Terry loaded up the hood of the highlander with two handers. He caught some Stripers too!
The "Smallmouth Challenge" is designed to be a fun, non-competitive fishing challenge we will be hosting in the shop this summer. The premise is simple. Bob Clouser, most famous for the Clouser Deep Minnow, has seventeen great fly patterns in his book "Clouser Flies" all designed to catch Smallmouth Bass. What the challenge consists of is tying three of four of each of the patterns in the book and landing at least one Smallie on each of the seventeen flies in one season. I personally did this on my own last year and it was a blast. You can read about my completing the challenge here. Everyone that completes the challenge will be eligible for the prizes we will award at the end of the challenge. As mentioned this is meant to be a fun, non-competitive fishing challenge designed to push your skills at the bench as well as on the river. We are not big on rules as this is recreation. Here are a few things you need to do in order to help us host the challenge.
1) Go to www.facebook.com/smallmouthchallenge and like our challenge page, then message us with your name, email address and let us know you want to take the challenge. We will set up an album within the page with all of the participants names. Each time you complete a set of flies or catch a fish on one of them send the picture to us and we will put it in the appropriate album. When you have tied all seventeen flies and caught seventeen Smallmouth, on each fly, you have completed the challenge and are eligible for the prize drawing.
2) All flies are to be tied in the "spirit" of the pattern. Some substitutions such as hooks or some of the harder to find materials can be made, but, lets try to keep things as close to the original pattern recipes as we can. You may tie the patterns in any color you wish.
3) If you have tied any these patterns before and would like to use them that is fine as long as you can provide a picture of them. I had tied several of the flies before, but thought I owed it to the "Challenge" to tie all new flies, the choice is yours.
3) We would like the fish to finish their spawn before we start fishing for them. For that reason we would like to start the "Fishing" portion of the challenge on June 22nd and run until October 19th. You can tie as many flies before hand as you like.
4) All fish are to be released after carefully photographing them. For a few tips on fish photography click here. The challenge is open to any and all people who want to participate. Please be sure to follow any and all fish and game laws in the state you will be fishing.
5) Have Fun!
If you have any questions please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org Good luck to all and remember...get out and fish!
What a great week it was. Good reports from our local Trout rivers, the Shad are showing up in good fishable numbers, and the salt water seems to be turning on. We had a much needed rain storm last weekend that blew all of the local water for a few days. No fishing was had last weekend, but, I will swap a weekend of fishing for good, strong water levels any day. The weather has been crazy. I actually had to scrape frost off of my windshield the other day, I don't ever remember doing that on the 14th of May. This "true" spring we are having will hopefully set us up for good fishing throughout the summer. During years like this in the past we have had great trout fishing until the 4th of July and that is just fine with me.
The East branch of the Brandywine has been fishing strong. Terry has taken a few guide clients there and good fishing for them as well as a few of our customers lead me to believe this is the place to be. A large influx of stocked fish last week will have attractor patterns bringing their fair of fish to hand. Weenies, Worms, and Buggers will produce on the fresh stockers. If you prefer to stay to the science side of things May is Sulphur time and Sulphurs have been spotted on most of our local rivers. Rick had a great day fishing a Harrop emerger last weekend. Check out some of the pics. The rises seem to start late in the afternoon and continue late into the evening. Before the afternoon rises a tandem nymphing or a dry and dropper rig should be just the ticket. Be sure to have plenty of Sulphur dries in all stages and a heavy dose of Pheasant Tails. Don't forget the Caddis as these bugs will be with us for the duration. Elk Hair Caddis, X Caddis, CDC and Elk and Goddard Caddis are all great choices for the adult, for the larva the nondescript bead head larva will fill the bill.
This pattern should hold true on all of our local rivers for the next several weeks. Get yourself a good supply of Sulphur and Caddis adults, add in a verity of nymphs and larva and have a blast.
A few of Rick's shots from last weekend.
The Hickory Shad are showing up in fishable numbers. This years run is not the epic runs we had in 2005, 06, and 07, but there are fish to be had. It seems like moving around is the better bet rather than camping out in a single area. The best report we have heard has been about 50 fish in a extended evening of fishing, but, more realistic numbers are 10 to 25 fish in an evening. The evenings seem to be more productive than the mornings. Last weeks rains have the water level in Deer Creek up so a Versa leader or a short sink tip may be a good idea. The shops "Deer Creek S Fly" have been producing well, as well as the Micky Finn streamer. Anything bright and shiny will get a reactionary strike. We are never sure how long this run will last, so get down there as soon as you can to take advantage of this ever changing fishery.
These next pictures are from a Shad guide trip on Monday. Special thanks to Jim S. for taking these great shots.
The salt water reports we are getting are promising. A 41 inch Striper won the local surf fishing tournament last weekend, and several Flounder were caught also. Reports of Weakfish have been coming in as well with the area between the piers at Cape Henlopen being especially active. Roosevelt Inlet and the ferry wall deserve a look. Closures and Deceivers are always a good choice. If smaller bait is present some smaller Sand Eel imitations or glass minnows will be just the thing. Grab your 8 or 9 weight and head south, you just may hook your biggest fish of the year now!
With good action on the Trout rivers, Shad in Deer Creek, and the salt water action heating up it is a great time of year. Remember, Smallmouth fishing is just around the corner. Until next time...
Just add fish..
A Marblehead Flyfisher would like to present our second annual "Spring Fever" open house!
We have finalized the details for our "Spring Fever" open house we will be having on Saturday, April 13th 10:00am till 5:00pm.
Dick Kondak from G Loomis will be here with all of the great new Loomis rods and gear. If you have been thinking of a new Loomis rod or are curious about a new model this is the perfect time to "test drive" one. NRX, Pro-4, Switch and Spey rods will all be here. We will also do a few casting demos throughout the day. We will also be raffling a 9' 5wt NRX rod at the end of the day. Stop by and take a chance on this beautiful $740.00 rod!.
A new venture here at A Marblehead Flyfisher is the addition of a woman's sportswear collection from Redington. As mentioned "Athletic Elegance" is a new venture spearheaded by Mrs. Marblehead Flyfisher, Mary Ann. Bring your best gal in to check out these SPF rated, comfortable, easy to wear designs for women.
Frank Swarner will be here tying flies at the tying bench. Frank is an accomplished Spey and Dee fly tier. Frank will be tying some Spey type flies as well as some articulated streamers, Trout flies, warm water flies and maybe some salt water stuff. Don't miss this chance to see a great tier up close and personal. You can read more about Frank and check out some of his work here.
Other highlights include;
20% off all "T" shirt designs from last year.
10% off Redington Versa pants, Sanabel Island Shorts, and Top Water Shorts.
We will have several great items in the shop's raffle as well as plenty of door prizes especially items for the kids. Come join us for good friends, good food, and great fun. We look forward to seeing you here on Saturday, April 13th.
Wednesday marked the final Smallmouth tying class. I am really bummed out to see this come to an end. A great group of guys and fun, fishable patterns have made this class one of my favorites. Terry and I would really like to extend a heartfelt thank you to everyone that made this class possible. For the last night I was instructing and guess what...we tied a big articulated streamer. I think I see a pattern here, no pun intended. The Strolis Ice Pick was on tap for the evening and I believe everybody enjoyed the pattern. Before we get too far into this pattern lets look at some homework from last weeks class.
Here are two samples of what I would call exceptional flies. Paul R. took what he learned in two of our classes and combined them to come up with the "Blonde" Brandywine Crawler. At the right times this pattern will be DEADLY on Smallmouth! The "Gary's Albie Fly" looks good as well. To see how well an "Albie" fly works on a wild Trout stream click here to read last weeks report. Below are samples of more exceptional homework from the class.
After checking out the home work we started on this weeks pattern, the Ice Pick. I recently instructed the advance class on another Strolis pattern, The Headbanger Sculpin. On that pattern we did a rear hook and a Fish Skull shank to make the articulated joint. Many of the guys from the advance class are in this class also so I decided to show how to do a wire connection. Many of you know I don't fish with tandem hook flies, so at the end of class I took the sample fly and nipped the hook off at the bend. This is absolutely a personal choice, If you want to fish with two hooks go ahead, just be sure to check local regulations and please pinch the barbs down.
Here is the recipe as we tied it in class.
The Ice Pick
Rear hook ; Mustad 3366 #2
Tail ; white marabou and a little pearl Krystal flash
Body ; EP Sparkle Brush Pearl
Wing ; Black Rabbit Zonker
Connection ; 30# Dacron, 26# Surflon, Beadalon, Fire Line or Power Pro braided fishing line
Front hook ; Mustad 3366 1/0
Head ; Fish Skull medium head in silver bait fish color
The great thing about this fly is that color options are only limited to your imagination For bigger flies we use the EP Sparkle brush. For Small versions of this fly or if you cant find the right color of brush you can use the dubbing loop.
Here it looks like I have tied in the Marabou and Krystal Flash for the tail and The Rabbit has been tied on top. I am preparing the dubbing brush to palmer up the hook shank.
This Next photo shows the rear section of the fly complete. Dennis made a good observation that if you wanted a smaller version of this fly you could put the Fish Skull on now and be finished. That is a great suggestion. It would not have the jointed action, but, the rabbit and dubbing brush should provide ample movement.
The next step was the wire connection. You have options here. We used 30# Dacron in class. This is the same stuff we use as backing for your fly reels. Many things exist out there that are suitable for this step. Experiment until you find one that works for you. I used two pearl beads here, this is used to prevent the tail section from fouling around the front hook. Once glued this connection is EXTREMELY strong. My own tests have proven usually the back hook will bend or break before the connection will pullout.
The best part about tying articulated streamers is that the second half usually is similar or even identical to the first half. After you make the connection to the front hook just repeat the steps you did on the first hook. On this piticular pattern be sure to leave enough room for the head and you are finished.
This was a great fly to end the class with. Again we would like to thank all of the people that participated in this class. we truly hope you had as much fun in the class as we did. At some point this summer we all need to get together and fish some of these flies. until then.
The spring like weather has the fishing heating up in many of our local rivers. The middle branch of the White Clay is giving up good numbers of fish on a consistent basis. The West Branch of the Octoraro is full of pig Rainbows and nice Browns. The East Branch of the Brandywine is fishing well, and many of our un-named wild streams are fishing well. This is one of the best times of the year for the Trout fisherman, as we transition from winter to spring. The fish become more active as do the bugs. All of these things coming together add up to some great fishing for the next 12 weeks. If ever there was a time to get out and fish, now is it!
With both of Pennsylvania's opening days as well as the Delaware opener happening within the next three weeks we will have more area to fish. With increased area comes increased angling pressure. I will encourage everyone to explore some of the open water after the "opening day" crowd disperses. Usually after the first week or two the bridge areas are clear of lawn chairs and sand spikes and much of the crowd is done for the year. Sure you will come across the occasional stringer or jar of Power Bait, but we are all out there fishing and having a good time and that is what it is all about. I have had some of my best fishing on open water after the crowds leave. Give one of these areas a try, i'll bet you will be glad you did.
Sunday Rick and I headed out to fish the late morning till dark. The plan was to drop me off at the top section so I could fish through. Rick then drove the truck around to the bottom section and fished up stream. we figured we would meet somewhere in the middle. I chose to fish streamers all day. Actually I fished the very fly we tied in the Smallmouth class the Wednesday before. I committed myself to fishing this fly all day no matter what happened. Well, I am glad to say I never had to second guess myself. The fly preformed great landing several stocked as well as a few wild fish.
I met up with Rick about four hours after we split up. The streamer was the ticket as he was finding the fishing tough with a tandem rig of micro stones. It was a cloudy cold overcast day with the water temp getting barely above 41 degrees.
The highlight of the day was when we met two young local guys. We have talked to them in the past and after the usual stream side banter we continued fishing down and they went up. All of a sudden I heard a whooo hooo and then what sounded like someone dropping a slab or cord wood off of a 12' ladder into the water. I turned just in time to see a MASSIVE bow leap into the air in an effort to shake the fly loose. Angler and fish did battle for several minutes covering about 100 yards of river. I was the only one with a landing net and they asked if I would net it for them. Gladly I did, I didn't even mind going elbow deep on the now 40 degree water to do it. An awesome fish for sure. After snapping a few pictures the behemoth was released back to the water, hopefully to provide another angler with the thrill of the season.
(Marblehead note; Get a landing net!)
"One Boot" Ed text me from the river on Sunday. He was on the West Branch of the Octoraro. The water was colder there as he reports water temp in the high thirties. The fishing was tough, but he did manage to bring a few fish to hand. I will bet this weekend would be great in the fly section. Warmer temps and pressure from up stream for the opening day crowd just may move some fish down to the FF section. Get out and give it a shot.
We have had several good reports from the middle branch of the White Clay. I would like to share this one with you. On Wednesday my phone's text alert kept going off. Well, it turns out that my brother was on the middle branch about mid afternoon. Now my bro is not a fly fisher, he prefers to chase Trout with ultra light spinning gear and in-line spinners or micro crank baits. An accomplished angler to say the least, I have seen him work a run with a spinner that would make a seasoned fly fisher jealous. He is artistry in motion on the water, spend a few minutes watching him fish and you will soon realize there is more to ultra light spin fishing than just cast and reel, MUCH more. Anyway he spend Wednesday and Thursday on the middle branch and had banner days on both outings. He did note a definite "turn on" time of about 1:00 in the afternoon. Here is one of the pictures he sent me. Good job bro, one of these days we will get a long rod in your hand.
We are coming into the best time of the year for the Trout fisherman. Get out and fish!
We had the second Smallmouth tying class last Wednesday. This class really is turning into a bunch of fun. It is nice to teach the actual patterns that we fish on the Brandywine to others so they too can catch with them. We believe the guys in the class feel the same way because the homework we saw this week was great.
The pattern we tied this week was Scott Howell's Ska-opper. A hybrid fly that combines the waking action of a skater and the chugging action of a popper hence the name Ska-opper. Originally designed as an Atlantic Salmon or Steelhead fly, we have been fishing it successfully for Smallmouth for several years now. Truly a fun way to fish because it is very visual. There is nothing like watching this fly chug and spit it's way across the surface only to see a Smallie blow up on it. Once you catch a few on the Ska-opper you will be "hooked" forever. To hear about the origin of the Ska-opper and see it in action click here.
The second fly we did last week was the Rubber Legs. A simple tie with only 2 materials, chenille and rubber legs. We used verigated chenille for the class fly, but you are only limited to your imagination. One of out great customers, Ed Collins, asked that we combine the Green Weenie and the Rubber legs for him last year. We came up with this and he couldn't be happier.
Like I said colors are only limited to your imagination, but black, brown, olive, and chartreuse seem to be the most popular.
Here are the recipies for both patterns.
This first picture shows all the materials ready to go Note one of the sample flies tied earlier in the day hanging on the bobbin cradle.
In this picture the tag and tail have been added to the hook. Note how the tail is applied so it is angled upwards.
Here we see the legs have been applied, the body has been wrapped and the foam has been put in.
The next series shows the deer hair being applied to the shank. I believe Terry used 4 clumps of hair while tying the class fly. While applying the hair start where the yarn body ends and work your way forward. We used a stacker in class, but this is optional. The stacking and trimming of the deer hair takes as long to complete as the rest of the fly. We spent a fair amount of time in class doing this. When you get the progression down it seems like you can bang one of these out in about 10 to 15 minutes.
And here are the completed flies. I am really excited to see the homework next week, and even more excited to hear the stories when the guys start to fish and catch with this fly.
Well, things on the trout river may be looking up. The last time we fished Rick and Terry went to the Gunpowder. It was one of those miserable Sunday afternoons a few weeks back. With water temps in the mid to high thirties, no bug activity and not much to show for the afternoon there was not much to report. I am happy to say this past week things were different. We have had several promising reports as well as a good first hand experience on the rivers this past week. The good weather this past weekend had the fish active and the rivers full of fisherman willing to take advantage of that. My son, Tyler had a decent afternoon on the White Clay on Saturday. He only had a few hours to fish and brought a few fish to hand. We have had several customer reports stating the same thing, "if you can find a spot that hasn't had too much pressure there are fish to be had" one customer told me this weekend. The Clay is chock full of fish and the warmer weather should only make this local river fish even better.
Sunday afternoon commitments kept Terry and I from fishing together. The need to be home early sent he and Rick to the Brandywine. They spent the afternoon casting their two hand rods. Terry was trying his new 13 foot 8 weight NRX for the first time. I am sure there will be a review to follow, but the text I received Sunday night says it all; "this thing is a rocket"! Stay tuned, more to follow on this I am sure. Terry and Rick reported the water level looks good with temps in the mid forties. One interesting thing was the hatch of Early Black Stoneflies Sunday afternoon. This is the right time of year for them, but Terry said he can't recall ever seeing them on the Brandywine in numbers like he saw yesterday. This may be a good sign of things to come.
As I was on the river Sunday afternoon my phone started to ding. One Boot Ed had been on the West branch of the Octoraro earlier in the day. He sent me the three pictures posted below. He said in one of his texts that these are the best looking stocked browns he has seen in a while. Well, that big ole' Bow looks pretty good as well buddy. Nice pictures, thanks for sharing.
Octoraro water temps were in the mid to high forties with minimal bug activity Terry D from our tying classes reported a great Caddis hatch while fishing a stretch of local private water. He and Paul R were fishing Saturday afternoon within a half hour of the shop.
Sunday found me on the water flying solo. This is the first time I have fished by myself in quite a while. I love being on the water with good friends and the camaraderie that goes along with it. I would never want to change that. I must say there is something zen like being on the river by yourself that I have also come to enjoy. I had a great day on Sunday fishing, thinking, learning, and clearing my head, oh yeah and catching a fish or two.
I got a late start and hit the water at about 2:15 in the afternoon. Part of the reason for the late start was because I was getting my new Umpqua Overlook 500 pack ready. I REALLY like this pack and I am sure after a few more outings with it I will post up a review.
The thermometer showed the water temp to be 46 when I started. As I was walking to the spot I wanted to start a hatch of Stoneflies started to come off. The air was full, and I mean full of Stoneflies for about 10 minutes. Then, like somebody flipped a switch it was over. It lasted just long enough for me to cut off my tandem nymph rig and tie on a dry and dropper. By the time I was finished re-rigging it was over, so back to the tandem nymph rig. As I type this I just realized, I rigged and re-rigged my set up three times before I even had a wet line! While flipping rocks I found Clinger Nymphs, Caddis Larva, and Midge larva. My most productive fly was one of my nondescript patterns, basically a modified Hares Ear tied with SLF Sowbug tan dubbing.
All in all it was a great week to be out on the river. Hopefully you were able to get out and enjoy the weekend. Now that we are in the middle of March better weather and better fishing are right around the corner. If you had a good day locally or a great trip to somewhere exotic we would like to hear about it. Click here to check out our "picture sharing page" and see some of the recent photos we have received. Until next time.
Here is a great video about how the Ska-opper came to be. Informative for everybody, all of the guys in the Smallmouth tying class should check this out. Make sure you stick around for the "Live Action" at the end. it is Awesome!
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