Sunday, December 30, 2012

The 25

Hey Everyone,

Well I'm sure that soon enough we will all get our fill of new years resolution blog post. They will be filled with reflections on this past year and the inevitable video montage. I know that I have been guilty of this in the past as well. So, I decided that instead of boring you to death with "this has been a great year" and "this is what I'm going to do" I would let you in on a little challenge that I have been doing for a year now. I call it the 25. It came to me one day when for no good reason I thought it might be fun to catch a carp on a fly rod. Well it was awesome! So, I decided to see what else might be fun to catch. I looked up all the freshwater game fish and made a list of the ones that I thought would be the most fun and within reasonable distance to catch. I have to admit that it has become less of a list and more of an adventure for me though. Its amazing the places you will end up like a crystal clear pond in New York state full of black and white crappie. Or to hike in three miles through the woods in June to find that slack water where you saw a long nose gar the year before. I have typed up my list here so that you can try your luck, skill, patience, what ever you call it and see if you can catch the 25.


Blue Gill
Green Sunfish
Pumpkin Seed
Red Breast Sunfish
Red Ear Sunfish
Spotted Sunfish


Large Mouth
Red Eye
Small Mouth


Long Fish
Chain Pickerel
Longnose Gar

Common Carp

Obviously you can add to this list or you can create your own. Either way let me know if you take up the 25 fish challenge. And if you know a good spot and want to try and catch one on my list with me...well I say lets fish.

See you on the trail,

p.s. You can click on each fish for a little more info about that species.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Watch Your inHg

Hey Everyone,

If you're a dedicated trout bum like myself you watch the weather a lot. I don't mean to make sure you wont be rained on or to see if you'll be able to feel your fingers that morning. If you know me then you know I don't care about a little rain and a cold day to me means no body else on the water. I watch the weather to see what it is doing. See knowing what the weather has been doing and what it is going to do tells me a lot about what the fishing is going to be like for the day. See as the weather changes so does the barometric pressure. How does this affect the fishing? A trout has a small bladder called a swim bladder which acts as a buoyancy compensator. As the barometric pressure changes trout can feel those changes on their swim bladder. Think of a time that you ate way too much and felt like crap all day. The average measurement for atmospheric pressure is around 30 inHg (inches of Mercury) with 30.5 being an extreme high and 28.5 being an extreme low. Consequently, a rapid rise or fall or and extended period of extreme high or low can make a difference in the quality of fishing on any given day. A slight change of just +/- 0.02 inHg is enough to affect a trouts eating habits. Having flash backs of high school biology? Here is a easy chart that I think will help.

Pressure Trend Typical Weather Fishing Trends Suggested Tactics
(30.5 inHg)
Clear Skies Fish seek shade or cover Use sub-surface flies such as nymphs or wet flies. Fish close to cover and in deeper water over a dark bottom.
Rising Skies clearing Fish are slightly more inclined to feed Fish with brighter flies close to cover. Try Attractor nymphs or streamers.
Expect normal feeding behavior Trout are more inclined to feed both on and below the surface.
Rain Imminent
Often the best time to fish Try slightly larger flies. Also a good time to with large nymphs and streamers
Slightly Lower
Rain starts
Bait fish seek shelter in the shallows.
Bigger fish come out to hunt.
Try larger streamer patterns such as Dace, Sculpins, and Crayfish.
Also try larger nymphs such as Giant Stone Flies or Helgramites
(28.5 inHg)
Rain and high water
Trout tend to become less active during extended periods of low pressure
Try smaller nymphs and streamers.

I hope this helps.

See you on the trail,



Saturday, December 15, 2012

Old Method, New Trick

Hey Everyone,

So, there has been a ongoing issue with level lines used for Tenkara, visibility. There are a few suppliers of high-vis level lines. With that being the case there are several DIY anglers that would like to make their own lines for various reasons. The problem is that most fluorocarbon lines are clear. This is for a couple reasons. For one, fluorocarbon is supposed to be more difficult to see underwater making it a very stealthy line for finesse fishing. Also, any time that you color fluorocarbon you actually weaken it a bit because to color it the pigments must interrupt the molecular strain that makes up the line. The problem for Tenkara anglers is that being able to see the level line is a good thing. The question is, how do we make a clear line well, not so clear? There have been a few methods tested out like Jason Klass's post about coloring the line with paint markers.

I was thinking about this one day and an old idea that I have used a few times for nymphing on western fly rods. The method is to use the foam from the twist ties that are used on some fly line spools. The trick is to pull out the metal wire inside (which is easily done) and then slide your leader into the now hollow foam tube. This makes a very nice and very sensitive strike indicator. I thought, "why cant I slide that on to the end of a level line?" Ive included a few pictures so you can see what I'm talking about. I personally put a perfection loop in the end of my level line and let the "indicator" sit against the knot. I think it would work just as well against any type of knot you use to connect your level line to your tippet. I haven't used it yet for Tenkara since I have been fishing a lot of dries with my Tenkara rods lately, but I can tell you it works pretty good on western rods. I'll give it a shot next time I'm out and tell you how it works. If any of you get a chance to try it out let me know what you think.

See you on the trail,

Thursday, December 6, 2012

What They Look Like - Winter Stone Fly

Hey Everyone,

I was on the river the other day and I wasn't seeing many hatches coming off that morning. I felt kinda perplexed since the trout were turning quickly and I could see them in the clear water grabbing something. I assumed it was midges although I hadn't seen any in the air yet. I caught a fish on a small emerger and that's when I saw what they were keying in on. A small winter stone fly was on the side of my hand. I then realized what the trout were hitting. I knew that by default I had a good fly on. I did change my caddis to a darker body. I spent the rest of the day landing several nice fish. If you see these little guys crawling around its a safe bet that the trout are eating them. They are not very big usually around a size 16 through 20 but in the dead of winter they are a very viable food source for trout. Since they crawl out on rocks or vegetation, there aren't too many emerger patterns. However, I would suggest a black or red copper john as a dropper which will imitate the nymph. You can also tie a elk hair caddis in a black body with a light brown or white wing in size 16 or 18.

Wet Nets,

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Ice in the Guides

Hey Everyone,

I know what you all are about to say, "guides?". Yeah Ive been using my Tenkara rods so much lately that I felt like I was neglecting my 4wt, and since I got a new Ross Arius for it last year for Christmas I though I should use it. With that being said, I decided to head up to a river that I don't normally fish. It was a nice cold crisp day and I watched my breath in the air as I walked that path down to the river. I could see several nice fish holding in slack currents. Needless to say, it wasn't long before I hooked up. This river had recently undergone a restoration project so with the stream bed disturbance there is very few if any caddis and or mayflies. So, diptera midges are the main food source for these particular fish. I quickly found that anything larger than an 18 was simply ignored. I spent the rest of the day throwing small midge emergers and landing quite a few nice fish. I'm not saying the you need to have a degree in entomology to fly fish but having an understanding of the bugs that trout typically eat can make the difference between a couple fish and a banner day on the river.

Wet Nets,

Saturday, November 24, 2012

What They Look Like - October Caddis

Hey Everyone,

I was on the river the other day and couldn't help but notice a decent October Caddis hatch. If you know much about caddis flies then you know this is a major food source for trout before the winter kicks in. This caddis is usually orange in body color and about a size 16 to 14. Although, this year they seem to be much more pale in the body, I'd say cream colored. For any of you who might want to try tying a nice version of this caddis I have put up some nice photos. I would tie these as an elk hair caddis with either a dull orange with copper wire or a cream body with black wire.

Wet Nets,

Saturday, November 17, 2012

What They Look Like - Midges

Hey Everyone,

If your like me (obsessed with all things fly fishing) you obviously tie your own flies. The one thing that has always interested me was insects. Yes, I was that nerdy kid that caught butterflies in nets and had bug collections. I even attended an entomology summer camp. When I started tying the one thing that I was determined to do was tie simple patterns that had attributes that best imitated the real thing. Ive studied the photos as well as the actual insects that I see on the river. I'm even considering making a small "butterfly net" to carry on the stream. Over the years I have produced several flies and now carry a selection of my best producers. If you are looking for a new pattern or just want to try something new on your local river, I have found some great images of midges since these little guys are not only the most common food source for trout but also the most likely one this winter. I hope you all come up with some great patterns. If they are "must haves" please share.

Wet Nets,

Friday, November 9, 2012

A Few Fish of My Own

Hey Everybody,

The leaves have changed and the weather has cooled down. Every year around this time I start getting antsy. The itch to get outside is the worst it been all year. So when I get any free time I head up to one of the many trout streams and spend the day throwing craft supplies at fish.  I love it when I'm on the river in the fall. Seeing my breath in the air as I listen to the water rush over the rocks slowly stalking and walking the edge of the river with a warm cup of apple cider looking for long shadows on the bottom. I still get so excited on that first cast of the day and sometimes catch myself holding my breath on a cast that I'm almost certain will produce a fish any second. Although I'm not sure if I actually smile every time i set the hook and feel a fish on the other end I know for sure my heart does. I always thank every fish and release them back into the water for another angler to catch. Maybe a father with his son on his first trip to the river as I was so many years ago, or a beginner trying to figure out what all the rest of us are so obsessed with, or an old master who has cast more flies than I have ever tied. I guess I am and forever will be a trout bum. I do not care about the size of the fish I catch because, as I have said in the past, I just enjoy meeting every single one of them.

Wet Nets,

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Fishing with Sydney

Hey Everyone,

Well even with all the guide trips I've been doing and work keeping me pretty busy. I did take the time to get up on the water and do a little fishing for myself. I was also lucky enough to be accompanied by a friend of mine Sydney Jenkins and her husband. We met at a familiar spot for me. It was a great day to be fishing. The only issue we had was our shadows were on the water for a half an hour or so. I told Sydney to get as low as possible and showed her where to be and how she needed to present the fly so that her line didn't spook the fish. I have to say that she was an excellent student and did exactly as instructed. It wasn't long before she hooked a fish and started to do so frequently. I had moved up stream and was fishing a tighter hole that I had seen some brookies holding in. That's when it happened. I actually saw the take and also saw the enormous shadow under the waters surface that took her dropper. I told her to be gentle, since we were running 7x tippet. She did really well and just held enough pressure on the fish and didn't try and horse it in. When I netted the fish I cant describe the relief I felt and excitement for Sydney at the same time. I forgot my measuring tape in my rod tote but I'm guessing that her rainbow was anywhere between eighteen and twenty inches. We took a few photos and revived the fish and it swam nice and calmly away. We fished for a few more hours together and landed a bunch more fish. I have to say that it was an epic day to be on the water. I had a great time and look forward to the next time that I get to fish with Sydney although I'm not sure how we can top a twenty incher.

Wet Nets,

Great Cigars and the One That Got Away

Hey Everyone,

I have had some great guided trips and met some really great people as well. One recent trip was booked by Micheal Ayers and a long time friend of his Gene McMasters. The weather could not have been nicer. We were on the river by about nine o-clock. The water was really clear and I could tell the fish could see just about everything. It tool me few minutes to find some schooled up fish but when I located them, I found them all. In fact I believe the comment was "I've never seen this many trout in one place" They were in a spot that I had not seen many fish prior to this trip. It was a beautiful day to be on the water and the smell of well rolled cigars were in the It was a little slow going but they both ended up hooking up and landing fish as well as Gene's epic long distance release of what I'm almost certain was a twenty plus inch fish. I think I was more heart broken than he was. I think that both Michael and Gene had a lot of fun and enjoyed just being out there. I know that I had a great time just watching them. Oh OK I did get to make a couple casts and landed a couple fish of my own but I had to see what fly the wanted

Wet Nets, Lance

Leaky Waders

Hey Everyone,

I thought I would write a post about repairing waders. I know that at one time or another we have all sprung a leak or two. The bad part about finding out that you have a leak is that it almost always happens while you are fishing. The only hope then is that you are not wet enough or it is not cold enough to ruin the rest of your day. I have a great fix that some of you may already know about, Seam Grip by McNett. I have been using this product for a few years on backpacking equipment and even work with this company for my backpacking events. I was on the river just recently when I waded out to my waste and found that I apparently had a small leak somewhere in the crotch of my waders. Thankfully it was not bad enough that it was much of an issue. I was careful not to wade out that deep for the rest of the day. When I got home that evening I laid my waders out and dried them. I then went and grabbed my seam grip. I looked and located a very small pin prick in the seam of my waders probably from a thorn or something similar. I very carefully spread out the seam grip over the hole and figured I would do the seams for a little ways down the legs (cant hurt right). I have used the waders since and guess what, not a single leak. As I was going through my equipment I also found some patches of tenacious tape that McNett also puts makes. I put some in my wader bag. I haven't had to use it yet but I figure it may be the answer to fixing a leak and salvaging the rest of a day on the water. I have attached some photos so you can see what I did.

(Tenacious tape comes in a roll. that is a demo patch of it in the picture)
Wet Nets,Lance

Friday, October 19, 2012

Fishing with George

Hey Everyone,

This fall fly fishing season has been quite interesting. It did not start off with a bang as one might suspect. My fall season started with a booked guide trip by my now friend George Kerr. It was not an ideal day to be on the water. It had been raining frequently leading up to that Tuesday. Needless to say the river looked like chocolate milk and was running a bit high. I was at least happy to know that we weren't the only ones not catching any fish. After a tiring six hours of casting, tangling, tying and casting some more we called it a day. I felt really bad and invited George along on a fishing trip that I was going to take on my next day off. We arrived at the river and I was excited to see the water was perfect. I began scanning the bottom looking for shadows and movement. Seeing nothing I started blind casting into pools hoping for a strike. It didn't take long and I had located my first fish. I was stoked. I called George over to my spot and told him were the fish were holding. Soon enough he had hooked a nice little brookie. I'm not sure how many fish we caught but I'm happy to say that we had a very good day even compared to the other anglers on the river that day. I think the fact that we did so well and were the only Tenkara anglers as well may have sparked some interest in the other fly fisherman that watched us that day.

Wet Nets,Lance

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Storing Fly Lines

Hey Everyone,

I recently acquired a few new fly fishing items. Three rods and four reels to be exact. I took the fly line off of each reel not only because the line was on backwards, for me anyway. I also wanted to inspect, clean, and lube each of the reels. I thought about backing and relining them but decided that storing the line off of the reels might be a better choice. They were showing signs of very slight memory and I wasn't sure when I might use them again. The only problem was how did I want to store the lines. Well, I think I have found a solution. Salt water wrist spools. They are sold for people to wind their own leaders on to. Well they seemed perfect for storing fly line as well. For one they are 6 1/2" which is much larger than any reel or spool that the line comes on for that matter. Second they have holes and notches cut into the spool to hold the line. The price wont break the bank either at just $1.99 a piece. I have three lines like that now but I am thinking of storing all my lines that I don't use that often in this way. The spools I have accommodate my eight weight lines just fine though that may be as big as you can fit. With some masking tape you can label each spool or just wright on the plastic with a sharpie. If you put a Bimini twist or other similar loop in the end of you backing and then put a loop in the back end of your fly line you can reattach them as you need to. I hope this helps a few people out, I know I already like it. 

Wet Nets,

Saturday, September 15, 2012

TU Presentations

Hey Everyone,

Well Tuesday night I did my second presentation about Tenkara. If you noticed had recent post about being scheduled to give two of these talks. I talked about how and why I got into Tenkara. I was quite surprised on the turn out and interest at both meetings. I do have to say that one thing that is apparent to many of the anglers is that an eleven foot rod is not a common choice here in the east. With our tight covered mountain streams a main focus most of the questions were in reference to techniques that I use to fish those streams. I explained that I view Tenkara as a tool not the end all be all of fly fishing. What Tenkara is made to do it does perfectly but its not so good doing things it was never intended to. For example you cannot lay a dry fly on the water any more gently than letting it fall by itself which I can do with Tenkara but don't expect to see me landing thirty inch steel head on one any time soon. And as far as a rod for backpacking, why take any thing else. and on the other hand if you know the stream you intend to fish is overgrown with rhododendron, you may want to grab your six foot three weight.  I am happy to see people show interest in the sport and was very honored to be viewed as enough of an expert on the subject to be asked to come talk about it twice! I look forward to teaching more people about it and really cant wait to get some people on the water and let them experience it for themselves.

Wet Nets,Lance

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Some Great Fishing

Hey everyone,

I though I would put up some links to some past fishing adventures that Ive had. These are already posted on my blog "The Trailmarker" so some of you may have already seen them. For those of you who are visiting for the first time here you go.

Fish, Fish, and more Fish
Big Brown
Steal head
18 and 18

There are a few more posts than this with pictures of some beautiful fish if you want to take a look around. I hope that I get the chance to see some of you catch quality fish and have great adventures like these.

Wet Nets,

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Talking Tenkara

Hey Everyone,

Ive been invited to be the guest speaker at two Trout Unlimited chapter monthly meetings. I will be discussing how my passion for ultralight backpacking and fly fishing lead me to Tenkara. I will also be talking about how I view the sport and where I plan to take it. If you're in either of the areas feel free to drop by and say hey. You may already be a TU member or might even decide to join after being around all of us trout bums.

August 27th 7:00pm - triangle fly fishers

September 11th 7:00pm - nat green fly fishers

Wet Nets,

Thursday, August 30, 2012


Welcome to Lance Milks Fly Fishing. This site is designed to not only give you info about guided fishing trips, but for you to use as a resource to learn more about fly fishing and more the art of tenkara. Soon there will be postings from each trip with photos of beautiful fish and happy people. Don't forget to check out the links to other tenkara addicts as well as links to things like licensing and weather. The lists will be expanding all the time.
Wet Nets,