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This blog is about my life as a fly fisherman, guide, and fly fishing instructor in and around Northern Virginia and Washington D.C.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Project Healing Waters 2 Fly Tournament 2012 Part 1

I am honored to have been asked to be a guide during this weekend's Project Healing Waters Two Fly Tournament. If you do not know what a 2-fly tourney is, you basically get 2 flies to fish with all day and if you loose them, you are done. The guide/veteran who catch the most fish (measured by size) win. To read more about this specific tournament, click this link. I will be paired with a [combat wounded] veteran and we will fish a specific section of water on Sunday.

The tournament is at the Rose River Farm. I've never fished this water and I'm not sure what fly and rod to bring. As of now, I do not know the extent of my partner's injury(s) and that will effect my rod and fly choice when I meet him/her on Saturday evening.

Here are my considerations:

  • Tenkara rod - small dry fly like a midge or foam beetle
  • T.F.O. Deer Creek Switch - swing a spey style fly
  • Orvis Henry's Fork Superfine - foam hopper or nymph

I will bring a box with two of each pattern this weekend. I'll take a look at the water, consult with my partner, and we will decide together. I'll also bring my vise and some tying materials. Maybe we'll come up with something together. 

If you would like to make a donation to help support activities like this weekend's please click the link that constitutes this entire sentence.

I will try to interview everyone down there for a podcast to fill you in on all the great stuff going on.

Monday, April 16, 2012

The Difference A Day Can Make

If you follow me on twitter and facebook,  you know the last few days had been tough fishing on the river. Saturday was no exception. All clients worked their buts off but the fish seemed to be somewhere else or if there, not eating. Carp were jumping in the main current and a few herring schooled around the rocks.

I met client Kyle yesterday at 11am. He was driving his new $800 car.

 We hiked down to the river and crossed Pimmett Run. I wanted to move down from the spot we fished Saturday. The creek was FULL of herring. I netted one to show Kyle what they looked like. It was as if someone had flipped a switch overnight and the fish just came out of nowhere.
 Blueback or River Herring
 I put Kyle out on a point and he tossed his fly downstream. No love from the fish. The guys on the long rods across from us didn't catch anything either. Some guys walked past with a heavy cooler and offered us some cold cans of Coke to lighten the load. Thats some good river karma coming their way. Kyle worked the fish and we saw a huge largemouth that wouldn't eat a fly. We tossed a dry fly over the busting carp and got nothing. I decided we should move upstream and try there before his time was up.
 We met up with Kyle a client from last year. He was out on a rock and was into a nice fish. WTF was going on? This is frustrating when you are a guide. To make the call to move down stream and the fish were where we were the day before. Ugh. Space was at a minimum but Kyle wedged himself in there and then went upstream. He got into igneous fish only.

I then met up with James and his father. They strung up their rods and I put on some leader material and we started to fish. Herring were everywhere around us. The water was black in spots. The fish were swimming between their feet at the mouth of the creek. I was stepping on them.

It wasn't long before James's dad was into his first fish. The fish were taking flies on the swing out in the current. It was a blast watching these guys cast. They are Floridians and know how to shoot line to cruising fish. I got the inside scoop on where and when to fish for peacock bass when in Miami in December.

 Fish at our feet.
 River herring and white perch. This area was barren 24 hours before.
 herring moving up the creek.
 James's feet with fish all around.
 White perch.

 James started to get into fish. His action didn't stop until it was time to get his dad to the airport.
 BENT RODS
 One of many fish he landed. 99% on the chartreuse damsel nymph

 Then people showed up that wanted to take the herring for bait. This is illegal now in DC. I called it in to the feds who said someone was on their way (like they always say) and no one showed up. People were using hands, nets, buckets, and kicking fish to shore.
 Kids double fisting river heerring.
 As I photographed the illegal activities, Kyle hooked into a big fish. The thing was bending his rod double. It turned out to be a monster female American shad. I have never seen one of these caught before and on a fly rod was tops. I netted the fish and we got some pictures.

 Herring on the fly.
 James with a nice hickory shad. Down river was a client from last year. Rebecca D. was hooking up to fish. She couldn't believe that where she was standing was underwater a year ago (we had rain last year)

 I smelled smoke and saw a huge plume coming out from the woods. Someone was cooking fish, sausages, and what ever and left all of their garbage behind and the fire was still going. I used the plastic water jug they left behind to put out the fire. It took 2 gallons.
 I come back and James is on another fish. It ended up to be a big sucker on a shad jig.

 Then more people show up and start stealing herring for bait.
 And more. Not to mention all the hand liners out there. I consider this my office and it really pisses me off to  have clean up after people, cut hand lines from the water, put out fires, and tell people not to take fish that are off limits. The park service rarely comes out.
 And then James keeps getting hits on the swing. One after another. Swing and miss. Then he finally gets the fish on. Its a big hickory shad. We decided to end on a high note and take pics and head back to the cars.


I'm going to say that the water temperature increase was the catalyst for the fish species increase. There is no other explanation. The water levels dropped an inch over night. Still no rain here. The tides were about the same. Just a nice sunny and warm day to warm the water :shrug.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

My 11 Year Old Client Is More Hard Core Than YOU

Fishing today was not easy. It was downright work. Lots of casting and very little to show. Rebecca is an 11 year old who is more hard core than you. She wanted to fish her Pfleuger rod instead of a fancy Orvis rod or my Temple Fork Outfitters switch rod. She was wearing Maui Jim sunglasses (what 11 year old gets to do that? )


The shad bite from shore has all but stopped. Its shut down. Nothing. Her dad spots a school of white sucker (Catostomus commersoni) working the bottom. I take off her shad fly and put on a split shot and copper john. She casts and casts. I'm talking 2.5+ hours of working this school. Not many kids have this much fishing in them. Not many adults have that much perseverance. She WORKED that school. She stopped for an apple and a sandwich and some water. Maybe missing 5 min of fishing. She went back and WORKED that school.

She cast, drifted, mended, and did what she could to get that fly down to the fish. It was the only weighted nymph I had. After several hours, her line went taught. She set the hook and was onto a big fish. The only fish of the day.

I saw the fish pull line off her reel. I made a dash for the net upstream. If you have ever fished. the Potomac near Chain Bridge, you know the shore is dodgy. I took a spill and busted up my left hand. I got to my feet, ran to the net, and ran back. We netted that fish. She had no fear of doing the "Grip & Grin" shot. Her dad and I got pictures of her holding the fish, releasing the fish, and after. I got the big high five from her, that made my day.

How many 11 year old girls do you know that could cast for 4 hours, work a school of fish by sight casting, and then get one of the most difficult fish on the Potomac. In fact, this is the first confirmation of a white sucker on a fly on the Potomac that I have ever heard of. Kudos to Rebecca.

She is more hardcore than you.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Fly Fishing Entomology Podcast

Series 01 Episode 02
Entomology
Subject to Updates

In this podcast, I discussed how your knowledge of insects will benefit your fly fishing.

Fish eat bugs because the bugs often come to them in the current, they don’t have to go after them. Just as you can fill up on a bowl of popcorn, a fish can fill up on tiny insects.

Insects
  • Small are small and their size is limited by their external skeleton. The larger it gets, the heavier it gets and they would not be able to support that weight.
  • May occur in high population densities
  • Live mostly in fresh water, Crustaceans are their saline counterpart
  • Compost a major component of fish diets and are easy prey items
  • Fish tend to sip smaller ones, gulp larger ones
  • Composed of a complex carbohydrate classified as a protein called chitin
  • Eating insects is metabolically efficient = the net gain of calories is greater than the amount of calories lost in the process of pursuing, chasing, etc
  • In ecology terms, insects are considered under the term r-selection which means they tend to be:
  • Small size
  • Reach sexual maturity fast
  • Have a short gestation time
  • Produce high quantity of offspring which are generally left to fend for themselves
  • The theory being that the more offspring produced = greater chance some of those will survive to pass on their genetic information.







Anatomy 
  •  Insects have bilateral symmetry which means the left and right sides are equal in shape and size
  • Their bodies are composed of:
  1. Head
  2. Thorax
  3. Abdomen.

Head
  • Mouthparts
  • Sensory organs
  • Eyes for sight- some eyes form images, some don’t.
  • Brain.

Thorax
  • Wings (‘ptera’) and insects are only Invertebrates that fly
  • Legs
  • Associated musculature for locomotion
  • Some breathing pits (spiracles) on terrestrial insects.


Abdomen
  • Contains organs for:
  • Digestion
  • Defecation
  • Respiration
  • Terrestrial insects have tiny pits or spiracles that open to the outside. Gas exchange inside to prevent desiccation
  • Some aquatic insects have filament like exterior lungs, (nymphs tend to hold in turbulent water which has more oxygen)
  • Defense – stinger in bees is modified reproductive organ
  • Tails
  • Reproduction –ovipositors in some shaped based on where/how lay eggs.



Different Types of Life Cycles
  • Some live for a portion of their life in water and emerge from the water (by swimming or crawling out) for a terrestrial adulthood, returning to the water to mate and lay their eggs, making them an easy meal for fish
  • Fish depend on these emergences or “hatches” for gorging themselves on food to pack on weight
  • The emerging stage is quite vulnerable as trying to break through the water’s surface tension and get to safety while exiting their skin. This awkward stage makes them an easy target and a favorite food item for fish. Some insects don’t fully develop and die before this molting stage, they are known as cripples. Some insects can’t break out of the water and drown, these are known as stillborns
  • Being able to identify different stages being consumed by fish and matching that stage with your fly is key to success.

The Life Cycle Stages
  1. Egg
  2. Larva(e) – feeding & growing (nymph in fishing lingo)
  3. Pupa(e) – inactive, non feeding, protected like a mummy
  4. Adult – feeding & reproduction.

Two Types of Metamorphosis:
  1. Complete
  2. Incomplete Complete Metamorphosis

Complete
  • Egg--> larvae--> pupae --> adult
  • 85% of insects
  • Complex life cycle with several changes in body morphology
  • Insect changes shape/morphology throughout life
  • Larvae specialized for eating & growing
  • Pupae are a unique stage to this type of metamorphosis
  • Adult specialized for moving to new location & reproducing
  • Larvae and adult eat different types of food (caterpillar eats leaves, moth eat nectar)
  • Reduces competition between individuals of different stages for resources
  • Allows them to take advantage of more than one habitat and food source at different life stages
  • More important to the fly fisherman as we need to know different shapes, sizes, colors, etc to match these stages.

Incomplete Metamorphosis
  • Egg -->nymph --> adult
  • 15% of insects
  • All stages look the same but are different size or color.
  • Nymph – feeding, non reproductive stage. All stages look like the adult but smaller and possibly different color
  • Adult – reproductive stage
  • You can have the same pattern fly but in a variety of sizes.

Insect Orders

Coleoptera
  • “Shield wing”
  • Beetles
  • Most diverse species of insect
  • Complete Metamorphosis
  • For-wings are a heavy (wing closest to head) is a cumbersome shield to protect the delicate flying hind wings
  • Clumsy fliers
  • Often land in water with a splat
  • Fun to use them to chum up trout
  • Chemical compound defense – ladybug, blister which may be unpalatable to fish
  • Examples: Scarabs (Japanese, scarab),  predacious diving, weevil
  • Flies should be round to oblong in profile from below and in a variety of sizes
  • Vince Marinaro gluing coffee bean to hook
  • Foam or deer hair. I prefer foam for buoyancy
  

Diptera
  • “Two- wings”
  • True flies
  • Forewing for flying
  • Hind wing (haltere) is diminutive and used for balance
  • Complete Metamorphosis
  • Midges (family Chironomidae) are present in high density in winter
  • Larvae are round, slim/slender bodied with defined head
  • Pupae have more developed appendages as prepare for adulthood
  • Fish simply opens mouth and gulps the pupae which are at floating at the mercy of the current as they struggle to hatch to adulthood
  • Examples – house flies, horse flies, mosquito, crane fly, tiny flies aka midges, salmon maggots
  • Larvae/Pupae – brassie, thread midge, crane fly larvae
  • Adult – Griffith gnat, mosquito, black gnat.
 
   


Ephemeroptera
  • “Short lived"
  • Mayflies
  • Incomplete Metamorphosis
  • Ancient order characterized by tails (caudal cerci) and additional molting stage as adult (sub-imago)
  • Sometimes prolonged larval life of several years which negates their scientific name as only the adult stage is brief
  • Larvae are usually streamlined, dorso-ventrally flattened (like pancake) which allows them to live in and around stream bottom detritus and debris with water moving smoothly over them
  • Larvae are broader at head like tadpole and taper down with delicate tails
  • Vulnerable as leave water state
  • Adults have bulging eyes, large wings folded above body at rest due to a non wing-flexion mechanism
  • Emergers on surface look like a sailboat regatta with wings as sails
  • Short lived adult life, vestigial mouthparts = non feeding, goal is reproduction then die (spinner)
  • Examples include drakes, sulphurs, blue wing olives (BWO)
  • Larvae – hares ear, pheasant tail, Mike Mercer patterns
  • Adult – Catskill style flies, Wulff style, bwo, tricos, sulphur, white millers, drakes.

  
Lepidoptera
  • “Scale wing”
  • Butterflies and moths
  • Complete Metamorphosis
  • Butterflies characterized by wings to side at rest = have a wing flexion mechanism
  • Moth characterized by wings over back at rest
  • Larvae lower themselves via silk into water or fall into stream (dropping as defense)
  • Hairy caterpillars are in my experience are avoided by fish (urticating hairs)
  • Examples include Monarchs, skippers, tiger swallow tails
  • Green weenies, San Juan worms, deer hair caterpillar.

 Hemiptera
  • “Half wing”
  • True bugs
  • Incomplete Metamorphosis
  • Characterized by piercing mouthparts and wings forming an inverted triangle on back
  • Variety of body shapes and sizes, often camouflage shaped body parts like bird poop, thorns, leaves, etc
  • Excrete phloem out of but in drops (honeydew) which may have landed on you on a clear day thinking its raining
  • Examples- leaf hoppers, leaf footed bug, water boatmen, stink bug, box elder bug, cicada, aphids (asexual – parthenogenesis -spontaneous reproduction of clones, relationship with ants)
  • Vince Marinaro’s Jassid represents leaf hopper, my splat cicada, any small foam terrestrial should work. 


Hymenoptera
  • “Membrane winged”
  • Ants (Formicidae), bees (Apidae) wasps (Vespidae)
  • Also known as the social insects for their complex societies
  • Complete Metamorphosis
  • Very thin wing if present (velvet ants have no wings)
  • Wasps have a unique identifying characteristic which is a very narrow segment (pedicel) joining the thorax to abdomen
  • Bee stinger is a modified female reproductive organ (thus male bees can’t sting you)
  • Ants produce formic acid (thus family Formicidae) which may account for trout fondness for sipping ants
  • Several non Hymenopteran insects mimic Hymenopteran color patterns for protection (Hover flies do not have a pedicel or black shield like eyes)
  • carpenter ants, ‘picnic’ ants, honey bee, bumble bee (hairy but), carpenter bee (shiny but), cicada killers, yellow jackets, parasitic wasps such as ichneumon and cicada killer
  • Cork bee, foam ant, thread ant, Chernobyl ant.


Megaloptera
  • “Giant wing”
  • Dobsonflies, fish flies
  • Complete Metamorphosis
  • Larvae known as hellgrammite, nasty little critter
  • A favorite of smallmouth bass.
  • Long (several inches), dorso-ventrally flattened body with several pseudo legs separated by puffy white external lungs. Life under rocks and logs and amongst detritus
  • Adult’s identifiable characteristics are large pincer-like mandibles on males, huge-veined wings extend past abdomen, long antennae
  • Adults leave the water and can be found near gas station lights along the river in summer
  • Females deposit white, velvety eggs mass on rocks above water
  • Skilton hellgrammite, cicada fly will work, wooly bugger, zonker.


Odonata
  • “Toothy”
  • Dragonflies and damselflies
  • Incomplete Metamorphosis
  • Dragonflies – wings horizontal when at rest. Fast fliers with incredible sight. Predatory larvae.  Often see shucks on dock pilings.
  • Damselflies – wings pulled back over back during rest. Slow flier. Nymph slowly swim in water makes for easy prey.
  • Fish will jump out of water to eat adults
  • Darners, skimmers
  • Marabou damsel nymph, quick damsel nymph, dragonfly nymphs
  • Foam damsel/dragon adult.


Orthoptera          
  • “Straight wing”
  • Hoppers and crickets
  • Incomplete Metamorphosis
  • Sub divided by antennae length, the short horn and long horn
  • Characterized by large hind legs for jumping and noise making
  • Fall off foliage or land in water – some swim or drift
  • Great as lead fly when fishing tandem rigs
  • Green tree hoppers, black crickets, katydids, grasshoppers
  • Temperature based on stridulations per minute
  • Foam hopper, Dave’s hopper, Letort hopper, Scott Sanchez patterns.

Plecoptera
  • “Tent wing”
  • Stoneflies
  • Adult wing folded over thorax and abdomen
  • Complete Metamorphosis
  • Larvae similar to mayflies, dorso-ventrally flattened with shovel shaped head (to move throughout the substrate), pronounced legs protruding to side, one pair of prominently forked tails
  • Tend to climb out of water on rocks and waders, climb up you and get on neck, sunglasses etc.
  • Hatch throughout year with winter hatches producing feeding fish
  • Large stoneflies are a whole meal in one gulp
  • Yellow sally, salmon fly , golden stonefly, little black winter stone
  • Larvae – Kaufmanns stone fly, Mike Mercer patterns
  • Adults – Stimulator, Sofa Stone, foam stones

Trichoptera
  • “Hairy wing”
  • Caddisflies
  • Complete Metamorphosis
  • Larvae live in and amongst rocks, logs, and detritus
  • May or may not build housing depending on species
  • Some housings made out of ‘silk’ which is used to attach sand, rocks, detritus etc
  • Some housing attached to substrate, others are attached to body looking like a sleeping bag on their back and are thus mobile
  • Larvae  have round worm like body with pronounced head and legs, they swim to surface trailing skin and are vulnerable (emergers)
  • Adults have an erratic flight pattern and swarm over water
  • Adults hatch sometimes en-masse
  • Black caddis, Grannon caddis, Mothers Day
  • Larvae – green wire caddis, gummy caddis
  • Emerger – Gary Lafontaine patterns,
  • Adult – Elk hair caddis, Goddard caddis, Hemmingway caddis, small stimulator.


Places to look for these bugs:
  • Car grill on summer days
  • Outside house lights at night (put out a white sheet and black light)
  • Gas station lights
  • Put a white cloth under a plant and shake the branches
  • Spider webs along streams
  • Plants along the bank (see video of Dream Stream)
  • Look under leaves- bugs will hide there from predators, weather, and the underside is easier for them to consume
  • Turn over rocks and leaves in a stream
  • Place a fine mesh net in the water below rocks or gravel and kick your feet around and inspect  your net




Saturday, April 7, 2012

Places To Eat When Fly Fishing

I'm a hungry guy. I  need more food the night before a day of fly fishing, during a day of fly fishing, and especially after a long day of fly fishing. These are my places to eat when fly fishing. The locals span two continents and some Pacific islands.

Here is the audio Itunes I hope the link works

Or Season 01 Episode 35 

Check out the map and scroll around.

View Larger Map


And here are some pics.  Yea, I'm that guy who photographs his food.

Gjelina mentioned on 'Up All Night' the sitcom,  not the naugty USA cable show from Friday Nights.


And here is a muffin and a scone from there.

Breakfast sandwich
That looks good.
The beer on tap menu at Yard House
Baby Lady sleeping at the Yard House
My Firestone IPA
Truffle fries and a club sandwich (with bacon and avocado)
Me at the Secret Stash back in 2004. Look how skinny I was.


And afterward these guys kidnapped me and took me bar hopping.
The Gas Cafe in Crested Butte

Hawaii shave ice in Hanlei bay
Boulder Cafe (these are not in order do to Picasa uploading them that way)
Yuri tearing into the chicken fried steak at Fattys
Tom and his 'side' of fries at the Altmar Hotel
Kauai

Can't remember why I took this pic.
Jo-Jos shaved Ice


KCl

Tropical taco
The breakfast joint that we got crappy service
Best place ever
communal seating
Origin 99 in Barcelona, chicken cannelloni
Tom tying at Ponderosa in Pulaski
Hamuras kitchen look at those beef teryiaki sticks.
THE SAIMIN
Something awesome at Origin 99
More Origin 99
Chickpeas, tomato, cheese, herbs. Simple but insane
Inside the place
Can't remember the name of this place. Can't find it on Google Maps (Barcaloneta, across from the surf shop) Great little sandwiches.
Me  next to a tiny truck, or am I HUGE and its a real sized truck?
I think we ate a great dinner hear, Ilona had stinky sardines.
Cal Pep, the line forms EARLY
El Xampanyet in Barca. Champagne and pastries. Over a 100 years old.
Outside the sandwich joint.
The burrito place in the market in Barca
I told you they were orgasmic
The guy with the bathing suit tattoo. I did not put in the pic of him bending over with his man-dingo hanging out. The lady in front of him is memorized by it.
Inside Cal Pep
That tortilla. I have dreams about it.
Pep (he's like the Dumbledore of the culinary world)
Me eating falafel. I love falafel.
Deep fried oreo in Wisconsin. Everything there was fried.
Me with the food network guy in Portland
The 'pig in blanket'
The misses in Miami
Chris with his side of fries in Altmar

Club sandwich in Portland.
El Pub in Calle Ocho in Miami
Cuban pressed sandwich with palvo.


The place with the lobster reuben
Art District Cigars


Lobster Reuben with chicken fingers
Fish heads for tarpon. Get them in the kitchen
tarpon behind where we ate
Robbies
Dorothy's former local in Hartsel
Kenosha steak house
The Highlander near Pont Neuf


Me drinking and fishing in Paris
Le Relais De Venis. Best Dinner EVER


Line up early
Fattys in Breck
Elysian

The beer was less than the club soda
Apple donuts
Burger Barn
Elysian
Broasted Chicken at 901 Pub

The Vineyard

Korean food in Waikiki
Jab Chae noodles

MMMM, plate lunch
Grease Trucks
This sandwich made me ill

Me at Ponderosa
The baby at In-N-Out burger. She was soo tiny.
Chicken lolipops
Best sandwich in Ohio




Garlic chicken at Sams Kitchen
This is real Ramen in Waikiki. I was so drunk though, I can't remember where


Thats it folks. 

 
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