Posts Tagged fallfish

50, Fish Day: Part II

50, Fish Day: Part II . . .

Bridge at 50
(USA 08 2017)

 

Fifty (50!) found me along a freestone stream. Water flowed, shared with kingfisher and heron, the frog, and a few scattered sulphers in the air.

The forage I chose to imitate through the day was the crayfish. A generic pale mayfly caddis passed the evening.

Before me, evening dawned, at the bridge, covered, once the grand entrance to a mill good for grit. This day, for me, the line of start and finish, explore and fish, the “Where?” spot in my own story met another’s, the baton this time released to a great blue heron, which spread wings, turned, flapped upstream with the carriage of a citzen.

Turned, bridge behind, current carried me from the back. Water clear and cool enough for trout. Scattered rain, drops vertical, under dynamic gray sky, some blue in passing patches.

What here encountered the tenkara scuttle of Green Guarantee and Deer and Herl kebari produced a double digit count of smallmouth bass, sandy or barred, and fallfish, bright as a tarpon, sipping both emerging and emerged.

Smallmouth: Barred
(08 2017)

Smallmouth: Sandy
(08 2017)

Sunset plus one, the hike in hardy wading pants under sky of brick red and blue, my pocket light lit the green marsh path, towing net, vested, kebari art, and tenkara baton down through a dark chapel of trees. The incandescent blue lane above my head lured my eyes up, out, there I glimped a meteor of The Perseids, and smiled.

Bright as a Tarpon:
Fallfish
(08 2017)

— rPs 08 23 2017

 

 

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Tenkara Reigns

Tenkara Reigns . . .

Tenkara Reigns Here (05 2016)

Tenkara Reigns Here
(05 2016)

Several thousand words may be contained in photographs from two days in May. Tenkara reigns at such times in such places as this average freestone trout stream fished first under full sun and bluebird sky, followed the next day by a bright gray ceiling of cloud shedding passing short showers.

Ben Feezer from R.D.O. Marketing, Inc. had earlier in the season dropped off a Fisherman’s Combo forcep-nipper-zinger-retractor set that found itself stream tested on the bank besides small glades of blooming Mayapple and in the steady stream somewhat higher than felt over the past few seasons of more feeble flows. The T-Reign nippers came into frequent use during fly pattern tests. Both 6x and 7x tippet require a tight, precise bite, which the T-Reign provided in a baker’s dozen hours on the water.

T-REIGN Pinned In Place (05 2016)

T-REIGN Pinned In Place
(05 2016)

T-REIGN nipper and small retractor (carabiner) clipped the tag end of the knot attached to this size 14 Partridge and Olive. (05 2016)

T-REIGN nipper and small retractor (carabiner) along with size 14 Partridge and Olive.
(05 2016)

The first day, bright, clear, just a bit bit breezy, still allowed dry fly fishing as three different mayfly emerged. The March Brown, what looked to be a Hendrickson best matched by a size 18 Adams, and a very few large Sulphers.

Dry Fly Fished Upstream (05 2016)

Dry Fly Fished Upstream
(05 2016)

Deer and Herl unweighted met many sips from fallfish feeding in the surface film of the flow. The Green Guarantee and one of Ira Hainick’s Killer Bug variations met with steady interest from the same school.

This fallfish fell for this variation of Ira Hainick's Killer Bug. (05 2016)

Ira Hainick’s Killer Bug: This fallfish fell for it.
(05 2016)

Some attentive observations prove to happen in repetition in enough frequency to be at least called a pattern. One of my own: selectivity imbues the few scattered trout pods surviving the year’s spring stocking. Such hardy fish may take just two or three positions along a mile’s length of suitable stream. Deep runs or pools may be just as well as the deceptive, flat, moderate runs that get overlooked by angler’s seeking obvious honey holes. This handful of pooled spots  and riffled runs may hold one to several rainbow, brook, or brown trout, but usually rainbow. Fish acclimated to the conditions and natural forage of the given creek, fish able to survive the predator angler in stream as well as  the heron and the hawk spiraling, almost as if wrestling, in the open air above.

One of those naturals is the mayfly. March Brown hatch in May as does the Gray Fox, a variation now lumped in with the former by more formal entomology. To my impression the Gray Fox is the smaller, size 16 March Brown mayfly somewhat translucent of wing sustaining a body tan trending toward the grey.

The Hatch (05 2016)

The Hatch
March Brown
(05 2016)

The Hatch Black Tadpoles (05 2016)

The Hatch
Black Tadpoles
(05 2016)

The Hatch Fish Fry Bait Ball (05 2016)

The Hatch
Fish Fry Bait Ball
(05 2016)

The Muddy Moreblack matched some aspects of the natural(s) encountered. The body color of the March Brown, the overall black of the tadpoles bunched up in still stream side puddles, and the silvered profiles of fish fry gathered in balls as tight as is seen in the salt.

The Match Muddy Moreblack (05 2016)

The Match
Muddy Moreblack
(05 2016)

The wet fly pattern, worked with slow rise and fall motions by the limber Ebisu rod, resulted in two strikes at different times and one trout in net. I attribute this catch to the location, the deep run of the trout’s holding lie beside a submerged boulder and a knot of tree roots in combination along the bank, for it was in just this one place I netted a selective arco iris this time out.

The Trout (05 2016)

The Trout
(05 2016)

Yes, that is a crack in my hardwood Brodin net. Another, out of view, is already bound in duct tape.

Good gear gets used. The Tenkara USA Ebisu continues to be my chief tenkara tool. The Brodin net weathers well and endures to hold humanely the struggles of the fish I have been able to catch. Redington Palix River pant waders and Korkers Greenback boots make my moderate thigh high wades easier, and The T-REIGN nipper with carabiner, new and proven, is attached even now to a vest owned and operated by my wife, Maryann. Happy marriage allows us to take such sharing turns.

“Tenkara Reigns.” The sentence of two words popped into my mind as precise as the bite of of the T-REIGN nipper, the casting action of the TUSA Ebisu tenkara rod, the decisive take of the holdover rainbow trout. There, the pun is left not to be avoided, if I “May” now that it is June.

— rPs 06 03 2016

Postscript: Learn more about T-REIGN Retractable Outdoor Products here:  http://t-reignoutdoor.com/

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Late Autumn Is December

Late Autumn Is December . . .

 

The Creek in Late Autumn 2015.

The Creek in Late Autumn 2015.

 

They are like memories, ghosts now, some of my friends living still in mind. I see them walking a floor of brown leaves over mud in misted woods as well as along the gravel path beside a pond reflecting fluttering gold foliage on an international blue sky backdrop.

I go on, move on an impulse, a grip on the day for a run in the park, some park, somewhere. One time I went into the clear air, saw brown bark of trees, and a blue sky as it does remain bright at autumn’s end. Here, where the fall season is near to being spent, rests in December. The last annual living color breaks away on a breeze. Time shifts, accelerated states, dressed as the city in colors of stone and bark and cloudless sky. Wind more braced blasts through, some days, after a few drawn in mist quite still.

Fishing would present a passage of challenge as I waded along and into browning fields. Stands of trees, copses, work one’s way in patches to a bank worthy of a skater’s exercise. I followed animal’s trail in misted early light. I tracked hide and seek with a young buck of four points. My camera provided one blurred memory.

The stream banked in brown, tan. Stands of Teasel crowned at the end of their bloom offered regal spiked silhouettes drawn by rising sun. The pool stretched long and slow, a rare section of a creek running low at the base of a still hollow. I swung the Green Guarantee along the seam where drowned brown oak leaves met clean gravel and small stones. Water not too tannin, though low, far lower than in past years.

Fishing. A Fallfish struck with two shakes of the head above water. As silver as a tarpon and strong. Three runs up and down flashing copper fins and white belly. Drawn to the net, wet, for a fifteen second photo session before release.

Scales of the Fallfish reflect light as off an uncirculated silver coin. I once found a silver half dollar in the rain, on the lawn of a curb. John F Kennedy was the President pictured in bust profile. So, too, the Fallfish posed for a portrait in net in the cold flow of the creek:

 

Like Coinage. Green Guarantee. Late Autumn 2015

Like Coinage.
Green Guarantee.
Late Autumn 2015

 

Release your fish before they become jittery and you are even competitors.

The Fallfish, Semotilus corporalis, the native, authentic native fish of some American streams, the fish here before the men from the east who were subsumed by the invasive and immigrant people of the west. Another fish, the Cod, drew those same people who have become today’s Americans. The Fallfish welcomed my Green Guarantee, like money, that wonderful binding glue. We agreed, met in the middle, supported by a net. The symbolism was a lived occurrence too compelling not to share.

That’s as far as I go into politics.

Fallfish luster in the net. One learns, too, that down leaves, brown, rest like scales slippery upon a solid clay and gravel bank. Slip they make you do, like ice, but in a more creaking kind of way. The thin ice, of course, it already encrusts the layered leaves in the aged autumn cold. Stand back up, cast again.

I appreciate the utility of vibram soles in such environments.

Behold! A Fish. A photograph. One of Two. One Fallfish, the second and final of the day, fought off my Green Guarantee, weighted and swung, near the center of a long run hip high. “Bonefish set to scale!” I heard myself. “Tenkara! Fly Fishing. Green Guarantee.” Amazement continued.

— rPs 12 08 2015

 

Postscript: One last one for Ketan Ben Caesar. Rest In Stream. Graziare.

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Better Late

Better Late . . .

Low Water: September

Low Water: September

The clay bank, high and vertical, gives way at intervals over time. Trees do follow. The other side, temporarily bridged by timber, emerges as a shallow grade of washed gravel and cobblestone. Low water, dry stones, holding sprouts of green in the shallows and cracks. Crayfish abound in the back puddles as do nymphs of caddis, mayflies, and dragonflies.

Riffles call for some kebari pale and fluffy to the casual eye. Many tenkara anglers tie and fish one fly only. September finds me most often opening the wallet or bottle for one best knotted onto 6x or 7x tippet: a primitive September Trico Spinner of black thread and rabbit on a curved hook in some size between 18 and 22. Another choice would be a size 16 or 18 dry fly hook dressed in Olive and Rabbit with or without a thorax of Peacock Herl: the September White Wing X Caddis. A streamer for slower water and meatier game goes to my standard Green Guarantee, size 6, 8, or 10. The body of Leech Yarn gives the Bucktail added motion, as this fly begs to be twitched and animated in authentic tenkara fashion.

September Trico Spinner

September Trico

September White Wing X Caddis

September White Wing X Caddis

Green Guarantee

Green Guarantee

My target, the quarry, this time became the fallfish, Semotilus corporalis, the grayling of the Mid-Atlantic states. Ones of size, like a fish I just encountered along a freestone creek over Labor Day Weekend, gives dry fly fishing an ultimate experience. The fish, strong, attractive, over a foot in length, sipped in a size 18 September Trico, one tied in a Manhattan flat.

“The grayling of the Mid-Atlantic states.”

The other fish of late summer, the Smallmouth Bass, Micropterus dolomieu, made its presence known to me on the very next cast. This one fell for a Green Guarantee tied on after sighting a smallmouth bass twice the size of the one in net.

Smallmouth Bass: September

Smallmouth Bass: September

More fallfish and smallmouth followed into a still evening that grew at a quicker pace than in July. A few deer showed off white tail and flushed. The green canopy held a dark gray where rays of sun once streamed. By the bank, the spot where I chose to cross for home, came first a pause for a large snapping turtle. Slow, dark and cragged, a small dinosaur, basically, cruised down the steam’s middle lane until the turn for a tree fallen and half submerged.

Turtle, home.

For me, above the opposite bank, began the walk down a gravel road toward town.

Angler, prepared to say: “Better late . . .”

– rPs 09 15 2015

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Belabored

Belabored . . .

French Creek and Wildflowers. (photo taken 09 03 2013)

French Creek and Wildflowers. (photo taken 09 03 2013)

Our household is in transition. Most of September has been spent dealing with real estate issues; a business as complex as the tips of a Spey line. Free time – fishing time – time fishing simply with one fly on a slip-knotted level line – has been swallowed up in the sudden way a largemouth bass inhales a popper floating on the surface of a pond.

My fishing, then, at least during this September, consisted of a few hours on the day after Labor Day; a sunny morning along a shaded length of French Creek in Pennsylvania’s Chester County.

The scene was pretty: late summer wildflowers like orange jewelweed in bloom; mushrooms glowing white amongst the leaf litter. A frog plopped into the water in front of me and swam to a little point of stone projecting out of the current.

Wet wading was easy for me, too, as I found that flow ran summertime low, but this hampered my recent desire to experiment with the large nymph. My attempts were foiled by a steady stream of hang ups along the rocky bottom.

I did catch sight of a few rises across a slow bend downstream. A size 16 BWO was sent across to explore the spot. Two redbreast sunfish quickly came to hand.

The BWO is a great dry fly pattern for the redbreast, the stream sunfish. (photo taken 09 03 2013)

The BWO is a great dry fly pattern for the redbreast, the stream sunfish. (photo taken 09 03 2013)

A fish on the line and in the net made the day a success. Time was progressing in earnest; I therefore kept moving to see what experience I could squeeze into the remaining hour or so at my disposal. This compelled me to hike upstream to a stretch I had not fished for two years. Here there are several deep runs interrupted by an exposed outcrop of cobblestones: wrinkled water ideally suited to fishing emergers and soft-hackles.

Wrinkled Water. (photo taken 09 03 2013)

Wrinkled Water. (photo taken 09 03 2013)

The white-tailed deer seem to like the soft moss around this spot as well. I flushed a buck and two doe as I approached the carpeted bank. Each deer took its turn to bound across the creek and into the trees. I followed them as far as the water.

Another frog’s antics entertained me as I knotted on a small Black X-Caddis emerger. This little fly has worked well for me when sent swimming across and downstream in low flows. One brassy flash I missed on the first cast was certainly the day’s brown trout. A pause followed; one necessary to recapture my rattled peace of mind. Once obtained, the target zone shifted to a deeply shaded seam that ran down the center of the creek. The pattern swung into a strong strike, like a bat meeting a baseball, quickly followed by an athletic jump that lit up the scene. The taker then surged straight toward my legs. The net once again came to my rescue as I maneuvered it into position to handle a large and very bright fallfish.

This fallfish jumped like a rainbow trout. (photo taken 09 03 2013)

This fallfish jumped like a rainbow trout. (photo taken 09 03 2013)

My cell phone chirped a few moments later. My wife had sounded the call to come back to the in-laws so we could have lunch before boarding the train back to Manhattan. I was happy to have had this time on the water, however brief, given how belabored by the business of life we have become.

– rPs 09 27 2013

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The Utility of the Net

The Utility of the Net . . .

A French Creek rainbow trout successfully landed - thanks to the net! (photo taken 05 2013)

A French Creek rainbow trout successfully landed – thanks to the net! (photo taken 05 2013)

Rarely do I fish with a net. There is no conscious reason; I simply find myself most often angling for fish small and easy enough to handle manually. Panfish are also handfish.

While sorting through a large batch of photos from the previous few months, I found the image of the netted trout above, and the story behind this moment returned to me.

Memorial Day weekend gave the time and French Creek in southeastern Pennsylvania provided the setting. The long weekend allowed my wife and me the ever more rare opportunity to slip out of New York City under the demanding noses of our respective work lives. The in-laws provided family, food, and for me, fly fishing, tenkara style.

Maryann wanted to sleep in on the morning of Memorial Day, but she did wake long enough to permit me to take along her L.L. Bean Pleasant River trout net. I sensed I might need it, as French Creek, like all freestone flows, holds more physical challenges to the landing of fish than a stillwater pond, and an encounter with trout, a fish much trickier to calm than black bass, would be a possibility.

A short stroll down a suburban road took me to the banks of the stream, which was quiet and empty of other anglers despite the bright holiday morning. A deep pool along an inviting bend in the stream above a flat bedrock run gave me a good starting point. There, on a Pheasant Soft Hackle, I caught a few small redbreast sunfish; an attractive and somewhat rare catch in this cold water

This French Creek redbreast sunfish added to the surrounding symphony of green and orange color. (photo taken 05 2013)

This French Creek redbreast sunfish added to the surrounding symphony of green and orange color. (photo taken 05 2013)

Wet wading eventually brought me several hundred yards downstream to the plane tree root jams I had fished the previous Christmas Eve. I had by this time landed a few silvery fallfish and knew the top prize, a trout or two battling my line and limber Ebisu tenkara rod, could very well be present.

This French Creek fallfish fell for an X Caddis. (photo taken 05 2013)

This French Creek fallfish fell for an X Caddis. (photo taken 05 2013)

I was not disappointed. My little Hare’s Ear paused during its second swing, snatched aggressively near the second batch of roots. Stiff resistance and a bent rod replaced the meditative mending of line. A sizable trout directed my attention upstream, where the water broke in a half jump, and then another.

At last, I thought, my net might see some action!

The lanyard sounded as I successfully gripped the handle and brought down the net toward the fish. Another, heretofore unheard tone, also now resonated. The rod tip began to scrape against the low tree canopy overhead. The length of the long rod touched limb, forcing me even lower as I bent backwards, leading the fish toward the mesh of the net. The sight of me so engaged must have resembled a circus contortionist.

The big rainbow eventually allowed itself to be landed, and photographed, and gently released, thanks to the net. The utility of this piece of gear had again, in a very timely manner, made itself clear.

The tenkara angler and his net take a break. (photo taken 05 2013)

The tenkara angler and his net take a break. (photo taken 05 2013)

– rPs 07 31 2013

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