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PostPosted: June 4th, 2009, 8:54 am 
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Gail R wrote:
If the fish are disappearing make it a nature zone where all activity is ceased including the disturbance caused by catch and release....... ooops.....I think another bearded chap migh have an issue with that :P


Point taken.

Still, if it weren't for angler dissatisfaction, no one would know or care how many trout were in the water on the Battenkill or anywhere else. Let's not forget that these stream-bred browns are neither native to these waters (or even to this continent) nor are they the least bit endangered as a species.

Catch and release practices are put into place merely to improve the recreational quality of the fishery, not as safeguards to protect the trout themselves. If I thought for a minute that eliminating all fishing would make the Battenkill trout population rebound I'd be all over the idea, but eventually... yeah, I'd want to fish it.

The fact is, as NB's report states, the Battenkill trout fishery was both robust and completely wild (no stocking) throughout over 30 years of heavy harvest regs in Vermont (12 fish/day) and New York (10 fish/day). New York didn't stock the first five or six miles of the river for the same period of time. Yet, in spite of New York eventually designating the first four miles on the NY side of the border as special reg (3 fish, 10" or over) water for several years, the fishing was just as good in VT where there was a much heavier harvest. In fact, the first five miles of river in NY have almost never seen fish taken. This was trout Mecca for some, and taking a single fish was frowned upon by the regulars.

Much more stressful would be the steady parade of canoes and tubes, yet fish are adaptable and I have often caught smaller fish directly in the wake of a passing canoe. They must just get used to them. Sure, the big guys get put down by this activity, but there isn't a lot of feeding activity by big browns on hot summer days anyway. They hunker down in the deeper pools and wait for nightfall to chase prey somewhat larger than surface bugs, making "kerplunks" to scare the river campers :wink:

At any rate, there isn't much catch and release going on at this time because that requires the catching part first... something that's not happening too often anymore on the unstocked stretches of the river. No one really fishes it much these days, and the few who do largely report getting skunked more often than not.

Regardless, I'm off to Vermont for a day's fishing on the Two Rivers Project stretch. I'll stay until the bats come out and, hopefully, I'll see at least a little life.

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PostPosted: June 4th, 2009, 3:45 pm 
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Ok doftya...this is the best I can do:

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Not that big though :wink:

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PostPosted: June 6th, 2009, 7:02 pm 
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Skunked on the Kinni :evil: :oops: :doh:

First strike-out all year...

Image

Raining hard...big cold front moved in. I figured the trout would be looking for grub washed in the river by the rain. The birds were everywhere picking bugs out of the water. I fished terrestrials: hopper, yellow jacket, and the ol' trusted wolly worm. Lots of stuff floating the water. The birds were sure interested in my flies! I was getting nervous I was going to catch a bird!! Well luckily, I didn't catch a bird, but my flies kept getting stuck on floating twigs and everything else. I didn't see a single rise. :( If only I had my winged ant :wink: . Impatient, wet and cold,.. when my fly got hung up on stuff I would just yank it...

Image

:doh: That took a while to unwind!

I took that wolly worm and put it everywhere I knew were prime lies...nadda. nadda. nadda. Eventually I had a strike - which immediately broke off my wormy...'m guessing I stressed the leader yanking it when it was hung up.

Bad day. :evil:

BK and native brookie - any tips on fishing in a hard, cold, rain?!

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Last edited by Strathcona on June 6th, 2009, 9:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: June 6th, 2009, 7:53 pm 
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Battenkiller wrote:
I feel that climate change is responsible for the out-of-sync flooding. The Battenkill has always had big floods. It is actually quite a drainage area for such a small river. What can be seen from the record is six years in a row of major flooding during a time of year that, historically, floods are not common. For this to occur right after the fall spawning is over could only mean that the spawning redds, and the eggs therein, were being washed off the bottom and carried downstream.

I haven't followed whole discussion, but I'm thinking suburban sprawl, development, disappearance of wetlands, and other issues surrounding storm run-off and the ability of land to absorb it may have more to do with issue than climate change. People are just starting to do smart development now: widespread use of rain barrels, permeable pavement, protection for crucial wetlands ... increased storm surge usually has a very dramatic effect in a very short time: eroded banks, increased silt, straightening, and the like.

And regarding the Kinni ... I fished it my whole childhood. What a river, I remember the most spectacular hatches, water that makes your legs numb, and populations of very large browns that rivaled streams out west. But I saw it decline at end of 80s, just about the time they started building along I-94 on Hudson. I started fishing when there was just a single gas station there on a lonely stretch of road. Now it's all pavement and chain stores. When the DNR gets in there to "rehabilitate" a stream, I feel it's rather too late at that point. Stream stabilization, adding structure, and more ... it does some good, but you never get back those intuitive places, and the land surrounding the watershed is still "compromised."


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PostPosted: June 6th, 2009, 8:11 pm 
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idylwyld wrote:
And regarding the Kinni ... I fished it my whole childhood. What a river, I remember the most spectacular hatches, water that makes your legs numb, and populations of very large browns that rivaled streams out west.

Ed, I didn't know you were a fly-fisherman! I really don't believe the Kinni is lost - the Kinni Land Trust is very active, and I think there is a fightin' chance. It still sustains very high counts of native browns and brookies with no stocking.

My wife grew up in Hudson, I know the town well. And you are absolutely correct. It is a sprawl. If you haven't been through in the last few years, all I can tell you is that it has gotten worse.

The lower five miles of the kinni have only two access points. Kinnikinnic State Park at the confluence with the St. Croix river, or the city park in River Falls. Every thing in-between is private land with no road access and apparently the various land owners are sympathetic to the Kinni River Trusts mission. We shall see.

I'm actually more concerned about invasive species moving upstream from the St. Croix River. Last year, Asian Silver Carp were discovered in LaCrosse. Crap. That's what we need, jumping carp on the Kinni. :evil:

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PostPosted: June 6th, 2009, 10:52 pm 
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Ok, I thought I'd give it a try, seeing as BK feels I'm up to the task. I don't, but hey, it's worth a try ain't it? At the very least, it's practice. Here's some ants to look at. I tried what you described, then tried a few others as well...

This was the first one, a bit of red yarn for the tail, black dubbing, white hair for the wings (not very well done, not split, just kinda there), black hackle:
Attachment:
dsc04342.jpg


Second one, slightly better preportions, but still not very good:
Attachment:
dsc04341.jpg


Third one was an attempt at a regular black ant fly:
Attachment:
dsc04343.jpg


(There's a 3 attachment max, so more to come)


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PostPosted: June 6th, 2009, 10:58 pm 
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Some more pics for y'all. Another regular black ant:
Attachment:
dsc04344.jpg


Then a parachute black ant I saw on one of those fly databases:
Attachment:
dsc04345.jpg


Finally, I had another try at the one you described, Strath, and this time I tried using hackle tips for wings. Not sure how well it turned out. While wrapping the dubbing I inadvertently wrapped the hackle back a bit... live and learn. It was about 1am at this point and I was too tired and lazy to rewrap the forward body segment:
Attachment:
dsc04346.jpg


Anywho, any thoughts? Strath, was this something like the one you lost? Er, sorry, the one that got chewed? :roll:

Dave


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PostPosted: June 7th, 2009, 9:48 am 
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Quote:
I'm actually more concerned about invasive species moving upstream from the St. Croix River. Last year, Asian Silver Carp were discovered in LaCrosse. Crap. That's what we need, jumping carp on the Kinni.


OTOH, those Asian devils have been doing a pretty good job knocking jetskiers unconscious....

That'll go kerplunk in the night.

Maybe Mother Nature will make them grow horns to overcome the body armour and helmets.






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PostPosted: June 7th, 2009, 6:48 pm 
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Invasive species are hell on native trout, but more so in lake and ponds, and in large river systems, than in spring fed streams. I suspect that cold water makes these streams highly suitable for trout, and not very suitable for many of the invasives. (Of course, the brown trout themselves are invasive, even though I love to fish for them.)

For some reason, invasives seem to be particularly bad on trout in lakes and ponds, like lake trout on native cutts in Yellowstone Lake, or smallmouth bass and rainbow smelt on native brookies out here.

As for cold rainy day advice--unless the fishing is really good, stay in by the stove and tie flies. If the fishing is really good, it will probably be on streamers. Try a big bugger, fished slow. And have sense enough to get in out of the rain if it doesn't work.


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PostPosted: June 7th, 2009, 10:30 pm 
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doftya,

The one with the hackle tips is very close to the fly I destroyed...the wings may have been splayed out more. The parachute black ant looks very nice. What size hooks are those on?

Well, I just couldn't take being skunked yesterday morning. My wife and daughter are at my in-laws this week, so its just me and my dog. So, what the heck...go fishing! (not like I don't have an endless list of things to do around the house). I figured, who'd be there at 7pm on a Sunday? Well I ran into four fisher folk - the most I've ever seen at one time on the Kinni. Two were coming off the water...as I passed them I overheard one say to the other, "See that nice Powell?" -- thanks BK - apparently people know 'em when they see 'em :wink: .

I went to the sporting goods store today and bought some new line - DT 6 - and strung it up this afternoon. Ah...man, did that make a difference. The rod really came to life. Note to file: Do not use fly line that is 25 years old and curls up like a slinky! :doh:

I was on the river by 7:15 - and the trout were rising everywhere. Bloop... blooop... blooop. I spent 45 minutes trying to connect with a brown that was slurping away at pool near the confluence of a little brook. I swear it went for my dry fly a dozen times with a vigorous splash but I couldn't hook him. It was a little size 18 dry fly...I think I finally spooked him, but it didn't matter because on the other side of the stream were 3 or 4 more trout that started rising. I went after those to no avail using a short cast (they were 15 ft away at most) and attempting a parachute mend.

It was getting dusk so I eventually added a foam fold n' stick strike indicator and deployed an up and across technique which got a more natural drift and took care of the mending issues associated with the fast current.

Plus I could see the take. Again, the trout wanted the fly and I wanted the trout but we couldn't connect...splash...but not hooked... until bang!

Image

Another 10" wild brown. Nice to meet you - have a nice swim. Its getting dark. Its now 8:30 and the sun sets at 8:55...

Image

Hmmmm...what a crappy cell phone camera. Looked better on the little screen.

It was jet black and raining on the drive home, but I'm happy and feel better now about starting the week :D .

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PostPosted: June 7th, 2009, 10:45 pm 
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Strathcona wrote:
doftya,

The one with the hackle tips is very close to the fly I destroyed...the wings may have been splayed out more. The parachute black ant looks very nice. What size hooks are those on?


I tied those on 12's and 14's. I'm still learning and I was afraid of trying to tie them smaller. Maybe I should have, but then again, the flying ants I have seen have been around a size 14 or so, if not bigger. Dunno, I've still got a lot to learn. But I have found new sources of material, namely my wife's stockpile of knitting yarn. That's where those red tails came from. I'd like to try them soon around here and see if they produce. I'm also reasonably happy with how that parachute came out, although I think that the post may be a little big, and not enough hackle, but oh well. Live and learn. As I mentioned before as well, I wasn't happy with the size and quality of the white hackle feathers I got. It'll make fine hackle, but the tips seemed to be too big... might have to go back to the shop...

I must say that I'm quite happy with the Powell rod as well. I mentioned to someone that I got a Powell, and they were shocked that I got a boo rod, but I had to correct them. But it does feel very natural to me. Maybe I just don't know better, but I like the feel.

That was a nice looking brown you got. What I love about fly fishing is how it is an adventure. It's not some lazy bobber fishing, or spinning, or trolling... it's much more active, and it's surprising the size of fish you can pull from some small rivers and creeks. Dang this is a fun hobby.

The one thing I need to do now is get myself a proper tying station made up. I've seen some projects using cutting boards, but I'd like something that would be a portable station, kinda like a briefcase that opens up into a small tying bench with compartments for stuff and a solid place to put the vise. Anyone have any advise? I'm hoping that if I have a readily accessible station, then it'll be easier to get it out and practice tying more often.

Dave

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PostPosted: June 8th, 2009, 9:02 am 
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I suspect that those fish that were "missing" your fly were actually thinking about taking it, and then refusing.

Imagine you are a trained baseball player. Standing on second base, the shortstop throws you an easy toss. Of course you reach out and grab it--every time, with something like 99% efficiency.

Now, imagine being in the same situation, except this time the shortstop isn't tossing you a baseball, but a hand grenade. You are so finely trained that you will probably reach out with the glove to catch it anyway, until your eye sees and your brain comprehends that doing so would be VERY VERY BAD. So you pull the glove out of the way at the last minute, and hope the grenade goes on past and kills the right fielder instead of you.

(Canadians could probably come up with a good hockey analogy, but I am a Red Sox fan. :D )

That's what it's like for the fish. They will naturally rise up to inspect most anything that is passing over them, and, even if they don't take the fly in their mouth, it looks like a "rise". But they will often refuse a fly or even a natural at the last minute for some reason. Anthropomorphising, we humans think they "saw something they didn't like" and "refused". It's really all probably hard wired.

Anyway, when the trout are doing that, I often find that fishing a small emerger, nymph, or wet fly on a dropper will take the fish. The fish rises up for the dry, "refuses" it, and then there is a nice juicy little morsel right in front of its nose, so it opens its mouth and sucks it in. FISH ON!

The fish seems less sensitive to "non-natural" looking flies under the surface than on the surface.

Again, I am sure I am over-anthropomorphising, but the small dropper off the bend of a refused dry works often enough that I'm going to keep doing it.


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PostPosted: June 8th, 2009, 10:03 am 
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native brookie wrote:
Anyway, when the trout are doing that, I often find that fishing a small emerger, nymph, or wet fly on a dropper will take the fish. The fish rises up for the dry, "refuses" it, and then there is a nice juicy little morsel right in front of its nose, so it opens its mouth and sucks it in.

I'm going to try this next time out. This time out I took an aquarium net and sieved the riffles. I couldn't see much that was obvious. When I got home I looked at the contents under a magnifying glass and found the net was full of little nymphs: Caddis on a little stick with the "nets", pupae of some sort, all sorts of stuff. It seems to me a good portion of the trout diet is very small stuff - which would be perfect for the dropper. I'm thinking a 6X tippet extending a foot off the dry fly?

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PostPosted: June 8th, 2009, 12:09 pm 
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native brookie wrote:
Now, imagine being in the same situation, except this time the shortstop isn't tossing you a baseball, but a hand grenade. You are so finely trained that you will probably reach out with the glove to catch it anyway, until your eye sees and your brain comprehends that doing so would be VERY VERY BAD. So you pull the glove out of the way at the last minute, and hope the grenade goes on past and kills the right fielder instead of you.


:clap:

Best description of a refusal I've ever read. Funniest, too. :wink:


Strath, become a student of rise forms. They are a bigger clue to what's happening than looking at the actual bugs. As you now know, there are many "masking hatches" going on, often concealing what the fish (well, at least some of them) are really on.

In general:

- A splashy rise usually indicates an emerging caddis fly. They rise quickly from the bottom on a balloon of gas inside their shuck. The fish follow them up from the bottom, sometimes coming right out of the water, and nail the fly - or miss it - right at the last minute. What you didn't see is the dozens of flies they snatched up under the water.

If you see splashy rises and they absolutely will not even look at your caddis dry, go to a bead head or a small nymph with some weight on the leader to get it down. Next best would be a soft hackle (very easy to tie as well).

- A bulge just under the surface, maybe accompanied by a "porpoising" action (head-back-tail sequence) indicated the fish are taking emerging or trapped duns directly under the surface film. Try a Usual (or any similar type fly), a trailing shuck emerger or a soft hackle (very easy to tie)

- A pronounced ring with a bubble in the center of it indicates a dun resting on the surface has just been sucked in. If you watch carefully, you can usually see the white on the inside of the mouth. Trout don't actually grab flies from the surface, they open their operculum and the fly just drifts in with the water. Give the fly a millisecond to actually get into the fish's mouth or you will strike too soon. The bigger the fish, the longer you must wait - real hard to do when you see a monster rise up out of the deep to inhale your fly. Big fish telegraph their size by the amount of water their shoulders move as they rise, not by the size of the ring itself. Don't jerk the line to set the hook on these guys, just raise the rod and the big boy will tell you he's there by the weight you feel.

- A steady and very rhythmic surface rise with little disturbance tells you spinners are on the water, even if you don't see them there or even in the air. Fish can switch to spinners in the space of a heartbeat, so be prepared with a few patterns stuck on your fly patch. There is no greater fun than casting to dozens of fish rising in a pool just at bat rise and taking them one by one as you work quietly through the pool until it's so dark (or said bats freak you out too much) that you can't even see the rises anymore.

I had a great time on the Battenkill last Thursday. I watched the Twin Rivers stretch all day, but I never saw a fish rise, nor did I see any hatch of any sort. I walked up and down the entire restoration site - all 1/2 mile of it - and found that what looks good in photos on a web site can look pretty unspectacular in real life. To start, they put 90% of the trees on the wrong side of the river, the shallow and sunny side. The other side of the river (right next to the road) already has fine cover in the shade, but apparently they chose this spot to "improve" for political reasons - the landowners welcomed the intrusion.

The river was on the low side, but fully half of the trees placed were no longer even in the water. They are supposed to create a scouring effect below that will lead to pool formation, but so far, the bottom looks the same as it did last year, with a 200 yard shallow riffle still there... in bright sunlight anyway. Brown trout do not seek out the sunlight when there is adequate darker cover nearby. A disappointing waste of $100,000 if you ask me. I left in disgust at about 7:30 PM after not seeing a single rise anywhere.

I stopped at the Salem bridge in NY on the way home and walked down to the first pool. Fish were rising everywhere. Mostly taking a very small caddis fly for which I didn't have a close match, but I scored a few with a size 16 fly of my own design. There followed a brief emergence of a small sulfur, very light colored, about size 20. Once again, no match, but I took about a dozen more in no time flat. Then there were fish rising everywhere to spinners. I tried three or four patterns but got totally shut out. I gave it up when I couldn't see the rises even by moonlight. Perplexing to say the least.

The Battenkill's finally coming around, you say? Not likely. These were all placed in the water earlier in the season by the state of New York. So I took my limit of five I caught earlier (got to get them out of the gene pool whenever I can) and called it a night. Stumped by a bunch of hatchery trout. :doh:

Strath, the Kinni sounds (and looks) awesome, even if it is somewhat in decline. Dozens of wild fish rising everywhere that you can't catch no matter what you do? Sounds just like the Battenkill in its prime. How is it that some folks can't understand the beauty in that? 8)

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PostPosted: June 8th, 2009, 2:39 pm 
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Sad to hear about the restoration reach. My experience with such projects is mixed. Some of them have been very very effective, but typically that happens when the designer, the fisheries biologist, and the guy driving the equipment have all been working together for a while, and they are all experienced enough to have several failures under their belts, and they are all smart enough to analyze and learn from their mistakes. And also when the cause of the problem is carefully diagnosed, and the "fix" addresses it directly.

Small streams are easier to work on than big ones, and high gradient rocky streams easier than flatter valley bottom streams. My guess is that the Battenkill is a tough place to work.

The other problem is that we humans tend to want to see results instantly. I still remember talking to a neighbor of mine 1 year after a dam removal on a river near us. "They spent all that money to remove that dam, and the fishing hasn't gotten any better." I explained that a single generation of salmon would take 4-5 years to return; a generation of alewife 3-4; a generation of shad 4-5; and a generation of eels as much as 20. And that nobody should expect recovery to happen in a year or two. It's now 10 years (2+ generations) since the removal, and this spring we got 2 million alewives back in the river, and the shad fishing so far has been the best anyone can remember. (I only wish we were having the same success with salmon, although there have been some small gains.) But in ecological terms, it's still far too early to declare "success" or "failure" for any of the species.

Restoration is hard work--hard to get right, and even when we get it right, we have to wait a long time for the results to pay off. The stocking truck is quicker, easier, and (in the short run, at least) cheaper. That can make it hard to sell what BK and I agree is the right thing on the Battenkill--leave it alone for a while, keep it as a wild fishery, and see if things work themselves out, with as much help from us as we can provide.

I see both wild turkeys and bald eagles on my way to work at least a couple of days a week. Sometimes it's hard to remind myself that when I was young both were rare enough that despite a youth spent mostly outdoors, I didn't see my first of either species in Maine until after I graduated college.

Nature can heal herself, but only slowly. I'm glad I've lived long enough to see what good the Clean Water Act and related environmental improvements have done for our rivers, and I hope my kids see as much improvement as I have.


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