Stalking More Brookies

There was lots more grading to do—so more breaks were necessary. The weather got better and I returned to an area near the scene of the last brookie success. My goal was to discover some new holes by hiking up river, and boy did I find some beautiful spots:

Shangri La of Brook Trout Habitat

I fished a hole right above here and hooked up big on a streamer fished low and slow—missed. Went back to the well and did it again a bit later. Not wanting to lose the fish again, I did the rod-over-the-head thing. It was a good fish and I played it for five minutes and more. There was so much line at my feet that I’d stripped that I decided to “play it safe” and spool some in to avoid tripping. This is always a bad idea and I don’t know why I try it. Sure enough—boom. Fish off. I hiked above and no other fish that day other than a small guy but I did locate some great terrain.

A couple of days later I returned to a nearby hole. The rain splashed on the windshield all the way up and I was glad. As soon as I arrived it stopped–not optimal for the nymphing I was planning on. Seven fish and three monster brook trout landed. On the first, I drifted a quite hairy caddis emerger over a likely rock into some deep current. I used tungsten putty weight for the first time. And as soon as the line extended downward and had barely begun to drift:

A Nice Long Maine Brook Trout—18 Plus Inches

Changing Flies to a streamer with lots of weight after things slowed down produced this kyper:

A Healthy Guy

My favorite picture of the day was this release–a brilliant but completely accidental piece of camera work. As so often happens when fishing by yourself, the fish slips out of your hand as you’re trying to get the shot. This time, the result was Escape from Alcatraz:

Houdini Brookie Escapes the Bank Safe

That was a great day. In the run-up to our yearly Grand Lake Stream landlocked salmon hunting adventure, I will be out this week honing skills and practicing hypo-thermic exposure. Looking forward to fishing with Wild Bill, and should hear soon about Mac’s own quest on local waters—his own tune up for the Great Journey Northward.

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Redemption on the River: Hey Hey—The First of May!

I was about to tell you the story of my humble first fish of 2012 that followed hard on last post’s fiasco. But today’s outing takes the cake. And the saying I favored in grad school works just as well for fishing, it turns out: “so many fiascos—so little time.”

Unfortunately, the ‘kid couldn’t make it—too much homework. A problem set, he said.  I sent him a text to the effect that if he was going to have his priorities straight like that his fishing future was sure to be limited. So I set off by myself. My fishing buddy “Magyver,” also known as “The Car Whisperer” was suffering from a different moral attack: meetings at work, he said. So Mac couldn’t be there for the Redemption on the River that took place in yesterday’s rain.

To make up for recent failings, I hiked into a local stream known as he Keva-Seam (to my friends) last week to see how water levels were after the pulse of steady rain we’ve been having. Just happened to have my rod along, of course. The current was running fast but a down tree sticking halfway across made a nice slack spot for fish to bide their time, save calories and see what got spilled onto their calm eddy table:

The Sweet Spot—Home of Big Brown

I fished the obvious line—the crease between the fast and slow water on the left toward the middle of the stream. First a Black Ghost streamer before I realized I needed to get deeper.  A black and green wooly bugger with a tungsten head was the weapon of choice. On the first retrieve I see the flash of a major tail. Weak kneed, I drift the bugger like a nymph down the same line and on the second retrieve—WHAM.  My five weight LL Bean rod—the Orion—bent straight to the river. My knees now had the strength of the $.99 cent a jar of the jelly you can get at Walmart. I’d heard of the big browns that haunt the ‘Seam, and there’s landlocked salmon too. The sign coming in even warned about releasing the occasional Atlantic Salmon rumored to be recovering here. No matter. After playing the beast to calm water carefully, slowly— as gently as possible given the huge back that broke the water—my line snapped. Not at the knot, and not at the tippet. Above it–at the strong part of the leader, where I must have had a nick.

No more fish were hooked that day.

So I was out for revenge yesterday. Fishing in the rain is great. You’re alone with your thoughts and the fish will At a place I call rainbow alley in Central Maine, a fourteen inch rainbow went for a sparkly green bugger in a sink tip, retrieved slow:

Now I Was Feeling Better

After that I wanted to go where the bigger fish are. So I headed to a spot on what I call the Eekem River, where there are no stocked fish. I was now optimistic about the rain and deep nymphing a favorite spot with different caddis pupa droppers, my indicator went down fast. Like for this one:

17″ Native Brookie Fatso: Released Happy

There were smaller brookies too that went for nymphs higher up in the water column:

Keep Eating Junior!

The redemption was almost complete and there’s more photos of the other fat brook trout. But I’ll save these hosannas for now so that Big Brown of the ‘Seam doesn’t get mad. Mac and I will be out to visit him shortly.

 

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Joshua Chamberlain and Fish

The fighting Professor, Joshua Chamberlain—he was my hero, but he didn’t fish. Put down his classics books, headed up the 20th Maine and at Little Round Top, led the charge and saved Gettysburg and the nation. But he had feet of clay. Where was his fly rod? Maybe he did wet a line in a stream in the North Woods of Maine or even around Bowdoin College. But he sure didn’t tell us what fly he used that day or what the mist on the water looked like just before the bite came on. In other words, my hero didn’t blog, and so he wasn’t the Fishing Professor. This is where I get to one-up him a bit, though I’m checking out his archives to see if there’s any fishing tidbits I can steal.

In these blog pages, you’ll be able to find my own fishing version of the downhill charge that saved the nation. Except I will be leaving a fair number of good flies hooked into the trees as I go. Sometimes, I do manage to land a Maine brookie like this:

Last Summer Sure Was Nice

There will also be some pictures of fish swimming to safety: released without me ever having had them to hand. Other times there will be accounts of fly fishing locales in California, my pseudo-origin, where new water is always around the corner and the season, thank goodness, lasts longer than here in the North, a.k.a. southern Quebec.

The goals of this blog will be to entertain with tales and pictures of fly fishing success and failure, written and photographed by someone who loves both fishing and stories—and professes to be a fly fisherman—in the great State of Maine and beyond.

First Fish of 2012: Gone with the Hook Set.

Spring came early to Maine this year and we’ve had a kind of drought. So there were no blown out rivers with me and fishing buddies chomping at the leader for the flows to go down. That was last year. This year low water meant we could get out early. So I got out to the Kennebec way back in in in early March, because the Kenny in places is open year round and in its tail-water sections keeps running through the winter bite, or non-bite, as it were. Well, of course I  froze my ass off without hint, tug or nibble or quiver of a fish:

Path to Icebox River

Then I got back there with my buddy the Colorado kid last week and we threw the proverbial fly box at them. Flows were such that we could stand in a very exciting, deep cut that has produced many fish before: we stood right in the middle of the river, and saw a small caddis hatch and some blue-winged olives. The Kid fishes a triple-dropper nymph rig with an indicator and boy, he is sharp, but still looking for his first Maine landlocked Salmon. Man, I wanted to hook him up so bad!

Thanks to the flows in this dry spring in the north woods, we were able to get out into a deep cut in the middle of the river. Early on, the Colorado K. sees his indicator—it’s a bobber—plunge down below the surface: he’s got a great hit, and I saw his rod wiggle and tweak down. By the time we finished jumping around like two firecrackers in a butane torch factory, poof—FISH OFF!  When I asked the ‘kid how the hook set went—expecting a long story about which of his three-fly rig it was—he simply tells me: “I missed it.” When I asked him how that happened, he gives me these three words: “because I suck.”

Now the ‘kid doesn’t suck at all. In fact he’s ten thousand times the fly fisherman I am and knows the streams of Colorado inside and out.  But we all suck a little on that first tug of the year. You don’t believe it’s a fish. It’s been a long winter of dreaming, after all, and when you see the line jiggle you stand there frozen until your hook-set muscle memory returns from its slumber. I didn’t meant to make the Colorado Kid feel better, but I did top him in suck-age a few minutes later. I am swinging a blue winged olive drowned, like a nymph, and right at the bottom of the swing, where I should be paying most attention, the line starts dancing in my hands. The feeling was like when your hand or foot falls asleep, and I guess it had. But the tingles didn’t do diddly squat to wake the sleeping hook-setter in me. I also had all kinds of slack line piled up next to my waders, so when I lifted the rod, let’s say zero tension resulted.

I did get to release a lot of tension in the blue streak I swore. The ‘kid had a good laugh and we didn’t get him his first Maine landlocked salmon that day. Stay tuned.

 

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