Night Shift – Breaking the Ice

by | Jan 22, 2015 | 2 comments

I’ve been fishing in the dark two other times since my last Night Shift report, and on each of those trips I experienced limited zero success. I knew that winter night fishing was going to beat me up and test my resolve, however, it’s been even slower than I expected; but then last night I was rewarded with a little action.

No surprises here, but I believe water temps to be the main problem for the huge slow down that has happened in the winter. I’ve night fished waters with temps of 34-36 degrees in the last few weeks, and each time I’ve had no action at all. Last night, I returned to a confidence stretch for me — a piece of water that I know very, very well and where I’ve had good success at night before — and I hooked a few fish. I went there because I knew the water temp should be 40 or above, and I was right. It was 41 degrees around 11:00 pm.

wpid-20150121_195223.jpg

One of the primary reasons that I love living in this area is that I’m surrounded by limestone waters. Many of the streams in this region are heavily influenced by limestone springs, and in addition to the favorable PH and fertility that the limestone provides, the springs also distribute the water into the creeks at a fairly constant temperature, keeping them cool in the summertime, and relatively ice free in even the most biting winter conditions — usually. The issue this winter has been very low water combined with temperatures that bottom out in the single digits and rarely break the freezing point in the afternoon. Those frigid air temps cool the water as it flows downstream, and without the influx of enough warm spring water coming out of the ground, I’ve seen shelf ice in places where I never have encountered it before.

I’ve mentioned that my primary method for night fishing has become swinging large wet flies and sometimes streamers. I’ve dabbled with upstream presentations, but I found it difficult to maintain the necessary contact to get a good drift and detect a strike because I simply couldn’t see the line. Well, Sloop John B gave me a Rio Lumalux line and it is a game changer! I’ve experimented for a couple years now with glowing things attached to the leader, just to lend a reference point of what is going on with my line out there, and some of those ideas have worked really well. I had previously settled on a very small piece of glowing  macrame yarn attached in a method that we at Troutbitten simple call The Dorsey (very similar to THIS), but once I got the Lumalux, I realized what an enormous difference it makes in a night presentation.

The only real problem with the Lumalux is that it is a fly line. I know that sounds odd, but while a fly line is great for the downstream swinging of wets and streamers that I use so often in the dark, it’s not the best tool for upstream presentations. I’m a nymph fisherman at heart, and ninety percent of the time I fish nymphs upstream with a long leader and no fly line out of my guides. There are numerous reasons why this is advantageous, but it’s too much to get into right here. Most of you are probably familiar with euro-nymphing or tight-lining styles anyway, and that’s my rig for daytime fishing. Especially now that the temps have bottomed out on my favorite waters to night fish, I feel like I need to get my flies down through the water column more, and perhaps slow down the pace. I want to give the flies more time on the bottom; I feel an upstream approach could open some doors for me at night, and I’ve come up with something to help with that — a night-sighter.

Last night was the second time I used the night-sighter, and after a couple of other tries at developing a sighter for night fishing in the last two years, I’m positive that I’m on to something good here. I’ll probably detail the night-sighter in a later post, but basically I hacked off twenty inches of the running line back end of the Lumalux and made a glowing sighter out of it. This allows me to fish my normal long-leader nymphing rig at night, upstream, with contact, visibility and control.

wpid-20150121_2144232.jpg.jpeg

I hooked a few fish last night; all on the night-sighter rig, but in three different ways. I found one fish while nymphing the bottom with a stonefly pattern, one while slowly and rhythmically hopping a big Bugger on the bottom, and one while extending the drift, then letting the flies swing up off the bottom and downstream of me (that fish hit a Governor wet fly on a tag). Common theme = bottom.

I’ve accepted that it’s usually going to be slow on winter nights, but it’s a whole new ballgame with the night-sighter rig and an upstream approach. Can’t wait to see what happens next.

No matter what, it’s just magnificent out there — an immense, eerie beauty radiating from the local globe of known space, existing and traveling forever into the night.


As always, if you’d like to talk night fishing sometime, please don’t hesitate to drop me a line, and we’ll share ideas.

 

Enjoy the day.
Domenick Swentosky
T R O U T B I T T E N
domenick@troutbitten.com

Share This Article . . .

Since 2014 and 600 articles deep
Troutbitten is a free resource for all anglers
Your support is greatly appreciated

– Explore These Post Tags –

Domenick Swentosky

Central Pennsylvania

Hi. I’m a father of two young boys, a husband, author, fly fishing guide and a musician. I fish for wild brown trout in the cool limestone waters of Central Pennsylvania year round. This is my home, and I love it. Friends. Family. And the river.

More from this Category

Eat a Trout Once in a While

Eat a Trout Once in a While

I stood next to him on the bank, and I watched my uncle kneel in the cold riffle. Water nearly crested the tops of his hip waders while he adjusted and settled next to the flat sandstone rock that lay between us. He pulled out the Case pocket knife again, as he’d done every other time that I’d watched this fascinating process as a young boy.

“Hand me the biggest one,” my uncle said, with his arm outstretched and his palm up.

So I looked deep into my thick canvas creel for the first trout I’d caught that morning. Five trout lay in the damp creel. I’d rapped each of them on the skull after beaching them on the bank, right between the eyes, just as I’d been taught — putting a clean end to a trout’s life. I handed the rainbow trout to my uncle and smiled with enthusiasm . . .

Eggs and Olives

Eggs and Olives

The early spring season is very much defined by the resurgence of the egg pattern. And by the time the suckers are done doing their thing, our hatch season is in full swing. Then, just like that, the egg bite turns off. Suddenly the trout favor mayfly and caddis imitations over the full-color egg options.

But as reliable as the egg bite can be in early spring, you don’t want to sleep on the Olives . . .

Local Knowledge

Local Knowledge

You know the water level, clarity, the hatches, weather and more. That’s great. But local conditions are different from local knowledge. Here’s what I mean . . .

Tight Line Nymphing — Contact Can Be Felt at the Rod Tip

Tight Line Nymphing — Contact Can Be Felt at the Rod Tip

. . . But Smith had also drawn out of me one thing that I’d never fully put into words before explaining it to him. Namely, that contact is felt as much as it’s seen. While tight line nymphing, I’d told Smith, an advanced angler can feel contact with the nymph on the rod tip. Essentially, you could very well fish with your eyes closed. And because Smith was skeptical, I’d suggested some after-dark tight line nymphing as a way to prove to my friend that he could feel that contact just as well as anyone . . .

What Are You Working On?

What Are You Working On?

It’s a question I ask of my friends and those whom I’ve just met. What are you working on? Because, whether we realize it or not, we’re all working on something.

“What do you do for a living?” is a common small-talk question. But I don’t ask that one much. I save it for later. What do you love? What are you passionate about? And what are you working on? Those are the more interesting queries that get to the core of each person.

So I’ve asked these questions for years. And it surprises me how often the answer is a blank stare. Some people simply don’t know what they love — yet. And that’s alright. Maybe they’re still searching for some passion in life. But inevitably, it’s those who light up with enthusiasm that I connect with. Tell me what you’re into. The topic hardly matters. I can listen for hours to someone who knows their craft from every angle, who understands what they love, why they care about it and what they plan to learn next.

Hardbody

Hardbody

I was driving a small Nissan pickup, halfway down a steep and rocky logging road, somewhere in the Pennsylvania backcountry. The truck crept down a small boulder field of mixed slate and sandstone. And the frame held solid while the suspension complained against larger obstacles. . . . That perfect, hour-long slow climb down a tram road and into the Fields Run valley was the beginning of a wonderful, memorable adventure . . .

What do you think?

Be part of the Troutbitten community of ideas.
Be helpful. And be nice.

2 Comments

  1. I like the night fishing reports ! It is something I am interested in and you do a good job explaing different methods. Have you tried to use glow in the dark flashabou. You could potentially make a siter out of it or even put it on top of a large dry fly and fish dry dropper.

    Reply
    • Thanks Bill! I never tried the glow-in-the-dark flashabou, but I may look in to it. I’ve used glow tubing, glow Thingamambobbers, and my favorite, glow macrame yarn. I’ve put the yarn on top of a mouse pattern before. It was fun to fish.

      Reply

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recent Articles

Recent Posts

Domenick Swentosky

Central Pennsylvania

Hi. I’m a father of two young boys, a husband, author, fly fishing guide and a musician. I fish for wild brown trout in the cool limestone waters of Central Pennsylvania year round. This is my home, and I love it. Friends. Family. And the river.

Pin It on Pinterest