like winter wheat along the banks of the river. Fisher density will increase for the next week or so as word spreads.
.. We’ll let you know when the density of mayflies hits a level that allows even us to fish a dry.
.. More later.

Pics form the Au Sable Trip

Well, things have been stale around here for too long. I’ve been stupid busy doing all sorts of things other than updating my blog, BOOOH! But one of those things was actually fishing, so I’m sure I’ll be forgiven right?

So here are some pics from our trip to Michigan. Noticeably absent form the mix of photos is the typical trophy grip and grin. And that’s because nobody really caught one worth givng a shit about. But we are still trying to get this fishery figured out…

Unlike last year’s pent up mega hatch, we found most big activity had shifted to night. So next year we are doing some more night fishing than we did this year. (Last year we hit it end of may, this year mid June to try and hit the Hex hatch, again at night but because of the cool and wet spring the hexes were delayed a bit, it’s always something right?) Most of the night fishing this year amounted to standing in the river, staring at the dark water wondering when the spinners would start, and then heading back to the cabin after we got cold and tired of staring into the dark.

Pics below.

The Cabin and my venerable vehicle.

The big back porch with excellent view of trophy water, took the first brown of the trip not twenty yards from here,under a full moon.

The view upstream from the cabin, where I got the skunk off the trip.

Look at Ron and his tight little loop from the back end of the drift boat.

Here's Josh, casting in the front of the canoe.

George fishing from one of the pontoon boats.

Ron tying one on.

The brown drakes and iso's were just starting to come out but the spinner fall wouldn't happen until way after sun-down, when our tired asses were zonked out

A nice sunset, it's time to start listening for the toilet bowls.

We need to work on this night fishing stuff, it ain't easy.

LDR and proof of concept

The scene of the LDR.

Slurp. Fish! The trigger finger slams the line tight to the cork. Rod arm goes high. The line goes tight, and shakes. The slack is slowly payed out under the trigger finger and line wakes through the water towards the opposite bank. After the slack is payed out it tightens around the butt, panic ensues, more slack is pulled form the reel. Feet pound through the water over to the sand bar to keep the line from going too tight. The unpredictable spectre beneath the surface closes the gap by  just six inches and pays some slack. The loop under the butt is freed and the reel clicks, slowly at first and then with more consistency. The drag is tightened slightly. The tip of the rod points straight down but the spine points straight up. Pulling back on it just makes the reel click more furiously and accomplishes nothing. The worthless click and pawl of the reel doesn’t really do much of anything. The palm goes to the reel and line pays out in a herky-jerky fashion. The rocks crunch under foot chasing the shouldered goon downstream. The palm heats up and reel spins more, the feet can’t keep up. The line leaves a stiff wake in the smooth water, and the feet bash the earth and furiously splash water in all directions. The palm slows the reel, heat and pressure. Then POP! Loops of limp spaghetti fly through the air and pile at your feet. Long distance release but proof of concept remains.

The Waiting Winter Trout

It’s winter, and I wait, somewhere buried deep in a river. Behind a rock, I’m finning with the slow current. In a trance, I sway back and forth. My metabolism slowed, I find whatever tiny morsels happen to float by my pocket out of the current. My hole is a pad, an eddie, a thin slice of backward momentum behind one particulary beautiful stone that holds me on the edge of a constantly prying flow.

On those few days when the sun peeks out from behind a cloud and warms the water just a bit, I can find those tiny little bugs racing for the surface.

I see them streak from the bottom, and make haste for the other world. I don’t freak out about them. I see them off in the distance through the wavy water column bolting out from their hiding places and rising to the meniscus. If I watch the rocks below me carefully, a few will eventually emerge and streak right past my nose. The placement of my eyes doesn’t make watching things below me very easy, so I flick my tail to point my head towards the rocky bottom in cadence with my side to side motion.I make about one look down for every four side to sides. Its a delicate balancing act between getting food and maintaining my position in the stream. Too many looks and I tire out, too few and I miss my quarry.

My reaction must be swift, but calculated, my concentration complete. To miss an opportunity to intercept one of my tiny adversaries could mean I tire out and fall victim to the swift current barreling over my head. Patience is my virtue, so I wait, and wait, and wait.

The Last Cast

The last cast, and the take.

We blew into town on the coat tails of a three day soak. It was blowing, raining, cold and everyone and everything was soaked to the bone. Even the normally stoic hemlocks on the banks of the North Branch were bowing their mighty branches to the soak. The folks at the mug and jug in town said we must be out-of-towners if we were fishing in this crud. That afternoon while wading the North Branch, we took a few small Brook trout and a few rainbows but there was no visible bug activity. The fishing was slow but enjoyable. The rain eased. The skies were grey.

The next day we floated the trophy waters below the big dam. Overnight the rain ceased and the morning air was crisp and dry. We put in and started our float. As I normally do, I started with a dry dropper combo and took a small rainbow right off the bat in the first seam I drifted through. Getting the skunk off the day like that is always good. The day wore on and the wind picked up. The serene quietude of the morning air turned into a blowing gale-force wind. The heavy breeze swirled down the river’s trough, hammered the drift boat and spun it in every direction but the one we wanted to go in.The wind bashed our casts back down on the water and into our faces. Our casts piled up. A few fish were brought to hand, but both of us were thinking to ourselves, the catching should be better than this.

After days of soaking rain and a full day of a blasting Canadian wind, all God’s creatures were waiting for the world to turn back into a hospitable environment.

The third morning we found clear blue skies with the morning air as still as stone. Our float started as it had the day before but early on we began to see bug activity. The activity increased and the variety of bugs grew into a hatch unlike anything either of us have ever witnessed. Bugs of every type were fluttering in the air. I could list them off, but the list would look like a hatch chart for the entire year for the eastern half of North America. We took fish on every possible combination of flies and rods that we had. We found them rising on every seam in every foam line, and under every overhanging branch.

As evening drew closer the clouds of bugs got thicker. As we went from section to section we found thick hatches shifting from one type of bug to the next. But it didn’t really matter what we tied on. Big fluffy impressionistic dries, prefect anatomically correct representations they all worked. Two fly rigs. droppers, nymphs, they would eat it all, and with such reckless abandon it actually got comical.

We drifted through a section that the day before was like a desert of fish activity, barren and desolate. Only 24 hours earlier we felt like the camera quietly panning though a Sergio Lenoe film. Nothing Moved but us, as we floated along watching for a strike. But on this it day was quite different, it looked and sounded like people were launching golf balls into the river from a crowded driving range near by. We came around one corner and broke out into insane laughter at the site of fish rising with such frequency that all we had left to do is laugh at the sheer hilarity of the scenario. We anchored up and wore it out. These fish would take anything we threw at them. You couldn’t line them, you couldn’t stop them from feeding, they were in fact the dumbest stockers we have ever seen.

After wearing it out catching those idiots, we decided we’d move on and focus on some better fish. At dusk, right before the take out we found a pod of fish rising dead in the center of a deep run. We tried every conceivable combination of flies, but these fish were big, not idiots, and keyed in on one particular insect. We lined them a bunch and put them down, a bunch. We waited, they returned to a rhythmic rise every time. We tried every pattern we could think of, and I got sick of changing flies and gave up. My friend decided to try one last pattern, the last Mahogany spinner he had in the box.

He said, “all right this is my last cast, if she doesn’t take this one she won’t take anything.”

He dropped it just two yards in front of the fish and we both waited in absolute silence as the fly made a perfect drift right into the feeding lane. Slurp, she took it. Nice Fish, and nice way to end an insane day.

You can’t plan for a hatch like that, they just happen sometimes when you happen to be around. But when you hit it right, that’s what keeps us coming back for more.