New Years day on a wild Trout river
With the planning of our "Holiday Open House" and the holiday season there has been little time for fishing these last few weeks. Hopefully that is about to change as we are almost through the holidays and winter fishing is in full swing. I managed to hit the White Clay on 2 occasions during the days following Christmas. First off we would like to thank the White Clay Fly Fishers for the efforts in their Holiday stocking program. The efforts of the club ensures we will have quality fishing throughout the winter months. I fished through the snow storm on the 26th and again for a few hours on the 27th. The fishing was EXCELLENT! I was surprised to see the fish still "podded" up, I would have thought after being in the river for almost two weeks they would have been a little more spread out, but that was not the case. While I was rigging up at the truck I talked to one of our customers that reported having good luck with small white streamers, an opinion that was shared by many on the river I talked to. White buggers, Shenk's Minnows and small, light colored soft hackles were all productive patterns of other anglers on the river. I decided I was going to Nymph under an indicator, and I rigged up my favorite White Clay winter time rig, a #20 Frostbite Midge with a #22 Black Zebra Midge as a trailer. I did pick a few fish with the indicator rig, but it didn't take long to realize the indicator was spooking fish for sure. The First 4 fish I landed were all on the Frostbite Midge, so I re-rigged a dry and dropper set up using a #16 Stimulator as the dry and the Frostbite as the dropper. I fished that rig for the remainder of the first day and all of the second day, almost 7 hours total and had a blast! Toward the end of the second outing I was fishing a run that held SEVERAL fish. I had picked quite a few out of the pod and they seemed to turn off of the Frostbite Midge. I tried 3 different attractor patterns and got absolutely zero response. As fast as I could drift the attractor over the fish, strip in and change to a Mercury Midge and re-cast I was tight to a good Brown. This tells me that these fish were definitely on midges. Here are a few pictures from the two days...
New Years day on a wild Trout river
Rick and I fished together on New Year's day. The weather was great and we had a productive day drifting our patterns over some eager and willing wild Brown Trout. This particular river is known for its winter BWO hatch and reports we have received in the shop confirmed this. We scouted the area for about an hour looking for fish, fishermen, and foot traffic and settled on a spot that looked relatively un-disturbed. While rigging at the truck I was peeking over at Rick and was actually surprised to see him rigging a tandem Nymph rig under an indicator. While scouting we saw a few risers and I was sure he was going to go with the 'ole standby CDC puff and fish the top. (turns out he did switch to the CDC puff at one point and had 2 takes on it before switching back to the tandem rig) I decided to stick with my Dry and Dropper set up, but changed the patterns to a HI-Vis BWO dun on top and a #20 bead head RS2 as the dropper. I believe Rick rigged a Copper John and a KF Flasher Midge pattern. We said our "good lucks" to each other and he headed up river and I headed down. A quick temp of the water showed it to be about 43 degrees, a huge difference from the 36 / 38 I got on the White Clay just a few days before, I guess that is the difference between a Limestoner and a Freestone stream. I did see some BWO Nymphs under some rocks, very small...#20's or #22's so I felt confident with my rig. Well a few hours and several fish later we were looking at the sunset of a great New Year's day. Rick landed a particularly good fish in the red KF flasher, the picture is below with the fish and his size 11 boot! Here are a few more pics from January 1st.
Winter can be some of the hottest fishing of the year. For some great tips to stay warm and safe check out our Cold Weather Wading Tips post here. Get your warm clothes on, grab a handful of Midges in #20 or #22 and get out there! You will be glad you did!
Once again this year the White Clay Fly Fishers are hosting their raffle to raise money for the Holiday Stocking program. Last year enough money was raised to stock north of 800 trout in our local river, The White Clay Creek. This stocking happened right before the Christmas holiday and sustained the river through the Winter season. Once again a custom made rod will be the prize. The 8.5' five weight Rainshadow Blank was fashioned into a work of art by Dick Prettyman. The dark green blank is accented with maroon thread wraps and has a beautiful wooden reel seat and cork grip. Tickets are $5.00 each or 5 tickets for $20.00. The rod is on display in the shop now and tickets are for sale. Please feel free to stop in, take a look and support this great cause. A special thanks to Dick for crafting such a beautiful rod and to the White Clay Fly Fishers for hosting this great holiday raffle.
The past two weeks have been a great time for local trout fisherman. The White Clay is absolutely full of fish. The main stem, both branches in Delaware and Pennsylvania as well as the delayed harvest section have all received several stockings of good fish. The "White Clay" survival pack as we have been calling it in the shop consists of the Green Weenie, The San Juan Worm and the Woolly Bugger. These have all been quite popular patterns. I spent some time on the east branch Sunday morning and found several fat Rainbows willing to eat my #16 Copper John. Switching back and forth from "tight line" and "indicator" nymphing proved to be a extremely effective way to cover the water. My new favorite rig is a #8 Walt's Worm tied with a ton of weight as a point fly and the Copper John tied as a dropper. Two weeks ago on a wild trout stream the Walt's Worm was more productive and the Copper John was not, go figure. I would think it would be the other way around. Water temp on the Clay Sunday morning was 44 degrees. I did see Midges hatching around 9:30. No fish were rising to them, but, anytime you see bugs, that is a good sign. Based on the new entries to our Picture Sharing Page I would say many other people have been having success as well.
All sections of the White Clay will continue to receive good stockings of fish until the middle of May. This should allow for good, local fishing for quite some time.
As mentioned earlier Rick and I spent last Sunday (4-7) fishing together. We had a great day fishing for wild Browns. I started with tandem nymph rig with a few fish taking the Walt's Worm. We then moved to a trib of the main river. The water level was alarmingly low (this was before the Friday storm) so I switched to a dry and dropper. After the warm days we had two weeks ago the water temp here was pushing 50 degrees and the bug action was great. We found BIG clingers in the water, as well as Caddis larva, smaller clingers and some Black Stones. I only managed 1 fish on the dropper, the red Copper John when all of a sudden the fish started to take the dry. At one point the dropper hung in a rock and I had to break it off. I didn't tie it back on and just fished with the dry. The fish were taking Stones. Rick was using his CDC Black Stone and I was fishing a Stimulator. Here are a few shots from that day.
The East Branch of the Brandywine is fishing well. Greg, one of our customers, spent a few nights up there last week and reported good top water action. Browns were rising to midges three nights in a row. CDC puffs, Sprout Midges and Griffiths Gnats are all productive patterns. Be sure to have a few Caddis imitations with you as well. We saw a blanket hatch of Caddis on the Brandywine while scouting for Shad last night.
The White Clay Fly Fishers had an outing on the West Branch of the Octoraro a week or so ago. All reports were positive about the outing and the fishing. The West branch has been fishing well for a month now. Attractor flies will work on the fresh stocked fish. As the fish are in the river for a bit they will become more acclimated to natural feeding habits. This is when you want to switch to more natural patterns. Pheasant Tails, Midge Larva, and Hares Ears are all great choices. Steve Burke wrote a great article summarizing the event, it was published in the clubs news letter that all members receive. If you are not a member you might want to check them out. They are a great organization.
As mentioned earlier we are keeping a close eye on the Shad, both Hickories and Americans. We have received a few spotty reports from Deer creek as well as the Brandywine. A scouting trip last night produced only marginal sightings of Hickories and no Americans. It was nice to knock the rust off of the two handed cast last night. Jared did manage to bring one Hickory to hand. We did see a true blanket hatch of Caddis right at dark. Believe me, nobody wants the Shad here more than me, it just isn't happening yet. We will put the word out as soon as we find them in fishable numbers.
With the Trout rivers rocking and the Shad run right around the corner these are some of the best times of the year. Get out and fish!
As the White Clay is now full of fish due to the club’s “Holiday Stocking” many of our thoughts turn to winter time fishing. The winter months can be some of the best fishing of the year. Due to the weather conditions we face during December, January and February they can be some of the toughest times to be out there. I would like to give some of our thoughts and insights as to how we dress for the tough months in hopes that you can extend your time on the water. Hypothermia is a serious consideration during this time and we want to be sure you are protected from the elements. Let’s start with our feet and work our way up.
Layering is the key to staying warm in the winter and our feet are no different. We generally like to start off with a liner sock of some type. Polypropylene gets the nod here as it is the best material to wick sweat away from your feet, the key to keeping your feet warm. From here the temperature will determine the next layer for me. In mild times say 30 degrees and up a simple wading sock works for me. In extreme temps, 30 and below I will usually wear a liner sock, a cotton type crew sock and then a heavy wading sock like the Simms Extreme wading sock. This combo keeps my feet warm in the coldest of days. Play around with your sock combo until you find a system that works for you. One item of note; as you add layers of socks on your feet those wading boots that feel great in April and May might be too tight in January. Tight boots equal cold feet period! A sizeable investment for sure, but a pair of boots a size or two bigger can be a godsend.
Next would be the body layers. Again the conditions will determine how many or how few layers you need. Anything that touches your skin needs to have some wicking properties. We all sweat and the key to staying warm is to get that perspiration away from your body. One of the newer products on the market that gets the nod from me is Merino Wool. A Merino wool base layer will go a long way to keeping your body temperature regulated. My next layer would be some sort of fleece. Simms and Redington both have several different types of fleece in different weights to fit your needs. From light weight shirts and pants to heavy weight crew tops and extremely warm one piece “jumpsuits.”There is a product for everybody. To this I will usually add a Windstopper jacket of sorts and this combo seems to keep me warm on most excursions. On those extreme days I might add a mid weight or heavy weight layer of fleece on top of a light weight layer. The key is to have interchangeability in your system so you can adapt to the changing climate.
Hands head and face. We all have heard the saying that you loose most of your body heat through your head. If that is the case lets cover it with a quality hat to prevent that from happening. “Beanie” type hats are fine in mild temperatures; I wear them all the time. I particularly like the visor type of hats from Simms and Loomis. The next step up would be the Extreme hat from Simms. We call it the “Elmer Fudd” at the shop for obvious reasons. Insulated to the max with ear flaps to boot if any hat is going to keep you warm this is the one. Not the most asthetically pleasing hat, but when it is 10 degrees keeping warm is the priority. Remember this isn’t a fashion show. To this I might add one of the polar Buffs. This insulated, fleece lined “collar” is designed to keep your neck warm, and can be worn on your face like a half mask. Both are a priority in order to keep warm. Last but not least are gloves. I like the fingerless models so I can have some dexterity when tying knots. Actually I believe it is impossible to tie knots with gloves on. If you are prone to cold fingers one of the fold over mitts may be better. These have a fingerless glove inside and a mitten flap that will fold over the entire thing. A great idea, but fishing with mittens on will take a little getting use to. In the winter time try to touch as little water as possible. Once you get your hands cold in February it is tough to get warm them back up without leaving the river. Some of those hand warmers stuffed in your top wader pocket and help with this.
During the winter season, especially during bitter times I try to always fish with a partner. Safety in numbers goes a long way when it is 20 degrees out. I try not to stand in the water for extended periods of time. If you feel your self getting cold get out and go for a little walk. The foot traffic on the rivers is usually light this time of year. Many times I can walk for ten or 15 minutes to get warmed back up and return to the same spot. Also I always carry a “fall in bag”. If I do happen to take a spill (and believe me I do) I have a warm, dry set of clothes waiting for me at the truck. If you do go in the water this time of year IMMEDITEALY get out and head to the truck. As I said earlier Hypothermia is no joke and needs to be taken seriously. Get out, get dry and go home. The fish will be there tomorrow.
Hopefully these tips will keep you warm and out on the river this winter. Have a safe and fun filled winter season. We hope you catch a ton of fish. Tight lines…
Here is the information from the WCFF newsletter. Remember there is only a few more days to purchase tickets for the Rod raffle. The winner will be drawn at the Holiday dinner. Stop in the shop to get your tickets, 100% of the raffle proceeds will go the the winter stocking. Last year enough money was raised to put almost 1200 fish in the middle branch of the White Clay on December 27th.
Annual Holiday/Christmas Party - Pot Luck Dinner - 12-11-12 @6:30 PM
Where: Stroud Water Research Ctr, 512 Spencer Rd, Avondale, PA 19311
Bring & share a favorite food, friendships, and maybe spin a fish tale or two
while wishing each other Holiday Happiness.
Don’t miss out on the FUN as we celebrate the holidays together!
Members - spouses - guests, all welcome!
Bring a wrapped gift of $15 or less to participate in the Chinese gift swap! (Optional)
A Marblehead Flyfisher inc. would like to thank all of those whose effort makes this possible.
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