Search Month: December 2018

Fly Fishing in the Winter — The Go-To Nymphing Rig

I walked to the familiar counter and laid a small bag of orange material among the aged fly fishing stickers covering the coffee stained wooden slab. Seated on a stool, the shop manager looked up from his magazine and over to my bag of orange fluff. Then he slowly brought his gaze up to mine. We made eye contact and he grinned until we both slowly chuckled.

“It’s all you need out there right now,” he said . . .

We watched daylight race the river downstream . . .

We added to the memories of a year gone by. A gray winter day with little sun and a lot of wind provided the last page in a final chapter — the last casts of 2016. And we watched daylight race the river downstream.

The best thing about a float is seeing miles of water as if in one frame. It’s like a filmstrip that you can take out and hold in your mind for a while. If you’ve done this long enough, then every rock around every bend carries a memory. The best island channels hold a group of those stories and offer them up as you float by. It’s a photo album: the river is a flowing film of your best and worst times on the water — moment by moment passing by. And if you’re lucky, you might create a new highlight for the reel . . .

Quick Tips — Squeeze It

With the hand on the cork, squeeze it at the end of the power stroke.

This small squeeze packs a big punch. Casting is most effective with small and crisp motions. And there is power in the squeeze as the rod tip is forced to flex and accelerate even more. Then it abruptly stops.

This simple technique provides the accuracy and power needed for next-level type of fly casting. . . .

A Christmas Story, and a Troutbitten Thank You

Growing up, my wish was not for a Red Rider BB Gun (Ralphie) It was for a flowing trout stream in my backyard. I wanted more trout at the end of my line, but it was more than that, too.

With limited trout fishing opportunities in Armstrong County, Pennsylvania, I’m not quite sure how I attached myself so deliberately to trout fishing. It was a springtime thing for us, mostly. But oh my, the places we would visit. We traveled through the predawn frost over unlined two lane roads, with the steamy scent of Dad’s hot tea filling the warmth of the old Buick. We camped within earshot of the riffles, along small streams in Pennsylvania’s northern tier. And every time we arrived, it felt like someone plugged me back in, like a piece of me was rightfully back in place . . .

We watched daylight race the river downstream . . .

We watched daylight race the river downstream . . .

We added to the memories of a year gone by. A gray winter day with little sun and a lot of wind provided the last page in a final chapter — the last casts of 2016. And we watched daylight race the river downstream.

The best thing about a float is seeing miles of water as if in one frame. It’s like a filmstrip that you can take out and hold in your mind for a while. If you’ve done this long enough, then every rock around every bend carries a memory. The best island channels hold a group of those stories and offer them up as you float by. It’s a photo album: the river is a flowing film of your best and worst times on the water — moment by moment passing by. And if you’re lucky, you might create a new highlight for the reel . . .

Quick Tips — Squeeze It

Quick Tips — Squeeze It

With the hand on the cork, squeeze it at the end of the power stroke.

This small squeeze packs a big punch. Casting is most effective with small and crisp motions. And there is power in the squeeze as the rod tip is forced to flex and accelerate even more. Then it abruptly stops.

This simple technique provides the accuracy and power needed for next-level type of fly casting. . . .

A Christmas Story, and a Troutbitten Thank You

A Christmas Story, and a Troutbitten Thank You

Growing up, my wish was not for a Red Rider BB Gun (Ralphie) It was for a flowing trout stream in my backyard. I wanted more trout at the end of my line, but it was more than that, too.

With limited trout fishing opportunities in Armstrong County, Pennsylvania, I’m not quite sure how I attached myself so deliberately to trout fishing. It was a springtime thing for us, mostly. But oh my, the places we would visit. We traveled through the predawn frost over unlined two lane roads, with the steamy scent of Dad’s hot tea filling the warmth of the old Buick. We camped within earshot of the riffles, along small streams in Pennsylvania’s northern tier. And every time we arrived, it felt like someone plugged me back in, like a piece of me was rightfully back in place . . .

Super-Prime Lies and Big Trout | The Spots within the Spots

Super-Prime Lies and Big Trout | The Spots within the Spots

We talk a lot about big wild brown trout. The search for these extraordinary fish is what keeps us going. It’s part of the Troutbitten culture. And the inch marks of Whiskey (20+) and Namer (24+) are ingrained here. To some of us big fish are everything, but to all of us they are something very special for sure. And targeting super-prime lies is one way to catch these big trout consistently.

I recently wrote about locating and fishing rivers where big trout live. But that’s not nearly enough. To catch the big trout in your rivers, you have to know their specific address and go right through the front door. In every river there are places that harbor larger fish. But the real secrets are inside those places. This is where the true talent and skill of a big-fish angler emerges . . .

Fly Fishing in the Winter — The System

Fly Fishing in the Winter — The System

What follows below is an overview of a winter system. As our winter season progresses, I’ll flush out more of these topics in detail. But here are my methods for catching trout in my favorite season.

I’ve grown to love these bitter months, not only for the solitude and peace beyond the dead end roads, but for the challenge of a different game. And once you dig in, when you spend some time fighting, and you finally gain comfort against the elements, you’ll find a season more predictable than any other. Because winter feeding options are limited for a trout, and the angler may take advantage of that — if he’s persistent.

The rewards for finding a winter fishing system are both high numbers and larger trout. The range for error is wider. It’s harder to hit the mark. But when you do find the target, success flows freely . . .

A Fly Fisher’s Gift Guide — The C&F Chest Patch

A Fly Fisher’s Gift Guide — The C&F Chest Patch

It’s Christmastime. A season where people who love a fly fisher wonder what the heck they could possible buy that might produce a genuine smile on Christmas morning. To the non-angler, all the stuff out there in the garage, in the boxes and tubes, all of the tools, pieces and parts in the dens, bedrooms, studios or man caves is an exhausting mystery.

But I have the solution. There’s one gift that I recommend for any trout angler. I’ve suggested it often, and it never fails. The C&F Chest Patch . . .

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Fishing Alone

Fishing Alone

I swear I fish best when I’m alone. I can’t prove it without a witness, of course, but I guess I don’t care to verify it anyway . . . and that’s the point.

In what seems like another lifetime ago, I fished the mountain streams alone and often, and I miss it now. In daydreams, I sift through memories of small water, the infinite brown-green variations of spruce and ferns, moss and bedrock. I see the variance of shadows oscillating in the wind among tree branches and impeding the passage of sunlight, from the deepest blacks to the hazy flickering shade marbling a maple leaf canvas on the forest floor, with its fresh but dying colors of fall. I miss the brookie streams.

Fishing mountain water is how I first defined my fishing self, and I long for that adventure and discovery again. I guess I stopped fishing the mountain water once my life became more about other people and less about me: marriage, a real job, kids. I had more time before all that, more days for dedicating to the miles and efforts it takes to reach lonesome places, to fish a while and then just walk back out . . .

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A Fly Fisher’s Gift Guide — Troutbitten’s Favorite Books

A Fly Fisher’s Gift Guide — Troutbitten’s Favorite Books

I still get excited about a new fishing book. And I trust that will never change. After all these years, I still look forward to shedding the dust cover, stressing the binding and digging in. Whether it’s tactics or stories doesn’t matter. If it’s a book about a life on the water, I’ll give it a look.

My uncle taught me to fish, to read water and find trout, to explore — to get away — and to enjoy fishing for more than just catching a trout. We fished bait. Mostly fathead minnows. And what I absorbed in those young years were the largest building blocks for any angler. I learned to love the river and feel at home there. And without that, the books that I later picked up would have felt like a foreign thing, like fiction, a tall tale, or like some branch of mysterious and inaccessible science.

Years later, my early tutelage into fly fishing came not through a personal mentor, but through two key books. (I’ll list them below.) And it was the enlightenment of those works that served as the gateway into so much of what has shaped my life to this day.

The words in a good book — the shared ideas — can change lives. And I’ve always wanted to be part of that, to pass on what I too have discovered, both technically and in experiential form . . .

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How to pee with your waders on

How to pee with your waders on

That extra morning coffee you drank on the way to the river, the auxiliary ounces you used to fight off the sleepyhead before dawn, it now settles into your bladder and brings on the urge about fifteen minutes after you finally wade into the water and start fishing.

The thing is, how to take a leak streamside isn’t real obvious to most anglers. It’s the waders. No, actually it’s the suspenders. That’s where the trouble starts. But here’s a trick . . .

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What happened to Laurel Run? The story of a stocked trout stream and a fisherman

What happened to Laurel Run? The story of a stocked trout stream and a fisherman

. . . Laurel Run was heavily stocked with trout in those days. The arrival of the big white trucks was an event in itself, and each year we volunteered to float-stock the forested section between road crossings. If it wasn’t float-stocked, all the hatchery plants sent by the state to Laurel Run ended up at the bridges, making an artificial situation seem even more counterfeit.

I didn’t think of it as fake or artificial back then. It was just trout fishing. It was part of my Pennsylvania surroundings, and a place where the water remained cool enough for trout all summer long. But the raised PH level from acid mine drainage made the cool water insignificant for the reproduction of wild trout.

So we float-stocked it, and through the middle of May, the fishing was always good. A couple weekends into trout season, most fishermen accepted the deadbeat line that Laurel Run was “fished out.” But that’s just when the fishing got interesting . . .

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Streamer Presentations — The Head Flip

Streamer Presentations — The Head Flip

. . . At close range, Bill flipped the streamer’s head by lifting the rod tip and dramatically changing the angle — so the streamer head followed. At long range, Bill mended the line to force the head flip. And that day, his head flip drew one strike after another. It’s like the trout were just waiting for it.

When a streamer changes positions in the water, it draws attention. In fact, the head flip is the most reliable trigger in my arsenal of streamer tricks . . .

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