Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Fly Rods

I don't collect fly rods. Now Mrs. Anchovy might not agree. She'd say, well if you don't collect them, how come you have so many?

I like fishing small to mid-sized streams best and my go-to rod is a 7 1/2 foot 4/5 bamboo rod made for me by the late Ted Knott, back in 1998. If the weather is really bad or if the brush is really dense, I'll use a graphite rod instead...there's the 8' Scott job I bought in Hamilton Montana one year when I was out there with East Texas Red. It might have been the year Princess Diana died (I'm not sure why I remembered that...). There's also a shorter 4/5 job I bought at Fran Betters' shop in the Adirondacks a number of years ago, built on a Winston blank.

For the Grand, I use a 4 pc 9' Winston 4 wt that was my booty for becoming a lifetime member of Trout Unlimited a couple seasons ago. Sometimes, I'll also break out a 6 wt production bamboo job made by the late George Gherke. I got to know George through a fly fishing newsgroup. It seemed he was having a scrap with just about everybody who contributed to the group. I emailed him and said, hey Mr. Gink, how come everybody hates your guts? We became on-line friends. One day, out of the blue, Mr. Gink sent me this rod as a gift, inscribed to me as "friend". I was really touched by this incredibly generous gesture. We had a plan to fish together in British Columbia that never quite materialized, and then he unexpectedly died. The rod is powerful, yet still has some delicacy and is perfect on mid-sized streams in the mountain west...I always take it when I head out that way.

The way I see it, these rods should do me for years to come. I'm not exactly saying I won't accumulate another one along the way (these things happen) - only that I have what I need for the fishing I like to do.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The problem with writing

Some of you will have noticed that sometimes I'm a little bit vague about where I fish, frankly because I don't want to encourage people to put additional pressure on my local streams. In a couple cases I fish streams which don't get a lot of play (and I like it that way), and I confess you won't find a map to those spots on these pages. I don't mind talking about the Grand, because it is so well known and has had a lot of press. It's the smaller, more delicate streams about which I'm not going to give up too many details. One guy I know says, "those damn websites are bringing too many people to the river," and maybe he's right. The good thing is that the more delicate streams also tend to be a little tougher, and many folks who fish them once don't bother going back.

There's a brook trout stream I know, which is not entirely unknown, but I almost never see anyone else there. I consider that to be a positive condition because the entire stretch of this pretty water is best with a single fisherman around. I've shown this one to a few very good friends over the years, and I know they will keep it quiet. The trout there are very eager and there are some good ones, but parts of the stream are really hard to fish and even navigate.

If I seem vague from time-to-time, chalk it up to the problem of writing about fly fishing. Readers who fish around this neck of the woods will figure out most of the streams I talk about easily enough, and everyone else, I suggest you start with a little exploring, and maybe make a few friends on-stream. There are only so many streams in Southern Ontario. You'll work it out.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Opening Day

After a leisurely breakfast, I drove to Fergus to pick up a few things at Troutfitters. I hadn't been to their new location before, and I have to say, it's a very nice fly shop, and the fellow I was dealing with was very helpful and knowledgeable.

I found a spot on the "Upper River" portion of the Grand, above Fergus, and was surprised I had quite a nice stretch to myself, a condition that changed after about 1:00 when the opening day fishermen appeared in droves. At one point, there were 5 guys fishing a short run near where I parked my car. You would think it was the only run in the river with trout!

It was a blustery day, with occasional light showers, and cool temperatures. The water was very cold! Given the conditions, I decided to chuck streamers, and soon caught a fat 16 inch brown on a Grey Ghost. An hour later, another good trout smashed my streamer, but I only had it hooked for a few seconds. And that was it. There were a few very small bugs around, but no rising trout. Water was clear and the flow was low. On the way up, I stopped to look at another well-known trout stream, where water was also clear, but high. There were a lot of cars parked there as well. Although some spots get a lot of pressure all the time, opening day attracts a lot of people who only seem to make it out to the river once each season, and soon turn their attention to working around the house or driving up to the cottage...

I left the river early, as Tuffy P and I were going to visit my brother-in-law in hospital. He has just had his aortic valve replaced, and today has been moved out of intensive care. Fortunately he seems to be recovering quite well!

Friday, April 25, 2008

Opener tomorrow

After a week a beautiful weather, we have the promise of a cool rainy day for the opener tomorrow. Going out on the first day of the season here is for me largely cerimonial. It will be another week or two before things pick up. I haven't decided where I'm going to fish yet, and likely I won't decide until I'm in the car, leaving the city.

Although I started tying late this year, I've tied up most of the flies I'll need for the next couple months. I just have to stuff everything in my vest, load up the car, and take off.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008


I went through a period a few years ago where I accumulated gear. These days, I fish with less and less. I carry less stuff around. I use fewer flies. I bought a new pair of wading boots a couple seasons ago in Calgary because the soles finally fell off the pair I was wearing. The other day I was looking over my waders. Globs of Aquaseal trace my days on trout streams, and document the punctures, rips, wear and tear that come with years of use. I wonder if I can get another year out of them before they disintegrate? Perhaps if I see a decent replacement pair on sale, I'll splurge this year.

I use breathable chest waders. I'm just not a hipper kind of guy. If I wore hippers, I would immediately need to get that extra two inches deeper that would get me into trouble. Know thyself. The hipper guys say, hey, mister anchovy, don't you get hot wearing those chest waders all year? The truth is that these days, as soon as it gets close to being warm enough to do so, I wade wet, in track pants, wearing an extra pair of wool socks in my wading boots. I discovered that I really like how it feels...

Friday, April 04, 2008

At the vice

I had the day off work today, and spent most of the morning running errands. One of those was to stock up on hooks and other tying supplies. Normally, by this time of year, I've tied plenty enough flies to get me to summer, but this winter I've been lazy. I made up for it this afternoon, tying up a bunch of Hendrickson Usuals. I tie them both up and down wing, and match the size and body colour to the hatch. I also tied a few catskill style flies to match our local hendricksons. Later this weekend, I plan to tie up some olives, some sulfurs, some foxes, and then a bunch of caddis adults and pupae.

Going through my flies the other day, I see my soft-hackle selection has dwindled, so that's on my list as well. The season is around the corner....