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Readers’ Showcase, Gear & Gadgets & More!

MAY/JULY 2010 $7.95

Skeena Spring Steelhead Secrets y d n u F f o How to Get Atlantics on Dries Bay Droppers Made Easy Wade Like a Ninja

s r e p Stri

Chasing

The Bulls Tying: Traditional Hopper Patterns, Component Tube Flies

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Volume 12 • Issue 2 May/August 2010

Contents Spring Steelhead on the Skeena

20

The Sainte-Marguerite River

28

Bay of Fundy Stripers

40

The Char of Payne River

46

Atlantic Salmon on the Dry

52

Wade Like a Ninja

56

Chasing Bulls

64

Droppers Made Easy

By Chad Black Techniques for targeting steelhead in northern B.C.

By Thibaut Millet Where and how to fish for sea-run brook trout on this legendary Quebec river.

14

By Perry Monroe Yes! There’s fabulous striped bass fishing on Canada’s East Coast.

By Randy Taylor Trip of a lifetime Arctic char fishing in Ungava.

By Paul Marriner Floating fly techniques from this East Coast salmon expert.

40

By Bob Sheedy Lessons in stealthy wading from the youngsters of the Canadian National Youth Fly Fishing Team.

By Jim McLennan One of Alberta’s top guns shares his secrets for connecting with bull trout.

By Ian Colin James An Ontario premier guide and master fly tyer shows how to rig and fish more than one fly at a time.

46 Cover: Jim McLennan Photo

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THE CANADIAN FLY FISHER • MAY/JULY 2010

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features

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regular columns

By Nancy Cairns

12 Casting with Bill:

20

The Roll Cast By Bill Spicer

4 Editorial 7 Potpourri By Paul Marriner 8 Nancy’s News

19 Memorial:

T om Bird Remembered By Rory E. Glennie

32 Top Guide Spotlight: K  en Chandler By Nick Pujic

34 Readers’ Showcase 61 CFF Recommended

66 Gear and Gadgets 68 Wandering Aengus:

20

Guides

Early Bird By Anneli Purchase

fly tying 36

Component Tube Flies

62

The Leggy Letort Hopper

12

By Steve May

By Sheldon Seale

36

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Editorial

BY CHRIS MARSHALL

While it’s not been a particularly hard winter in most parts of Canada, fly fishers (except those fortunate enough to live on the balmy West Coast) are eagerly looking forward to enjoying spring out on the water. For some of us, this will involve taking youngsters with us in the hope that they will come to share our passion for fly fishing.

CHRIS MARSHALL

“

He became increasingly stubborn and restless and, ­consequently, totally

Teaching youngsters to fly fish and watching them embrace the sport can be a delight, but it’s not always as easy as we might have hoped. Although teens and pre-teens can be frustrating at times, they’re physically and mentally mature enough to follow instruction and learn quickly—provided they develop sufficient interest. But with youngsters under ten it’s a much more demanding task. They’re usually enthusiastic at the prospect, but their frequently short attention span and still developing sense of manual coordination can be a challenge, and it’s all too easy, in our eagerness for them to learn, to make the mistake of pushing them too far and too fast. For those of you intending to take youngsters out on the water for the first time, I’d like to share my experience attempting to teach my youngest son 30 years ago when he was seven. I fell into the trap. He was much more interested in the stream and the creatures which lived under stones on the bottom than in learning to fly fish. As I tried to guide his hand through casting and drifting a wet fly downstream, his attention invariably and quickly shifted to the stream bed at his feet, looking for sculpins, crayfish, and various invertebrates (“water wickies” he called them) disturbed by our wading. He became increasingly stubborn and restless and, consequently, totally unteachable. Eventually, I reluctantly let him go his own way, armed with an aquarium net and a white plastic dish in which to keep and examine his catch. After that he was happy to accompany me and occasionally pick up a rod for a few casts to humour me, but he never did take up the sport, although he did maintain an interest in aquatic creatures well into his teens. Then, a couple of years ago, I was given a second chance when I took my eldest granddaughter (aged six) to the river and let her reel in a few panfish and immature smallmouths. That was it—no pressure, no relentless teaching—just a short session filled with fun. Maybe she’ll catch the joy— maybe not, but I’m letting her take her time and do her own thing. Perhaps this time the outcome will be different. B

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introducing the new OPTi

switch style. PRO TESTIMONIAL Loop rod & line designer and Las Buitreras camp manager Klaus Frimor on the new OPTi Switch Style/ X-Grip:

“When we started the construction of the Switch Style rod the goal was to build a rod with a relatively short length and light line class, that could cast like a real double-hand rod. It turned out better than we had hoped! Many Switch rods on the market present as good-casting single-hand rods, but buckle in the mid-section when power is applied with a twohand cast. Avoiding this common problem became a large part of the design. It used to be that this ‘1 1/2-rod combination’ gave the worst from both the single- and double-hand casting and fishing perspectives. The Opti Switch has melted the best of both into one delightful rod!”

The OPTi Switch Style comes with the hexagonal X-grip handle and is built with the new durable cross weave technology. It is available in two models: 10’7”-4 pcs for line #6 and #8.

OUTDOOR SPORT CANADA 1033 Pattullo Ave. Unit 11 Woodstock, Ontario N4V 1C8 Tel: (519) 533-6164 E-mail: info@outdoorsportcanada.com Web: www.outdoorsportcanada.com


Éditorial

VOLUME 12 - ISSUE 2 MAY/AUGUST 2010 PUBLISHER Albion Enterprises EDITOR Chris Marshall GENERAL SALES MANAGER Nancy Cairns MARKETING AND SALES REPRESENTATIVE Neil Houlding ASSOCIATE EDITOR Paul Marriner FIELD EDITORS:

Brian Chan, Rory Glennie, Duncan Hardie, Don MacLean, Jim McLennan, Thibaut Millet, Thomas Porter, Duane Radford, Bob Sheedy, Scott Earl Smith, A.J. Somerset, April Vokey Saltwater: Duncan Hardie Tying: Sheldon Seale EDITORIAL ASSISTANT Willow Hales CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS Glen Hales, Marcel Saring, Mark Krupa, Rob O’Reilly CONTRIBUTING ARTISTS:

Allan Hassall, Jim Wenger, Charles Weiss, Richard Vandermeer OPERATIONS MANAGER Liz Marshall ACCOUNTS & IT MANAGER Jason Marshall WEB PORTAL NPPL Group Inc. ART DIRECTOR Jozef VanVeenen PRINTING Tech Web HEAD OFFICE

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Annually - CDN. $25.95 (Includes GST) US $32.00 USD Articles, news items, and tips are invited from freelance writers, anglers, or by any other interested parties. Please include postage for return of photos, slides, or other materials. The Canadian Fly Fisher cannot be held responsible for lost items. The Canadian Fly Fisher is sold in fly fishing shops and retail outlets across Canada and in the United States. Published quarterly by Albion Enterprises Ltd. All facts, opinions, and statements appearing within this publication are those of the writers, and are in no way to be construed as statements, positions, or endorsements. No part of this publication can be reproduced in any manner without the written consent of the publisher. Albion Enterprises Ltd. and The Canadian Fly Fisher are not affiliated with the Federation of Fly Fishers or Fly Fisher magazine.

L’hiver n’a pas été particulièrement rude au Canada cette année, ce qui n’empêche pas les pêcheurs à la mouche d’attendre avec impatience le printemps (à part peut-être les chanceux qui résident sur la douce Côte Ouest). Pour de nombreux d’entre nous, ces plans incluent d’emmener des jeunes avec nous, dans l’espoir de nourrir une passion pour la pêche à la mouche. L’enseignement de la pêche aux jeunes, et le spectacle de leur progrès est une plaisante expérience, mais tout n’est pas toujours aussi facile. Bien que les adolescents et enfants représentent parfois un défi, leur maturité physique et mentale leur permet de suivre des instructions et d’apprendre rapidement – à condition d’en avoir l’intérêt. En revanche, les jeunes enfants de moins de 10 ans représentent un défi particulier. Ils sont habituellement très enthousiastes, mais leur capacité d’attention est réduite et leur coordination manuelle toujours en apprentissage. Il est malheureusement facile de faire l’erreur de les pousser trop vite et trop loin, dans notre élan de bonne volonté. Pour ceux d’entre vous qui prévoient d’emmener des jeunes au bord de l’eau pour la première fois, j’aimerais partager mon expérience vécue il y a environ 30 ans, lorsque j’essayais d’enseigner la pêche à mon jeune fils, alors à l’âge de sept ans. Je suis tombé dans le panneau. Il était plus intéressé par la rivière et les créatures vivant sous les rochers au fond de l’eau que par la pêche proprement dite. J’essayais de le guider dans le lancer et la dérive d’une mouche noyée. Mais son attention était invariablement attirée par le fond de l’eau sous ses pieds, par les écrevisses, chabots et invertébrés divers que nous dérangions en marchant dans l’eau (les « bestioles dans l’eau », comme il les appelait). Il est devenu de plus en plus têtu et agité, et par conséquent, peu réceptif à l’enseignement. Finalement, je me suis résolu à le laisser faire, armé d’une épuisette d’aquarium et d’un bocal en plastique dans lequel il pouvait observer ses captures. Par la suite, il était heureux de me suivre au bord de l’eau, réalisant parfois quelques lancers pour me faire plaisir. Mais il n’a jamais réellement pratiqué notre sport, bien qu’il ait maintenu un intérêt pour les créatures aquatiques comme adolescent. Finalement, il y a environ deux ans, j’ai eu une seconde chance lorsque j’ai eu l’occasion d’emmener ma petite-fille de 6 ans au bord de l’eau. Elle put ainsi capturer quelques poissons blancs et petits achigans immatures. C’était tout : pas de pression, pas d’enseignement intensif, juste une brève session de pêche remplie de plaisir. Peut-être qu’elle y prendra goût – ou peut-être pas – mais je la laisse prendre son temps et faire ses choses. L’issue en sera peut-être différente, cette fois. B

ISSN 1496-1717 Canadian Mail Publication Agreement #41194528 PAP #10598 We acknowledge the financial support of the Government of Canada through the Publication Assistance Program (PAP) and the Canada Magazine Fund toward our mailing costs and project costs. Nous reconnaissons le soutien financier du gouvernement du Canada pour nos coûts d’envoi postal et à ce projet par l’entremise du Programme d’aide aux publications (PAP) et du Fonds du Canada pour les magazines. D

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173 JEFFREY DRIVE BOX 5271, R.R. 5 TRENTON, ONTARIO K8V 5P8 (613) 392-5629 Cell. (613) 503-1210 info@tikit.ca • w w w.tikit.ca

THE CANADIAN FLY FISHER • MAY/JULY 2010

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Potpourri

BY PAUL MARRINER

Rope-a-dub-dub

PAUL MARRINER

Nearly ten years ago, Don Ordes introduced a dubbing method to members of a fly tying e-mail list. At the time, I wasn’t particularly impressed, but recently took a second look. The occasion was Don’s announcement of an instructional DVD. Most dubbing techniques involve getting the material to adhere to, or be twisted with, the tying thread. Two examples are a dubbing loop and touching small quantities of material to thread coated with a sticky dubbing wax. With these and other methods, adjusting the material on the thread to alter the amount at any point is difficult or impossible. Don’s method is called “rope dubbing” and it creates a wrapped “noodle” that can be easily repositioned on the thread.

Stripped to its skivvies, the technique begins with taking a “ball” of dubbing, teasing out a small “point,” then tying that to the hook. Next, pull out a length of thread and drape the bobbin over your left hand (lefties excepted!). Now begin rotating the dubbing around the thread using the fingers of both hands. The idea is to get the dubbing to rotate around the thread without twisting the thread. Don calls it a “stationary core technique.” At first, the lefthand fingers are used primarily to prevent the “rope” from undoing, but with a little practice both hands quickly get into the act. While all types of thread can be used, some make the job easier. Examples are monofilament, wire, or gel-spun polyethylene. However, I had no difficulty rope dubbing on UNI-Thread. Although Don suggests that any type of dubbing material is suitable, natural seal won’t co-operate for me—Don demos with artificial seal substitute. Otherwise though, I successfully “roped” a half-dozen mixed natural and artificial types including the often difficult to handle chopped strands of flash material. Combining natural materials such as peacock herl and a hackle feather is particularly easy and when tied on wire produce a practically tooth-proof body. Don has demonstrated the method at numerous fly fishing shows and events during the past few years, typically to rave reviews. Featuring twenty-four tying sequences with a variety of materials, the video shows the method in far greater detail than my description. It’s Don’s first attempt at video production, so there are a few rough edges, but nothing that impedes the instructional sequences. You’ll find complete 1-866-991-0287 purchase information at his Web site, www. fantasyflies.com.

Spinning Deer Hair

Continuing with the fly tying motif is a brief note about choosing deer hair for spinning. While one can find numerous short fly tying videos on the Web, one lasting nearly forty minutes is unusual. Kelly Galloup’s Zoo Cougar (www.theweeklyfly.com/index.php/ TheWeeklyFly/2009/08/03/kelly-galloup-szoo-cougar-37-59) is worth the time. In addition to the referenced deer hair segment, Kelly offers a number of other tying tips that you’ll almost certainly find useful, including the right way to cut solid hair such as squirrel. You might even be inclined to try the pattern, one that he considers among his best designs.

A Light in the Dark

Some years ago a companion and I struggled to get back from the river after dark. Cigarette lighters did a lousy job of trying to find the path as we stumbled through the brush. It hasn’t happened since, because I’ve made a Petzl Tikka headlamp my fishing companion. This little lamp also saves on trying to hold a penlight in my teeth while tying on a fresh fly in the dusk. Longtime readers will remember I’ve recommended a Tikka in these pages before, as well as in my Stillwater Fly Fishing: Tools & Tactics. For the previously unconvinced or upgrade candidates, Petzl has recently introduced the Tikka2 XP. Added features include a tiltable head, which enables you to keep the light on the path while looking out for low-hanging branches (as well as keep the fly in the right section of bifocals!), an adjustable narrow/wide beam, red lighting to preserve night vision, three levels of intensity (maximum, economical, and

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SQUIRREL TAIL FLY PATTERNS

I originally planned to show a rope-dubbed pattern, but once completed they look like flies tied with other methods. Instead, I’ll feature a style of fly that highlights how designs are heavily influenced regionally by easily available local materials. This seems particularly apropos, as this morning (as I write) Nancy and I had the “fun” of chasing down a squirrel which had found its way into our front room. “Pine Squirrel” is the common name for squirrels of the genus Tamiasciurus. Atlantic Canada’s version is a small member of the species T. hudsonicus (American Red Squirrel). Locally abundant, they’re used to wing a wide variety of trout and Atlantic salmon patterns (see the Zoo Cougar video for a recommended tie-in technique). A simple thread-bodied pattern, much like the MacIntosh (see my Atlantic salmon on a dry feature in this issue of The Canadian Fly Fisher), is a favourite of one of my tying companions, and it catches plenty of trout each season. Another pattern that, when sized appropriately, will serve for both trout and salmon is the Yellow Hackle Squirrel Tail. The following example was tied by Bryant Freeman of Eskape Anglers (www.eskapeanglers.com). It was a favourite of his father, Lew Freeman, a celebrated salmon fishing guide on Nova Scotia’s Medway River.

RECIPE Hook: Standard dry fly, sized for trout or salmon Thread: Black 8/0 UNI-Thread Tail: Golden pheasant tippet fibres Body: Peacock herl Wing: Pine squirrel Hackle: Yellow flashing), as well as an emergency whistle built into the head-strap adjuster. To get a complete rundown of features, specs, and other models, visit www.petzl.com/us/ outdoor/headlamps/tikka2-/-zipka2-series/ tikka-xp. B

THE CANADIAN FLY FISHER • MAY/JULY 2010

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Nancy’s News

BY NANCY CAIRNS

The 2010 Grand River Spey Clave By Mike Wencel

Long casts, Scottish heritage lurking in the air, and Speyniacs lining the banks of the Grand River can only mean one thing, the 2010 Grand River Spey Clave. With over 250 people attending last year’s event, Randy Wilson, event organizer, has put together a spectacular lineup for this year’s clave. Instructors will include Gordon Macleod, Rick Kustich, Francois Blanchette, Neil Houlding, Courtney Ogilvie, Peter Charles, Marty Tannahill, Larry Halyk, and Doug Swift (free single hand casting). The clave will take place again at Bean Park located in Paris, Ontario on June 26th, 2010 from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. A free barbeque lunch will be provided along with refreshments. With over $5,500 in prizes donated for the raffle draws, all proceeds will benefit “The Friends of The Grand River (www.friendsofthegrandriver.com). For directions to the event you can visit the Web site www.grandriverspey.ca. For inquiries e-mail Randy at randyflyfisher@rogers.com. NANCY CAIRNS

Présentation du Prix Jean-Guy Côté 2010 à Warren Duncan Il a monté des milliers de mouches à saumon atlantique pour des centaines de pêcheurs ordinaires et célèbres. Il a régulièrement roulé des mouches et pêché dans la rivière Miramichi avec Ted Williams des Red Sox de Boston membre du temple de la renommée du baseball. Vers 1995, Jean-Guy Côté était à élaborer la série de couleur de son Uni-Stretch. Il me disait être en étroite collaboration avec un monteur de renommée qui aimait beaucoup ce produit et qu’il aimerait bien l’utiliser dans la parure d’une de ses créations pour la pêche du saumon atlantique. Suite à cette complicité sont apparues les couleurs Chinese Red et Chartreuse. Cette création est la mouche connue de tous, soit l’«Undertaker». Notre récipiendaire est né à Campbelton mais a fait carrière avec la compagnie de pétrole Irving pendant 32 ans. Son hobby était le montage de mouches. Plusieurs connaisseurs le considèrent comme l’un des plus rapides monteurs ayant jamais serré un hameçon dans un étau. Lors d’une démonstration de vitesse alliée à la perfection, il a monté une Rusty Rat prête pour la pêche en

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une minute et 13 secondes. Lui il en a roulé du fil UNI dans sa carrière de 25 ans! C’était un bon vivant, il aimait beaucoup manger du homard, fumer sa cigarette, conter des histoires, rire et déguster son verre de rye. Il a tellement fait plaisir à ses amis qu’il n’a pas régulièrement porté attention à sa santé en leur offrant tout ce qu’il aimait. En 1993, le gouvernement du Nouveau Brunswick lui a demandé de créer la mouche officielle de la province. La mouche «Picture Province» fut remise aux leaders du G-8 à Halifax en 1995. C’est à sa boutique Dunc’s Fly Shop de la rue Hickey à St-John, N.B. qu’un client l’a trouvé effondré à sa table de montage, la bobine encore à la main. Il est décédé le 10 février, 2007. Po u r a v o i r t a n t c o n t r i b u é s o i t à l’enseignement, soit à l’excellence de son montage, soit par ses écrits, soit par son habileté de création, et à sa très grande implication vulgariser le montage de mouche à l’ensemble des monteurs, il est aujourd’hui, à titre posthume, récipiendaire du Prix Jean-Guy Côté.

J’ai nommé Warren Duncan.

THE CANADIAN FLY FISHER • MAY/JULY 2010

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The Jean-Guy Côté Award The 2010 winner of the Jean Guy Côté Award, announced at the Quebec/Maritimes Fly Fishing Forum held in Granby on the weekend of February 5th, 2010, was Warren Duncan. The Jean-Guy Côté Award annually recognizes a Canadian who has consistently demonstrated very high standards in the field of fly tying. The recipient must have also demonstrated a continuous contribution to one or more of the following as related to fly tying: teaching, very high quality execution, writing, significant pattern creation, and broad-spectrum public promotion. The winner is chosen from among a list of nominees by a selection committee representing all regions of Canada. A frame, featuring a photograph of the annual winner, one of his/her flies, and text relating the important stages of his/her flytying life will be hung on the Canadian Fly Tiers Wall of Fame in the Canadian Fly Fishing Museum. Each year, a replica of the frame is presented to the winner by representatives of the Canadian Fly Fishing Museum and the Québec/Maritimes Fly Fishing Forum. Since its inception in 2007, the winners have been: 2007 - John Cuco 2008 - Paul C. Marriner 2009 - Paul Leblanc

School Continues Partnership in Lake Ontario Atlantic Salmon Restoration Hickory Wood Public School in the Peel District School Board is once again involved in the Atlantic Salmon Restoration Program, sponsored by a host of people, including the OFAH and the federal Ministry of the Environment. “In 2010, we are running six egg rearing stations in the school, and we will release the fry into a tributary of the Credit River in the spring. This program is going on [at other schools] in the province, and is a dynamite experience for children,” says principal Joel Hartling. For further information, or enquiries about getting your own school involved in the program, contact programme director, Chris Robinson, at the OFAH in Peterborough at (705) 748-6324 ext. #237.


News from the Atlantic Salmon Federation At last, a recovery strategy is being offered for the Inner Bay of Fundy that were declared endangered nine years ago. Public comment is being solicited before Feb. 2, and the Draft Recovery Strategy Document can be viewed and downloaded via the following link: http://asf.ca/news.php?id=489. ASF’s Atlantic salmon tracking research is noted in an article in Popular Mechanics that examines the many unusual ways researchers are following the wanderings of creatures as diverse as fish, dragonflies and snakes. In Maine, a conservation program that is supported by land developers has provided $1.8M for conservation efforts protecting streams and wetlands. Andy Goode, ASF’s Director of US Operations, describes how it will allow completion of a fishway on Blackman Stream, to provide access for sea-run fish to historical spawning areas. For more: http://asf.ca/news.php?id=488.Finally, one interesting aspect of gene mapping has arisen. ASF’s Dr. Fred Whoriskey has noted that it might be possible in the future to modify slightly the genes of farmed Atlantic salmon to eliminate their potential for harming wild Atlantic salmon populations. For more: http://asf.ca/news.php?id=487. To keep track of breaking news on Atlantic salmon, use the Atlantic Salmon Federation’s presence on Facebook. Log in,search for Atlantic Salmon Federation, and sign up as a fan.

Nipigon River Adventures Announces Fly Fishing Workshop

From June 25-27, Nipigon River Adventures will be holding a special fly fishing workshop at the Quebec lodge in Red Rock, Ontario. The workshop, although open to both sexes, will have a special emphasis on introducing women to the sport and will feature Bill Spicer (casting columnist for The Canadian Fly Fisher, host of The New Fly Fisher TV show, and FFF Master Certified Casting Instructor). The programme will feature an opening wine and cheese party on Friday, June 25; tying, casting, and fly fishing workshops on Saturday, June 26; and guided/instructed fishing for huge coaster brook trout on the world-renowned Nipigon River on Sunday, June 27. Last summer, The Canadian Fly Fisher’s Nancy Cairns along with Thunder Bay fly fishing enthusiast, Rebecca Redden traveled to the Nipigon River on a three-day reconnoitre expedition. Fishing both the Nipigon River and Nipigon Lake, assisted by Nipigon River Adventures staff, they hooked into pike and lake trout as well as some of its fabled brook trout. Participants in the 2010 Nipigon River Adventures Fly Fishing Workshop can look forward to a similar experience—and just might tie into one of the Nipigon’s double-figure coaster brookies as a bonus.

For more information, contact Ray Rivard at: (807) 886-2603 or ray@ nipigonriveradventures.com.

The Franklin Club

— closer than you think!

www.TheFranklinClub.ca

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THE CANADIAN FLY FISHER • MAY/JULY 2010

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Nancy’s News

BY NANCY CAIRNS

Moucheurs du Montréal Métropolitain Flies for the Breast Cancer Foundation A breast cancer fund project was launched at the Open House of Moucheurs du Montréal Métropolitain on January 15th 2010. The project involved club members tying flies featuring pink materials which were exchanged for donations to the Breast Cancer Foundation at a number of sport and fly fishing shows in Quebec, including the Maritimes/ Quebec Fly Fishing Forum in Granby, the Montreal Outfitters Show, and the National Sportsman’s Show in Montreal, as well as in a number of participating boutiques on Saturday, April 17, 2010. Acknowledging that “statistics mention one out of nine woman are affected by breast cancer, and research plays a large role in the treatment [which results in] faster recovery in [a] shorter time,” the Moucheurs du Montréal Métropolitain is proud to support the Breast Cancer Foundation in this endeavour. The “Pink Lady Amherst” classic fly tied by one club member raised $210 at one of the silent auctions.

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Nautilus Reels Haiti Fly Reels for Haiti Fundraiser Nautilus Reels, manufactured by a company run by the grandchildren of Ole Mustad, founder of O. Mustad & Son (a name very familiar to all fly tyers), has just completed the auction of 10 Nautilus Reels donated by the company to raise funds for two organizations involved in relief in earthquake stricken Haiti. “Each and every one of these reels are considered one of a kind reels, and more so because they helped us be able to donate this amount of money to Haiti,” Kristen Mustad of Nautilus said. The auction raised $5,335.00, and on February 19, 2010 Nautilus reels donated a total of $5,400.00 to the following charities: • $2,700.00 to UNICEF and their fund for Haiti (www.unicefusa.org) • $2,700.00 to Save the Children Foundation’s Haiti Earthquake Children in Emergency Fund (www. savethechildren.org) As the auction closed, Kristen Mustad said, “Thank you all for your contributions. Please don’t forget what happened in Haiti as they will need our help for many years to come. “Keep donating by texting “HAITI” to 90999 to donate $10 to Red Cross relief efforts. Never forget how good we have it!”

(613) 966-8017 Fax: (613) 966-4192 1-888-805-5608 E-mail: info@canflyfish.com

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THE CANADIAN FLY FISHER • MAY/JULY 2010

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Wild Trout Symposium Calls for Contributions The Wild Trout X Symposium, to be held at the Holiday Inn, West Yellowstone, MT from September 28-30, 2010 is calling for papers, posters and award nominations from government entities, non-profit conservation groups, educators, anglers, and business interests associated with trout fisheries. The symposium provides a forum for interaction and exchange of technical information and viewpoints on wild trout management and public policy. For more information about submissions, contact Program Comittee Co-chairs: Kevin Meyer (Idaho department of Fish and Game) at (208) 465-8404, kevin.meyer@idfg.idaho. gov; or Doug Besler (North Carolina Wildlife resources Commission) at (828) 659-3324, doug.besler@ncwildlife.com

For more information about awards, contact Jim Daley (New York Division of Fish Wildlife & Marine resources) at (518) 402-8959, jgdaley@gw.dec.state.ny.us.

Ganaraska River Management Plan The Ganarask a Region Conser vation Authority (GRCA), in partnership with the Ministry of Natural Resources, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, is in the process of developing a fisheries management plan (FMP) for the Ganaraska River. We will be looking for public participation/input during late spring/ early summer. Concurrent with the development of the FMP, the GRCA in partnership with local municipalities has developed a watershed plan for the Ganaraska River. As part of both of these plans, there will be an implementation phase, with the GRCA

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looking to complete habitat restoration projects and streamside tree planting. We are planning on starting this phase this coming year, with several volunteer tree planting projects (dates to be confirmed), which are targeted at extending the high quality cold water stream habitat to improve trout and salmon production and fishing on the lower Ganaraska River.

For more information, contact: Brian Morrison BSc. Fisheries Biologist Ganaraska Region Conservation Authority 2216 County Road 28 P.O. Box 328 Port Hope, ON L1A 3W4 Phone: 905-885-8173 x 229 Fax: 905-885-9824 www.grca.on.ca

THE CANADIAN FLY FISHER • MAY/JULY 2010

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Casting With Bill Bill Spicer is an F.F.F. Master Certified Casting Instructor and owner of Ontario School of Fly Fishing. He is also host of The New Fly Fisher ­television show.

BY BILL SPICER • PHOTOS BY PETER CHARLES

The Roll Cast

During my travels as a casting instructor I come across great numbers of excellent overhead casters. It amazes me, though, that many of these same casters have trouble with the roll cast. Possibly we’ve become so obsessed with casting great distances that we’ve neglected other important casts such as the roll cast. This article is aimed at helping those who might be having trouble with this very useful cast. We’ve all run into situations where there are objects behind us, which interfere with our back cast. While there are a number of casts we could use to deal with such a situation, such as the steeple cast and the switch cast, for the most part we choose the roll cast. BILL SPICER To best understand the roll cast, those who are just beginning to learn fly casting should think of the overhead cast, which consists of a forward and a back cast—a roll cast is essentially just the forward part. Small stream enthusiasts know this cast well and will spend much of the day roll casting, as most small streams have plenty of overhanging trees. Most roll casts are short, but, with practice, it’s possible to cast considerable distances simply by adding a single haul, but that’s for another time and another column. The roll cast is a must learn technique and is generally more important than punching out line over great distances, as most fishing situations rarely demand casts of over 40 feet. Okay, let’s go through the steps of performing it.

Step one

With the line lying on the water in front of you, slowly draw the rod up until your hand, with your thumb in the up position, is beside your head close to your ear and the tip of the rod is behind you, allowing the line to fall behind you. This is very important, as the line behind you becomes your back loop. The back loop is what loads (bends) the rod when the cast is executed.

Step two

Begin the forward cast the same way you would in an overhead cast, only instead of casting horizontally, change your

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trajectory and cast slightly towards the water. At the end of the stroke you must make a sudden stop with the rod and hold. You must try to make the rod tip follow a straight-line path, as this will give you a more elliptical and efficient loop. Think of pushing your thumb against the cork handle as you would when pushing the button to open an aluminum door. This will give you the correct motion. Remember to make the casting stroke between your body and the line. This is indicated clearly in the photo. Do not make a chopping motion as you would when using an axe, as it will drive the line into the water. While the axe comparison was a popular teaching tool in the past, it has since been found to be incorrect.


As in all casting techniques, in order to become proficient in roll casting, you must practice—the more the better.

Step three

The straight-line path of the tip of the rod and the sudden stop will transfer the energy down the line in the form of a loop, which will straighten at the end. When casting from the opposite shoulder, there is no need to cross your arm over your chest. Simply turn the palm of your hand to the front. This will put the rod tip over your opposite shoulder. In the photo, notice the reel position along with my arm position. Now perform the front cast the same, as you would in a conventional overhead cast, remembering to cast on the inside of the line. Take note of where the line is in the photo. The most common problem people have with this cast is when the line fails to straighten out or crashes. There are two major causes for this.

The first is improper hand positioning. I call this the hitchhiking position of the thumb pointing straight back. Casting with this hand position will direct the energy of the line into the air and not at your target. The result will be the line crashing in a pile. The proper hand position is to have your thumb pointing straight up to the sky. The second most common error is not allowing the line to hang behind your body when setting up the cast. This is a must, as the line behind your body becomes your back loop, which, in turn, loads the rod when you cast.

The roll cast may be practiced on grass also, but to do so you must anchor the end of your line to the ground. For this, I use a tent peg. As in all casting techniques, in order to become proficient in roll casting, you must practice—the more the better. B

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B R I T I S H C O L U M B I A

CLOSE TO THE BACKING...

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BY CHAD BLACK F E A T U R E PHOTOS BY CHAD BLACK AND DUSTIN KOVACVICH

on the Skeena A 20LB KALUM STEELHEAD

As a young angler growing up in southwestern Ontario, I first learned of the ­legendary ­steelhead of the Skeena River in northern British Columbia by watching videos of Lani Waller. Even at a young age, I was captivated by the size of steelhead he was ­catching and the ­dramatic mountain landscapes where he was fishing, and I swore to myself that one day I would make the trip to Skeena country and fish for these storied fish. Magazines with Skeena features were invariably tattered and worn from being read again and again.

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Nicholas Dean Lodge

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ast forward many years later to 2006, and my desire for steelhead, mountains and wild places lead me across four provinces to Terrace, a small city in the heart of the lower Skeena system. Just 150 kilometres from the rugged Pacific coastline near Prince Rupert, Terrace was initially founded as a logging town in the early 1900s. Since then, it has DUSTIN KOVACVICH AND A HAPPY gained a well-deserved reputaCLIENT WITH A MID TEENS STEELHEAD tion as a world-class fly fishing destination for the summer runs of Skeena steelhead—and for good reason, as the weather is pleasant, and the fish are aggressive and will rise freely to the the majority of rivers supporting spring steeldry fly in the right conditions. However, with head usually lack lakes in their headwaters, the diversity of tributaries entering the lower resulting in inconsistent and low base flows Skeena and other systems in northern BC, throughout the winter. Consequently, spring there is no shortage of rivers offering superb steelhead have adapted to time their runs steelhead fishing during the remainder of the to coincide with early melt waters from the year, particularly in the spring. Runs of spring forest and alpine snowpack. For the fly angler steelhead in the lower Skeena region, while targeting spring steelhead, this has two main offering a much smaller window than those implications. The window of opportunity in of summer-run fish, provide superb fly fishing which spring steelhead can be targeted is opportunities in the early season. short-lived, and anglers must be attentive to local weather patterns and river conditions to be successful.

Spring Run Characteristics

Although spring steelhead generally spawn at the same time each year (May through June) as summer-run fish, the two occupy very different niches. While summer fish often travel hundreds of miles during late summer to reach upstream spawning grounds where they’ll overwinter and mature, spring fish most often return to rivers close to tidewater and may only be in the rivers for a month or less. These differences in habit are adaptations to the specific rivers in which they return. As a general rule, summer steelhead rivers have lakes in their headwaters, which afford consistent base flows through winter when rivers are typically at their lowest. In contrast,

Coastal Rivers

Along remote stretches of the northwest BC coastline, innumerable streams of varying sizes flow into the cold, saline waters of the Pacific. Most are small, intimate streams which receive very little angling pressure, due mainly to the difficulty of accessing them. In some river valleys, logging roads fork their way across steep mountainsides and access can be gained by hiking through old clear-cuts. In more remote areas, however, a helicopter charter or launching a jet boat in the ocean may be the only means of access to these rivers. Because coastal rivers are often very shallow, steelhead utilize whatever structure is

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Nicholas Dean Lodge is licensed to fish over 50 rivers, streams and lakes near Terrace, including the Kalum, upper and lower Copper, Skeena, Kitimat and remote coastal rivers, giving its clients the opportunity to sample world-class steelhead and salmon angling. A full service operation, its professional guide staff are seasoned locals lead by Dustin Kovacvich who know the waters intimately and genuinely enjoy guiding clients. CONTACT: Dustin Kovacvich, Head Guide and Lodge Manager PO Box 434 Terrace, British Columbia, Canada, V8G 4B1 Phone: (250) 635-5295 Email: dustinko@nicholasdean.com Fore more information, please visit: www.nicholasdean.com

available to them, which, in most cases, is the deepest slot within a run. However, they will also consistently hold in pocket water above and behind rocks and where logs or other obstructions create slower moving seams. In these peaty, tannin-stained waters, steelhead are built thick and strong—a fitting symbol for the rugged environment which they inhabit. While most fish will fall in the 10 to 15 lb range, invariably some are much larger, pushing 20 lbs or more. Spring steelhead return as early as March, although the bulk of the run will push through between late April and the middle of May.

Giants of the Kalum

Of all the rivers in the lower Skeena system which support runs of spring steelhead, few produce fish to rival the size and strength of those which ascend the Kalum each year. Its fish are broad and thick, averaging around 10 lbs—although fish in the 18 to 20 lb range are

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Spring Steelhead on the Skeena THE FIGHT IS ON!

EPIC COASTAL SCENERY

AUTHOR WITH A 12LB KALUM HEN

common. And, while it doesn’t happen every year, fish in the 30 lb range are landed from time to time. Despite its close proximity to the city of Terrace, the Kalum is very much a wilderness river, shrouded by dense old growth forest along its margins. It runs a deep aquamarine throughout the year, echoing its glacial origins high in the BC coastal mountain range. Fresh spring steelhead on the Kalum will often hold in fast, shallow riffles at the heads of pools, but also in the lower third of a run when there is particularly heavy water below.

Spring Tactics: Specialized Techniques When I first arrived in Terrace and began targeting spring steelhead, it was clear that I’d have to make rather significant changes to the gear and techniques I’d used to fish for the migratory rainbow trout of the Great Lakes. While nymphing techniques with strike indicators resulted in a few fish landed at the head of runs, more often than not, the splash of the indicator spooked steelhead in the best holding water on these coastal rivers. Moreover, nymphing techniques were just not practical for covering the long, deep pools of the Kalum. Enter Dustin Kovacvich, head guide and manager of Nicholas Dean Lodge. Dustin has spent the better part of his life fishing and guiding clients on the region’s steelhead waters and is one of the most knowledgeable anglers I’ve had the opportunity to fish with. Having worked with Dustin as operations

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Steelhead most often take midway through the drift as the fly begins to swing, and takes can vary from simple plucks that feel little more than some-

manager for Nicholas Dean the past several years, I’ve learned specialised techniques which have dramatically increased my success on the region’s spring steelhead rivers.

Pockets and Small Pools When fishing coastal A GLORIOUS COASTAL STREAM streams, Dustin employs a successful technique for fishing pocket water and small pools that combines one gently tapping your shirt, to dead drift nymphing with the traditional wet violent grabs that nearly rip the rod from your fly swing, which is dubbed “swymphing.” This grasp. However, if your line stops or hesitates begins with a cast up and across stream, folwhile high sticking at the start of the drift, set lowed by high sticking the fly through adjathe hook immediately. While coastal steelcent water to set up the drift. Once the line is head are often aggressive, they are also very directly across stream, the rod tip is dropped spooky and must be approached with stealth. smooth, and the line is swung towards shore. Keep your profile low and start fishing at the This technique ensures the fly reaches bottom head of the run, working your way to the quickly even in the fastest current lanes and, tailout. This allows your fly to swing progreswith a little practice, can easily be manipusively into holding water and give steelhead lated to swing the fly in front of rocks, boula chance to respond before the fly line passes ders, or other prime lies. over them. Finally, at the end of your cast, be

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HIGH STICKING THROUGH A DEEP SLOT

sure to pick your line up gently to minimize surface noise that may spook wary steelhead.

Other Techniques

Due to the Kalum’s deep glacial colour and its cold water temperatures in the spring, its steelhead usually respond best to large flies fished deep in the water column on a classic wet fly swing. A variety of sink tips, ranging from type 3 to type 8, and heavier tips made of lead core and T-14 will ensure

THE COMPETITION

that your fly remains in the strike zone and in front of the fish. While I’m a strong advocate of letting the current dictate the angle of the swing (tricky surface currents can often pull your line in directions different from those you intend), whenever possible I fish large flies broadside to the current using a technique I refer to as “the wedge.” This involves casting down and across stream, then mending all of the fly line except for the last three to four feet,

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which will set up perpendicular to the current’s flow, forming a wedge shape. Once the wedge is created, I slowly drift the rod tip downstream, leading the fly, which keeps the fly fishing broadside. While a fly

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Spring Steelhead on the Skeena

A FRESH 18LB KALUM HEN MADE THIS ANGLER’S DAY

fished in this manner may swing slightly faster than a classic greased line presentation, it gives steelhead a better chance to see the full profile of the fly and increases the probability of triggering a response. Grabs are often aggressive, and as Kalum fish are notorious for taking flies on the dangle, I always make sure to fully swing the fly into the shallows, well away from the fish, prior to picking up the line for a subsequent cast.

Gear

Despite their diminutive size, coastal rivers produce large steelhead and this must be taken into account when gearing up. Seven or eight weight single-handed and switch rods in the 10 to 12 foot range, matched with weight

forward floating lines will not only provide plenty of backbone, but will also facilitate short casts and optimal control over the drift of the fly. For the Kalum and other larger spring steelhead rivers such as the Kitimat, where long casts, big flies and heavy tips are necessary, 13 to 14 foot Spey rods are highly recommended. Since long runs well into the backing occur frequently with fresh spring steelhead, a reel with a reliable drag filled with 150 yards or more of 30 lb backing is essential. Weighted flies fished on 10 to 12 foot leaders or light sink tips are ideal on smaller waters, whereas large flies and heavy tips are the norm on the Kalum. Because of its strength and abrasion resistance, Maxima Ultragreen is my personal tippet of choice—10 to 12 pound test for clear streams and 15 lb test LARGE BRIGHT FLIES FOR KALUM STEELHEAD for the Kalum. Lastly, a day spent hiking over deadfalls and walking amongst notorious devil’s club can make short work

WADING AND HIKING IS PART OF THE GAME

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of cheap waders, so a pair of good quality waders and wading boots are invaluable.

Flies

Many of the popular steelhead patterns used for summer steelhead work equally well on spring steelhead. Variations on the venerable Egg Sucking Leech and Comet produce excellent results on coastal rivers, and the many permutations of Ed Ward’s Intruder series of flies are mainstays in my Kalum fly box. Different shades of pink, such as cerise, salmon, and fuchsia, either on their own or combined with other colours are easily my favourites, as they show up well in a variety of water conditions. Black, purple, blue and orange are also productive. When designing flies, make sure to include materials which impart movement during the swing (such as marabou, rabbit strips, rhea, ostrich herl and schlappen), as they seem to provoke aggression or a feeding response in steelhead. Lastly, the well-stocked fly box should contain both weighted and unweighted patterns, to cover a variety of water types. B


In Memoriam

BY RORY E. GLENNIE

Tom Bird Remembered We recreational anglers have lost another great Canadian. Tom Bird was 71 years old when he suddenly passed away on February 16th, 2010. Tom was a champion for many of the causes we anglers hold near and dear. When madmen from the corporate sector planned to wreak havoc on fish and their habitat, Tom was there jousting with them, keeping them at bay. As bureaucrats and politicians clomped in with hobnailed jackboots intent to lay waste to the last vestiges of our collective rights to fish, Tom was there, thrust and parry, defending our angler’s virtues. Many of you may not have been aware of this, or of Tom, for he was a quiet man.

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fter earning a degree in biology from Rocky Mountain College in Billings, Tom began his career with the then Federal Fisheries Department in the mid 1960s. He spent his early years in a host of positions around the province and on the high seas assisting in the research of the movement of our salmon stocks. In 1989 he was appointed Regional Chief of Recreational Fisheries. Tom, as he had done in the Habitat Branch, built a strong team of dedicated individuals, and together they brought recreational fishing into the forefront of the management thinking of DFO. Under Tom’s guidance, the Sport Fishing Advisory Board expanded from a centralized body to one with bases in the local communities and which allowed full input into the advisory process for anglers from all parts of B.C. Today, the Sport Fishing Advisory Board is recognized worldwide as the ultimate in workable advisory processes and one that has credibility with government and at the community level. Since 2001, Tom had been Canada’s Recreational Fishing representative on the Fraser Panel of the Pacific Salmon Commission where he served with distinction. Now you know a little about Tom’s background and some of his work done. My fondest memories of Tom weren’t when he and I were sitting on the same side of some boardroom table hammering away at one fisheries issue or another, he with

the DFO, me with the Steelhead Society. I best remember him in my boat, bobbing around at the surf-line near Tofino, teasing up Rockfish and salmon with big hairy flies, simply enjoying each other’s company on another great West Coast day. Or stand-

Today, the Sport Fishing Advisory Board is ­recognized worldwide as the ultimate in workable advisory processes and one that has credibility with government and at the community level.

ing shoulder to shoulder with him off “his” beach, casting flies to pods of cruising pink salmon parading past his beachside home, and chattering away to each other like long lost school chums unexpectedly reunited. Or when he lined me up with his son Owen, then producer for the popular “Fishing with Shelley and Courtenay” TV show. I was the featured fishing guide to the stars. Tom’s portion of the show, an enlightened message about the value of the recreational fishery and a view to conservation, added

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balance and importance. The ladies, of course, added glamour. We both had fun with that project. It is, however, one aspect of Tom’s character I remember most, his dedication. More often than not, when we were in the middle of a good bite, his cellphone would ring and he’d launch into a serious conversation with some department head or executive about some pressing fisheries matter. Or when he would suddenly have to cut short our elbow rubbing beach fishing session to rush home and get in on a conference call with industry leaders. Tom loved to fly fish, but that often seemed to take second place to his dedication to duty.

Tom, you are truly missed on so many levels. Who will now pilot our ship of recreational anglers? B

On-line: info@canflyfish.com Write: 256 ½ Front St., Belleville, ON K8N 2Z2

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C O N S E R V A T I O N

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The SainteMarguerite River THE FER A CHEVAL (“HORSE SHOE”) AT SUNSET BEND: THERE MIGHT BE HUNDREDS OF LARGE BROOK TROUT IN THIS STRETCH ALONE…

Located in the scenic Saguenay Lac Saint-Jean region, the Sainte-Marguerite River provides angling not only for Atlantic salmon, but also for large, sea-run brook trout. Unlike most migratory brookie runs in the province, its trout do not exactly migrate to the sea, but rather, to the rich salt water of the Saguenay fjord. It is also a conservation success story: thanks to enlightened management practices, the Sainte-Marguerite remains one of the best destinations in Quebec—if not the best—to hunt for five to seven pound migratory brook trout. If you are a crazy big brookie addict like I am, but do not mind the occasional encounter with their elusive relative, the Atlantic salmon, then the Sainte-Marguerite is the place for you. The Sainte-Marguerite flows over a distance of about 63 miles before emptying into the scenic Saguenay fjord, which in turns joins with the St. Lawrence River at Tadoussac. There are salmon in its various branches and pools, but it is its brook trout that make it unique. Several hundred migratory brookies migrate in and out between the river and the semi-saline, rich environment of the Saguenay fjord. This unique ecosystem enables brook trout to reach impressive sizes: two to three pound fish are the norm, and trophies up to six or seven pounds are not infrequent.

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Conservation

AUTHOR WITH A LOCAL BEAUTY!

Enlightened Management Fortunately, this unique population has been the focus of significant research efforts by the CIRSA (Centre inter-universitaire de recherche sur le saumon atlantique) over the past few years. This impressive work has enabled us to gain a thorough understanding of the population’s specific life history, dynamics, and risk factors—including recreational fishing harvesting. Juvenile brook trout remain in the SainteMarguerite for about two years, growing to about 10 cm, then run downstream to the fjord. After feeding in the rich water there for just one summer, they will have doubled their

size to 20 cm. During the fall and the winter, they over-winter in fresh water, either up in the river, or in the middle Saguenay fjord. For the next two or three years, they follow this migratory cycle which enables them to rapidly gain in weight by as much as six pounds. When they reach sexual maturity, they run up the Sainte-Marguerite during the summer prior to spawning in the fall. Many survive the spawning season and retreat back to their freshwater winter quarters, after which they repeat this spawning migration pattern in subsequent summers. This is where the research conducted by the CIRSA proved so insightful to understand the vulnerability of the trout to over-harvest-

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For more information: Association de la rivière Sainte-Marguerite inc. 160, Principale CP 326 Sacré-Cœur-sur-le-fjord-duSaguenay Quebec G0T1Y0 www.arsm.qc.ca ste-marguerite@arsm.qc.ca tel : (418) 236 4604

ing. It was discovered that the mortality due to natural causes during the first transition to the fjord could reach 90%, while harvest from recreational fishing had little impact

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The Sainte-Marguerite River DAVID ASSAULTING GOLIATH

RUSTIC CAMP AVAILABLE FOR ANGLERS AT DAMPOOL SECTOR

SALMON BOMBERS ALSO WORK FOR AGGRESSIVE, LARGE BROOKIES

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BEAUTIFUL BROOK TROUT CAUGHT ON A SMALL DRY FLY

at all. During the second migration to the fjord natural mortality still remained high, but fishing harvest had a significant impact—about 25% to 35% of total losses. It was also discovered that the survival rate of trout which had successfully spawned previously was much higher than that of first time spawners, making them a crucial factor in maintaining the long-term health of the population. These discoveries, along with a good dose of common sense, prompted river managers of the Association de gestion de la rivière Sainte-Marguerite to implement in 2009 a revised limit of five trout per day, of which only one could be above 35 cm (14 inches). The same regulation was adopted by managers of all four salmon rivers with migratory brookies in the Saguenay region. In addition, in 2005, the problem of overharvest of large spawners in the SainteMarguerite River estuary, as well as in the middle Saguenay fjord (where brook trout concentrate to over-winter) was addressed. The daily limit was lowered to five trout in the Sainte-Marguerite estuary (called the bay Sainte-Marguerite, in zone 21), and both the bay and the over-wintering areas in the Saguenay fjord were closed to winter fishing. The implementation of these measures has brought about strong returns of big brook trout and the preservation of one of Quebec’s greatest migratory brook trout runs. There has never been a better time to visit the Sainte-Marguerite than now! The odds of catching the trophy brookie of your life are excellent and, as a bonus, there are also Atlantic salmon to test your skills—and your patience.

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The River

The river is comprised of three distinct branches that offer different kinds of access and fishing. The lower main branch is easily accessed from the Road #172 and provides angling for Atlantic salmon on a limited or unlimited rods basis depending on the sector. While driving up, do not forget to stop at Glass Pool (46) and Big Pool (61) to catch a glimpse of large salmon and brook trout in two of the largest retention pools of the river. The northwest branch (named Bras des murailles) has a special character, with clear water flowing between rocky cliffs. It provides angling for salmon only and access is limited to hiking or all-terrain vehicle. There is a cabin where you can spend the night next to a productive salmon pool. The northeast branch also has a strong run of salmon too, but access is more complicated, mostly by a gravel road that runs through ZEC Chauvin.

Sea-run Brookie Hotspots

The upper reaches of the main stem are the best for sea-run brookies, and its three sectors are specifically managed for brook trout. The Onézime, Saint-Germain and Dampool sectors usually fill up with trout in July and August. They are accessible on a limited number of rods per day, which guarantees a quality experience away from the crowds. A reservation is recommended, though, as early as November in order to secure the best dates. The daily fee allows access to two half days: the evening and the following morning, the best times of the day for brook trout. This allows you to take the ATV on a leisurely drive


Conservation I highly recommend the experience. The solitude on a remote stretch of the river, the magic of sunrise and sunset, the anticipation of the strike, where every cast might well yield the brook trout of a lifetime, all combine to make these moments very precious.

Doing It

up and down the fishing zone during the sluggish mid-day period, and then spend the most productive times on the water at dawn and dusk. There are rustic cabins available for rent at each of the trout sectors where you can spend the night between your evening and morning fishing sessions.

And, yes, we did catch big brook trout when we visited these sectors last August. We had the chance to fish with Boris Tremblay, a talented fly fisher who spent his youth on the Sainte-Marguerite and who probably knows it better than anyone else. One late afternoon on the Saint-Germain pool, after a rather slow day, we got caught in the middle of an epic storm which brought more rain in an hour than in the previous month. Boris, who knew by instinct the big trout would become restless, continued casting and aggressively stripping his big Muddler during the heaviest of the rain. Minutes later, he hooked and landed

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a fierce-looking six pounder, which we promptly released. The next day, we fished the Horseshoe Pool (a.k.a. Ti-Pierre) in the Dampool sector. This bend is the uppermost pool on the river before it becomes an inaccessible sanctuary. According to river wardens, there might be several hundred large trout in this bend on any given day of the late season. There, I caught several beauties between two and three pounds—and all on a size 16 dry fly! And, yes, there was also the one that got away—as always. On Onézime pool, I hooked (on a rabbit-strip streamer) what was clearly my personal largest brook trout ever. We stayed connected for only a minute, but it was long enough to get a split-second glimpse of its massive flank when it rolled on the surface and threw the hook. The tension created by the sheer weight of this fish was such that the streamer almost hit me in the backlash.

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, La riviere Sainte-Marguerite C O N S E R V A T I O N

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Au cœur de la magnifique région du Saguenay Lac Saint-Jean, la rivière Sainte-Marguerite est une destination de premier choix pour la pêche du saumon, mais surtout de l’omble de fontaine migrateur.

TRYING FOR RISERS ON THE FER A CHEVAL POOL

AUTHOR WITH A TYPICAL LARGE BROOK TROUT FROM THE STE -MARGUERITE

À la différence de la plupart des autres populations de truites de mer de la province, les mouchetées de la Sainte-Marguerite migrent vers l’environnement marin du fjord du Saguenay. C’est aussi un succès en matière de gestion halieutique: grâce à une gestion éclairée, la Sainte-Marguerite reste l’une des meilleures – si ce n’est la meilleure – destination pour la traque de truites de mer de 5 à 7 livres. Si vous êtes fanatique de grosses mouchetées comme moi, et que vous aimez aussi tenter votre chance au saumon à l’occasion, alors la Sainte-Marguerite devrait figurer dans vos carnets de voyage.

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La Sainte-Marguerite coule quasiment parallèle au fjord du Saguenay avant de s’y jeter, lui-même finissant sa course dans le fleuve Saint-Laurent à la hauteur de Tadoussac. Plusieurs centaines de truites migratrices voyagent entre la rivière et l’environnement marin du fjord à chaque année. Cet écosystème et le cycle de vie unique des truites leur permettent d’atteindre des tailles impressionnantes: les poissons de 2 ou 3 livres sont monnaie courante, et des spécimens de 6 ou 7 livres sont régulièrement capturés. Heureusement, le CIRSA (Centre inter-universitaire de recherche sur le saumon atlantique) a consacré d’importants efforts de recherche à cette population de truites, afin d’en comprendre les spécificités, la dynamique et les facteurs de risque – incluant la pêche sportive. Les jeunes truites nées dans la rivière y grandissent environ 2 ans. Lorsqu’elles atteignent une taille d’une dizaine de centimètres, les truites dévalent vers le fjord. Après un été, elles mesurent déjà 20 cm. À l’automne et pendant l’hiver, les truites se réfugient en rivière ou dans le moyen Saguenay. Après un ou deux ans, les génit-

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eurs parvenus à maturité sexuelle remontent la Sainte-Marguerite pendant l’été pour s’y reproduire à l’automne. De nombreux géniteurs survivent au frai et rejoignent à nouveau le fjord après avoir passé l’hiver en eau douce. Ils pourront ainsi se reproduire à nouveau l’automne suivant. Ces géniteurs sont particulièrement importants pour la rivière: une femelle de 35 cm peut déposer environ 1500 œufs, et un poisson de 50 cm jusqu’à 4000! Les récents travaux du CIRSA ont démontré que la pêche avait peu d’influence sur la survie globale des truites avant le second été de vie en eaux salées. Durant la première année suivant leur dévalaison dans le Saguenay, la mortalité totale serait de l’ordre de 90% alors que la pêche n’en prélèverait qu’environ 10%. L’impact de la pêche se manifeste davantage à mesure que les individus sont plus âgés et qu’ils sont de plus grande taille. La pêche serait alors responsable d’environ 25% à 35% des pertes. Selon le CIRSA, à ce stade, la pêche sportive a un impact significatif sur le patron de vie des truites de mer.


Conservation THE SAINTE MARGUERITE UNDER THE WARM SUMMER SUN

Armés de ces résultats scientifiques et d’une bonne dose de gros bon sens, les gestionnaires de l’Association de gestion de la rivière Sainte-Marguerite, ont adopté en 2009 une limite de 5 truites par jour, dont seulement une de plus de 35 cm (14 pouces) pour protéger les précieux géniteurs. Cette mesure est d’ailleurs la même pour les quatre rivières du Saguenay qui abritent des populations de truites de mer. Un problème de surpêche des géniteurs s’était aussi présenté dans l’estuaire de la Sainte-Marguerite, ainsi que dans le moyen Saguenay au niveau des zones de concentrations hivernales des truites. Des mesures de protection des truites y ont ainsi été prises. D’abord, la limite quotidienne a été ramenée à 5 captures dans l’estuaire de la rivière Sainte-Marguerite (baie Sainte-Marguerite, dans la zone 21). Et surtout, l’interdiction de pêche a été instaurée en hiver dans cette baie et dans les principaux endroits au Saguenay où les ombles se réfugient en hiver. Toutes ces mesures salutaires pour les truites de mer contribuent ainsi à la protection de l’une des meilleures populations d’ombles migra-

THE SAGUENAY FJORD, WHERE BROOKIES MIGRATE AND GROW BIG

teurs du Québec. La grande époque pour pêcher la Sainte-Marguerite, c’est maintenant! Les chances de capturer le trophée de votre vie y sont excellentes. Et pour ajouter à la variété de l’expérience, des saumons atlantiques vous attendant pour mettre à l’épreuve votre patience et vos habiletés de moucheur. La rivière est en fait constituée de trois branches qui offrent des possibilités de pêche distinctes. La partie moyenne et basse de la branche principale est facilement accessible depuis la route 172 et permet de pêcher surtout le saumon, sur une base contingentée ou non contingentée, en fonction du secteur. N’oubliez pas

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d’arrêter au Glass Pool (46) et au Big Pool (61) pour observer le spectacle fascinant des saumons et des truites dans ces fosses de rétention. La branche nord-ouest (le Bras des murailles) roule des eaux plus claires sur un fond de roche, et permet également la pêche du saumon (via un accès en véhicule tout terrain). Il dispose d’un camp que vous pouvez louer pour y passer la nuit. La branche nord-est bénéficient quant à elle de bonnes remontées de saumons, mais son accès en est plus compliqué pour le pêcheur de passage. Il nécessite en effet de traverser la ZEC Chauvin, et requiert une logistique toute particulière (surtout pour accéder à la zone 8B, en amont de la passe migratoire).

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THIBAUT MILLET HOPING FOR A LARGE FISH FROM THE ST-GERMAIN POOL

L’aval de la passe migratoire est caractérisé par plusieurs fosses privées qui en rendent l’accès délicat également. Les meilleurs secteurs pour la truite de mer sont sans conteste les zones amont. Il y a trois secteurs très productifs spécifiquement gérés sur une base contingentée pour la pêche de la truite de mer : Onézime, Saint-Germain et Dampool. Une réservation est recommandée pour bénéficier des meilleures dates à partir de la fin Juillet et du mois d’Août, lorsque les truites y sont nombreuses. En réalité, la journée de pêche est partagée en deux demi-journées qui permettent de profiter des meilleures heures pour la truite : le soir, et la matinée. Ainsi, vous pouvez prendre le temps d’accéder par le sentier en véhicule tout terrain à la mi-journée, période moins propice pour la truite de toute façon. Il y a des camps rustiques en location également, qui vous permettent de passer les tous meilleurs instants au bord de l’eau : l’aube et le crépuscule. Je recommande chaudement l’expérience : la solitude, la magie du lever et du coucher du soleil, la fébrilité à l’approche de l’heure critique, quand chaque lancer pourrait bien produire la capture de LA truite de votre vie… tous ces moments passés au bord de l’eau sont précieux. Et oui, nous avons pris des grosses truites lors de notre dernier séjour sur la SainteMarguerite… Nous avions la chance de pêcher en compagnie de Boris Tremblay, talentueux pêcheur qui a littéralement passé sa jeunesse sur la rivière, et qui en connaît les moindres recoins probablement mieux qui quiconque. L’après-midi d’une journée plutôt moyenne, sur la fosse Saint-Germain, nous nous sommes fait surprendre par un orage épique qui a vu plus d’eau s’abattre sur nous

THE SAGUENAY FJORD

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Conservation

BORIS TREMBLAY, A SEASONED FLY ANGLER AT HOME ON THE STE-MARGUERITE

en une heure qu’il en tombe habituellement en un mois. Les rideaux de pluie n’avaient pas découragé Boris, qui savait instinctivement que les très grosses truites étaient nerveuses. Alors qu’il continuait à stripper son gros muddler dans des trombes d’eau, il a finit par piquer et capturer probablement

la plus grosse truite mouchetée que j’ai vue à date: un superbe spécimen d’environ 6 livres tout en muscles, qui fut promptement retourné à la rivière. Le lendemain, nous pêchions le Fer à Cheval (la fosse Ti-Pierre), dernière courbe avant la zone de sanctuaire en amont du

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secteur Dampool. Selon les agents de la faune de la rivière Sainte-Marguerite, ce sont rien moins que plusieurs centaines de truites qui s’y trouvent à partir du mois d’Août! Là, sur un miroir, j’ai eu l’immense plaisir de capturer et relâcher plusieurs beautés fatales de deux ou trois livres… en surface, à l’aide d’une petite mouche sèche montée sur hameçon de 16! Il y eut aussi l’épisode classique DU plus gros poisson du voyage décroché… Dans la fosse Onézime, je me suis retrouvé attelé pour une minute à ce qui était probablement ma plus grosse truite mouchetée à date… Juste assez pour en entrevoir l’impressionnante taille une fraction de seconde, lorsque la truite a décidé de rouler en surface pour se libérer de l’emprise de mon streamer en lapin. La tension créé sur la ligne par la masse de ce poisson était telle que la mouche m’a pratiquement rebondi de plein fouet en retour. Aurais-je encore la chance de capturer un tel trophée? B

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N O V A

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When you have fly fishing for a wide variety of species on your doorstep, there’s often a tendency to neglect a few of them. I live in a part of Nova Scotia which is blessed with a multitude of both fresh and salt water species which can be pursued with a fly rod, and I have to admit that I have neglected some of them. One of these is the striped bass. I’d fished for stripers for years, but only as casual diversion to add variety to my fishing and, although I had some success, it was limited by my lack of commitment to them.

However, I’ve recently begun to focus on stripers seriously, after finally accepting that I’d been missing a fly fishing experience which was up there with fly fishing for Atlantic salmon. Consequently, I set out to learn as much as I could about the species—life cycle, habitat, forage and feeding habits, and seasonal target availability.

Fundy: A Unique Striper Habitat One of the things I found out early was that fishing for stripers in my area at the head of the Bay of Fundy (the Minas Basin) is very different from other popular striper fisheries on the eastern seaboard of North America. Some of the forage fish are different, but the major difference, by far, is the phenomenal Fundy tides. Here the angler has to adapt to conditions found nowhere else in the striper’s range on the North American Atlantic coast. The Minas

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Basin has the highest tides in the world— up to fifty-two feet at peak times. At mid-tide there are fourteen billion tons of water flowing into the Minas Basin—a volume which equals the combined flow of all the rivers and streams on earth, and its weight is actually so great that it tilts the surrounding land mass slightly.

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This huge volume and velocity of water carry a massive silt load around the Wolfville, Grade Pre, Shubenacadie, Truro area of the Minas Basin, consisting of eroded sandstone with an iron content which gives it its characteristic red colour. Offshore, the water is clearer, and the transition between this and the stained inshore water is abrupt, with a distinct line in the water (which I call the mud line) which develops on the incoming tide. The Fundy river estuaries are long, and stripers move up them following spawning runs of baitfish on which they feed. Sometimes they travel miles up the rivers on the tide where fresh and salt water meet at


TIDAL RIP. TYPICAL STRIPER HOLDING WATER

be so selective that other forage can swim by totally be totally ignored when they are targeting a different species. At such times it might appear that there are no stripers present, as they are feeding selectively sub-surface and do not reveal their presence.

In Fresh Water

the head of tide. Some will actually stay there between tides, providing often explosive fishing in both fresh and salt water.

The Fish, their Forage, and How to Locate Them The striped bass is a voracious, carnivorous, and opportunistic feeder. The average fish is between five and 10 pounds, but they can grow to as much as 30, even 40, pounds. They feed on a variety of forage fish, but knowing the favourite forage helps when they are being selective. There is a myth that you can catch stripers on any fly you might throw at them because they are so savage in their feeding. Sometimes, when they are busting a school of gaspereau (a member of the herring family) that can be true, but stripers can

Rather than chasing their prey, stripers like to locate in places where they can most easily hold in order to feed by ambush and return to the security of their station. In the rivers, such places are found in current lines off bends, in back eddies next to the main current, in deep holes on oxbows—places that will bring food to them while they wait. Once found these will continue toproduce hits from stripers as long as there are enough forage fish to hold them there.

In the Salt

I n s a l t w a t e r, stripers hold in much the same type of water. Points, wharfs, b re a k w a t e r s, rip-rap all give good current lines both on incoming and ebbing tides. Stripers

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feed close to shore, as, on the incoming tide, most of the baitfish move up with the tide as it covers the flats. On the ebbing tide, the baitfish have to flee back to deeper water, as they would otherwise be stranded. In some areas, the exposed flats at low tide are over a mile from the high tide mark! Stripers like to lie on the current lines which bring forage fish to them. It pays at all times to watch for bird activity and surface disturbance which indicates that stripers are busting up a school of herring or mackerel—a particularly exciting event! The best times for stripers are at low light in the mornings and evenings. In bright sun they tend to go deep and are hard to bring to a fly. The off colour of the water helps during daylight, but hard core striper fishers prefer to fish at night and in bad weather. It pays to keep an eye on the weather and on the tide times, as it can add to your success. The best months are in May and again in September and October. In July and August the action slows down, and it’s hard to predict just where the fish might be.

Gear

When I first started to fish stripers I simply used my Atlantic salmon rod, a 9 foot 8 weight, and changed my tippet to 10 poundtest. Only after I started to fish in the south for saltwater species (Louisiana for redfish and the Bahamas for bonefish) did I acquire specialised saltwater equipment. I do not feel if you are only fishing occasionally in the salt you

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need to get a dedicated outfit, but you can never have enough rods—right? Moreover, now that I have saltwater equipment, I find myself using it for Atlantic salmon fishing in fresh water, as I like the line speed and there seems to always be a wind on both the salt and fresh water. My favourite outfit for stripers is a 9 foot 8 weight, with a large abour reel which takes at least 200 yards of backing line. I use a 9 foot leader with a 12 pound tippet. This enables me to cast a large fly into the wind without being a danger to myself. It’s important that all gear used in salt water should be rust, corrosion and abrasion resistant. This is especially true in the Bay of Fundy, where the iron and sandstone mud is particularly abrasive and hard to remove. I always wash my equipment in fresh water after a session in the salt, especially after fishing from the muddy shore. This includes my waders as well as my rod, reel, and line. Keeping your line out of the mud while stripping is a must,

and I recommend boot foot waders, as fabric or leather wading boots are quickly ruined in these conditions.

Flies

For Bay of Fundy stripers, we need to imitate forage fish that range in size from three to eight inches to match the size and colour of the indigenous baitfish. The predominant species are distinctively silver and white on the underside and blue, black or dark green on the back. Lateral lines are also distinctive in some species. Flies should also be designed to match the distinctive action of forage fish.

AS THE TIDE MOVE BACK IN OVER THESE FLATS, SO WILL THE STRIPERS

STRIPERS HOLD IN DEEP POOLS ON RIVERS

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sliders, gurglers, and poppers to provide a variety of actions. Sometimes a simple change will entice a strike. The biggest challenge for me in tying flies for stripers is size. Tying a six inch her r ing imitation on a single streamer hook, results in a creSTRUCTURE AT LOW TIDE. STRIPERS WILL HOLD HERE AT HIGH TIDE ation incorporating lots of heavy metal, which can be a chore I have used a commercial New Brunswick to cast. However, I found a solution in my box tyer, Scott Doncaster, for a number of patof flies for fall salmon fishing—tube flies. I terns, as he has been tying striper flies for tied a few tube flies for stripers last fall and years for the New England market. His flies used them with success. This winter I have reflect the baitfish there, but a number of been developing other tube patterns. This is them also work here as well, as the forage a work in progress, and I am confident it will fish they imitate are also found in the Bay be a fly tying method that will be popular of Fundy. Clousers, Deceivers, and silicone and be a major part of my fly box for sure. patterns in a variety of colours and sizes will (Editor’s note: readers will find tying instrucgive you a great selection to start with, and tions for component tube flies in a tying feature suffice for most situations. by Steve May in this issue of The Canadian Fly My favourite way to hook up with a striper Fisher.) is on the surface. The surface strike from a large striper is hard to describe, but it is exciting to say the least! I prefer a Crease Fly for So now that we have the flies and equiptop water, as it does a great job of imitating ment, it’s time to get on the water. I fish for a wounded baitfish, and stripers usually find stripers almost exclusively from shore. This it hard to resist such an easy meal. I also use is far removed from traditional bank fish-

Techniques

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ing on rivers, for in some areas, the mud is not only a problem but a danger, especially here, where the tides are extreme. Anglers trying it for the first time should make a point of getting local help, and should certainly not attempt it alone. While not absolutely necessary, double haul casting is a great advantage. Hook set is important. Despite their voraciousness, stripers take with a distinctive, soft pull rather than a savage strike—it’s as if someone were pulling your fly vest with a thumb and forefinger. It is important, when retrieving a subsurface fly, to keep your tip low to the water and strip to maintain contact with the fly. When you feel the pull of the take, make a fast strip without lifting the rod. This is called a strip strike and important for getting a good hook set in the hard mouth of a striper. A conventional lift strike rarely delivers sufficient penetration, and the fish will usually throw the hook at the end of the first run. I can hear my bonefish guide screaming from the poling platform as I write this! Fighting a large striper is like hooking into a half-ton truck. The first run is like that of all big, strong saltwater fish. Keep your rod tip up and hang on, letting the reel and rod do the work. It can take a long time before you bring the fish to hand, and your arms will ache. But the rresult is a magnificent, wonderful and challenging reward for any fly fisher. B

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BY NICK PUJIC

Top Guides Spotlight:

Ken Chandler

Before starting your guiding business, did you ever think you would end up with a career which keeps you on the water? What drew you to fly fishing? Actually, I had a friend way back before high school. He was an avid fly tyer, but really didn’t enjoy fly fishing. While at his house, he showed me all his flies and tying stuff…. I was hooked by the thought of catching a fish on feathers and fur!!

What is your most memorable experience as a guide? It was guiding a kid on the Grand River many years ago. He was young, around nine or ten, but he was so into the sport it was a pleasure to be on the water with him. His name was Chad Black, and he’s gone on to have his own career as a fishing guide in British Columbia. (Chad has a feature in this issue on spring ­steelhead in northern B.C. Check it out. Ed.)

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Not really. Sure, I wanted to, and tried out as a field biologist/ technician position with an Ontario telemetry company. But to cut a long story short, I lost a brother shortly after his 30th birthday. Losing him taught me one thing—that life is short, so it’s better to grab it by the horns and give it all you have, regardless of what that is.

What advice, tips or tricks can you offer novice fly fishers headed to your local waters? Ask permission. Far too many anglers head to this part of the province and feel they can fish wherever they like. The second is don’t set your gear up before you get to the river. Ready your gear

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after you get to the river, spend some time watching the water, looking for hatches/ rising fish. I’ve learned more by observing new water than by rushing in.

What should clients expect when they book a day of guided fly fishing with you? As the name “Fly Fishing Adventures” implies, I offer more than just catching fish:


Ken Chandler

Ken Chandler Ken Chandler Fly Fishing Adventures

Years guiding: six as an independent. Home Waters: Southwestern Ontario. The Saugeen and its tributaries, the Maitland, the Nottawasaga, many smaller streams and rivers. Species targeted: Trout to musky and everything in between. Operating season: March through to December. Contact information: 519-820-8506 ken@ontariodriftboatguides.com www.ontariodriftboatguides.com

my trips are an adventure. I take clients away from the crowded waters, where I teach casting and presentation. You’ll often spend a day without seeing another person, enjoy a great lunch, share some laughs, and end your day feeling you’ve been away from it all.

How long have you been fly fishing? A long time…. Really.

prefer, to target muskie on the fly, or smallmouth. Some clients have purchased the appropriate speciesspecific rods and lines, and enjoy casting huge tube flies for large aggressive fish.

If you could only take one fly with you on your next outing, what would it be and why?

When you’re not on the water, what are you doing?

An Olive Sculpin #4. You can’t go wrong with this pattern. It works for everything from brookies to steelhead, as well as the occasional muskie—albeit a short fight without a bite guard!!

I really enjoy getting together with the local chapter of Trout Unlimited. We hold a couple of stream work days a month, and I try to get to every one if I’m not on the rivers guiding. Fishing too… I love to fish!!

Given your experience, how do you find fly fishers have adapted to non-traditional species and angling opportunities?

In your opinion, what is the best way to introduce a newcomer to fly fishing?

In this part of the world (Ontario), we have a limited season on trout species, so fishing for smallmouth and musky is a huge part of my business. Clients really enjoy, and some

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Get them into fish! Let’s face it: catching a fish on fly gear is what every “new to the sport” angler wants to do. It doesn’t have to be a big fish—an 8-inch brook trout is all it takes. B

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PRESENTED BY

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1. Matt Hanson sends us these shot of a beautiful little rainbow trout which he caught, along with a bunch of others just as delightful, on chironomid patterns at Sawmill Lake in the BC interior. Gorgeous fish, he claims, and in an equally gorgeous location. (2 pics) 2. While there might be no fish on display in this photo, it shows Mark Smith totally concentrated on raising an Atlantic salmon on the East River, Pictou, Nova Scotia. 3.Rodney Daw sent us these photos of fishing with his wife, Joanne, on the Nitinat River on Vancouver Island last October. Rodney shows off a very toothy chum salmon, but it’s Joanne who has the bigger fish!

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THE CANADIAN FLY FISHER • MAY/JULY 2010

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4. Enrico Scichilone, of Moncton, New Brunswick, caught this bright, 10 pound Atlantic salmon on his 31st birthday on the Patapedia River, Quebec—despite being besieged in camp for several hours by a rather aggressively nosy bear. 5. Last season, Nick Laferriere took his fly rod and travelled widely in Ontario and Manitoba. Among the many trophies he coaxed to hand during the trip, he shares with us these images of a 23.5 inch brown from Patterson Lake, Manitoba; a tiger trout, also from Manitoba; and a five pound largemouth (his personal best) from northwestern Ontario. 6. Here’s a picture of a bull trout which acted quite out of character. Jim Bailey took it on a #20 midge on a small Alberta mountain stream.

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5 5

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For your chance to win great gear from Guideline, keep sending your entries to showcase@canflyfish.com or via Canada Post to: The Canadian Fly Fisher Magazine, 256 1/2 Front St., 2nd Floor, Belleville, Ontario K8N 2Z2. Please send only pictures showing fish in good health. Keep checking future issues of CFF to see if your entry has been published. Good Luck & Tight Lines! - The Canadian Fly Fisher Team

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PRESENTED BY

This issue’s winner is... Nick Laferriere

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F L Y

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I B Y S T E V E M AY you are fishing is easily accomplished with beads, cones and bottle tubes slid onto the leader. I also use corkies between sections of a fly to make it buoyant and keep it in that magic zone just above the bottom in shallow water, or to make it wake just under the surface.

Component Tubes for Bass and Big Trout

Component Tube Flies I’m the first to admit that I’m a streamer fishing junkie. For, while big fish can be caught with tiny flies, big flies are the way to hook up with big fish.

Over the past few years, I have experimented with a wide variety of streamer patterns trying to devise that magic formula that will work consistently for most species and most situations we are blessed with here in Canada, but I found, after strapping materials to thousands of hooks, there is no such magic formula. Then I started experimenting with tube flies—flies tied on hollow tubes rather than on a hook shank. Rigging a tube fly involves sliding one or more tubes on the leader, with a hook in behind them, which enables easy construction of fishable, large flies. I began by tying tubes for steelhead fishing a few years ago, but a real breakthrough came when I met Tony Pagliei at a fishing show in Michigan, who introduced me to component tube flies. Instead of tying the entire fly on a single tube, he pieced together some amazing offerings by using a variety of short tubes and dressed hooks. He put these components together to form a wide variety of sizes, configurations and colours of patterns.

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These component tube flies facilitate adjusting the size, weight, action or colour of your offering on stream. It is easy to fish large and small streamers of various styles, actions, colours and weights out of a modest sized box or two of components. The possibilities are almost endless with a series of short tube flies, beads, and dressed hooks that can be interchanged simply by sliding different components on the leader. Having a selection of components with different heads, bodies and tails in a variety of colours, materials, and weights allows you to assemble the right tube fly combination to match any food source or fishing condition. Foot long musky flies are easily built. Steelhead flies can be custom catered to the colour and action you want, and bass flies can be created to match the size and type of prey the fish are keying in on—and all without carrying a suitcase full of flies. Having short tubes with different colours of marabou or rabbit fur wrapped on them provides a really flexible system. Changing the weight of the fly to match the water

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THE AUTHOR WITH A HEFTY COMPONENT TUBE CAUGHT SMALLMOUTH

Bass and big trout target minnows, crayfish and leeches, but carrying sufficient boxes of conventional streamers of various sizes and colours to imitate these can be a challenge. However, using a handful of different tube components overcomes this, by letting you change the size, colour, weight and action of a fly easily. With river smallmouth bass and trout, size is often important in matching the size of the available food. This, and the depth at which fish feed, can vary through the season and from river to river. Therefore, having a box full of component tube flies is much more practical than a pile of boxes filled with streamers. With a series of dressed hooks, body tubes, wrapped tubes and heads, you can quickly and easily adapt to fish eating fry, crayfish, leeches or fullsized baitfish. My bass and big trout box components usually include some feather dressed hooks, marabou or rabbit dressed hooks, marabou wrapped tube sections, bucktail wrapped sections, and a few different keeled head sections.


COMPONENT TUBE FLIES

BROOKIES DEVOUR COMPONENT TUBES

If the fish are feeding on smaller minnows, I simply take a head tube section and put either a short dressed hook or a plain hook behind it. The bigger the baitfish, the bigger I go behind the head section. A wrapped marabou section of a couple of spacer beads and a feather or bucktail dressed hook can easily assemble a light 6” long fly. I can even mix and match colours in the fly to create a unique look that the fish won’t have seen before. If you think having a red collar is important, add it. If you think it is making the fish shy away, take it out. It’s that simple. An added benefit of assembling component flies is that there is no solid hook shank running down the middle of your fly. The hinged components create a much more life-like motion.

COMPONENT TUBES GUARD AGAINST BITE-OFFS FROM BIG, TOOTHY CRITTERS

Component Tubes for Muskie This versatile component system is ideal for fly fishing for muskie, and my good friend Ken Collins from Grand River Troutfitters and I endeavoured to develop a combination which worked. Previously, we had with giant Deceivers tied on two hooks—9/0 worm hook up front with the biggest spinnerbait trailer hooks that we could find for a stinger. This was a pretty serious chunk of metal to throw, even before we put the longest bucktail we could find on the front hook and garlanded the rear hook with the longest and best quality schlappen feathers we could find.

Component tubes made things so much easier. We can now make flies fuller, get better action out of them, and we’re limited only by the length of our leader as to how big we can make the fly. The tubes also have the benefit of being so much lighter than flies tied on hook shanks. Stacked in-line tube flies over a foot long can be cast easily with a good 8 weight rod. An added bonus is that without the weight and rigidity of a hook shank, these “spineless” flies really come to life in the water. Weight can be added in the exact amount and location in the fly to facilitate the desired performance. A typical muskie component tube fly consists of a bucktail based head with big eyes, followed by filler collars of bucktail, a tube of schlappen feathers, and a large treble hook dressed with feathers at the business end.

V A R I AT I O N S

A COLLECTION OF CREATIVE COMPONENT TUBE FLIES—THE ONLY LIMIT IS YOUR IMAGINATION

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The Mottled Sculpin Component Tube Head Section Recipe Tube:

E umer small ­plastic 1”-1.5” long Junction: Soft tubing 1/16” (about 3/8” long) Eyes: Lead hourglass painted (medium) Tail: Marabou (orange) Body: Mottled marabou (tan) Legs: Silicone rubber (pumpkin) Flash: Krystal Flash (root beer) Dubbing: Mottled marabou (tan)

Tying The Tube: with a few firm wraps of thread. Tie in an orange marabou feather.

STEP 1

that the strands stick out either side of the fly.

STEP 5

STEP 3

1. After flaring the ends of the tube with a lighter, slide junction tubing onto the rear end of the tube and secure it in a tube holder in the vice. Attach the thread and secure hourglass eyes to the tube with crossing wraps of thread, ensuring that a solid base of thread is on the hook shank.

5. Tie in and wrap another grizzly mara3. Tie in a mottled marabou feather or large webby hen hackle in front of the orange tail. Wrap this feather as a hackle in front of the tail.

bou feather in front of the flash and legs. Tie it off immediately behind the eyes.

STEP 6

STEP 4

STEP 2

6. Using a bit of dubbing wax, dub grizzly 2. Work the thread back to the end of

4. In front of the mottled marabou, fold

the tube and secure the junction tubing

in the rubber legs and Krystal Flash, so

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marabou fluff on the thread and wrap it around the hourglass eyes. Tie off and trim the thread.


COMPONENT STREAMERS Building Components Extension tubes for these flies consist of short sections of tubing wrapped with marabou. Rubber legs or flash can be added to these. Having junction tubing on the end of the tubes allows them to be secured together. You can build a long sculpin by linking multiple tubes.

looks right. Securing the tail into soft junction tubing allows you to keep it pointing

upwards, preventing snag-ups with stream bed debris. B

TAIL 2

OPTION 2

TAIL 3

OPTION 3

Tying The Tail: TAIL 1

Tails can be as simple as a short shank hook, a zonker strip, wrapped marabou, or soft hackle feathers. Choose what you think

Saving damsels one cast at a time.

FLY FISHING FOR EVERYONE

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I BY RANDY TAYLOR

The Char of Payne River One of fly fishing’s more ignoble traditions is telling stories of the good old days. You know the story—it starts with an untouched river or lake and ends with ferocious battles with big, wild fish. Happily, Canadian anglers remain blessed with waters where the good old days still exist. One enduring paradise for fly anglers is the Payne River, a major Arctic river that flows into Ungava Bay at the 60th parallel in Nunavik in n ­ orthern Quebec, about 1,800 kilometres due north of Montreal and 240 kilometres northwest of Kuujjuaq.

CASTING ON THE DRIFT

I’ve had the pleasure of fishing the Payne twice, most recently in July of 2009, staying at Arctic Adventures’ Payne River Camp along with good friends and Fly Fishing Canada members, Donald Thom and John Beaven. While the Payne River, particularly in its upper reaches, is also home to impressive brook trout and lake trout, the fishing at the Payne River Camp is all about Arctic char. Here, the fish are measured in pounds rather than inches—just as the fishing gods intended. I like that. Payne River char typically range between

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three and 14 pounds, with an average over five pounds and several ten pound fish caught daily. The camp record is 18 pounds. Like salmon, Arctic char are

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sea-run fish that reproduce in fresh water. Once juvenile char reach three to five years old (8 – 15 cm in length), t h e y b e gi n to join in summer migrations down-river to Ungava Bay, where they feed on small fish (including sand lance and capelin)


Payne River Camp FISHING THE LONG, LINGERING ARCTIC TWIGHLIGHT

Well north of the treeline, Arctic Adventures’ Payne River Camp is strategically sheltered on the shore of a bay on Payne’s brackish fjord about 40 kilometres from Ungava Bay and the Inuit settlement of Kangirsuk. It’s big water fishing here, where the fjord is several kilometeres across, and well-powered 24-foot freighter canoes take you out to the fish when the tide is right. As the camp is only open in July and early August during the peak char run, you don’t have to travel far to find fish! The Ungava region is definitely not a DIY location but, despite its remoteness, Arctic Adventures makes it easy, taking care of everything once you get to Montreal. Stephen Ashton and his team at Arctic Adventures apparently have no control over Arctic weather, but everything else is very well looked after. The camp’s hosts, Carole and Calvin Buckle, have been looking after Payne River anglers since before any guests can remember. They, along with the easy going and cheerful Inuit guides, go out of their way to ensure guests have a safe and enjoyable week at the camp. The guides have a thorough understanding of the water and the fish. Trust them—they will take you to fish! and shrimp. They feed voraciously for a number of weeks before returning inland to spend the winter. Char reach sexual maturity at age seven or eight, when they measure up to 50 cm, and spawn between CARIBOU CROSSING late September and early October, when they boast their characteristic brilliant red underside. It is believed the summer, but rather spend a whole year that most mature Arctic char do not in fresh water before moving to spawning spawn upon re-entering freshwater in areas the following fall.

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Lord only knows how many char migrate through the Payne fjord every summer. The fishing is so spectacular that, if I were to guess how many, I suspect men in white suits would come looking for me. Payne’s remoteness, low angling pressure and its awesome size and flow, with currents far too powerful for netting, no doubt contribute to the fjord’s continued reputation as a very special fishery.

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The Char of Payne River LOW TIDE REVEALS HOLDING STRUCTURE

INTO A BIG ONE

RELEASING SILVER

When hooked, the char’s single focus is to pull, rather than jump, and, fresh from the sea, these silver, turbo-charged, tug-of-war champs pull hard! As a result, fishing for char the Payne is not for the faint of heart. At the end of each day, your hands, wrists, arms and shoulders will ache from battling them. It’s tough work, but someone has to do it!

Tactics

The fjord’s massive 40-foot tides dictate the fishing times. Anglers start their fishing day when the tide fills the bay to a depth that enables the guides to run the boats out to the fjord’s main channel. The tides make each day a study of wonderful contrasts. Every 6 ½ hours or so, the camp’s home bay is either filled with water or nothing but sand and rocks. What’s more, the tides turn the fjord into a fast flowing river that

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offers anglers another unique experience, for i f yo u r g u i d e has you revisit a morning spot in the afternoon, it’s as if you’ve been transported to an alternate universe—It’ll look much the same as it did in the morning, but the current will be flowing in the opposite direction. As a general rule, if you cast in water that is 10 feet or less (shallow enough to see bottom) with good current, chances are you’ll soon be into fish. As the tides are constantly changing, you will need to move position periodically. Slack water also holds char, but the big brutes tend to hang out in, or at the edge of, fast current.

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The tides also influence anglers’ tactics. During high tide, fishing with fast sinking lines (DI7) and big streamers from drifting boats is very effective. In particular, with the wind at your back, you make a long cast quartering off the bow (or stern), retrieve only enough to keep a tight line until the line swings around in front of the boat, at which time you can start pulling the fly back in—that is, if the char will let you! Drifting over underwater rocky shoals in this manner is about as close to ‘can’t miss’ as there is in fishing—second only to the low tide tactics described below. Also, at higher tides it pays to keep a look-


Other Attractions Beluga whales visit the Payne fjord from time to time, and can offer an interesting distraction while you rest from your last tussle with a big char. One morning, we took a break from the incredible fishing just to stare awestruck at a group of belugas cruising around the fjord. What strange and beautiful animals! There are also huge herds of caribou. Most mornings, as we enjoyed our breakfast, we could see through the lodge window hundreds of them parading past on their northern pilgrimage.

FISHING A TIDE RIP FROM SHORE

out for diving birds, which will lead you to the baitfish and the char foraging on them from beneath. As the tide recedes, rocky islands and shoals begin to emerge across the river, and feeding char tend to gather in the swift current channels that form along and between them. The best technique is to anchor the boat in these areas, cast down and across the current. Fishing from the banks at this time can also be fast and furious. Low tide is when floating and intermediate lines come into their own. John Beaven and Donald Thom shared with me a particularly effective floating line method. When we spotted a char moving near the surface, we cast a disturbance dry fly (such as a mouse, Bomber or well-Ginked Muddler) well in front of and beyond the fish, pulled it back some across the surface with a raised rod tip, and then dropped the tip to create slack line allowing the fly to dead drift downstream. If all went according to plan, we would soon see the swells of char swimming toward it just below the surface. Just before the char reached it, we would pull it off the water, make a false cast, drop it back exactly where it had been, and let it continue its dead drift. Before long, the char would murder it. Exciting stuff!

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The Char of Payne River

RANDY AND FRIENDS

These are very aggressive fish, and each day there are times when it’s possible to catch fish after fish and return to camp with an unbelievable catch total. When the fishing starts to overheat, I’d encourage you to take a break, or try a different area or a new method—in other words exercise a little restraint. The fish gods will thank you and no doubt return the favour when the fishing is tough. As mentioned, the Payne River is a very special place, and keeping our impact to a minimum will help ensure it stays that way.

Gear

Rods of 7 or 8 weight are suitable, and any sturdy reel with a decent drag capable of holding 100 yards of backing will suffice. Lines of all densities can be effective, but a floater and a very fast sinker (such as Airflo’s 40Plus Expert DI7) are essential.

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Leader material for streamers should be no finer than 1X and, for “dries”, 2X. Be sure to bring spare rods and plenty of flies and leader material. These fish are hard on gear and the nearest fly shop is 1,000 miles away. If Payne River char swam in more southern, less remote, waters, I suspect the words “fly rod” and

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tie your own, the camp has a great selection of all the winning patterns.

See You There!

It’s expensive to run a first rate fishing operation at such a remote location, particularly when the camp is only open during the short peak season. Accordingly, a trip to Payne River camp isn’t cheap, but for an adventurous traveling fly angler with priorities fixed on awesome fishing, it’s worth every penny and then some. I admit that, when negotiating spousal consent for a fishing trip, I (like most married anglers I suspect) play the “once in a lifetime opportunity” card a bit too often to be credible. In fact, I played that card the first time I went to the Payne River Camp in 2005, as it had been on my bucket list for far too long at the time. However, the good old days at Payne River Camp still come around every July so the “once in a lifetime opportunity” description may not be entirely accurate— what’s more, if you go once, you’ll soon be planning and saving for a trip back. I’ll be back, and I can’t wait. B

A FAMILIAR ARCTIC ICON

“unlimited lifetime guarantee” would never have been heard in the same sentence.

Flies

The top fly patterns include robust fourinch long streamers (Millbrook, black and olive or black and tan Double Bunnies, black and grey Sheep Shaggers) and size 4-6 deer hair “dries” (Mice, Bombers, Muddlers). All flies must be barbless. Your guide, who may on any given day net and release a hundred or more char from the two sports in his boat, will thank you. What’s more, it seems that char simply refuse to let go, making barbs unnecessary and superfluous. Tie your streamers lean to better imitate the shape of the sand lance, which by all appearances is the char’s favourite fare. Flies need not be fancy, but they do need to be rugged. Char’s sharp teeth make short work of flies with fragile bits and pieces. If you don’t

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Perhaps the greatest thrill in freshwater fly fishing is the rise of a “bigger-than-a-small-child” Atlantic salmon to a dry fly. Imagine if you will a soft August morning on the Cascapedia River in the Gaspé Peninsula. In the space of about an hour last summer, Montrealer Murray Palevsky released a pair of salmon, one male, one female, both of which exceeded forty pounds. Moreover, both were taken on the same dry fly, a Bomber. Unlikely as it is that any of us will share that experience, perhaps it might whet your ­appetite sufficiently to read on.

ALLAN MORENCY DRIFTS A DRY FLY OVER SEVERAL SALMON HOLDING AROUND A SUNKEN, AND BURIED, LOG JAM ON THE ST. JEAN RIVER (GASPÉ).

ALLAN MORENCY PREPARES TO RELEASE A ST. JEAN RIVER (GASPÉ) SALMON.

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A GROUP OF SALMON AND SEA RUN BROOK TROUT ARE TOTALLY VISIBLE THROUGH THE CRYSTALCLEAR WATER OF THE ST. JEAN RIVER (GASPÉ).

Top Gaspé Dry Fly Salmon Rivers Given that one can fish a dry fly on any salmon river, some Gaspe streams occupy the top tier. On these, it is rarely necessary to fish the water, anyone home is standing in the window. Among the most celebrated is the Saint Jean, where Pavillon Saint-Jean guests have access to the best water in addition to outstanding accommodation. Visit www.pavillonsaint-jean.ca or call 1-866-584-3622.for complete information. As true of almost all Gaspe rivers, the Saint-Jean also has unlimited access daily rod-fee and preseason-draw sectors.

FRANCE FOREST REMOVES A BOMBER FROM THE JAW OF A ST. JEAN RIVER (GASPÉ) SALMON HELD BY ALLAN MORENCY.

Fishing the Water

One factor frames any discussion of dry fly fishing for salmon: quarry visibility. When faced with nothing more than possibilities, we are forced to adopt methods offering the most efficient coverage. Particularly when sharing a pool, this means an approach compatible with other anglers who may be fishing wet flies. Lacking specific intelligence, try to evaluate the pool for potential holding lies such as current edges, submerged rocks, ledge edges, or fissures, and plan how best to cover them with dead-drift floats. For example, an edge can be covered with a drift perhaps 18 inches on the nearside and then right along the edge. Remember to keep up the pace of other anglers by taking longer steps in the rotation, perhaps two steps after two casts. When alone I always use a variation of the greased line method described below to skate the fly to my bank before moving downstream. It takes longer to cover the pool, but may induce a salmon to betray its presence.

With large numbers of visible targets, I invariably choose a wet fly to start because of its greater coverage. Such was the case while fishing one of the Saint Jean’s (Gaspé) best pools last summer. During the initial downstream rotation a grilse came to hand. For turn two I reversed directions and began covering the scores of salmon in the run with a Carter Bug. Our guide, Allan Morency, pointed out a small area close to the far shore where the current was slowed by a subsurface rock finger. “Cast just above the finger and let the fly float over the pocket,” he suggested. Nil result after several “approved” drifts, so I went back to unsuccessfully working the mob in front of my nose. A few hours after lunch my companion, France Forest, vindicated Allan’s advice by extracting a nice salmon with a Bomber from the hard to recognize lie. It’s this kind of knowledge, gained from personal experience or that of a guide, that vastly improves one’s “luck” with unseen

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If you haven’t fished salmon in Quebec, or are interested in a new area, Saumon Quebec is the source of enlightenment. Visit their website at www.saumonquebec.com and take advantage of the many resources such as the free guides and maps. Not wired? Call 1-866-972-8666.

fish. Even when starting with a wet fly, some situations recommend switching to a dry fly before finishing a rotation. One is the uneven break-over edge at the tail. Salmon entering the pool will frequently hold, at least temporarily, in this area. Here a wet fly swing results in haphazard coverage. It’s better to work all the current tongues with short floats of a downstream dry fly.

Sight Fishing

Salmon either seen or discovered offer additional choices. One can work a single fish until out of light, or try a couple of variations and move on. Much depends upon the number of

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Atlantic Salmon on the Dry

ANGLER FISHES DOWN A ST. JEAN RIVER (GASPÉ) POOL.

ALLAN MORENCY GUIDES A CANOE THROUGH A STONEY RUN ON THE ST. JEAN RIVER (GASPÉ).

ALLAN MORENCY AND DRAPER CLARK POLING A ST JEAN RIVER (GASPÉ) CANOE.

opportunities and your personality. As previously described, when dozens of salmon are potential Santas, I keep moving until one shows significant interest. Then, after a rest and an unsuccessful retry, I’ll offer at least a half-dozen patterns, returning to the original temptress several times. The initial approach is always a dead drift starting a foot or 18 inches ahead of the salmon. See a twitch? Perhaps try several variations. Pop the fly on top of the fish five or six times, or drag the fly over its head a couple of times, then return to the standard dead drift. Despite the occasional (very) success with these methods,

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I’ll typically change patterns as described and then look to possible skating or wet fly approaches. Recently, on the advice of correspondent Brian Sturrock, I watched a video of an angler succeeding (twice) with a variation of the pop or drag tactic. The fly was false-cast, perhaps twenty times, over the head of the fish without letting the fly touch the water. Then the business delivery, as recommended above, landed the fly just upstream of the salmon. A spotter to relay the target’ “attitude” proved a big help. This approach is on my “must try” list for this season.

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Best Pools for Dries

Whether or not salmon are visible, a few pool types are particularly suited to the dry fly. For example, covering the area immediately downstream of a waterfall demands upstream casts. Large gorges are similar except the approach is likely to be from a boat. Less spectacular, but more frequently encountered, are small-river pools where vegetation limits wet fly tactics. When the surroundings dictate, such as a lie outside the main current in an accessible gorge, dibbling may be the only method available for presenting a dry fly. A wonder-


FLY8THFISHING CANADA NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS

& CONSERVATION SYMPOSIUM MAY 27 – 29 • ROBLIN, MANITOBA This year’s National Championships returns to Manitoba’s Parkland. Hosted by the community of Roblin, the event will feature some of Manitoba’s prime waters for trout and other game species, as well as the usual, cutting edge Conservation Symposium. Join us for a week of sharing fly fishing expertise, friendly competition, and camaraderie. For more information, visit our Web site at: www.flyfishingcanada.net

YOUTH FLY FISHING SCHOOL

fully onomatopoeic word, “dibbling” refers to presenting the fly vertically below the tip of the rod and causing it to alternatively rise from and fall to the surface. When dibbling I change to a sinking Polyleader and increase the pound-test of the tippet—the first to help control the presentation, the second to protect against the additional stress of the strike. Interestingly, the genesis of the so-called greased line presentation method was a dibbled fly. Moreover, even when cursorily examined, the greased line method is nothing more than an initial drag-free presentation of a small (in salmon terms) wet fly near the surface (emerger anyone?) followed by a standard wet fly swing. The term “greased line” was synonymous with floating line in pre-plastic times. In the words of the developer, A. E. Woods, “. . . my fly is very often floating or just awash, especially during the first portion of the cast. If the water is suitable, I cast across and slightly up-stream, leaving slack line and letting the fly drift down until the line begins to tighten; during most of this time the fly will be floating, and I often get fish at that part of the cast. When the line tightens the fly will go under water, but as the line and part of the cast [leader] are still floating, the fly is only just under the water” (Fisherman’s Pie,1932). Although not included in the above quotation, mending the line to generate a standard down-and-across swing was considered essential.

Fly Fishing Canada, in conjunction with the host community of Roblin and various municipalities of Manitoba’s Parkland, will conduct a youth fly fishing school at the Village of Sandy Lake, Manitoba on May 22 and 23 to kick off the week of the National Fly Fishing Championships and Conservation Symposium. Any boys and girls between the ages of 13 and 18 are invited to attend and be trained in the art of loch-style fly-fishing practiced during international competition on stillwaters. No former skills are required, as the workshop will focus on teaching at the entry level. At the same time, upgrading for those with basic skills will be provided. A casting clinic will also be included in the programme. The instruction is free, but participants must provide their own accommodation and meals during the 2-day event. Most will either camp at Sandy Lake Campground, or find accommodation at the Elkhorn Resort near Onanole, Manitoba. For more information on that aspect of the event, contact robgolf@ mts.net. Chaperones will be provided for those youths traveling alone. Among the instructors will be the Canadian Gold Medal team, the Cormorants, winners from the National Championships held in Fernie in 2009, as well as Team Palmer, a group of British soldiers on leave from Afghanistan and highly skilled in British-European angling techniques. One or more members of the River Ninjas, Canada’s Youth Team, which competes internationally, will also be present, along with Bob Sheedy, the youth coordinator and coach.

Watch out for the full story of this national event in the next issue of The Canadian Fly Fisher (August/October).

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Atlantic Salmon on the Dry

ST. JEAN RIVER (GASPÉ).

KAREN GUIMOND DRIFTS A DRY OVER THE TAIL OF A GODBOUT RIVER POOL.

DRAPER CLARK RELEASES A ST. JEAN RIVER (GASPÉ) SALMON.

The Hook Set

Exhilarating as is the take to a dry, watching the fly sail overhead after the set is truly depressing. To avoid needing a dose of Prozac, make sure the fly has been taken before striking—particularly when the take is downstream of your position, or when dibbling, patience is a virtue. At least that’s my experience. Some advise an immediate set, others the antithesis, letting the fish set the hook by itself. I’ve seen too many big fish missed from an excess of enthusiasm to follow the first recommendation and am emotionally incapable of adopting the second.

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Gear

No special tackle is needed for dry fly fishing. Although it may seem that only singlehanded rods need apply, a light two-hander is fully capable, providing drifts are kept short. That said, particular attention needs be paid to the leader. Fishing a wet fly, I frequently use a uniform length of monofilament. But, when casting a big Bomber with that rig I’m reminded of trying to throw a balloon. Instead, try a floating Polyleader with a monofilament tippet—length adjusted for conditions. Of course, you can roll your own. Richard Nightingale Salmon Chronicles (2000)

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recommends a 2-part, blood-knotted, 6’ butt section (4’ of 40-pound and 2’ of 20-pound Maxima) with a Mono Loop Knot at both ends. To this he adds a tippet of the desired length and strength, also using a Mono Loop Knot. I can’t prove whether or not a flashing leader shadow puts salmon off, but I want my tippet to sink under clear-water/sunny-sky conditions.

Conditions

Predicting salmon behaviour with a voice of authority is an invitation to ridicule. Regardless, most experienced salmon anglers


Fly Patterns FRANCE FOREST CASTS OVER SALMON IN A ST JEAN RIVER (GASPÉ) POOL.

keep their Bomber boxes shut until the water temperature creeps above 12˚ C (kelts don’t count!). Beyond that, dawn to dusk, rain or shine, providing the water isn’t muddy be prepared to give a dry a try.

And then....

At the foot of Big Indian Pool on the Saint Jean was a silky smooth glide filled with salmon and sea-run brook trout. Guarded 24/7 against poaching, its inhabitants were notoriously closed mouthed. Despite their reputation, I simply couldn’t ignore such a cornucopia completely. “I’ll just show them something different,” I said to Allan while bending on a salmon-sized Klinkhamer Special. On the first drift over a double-digit salmon—was that a twitch? On the next cast the salmon ignored the fly, but not the four pound sea-run nearby. After the landing there was no more action from either trout or salmon. “Ah well,” I said to Allan as we headed back upstream, “that was one nice brookie.” When dry fly fishing for salmon we can’t all have Murray Palevsky’s touch, but I live in hope!

Paul’s latest book, Atlantic Salmon: A Fly Fishing Reference, is available from Gale’s End Press, www.galesendpress.com. B

As imitating food is of no general concern in salmon fishing, pattern creators are freed from the bonds of hatch matching. What follows are designs I carry or see frequently in the boxes of companions. Two rare occasions to break out appropriate trout patterns are when kelts (salmon returning to the sea after over-wintering in the river) are rising to an early season hatch of stoneflies or when a fresh salmon gets turned on by a heavy mayfly hatch.

Bomber: Without question the runaway winner of the popularity poll. Staying in the mainstream, bodies are of clipped spun deer hair with a palmered hackle, wing(s) and tail of calf tail. A single-wing style rules Atlantic Canada, Wulff-style wings Quebec. Typically, but not exclusively, Bombers are tied on down-eye, extra-long shank, hooks in sizes 2 to 6. Strange colour combinations are the stuff of myth, but typical lead-off hitters are white (or natural body) with a brown or orange hackle.

Wulff: Although less frequently seen on the water, most boxes still hold a few patterns, particularly of the White and Royal persuasion. Other converted trout flies include those with the floatability of spun deer hair bodies, such as the Rat-faced McDougall and Irresistible.

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Bug: When combined with the wet variety, deer hair Bugs run away from Bombers, but when intended to be fished dry (generally larger with bulbous or roughtrimmed bodies) they only place—even Newfoundland’s ubiquitous Orange Bug (white with orange hackle).

MacIntosh: An excellent pattern for the greased line method as applied to dry flies. It floats awash during the dead-drift portion and then pulls under well for the swing.

Foam Flies: While seemingly a natural for large flies, foam has never managed to seriously rival spun deer hair. Regardless, numerous patterns have emerged and my boxes contain at least a half-dozen styles.

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T E C H N I Q U E S

I BY BOB SHEEDY

TEAM CAPTAIN ENJOYS A KNOWING, MERCENARY GRIN AS TEAMMATE DAVID NONOMURA SHAKES OFF THE EFFECTS OF ANOTHER KNOCKDOWN

Since the successes of the Canadian Youth Team at the 2008 Canadian National Fly Fishing Championships at Mt. Tremblant, Q.C., considerable interest has been ­generated in the wading techniques these youthful anglers employed— techniques which earned them the name “River Ninjas”. To many observers it was obvious and invoked statements from the grown-ups such as, “Wait until they gain forty pounds and forty years. Things will be equal then.”

It’s somewhat true that one obvious parameter may have given them an “edge” over their more aged competitors—their ability to wade in rougher, boulder-strewn water. The name River Ninjas arose from those winning sessions and, for some, has come to evoke horrific scenes for the mothers of teenagers who risk life and limb while tumbling through mistfilled cataracts to do battle with the finned critters rumoured to thrive in such places.

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Nothing could be further from the truth. For, should any prospective youth team member attempt daredevil or outright stupid risk-taking stunts, they’d end up watching from the riverbank. Each has to develop and prove wading in a safe and sane manner before being allowed to tangle with heavier currents. Actually, it was Ian Colin James who dubbed the team with their colourful name, and it had little to do with wading at the time.

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Ian had clambered down the 897 wooden stairs on the upper reaches of the Diable River designated as competition water, where a shadowy, youthful figure was perched against a rock; another was visible as just a hand and rod reaching over a rock further downstream, and there was a head with a rod seemingly attached clinging to yet another boulder. He turned to Coach Sheedy and said in his distinctive Scot burl, “Sheedy, I’m feeling


Wade Like A Ninja FROM HIS PRESENT HAVEN, JOHN BRANSFIELD “FISHES OUT” THE NEXT BOULDER HE WILL UTILIZE TO SHIELD HIS LEGS FROM THE STRONG CURRENT

JOHN BRANSFIELD USES THE NEXT BOULDER BOTH AS A HIDEOUT AND A CURRENT SHIELD AS HE COVERS THE WATER TO HIS NEXT PROTECTED LOCATION

WHEN LACKING ANOTHER BOULDER JOHN B. USES THE NEXT BEST THING, A BREAK IN THE CURRENT WHERE BACK EDDIES MAKE THE WATER APPEAR TO BE MOVING IN TWO DIRECTIONS.

a little uneasy here. I could get mugged at any moment. What are you creating here—a bunch of &^%* River Ninjas?” It’s true that there wasn’t a complete youngster to be seen. The real-life ninjas were just a bunch of lowlife mercenaries who operated in 14th century Japan for the highest bidder, or guarded shipments for their betters. When they went on the prowl to do their dirty work, it wasn’t their five-foot weaponry that Hollywood loves to blow out of proportion that built their mystique. Rather, their stock in trade was their ability to invisibly penetrate the defences of another member of the peerage, at the very least leave their target and his staff incapacitated, and then depart leaving no evidence to trace their nefarious presence to the peer who had hired and sent them. That is exactly what Ian meant and what those members of

the Canadian Youth Fly Fishing Team were perfecting—not the ability to fill waders with water, but absolute stealth. As a boy, I learned to catch trout in a stream that a good long jumper could cross with a single bound in most places. There were not many cataracts or tumbling currents in the Hudson Creek. If one was to catch anything at all, it would be done without the wily wee trout having been aware of my presence. A single errant footfall or a misguided peek over the bank would send them fleeing to their bolt holes in undercuts and tree roots where they seemed to remain for hours afterwards. No amount of enticement would get them to bite, even though we knew exactly where they hid. They were spooked. Sometimes we could even see them in their lairs on days when the water was clear in August, but most assuredly, they saw us, too.

The message they sent as they ignored my finest hand-tied offerings or juicy garden hackle was “How stupid do you think I am?” In time, I learned to approach on hands and knees, part the sedge grasses or peek from behind alders. I learned to use cover to break up my outline and keep movement to a minimum, or to utilize the sway of branches moved by the wind in normal natural patterns to mask my approach. Light coloured clothing? I only wore white to Sunday school—where they seldom taught the art of stealth, other than when frequently sneaking off to the washroom. Nothing has changed. Fish, especially trout, remain the same. They will continue to feed quite happily, snapping every delectable morsel that meets or emulates their menu for that day or hour, provided they remain unaware of the angler’s presence.

UNDETERRED BY RECENT SWIMMING EVENTS, THE INTREPID DAVID NONOMURA DEMONSTRATES THE ART OF CZECH-NYMPHING THE OTHER SIDE OF HIS BOULDER HIDEOUT

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THE CANADIAN FLY FISHER • MAY/JULY 2010

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Wade Like A Ninja MAXIMIZING PRACTICE OPPORTUNITIES ON AND OFF WATER, COACH SHEEDY UTILIZES THE FOUNTAIN IN THE TOWN SQUARE TO DEMONSTRATE A NEW TECHNIQUE, MUCH TO THE DELIGHT OF RESIDENTS OF CHOTEBOR, CZECH REPUBLIC.

A CLASSIC EXAMPLE OF HOW NOT TO EXAMINE PROSPECTIVE WATER. FIGURE ON RETURNING IN AN HOUR TO FISH THE HOT SPOTS NOTED DURING SUCH EXAMINATIONS.

When wading nowadays, we try to use felt soles whenever possible. Carbide cleats are wonderfully secure in their grip, but in nature the only click and grinding sound comes from stones rolling during high water. The same may be said for wading staffs. They are sometimes required, but often just putting a hand down and using the nearest rock to keep balance is a much quieter technique when larger trout are nearby. One must know the water to decide whether a full length body slam into a pool creates a larger disturbance than the click-clickclick of feeling about with a concave carbide party-popper.

Here are some of the techniques we drill into members of the youth team, depending upon water encountered: • Never march up to a riverbank. Always come from behind something and peek, then gradually cover the water with few movements from unobtrusive positions. This is especially true in lakes or slick water, unless it’s a day with wind and rippled water. • Use bushes, grass, and other cover to mask a slow approach. Try to avoid the side of the river that allows direct sight into undercuts in the riverbank, or by stumps and rocks. • Distance is our friend in low, skinny water and on larger streams. On such rivers there is usually room for a back cast, so there is no

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need to froth the water with roll casts. Longline nymphing techniques or outright dry fly fishing can be employed with longer drifts from longer casts. • When distance casting in skinny, slick water, or when sight fishing for grayling in European rivers that offer no cover or weeds to stand in, squat in the water. Otherwise you stand like a scarecrow in the middle of a liquid field. Once fish are located, the easiest way to avoid detection is drop out of the tiny mirrored view the fish has off the water’s surface. • I n rougher, boulder-strewn water, use holes behind rocks to shield your legs from the thrust of the current. First, fish out the rocks from a similar station downstream. Then approach through the protected slick to stand in the hole that invariably lies on the downstream side of the next fished-out boulder, and, if it’s large enough, lean over it or squat to fish upstream through the next slick, eddy or hole behind all reachable boulders nearby. • Can’t get cover? Stand or kneel against a boulder. Better still, just stick your rod around it. Don’t skyline. • Avoid becoming a moving object against any sort of background. • Avoid contrasting backgrounds. • Fish often feed in calmer water along the shore, where much hatching or pre-hatch assembling of nymphs occurs. In this case, stand in faster water and cast to the calmer water. Use the roiled water to destroy your

THE CANADIAN FLY FISHER • MAY/JULY 2010

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outline and the fish’s mirror to the universe. • Can fish see colour? Of course they can. Why else do we spend so much time blending colors in our feathered and furred creations? Red bandanas may make for great magazine cover shots, but leave them off until it’s time for the shot. The same goes for white hats. In this case, the good guys wear black—or better still green, dark navy, or camo. • It’s so convenient to have tools handy, all neatly strung around our necks. Unfortunately, they advertise every movement we make, twinkling away in the sun, reflecting and refracting down into the depths. If you must hang your hardware, choose matte black finishes over that gorgeous chrome plating. • Weedy portions of the river can be fished with light nymphs or even dry flies. Weeds make great cover when we stand in them. Often the fish leave themselves only a feeding slit view into the world above and never suspect that the angler is there until the hook set. B

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I BY JIM MCLENNAN

Chasing Bulls LYNDA MCLENNAN ON ALBERTA’S OLDMAN RIVER

My, how times have changed.

It wasn’t that long ago that bull trout were called Dolly Varden and ­considered vermin. Viewed as villainous predators, these native western char were thought to consume more than their share of the other more desirable and more “sporting” fish in the streams. In 1980 taxonomists concluded that bull trout (Salvelinus confluentis) and Dolly Varden (Salvelinus malma) are distinct s­pecies, and it was around that time that the bull trout’s star began to rise, thanks in part to our better understanding of them and the niche they occupy in ­western ­ecosystems. In even more recent years the bull trout has become a ­rallying point for the crusade to preserve and restore native species.

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THE CANADIAN FLY FISHER • MAY/JULY 2010

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A BIG BULL CHEWING A GIANT CLOUSER

HAPPY FLY FISHER WITH A DECENT BULL

Prior to this new era of appreciation, bull trout were in serious decline through most of their range, thanks to a perfect storm of causes. Being aggressive predators, they were relatively easy to catch, particularly when tempted by some of the “old-time” methods which employed ingredients such as raw liver, whole whitefish, and live mice. The people fishing this way viewed it as win-win: get a meal for the whole family and do the stream a favour by removing a nasty thug at the same time. And though you still occasionally encounter this sentiment today, such pioneer mentality toward bull trout was prevalent through the middle of the 20th century. It is significant that this was also a time when great parts of the western wilderness were being opened up by human activities such as logging, oil and gas exploration, and tourism. The increase in number of roads, trails, and cutlines, along with the appearance of mechanical contraptions, such as ATVs, mountain bikes, trail bikes, and 4X4s, allowed a growing population easy entry into the formerly inaccessible places where bull trout lived. Loss of habitat and competition from introduced fish species also contributed to their decline. Add to this the fact that bull trout don’t spawn until they are at least five years old, and you have a formula for serious depletion—which is precisely what occurred. Through the mid and late 20th century, fewer and fewer bull trout were making it to spawning age without encountering a fisherman and his frying pan.

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However, today the harvest of bull trout is justifiably restricted in most places. Catch limits range from zero to two fish in parts of B.C. and the Yukon, to zero fish province-wide in Alberta. The latter regulation was implemented in 1995 when the bull trout was designated Alberta’s provincial fish.

Fly Fishing for Bulls

The attractions of fly fishing for bull trout are many and strong. Starting with perhaps the most crass, it’s just hard to dislike a fish that might grow to ten pounds in a stream you can spit across. If you want to be a little more new-age and sensitive about things you can remind yourself that bull trout live in harsh and lonely places where their simple presence indicates health in a wild ecosystem. There’s also a sort of prehistoric, mysterious quality to bull trout that many fly fishers find fascinating.

The Main Method: Down Deep Streamers You can take a casual or a committed approach to fishing for bulls. If you’re casual, you simply add a small serving of bull trout to the main course of other species you’re pursuing in the same water. Depending on where you fish, the other species could be cutthroats, rainbows, brookies, whitefish, or Arctic grayling. While going about your business with these, you simply keep an eye out for a bull trout opportunity. It might come when you see a bull holding in a clear pool ahead of you. When that happens, cut back your leader to

THE CANADIAN FLY FISHER • MAY/JULY 2010

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Chasing Bulls A GOOD BULL FROM SMALL WATER

CLEAR, DEEP WATER--IDEAL BULL TROUT HABITAT

OX or 1X, tie on a big streamer that you should be carrying for just this moment, and swim it about the pool. Persistence is important. The fish may see and ignore your fly through 50 casts, and then casually open up and inhale it on cast number 51. Or, your bull trout moment may arrive in a more startling manner when a big green shape appears suddenly from somewhere (maybe from beneath the rock you’re standing on) to take a run at a fish you’ve already hooked. You’d think it would be easy to catch one of these fish because they’re so obviously interested in eating, but in truth it isn’t. You’ll catch some of them, but others will ignore your fly or come for a cursory look and then disappear back from whence they came. There’s something about the erratic, panicky movement of a small fish fighting against a line that puts fire in a bull trout’s eyes, but it’s a movement that’s difficult to duplicate with a streamer. (Note to creative fly tyers: Here’s your opportunity. How about a new streamer that mimics this movement when it’s retrieved?) If you want to take a committed approach to bull trout fishing, the first thing to do is to

leave all the sissy tackle—the little dry flies, light rods and floating lines—in the truck. This might not be easy if you’re in a place where the fishing is great for other species. But suck it up; you’re in the big leagues now. My friend Bert Kutos is the most serious bull trout hunter I know. He uses a 6, 7, or 8 weight rod with a very fast-sinking sink-tip line, and a 5 or 6 foot leader of straight 15 lb fluorocarbon. He uses streamers that are six

THE CANADIAN FLY FISHER • MAY/JULY 2010

Sight Fishing

One of the ways to seriously fish for bulls is to walk the stream, looking for visible fish. It’s common to see one or more holding deep in the heart of a clear pool, doing nothing. That “doing nothing” part is a problem. These fish are inactive, and consequently difficult to catch. You can spend a lot of time on them without much success. But if you see a bull in the head or tailout of a pool, or in any water less than three feet deep, you have a better candidate. You can fish from upstream, across, or downstream of visible fish. Try to stay out of the fish’s sight as you get into casting position, and drop your streamer far enough upstream

BULLS LIKE BIG WOOLLY BUGGERS

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or seven inches long and heavy. He also carries additional weight to attach to the leader if he’s fishing in a place where the regulations allow it. Bert doesn’t bother with the other species much, but he does catch over 200 bulls every year, usually with a few over ten pounds—and he catches them in places where the other anglers are concentrating on other species.

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HIGH COUNTRY BULL TROUT WATER

ONE IN THE NET!

to fish with a size 4 or 6, black or golden stone nymph, heavily weighted and dead drifted near the bottom. Bull trout water is almost always deeper than it looks, so it’s important to do what you must to get the fly to the bottom. Egg flies also work when fished the same way, especially at times when the other species in the stream are spawning.

Dry Flies

that it sinks to the fish’s depth. When the fly gets into the fish’s view, start an erratic retrieve by stripping the line and twitching the rod tip. Watch the fish. If it moves toward the fly, try to resist the temptation to strike until you feel resistance. When you feel it, use the strip strike preferred by tropical saltwater fly fishers. Keep the rod tip low and set the hook by stripping hard with your line hand. This provides enough force to drive the fly home if the fish has the fly, but leaves the fly in the water if the fish misses, thereby allowing him a second shot at it. This is not easy to do if you’re a lifelong trout fisherman with the habit of striking with the rod tip.

Fishing the Water

You can also fish for bulls by reading the water and concentrating on the kinds of places they like, such as pools with plenty of rocks and boulders on the bottom. Bert likes to fish upand-across in these places, concentrating on the heads and tailouts of the pools, and varying the depth and speed of the retrieve. You

can also use the standard down-and-across method favoured by steelhead and Atlantic salmon fishermen. Work through the pool from the head to the tail, varying the fly’s speed and depth by adding conventional upstream mends or stack mends after the cast is made. If you have a strike or a follow without a hookup, change flies and cast again, or rest the pool and revisit it later. A large part of the battle in bull trout fishing is locating a fish, so once you find one it pays to be patient and persistent. It’s also important to cover plenty of water. Fish a pool quickly but thoroughly, then move on and cover the next one. This is not a game of racking up big numbers. The guys fishing dries for cutthroats or grayling are going to catch more fish than you. But if you approach bull trout fishing with steelhead or Atlantic salmon-like expectations, you’ll be all right.

Even less of a staple than nymphing, dry fly fishing works occasionally for bulls. Usually it happens unintentionally when a fish you thought was going to be a cutthroat turns out to be a small bull. I also have it on good authority (meaning that I’ve heard about it but never experienced it) that if you’re on the water when big adult stoneflies are active and laying eggs, you’ll catch bigger bulls on dry flies. Mice patterns are a logical choice, especially in streams with lots of deadfall.

Flies

Because bulls eat other fish, streamers are the best flies to use. And the main thing to remember about bull trout flies is that you’re

Nymphing

It’s not a prime method of fishing for bulls, but nymphing also works, primarily with visible fish. Most bull trout streams have stonefly nymphs present, so it makes sense

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EYE TO EYE

THE CANADIAN FLY FISHER • MAY/JULY 2010

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Chasing Bulls

FISHING UPSTREAM TO A SIGHTED BULL

THE DISTINCTIVE OLIVE AND GOLD OF A BULL TROUT

throwing them at a fish that thinks nothing of eating his 12-inch neighbour. I learned this on the Elk River a number of years ago when I forsook eager cutthroats to try and catch some bulls with streamers. The biggest streamers I had were size 2—making them about three inches long. I worked hard and caught some fish—a couple of disappointingly small bulls and quite a few surprisingly large cutthroats. I’ve had the same thing happen in the Little Smoky with Arctic grayling. I didn’t catch many bulls, just a bigger size class of the other fish. To focus specifically on bigger bulls your streamer should be at least four inches long, and bigger is probably better. The flies should be heavy, with coneheads, or barbell eyes of lead or tungsten. Movement is important in the fly, and both marabou and rabbit strips provide it, though marabou flies hold less water and are a little easier to cast. Bert Kutos’s favourite pattern is the Chuck-n-Duck, a nine-inch long monstrosity from Rainys

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Flies and Supplies (www.rainysflies.com). His favourite colours are tan and white, but other fly fishers like to incorporate the colours of the main prey species into their patterns. If the other fish in the river are cutthroats, add some green and orange; if they’re whitefish or rainbows, go with grey or silver; if grayling, add some purple. Bull trout fly patterns have not been standardized, so if you’re a tyer, you’ll be on your own. Some bull trout aficionados use salt-water patterns such as Lefty’s Deceivers with good results. Fly shops in bull trout country usually carry some patterns specifically for bulls, but if the shop owner is a secretive type, he might not have them on display. He might have them hidden under the counter or in the back someplace, so don’t be afraid to ask.

Where and When

Though bull trout are found in lakes as well as streams, fly fishers mainly associate them with moving water. The bull trout’s current

THE CANADIAN FLY FISHER • MAY/JULY 2010

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range includes coastal and mountain rivers throughout northwestern North America. Most bull trout populations occur west of the continental divide, except for those in Alberta, where bulls are found in all drainages from the Oldman in the south to the Peace in the north. Some of the best-known bull trout streams include the Squamish and Harrison on the west coast of British Columbia and the entire Elk River System in the East Kootenays. In Alberta most fly fishers know about the good fishing throughout the Oldman River system, but bulls are also present in Bow River tributaries such as the Sheep and the Highwood. Some of the best fishing with the least fishing pressure is in the Peace River system of northwestern Alberta and northeastern B.C. in streams such as the Kakwa and the Little Smoky. In the Yukon, there is good fly fishing for bull trout in the Liard River system. In some areas bull trout are year-round residents of the streams and can be caught through most of the summer season. A number of Elk River tributaries in southeastern B.C. fall into this category, but some of these streams have early fall closures to protect spawning bulls, so check the regulations before fishing. In other places, bulls move out of lakes or reservoirs in preparation to spawn, and in these streams timing is more critical. If you’re there before the bulls have arrived, you might be the only one at the party. Check with fly shops in the destination area for advice on the timing of such runs. B


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F L Y

T Y I N G

I B Y S H E L D O N S E A L E

Leggy Letort Hopper

SMALLMOUTH TAKE HOPPERS, TOO

In recent years, the popularity of foam rubber has introduced an explosion of large grasshopper-like patterns to fly fishing. They come with rather imaginative names such as “Chernobyl Ant”. As a result of their success, fewer people are using the more traditional patterns that utilize dubbing, yarn, quill segments and hair. Nonetheless, these patterns can be very effective and enjoyable to tie. One of the most basic patterns has to be the Letort Hopper. It is made of just dubbing (usually yellow), a lacquered turkey quill segment under-wing and deer body hair for the over-wing and head. In fact, it isn’t really much more than an oversized Caddis pattern. However, don’t be fooled by its simplicity. This pattern was developed by Ed Shenk for the Letort River in southeastern Pennsylvania, which, as I know from experience, is one of the toughest spring creeks to fish anywhere. Using the Letort Hopper as the foundation, the tyer can add extra features to increase the realism of the pattern. One very common addition is two bunches of pheasant tail fibres (usually jointed) to imitate the large powerful back legs of a typical grasshopper. Interestingly enough, I find this feature to be necessary on the larger patterns and generally unnecessary for the smaller ones. By this, I refer to the early stages in the life cycle of the grasshopper. At this size, say #16 to #12 (2X long dry fly hook), the legs do not add to the effectiveness of the pattern (at least that has been my experience). On size #10 and larger, the legs do seem to help, most likely because the legs become much more visible on the

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larger, more mature insects. Hence, the Leggy Letort Hopper.

Tying Steps

Recipe: Leggy Letort Hopper Hook: 2X long dry fly, sizes #10 to #6, sometimes larger in the West. Thread: Yellow or tan. Tail: Short deer body hair (optional, to aid in floatation). Body: Yellow yarn or dubbing (or to match local insects). Wing: Under-wing – mottled turkey quill segment, lacquered and tied tent style. Over-wing – deer body hair. Head: Trimmed deer body hair butts from the wing. Legs: 4 - 6 pheasant tail fibres, ­knotted (1 per side), or rubber hackle strand.

use the thread tension to put it on the hook shank, it will all stay on top. Remember to ease up on the last couple of wraps of thread to minimize the flare in the tail.

2. If you’re using dubbing, dub a body forward to the original tie in point. If you’re using yarn, advance your thread to the original tie in point and secure in one or two strands of yarn (depending on the hook size). Wrap a nice neat body back to the hook bend and forward to the tie in point. Secure and trim the yarn.

1. Start your thread about ¼ of the way back from the hook eye (measured along the straight part of the hook shank). If you’re adding a tail, stack a small amount of deer body hair and tie in at this point. I usually measure up the hair and trim it to the correct length before tying it in. The tail should extend back to just barely past the hook bend. If you hold the hair upward at an angle and

STEP 2

STEP 1

THE CANADIAN FLY FISHER • MAY/JULY 2010

3. Lacquer both sides of a nicely mottled turkey quill segment and allow it to dry. I usually lacquer whole feathers in advance and cut out slips as I need them. Split the segment to about the hook gape in width and tie it in to form a tent like form over the back of the fly. Tie it in on top of the body right at the end so that it doesn’t cock up at a weird angle. This

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LEGGY LETORT HOPPER under-wing should extend back to just barely past the hook bend like the optional tail.

STEP 3

idea is to stack the hair so that it does not spin around the hook shank. Once you have tied off, trim the hair close to form the head, as shown in the photo, and put some head cement on the thread.

STEP 5

Tips on Knotting Pheasant Tail Fibres Knotting pheasant tail fibres can be difficult. I find a pair of tweezers helps with this process. Form a loop with the fibres. Reach through it with the tweezers. Grab the tips of the fibres, and draw them back through the loop to form the knot. Some people go to great lengths to have a right hand and left hand knot to match the legs. I don’t think the fish care. You can actually buy whole pheasant tail feathers preknotted in left and right hand matching sets, as well as preformed legs.

4. On the same thread wraps used to tie in the under-wing, tie in the legs. Take four to six fibres from a pheasant tail feather and knot the ends together. This will form one leg. Repeat this process to prepare a second leg. Secure the knots with a little head cement. Rubber hackle is easier to use. Tie some random overhand knots and trim the pieces to the lengths you require. In either case, tie them in so they reach back to the end of the wing. At this point, lacquer the thread wraps used to secure the wings and legs.

STEP 4

5. Stack some deer hair for the over-wing (don’t use too big a bunch). Get some thread wraps on the hook shank between the body and the eye before you tie in the hair. Measure the length of the over-wing to the same length as the under-wing (allowing for the angle of the over-wing). Secure the wing immediately in front of the body with four to eight firm wraps of thread to prevent it moving. The butts of the hair will flare considerably, which is desirable. Take two to four wraps of thread through the flared hair and tie off the thread at the hook eye. The

Fishing Notes Fish the Leggy Letort Hopper as you would any grasshopper imitation. I like to fish them close to grassy banks as I drift down a trout or bass stream. Don’t be afraid to plop it down. The smaller the pattern, the closer it should be fished to the bank. Fish the smaller patterns in the early part of the summer, increasing the pattern size into early fall as the hoppers mature and grow bigger. If you’ve ever seen a ‘hopper land on the water, you can be certain its behavior is predictable. They almost always behave like they are in shock when they first land. They just sit there. Then they struggle to get back to the shore. That is how you should fish a grasshopper. Plop it on the surface and let it just sit there for a few seconds. Then, just waggle the tip of your rod and try to animate the fly just a little. This can result in an explosive take, especially in August and September. I’ve often wondered why a yellow bodied caddis imitation works as well as it does in June and early July, especially as there aren’t that many really yellow bodied caddis flies out there—some are brown with some yellow, but none are really yellow. It could be that fish take these for small, immature grasshoppers that inadvertently hop onto the water. In any case, small versions of the Letort Hopper (Leggy or otherwise) work just as well at that time. There you have the Leggy Letort Hopper. This is for those of us (and I definitely count myself in this group) who reluctantly, at best,

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use those foam creations with the rubber legs and high visibility colours, especially since we can’t explain why they work as well as they do! Nevertheless, try this somewhat more traditional pattern. I think you’ll find it also works quite well. B

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Fishing a dropper means you are fishing with two or more flies. On the surface, this may look like a great idea, because with two flies out there you double your chances of having the right pattern in the water. On the downside, having two flies means you also double your chances of snagging up and busting off not just one but two flies at the same time. When I learned to fish in Scotland I was handed a rod with a “cast” consisting of a 15-20 foot level leader with four flies attached to it on short droppers. I thought that everyone fished like that until the summer of 1979 when I arrived in Ontario to find the folk in the Colonies were for the most part fishing a single fly. I thought to myself, “How quaint,” and I wondered how many flies I would have to trade for a beaver pelt, a pair of snowshoes, and a canoe. Now before we go any further, pull out a copy of your local fishing regulations and have a read through them to make darn sure that it’s legal to fish with two flies in your neck of the woods. Once you have done this, get back here and finish reading this.

Origins of fishing droppers

As it’s a very productive technique, dropper fishing must have been invented in Scotland, and my vote would go to Wee Shuggie (15-55 AD) who lived in a whisky distillery in a small town just south of Inverness. I can’t prove this, but he gets my vote. Seriously, the truth is that no one knows for sure who developed fishing with more than one fly at once, but the technique’s been around for hundreds of years. It became very popular back in the mid 1980s when the “wryfly” technique started showing up in several U.K. fly fishing magazines. The wry-fly system used a wet fly and a dry fly, hence wry-fly, or a dry fly and a nymph, for going after grayling and brown trout in the rivers of England, Scotland and Wales. The dry fly functioned as a bobber and also to suspend the wet fly so that it would drift at just the right depth past the snout of an unsuspecting fish.

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The wry-fly technique was much like the hopperdropper system now used on many rivers in the U.S. and, where legal, in Canada, such as on the Bow River. With the hopperdropper system, a large dry fly with a foam body, or even a deer hair body, has a small nymph suspended below it on a section of monofilament attached to the bend of the hook of the surface fly. The angler can easily see the hopper fly on the surface, and when a fish takes the subsurface nymph, the hopper fly works like a bobber and disappears below the surface.

Rigging a dropper

A dropper is nothing more than a longish tag of leader you do not trim away from a knot. Making a dropper is not difficult, but you need to remember a few things when attaching one to your leader. The golden rule is that the dropper should not exceed 4 inches. I am not all that good with the metric system, but that’s around 20 cm or 4.5 megabytes. If the dropper is too long, it will tangle around the leader when you make a cast. If you think it’s tricky getting a tangle out of a leader when you are fishing with one fly, just wait until it’s snowing cats

THE CANADIAN FLY FISHER • MAY/JULY 2010

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I BY IAN COLIN JAMES and dogs, your fingers are numb and you have two flies tangled up. It’s a whole new world of hurt. The second rule is that the hook point of the fly on the dropper must always face away from the leader. If the point of the fly is pointing at the leader at some point the point of the fly will tangle up in the leader. To make sure that the point of the fly faces away from the leader you must put the dropper through the hook eye from the top and not from the bottom of the fly.

Knots

When I was around 6 years old, I was shown how to tie a dropper using a blood knot. Now some 43 years on, I still use a

blood knot when attaching a dropper to my leader because it works. At some point I may get around to trying something new, such as a surgeon’s knot, but I am in no rush, as the blood knot has been working out just fine. I know this is as old fashioned as dial up Internet service, but it works for me and I am fine with that. All I am saying here is pick a knot you like to use for securing two bits of leader together, leave a tag and use the tag as the dropper. If you find that the dropper fly is constantly getting tangled in your leader, try a blood knot, or try letting your backcast pause for a millisecond longer to make sure that the flies turn over properly.

A couple of caveats

If you are stepping down your leader, say tying a section of 6 lb mono to a section of 4 lb mono, always use the thickest (in this


Droppers Made Easy THE AUTHOR WITH A STEELHEAD TAKEN ON A DROPPER

in a cedar tree, dogwood or any other sort of bank side vegetation that is close at hand. 8. Go back to step #1.

Fishing with a dropper example the 6 lb mono) for the dropper, as the flies will turn over properly and the dropper fly will be kept away from the leader. This will help prevent tangles. Now, there are little devices out there like metal rings for making droppers, but for me it’s just another gizmo I have to carry up and down the river, or try to find in the pocket of my fishing shirt. Plus you now have to tie three knots to make the dropper, not just one knot with a tag. If you have three knots, rather than a single blood knot, there is a greater chance that one of them will fail. You can bet your box of bobbers, a.k.a. strike indicators, the knot will fail just as you bring to the net a world record 98 lb northern lungfish, caught on a size #36 Dahlberg Diver fished on a dropper in the film.

Droppers made easy

Here’s the very simple and productive system I use for constructing a dropper. I’ve used it for steelhead, carp, brown trout, brook trout, char, grayling, mooneye, whitefish and a whack of other species. 1. Cut 12 feet of 6 lb leader material from the spool. I use Vanish, but you can use your own favorite flavor. 2. Secure one end of the leader to the fly line. 3. About 9 feet out from the fly line, cut the leader and tie it back together with a blood knot. 4. Leave a 6 inch tag from the fly line end of the leader sticking out of the blood knot; then trim away the other tag from the 3 foot bit of mono going out to the point fly. 5. Attach a fly to the tag to form a dropper. By the time you have finished, the 6 inch tag (the dropper) you started with will be about 4 inches long, which is perfect. 6. Attach a second—the heavier fly—out at the end of the leader as a point fly. 7. Make a backcast and tangle up both flies

Clearly there are some advantages to fishing with two flies. You can mix and match the flies you are using, and having two flies in the water means there is a greater chance one of them will be the hot pattern the fish are looking for. If you are fishing a black nymph and a white nymph, and the fish are thumping the black nymph, you’ll be tempted to cut off the white nymph and attach another black nymph, but don’t do it! Perhaps the white nymph is pulling the fish into your cast, but they are refusing the white nymph and taking a chomp at the black nymph. If you cut off the white nymph, the fish may not be drawn to your flies. Another way to mix and match is to tie on an attractor fly and an imitative pattern; you could also tie on a bright pattern and a drab pattern. However, once you have a system that is working, stick with it. When you’re fishing with droppers it’s crucial that the point fly (the fly out at the end of the leader) is the heavier of the two, as this enables the leader to turn over properly. The point fly need not be the biggest fly, but it has to be the heaviest on the cast, otherwise, like playing on a pogo stick in a minefield, it’s just a matter of time before something bad happens.

Final cautionary tips

1. If there is heavy structure in the water, do not fish with two flies. Let’s say you hook a brown trout and it runs under a log-jam. At some point the second fly will inevitably get snagged up, leaving you with a fish attached to a fly and a log-jam. Hardly sporting. 2. Never fish two flies for toothy critters like northern pike. I’ve hooked into two pike on a cast, and it’s not a lot of fun. Keeping all of your fingers attached to your hands is tricky enough when trying to remove a fly from just one pike, let alone two. 3. When landing a fish, make sure you know where the dropper fly is. If you or your fishing buddy are trying to net a fish which has grabbed the point fly, remember the dropper fly is dancing around some three feet up the leader from

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the fish you are trying to net. That dropper fly then becomes a very, very dangerous thing and it can easily find its way into human flesh. I’ve been hooked by a dropper fly myself, as well as watched other anglers suffer the same fate, more times than I would care to remember. So, fish barbless and make darn sure that when your buddy is going to net your fish, you remind him you are fishing with a dropper. It’s one thing to have a fly stuck in your neck from a bad cast, but quite another to have a dropper fly stuck into your neck while a ticked-off 6 lb steelhead which took the point fly is trying to evade capture. You would think that the leader would break and the steelhead would bust off, but you’d be wrong. 4. Another drawback to fishing with a dropper is that sometimes when you hook into a fish, a second fish will chase the hooked fish around (and I’m guessing here) to see what all the excitement is about, or perhaps to give the hooked fish some encouragement like, “Go for the logs. Head for the structure. The knot looks weak! Keep your head down.” Years ago I was playing out a steelhead that was darn close to, if not over, the 20 lb mark. It was a spectacular male fish, huge by Ontario standards and clearly the fish of a lifetime. A large crowd had gathered to watch the ensuing 20 minute battle, but just as I was guiding the fish over to the net a smaller 5 lb steelhead grabbed the dropper fly. I remember thinking, “Uh-oh!” With the smaller steelhead attached to the dropper fly there was just enough slack for the big fish to throw the point fly. Then to add insult to injury the smaller fish jumped and threw the dropper fly. Years later, I’m still in therapy, but there have been some small improvements, and the nighttime flashbacks are slowly subsiding. If you do hook two steelhead (or any other species of fish on the same cast) the trick is to net the fish on the point fly first, if you can, and then guide the fish on the dropper fly into the net by letting it drift downstream over the net. Fishing with a dropper is fun, easy to do and productive, but like most things in life there are advantages and disadvantages associated with it. Perhaps the biggest disadvantage to fishing with two or three flies all day is this: if you get skunked it can be very tough on the psyche… but I know this great therapist ….

Rover and out. B

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BY CHRIS MARSHALL

New Tippet Materials from Rio

RIO Products is offering two new kinds of tippet material for the 2010 season.

The new IGFA tippet is designed for fly fishers in pursuit of tippet class records. It’s made of a mediumstiff material, which is guaranteed to break just under IGFA tippet class standards. It comes in 30 yard spools, in breaking strains from 2lb to 30lb. The other new tippet is the Alloy Hard Saltwater. Made from ultra-hard alloy material, it combines excellent abrasion resistance with stiffness, making it perfect for demanding saltwater conditions, where casting large flies in the teeth of strong winds necessitates a tippet with the stiffness to ensure a positive turnover. As a bonus, although it’s very stiff, it’s also easy to knot. It comes in 30 yard spools between 6lb and 30lb breaking strain, as well as 110 yard “guide” spools in 12lb, 16lb, and 20lb. For more information, check out the RIO Products Web site at: www.rioproducts.com.

TowTab Pro Tubefly System Developed by Dane, Morten Bundgaard, the Pro Tubefly System is an innovative, modular system for tying big tube flies, consisting of a wide variety of components, which can be assembled in a huge variety of combinations to create just about any pattern and size of tube fly imaginable. Besides the usual variety of straight tubes, the Pro Tube System also provides tubes with bumps, stops, tapers, and holes in the sides to enable a much wider variety of action. In addition, there is also a variety of silver metal cones, plastic propellors and cones in a variety of sizes and colours, as well as a series of soft sonic discs, designed to give the fly some boisterous, noisy action.

For more information, visit the TowTab Web site at: www.TowTabs.com.

For more information, visit: www.protubeflysystem.com or www.globalflyfisher.com/blog/index.php?d=314.

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THE CANADIAN FLY FISHER • MAY/JULY 2010

At the recent Toronto Spring Fishing and Boat Show, Ken Collins of Grand River Troutfitters dropped into The Canadian Fly Fisher booth with what looked like a tiny, white hockey puck. Grinning, he put it in a small dish and sprinkled water on it. Within moments the tablet had absorbed the water and expanded into a soft 10” cylinder, which he promptly unrolled into a 10” x 12” hand wipe—the TowTab. TowTabs are just the thing for cleaning hands after any messy task in the outdoors, especially anglers after handling fish or removing sunblock inadvertently smeared on the palms. They’re made from an all-natural, biodegradable rayon fibre, and are available at pharmacies and many other outlets in a variety of packaged quantities from singles to bags of 300.

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Check out the Canadian Fly Fisher Magazine group on Facebook... Join today and share your photos, fishing ­stories and fly patterns.

Sage Introduces its New Xi3 Series Saltwater Fly Rod Fishing Butlers

This innovative, new series of saltwater fly rods employs Sage’s Modulus Positioning System (MPS), which, not only maximizes performance, but also reduces rod weight, which provides an enhanced level of line feel throughout the casting stroke and allows more efficient application of power. The rods of the Xi3 series come with an EVA/ cork fighting butt; a saltwater-safe black, anodized reel seat; a full Wells cork grip; and Fuji hard, chrome-plated stripping guide with Alconite inserts. Rods are four-piece, range from weights #6 to #16, and come in a black, fabric sock and a powder-coated aluminum tube.

Much of my trout fishing is on small, wooded creeks in my homewaters of eastern Ontario. Scrabbling through the tangles of trees and undergrowth along the banks to get from pool to pool can be a chore with a nine foot fly rod. It’s almost always necessary to break the rod down, and one of the problems is keeping the sections together with one hand while pushing branches out of the way with the other. The Fishing Butler solves all that. The system consists of two draw loops, which are used to secure both ends of the bundle of rod sections. The loops are soft and elastic, so that they hold the rod sections firmly, yet gently. They also have a quick release feature, which aids in reassembling the sections efficiently on arriving at the next pool or run.

For more information, contact: www. sageflyfish.com.

For more information, visit the Fishing Butlers Web site at: www.fishingbutler.com.

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THE CANADIAN FLY FISHER • MAY/JULY 2010

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Wandering Aengus

Early Bird BY ANNELI PURCHASE

At first light, a cool mist hung over one of Vancouver Island’s most popular salmon rivers. I savoured the ­solitude and natural beauty as I imagined Haig-Brown must have done. But, as the promotion of ­recreational areas for multiple use is making it increasingly crowded, in order for avid fly fishers like me to capture the pristine experience, one has to be an early bird. I waded into the river and cast towards the latest kerplunk of a pink salmon. The only sound, other than the stripping of my fly line, was the soft gurgling of the river. As light grew brighter, occasional cars began to cross on the nearby bridge. It wasn’t long before, one after another, some stopped and parked at the top of the riverbank, bringing more anglers. Soon the bank was lined with people. Most were spincasters unprepared for serious fishing. A few fly fishers arrived, sporting everything from worn boots, vests, and waders, to the latest fashions—as if the sought-after name brands would guarantee fishing success. A very old man in well-used waders stood knee-deep in the water, struggling to manage a heavy spinning rod. With great effort, he brought it forward from behind his shoulder and flung the lure out into the river. He peered at the water intently as he reeled in his line, repeating his cast almost robotically. I could imagine him thinking, “If I keep chucking this lure out there, eventually I’ll catch a fish.” Chuck it out; reel it in. Chuck it out; reel it in. A couple and their two children were among the new arrivals. Newbies to fishing. The man’s line tangled in the bushes behind him, while the woman jerked her line out of the water, nearly hooking her children as they played nearby. But as luck would have it, the woman caught the first fish. In shorts, T-shirt and runners, the man splashed into the water to help his wife bring it in, all the while shout-

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ing incomprehensible instructions at her. His runners found no grip on the slippery river rocks, and the children shrieked with laughter as he chased the fish, trying to beach it, and fell into the river. Oblivious to the drama, the old man never deviated from his routine: chuck it out: reel it in. I considered leaving. The purity and serenity of the morning had come and gone. “One more cast”, I thought. But what’s this? Seals in the river? No. Two snorkellers in black wetsuits. As they drifted past me, I wondered, “What next?” My question was answered moments later when a revelling party of teens floated by on inner tubes. The place had become a carnival, and I gathered up my belongings, ready to call it a day. As I was still doing so, a van pulled up. The driver, wearing white-blotched coveralls, got out holding a sandwich and a thermos of

THE CANADIAN FLY FISHER • MAY/JULY 2010

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coffee—possibly a drywaller on his lunch break. I knew my prime fishing opportunities were over when he opened the back of the van and let out a black mutt, which headed straight for the water, scaring off any remaining pinks. It went from one angler to the next, nosing into their equipment and checking out their lunches. Throughout, the old man persevered: chuck it out: reel it in. Then his face lit up as he heard the coveted sound of fishing line peeling off his reel. The unwieldy rod bent from the strain of the catch. “And yet,” he must have wondered, “why is the rod bending back over my head and not towards the river?” He stared at the line and reel without understanding. Where was his lure? Where was the fish? Hands shaking, he strained to hang onto the rod, his brow furrowed and his mouth hanging open in confusion as he watched his line smoking off the reel. His hearing too, must have been compromised for he showed no outward sign that he heard the ki-yi-ing of a dog in distress. I watched the dog as it disappeared up the trail, yelping and howling—with the old man’s lure hooked firmly into its butt. I shook my head in disbelief. A morning that started like a mellow Monet painting had ended up looking like a busy Brueghel. I’m sure if Haig-Brown were looking down from his heavenly rivers, he’d sadly observe that the world has changed since his passing and concur that, today, one has to be an early bird. B


What are you wading for?

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The Canadian Fly Fisher 10-02  

The Canadian Fly Fisher Magazine is published quarterly and is written by some of the top fly fishers and outdoor writers in Canada. The mag...

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