Excellent.The day was more about meeting up with a few friends of mine who happened to inform me of their camping plans not to far from my home but I managed to sneak a few hours of fishing in before they were to arrive. I had planned one route but as fate were to have it I made a wrong turn not thinking and decided to roll with the punches. I picked a spot that was close using this new route and drove, satisfied just to be in the moment of driving to my fishing destination.

Recent rain had muddied the stream a bit but I decided to press on. I had fished this spot once before and found it to be barren despite the appearance of greatness at the time. I don’t like writing a stretch of trout water off until I’ve given it a few attempts with failing outcomes each time, today was this spot’s second chance. With nothing rising and the heat on I rigged nymphs and attempted to go deep but found nothing but rocks on the bottom. I lost a few flies and managed to get almost no strikes, I did miss the one for-sure strike I had. After two hours of getting nowhere in the sun I pulled out to move closer to the final destination.

The Guys Hiking the StreamI fished up a second stretch that I had fished early in my fly fishing infancy and although I’m still learning this craft I have improved significantly this season and it showed on the stream today. Able to cast now to locations that had been so distant the last time I had visited here I was hoping for good fortune, all I found was spin fisherman and rusty looking water. I made only a few casts, the last one found me slipping on a rock while shooting line which resulted in a bruised and sore right leg and arm, this prompted me to go find the boys.

I knew that they were around I just had to find them, after a few minutes I saw two smaller lads and a larger fellow. I parked and was greeted by the two boys and Wendy B. We talked trout, gardens, kids and hung out while camp was prepared. Tenting alone with two young ones has got to be more difficult than fly fishing but Wendy made it look easy.  With my rod rigged we took the boys down to the water to play and attempt to take a trout or two but the one take I had I lost. Afterwards hotdogs were prepared and hungry stomachs were filled, excellent to see two young boys pay more attention to the raw onion over the hotdog and to hear James proclaim that the hotdog has more protein than the onion (smart boy). No fish for my efforts but it was a good day just the same.

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Caddis Larva ontop of Caddis LarvaRecently I’ve been working over my approach to this method of fly fishing for trout, when I started almost a year ago I used a few indicators mostly larger flies but quickly started blind nymphing almost out of ignorance. I should state have no problems with indicators, I’m sure I’ll use them yet this season. My reasons for continuing to blind nymph rather than using an indicator are the following; 1st it is easier for me to cast a weighted two fly rig if it doesn’t have an indicator in the mix. 2nd, I don’t like changing position of the indicator constantly to match the needed depth. I guess I’d rather add weight or take some off than spend time adjusting an indicator, and finally the third and main reason is that I enjoy the challenge that is inherent when fishing without an indicator. I should also say that I do carry indicators, I have used them but I rarely choose to.

Mayfly Nymph (Ephemerella?)

With that I’ve been working on the best method for deciding how to prepare my rig to present to the trout. I first watch; the water, the fish and then I pick bugs, if possible I choose a riffle that is upstream from the location I want t0 fish. I try not to disturb the fish or the water to pick a few bugs, this can sometimes take me a while. I do this to eliminate guess work, typically I pick two different size imitations if the rocks show me that the stream holds a larger and smaller sized food source. If not, I match to the size but typically I rig a larger fly trailed by a smaller fly, this is nothing new and has been described and written about at length by others, I’m just describing how I prepare when I am nymphing.

Greenery!Recently I had the opportunity to rig up and hit some sweet, sweet trout water for an afternoon under the sun. Conditions were right for nymphing, it was early afternoon and there were no signs of rising trout. In an effort to better understand the mechanics behind blind nymphing and to practice this method I set out to find a good spot for some trial and error. I picked a few bugs leading me to choose a larger caddis larva pattern and due to lower water temps (~55) combined with my observation that the trout were holding low in the water I chose a weighted pattern. With my lead fly picked out, I decided on a smaller PT nymph based on several mayfly nymphs, mostly Ephemerella (interesting, I thought this hatch was over in S.E. MN) sitting side by side the caddis larva.

Starting with both flies and no other weight my typical approach involves watching and timing how long the flies take to sink to the bottom, usually I will go downstream and try to simulate the depth and current of the water I am going to fish and watch how my flies react, based on this observation I add weight accordingly. Sometimes it can be difficult to stop, relax, and take the time needed to get this right but as I found on this day, it is well worth the extra effort.

1st Fly PT Nymph sized to Match Naturals2nd Fly, Caddis LarvaWeight

After I got set and tied my flies on leaving about 8-12inches of line between the lead and trailing fly I got to work. With the rain from the last few days everything is beautiful, I’ve never loved the color green so much. Along with the greenery around me the water was ever so slightly tinted in the deeper pools making my approach slightly easier. Water levels are still low around the area but the steady amount of rain has been good and I can see it is going to be a good summer season.

The Test SubjectI decided to try a run that I knew held smaller fish downstream of the run I really wanted to concentrate on just to see what the initial reaction was. As my second cast was drifting towards me I noticed a quick flash and a tug on my line, I was late but I knew I had chosen well. After practicing my cast a few times and making plenty of crappy presentations I moved onto the real test. I was cautious not to spook the trout while getting in position. It was evident immediately I needed more weight for this second run. I added one splitshot a few inches above my lead fly and made a few more casts. I know how much weight I can toss without it getting stupid, I combine the weight with mending and hopefully the fly gets to the trout. I got a strike, two strikes and I even landed a few trout. I observed that it took several passes before I got a strike, never once did I get snagged so I decided to try adding abit more weight.

Trout Beauty

That was it baby, once the rig was set for the hole I was in the butter zone. Almost every pass had a strike, I watched the tip of my fly line for any change and tried to set the hook at the slightest sign of a different drift. I lost at least 60 percent of the takes because I failed to notice the take or I set the hook too late but I took several trout and despite alot of poor casts with the bulky weighted rig the trout weren’t put down once. I walked each trout downstream as I played them, this gave the others time to relax and me time to enjoy the spoils of blind nymphing.

Brown TroutPT in the KisserBrown Trout

Things to remember for next time. Let the fly drift all the way through the hole. I found I lost alot of fish as I was beginning to pull my rig up and out for another cast, had I waited longer I might have been able to set the hook properly. Just set the hook. Quite a few times I would slightly put pressure on the line, feel the trout and then it shook once and was free. Had I just trusted my gut I would have probably set the hook on half of those I lost.  Wait, choose the cast. I need to limit how many times I just toss the rig in the water. I would cast into wind and it wouldn’t end up the way I wanted, had I just waited a few minutes I might not have made so many poor casts.

Garage Sale PlateLater I worked on a few PT nymphs to help match what I saw in the stream. Liz and I went to a few garage sales this last weekend and I found a set of plates featuring a few fly fishing flies, they caught my eye and I swiped them up to decorate an already cluttered fly bench. I worked on bead head versions of my swimming nymph PT pattern. To match the darker brown and black nymphs I found at the stream, I tied these with darker pheasant tail fibers, I’m looking forward to testing them soon.

Silver DoctorRoyal CoachmanParma Belle

PT's in the Dish

Jan. 18th The Return

January 19, 2009

On the 17th we hit the spot, midge were emerging and the trout we found were in consistent feeding patterns. We decided to go back and pull another fish or two from the depths. My main reason/goal was to use what I witnessed the day before to test my abilities. We picked up James and hit the stream, I have to admit I had alot of fun fishing with two other like minded anglers. At one point the three of us were all casting to fish within a fourty foot section of stream and all catching fish. Casting to the Trout Photo By Heath Sershen

I fished my PT nymph with a Black Midge Larvae trailer again and due to the midge activity it worked out rather well. I left the split shot off again noticing that the fish were striking close to or on the surface. I made two casts and pulled a nice rainbow from the stream, I managed to do this before James could even get to the stream. Heath snapped a good photo and we let the fish calm for a few minutes. I returned with the same approach only this time I was deliberatly casting to one fish, the big one in the pool. I managed to make several decent attempts presenting my fly and with a bit of patience watching both the fish, and my line at the point where it entered the water I set the hook on a larger trout. The colors were excellent and I was very excited, this was a bigger fish for sure. W.F.F. Caught TroutUnfortunatly I learned the hard way to relax and give the fish some space, after pushing the fish perhaps too hard he broke my midge off and gave me the fin. Oh well, learn from your mistakes.

W.F.F. Catching Winter Trout

James working his DryThe goal for Heath was to get a shot of a fish caught on a dry fly. James promptly stepped up to the challenge, he fished a size #20 Hi-Vis Trico pattern and after a bit was getting strikes. He caught a smaller one and Heath caught one so we let the fish relax again, pleased we hadn’t put the fish down. I kept seeing a rising fish hit the same spot over and over again every minute or so, I put James on it. A few moments later we heard a big splash and sure enough James had a fish on that #20 Trico and it would turn out to be the same fish that took my midge which was awesome because we got to see it out of the water, what a beautiful fish. With that we sent it swimming and decided to find a new stream to explore.#20 Trico, Beautiful Rainbow Photo by Heath Sershen. Caught by James

This first stream was a test to examine the fish and their behavior and modify my presentation to maximize my time on the water and it worked, this is trout hunting. I did pull one more small one from the stream before we left to new water. We hit bigger water and chucked streamers, I’m not the best at this and didn’t catch any fish but I got to see new water which I will return to another day. All in all I had a blast fishing with good company. I got to ask quite a few questions and received great advice and opinions, sometimes it great to fish with others.

   Net-Extension for the Steep BanksWater FallingSershen Chucking StreamersThe Boys