Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Day Hike Fly Fishing


Hey Everyone

As a guy who grew up in south western New York, I don't mind a little snow. However, I'm sure that most if not all of us are ready for some warmer temperatures and may be day dreaming of that little brook trout stream that we like to hike back to. With that being said I thought that since its snowing like crazy outside and I can't get on the water today I can at least play with my gear and give some tips about what makes up a good back country fly fishing kit.

Planning
Most people go into the back country on day hikes of fishing trips with the thought of "I don't need to plan or bring much. I'll only be out there for a few hours." I would caution against this form of thinking. The greatest "contributing factor" to people getting in trouble, according to the 2012 NPS National Search and Rescue Report report, were 735 cases which were attributed to insufficient knowledge or bad judgement. There were also 524 instances in which the subjects either had insufficient equipment, clothing, or experience. Always research the area in which you plan to hike into and try to acquire a map. Also, make sure that someone back home knows where you are going and when you plan to be back. This ensures that somebody will come looking for you if you get stuck out there. Cell phones don't get service everywhere!


Packs

There are some obvious items in a back country day pack but there may be a few items that I like to carry that you may not have thought of or didn't know existed. I guess the most obvious piece of gear is a day pack. There are some great day packs out there as well as some cool sling pack styles by Vedavoo and Zimmerbuilt. Pick one that has the features that you like and go with it.

Water
Another thing that you may want to take with you is a source of water. You may prefer a hydration bladder and that is not a bad idea as I use one a lot. However, you may want to pair this up with a small filtration device like the aquamira frontier pro. I have started using a small metal bottle because this can also be used as a vessel to boil water in if needed.

First Aid and Fire
It may seem silly to mention a first aid kit since to most its also a given. I choose to make my own by using a couple aloksak and adding in items that I have. Although, there are some great kits from Adventure Medical Kits. Make sure that if you are any prescription medications that you have some with you as well. You should also have some way to start a fire. Weather its a way to dry some gear and stay warm or to boil some water for food or to clean a wound. This can be as simple as a "baby Bic lighter" or a nice flint and steel like the fire steel scout.

Shelter
Something that most people probably haven't thought of is shelter of some kind. I'm not talking about hauling your four person tent on a day hike. There are some great lightweight items that you can bring to keep you warm and dry if you end up having to spend the night in the woods. Even a good light weight rain jacket can keep you warm and dry. One item that I have and love is my Sea to Summit poncho tarp. I like that I can also use it as my rain gear so I don't need to carry a rain jacket. I pair this up with my SOL bivvy which makes a great shelter combo and gives me something to get in if my clothes are wet and I'm drying them by the fire.
 
Misilanious
Some other items that you may want to include in your pack are things like toilet paper, bug spray, head lamp, and a good knife. This kit is by no means the ultimate kit so expand on this as you wish. Its better to be little over prepared than not prepared at all.

I hope this post wasn't too long and also hope that everyone got something out of it. Maybe I reminded you to check the batteries in your head lamp or introduced you to a cool new piece of gear.

See you on the trail,
Lance

 

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Tying Kebari in Public


Yesterday I had the privilege of not only attending, but being invited to be the guest tier for the Rocky River Trout Unlimited's January fly tying gathering. There was a very nice turnout and when I arrived everyone was in their respective groups and tying away. After a short lunch break a table was cleared and I set my station up. They used a camera linked to a TV that was zoomed in on my vise which was a great idea so that everyone could see what my hands were doing and also get a good image of the kebari. Since kebari are relatively easy to tie I thought it might be kind of boring to watch. Also, many tenkara anglers are only familiar with the iconic Takayama and Amano kebari but not with other forms of Japanese flies, many of which do not have a reverse hackle. So, I spent a few weeks gathering all the information that I could about different kebari, where in Japan they originate from and how they were tied. I also printed out Yoshikazu Fujioka's Map so that I could show everyone where each kebari originates from. Here are just a couple photos of me tying. Rocky River TU has photos here of the kebari that were tied. I had a great time and I hope that everyone enjoyed the event and also learned some additional info about tenkara and the unique kebari that are used.

See you on the trail,
Lance

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Cold Weather Fly Fishing

Hey Everyone,

It's obvious to everyone that winter is here. Its even been rather cold here in southern Appalachia. With that being said, I thought I would share some tips on dressing and preparing your wader bag. Now I may be insulting the intelligence of some of you. However, having worked in the outdoor industry for several years has taught me that there are still plenty of people who don't know.

Lets start with layering. Some of you may have switched to neoprene waders by now and that is a good idea. However, if you are like me and prefer breathable waders you have to insulate them some how. I see a lot of guys who simply pull their waders over their jeans, but when its below freezing, you should consider a pair of fleece wader pants. Not only are they way more comfortable, but they are a much better insulator. If you pair these up with a nice pair of mid calf wool socks and you're good to go. I know everyone is a little different but I have fished in eleven degree weather with ice floating by with this setup.



Now for the top half. It's the general rule to start with a base layer of a synthetic material which will dry faster if it gets wet. I tend to ignore this rule and wear a t-shirt instead. The next layer is what I consider the warming layer. I prefer a nice thin fleece shirt as you will see me wearing in many of my fishing photos. I follow this with one of two outer shells if need be. On colder days in which there is little to no chance of rain I prefer a windproof fleece jacket. For those rainy days there is one item that no fly fisherman should be without, the wader jacket. The nice thing about layering is that you can wear any combination of these items to suit your needs. You can accessorize as you see fit with a beanie and or wool gloves. 

The wader bag.
When its this cold out it is a good idea to toss a few extra items into your wader bag as well. If you accidentally take a dip your going to be in real danger of hypothermia which could ruin your day of fishing. For that reason you should have extra change of of clothes starting with another pair of socks. If you happen to have a second pair of wader pants you should pack them as well. If not you can bring that pair of sweat pants that probably have the name of your favorite football team down the leg. Its not about looking cool if you have to change into them, its about getting warm. Don't forget another top. Perhaps the matching sweatshirt. Its also nice to have a warm lunch while on the water. That is why I like to toss one of my trusty old jet boils in the mix. Not only can you cook some Ramen, but if you need it you can make a hot cup of spiced cider in just under two minutes.

I know this may be redundant, but I hope that at least a few of you get something out of it. If anything, you might remember to pack that second pair of socks.

See you on the trail,
Lance

Saturday, October 5, 2013

A Little Fishing With Doc

Hey Everyone,



I had my first guide trip of the fall the other day. It turned outto be a perfect day to be on the water. I got to the river at about eight to scout out some potential spots, which didn't take me long, and waited for Dr. Chuck Balch to arrive. Doc has been practicing tenkara for about a year now and asked if I could show him some more techniques and tricks with tenkara. We started the morning with a small Kebari and worked on a couple methods with it. I noticed that the trout really didn't want anything under the surface which seemed to be a consistent trend thought the day. Instead they were actively popping the
surface. I asked Doc if he had tried much dry fly fishing with tenkara and he stated that he hadn't. Having another rod with me I decided to tie on a small yellow caddis and showed him a dead drift into a skitter technique. Well when a brookie came up and almost crushed the caddis on the skitter it didn't take much more convincing for either of us. Doc took the rod and almost immediately hooked a trout on the skitter. He was more than impressed with the method. He hooked several fish and I think had just as much fun teasing the fish and watching them miss as he did when he would hook one. I think you could probably do a skitter if you had a long nymphing rod but I truly believe that nothing will allow you to control the fly quite like tenkara. I really like what tenkara has brought to the sport of fly fishing. Tenkara may not be the right tool for every type of fishing but sometimes there is nothing better. I'm happy to have had the chance to spend the day with Doc and tech him a few more techniques which I'm sure he will use on his future tenkara adventures.

See you on the trail,
Lance

Saturday, September 7, 2013

What They Look Like - Trico

Hey Everyone,

With the weather cooling down and the rain finally subsiding, the fall fly fishing season just around the corner, and I'm sure you all are ready to get back up to those trout streams. The trout will be starting to fatten up for the winter and Brown and Brook trout will be feeding heavily to get ready for the spawn. The question is what are those trout feeding on? Everyone knows about the plentiful spring hatches but most forget about the few insects that hatch into the fall months. One of those insects is the small Trico mayfly, Tricorythodes Stygiatus to be exact. These little olive colored mayflies are one of the few mayflies that can hatch into October. Because of this many people mistake it for the blue winged olive. While BWO's are small as well, they don't get much smaller than a size 18. However, the smaller Trico can be as small as 28. Male Tricos emerge throughout the night and are not known to be important as duns. They molt into spinners and await the hatching of their mates. The little olive females emerge in the morning. In the summer this happens at first light, but it occurs later in the day as the weather cools down. Female duns can be important to trout, as can the nymphs as they rise to emerge. The female emergence can be fun to fish, but its action rarely compares to the spinner fall.
Tricos return as spinners soon after emerging, sometimes within a few minutes and sometimes a few hours. There is a widespread misconception that Trico duns molt into spinners in mid-air. This is physically impossible. Tricos must land to molt, but some of them take off again before the dun shuck has completely detached from their tails. This give the impression of a mid-air molt The mating spinners gather in very tight swarms rather than roaming the full width of the river.
After mating, the males fall spent and the females fly to shore to rest while squeezing little green balls of eggs from their abdomens. They return in about half an hour and fall on the water to drop the eggs. Just remember that when imitating this little mayfly, getting the hook size right can be very important.
Next time you're on the stream you will be able to recognize these little guys (and girls) and will get to enjoy some crazy small dry fly action. Who knows you may join the ranks of the 24 / 24 club.

See you on the trail,
Lance

Friday, August 16, 2013

Catch and ?

Hey Everyone,


I talk to a lot of fisherman everyday. Everyone knows that I am a die hard fly fisherman and although you can fly fish for just about anything, I do talk about trout fishing a lot. One of the things that I hear all the time from catch and keep guys is "well after being caught trout will die anyhow". I always try to explain the facts to them. Although I don't really think what I say is going to change the way they fish anyhow. I almost always catch and release as keeping fish is not the reason that I'm out there. However, I am not against some trout cooked over a campfire. Here is a really well written blog article that kinda argues for both sides Is Catch and Release Over Hyped. If you're a catch and release fisherman and want to know more, here is some really cool info that I have collected from various sources on the subject of practicing catch and release and why mortalities occur and how to help prevent them.



Fish that are caught and released may die for several reasons, but the two primary causes are stress and wounding. Stress results from the fish fighting after being hooked. Internally, the physical exertion causes an oxygen deficit in the tissues, forcing the muscles to function anaerobically (without oxygen). This causes lactic acid to build up in the muscle tissue, and then to diffuse into the blood. Lactic acid acts as an acid in the blood, causing the pH of the blood to drop. Even slight changes in pH can cause major disruptions of the metabolic processes, ultimately killing the fish. If the fish is quickly released, its blood pH usually returns to normal and the fish will be unaffected. Some fish, after a long tow, may appear to live once released, but the imbalance in the blood chemistry may kill them as late as three days after being caught. In most cases, the means of preventing this type of mortality is to not keep the fish in action for a long period of time, unless the intent is to keep it.
The other primary cause of mortality is wounding by the hook. Injuries caused by hooks can range from very minor to lethal. The degree of injury is dependent on the location of the hook wound. Higher mortalities will occur in fish that are hooked in the gill or stomach areas, while lower mortality's occur in fish that are hooked in the lip, jaw, or cheek areas. Baited hooks are more likely to result in a gill or stomach hooking that artificial lures. Treble hooks, for obvious reasons, will result in more puncture wounds and subsequently higher mortalities. Barbless hooks facilitate release and decrease "out-of-water" time, but for reasons yet unclear, may not significantly reduce mortality, especially when used with bait.
There are other kinds of physiological stress that can lead to higher mortality's in released fish. Fish may not be able to adjust to changes in pressure or to higher surface water temperatures. Also, when a fish is handled or comes in contact with dry surfaces, such as landing nets or dry hands, its mucous layers – commonly called slime layers – may be partially removed, presenting an opportunity for bacteria or pathogens to invade the skin.
  
How to prevent fish mortalities

  • handle fish as little as possible and release them quickly - do not fight fish to exhaustion
  • minimize or eliminate the time fish are out of the water - as little as 30 seconds of air exposure causes delayed mortality of released trout
  • consider using only artificial lures - their use is mandatory on some waters
  • use barbless hooks if you plan to release most of the fish you catch
  • when a fish is deeply hooked, do not try to remove the hook - clip the leader instead
  • during the warm summer months when stream temperatures are elevated, do not fish for trout if you plan to release them - these fish are already stressed and additional handling may kill them
  • likewise, do not fish for trout in spring holes when water temperatures are in the mid 70s or higher (especially if you plan to release them)

I hope this sheds some light on the subject and helps you out.

See you on the trail,
Lance

Monday, July 29, 2013

A Return to Our Youth

Hey Everyone, 

It's warming up everywhere and with that water temperatures are rising as well. If you remember an older post I wrote it explained that when water temperature rises it ability to hold oxygen decreases. Water levels also drop (although this year has been a exception - understated I know) With that being said, its this time of year that I leave the cold water streams alone (unless they are at a reasonable altitude) and switch my focus to warm water titans. With all of the great trout fishing and feeling the powerful runs of steelhead its easy to forget how fun catching bream can be. I don't think there is any illusion as to how hard these little warm water titans can fight. Sure its fun to hook into a nice large or small mouth but bream are usually a bit more abundant and easier to catch. I also think that hooking a pumpkinseed or long ear reminds us of our youth. I would imagine that just about every one of us started our fishing passion with one of these little guys on the end of our line. Besides, spending the time sweating in the sun keeps your skills sharp for fall when the need to lay a dry fly just to the right of that rock is so much more important. I really hope that everyone finds the time to get out and spend a little time being a kid again.

See you on the trail,
Lance