Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Mid May NJ Fishing Report

Not much has been going on in NJ aside from rain. Fishing hasn't necessarily been tough, just perilous. The musky was close to 2,000 cfs in the beginning of May and the South Branch was flowing at around 1,000 cfs. Bryson and I stayed away until the flows went down to at least 600. In the mean time the North Branch has been yielding quite a few fish for Bryson and I. Over the course of a weekend, with about three hours of stream time, the NBR produced around 20 fish. Just bear in mind that most fish caught from the NBR are cookie cutter rainbows, although there is a healthy population of wild browns there too. Caddis are the predominant hatch right now, and with a half decent presentation many fish can be taken on top. On the evening of the 19th, I took our friend who is a relatively new angler, to the North Branch. He missed quite a few fish on Matt Grobert's Caribou Caddis, great fly - instructions here, and I brought seven to the net, all my fish were on a sexy walts. All though the river have been high, the good fishing has maintained. Just stick to the banks and stay safe.

Here are a few specimens from the North Branch,

Tightlines Everyone,

Alex Rundella

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Go Mom!

Well the blog has been dormant for about 2 weeks now, mostly due to too much fishing.  Plenty of fish have been caught by all blog members here in the past two weeks, but there are two fish in particular that mean a lot to me.

My mommy. She supports me, funds me, and chauffeurs me. Amiss our trips to the river she grew bored of watching my friends and I catch fish, so she began fishing. This year marks her 2nd season. Her first season produced two fish for her. She was a relatively "fresh" angler so the low fish count does not come as a surprise, but her persistence does. She caught a fish on her first trip of her first season and one on the last trip of her season. All the time in between she spent asking questions, trying to improve, and being extremely frustrated.

Although I have fished around a dozen or so times this season, my mom has fished twice this season. Her start to the 2014 season was much better than last year's season. She has caught 2 fish, in two trips, without any sort of aide from her son! - Not that I wouldn't help her.

This fish was on her first trip of the year. We were fishing the North Branch and this bow was taken on a prince nymph.

This was on her second trip of the year, on another local trout stream. This fish was taken on a Flashback Hares-Ear.

Both of these fish may have been cookie cutter rainbows, but they are fish none the less. Good Job Mom and I hope to see more fish in your net for the trips to come!

Tight Lines Everyone - Alex Rundella

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

The Headwaters of the Passaic Report

April showers bring May Flowers, or an annoying Emergency Flood Notification on your IPhone. Rain, or even possible flooding won't stop us from fishing. However when fishing during these wet conditions, your choice of streams to fish narrows. You need to hit the smaller, lower flowing streams, but this is tricky while most streams are closed for stocking. Bryson and I are situated in central NJ, while Douglas and Rob are in PA, so our choice of streams is much different. For Bryson and I, there is only one place that is worth the drive and our time in these trying times. The Headwaters of the Passaic in Bernardsville, NJ seems to be the best option when streams are closed to stocking or heavy rains rise the water levels.

Our favorite point of access to the stream is through the Audubon Center on Chestnut Ave, Bernardsville, NJ. Park in the visitor’s parking lot, during operating hours of course, and go in the gift store and let the people at the front desk know you are fishing. They give you a sheet you have to fill out before and after you fish. This may seem as an annoying task to some, but in reality they are just trying to insure safety and collect info on the stream.

Once you’re ready to go, head to the stream. There are a variety of trails that lead to the stream, however the further down the stream you go the bigger the fish are. If you work up from the lower edge of the property, close to the road, you will find some deeper runs, compared to the rest of the stream, and some deep pools. As you get further up the water turns into shallow runs and small plunge pools. If you want to cover the park from bottom to top, you will need about two to two and a half hours to fish it well. You will finish at a big, deep pool at the top end of the park. This pool is known as flat rock, because there is a huge rock in the middle of it. This spot is a popular swimming hole, but if you hit when the park is free of visitors, you have the opportunity to catch a large wild brown or rainbow. Considering the average fish is about 6-7 inches and a big fish is around 12, expect not much bigger than an 18-inch fish from flat rock. Here is a sampling of some of the stream's fish:

This is on the smaller end of what you will be catching, but as you move up through the park expect more fish like this.

This about the average sized fish in the lower portions of the stream

This is one of the larger wild bows that can be found outside of the Audubon Center.

If you want to fish there after park hours there are plenty of other places. However some parts are secret, but if you drive along Chestnut Ave into Harding I am sure you will find some great spots. All these spots have pull offs, but the stream may be a way off the road.

Flies for this stream are pretty straight forward. Frenchies, Pheasant Tail's, Quill Nymphs, etc. work well. In terms of dries, BWOs and Caddis Patterns work well. Both Bryson and I fish the water with 2 and 3 weight rods, all 7 foot or under. Approach the river with caution, careful not to spook the fish. Just because it is a small stream, doesn't mean you can't tight-line nymph. Modify your leader to work with a small rod and you will do just fine. Dry dropper works well too. 

If you are in NJ try and keep your sanity till the streams open again. If you have the time try and make it out to the Headwaters of the Passaic, you won't regret it.

Tight-lines Everyone - Alex Rundella  

Monday, March 24, 2014

The Sexy Waltz Worm

Competition nymph patterns are made for three things: sinking fast, being easy to tie, and most importantly catching fish. This fly is known as the Sexy Waltz Worm, which is derived from a very basic pattern developed by Walt Young in the late 1980's. Walt Young's stellar creation was tied on a basic hook, with no bead, ribbing, or hot spot. Over the years competition anglers have tweaked this pattern to produce fish in the best and worst conditions. Loren Williams added some things to the original, creating the Sexy Waltz Worm. To see how Loren ties this deadly pattern click here.

I think I speak for all of us in saying that this fly produces in many different situations and locations. Some of us have found success with Loren's creation in places ranging from Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Colorado, Montana, New York, and New Jersey. I find it especially effective when the water is slightly off color or when there are stocked fish roaming around, but it has its time and place in clear water over fish of all backgrounds.

Most competition anchor (bottom bouncing) flies are tied on jig hooks to avoid snagging rocks and debris. Here a size 14 Fulling Mill jig hook and a TroutLegend 3.0mm Tungsten bead are used.
As far as thread goes, it makes the most sense to use whatever color you want your hot spot to be, I prefer UTC 70 denier in Fluorescent Chartreuse or Orange. 
Firmly secure the beaded hook in your vise. Make sure that you put the bead on small hole first. If you wish to add additional weight, lead wire or tape could be used.
Start your thread behind the bead and wind it back to the hook point.

Silver Metallic Sulky is used as the rib. For those unfamiliar with the product, think flat crystal flash that doesn't break or stretch. This can be found at most craft stores or at Kevin Compton's Performance Flies.
Snip off 4-5 inches of Sulky and affix it to the near side of the hook.

Plain Hare's Ear dubbing is used to form the body, but any natural buggy fur will work well.
Create a 4-5 inch tapered dubbing noodle on your thread. Don't over-dub, you can always add more if needed.

Wind the dubbing towards the bead, create a "cigar" shaped taper. Leave the dubbing buggy. 
Wrap the Sulky up the fly in spiral wraps.
Apply a whip finish to build up a hot spot and finish your fly. Then snip your thread off close. 

These next steps are optional, but I believe that the aid the longevity of this fly. 
Hard As Nails or head cement can be used to coat the thread and bead.
Apply a small drop ONLY to the bead and thread. Make sure to avoid the dubbing.

The finished product! A Sexy Waltz Worm. 

Make sure to have these flies in many sizes and weights! 
See you on the water,
Rob Funk

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Gunpowder Falls Competition Recap

As the final bell rang Friday afternoon, Bryson and I made the journey down to the greater Hunt Valley area in Maryland. After meeting Doug later that night, who arrived around 2:00 that afternoon to practice for the competition, we embarked on a fairly interesting evening.

            After a wonderful dinner at a Hibachi Steak House, we carried on indulging on the luxuries of the Far East, more specifically Japanese candy. When the eventful evening was all but the next morning, the three of us decided to treat ourselves to a long, restful slumber.

            Waking up with a little over an hour of sleep, Doug, Bryson, and I ventured to the stream. We were attending the competition at the Gunpowder River, hosted by our teammate Jason, and for the most part we had mixed feelings about the competition.

 I for one was pumped and super hyped at the prospect of catching my first fish in a competition, despite my attempts in my previous two competitions. The seasoned US Youth Team members were so and so about the comp, and were just looking to catch fish and have a good time. I am sure our new team member Rob was hoping for a good finish to highlight his second comp.

However our perception and aspirations for this competition fell way short. The shortcomings were not the fault of the host; in fact this comp was ran extremely well. Yet there were what seemed to be limited numbers of fish, with very few to be had. That did not stop Bryson and Doug from catching two of the three fish scored the whole day. Bryson’s 14cm fish secured a third place finish for him, and Doug’s 24cm fish landed him second place. I would love to say I placed first, but once again I was skunked. Three comps an no fish, seems like a set back to most, but it only incites me to work harder. However I do find solace in the fact I double blanked along with eight other competitors, including Rob. None the less, we all had a good time.

            Our lack of trout on Saturday forced us to fish on Sunday, and our efforts were much more successful on one of our favorite stretches. All in all a good weekend, filled with a number of funny situations, lack of sleep, and a song called Fire and Ice.

Tightlines everyone - Alex Rundella

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The Often Overlooked Fly Fishing Only Section

        As winter begins to fade and hints of spring air spin through trees, trout fisherman around the state gear up for "Opening Day".  For me this day marks nothing but another opportunity to catch and release over 40 freshly stocked fish in one day. While many others plan to head out to the banks with a focus to fill their creels with food, I will let the fin-less trout swim back to their slow pools. In Pennsylvania many streams have a segment marked off as "Fly Fishing Only" or "Delayed Harvest Artificial Only" which is heavily stocked but often overlooked. As of late I have ventured to local fly fishing only sections with friends and family who are new to fly fishing. Today my good friend Dan and I went after school to the French Creek and managed to catch 29 fish in under two hours.
Here is Dan with his first trout on the fly.
        The fish (being freshly stocked) took flashy flies with enthusiasm. Flies like rainbow warriors and Flash-back Soft Hackle Hares Ear seemed to be effective but, the Squirmy Wormy could not be ignored.  With regular trout season opening in southeastern Pennsylvania on March 30th prepare your flashy flies and get ready to catch some fish!

        In general, insect activity sky rocketed. Clouds of midges could be seen flying near the banks and, many more popping off the surface of the water. Also caddis were seen skating across the waters surface in a attempt to spread their wings and fly. Some trout were seen rising to these insects. Little black stoneflys were also seen flying about. Keep an eye out for trout keying in on these bugs as this will indicate what flys and style of fishing will give you the best results! 

Good luck out there! - Rob Funk

Monday, March 10, 2014

Fishing Update - First week of March 2014

The fishing in the tri-state area is sorta beginning to look up. I only say sorta because of the still lingering ice ageish temps we have been braving up here in the northeast. As a result, for me at least, fishing has still be relatively slow and it has been a struggle to string together any sort of consistency. The occasional pocket of fish have been found feeding, but otherwise the picky, and apparently quite elusive wild trout of the PA limestone creeks, are not all that interested in the feeding frenzy type action we tend to start encountering with the warmer weather. There have been some bugs hatching, but as far as I can see, most adult forms of aquatic insects are having a grand time flying around, mating, and maybe most importantly, not getting eaten that much. I might guess this is mainly due to the odd temperature changes, so hopefully when we get some consistent warmth the bugs won't fare so well (the sulfurs won't be so lucky). All said, here is what I have seen working or happening on the water recently.

Flies - The usual confidence patterns have been catching fish as well as anything, Walt's Worms, Quill body nymphs, Pheasant Tails/Frenchies, and Zebra Midges. If one were to find trout rising to olives, Matt's Soft Hackle Emerger tied in a olive color scheme might do the trick.

I like to carry multiple colors of quill body flies, the natural version above is one of my favorites when nothing else seems to work

Largish Blue Winged Olive duns (14-16) were spotted fluttering around in the later afternoon last weekend. The trout where I was located were for the most part not looking up. Some of the more "game" fish were interested in subsurface imitations such as a personal favorite, the BWO Quill Nymph.

This was one of the wild browns that
fell to a quill nymph. Although this
fish looked pretty beat up from a long
winter, it was eager to move into spring and
eat some olives - Photo by Alex Rundella

Valley Creek had some trout which appeared to be rising to BWOs and Midges, but I tend not to include them in the region-wide discussion as those fish always seem to be rising.

As usual, midges are everywhere right now so if you happen to stumble across some risers, throw some small stuff and see what happens. 

With herds of stocking trucks flooding many streams with cookie cutter style trout, your favorite variety of junk food should produce.