Wednesday, April 29, 2015

The Highly Acclaimed Black Ghost Streamer Fly

Black Ghost fly tied by Doug Stewart
In the late 1920’s, streamer fly fishing in America had its early beginnings in the state of Maine. Local fly tiers began to develop bait fish patterns to fish for trout and landlocked salmon in lakes. Initially, their patterns were not fancy, but as time passed, more elaborate flies began to appear. One of the first and most basic renditions was the Black Ghost, developed by Herbert Welch in 1927. This feather wing fly is most effective on darker days or when the water is off color. 

Streamers have been noted for catching larger fish by using a variety of strips and pulls. Erratic strips can indicate an injured fish and will also produce aggressive takes. This method can be used effectively in tailwater fisheries as many small fish can become disorientated, stunned or killed below the spillway. A popular lake method is trolling the fly. 

Hook:  No. 36890 Mustad, sizes 6-2
Thread:  3/0 black
Tail:  Yellow hackle fibers
Body:  Black floss and medium flat silver tinsel
Throat:  Yellow hackle
Wing:  2 white saddle feathers, tied streamer style
Cheeks:  Jungle Cock nails or substitutes

Step 1. Tie in the tail and attach the floss and tinsel. 

Step 2. Wrap the floss up to 3/16 inch from the eye. 
Follow with 6 to eight turns of tinsel and tie off. 

Step 3. Tie in the throat and prepare the feather wings for application. 

Step 4. Tie in the wings not to exceed 3/4 inches behind the hook. 
Tie in the Jungle Cock nails on each side of the hook and complete the head.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Baking Fish with Aluminum Foil

Nothing tastes better than cooking and eating fish on a fly fishing trip. The following method is how I like to cook mine. This particular fish is a Sockeye Salmon, one of the most savory of all.  

Ready for the oven
Clean your 8 to 10 pound fish and then cut the head and tail off. To aid in the baking process, spread mayonnaise inside the body cavity and around the rest of the fish. Then, sprinkle the cavity and sides of the fish with salt, pepper, Johnny’s Seasoning Salt, and any other seasoning you like to use. Dice onions and green peppers and scatter them inside the cavity and around both sides of the fish. Bacon bits, mushrooms and pineapple pieces can be added as well.

Next, tear off enough aluminum foil to double wrap the fish. After you wrap the fish with foil, place it in an oven, under a barbecue hood or over hot coals. Bake the fish at 350 degrees in an oven for about an hour. Let it bake for approximately 1/2 hour and then turn the fish over to the other side for another 1/2 hour. Check to see if the fish is done. The meat should flake off easily with a fork. If it doesn't, turn the fish over again and bake it for an additional 10 to 15 minutes. The cooking time will vary with the size of the fish. 

Fish baked and ready to eat.

Stewart's Fish Sandwich recipe:

An extra meal can be derived from the leftovers. Separate the meat and other edibles from the skin and bones. Mix them up thoroughly in a bowl with mayonnaise. Put the mixture between two pieces of bread and you’ve got a delicious Stewart fish sandwich. 

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Weathering the Storm on Henry's Lake

arial view of Henry's Lake in Idaho
Henry's Lake, Idaho
When you are fishing a lake from a floating device, it’s important to pay attention to the possibility of a freak storm in order to avoid a potential calamity. Such a situation occurred to my buddy Rob and me at Henry's Lake in Idaho some years ago. It is a shallow, natural alpine lake that harbors large Brook trout, Yellowstone cutthroat and rainbow/cutthroat hybrids. Fish from 5 to 7 pounds were available, so we were eager to try out our luck.

The proprietor of the lodge urged us to rent a boat because the fishing had been excellent. However, we had some concern about the storm clouds that were building up in the west. He said not to worry about sudden squalls because they usually blew themselves out. We were somewhat suspect of his advice, but because of his assurance we rented a boat. As we headed to a hotspot called the Springs, we noticed numerous boats heading back to the lodge. Since it was close to noon, we assumed they were returning for lunch. This was a careless assumption.

We anchored up and began to catch some nice fish using olive marabou streamers. Then, after 20 minutes, dark ominous clouds started to darken the sky and we began to get nervous. Panic took hold of us as the wind began to pick up and the choppy water turned into four foot swells. We pulled anchor, fired up the motor and headed for the boat ramp. Luckily, Rob was able to quarter the big waves even as water was filling up the boat. As we neared the shore, we could see the proprietor and numerous people observing us with binoculars.

Finally, after 20 harrowing minutes, Rob maneuvered the boat to the dock. We stormed up to the proprietor and asked him why he had allowed us to venture out with a storm approaching. “Boys,” he said with some concern, “sometimes the weather is a bit unpredictable around here, but you don’t have to worry too much. If you guys went down we were going to mark the spot!” We were stunned by that remark and considered a stern response. However, we realized that arguing might have escalated the confrontation, so we left feeling lucky to be alive.

In hindsight we learned a good lesson and understood that most people have good intentions, but when a fee is involved, they sometimes put financial gain over better judgment.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

The Unheralded Bluegill

Drawing by Doug Stewart of Bluegill feeding in reed beds.
Bluegills are good biters and strong fighters, and pound for pound they are considered to be better than some larger fish. According to some anglers this small, feisty panfish is no better than a scrap fish, but this is a gross misconception. They are very savory and provide uncrowded opportunities for people who don’t want to travel far to have fun catching fish. Perhaps the best thing they provide is an ideal opportunity for kids to start fishing with success. A ragged fly from a fly box or some rejected patterns from the vice will work, as well as fly rod poppers, crappie jigs and artificial worms dangling from a bobber.

Bluegill, also called Copperbellies, are ubiquitous and can be found in small ponds, lakes and streams. They have a high tolerance for surviving in lakes and rivers that lack quality water, and unlike other species, they can withstand intense fishing pressure. They prefer areas with vegetation where they can be hidden and close to food sources. During the day they will head for deeper water, but will return to shallower water in the evening to feed. They are most vulnerable in the spring when they are spawning and guarding their nests. At this time of year, they’ll attack anything that comes close to their area. An artificial fly is no exception.

Small flies, size 10-12, with color combinations of red, white, black and yellow seem to work best. Size 8-12 fly patterns that also work well are hoppers, crickets, humpies and foam-bodied flies. Streamers such as Spruce flies and Muddlers, and wet flies like soft hackles are also very effective.

Many methods of fishing will attract them, using a variety of strips and pauses. Since they are relatively slow swimmers, reduce the speed of the retrieve. You can get closer to them than many other fish.

The tackle doesn’t have to be elaborate. Any light action 6 to 8 1/2 foot rod with a 4 to 5 weight line is adequate. Bluegills are not leader shy, so 7 1/2 foot leaders with 2X to 3X tippits can be used.

Fishing for Bluegill and other spiny rays is a fun and productive sport, so if you want a pleasant respite from other types of fishing, go catch some Copperbellies and take a kid with you.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

The Bear and the Big Trout

Santiam River in Oregon
Here is a story that I'm still half-miffed about. I was a Boy Scout in Troup 138 and learned a lot from our camping trips. The one that I recall the most was our annual outdoor trip to the Santiam River. I was one of the few who had a fishing rod, and I knew how to fish because my dad taught me. One day, after our morning chores and activities were done, I went fishing and caught a dozen trout with one of them at least 18 inches. At that time it was the biggest trout that I had ever caught. I was proud of my catch, so I placed them on top of a table, carefully laying them out in order with the big one in the middle.

When I arose the next morning to my chagrin the large fish was missing. I was fit to be tied! My buddies said that a bear must have taken it, but even as a kid I knew better. I knew that one of them was the culprit and it wasn’t the Scout Master. That episode was long forgotten until some 30 years later when I ran into my old buddy Joel at a college reunion. As we began to recall the good old days, the subject of camping and fishing came up and it brought back memories. I asked Joel if he remembered our trip to the Santiam River when someone stole that big fish I caught?

Joel kind of chuckled a little and said, “Oh yeah. That was the time the bear ate your fish.”

I looked at him with a scowl and said, “Joel, that’s a bunch of malarkey. A bear would have eaten all of them, not just the big one!”

He suddenly started laughing and said, “Doug, I was the one who took your fish!”

Well, I had the urge to ring his neck, but as the old saying goes, “Time heals all wounds,” and we shook hands and continued to reminisce about the old days. However, even after more than sixty years, I’m still a little miffed about that incident.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Solving the Krystal Flash Dilemma

How to keep Krystal Flash Under Control.
Unraveling Krystal Flash from its package and then replacing it can become an annoying job because the fibers usually get tangled up in the process. Here's a simple way to keep it under control at all times.  

Cut out a small notch from the bottom of the bag and then pull out the approximate number of strands that you want to use. A toothpick can be used for this procedure. If you do not use all of the Krystal Flash fibers that you take out of the bag, just tape them to the outside of the bag for future use. Do not try to stuff unused or clipped ends back into the bag. 

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Rock Creek Reservoir Yearly Outing

Rock Creek Reservoir in March.
My wife Marsha and I decided to go fly fishing with other Northwest Flyfishers on the annual trip to Rock Creek Reservoir. Rock Creek is a 15 acre lake in the Mt. Hood National Forest and has an average depth of 8 feet. It has stocked rainbows, bass, bluegill and some large brood trout. The lake is surrounded by pine trees and a good hiking trail around the shoreline that is relatively free of brush.  

We rigged up our outfits and tied on black and olive woolly buggers that we hoped would fool some fish. Both wet and dry lines are productive. Line selection will depend on the water conditions and the surface or underwater activity. The wind was blowing directly into our faces at 12 to 15 miles per hour which made casting difficult. In order to shoot the line out, we had to wait for the lulls, make quick casts and keep the line at a low angle as we stripped the line back. 

Stan with his whopper.
After an hour of fruitless effort, we took a break to see if anyone in our group had any success. Some anglers had a few takes, but Stan was the lucky fly fisher. He had lost one, hooked a few and caught one whopper trout which was close to twenty inches. 
Marsha enjoying the outing.
Most of the club members fished from boats or flotation devices. We decided to fish from the bank which was very accessible. Marsha hadn't fly fished for years; however, fly fishing is like riding a bicycle--once you learn how, you never forget! Her favorite cast was the roll cast because of the trees and brush. 

Cleaning up after lunch.
We didn't catch any fish but we enjoyed the fishing, hiking, camaraderie and lunch put on by the club cooks, Dan and Zach, and Judy’s awesome brownies.  
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