Favorite Outdoor Places – Where to Start?

What better to think about in the middle of winter while one anticipates the arrival of the new fishing season – my favorite places. That was the prompt this week from the Outdoor Blogger Network.  Sounds like a great idea and it got me thinking.  Interestingly, searching for a photo or two brought me right back to home.  Here are a few photos that struck a cord.  Although all these shots were taken in the fall, they are of places close by where I manage to fish at least three seasons of the year.  Autumn in eastern Ontario is a a spectacular time of year for photographs – maybe the landscape is more forgiving of me at that time of year because I seem to have more shots that I would show in public from this time of year.  These images remind me that home is pretty special.

I Knew I Would Forget Something

It was sure to happen – as soon as I make a list, something gets left off.

And that’s the case with my attempt to list my favorite fly fishing e-Zines. With the recent release of the latest issue, I was reminded that I had overlooked Blood Knot. And a significant oversight it was especially considering the theme of this issue – bloggers.
Blood Knot e-ZineThere are some great articles by some of my favorite bloggers.  Among them are several members of the growing list of bloggers comprising the Outdoor Blogger Network including Fat Guy Fly Fishing, Singlebarbed, Skate The Fly, and of course The Outdooress.  I think I got everyone but with my track record…….

Check Blood Knot out – see what you think.  And, don’t forget to subscribe to the blogs of these excellent writers.

Winter Reading – A Growing Choice of Fly Fishing E-Zines

The sad reality in this neck of the woods is that local fly fishing is severely compromised at this time of year.   In some cases the season for legal fishing has closed or is close to being so. Even where it remains open, cold and ice are a major deterrent.  While steelhead are a possibility treks to the closest rivers are not insignificant so don’t happen as often as they might.

The net result is that we have moved into a season where dreaming/planning and fly tying have become the most significant  aspects of my fly fishing activity.

Blogs provide a great source of vicarious fishing sustenance but the other growing digital media that interests me is electronic magazines. Depending on your perspective you might not share my enthusiasm but from where I sit, they are definitely welcome – particularly during the hard water season.

I thought I would list some of the fishing e-zines that I have come across. The list seems to be growing every day so I am sure there are some great ones that I haven’t come across.

Catch Magazine – Because I like both fly fishing and photography, this is a favorite e-zine of mine.  Superior quality pictures and embedded video are the focus.

This Is Fly – One of the pioneers in the fly fishing e-zine world, this one probably caters first to a younger crowd but don’t hesitate to check it out even if you don’t think you fit that category.

Ten and Two – The Angler’s Journey – This magazine focuses on both fishing and the local culture.  The issue on fishing in Argentina had me hooked.

Streamside Canada – Local bias here but if you are looking for stories about Canadian fly fishing destinations, check this one out.

Rise Forms – A new arrival, this online magazine focuses on the literature surrounding fly fishing.  Poetry, fiction, artwork its all there.

Flyfishers Inc. – This one focuses primarily but not exclusively on New Zealand fly fishing – not a bad focus at all in my opinion!

Contemporary Sportsman – This one covers fly fishing as well as hunting sports.  The publisher is launching a new e-zine soon.  Called Backcast, it will focus on salt water fly fishing.

Several print magazines are introducing digital versions of their magazines to better serve their subscribers.  Among these are the following:

Fly Tyer Magazine – You can now subscribe to a digital version of this must have magazine for fly tyers.

Northwest Fly Fishing, Southeast Fly Fishing and Eastern Fly Fishing – This family of fly fishing magazines provides digital copies of back issues of the news stand magazines.

The Flyfish Journal – This is a relatively new print magazine.  The first two issues have had some great articles.  If your preference is digital, you can subscribe and have access to an electronic version.

I am pretty sure I have just scratched the surface of what is currently out there as far as digital fly fishing magazines are concerned.  And, no doubt more will emerge.

This collection will keep me going for a while but if you have others that you enjoy, share them.

What Does a Fish See?

When it comes to fly tying the discussion/debate around what is important in the eyes of a fish is likely endless. Is the fly imitating a food source or is it simply an attractor? If imitating, what of the color, size, behaviour and so on and so on. We make decisions on what we observe, what has worked in the past, what our gut tells us, or maybe what tying material we have available at the time. At the end of the day – its pretty hard to say with certainty what will appeal to a fish. And if by chance we figure it out one day – the next it will be completely different.

I am not much of a fly tier but I appreciate that many people have a much deeper insight into these things. However this fall I was struck by the most basic aspects of a fly pattern – its shape. A couple months ago I decided to tie a wooly bugger variant using some brown krystal flash hackle I had in my tying material. I’m not sure there was much objectivity in the decision – other than in the past, at this time of year I have had success fishing patterns like a Mrs. Simpson or a brown woolly bugger with a bit of flash in the tail.

On a couple of occasions this fall the pattern has proven to be my go to pattern but what struck me as I fished it was the shape of the fly when wet. The messy hackle folded back to form a sleek minnow shaped body with a bit of sparkle. Based on the fish it caught, I guess it made a good impression although I don’t have any actual statements from fish as to what they thought it was when they chowed down.

Late Season Stillwater

Winter is approaching quickly. Days are short and temperatures are beginning to fall. Fall colours are long gone and as each day passes, the opportunities for stillwater fishing lessen.

Earlier this week a few of us had a chance to get out for a bit of trout fishing – a full day and the morning of the next. We were hoping to encounter rainbow trout bent on fattening up for the winter months. Depending on how you look at it, the weather conditions were going to be good or bad. Sunny and warm was inviting from the perspective of being out on the water with legs immersed in 43F water but maybe overcast would be preferable for the fish. What we got was sunny and warm and mostly no wind which made for very pleasant float tubing.

We arrived reasonably early Monday morning and wasted no time getting on the water. Fishing proved to be steady. By lunch time most had managed to coax several trout into dining on whatever was at the end of the line. In my case the menu du jour consisted mainly of the rusty brown bugger concoction I had come up with a couple months back. I admit it looks somewhat strange when dry but in the water the Krystal Hackle flattens back nicely to match the shape of a minnow body. Under the bright sun conditions the subtle sparkle seemed to be an added attraction for the fish. Who knows what goes through a fish’s brain but whatever it is, they seemed to like it.

Most of the fish caught were in the 12-14 inch range with a few approaching 16 inches. I was fishing a clear intermediate sink line. Fish were caught at various depths, generally while stripping in the line. Dusk comes early these days and by 5 o’clock the sun had set and everyone was ready for a warm cabin and dinner.

We were up the next morning, greeted by near flat calm conditions. As the sun rose over the hills, the temperature warmed and the wind stayed away. I headed to a shallow bay where I had had some success the day before. Same thing this morning as landed three rainbows in quick order and lost three more.

Somewhere I have heard or read – don’t leave fish to find fish, but not heeding that advice I decided to move on, thinking I would finish up the morning in another favourite bay. That proved to be an unsuccessful idea as the fish seemed to either have left the area or decided they weren’t hungry. At any rate after an hour with no activity, it was time to head in for a cup of coffee and to warm up.

With the toes feeling better I decided to hit the water for a bit before we had to pack up and leave. Based on experience from earlier in the morning, I headed back to the bay I had started at and was rewarded with action once again. It seemed the fish were active along the edge of the flats. Several fish and an equal number of misses it was time to call it quits and head for home.

The rusty brown bugger proved to be my most successful pattern on this trip. Who knows if that will be the case in the future but it will be one on the list for winter tying.

November Float Tubing

Today was a great day to be out on the water.  November 1 and still in the float tubes.   The forecast was for temperatures of 5C, sun and cloud and only a bit of wind.  When we arrived at the lake it was full sun and barely a breath of wind.  The weekend snowfall had not been huge but the temperatures remained cool and so the trees were still covered in snow.

The crisp air was fine but the clear sky and no wind were a bit concerning.  We were hoping for large rainbows that were know to be way at the best of times. The question was how would the fishing be with such bright, calm conditions?

Both Wade and I were thinking the fish were still well below the surface so Wade went with a type 3 sinking line while I decided to rig my RIO clear intermediate sink line.  This is easily my favourite line for lake fishing and is my default when conditions clearly point to surface action.  I tied on a Mrs. Simpson streamer which apparently had worked well on the weekend.

It didn’t take long for the fish to respond.  Within ten minutes of Wade and I launching I had a hit from an energetic young rainbow.  After several jumps I brought him to the float tube and quickly released a 12-14 inch silver sided rainbow.   Wade followed not long after with a couple brothers or sisters to the one I caught.  This was a good start.  The smaller fish were active but what about the larger rainbows?

Things slowed from there as we worked our way around the edge of the lake towards an area where fishing was usually good.  Another hit but nothing to show for it.

I decided to kick down to the far end of the lake.  It is a bit of a float and puts one at the east end of the lake which is not much fun with the wind picks up as it typically blows west to east.  However I had lost a large fish at that end the last time I fished the laked so wanted to find out whether there were more to be had. Slowly I moved further away from the launch.  The wind picked up.  Nothing serious but still a reminder that it was going to be a bit of work to get back.

The end of the lake is fairly narrow with flats and sharp drop offs along the shore I hugged.  As I approached the end, I had a sharp hit.  It held and I could tell this was a larger fish.  No jumping but lots of head shaking and several long runs.  At one point I worked him to the surface and confirmed that should this be successful it would be the largest rainbow trout I caught in this lake.  The fight lasted about 10 minutes before I managed to net a very nice male rainbow. Based on the 18 inch measure in float tube stripping basket, this one must have been around 24 inches.  My guess was close to 5 pounds.

It was only after releasing this guy, that I remembered the wind had picked up. I decided not to stick around but to head back towards Wade, Bob and Doug (who had joined up with us).  Since the last fish was caught close to the drop off, I decided to focus on working the edge.  A short time later, a second big hit vibrated through my rod.  Judging from the feel, this was another big fish.  And he decided to run, stripping line from my reel.  Several times I worked him close to the float tube only to have him sound and tear off with more line.  However better this than forcing the issue and losing him, as I have a habit of doing.  Eventually he too came to the net and was released after a couple pictures.

I was now closer to the others and since it was getting close to noon, decided to head over to a convenient rock outcrop that made a good lunch spot.  Wade was there by the time I got there and eventually the others followed.

Fed, warmed, relieved – anticipation was high for more fish in the afternoon.  However that was not to be the case – at least for me.  Other than one 12 inch rainbow – nothing.  Wade did slightly better and Doug lost a large fish but otherwise it was quite enough that by 3pm we decided to pack it in.

Although the fish weren’t many, it was a great day.  The two large ones definitely helped!

Flyfishing Kenauk – Lac L’Orignal

Last week was the traditional (at least its becoming that way) fall fly fishing trip to Kenauk.This was my fourth fall trip and it wasn’t a disappointment.  It would be hard to be disappointed at Kenauk.  The chalets are terrific, the fishing is great, and the company completely enjoyable.

This year was a new lake and chalet for our crew.  Lac Rough in the northeast sector of the “Reserve de la Petite Nation”, a 100 sq. mile, 65,000 acre protected wilderness domain granted to the first bishop of New France by the King of France in 1674.  Reports of excellent fishing from last year’s chalet residents fueled the anticipation.

Arriving Sunday morning Bob and I decided to hold off fishing Rough, instead opting to try nearby Lac L’Orignal or Moose Lake.  It is a day fishing lake with brook trout that neither of us had fished before. So after stowing our gear, we headed back down the road to Moose Lake.

The lake is shallow but provides good habitat for brook trout and it didn’t take long to find the speckles either.  In a couple hours before lunch we landed many.  Most were in the 12 inch range but a couple approached 14.  They varied in colour but a few had the spectacular fall spawn wardrobe.

Our fishing appetite for brook trout satisfied and with lunch approaching it was time to head back to Rough to see what was happening.  More tomorrow on fishing at Rough Lake.

Thanksgiving Fly Fishing

Today is Canadian Thanksgiving – a spectacular autumn day. i have lots to be thankful for including the fact we celebrated on Saturday so today is post celebration time and conveniently a good day to go fishing. While Donna is not interested in fishing she was up for a trip to a local pond so long as she could sit by the shore, read a book and take a few photos. So off we went with previously acquired directions since I had never been to this spot before.

We arrived shortly after 10 in the morning. Although the pond is very accessible, there was only one other couple fishing and they left shortly after we arrived.

The fish were clearly active with several surfacing near us. There was no hatch going on but the fish seemed to be feeding on something relatively close to the surface. Impatiently inflated the float tube, strung my rod and generally tried to get organized as quickly as possible. Despite the surfacing fish, I decided to go with a clear intermediate sink line and a small streamer. And within minutes I was rewarded with a hit. First fish to the tube was a small but energetic rainbow which was quickly released. The hits continued at a fairly regular pace throughout the morning. Most fish caught were in the 11-12 inch range. I’m not sure if they are the product of late fall stocking but whatever the case, they seemed hungry.
Rainbow Trout

Just before noon I hooked into a much larger fish. Immediately airborne, it showed bright red along the side and was clearly larger than any of the fish caught to this point. Sadly after working it fairly close to the tube, I was a little over enthusiastic and he slipped the hook without me getting another look. However, it was good to know the pond also has some larger fish.

Jumping Rainbow Trout

This was confirmed after a lunch break when I hooked into a very nice 15 inch fish which was quickly followed by a fat 14 incher.

Netting Another Trout

The pond is not large, the product of an old quarry but it must be fed by cold water springs to support trout. The water is clear and in many spots it was possible to see to the bottom which was in excess of 20 feet.

I packed it in around mid afternoon, thankful for the time on the water and cooperative fish!

Monday Morning Fishing

There is a group of us that fish together – seldom en mass but frequently in bunches of two or three.  Bob is usually the organizer and also the aggregator of news about everyone’s fishing activities (at least of those who share it with him).

The teaser was embedded in Bob’s Sunday evening email updating everyone on various fishing successes (or lack thereof) over the past few days. “I’m planning on returning to ****** tomorrow morning early and quit at noon…..”  Up to that point, I was planning on working all day but with the subtle presentation – start early and quit by noon, the hook was set.  Forget return email.  A quick phone call verified times and plans were set.

The weather called for overcast and showers which seemed like just the ticket.  Early indications driving up were that it might actually be more like rain rather than showers but such was not the case when we arrived at the lake.   It was partly overcast (but sometimes sunny) and other than the rain to and from the lake, it was dry all morning.

Monday Morning Fishing

The lake has a deserved reputation for large rainbows.  I haven’t fished it a lot but it seems most times I hear of either a few big fish being caught or nothing at all.  Hopefully today would be the former.  As it turns out,  the big guys eluded us.  Water temperatures were still quite warm and we guessed the larger fish were holding deep.  However, my black palmer chenille bugger came through, producing several fish in the 12-14 inch range – not big for this lake but not a skunk either.

And yes – we packed it in by noon.  Home in time to get a bit of work in too.  The best way to start the week.