Warm weather this week has water temps hitting 43 on the Gunpowder Falls river gauges and the weekend looks great. We’re crossing our fingers for 45! Here at Knee Deep we are big fans of Foote’s forecast for Maryland. It’s spot on for the Baltimore/DC area. While they are calling for a warm weekend – maybe some stonefly action – there’s a cold blast out to the West that’ll bring winter right back to us. Thanks to the folks at Gentner Consutling for turning us on to that Foote’s!
So what’s that mean for the fishing? It means you’ll need to get back to dredging nymphs with a hat and gloves. Not your cup of tea? Don’t have a hat and gloves? Get yourself to one of the upcoming expos put on by the folks at The Fly Fishing Show!
As a youth, I made a trip every season to the Somerset, NJ show with my father and brothers. It was a great chance to catch up with old friends in the isles and meeting the folks rewriting the book on fly fishing was inspiring. I’d go home with bags of hackles and threads with a refreshed enthusiasm for tying flies and rod building and spend the following weeks of winter in the basement with my family tying flies and building up for the warm weather to come. I recall a few icy trips to the Ken Lockwood Gorge with newly built rods in hand and Korkers on our feet just to get close to the water’s edge. I also recall snapping at least one on a frozen maiden voyage!
As a young fly-tier, The Fly Fishing Show was a chance for me to spend a weekend asking every question under the sun and shake the tying tables of guys like Bob Clouser and Bob Popovics; heroes to a kid who grew up fishing the surf. I’d run into the gang from my local TU chapter and ask the advice of my older fishing and tying friends about which necks to buy and dig through mountains of materials just looking for the perfect new thing that would catch me more fish. It was a great opportunity for a kid like me and the trip to Somerset became a pilgrimage for my family.
This year will be a great chance to catch up with friends at Somerset, NJ (Jan 25-27th) and at Lancaster, PA (Mar 2-3rd). Yours truly will by tying flies at both shows and can’t wait. I’m looking forward to seeing lots of old familiar faces at both shows. With any luck they’ll put me next to someone like NJ ‘s Matt Grobert and my table will get some overflow traffic.
Get out there this weekend if you can and get planning now for the Fly Fishing shows coming to the area. Don’t miss the chance to fill your winter with fly fishing!
Keep your tip on the water,
Here at Knee Deep Headquarters, we’re happy to report that Sandy missed us by a hair. Sadly our pals up in NJ and NYC got the worst of it. Rain came and went, and by Friday, flows on The Big Gunpowder were down to fishable levels. At 260 CFS, wading was still tough but the water was clear and the fish were aggressive. The photo below is of a popular pool and the evidence is in the undergrowth as to how high the water came up.
The shame here is these leaves are food for the insects the trout need to survive. The Gunpowder is an interesting study in water management. The river took a hit last fall in the form of hurricane floods and somehow bounced back. We can, at a minimum, be grateful for a Didymo flush.
Leaves in the undregrowth are proof the water rose well over the banks.
The week ahead looks like a great one for fishing if you can get out. We’ll be crossing our fingers with reports of a Nor-Easter coming through. The flows are still dropping and fish are eagerly chasing big streamers when the sun is out; see the photo below of the fat fish that took a monster bugger! Nymphing through the tail-outs and around log jams should continue to produce. Last week a mixed bag of nymphs proved effective – from caddis to stoneflies and zebra-midges – and getting down into the flow fast seemed to be the key to success.
Looking to get out? Give Knee Deep Fly Fishing a call and we’ll show you how to keep up with the changing seasons!
We’ll take fat-tailed fish like this one any day!
Often with winter comes broken fly rods and sad drive home from the river. No, we’re not talking about slip-n-falls onto your favorite rod (studded boots from Santa can fix that!) We’re talking about breaking rods with sections that won’t come apart.
Fishermen start their day in the cold and as the day warms up, their rod sections expand. It doesn’t take much but by the time you call it quits your favorite fly-rod seems impossibly joined in a single piece. Many anglers grit their teeth and pull at the fragile sections in an attempt to free them and snap their rods in the process. I’ve seen it happen many times and it’s sad to watch someone snap their rod in a parking lot all while trying to put it away safely in a case.
I had just such a day last week after hitting the river with 26 degree air temps and wrapping up with temps in the 40’s. When I packed up my waders and vest and attempted to put my fly-rod in its case I was met with an immovable rod section on my favorite custom rod. I safely stored the rod in my truck where nothing could harm it (racks on the inside of the vehicle are worth their weight in gold!) and decided I’d give it a try at home. The front or rear dashboard of most cars will accommodate half a fly-rod.
Un-sticking a rod at home is easier than in the field. You’re hands are warm and you have resources at your disposal. The goal is to cool the rod-blank enough to shrink it and have the sections come apart with a minimal amount of twisting and gripping. In my most recent case of a stuck rod, I was able to simply lay my rod on the kitchen counter while running cold tap-water over the ferrules (the male and female pieces that connect the rod) while I unpacked the rest of my gear. On my first attempt to free the sections I failed. I placed it back under the running water, cracked open a cold beer and washed my wading gear off….then tried again with blood-pressure-reducing success!
What if you’re not headed home and your rod MUST be stowed in the case? Hit the first aid kit! Those ice packs aren’t just good for cooling down an emergency beer at the campground. Place the rod ferrules on a wet rag or towel with the ice-pack on top. Let it sit as long as you can stand while the rod sections cool down. Ten minutes or so should be enough though there is a “but” here; if it doesn’t budge, don’t muscle it, give it more time to cool off and try again.
Above all, don’t wrench your rod apart by holding the guides; they’ll give before anything else. For more twist free pulling power, hold the rod sections with your forearms around your knees. Using your knees to push your grip open will allow you to pull the rod without a twist. Stay calm when you’re rod sticks and put it in the car to deal with at home when you’re not tired from fishing all day or all night. Cooler heads and hands are much better at unsticking a rod.
After all the Thanksgiving turkey, the family has cast off again and things quiet down, it’s nice to escape the house and get a line wet. This fall’s conditions have been erratic and fishing has been different every day. Today I hit the water just after 7:00am and was greeted by 26 degree air temps and water near 50 degrees creating a quiet fog on the water. The scene was quite different than July and August’s foggy days on the water when the air and water temperatures were reversed!
Focusing on seams in the high stained water produced fish this week and a mix of nymphs and streamers was the ticket. Fishing a tandem rig with lots of weight will get your flies to the bottom fast and with one fly higher allow you to cover the water column. If you’re not bouncing the bottom every few casts, you may not be getting deep enough.
Winter fishing brings its own special challenges like cold hands and iced up guides on your rod. If your guides freeze up while casting, dip your rod below the surface for a few seconds and the warmer temperature water will take care of the ice. Don’t try to pop the ice chunks out with your fingers. That’s a surefire way to break your rod. Good wool gloves will keep your hands warm and wearing lots of layers will ensure your core stays warm and there’s plenty of warm blood pumping to your finger-tips. If your gloves get wet you can slap them against your waders or jacket to shake the water out. Even wet, wool will continue to keep you warmer than no gloves at all.
Not sure how to outfit yourself to make the most of winter’s short days? Give Knee Deep Fly Fishing a call, we fill you in on how to layer up and keep warm.
With the addition of this new blog I hope to post updates of events and fishing reports from recent trips with pictures thrown in.
Icy Guides - Early November 2010
A run up to the Big Gunpowder Falls this week required some digging through the gear to finds hats and gloves. When we arrived in the morning the temperature on the truck’s thermometer read 26 degrees. We had a frigid start complete with ice in the guides. The water temps were still in the high 40’s and flirting with 50 as the day went on. It was great to be chucking nymphs with gloves on – a novelty which will wear off sometime in February.
I had high hopes for the day but the clouds rolled in and I only saw one caddis. The fish were eagerly chasing streamers but were a little skittish in the low flows.
Bead Head Cased Caddis
Careful wading and some long casts were the name of the game but all that could change after this front moves through. Keep checking in. As it rains it’s a great chance to get caught up on the fly tying. The weather looks clear and warm all next week and I have high hopes for the caddis.