FIELD NOTES

  • The summer of 2017 is headed Northbound.

    The summer of 2017 is headed Northbound.

    I am summarizing the summer of 2017 as the "summer of opportunity.  When I last posted I really thought I could maintain equilibrium, work and pursue my all my extra curricular interests. At the time I had just opened up the new store and the summer residents hadn't really settled into this area.  I really thought I'd be able to manage a deli/market, run my business, take care of my adult responsibilities and fish the late hatches until 1-2 am.  Boy was I wrong.

    It was like someone turning on the switch.  The next day after my last post the switch was pulled and it was game on, 8 plus hour days,  employee theft, 100 degree days without a/c, collapsing beer cooler shelving, leaking ceilings and more and more tourists.  At times it seemed like trudging through mud and the next thing I knew it was Labor day.  

    We kept Lake Shore Market open one week more to accomodate the Lake George Car Show and then closed one week ago today.  

    Since then I've closed a few camps for clients, stained two porches, one deck, begin working on neglected house chores and started fishing again.  The one thing I regret was not working out.  My schedule didn't allow for it.  

    Today I took a step in the right direction and went for an ealry morning hike up Hadley Hill and Firetower. For those of you who know me and are familiar with Hadley Hill or other popular climbs the story I'm about to tell should crack you up.  This being my first hike in quite some time I was pretty sweated up and red faced by the time I got to the halfway up.  Not only is my heart rate redilined, but my legs were rubber and I could only speak in half thoughts. In other words, what came out was an edited version of what I really wanted to say.

    So, when the portly guy, decked out in all the LLBean packs, poles boots and other attire coming down from the top told me that his little mop dog wouldn't bite me I wanted to respond, No problem, if he bit me anyway he'd probably die from all my toxins and poisoned blood. Instead it came out "he better not, I'll kill him"   I bet after he looked at me the first thought through his head was the theme song to deliverance and how do I get by him with my life and saving my dog?  I think I really scared him.  

    I really should have apologized but seriously,  I'm an old guy who has been been around and can act pretty intelligent at times, if I see a dog coming down the traiil with a hiker behind it I already assume its a cool dog.  Only a moron would bring a hostile animal on a trail like that. But seriously, what really concerned me is whether you're picking up after mopdog and why do you think your dog doesn't need a leash?  

  • Official Start of Summer

    Official Start of Summer

    Because the weather in the Adirondacks changes so quickly almost everyone that lives here has their own preferred reference point that indicates a change in the seasons.  Easter, we know there is still a lot of winter left.  Memorial Day, is time to plant the garden. July 4th, officially when all the summer people are at their camps and Labor Day when it becomes quiet again.  For me,  June 21st, the Summer Solstice aka "longest day of the year" is the peak of fly fishing for trout and the Yellow Mayfly or Hexagenia hatch, my favorite of all the mayflys.

    The Hexagenia is a big bug that is major player in the eco systems of most Adirondack ponds and lakes.  This fly is almost 2 inches in length, is bright yellow and hatches in abundance.  These hatches get so big they have been known to show up on weather maps.  A Hex nymph lives and burrows in the mud bottoms of most ponds and lakes.  When the water temperature hits is right  every Hex nymph then leaves their mud tunnels, rises to the surface, sheds its skin, spends a few seconds drying then lifts off the pond surface into the trees where it completely dries off and strengthens its wings. After a few days, the breeding gene kicks in and the adults perform a pretty cool dance in the sky, mate and then land on pond surface.  The female lays her eggs and then dies and the male just falls from the sky dying as well.   This is known as the spinner fall.  

    Once dead, the bugs float on the pond surface where they are picked off by fish.  Because of their size all fish and birds take advantage of the free meal and use the opportunity to fatten up for the winter months.  Fly fisherman who eagerly await this spectacle are rewarded with caos and fish of unkown sizes hitting their flies. 

    Currently we're at day 4 of the 2017 hatch. Last night I watched 20 plus inch fish come completely out of the water eating these bugs.  I managed to land one 18 plus inch and two smaller brook trout plus miss a dozen or so others before the hatch ended.  it was a long night and today I felt it.  Hopefully I can get enough rest and get after them again tomorrow evening.  For a daily report please see my Facebook page. 

    Bill 

  • Yes, you can fish one fly all season.

    Yes, you can fish one fly all season.

    Last winter I read Fool's Paradise by John Gierach. I won the book at a fundraiser for our local chapter of Trout Unlimited. I really wanted Trout Bum, but a young kid grabbed that first so I ended up with Fool's Paradise instead.  I owe that kid a big thank you because his choice led me on a year long challenge and lesson in fly fishing.  

    In one of the chapters Gierach briefly talks about local waters, boredom and a friend who fished a  Royal Coachman all season long with reasonable success.  It was then I had my A-HA moment and decided on doing the same thing.  For the entire season I was going to fish a hungarian partridge soft hackle.  I immediatley went to my vice and started tying.  Within a few days I had my boxes full of soft hackles from size 12 to 8 with a few bead heads thrown in.   My colors were yellow, green and red bodies.  Hackles were primarily Hungarian partridge and a few pheasant.  By April first I was ready.

    For whatever reason I didnt get out until the first week of May. I went up the Starbuckle Dam at the end of Schroon Lake, made a few casts to shake off the rust and was into a nice brown trout on the 3rd cast.  It was game on after that.  

    For my 50th birthday my lovely wife booked a trip at Tall Timbers Lodge in Pittsburgh NH.  It was the 3rd week of May, snow on the ground, windy cold and cloudy.  The trout were just waking up from their cold winter slumber and I caught them on that fly.  I had a great week and caught a lot fish.  When I returned home UPS delivered my birthday gift to me, a 7.5 ft JP Ross Beaver Meadow 3 wt.  and I caught Adirondack Blue Line Brookies on the same fly.  The Summer Solstice Hex Hatch on Jabe Pond had me catching brookies stripping the soft hackle slowly just under the surface.  Another trip to NH in July had me catching trout and landlocks on the Connecticut and Androscoggin Rivers all with the soft hackle. Finally, just this past week on our yearly trip to the Salmon and Oak Orchard Rivers I caught and hooked up with Kings, Coho's, Chrome and Browns all on soft hackles.

    What I learned about this fly is it is very easy to tie and does not require a lot of materials, just a good Hungarian Partridge cape and yellow, green or red floss. Depending on how it's fished it represents the different stages of flies life cycle. Tie it big enough and you'll catch bass on it as well.

    If you're looking for a challenge next season give the one fly challenge a try and don't rule out the soft hackle I promise it won't disappoint.  Good luck and tight lines.