Tips from a Little Birdie

I recently got some great tips regarding small stream/mountain trout fishing. As this is all new to me, I gladly welcome all advice I can get!  We’ll get back to that in a minute. 

First off, business: 
1. Fly Fishing Journal is hosting a their “Smolt of the Month” contest. Send in your pics of your tiniest trophies, and be entered to win a sweet water bottle, t-shirt, subscription to FFJ, and a sticker of some sort. I’ve entered a little guy I hauled in on my recent SNP trip
2. Mr. Owl Jones is holding a neat give-a-way. The premise is to draw a fellow blogger from a list provided. This could get interesting. I know we have some creative people out there. 
3. Mr. O.J. (no, not that “OJ.” Owl Jones), is also getting things ready for his big “Angling Across America” trip coordinated with Trout Unlimited and Outdoor Blogger Network’s Montana Giveaway. I think there is still time to get over there and see if you are on the route. If so, you can contact him and try to hook a brotha’ up by showing him some of your local fishing spots. 
Okay… Now to the tips.  Obviously, with most things fishing, personal preference plays a big role. That being said, I thought these were pretty great.  What do you think? Any invaluable tips you’ve learned that are worth sharing?

1. No bright colors, including white. CAMO is best. It seems like overkill, but why chance it. 

2. Use trees, rocks, whatever to hide behind when you can. 

3. Keep dry flies soaked in floatant. Too much is better than too little in these creeks. you want that fly to float high. ( I recommend Dave’s Bug Float.) ( D. Nash – keep false casts to a minimum!!)

4. Move slowly. Plan each attack with care. 

5. Fish the water you don’t think is deep enough to hold trout – esp. the water just in front of a tail-out. Browns love to hold there, just before the water spills over into the next pool or run. 

6. Fish in front of rocks in the stream, not just behind them. Trout will hold in front where there is a cushion of water to give them a break. 

7. Wear a watch. Know when the sun goes down. Always take extra water – NEVER, EVER drink from any stream, even if it looks crystal clear. (D. Nash – can you say Giardia? how about Beaver Fever?)

8. Use a small #16 Stimulator or tan/brown EHC 80% of the time. ( Sorry, that’s just me! haha )

9. Learn to bow-and-arrow cast and roll cast. It will keep you out of the trees and fishing more.

10. Don’t overlook “back eddies” where the water spins around and (sometimes) foam forms. 

11. Keep your casts short. Learn to high-stick. 

12. If dead drifting doesn’t work, dance the fly on the water. Move it. Skate it. Sometimes movement will trigger them to hit.

13. Cast OVER rocks when approaching a new pool if the current is going to give you “instant drag.” Casting over a rock will give you a few extra inches of drift if you do it right, and sometimes that’s all it takes. 
14. Don’t “mulligan” a cast. If you make a bad cast, and the fly drags….just let it fish out and drift down to you before picking up for a roll cast back into the run or pool. If you snatch the line back up and it sprays water, you might as well move on to the next run. 

15. 5 or 6 casts and move, move, move. No need to flog a small pool for 10 minutes. If they’re going to bite – 5 or 6 good casts will be enough. 

16. Fish near the roads. I think so much emphasis now is put on “getting away from the roads” that the sections of creek in the most obvious places are fished less than the stuff that’s a mile or less from the roads. 

As a fun game, why don’t you go back and watch the brookie video I previously posted and see how many of those rules I broke keeping in mind I edited out the bad stuff… You know what, I’ll save you the trouble. I thing I disregarded about all of them. Anything I did well was completely unintentional.

Thanks for the tips, Owl. What about you? Any advice you’ve learned the hard way?

Bring on the Brookies

Here is the last video I plan on doing for a while. I have a had a great few months here with my down time.  But as things are about to get real crazy, I don’t anticipate getting too much fishing in, and anything I do will probably be short enough that I won’t record it.

Regardless, it has been fun experimenting with the camera on my new phone and my computer’s editing software. I hope you have enjoyed the videos as much as I have.

Here is “Bring on the Brookies” with Daniel Lemma on the tunes. This documents my summer solstice trip to Shenandoah National Park… Or maybe it was all a really nice dream… oh yeah! see if you can spot the trout as I look around the tree. he/she was a nice one I didn’t catch.

Bring on the Brookies from My Leaky Waders on Vimeo.

*** I’m a little miffed about the quality of the video (if you expand the player, you’ll see what I mean). Being filmed with an HD camera, it is much better on my computer before loading it up to vimeo/youtube. Further investigation reveals that I didn’t save it in the correct dimensions (same thing for the striper vid), so I will be exchanging the videos over the next couple weeks. I have  free account on vimeo, so I can upload more than 500MB a week. This will have to do for now.

Summer Solstice, Mountain Brookies.

This is a summary of my trip yesterday to Shenandoah National Park to find mountain brookies and a preview to the video to come shortly.

In the last 4 years, trout fishing had been pretty elusive for me. Besides the recent spring trip to the Big Horn River in Montana, I really haven’t done much in that time. Yesterday was my last day of legitimate freedom, so I took the opportunity to head to the nearest trout stream I could find. 
In order to bypass any issues with private stream ownership, I decided fishing in one of Virginia’s parks would be best. Shenandoah NP is about 3.5hrs from Norfolk, Va which makes it just close enough to make it a solid day trip. 
I woke up at 4:45am, ate a good breakfast, packed the cooler, coffee and car, and got on the road. I was on the trail sometime around 10. I really had no idea what to expect other than there were native brook trout, feisty invasive browns, and according to Owl Jones, either bears, snakes, or yellow jackets (possibly a combination of all three). Additionally, the hike required to get to the stream was described as “relatively easy” and at least “several miles.” The several miles thing turned out to be true, but, I tell you what, I was EXHAUSTED by the end of the day. I think I walked 5-6 miles, crawled over countless boulders and logs, shimmied across many river beds, and easily finished the 1.5liters of water I brought along. If that is easy, you can keep the difficult ones. 
Coincidentally, the storms that were supposed to hit, dissipated and my last free day turned out to be the summer solstice, the longest day of the year providing me with the most daylight. The summer solstice is also a free day in national parks. Who knew? Not me, I was ready to pay the $15 entry fee when the ranger gave me a map and a smile and waved me by. 
I wore my waders as pants, which I’m glad I did. Between the nettle, gnats, and profuse sweating, I was constantly scratching, swatting, and wiping my arms, forehead, and neck. It sounds like I’m complaining, but I’m not. It was all worth it. 
So how was the fishing? What does Neil Patrick Harris’ character Barney Stinson on “How I Met Your Mother” say? Oh yeah.                    Legend… Wait for it…. DARY!!!

Those trout are so easily spooked, but if you can creep up, they will destroy the fly you present. I was able to catch 7 brookies throughout the day. Gorgeous little fellas. The largest was maybe 7-8 inches, which is a solid fish from what I hear. It really was like hunting and fishing combined. If I even snuck a peak in the wrong way, I was reprimanded with a scatter of trout like kids who just hit a ball through a neighbor’s window. 
I caught most of my fish on size 16-18 Griffith gnats. After a drought of fish, I finally got one to take a Parachute Adams tied by Owl Jones. 
All in all, it was an amazing day. I had so much fun. I only saw 2 other hikers and was surrounded by pristine country. 
Sitting down for lunch on the creek bed, I jotted down a few lines….

Blue Ridges, Cold Water
The clouds are at a tipping point.
The air is thick and sweet like honey.
Lunch on these softened stones of the
Creek bed much older than its name
Shows me the summer solstice is a gift.
An opportunity to get up earlier,
stay out later,
and catch more trout.
The mountain brookie
Is a shy performer, 
Quick to escape at first sign of audience.
I must be calm.
I must be quiet.
Another boulder in the bed.
Another mossy log leaning close by.
I wash my hands, arms, and face
In your coolness.
Refreshed, the hunt begins again.
Sweaty, clouded, and accomplished,
I will return home.

Stripers Like Dominoes

Sara and I went out with Capt. Chris Newsome of Bay Fly Fishing to catch striped bass on the Chesapeake Bay. It was an awesome day. Sara’s first time fly fishing, and she caught the first 4 stripers.

Capt. Chris is not only a great guy, excellent teacher, and wonderful guide, but also extremely knowledgeable about The Bay ecosystem. He is a great advocate of the conservation of America’s largest estuary and this makes him a valuable asset to the area. I couldn’t think of a better way to get introduced to the bay’s fly fishing potential.

We had an amazing time!  Enjoy the video! It is shaky in a few parts, but overall it turned out well. Unfortunately, it seems to have lost some quality while uploading. I’ll have to look into that.

Stripers Like Dominoes from My Leaky Waders on Vimeo.

Things to come… and favorites.

First of all, I’ve got one (maybe two) good fly fishing outings coming up. This Saturday, Sara and I are heading up the Chesapeake Bay with Capt. Chris Newsome and Bay Fly Fishing for a day of education and hopefully stellar fishing. I’m hoping to have some fun stuff to share there. 

Then on Monday or Tuesday I’m thinking of making a drive to Shenandoah National Park for my first outing Virginia trout fishing. This will be a bit more of a reach for success, but it would certainly be fun. As my last big opportunity to head out before I get really busy with work/life, I’m feeling the need to take advantage of a free day. Hopefully that trip will yield some fish photography/film as well. 

Also, Owl Jones has a great interview with the fellas at Cheeky Fly Reels. I think it is worth the read. The reels looks sweet. As they describe it, they are the “Ferari” of fly reels. In performance and price.
Then there is the new photo prompt at OBN. Check it out and get in your best “action shots.”
Lastly, Dustin over at Dustin’s Fly Box posted a good question. What are your 5 favorite bloggers? Well, these are always changing for me. I frequently rotate favorites. But, forced to pick the current ones I’m frequenting these days… This is what I would say have been the last week’s top hits for me. They always change…. 
1. Mysteries Internal – This blog is “newer” to me, relatively, but I feel like I’ve known Erin for a long time. She is an outstanding writer. I’ve heard that the only goal of poetry is to show you something from a new perspective. Every post of hers that I’ve read accomplishes this. I guarantee she’ll have 200+ followers by the end of the summer. Probably sooner.
2. Owl Jones – His tag is Fly Fishing Entertainment, and that’s what Owl Jones provides. There is always something new going on there. He has videos, podcasts/radio shows, gear reviews, contests, controversy. The list goes on and on. 
3. Winona Fly Factory – This is a great blog for the student of fly fishing. Through his descriptions and photography, WFF practically packs you in his satchel along with the fly box each fishing trip. He fishes a lot and year round giving you a wonderful experience of fishing the Minnesota Driftless Area.
4. Skate The Fly – This is a blog/fly shop. Dylan, the main contributor maintains the blogs with insightful posts. But what really caught my attention with these guys is their “tv” episodes. They are hilarious. At least I think so 🙂 Not for children’s ears, mind you. Ear muffs!
5. Front Side Fly – I just started following these guys last week. Not a lot of blog posts, but their videos are spectacular. These punks know how to fly fish, and I’m slightly jealous of how they seem to spend their … high school?… college? free time.
I have to admit, I also visit Fish Porn daily. I’m definitely NOT ashamed. Honorable mention goes to Naturalist Angle, Troutrageous, Sanders at Up the Poudre, and Schnitzer Photo. There are a bunch of great ones out there!
Check them out!


With a great sigh of relief, I can officially say, I have caught a salt water fish.

I went out this morning to fish the Lynnhaven Inlet. It was sunny and getting hot fast. The tide was starting to come in, but the current was still fighting and pushing out to the bay.

I started beneath the Shore Dr. Bridge and moved down the channel. I threw some split shots above a fancy modified wooly bugger, and pulled it across the bottom of a pool next to the channel for boats to drive through. And then it came, a delicate tug. I raised my arm, felt the tremor, and I pulled my line. The smooth scales of the sandy colored flounder eased out of the water. I took a few pictures (and accidental video) and let the fish swim away. Honestly, I’ve never felt a fish with such a soft body.

I stood up and laughed out loud. I guess out of happiness as well as relief. It just feels so good to catch a fish after searching so hard. I know I can catch a fish in a Minnesota lake. I am confident in that. Moving to such a foreign ecosystem pushed doubts of catching a fish into my mind, that were relieved by this small flounder. Thank you, Flounder.

One thing I have noticed, there is so much wild life to see, I saw tons of crabs: blue, hermit and ghost. The crabs and birds are usually alive, but many of the other amazing things I see, unfortunately are dead and washed up on shore.

Some of the beautiful but, unfortunately, dead things I have seen: horseshoe crabs, a spider crab, a gorgeous Diamondback Terrapin.

sorry, this is blurry

And just so we don’t end this post on a macabre note focussing on the dead, If you head over to Owl Jones’ Place and reply to his Friday Fish Sticks post that “Fish Sticks Rock!” he will send you a free Owl Jones decal. Not to shabby if you ask me.

Have a great weekend!

From the Doorway at Night

I hear Adele sing her 
bluesy tunes
highlighted by your classically trained
I see planes lining up,
in mid air, no less.
Isn’t it amazing to 
line up in mid air?
I hear the bay,
breathing in and out,
in and out,
in and out,
In. And. Out.
Laughter splashes
over the dune.
It is the flirting kind
camouflaging butterflies
but failing miserably to disguise
the excitement of a brushing hand.
Was that intentional?
I hear the bay
Though darkness shades,
life is abound.
The Sun never sleeps.
The world keeps breathing.
When the lights go out,
one only needs to listen,
and waves will rush to shore.

Beautiful Day for a Skunk

I tried to fish the closest waters today. I saw a bunch of schools of bait fish swarming the shallows and targeted those areas. Then I walked down the beach toward some rock jetties. I talked to a guy surf fishing and he said most fish are out past the sand bar. This is too deep for me to wade and to far for my flimsy 5wt to cast.

So add all of that together and what do you get? Skunked. No fear. That is part of the process. I am basically starting all over again. New species. New waters. I have to think about salinity and temperature. Migration and who knows what else.

This is when I seek out help. Off to the local bait shops. I just discovered another local fly fisher group. (“Like”) I should get that first fish shortly.

Today did give me the chance to play with the camera on my phone. Quite nice as long as you can hold it steady. Then I edited the video with the app Splice (free version). It kept quitting on me, but generally it was very easy and cool. I was even able to play guitar behind the movie for music. fun stuff:)

So no fish. Some blood. Pretty day.

Untitled from My Leaky Waders on Vimeo.