Tuesday, December 21, 2010

CDC Acquisitions

Had a chance to get out for one more round of waterfowl before the season on puddlers closes Christmas Day.  A frozen salt marsh in late December can be a pretty inhospitable place that can test your  endurance, your patience, and leave you wondering just what the hell happened in your life to get you to the point that you consider being half-frozen and gripping a 12 gauge a good time.

I'm pretty sure I couldn't explain it in a way that would do it any justice. But I can say, it is.


Monday, December 6, 2010

Big and Little

"The difference between a good fisherman and a great one? A BB."
The Little Red Book of Fly Fishing

It's cold and catching trout in moving water means getting down deep. Try a heavy point fly and midge dropper... and don't forget a BB- or two.

Tiger Midge. Drop it off a heavy point fly and run it deep. Tied on a TMC 2487 scud hook in size 18 and 16. Orange glass bead, thread body, black ultra-wire rib, midge krystal flash wings and an Ice Dubbed thorax.
Ice Stone. Stoneflies are usually associated with summer, but the nymphs are always losing their grip and tumbling around in streams and rivers and make a good bite for a half frozen, lazy trout. Tied on an Owner SSW Cutting Point hook size 4, goose biot tails and antennae and flex floss legs. The body is dubbed with Ice Dubbing and the shell back is thin skin. Weighted with a tungsten bead.


Saturday, December 4, 2010

Tie One On

I have been tying flies and playing around with a new camera. I don't consider myself to be a very talented fly tier (or picture taker for that matter), but the end results have a utilitarian purpose after all. So as I was in the cave lashing some animal by-products to Japanese steel I decided to snap a few photos. Here is one of my favorite crayfish patterns with (almost) step-by-step instructions. These are fun to tie and fish and a little more realistic than  a standard woolly bugger. It's basically a Clouser Crayfish with fur claws instead of mallard breast feathers. I tie these in a size 4 TMC 5263 (nymph hook: 3x long, 2x heavy)... anything smaller and I typically go with a standard bugger.

As far as colors go... I try to match the shell back, hackle, rubber leg, and claw colors as close as possible. One thing that remains the same however is the white underside. I've messed with darker undersides but the white really seems to out fish ones with dark undersides.

Here is what you need:

Hook: TMC 5263 
Weight: Dumb bell eyes
Claws: Pine Squirrel
Legs/Antennae: Sili-Leggs
Shell Back: Furry Foam
Eyes: Mono Eyes
Body: White Chenille
Hackle: Saddle or Neck to match the shell color.
Rib: 3x Mono

Here is how you do it:

1.  Lash on the dumb bell eyes. I usually pre-assemble a bunch of these and glue them up once they are tied  onto the hook.
2. Tie in your fur claws. These should be about 3/4 the length of the hook shank.

3. Tie in Sili-Legg antennae (x2) about 2" long. They should be longer than the claws.
4. Cut a strip of Furry Foam about 3" long and tie on to the top of the hook shank extending off the back as shown. This should be cut about as wide as the hook gap (pre-cutting these helps).

5. Lash the Mono-Eyes as far back as possible on the top of the hook shank and Furry Foam.

 6. Cut a 8" to 10" piece of chenille and tie onto the top of the hook.
 7. As you begin to wrap your chenille push your mono eyes forward a bit. I usually double wrap the abdomen to get a thicker, more realistic profile.

8. After wapping back two widths of chenille, tie in Sili-Leggs about 2" long. Tie these to the side of the hook.
 9. Make two more wraps of chenille and tie in another set of 2" Sili-Leggs to the side of the hook shank just like before.
 10. After you tie in the legs, tie in your hackle and about 4" of 3x mono ribbing.
 11. Leave the hackle and ribbing behind and complete wrapping the chenille forward to the hook eye. Tie off and trim the excess chenille away.
 12. Wrap the hackle back to the eye, tie off, and trim the excess.
 13. Pull the Furry Foam back to form the shell back. Pull it enough that the Mono-eyes stick out back at the hook bend. Secure the Furry-Foam to the hook, just behind the eye.
 14. Counter-wrap the mono ribbing at even intervals and tie off behind the hook eye. By counter-wrapping you should be going opposite the direction that you wrapped the hackle and chenille- this makes a more secure body.
 15. Whip finish and trip the excess furry foam.
 16. You can leave it alone or color it to match the naturals. I like to keep some markers in my boat bag and color them on the river so that they match the color of the river bottom, like the naturals. I like burnt orange, dark olive, and slate-gray blue.
 Usually I fish these on a sink tip and strip them along the bottom.  They don't hang up as much as you might think. They can also be deadly dead drifted under a large (1") Thingamabobber.

Smallies attack these things with abandon, but don't over look throwing them (or dead drifting them) at trout- especially if your in an area where you suspect a large brown may be hanging out. On that note, I talked to Dan "Rooster" Levans out at the Stonefly Inn in Twin Bridges, Montana this past September and I asked him if the predicted "epic" hopper invasion ever materialized in Southwest Montana this summer. To his dismay, he said it didn't, too much rain, and the high country never dried out enough to push the hoppers down into the river valleys. He lamented that he only had one "real" hopper day all season, but in the same breath added that most of the big trout that were taken out of the Jefferson and Beaverhead were taken on... crayfish.

Maine rivers are loaded with crayfish and trout are trout whether they live in Maine or Montana. If the food is there, you better believe they will eat it. Throwing size 4 anythings as a salmonid generally won't keep your rod bent all day long with 12" stockers, but it might land you one of your better fish of the season. So don't be afraid to skip the size 12 Hornberg and try something different.


Sunday, November 21, 2010

Turkey, Trout, and Grandma

Happy Thanksgiving from Wild River Angler! 

While you are at the family gathering doing this...

It's ok if you would rather be doing this...

Happy Holidays!

Saturday, November 13, 2010


November can be temperamental. Warm and mild, or cold and bitter. But when the sun is shining and the air is warm, you better be taking advantage of her good side before she turns her back on you and old man winter comes calling. We can make all kinds of excuses to sit on the sidelines- it's too cold, too hot, the water is too high, too low, it's deer hunting season, there is firewood to stack, the Patriots are playing, my wife won't let me, etc; or you can get your priorities squared away and go catch some fish. One thing is certain, it isn't going to happen if you don't get out there. It takes commitment and a certain amount of grit to get results sometimes- but those who are willing are paid with memories that last the long winter. 


Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Dust off the Vise!

There is still some good fishing in the right places this time of year. Tributaries that remain open can be jammed full of trout getting ready to spawn; which is a delicate subject. Your best bet is to land them fast and release them quick. Pinch your barbs, and don't walk all over the stream. Granted these are not all wild fish, and survival of the eggs and fry may be low, but it certainly doesn't help matters to go and trample the redds. I'd like to at least imagine that some of the fish in these areas were actually born in a stream. As for flies, well, there a some things that work better than others this time of year- but some things you just need to figure out the old fashion way.

I have started filling the voids in the fly boxes. Right now I am working on blue wings, and this is one of my favorites. It's a parachute tied on a CDC post. I use CDC mostly because I have a ton of the stuff from plucking it off the oil glands of ducks. CDC is a pure trout killer- it's really buggy, and if I want to get the fly lower in the film I can trim the barbs from the parachute hackle to get it a little deeper or even add some weight and fish it like an emerger in the swing. Versatility is a good thing.

Here is the recipe:

Hook: TMC 2487 (#22 to #18)

Abdomen: Turkey Biot

Tail: Antron

Thorax: Superfine Dubbing

Hackle: Dark Dun

Post: CDC


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Bid Adieu

The 2010 season is quickly coming to a close, and it won't be long before the serious cold gets here and ice begins to form. We had a chance to fish in our first snow, complete with iced up guides this Friday. It was fun, because it is a rite of fall fishing- but also a bitter reminder that it won't be long before we are hunkered down under three feet of snow suffering from a bad case of the shack nasties, tying flies, and wishing it were June.

We wrapped up our last scheduled trips this weekend and we would like to say thanks to all of those who fished with us this season!   We made some great new friends and look forward to seeing some familiar faces and some new next season.

If you want to fish give us a call- there is still time!


Monday, October 11, 2010

Time is a slippin'

The season is quickly slipping away. A couple more weeks and we will be taking down our shingle for the winter.  The good news is the fall fishing has been good- so don't miss out.  The rain fall in the last few weeks bumped some water into the system which has brought in some nice fish. Fall streamers and dead drifted nymphs have been producing.

Go get 'em- before it's to late!


Thursday, September 30, 2010

Healing Waters

Early this summer we were invited to take part in one of the trips planned for the local chapter of Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing; a program that "is dedicated to the physical and emotional rehabilitation of disabled active military service personnel and veterans through fly fishing and fly tying education and outings."  Last week we took our trip, chasing smallies on the Kennebec. The fish cooperated nicely, the weather was stunning, and some good laughs were shared by all. It was a nice way to spend the final day of summer. Having spent some time myself hiking a rucksack over the mountains and through the woods  with a rifle in my hand, a bond was shared- and it felt good to have a chance to help these Warriors find a bit a peace.

Personally, I can't think of a better tonic than spending some time on the water, getting a tight line on a few fish. 

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Game On (again)

I feel this way two times per season. April and September. Like our good friend Mike Decoteau said last week- "Early September is like early April- every instinct I have is telling me 'it's time'... but it's really still a little to soon."  Well, we are darn near the middle of September and time is a slippin'. The good news- it is time. (Mike by the way is a steelhead/trout junkie who ties some really mean feather wing streamer in the classic fashion. He is truly a jungle cock nerd.  He also tied professionally for SS Flies- contact us and we will put you in touch with him for some really, really nice custom tied feather wing streamers. Mike actually inspired me to tie on a feather wing today while guiding a bass trip- I think that says it all).

Water temps in the Upper Kennebec have dropped from 75 degrees last week to 68 currently. Blue Wings and Isonychias have started and the fish are looking up. Remember, and Isonychia is a swimmer- one of the fastest of all aquatic insects- so it pays to strip a Zug Bug or other pattern that mimics the nymph at the end of a dead drift. Sometimes drag can be your best friend. An Adams in a 12 makes a good match for the adult. Blue wing are, well blue wings- micro. Carry some patterns down to a 24. I'm not convinced that we aren't seeing some tricos as well. But when they are that small, who really cares. Streamers have been producing fish also and we have been finding a few browns laid up real tight on the bank- like within a foot. Remember that the next time you wade into a river. It is only going to pick up from here, and now is a great time to float the Kennebec.


Thursday, September 9, 2010

Almost there...

Water temps are still pretty warm. The Kennebec at Madison was still hovering in the mid 70's as of a few days ago and surprisingly Bingham was no better. Hatches have been sporadic with spinners in the evening and a few caddis here and there, but nothing to get real excited about yet. At this point, everybody is holding their breath waiting for blue wings to kick off. This cool weather is sweet relief, and it shouldn't be long. Start watching for water temps that drop back into the 60's and you will know it's time. With cool nights and mild days ahead, the much anticipated fall conditions should not be far away.

For the time being we have been staying "green"- fishing for smallies, which, unlike their fairer cousins are much happier to eat when water temps are above room temperature.  I got to take the "House of Hardy" girls out for a warm up session to shake out some cobwebs in preparation for the Upper Andro 2 Fly. The ladies are competing in an all girls boat sponsored by British rod and reel maker House of Hardy.

Watch out boys- these girls are good, and when it comes time to hook some fish- they are all business.


Thursday, September 2, 2010

Heat Waves, Drought, and now... Hurricanes

It's been a tough summer for trout anglers. After two seasons of epic rains and high water, 2010 is shaping up to be the year of the drought marked by heat waves and skinny flows. The good news is that the fishing for black bass has held up. The bad news is that the trout fishing has been a tough game at times- with high water temps and low flows.

And now it looks like we are going to take at least a glancing blow from Earl. I say bring it on. A good dumping of rain will be nice and should put some much needed water back in the lakes which will improve river flows. A good push of high-water could be just the ticket to set up up for some good mid to late September fishing.

Everybody do a rain dance.


Saturday, August 28, 2010

Big Time

Articulated Rattlesnake

Many anglers would agree that a common denominator in the big fish game is the size of your bait. There are of course exceptions to this rule, as plenty of large fish are caught every season on small nymphs and even dry flies. But it you want to tip the odds in your favor, it pays to go big.

I read once that there is an evolution in fly fisherman. We start simply wanting to catch a fish. To just experience the small pleasure of success by actually putting everything together and hooking and landing a fish on a fly. As our skills increase and we become more proficient, our goal becomes to catch a lot of fish. This is the middle section of the "bell curve" and where the vast majority of anglers find themselves. Some anglers never (and quite happily) progress beyond this point and are content with catching lots of small to medium fish.

Then there are the hunters. The anglers who have become almost mechanically efficient at fooling fish with a fly. Like the big predatory fish that they hunt, these anglers doggedly seek the largest fish they can find, and willingly forgo many fish in the process in pursuit of a trophy.

SDungeon- Crayfish Edition

Fall fishing is a great time to focus your efforts on catching a "trophy" trout. Most salmonids, with the exception of rainbows- which are spring spawners, are getting ready to procreate. Bruiser male browns, brookies, and salmon move into the shallows and take on their handsome fall colors while getting mean and aggressive as they start feeling randy with thoughts of fresh eggs to fertilize.

Streamer fishing is synonymous with autumn angling. Traditionally many famous fall patterns involve bright, almost gaudy colors, that likely imitate the bright colors of another spawning male, which is often enough to draw a strike- usually out of pure aggression.

SDungeon- Sculpin Edition

These days, with a myriad of new materials and tying techniques, the game is changing as patterns continue to evolve. One of the coolest evolutions in fly design are "articulated streamers"- these are big patterns, that range from 3 to 6 inches in length. The movement is multi-directional, up, down, and side to side. In other words, lots of trigger points, and realistic movements. These are sort of the fly fishing version of the venerable Jointed Rapalas or soft plastic swim baits. These are not simply "tandem" hooked flies. Traditional tandem streamers are designed to ride straight (for trolling). These pattern's are designed to wiggle and move. If you are a traditionalist, you may turn your nose up at this sort of thing- and it will definately get you kicked out of the "dry fly only" club (gee... bummer). This is definitely new school stuff here.

SDungeon- Fall Fish (Chub) Edition

These patterns are best handled on a stout 6 weight or 7 weight. Personally, I prefer a 7. Rigged with either a full-sink line or 24' Streamer-tip in the 200 to 250 grain range and you are in the game. I like a short leader which consists of the following:
  • 12" 25 lb Maxima
  • 12" 15 lb Maxima connected by a blood knot
  • 35 lb SPRO Micro Swivel
  • 18" 2x Flourocarbon
  • Attach the fly with "no slip" loop knot
The SPRO swivels prevent twisting in the tippet when casting these large, air resistant patterns.

"Galloup's Peeler"- Tied on a Gamakatsu Offset Worm Hook
(not articulated- but a cool fly)

Swimmy Jimmy- Yellow Perch Edition 

A few years ago I read Kelly Galloup and Bob Linsenmen's book Modern Streamers for Trophy Trout: New Techniques, Tactics, and Patterns  and it literally revolutionized the way I approached and thought about streamer angling. To sum it up in a nutshell: throw big flies, use sinking lines on beefy tippets, and retrieve the fly down and across the current (no swing here).

If you want to take your streamer game to a new level in pursuit if big fish, it is definitely worth checking out.

To load up on some new articulated streamers check out Kelly's fly shop at:


Have fun out there!


Sunday, August 15, 2010

Equal Opportunity

At Wild River Angler we pride ourselves in providing fish of all shapes, sizes, and colors the opportunity to be caught and released.

From stealth-midging micro-bass off the banks...

To going loud and large for Leviathan...

To everything in between...

We've got it covered.

Paul, I'm glad you have a good sense of humor.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Upper Andro Anglers Alliance Two Fly

It's on! 
Team Patagonia/Wild River Angler will defend its title. This great event serves to raise funds for the Upper Andro Anglers Alliance, a group dedicated to the restoration, preservation, and promotion of the Upper Androscoggin River fishery. No, the point is not really about the competition, but there are some really nice prizes for the "winners."  Last year there were rods and reels from LL Bean and Orvis, gift cards for Kittery Trading Post, and of course some sweet schwag from Patagonia, including a Guide Water wading jacket and waders.  Despite whether you go home loaded up on booty or empty handed, the river and the fish will be better off for it.

Read all about last years event.

From the UAAA-
"The contest is scheduled from 6:00 am to 2:00 pm (sunrise 6:34) on Saturday, September 18, 2009. Rain or shine. Each team consists of two anglers and an oarsman. Fishing from drift boats only. No wade fishing. Anglers will be fishing for three species of trout-brown, brook and rainbow. Small mouth, fall fish (chub) or any other species will not be accepted. Teams are responsible for their Maine and/or NH State Fishing Licenses, cameras and digital images. UAAA will supply a retractable measuring tape, fish cards, and bag lunch. Awards will be presented to the angler with the biggest fish, greatest number of fish caught and for the team catching the greatest number of fish. The oarsman may fish for pleasure only. Oarsman’s name and team will be engraved on The Rocky Freda Turtle Water Perpetual trophy for team with the greatest catch."

See you there, we'll be the guys posing for photos with the Turtle Trophy!


Sunday, August 8, 2010

The Second Season

The geese are grouped up and this morning it was 47 degrees- sure signs of things to come. I know we are still in for some hot weather, but at this point we are on the downhill side of another summer looking forward the "second" trout season. And with mornings like that past few, you can almost believe it.

Water temps checked in at 62 degrees this morning on the Swift River near Roxbury.  Small freestones are low, and clear right now.  The fish, especially rising ones, are super-spooky. One bad cast will put them down.  With that said, remember that false casting spooks trout, probably more than any other factor. Keep it to a minimum and direct the false casts out of target zone until you are ready make your shot. The drill right now is about as technical as it gets in this neck of the woods. Long tippets, perfect drifts, and delicate casts are the magic bullet.