Monday, 26 November 2012

The Guessing Game.

Seems Winter  made an early visit to some Ontario towns and cities this past weekend. With temps dropping late Friday and some wintry conditions forecasted for Saturday and Sunday  I  figured any outings would be tough.  It's funny how we  try to pattern our quarry.  We form theories based on our past experiences only to have them flipped upside down and proved false at the drop of a hat.  This weekend is a perfect example of this.  Saturday would be the toughest weather conditions I have ever endured while fishing.  I fished  very close to the Lake on a well know river.  Squalls would rip in off the lake . Snow was accumulating on my windward side at a steady rate.    50km winds gusting to 70km would be on menu for the time I spent there.   I figured the fishing would be poor.  I was wrong.  It would be some intense fishing.  My landing ratio took a beating that morning, but I was unfazed.  I was happy to be hooking fish, and  bewildered by the cooperating Steelheads behaviour in this horrible weather.  I regret not taking any photo's. I wasn't about to dig deep into my waders to fish out my iPhone and take a chance of having it be damaged by the flying snow or dropped in the water.  Hooking and fighting fish in those conditions is lodged firmly in my my mind at any rate. On a side note, I would reclaim my digital point and shoot for Sunday, only to find the battery dead.

 Sunday.  Squalls have stopped, and  light snow is falling.  Although morning temps are chilly I assume Sunday is going to be even better than Saturday.  I was wrong again.  I fished all morning with zero action. Finally I break for lunch.  While snarfing back warm soup and sandwiches I receive a call from Neil.  We make plans to meet in an hour and after a nice break I am recharged and determined to turn this day around.

Neil would arrive  about 20 minutes late.  Exactly the time it would take him to spin his way out of a ditch he slid into while turning on to the gravel road just up from the access.  No harm or damage done, we laughed about his story as we slid our way through the bush.

Reaching the river we noticed tracks going down river, so our obvious choice was fresh snow.

Up we went.  We split up on two different runs within sight of each other.  Neil was quickly into a fish, and so was I.  My first of the day. A bright hen.  Warmed me up!

Neil made his way up to me where we would fish the rest of the day.  I brought a couple more fish to hand and Neil was kind enough to tail them for me.

Some very nice fish made Sunday worth every bit of effort spent.  This Buck is a favourite of mine this season.  Such a beautiful fish. 

A nice Hen would follow. I was a very happy camper!

 On our way out I would watch Neil work a couple runs with no results.  We were pleased  with the outing, as a few others on their way out at the access were reporting no action at all.  So this past weekend I had all my theories and ideas flipped.  As much as we try to understand Steelhead and their habits,  at best we really are only guessing.  That's OK with me.  I quite enjoy a good guessing game every now and then.  

Friday, 23 November 2012


Well it worked... I'm speaking of my two day repair on my G3's. This morning I was able to put myself on the river for a short test drive. Rain the night before did nothing for the river , but happened to bring some new players to the game. Not only did I stay nice and dry this morning, I also got to tangle with some hot fish....

Wednesday, 21 November 2012


Might be an understatement.

  After one warranty repair last season my G3's were shipped back with new feet and gravel guards. Some minor leaks had been repaired also. So after testing them,  they seemed to be good.  That was the case for about a week, shortly after  they started to leak again. Looking back that was a great week.   Being dry was an added bonus.  After that week  I wore them and just would deal with the fact of being a little damp.  No big deal.  That is until this past weekend when I noticed the leaks were now causing full fledged soakings.  No one likes to dump out  their waders at the end of a day of angling.  Nor does any sane person enjoy wearing work boots and gym shorts to the local Tim Horton's after said outing for that habitual Jalapeno bagel and large coffee. In my defence,  it was all I had in my van.  Obviously I opted for the drive thru.  So to take matters into my own hands, and hopefully make my winter fishing a little more comfortable.  I have started a "void your warranty repair".  Not really as bad as it seems because I was notified by Simms, the next time they come in for repairs I would be paying for it.  I should state now,   I have no qualms with Simms.  I did get three seasons out of my G3's.  The fourth I am hoping won't be a wet one anymore.  So here are some shots of the gooping in progress. As I type this entry I swear I can smell Seam Grip...

  2 ounces in and 1 more to go. back and front, all seams and numerous pinhole leaks.

Hopefully this works.  If not, I will be praying for an early lock-up on the Huron Tribs.  If by chance they don't lock-up and my work fails,  it's going to be a long wet and cold Winter on the year round sections.  It will take a lot more than leaky waders to put me off of fishing.


Monday, 19 November 2012

Old Habits Die Hard...

After a couple fish on the  Spey during my recent float trip, I was eager to get back out and try for another hook-up on the Swing.  With a day spent at home Saturday,  I headed out Sunday afternoon. Arriving,  I set up with a 10' all float tip with a 6' lead of 8lb tippet and an unweighted tube fly. Starting at the top of the run I worked my way down swinging through the faster water, considering the air temps I assumed perhaps a fish or two would be holding behind one of the many boulders close to the head of the run.  I reached the gut and switched to a 5' float and 5' of T-11 tip and removed a foot off my 8lb tippet and used a weighted Olive Sculpin pattern.

The swing became slower and I felt confident I was going to get hooked up. shortly after  I finished up at the tail with no action.  Fishing river right I was able to practise my double Spey, so all was not lost.  Only having a half day and not  enough time to access some bigger runs the single hander would be the workhorse for the last couple hours of daylight.

Old habits die hard, and the burden of hiking in with two rods paid off as I leaned heavily on my trusty crutch. 

I started at the gut with small Stone flies, black and brown, next the dirty San Juan in natural colours. Finally yarn would be tried also.  Still no hook-ups I was perplexed.  I knew there were fish in this run,  I was however starting to think their numbers were dwindling and most had started to drop back to more favourable lies.  I went back at it and this time started with the biggest pattern in my fly box.  A huge black Stone fly, hitched of course.

 Minutes later the indicator slid to the side and I checked it with an over zealous down and to the bank hook-set.  The clean hen thrashed about and made several nice jumps, waiting patiently for her to settle I landed her.  

 After a quick pic she bolted back to the stained deeper water vanishing from sight.  I stuck with the pattern and would take another fish on it.   A scrappy buck with more colour and just as much spirit kept me pointing the tip of the rod at him as he took to the air five times.

I decided to head back as I was running out of time and did not feel like hiking out in the dark.

  I broke both rods down and with my headphones in and tunes cranked,  I rocked my way back to my Van.

Sunday, 18 November 2012

The First Drift

November 16th 2012....  I had been counting down the days for months till it's arrival.  Hiking  (for me) is required in finding new digs and or reaching old favourites.  This day however I would fish some great new water for the first time ever via drift boat.   Floyd and I were booked with Mike Verhoef of Flyfitter's for a full day drift and the tools for the day would be Spey rods.  We would swing for aggressive fish.  Truth be told, I couldn't leave my trusty single hander at home so it was rigged and packed. Unknown to me at the time,  It would see hardly any action and would not take a single fish during our trip.

  The Location of the drift was finalized the night before.  We  arrived early at our meeting location the next morning.   Mike arrived  shortly after pulling a frost covered drift boat behind his vehicle.  We packed up our gear and were off to our put in spot, soon after we were drifting down the river.   We approached our first run,  Floyd graciously gave me the first pass.  Big thanks to Floyd.   As I neared the end of the run I got a good solid smack mid swing.  Eventually  I landed the first fish of the day.

After working the run for about 20 minutes with no takes we jumped back in the boat and continued our adventure.  The next spot would have  Floyd set up on river right and myself casting from the boat on river left. Within minutes the 13'-6" Loop Evotec was bent again.

This time the strike would come at the end of the swing while twitching the intruder.


The day flew by as we drifted from run to run.   Early afternoon we stopped for lunch.  Floyd and I fished while Mike warmed up the tasty homemade soup he had prepared the night before. We also ate sandwiches and sweets.   For the remainder  of the day we would fish four more nice runs.  As it turned out we would not see anymore fish that day, but it didn't matter. It was an incredible trip, and very relaxing.  Seeing the river from a drift boat for a day was a real treat.  I think I will have to treat myself again and again....

 Until then, I guess it's back to following deer trails, or making my own...    



Monday, 12 November 2012

Sometimes you have to switch it up...

  "Switching it up" would be the theme this past weekend, not only in offerings to  Steelhead, but also in locations.  In following another "hunch" I put myself on a dud  before first light.  As day broke it was evident I had made another mistake and it was time to make the hike out and implement my plan B.

 With the sound of gunshots echoing through the bush I stuck to the trail, I was happy I remembered  my "Hunters Orange" toque. Coming to the end of the trail I was greeted by some Doe's.  Beautiful.  Luckily there were no Bucks in the field.

About 45 minutes later I would find myself alone on a nice section of another river, and as it turned out full of Steelhead. It wasn't very long till the rod was bent and I was into my first fish of the weekend.

I let the run rest and just relaxed for awhile enjoying the solitude.  It is such a treat to be set-up alone on a fishy piece of water.   When I  made my way back into the river,  I was hooked up instantly.  This time with a fish that would test my patience. Finally I was able to slide this Hen into the wet grass. 
As the afternoon approached I was kept busy with willing fish.  Black Stones would become the hot fly. Sadly all the fish I hooked on the stones would get the upper hand on me.  I did however enjoy the show they put on. Strong runs and frantic jumps were the norm with these fish. I decided to return the following day and made the hike out.

Arriving the next morning I was once again alone.  Spoiled!   I was however looking forward to some company as my friend Neil would be joining me mid-morning.

  Yarn took the first fish that morning. The  fish would keep me guessing after and I would switch patterns for the rest of the day, only nabbing one per every two or three new patterns I tried. The highlight of the morning was taking a large coloured up male on a black stone, whom I just couldn't get to smile for the camera. He put up an incredible fight and tried to bully me around the run. 

Neil made his way down river and set up above me swinging his way down the run.  No takes, he set-up his Nymphing rod, and  as usual it didn't take long for him to hook-up. He landed a very clean Buck, which still had a roe bag and a yarnie stuck in it's mouth.  We cleaned him up and he slipped through Neils hands before we could snap a pic.
After fishing with Neil for awhile and losing every fish I hooked I decided I was done. We traded some patterns before I left. I am looking forward to trying the "Duker Nuker" out when we get some high water.  Neil went through his fly box and managed a few more fish. It was a very good weekend. I located some fish and enjoyed the beautiful weather. I am however hoping for some rain and cooler temps to get things really rocking again.  Next Friday  I have a float trip booked with Mike V at Flyfitters.  It will be a nice change to drift down the river. After all this hiking, my legs need a break!   

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Up... Down... and then Up?

With all the rains last week I had planned a couple outings for the weekend.  Saturday would be a half day jaunt, perhaps to locate some fish and solidify Sundays location for a full day.  My friend Neil and I agreed on a location late Friday night, and were very excited as  we would be fishing a smaller system that had been rising for several days.  The level was one I was familiar with but, only on the drop. I was thinking we would have somewhat dirty conditions.  Neil confirmed the colour as just about perfect, the only thing lacking was perhaps a bit more flow. A personal preference of his and mine.  Alarm clocks set and off to bed, the "am" couldn't come soon enough!

As I drove I passed several access points that were just loaded up with Vehicles.  I hoped our access point was not as busy.  I managed to avoid the slew of potholes on the wet dirt road and was pleased to see the access empty.  With flashlight in hand I walked to the bridge to get a look at the river, a set of truck lights made there way down the road and slowed as they approached the bridge. I  was pleased to hear the voice of a good friend. Gil, with  Brent also a great guy were the only other people at this stretch and we enjoyed a nice chat and a couple snips of Baileys.   Gil and Brent made the hike in. As I watched their headlamps bounce in the darkness Neil arrived.

We fished first light with no takes. Neil was confident the section we started at held some fish. He stayed put as I went  a little further up. I set up on a nice little dig. I decided to fish it from the opposite side as I couldn't seem to get a nice even drift.  Navigating the overhung branches above me proved to be tricky, not only in performing a roll cast but also in fighting the first fish of the day.  

Neil arrived shortly after and we continued up river.  We were confident we would hit a pod of fish and having this whole stretch to ourselves kept us heading up.  Little did we know we would unfortunately not connect with a pod.  Neil took the next fish. A beautiful Coho still very fresh for this time of year, and so far up River.

With each piece of great looking water fished, we blanked.  You guessed it...further up we headed.

Finally I hit my second fish. Unfortunately it would be my last of the morning.

  I only had a half day, so it was decided to fish our way back.  It was a beautiful day and the flow and colour made it all the better.  Reaching our starting point I called it quits and headed home. My plans for the following day would see me fish a lower section of this beautiful River solo.

Fast forward 16 hrs and I was hiking into the lower section well before first light.  So much for gaining an extra hour of sleep, as I used it to put myself on a decent stretch for another shot at some fresh fish. First light arrived and I quickly took my first Steelhead of the day.   A shaker, but at least I knew I had made a good decision in my choice of a location . The next hour was nice and I loaded up the rod several times with some willing players. They lost interest in the San Juan so I turned to yarn.

Seemed the Yarn bite was on big time so I stuck with it and continued to hit fish.

This fish was my favourite of the day.  Very Hot. It took me up and down a few times.  I was very happy to finally bring it to hand.

Late morning saw the bite slow. I managed another shaker  and it shut down.
Then I made the worst move ever, instead of waiting it out, I made the Long hike out and returned to the stretch that Neil and I fished the day before.  When I arrived it was very clear I had made a bad move.  The flow was gone and so was the colour. I fished for a bit and then packed it in. All in all a great weekend of angling. So in closing I fished up, down and up again and covered a lot of River.  Migratory Steelhead can keep you guessing when they have water to travel, and this is one of my favourite things about fishing for them.