I tried hard to show off that fly but the fish were a little too hungry!
Armed with a new fly pattern, I set out to get a picture of it hanging from the corner of a fish’s mouth. I was sure it would work but who really knows when it comes to new flies. There were plenty of fish willing to hook themselves but nearly every one was hooked in a manner that wouldn’t allow for a photo of the fly. One large fish even broke off, stealing the fly I was trying to get shots of. It was laughable. How could I be angry that the fish were taking my fly? Years ago someone told me “you can fish, or take pictures, but it’s hard to do both.” That same person told me the old photographer’s joke “…if you want to take better pictures, get better looking friends.”
Of course, there were only 4 flies tied and that’s never enough if it’s the one that’s working. With 2 in the trees or on the bottom, and 1 in a fish, the rest of the afternoon was spent casting with less boldness. You can bet a dozen or two will get turned out at the vise this week. As for the photos, I may just have to settle for a picture of it in the vise.
Let’s go fishing!
Micah & The Knee Deep Team
The banks of the Big Gunpowder look a little different after the high water.
After Hurricane Sandy and the nearly 3,000cfs spike in flows, the banks of the Big gunpowder look a little different. While the high water changes the look of a river and can be hard on its aquatic life, these too-frequent epic-high-water events are a good chance to study the life of the river. Those of us who spend a lot of time on the water are familiar with its banks and the contours of its runs. There’s nothing like walking and wading your favorite stretches and discovering new runs and log-jams if you’ve been bitten hard by the fishing bug.
Some insect sampling revealed lots of caddis and mayflies holding tight to the rocks and a few midges. One thing we discovered is a lot of olive mayflies. We’ve always fished dark brown and olive Gold Ribbed Hare’s Ears and treating yourself to an olive hare’s mask would be $5 well spent if you tie your own. The midges that were netted were more cream and green than any of the red or black varieties. Super tiny and active in a sampling bin, they were hard to photograph. We shot a few through some stacked lenses and will think skinnier and longer in the future. A size 16 curved hook with tan thread will be in the box this winter.
We netted a few midges and quite a few snails!
Headed out this week? Think deep and set the hook every time your strike indicator stalls even for a moment.
Keep your boots clean,
The Knee Deep Team
Got ants in your pants? Maybe you hadn’t noticed but ants are everywhere this time of year. Sure, beetles and hoppers are cool and get lots of attention but ants are small and, when you find them, you find lots of them.
Last week I found myself and a guest fishing on the Big Gunpowder Falls hunting fish in the shade of overhanging trees. We had one of those “Cast it in there like this” moments and as the fly hit the water it was crashed by a nice brown trout that was watching for food in the trees.
As necessity breeds creation, I’ve come up with a fast and durable foam ant pattern that I can tie lots of in a short time. You can get a PDF with step by step tying instructions HERE. I recommend tying a good number of them so the trees can have a few without it ruining your day.
Put some ants in your pocket!
While the water is high and may get higher today, there are sunny skies in the future forecast. Here at Knee Deep Headquarters, we’ve got a day off the water tying Pheasant Tail nymphs and spinners for when things return to normal.
The prior week was filled with great fishing on The Big Gunpowder Falls. Sulfur emergers, wets, and dry + dropper combinations proved deadly right up until the latest front rolled through, when things slowed down.
If you’re headed out this week, be sure to check the river gauges before you head out. At close to 300 CFS the water is mighty fast. Fishing heavy streamers in the eddies is a great way to stay on the banks and hook up with some big fish. Don’t let stained water scare you away. If you can cast around the rapidly growing vegetation on the banks, you’ll find fish holding on the edges. By late this week, things should calm down.
The Knee Deep Team
Last Friday I got a chance to take out some folks for Backwater Angler and show them around on the Gunpowder. A few warm days got the fish excited before our outing and the stoneflies were keeping them busy in the slack-water and eddies. Friday was a little cooler and cloudier than it had been but any time I’m not shoveling snow in March, I’m not going to complain.
Theaux set us up with one of his 5pc Winston 4wts to try out (We brought it back in the original 5 pieces) and we had a great time putting it through its paces. With a few clouds overhead, the water temps flirted with 50 degrees, though it didn’t quite get there for us. Stoneflies and Blue Winged Olives provided the bulk of our action. The father and son duo were good company on the water and, as someone who treasures fishing-time with family, I had fun showing them around. They reminded me a lot of my brothers and I with some good laughs about casting and catching. We landed a few and, with the sunshine peeking out right at the end of the day, it felt like Spring was surely here. It reminds me that I need to put some days on the calender to fish with my own family.
- Tight Lines in March
If you’re headed out this week and weekend, check the weather and the gauges. This gauge has flows AND temps. When it heats up, fishing should be great. Pack some stoneflies, a few Hendricksons and a lunch – make a day of it! Don’t have flies or haven’t renewed your license yet this year? Swing by Backwater and talk to Theaux’s crew. There’s some gold out there (see photo below) and it’s hungry!
Tying your own flies? Knee Deep has some patterns for you. Check out our favorites for spring! Get signed up for the Knee Deep Fly Fishing Newsletter and keep up to date!
Keep your stick on the water!
Wrapping up the weekend here at Knee Deep Headquarters, I’m reflecting on a busy few weeks. The Fly Fishing Show in Lancaster, PA was a great time and a god chance to catch up with old friends and make a lot of new ones. Putting faces with lots of names and shaking hands with folks you’ve only traded emails with makes the world a little smaller. As a newbie on the show circuit I was impressed with my fellow fly tiers who really made me feel welcome and supported. I couldn’t have done the show without my go-to instructor, and brother, Mark. One of these days he’ll give up on the 9 to 5 life and fish full time, I know it.
After that, I had a few days to recover and unpack, then I tagged along with my wife to London. While she was working hard, I made sure to eat everything in sight and stop in a lot of pubs along the way while touring the city. I didn’t get out of the city to explore fishing options but I sure feel like I can check off the major sights. I kept the staff of the hotel laughing as I asked for directions every morning. While I can appreciate a nice hotel, the concierge “dudes” were joking with me that I was like Crocodile Dundee. Big Ben, the Tower of London, the Prime Meridian…I saw it all. It was more tiring than a day on the water.
Sometimes Micah gets to fish!
Speaking of the water, I was out on Friday and things are warming up. The air temps are starting to turn around and the water temps can’t be far behind. The wind was cranking and, at a few points, casting had to be paused while the gusts made their way down the river. I was lucky enough to have a friend along who actually snapped a rare picture of me with a fish. I love showing people around my local haunts and Friday was full of good joking around and relaxing. We had a few minutes when the sun burned through the clouds and the wind paused long enough for the stoneflies to take off from the grass and make a large cloud over the river before being blow away again. If you’re headed out in the next week pack heavy streamers and stick them close to the banks. 4x fluorocarbon and a loop knot will get you deep and help you pull the fish out of the undercut banks that the winter’s high flows have carved out.
The April schedule is filling up fast. If you’ve been putting off booking an outing for spring,don’t wait. Time is flying by. If this week’s weather forecast is true we should see Spring really showing it’s colors around the Gunpowder. Give us a call or e-mail and we’ll help you use up those fresh 2012 sick days!
With winter about to clench its fist down on this warm fall season it’s time to start planning ahead for that cabin fever. The best remedy I can think of is a trip to one of the upcoming consumer expos put on by the folks at The Fly Fishing Show. The Knee Deep gang is ready and I’ll be tying at the Lancaster, PA show February 18th & 19th not to mention stocking up in person while there’s a huge selection of fur and feathers to choose from.
If you’ve never been to The Fly Fishing show you’ve been missing out! You won’t find a bigger gathering of pros demonstrating their skills and offering up free seminars and lectures. On top of all that, there are isles of tackle companies showing of their latest and greatest gadgets and rods…all out for you to pick up and check out.
Spending my teenage years in New Jersey I was lucky enough to attend the Somerset show every year. I used to spend the whole day getting to know the tiers and asking every question I could. I loved it. Some years I’d go for all 3 days of the show just to get my fill of the seminars and classes. As the years went on, I looked forward to the show more as a way to connect with old fishing friends and to stock up on rare or hard to find tying materials. This year will be no exception as there’s nothing like picking your tying materials first hand and catching up with lots of old friends.
Check out The Fly Fishing Show site, find a show near you if you can’t make it to Lancaster, and get your fly fishing fix for the winter. Plan to spend the whole day, or more, to take advantage of it all.
Sometimes you hit the river expecting to see certain conditions and arrive to a completely different game. Monday’s outing was exactly that. I left the house expecting sparse clouds and hatches but arrived to sunshine and only a brief appearance of tricos in the AM and a dry windy afternoon.
I was joined by Trent Jones, fishing manager at the Bethesda, MD Orvis store, and we had a great time watching the trico’s blow off into the woods when we arrived. The Gunpowder was still running high from recent storms but was clear and fishable. The insect showing was a mixed bag of tricos, caddis, and “rusty” mayflies. We had a great time exploring the higher flows and still shifting riverbed after the larger storms we’d seen in recent weeks.
After parting ways with Jones, I spent some time hunting bugs in the river and snapping a few photos. The afternoon’s fading light made taking pictures a challenge but I found enough caddis and a few stoneflies to keep me entertained for some time. After what I found taking samples, I’d put my money on caddis pupe all winter long in green and light tan. Despite receiving a thorough scouring the riverbed still holds enough detritus to hide a lot of large stoneflies and I nabbed a beautiful shot of a nice big golden stone.
After arriving home I was greeted by not one but two praying mantis on back porch. Since I’d spent the afternoon taking photos of insects I was ready for the situation at hand. Sometimes it’s all about being in the right place at the right time.
With flows still above 150cfs there’s lots of water to spread the fish around. If you’re headed out this weekend be sure and look before you leap; often fish will be holding in areas where there was previously very little water. The weather looks perfect for some fishing and family time outdoors. Be sure and bring some tricos for the AM and some tan caddis for the afternoon. See you on the water!