Sunday, November 2, 2014

Family Fall Fly Fishing Firsts

-- NY & MA Landlocked Salmon --
We all love fall fishing. Here in New England, not only do we have excellent fresh and salt water options, we also get a spectacular display of color as the leaves change. As my favorite time of year, fall is too short, but that's what makes it all the more precious.

With my son, Matt, being about 300 miles away attending school in the Adirondacks, our fall fishing outings together are usually limited to just one around the Columbus Day weekend. We had a great trip last year on the West Branch of the Ausable in the ADK with Matt putting me on my largest brown trout to date (Matt just posted a video "Golden Brown" which captures the beauty of this big brown).


This year, the fall fishing trip did not happen due to my work travel, so Matt and I hope to get in some late fall fin chasing when he's back for Thanksgiving break.

But what did happen over the last two weeks between Matt & I is too special not to share. Most of Matt's weekend fishing trips are solo, so making a commitment to travel a distance between his studies can be difficult. As we spoke on the phone last weekend, Matt was debating on traveling about 2 hours to chase landlocked salmon on a Lake Champlain trib. I told him to talk to Vince at Wiley's Flies, get some intel and do it! I have a local Massachusetts stream that supports naturally reproducing landlocks about 40 minutes away which I've fished unsuccessfully a couple times.

So off we both go to chase a fish that neither of us have successfully landed in our respective states (although I did land one NH landlock about 5 years ago on the Connecticut River in Pittsburg, NH during our first weekend fly fishing outing together. It was the only fish caught between the two of us the entire 3 day weekend).

Last Sunday, was a beautiful afternoon for both of us.
MA Fall Fly Fishing
Matt calls me while I'm throwing a streamer on this beautiful stretch of water. He is very excited. He just hooked and broke off a fish on a black nose dace. We chat for a bit and both get back to fishing. I was out for several hours, walked about a mile of stream and do not see one fish. Matt on the other hand, hooked a second and fought it, but again, broke it off. He posted some rough cut video's of these takes at his Troutdoors Facebook Page. Matt's day was a success and while mine was a skunking, still a success in my book.

Fast forward one week and with some new intel from my favorite fly fishing board, FlyFishingNewEngland.net, I was on the water on Saturday at sunrise on a different stretch of the same MA stream. Matt too went back to the NY Lake Champlain trib. and was immediately rewarded for his persistence with this beautiful male landlocked.
Matt's First Landlocked Salmon on a Black Nose Dace


A Beautiful MA Treasure
My early start rewarded me with several opportunities to swing flies to landlocks in very skinny water. In total during the day, I saw over a dozen fish all in the 18 to 24 inch range doing their annual run on this little stream.
I tied on an olive/yellow slumpbuster and was swinging it to salmon in very shallow water. I got an aggressive take, went to set the hook with a big explosion in the water and the fish immediately broke off. Very exciting but I realized too late that the leader was too long and the tippet was too light. I shortened and stiffened up the leader and started to work back to the car as rain had started to fall. I switched to an obnoxious small pink fly attempting to imitate an egg and was drifting this to some fish when Matt called to tell me about the big male he had landed on a black nose dace and this second female on a fly he bought from Vince at Wiley's Flies.
Matt's Second NY Landlocked Salmon on a Rubber Legged Bugger
Matt and I chatted some more and his luck with the black nose dace convinced me to switch up flies again. With the rain coming down harder, we got off the phone and I started to work my way a bit quicker to the car. Back by the car, there's a big pool under a bridge which was occupied with two light spinning gear anglers at my sunrise arrival. Empty now, I could not resist swinging a few flies through the pool before leaving. With no luck in the pool, I continued upstream and saw a few more fish. After a couple more swings and close to the last cast of the day, I was able to convince a big female to strike the dace. She fought hard and was airborne a couple times twisting herself around the shortened leader. She dove for a log at the bottom of a deep pool, but was able to pull her out to net.
My First MA Landlocked Salmon

The money fly, a black nose dace, was one of the first flies I learned to tie and while very simple, was the ticket for both Matt & I on this fall day.
Black Nose Dace from Skip Morris' "Fly Tying Made Simple"

Needless to say, this first day of November turned out to be very special with my son & I sharing some fly fishing firsts. Close to 300 miles apart, we shared our tactics as if we were fishing side by side and both were rewarded with some spectacular fish.