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Another small stream – Another Waterfall

06/09/2015 – Rain today but not much wind.  So I loaded the canoe and headed upriver towards The Forks.  I launched my canoe on the 201 side of the river and poled up and across the Kennebec Canoe stored onshoreplaning to explore another tributary.  The flow was moderate and without the 10-15 mph winds we’ve been having I made good progress.

I pulled the canoe up (way up) onto the bank, flipped it over to keep my gear dry and started hiking. It wasn’t a bad hike, in fact, hiking was easy as I found myself on part of the Appalachian Trail.  I had blazes and signposts showing me the way.

Fast flowing streamThe stream was smaller than I had expected and the gradient was steep which made for lots of plunge pools and pockets.  Not many fish, however. I’m afraid that part of it never changed.  I caught fish – mostly small Brook Trout but there were quite a few small Landlocked Salmon hanging out as well.

And then I found the waterfall with a pretty good size pool that just yelled “Here’s where the big one hangs out!”  But it wasn’t to be.   No big fish there – at least not this trip.  I don’t doubt that pool occasionally holds a nice fish or two but it didn’t yield any big ones to my offerings.

Waterfall and poolOne thing that makes me think that pool holds some nice fish is someone hung a rope from a stout tree providing an assist to anyone climbing down to or up from the pool.  Perhaps swimmers and hikers made the effort to do that but I like to think it was a fisherman.

After hiking another mile or so up the stream with mostly the same results and a pounding rain I decided Climbing ropeto head back. One nice thing about a canoe is the ability to carry gear – lots of gear – and I was some happy to have a DRY change of clothes and a terrycloth towel.

Especially a towel that says Jameson on it –  it just seems that towel works better than most. It dries me and gets me thinking about how a hot toddy is a perfect end to a wet but fun afternoon and evening.

Dry clothes stashed away

Gravel Gertie

I searched online for “supervisor, bucktail, streamer” the other day and the search results listed Don Bastian near the top – no surprise there. The first link was to a page I’ve mentioned before that deals with finding good streamer hackle. If you tie streamers I highly recommend following this link to Don’s site to read that article. There were other links to pages by Don but I’d seen them also.

Streamer FlyLower on the list of search results I found Never having visited the site I decided to take a look. To my delight it turns out Hugh Kelly, who I first met at the fly shop, has taken it upon himself to share some well known and some not so well known patterns with fellow fly tiers.

Sure enough, there was a reference to the Supervisor and Hugh was encouraging people to tie a few as bucktails just for a change of pace. But what really caught my eye was the top fly on the page – the Gravel Gertie.

Streamer FlyWilliam (Bill) Covey of Farmington came up with the pattern and his wife came up with the name. Paul Flagg, a fishing friend of Covey’s, was kind enough to give me two originals tied by Bill himself – they are the ones you see in the pictures. Paul gave me the flies and the story behind the name. A name picked from a casual comment by Bill’s wife.

Apparently Bill was tying and when his wife passed by the tying table she remarked, “that fly looks like Gravel Gertie’s legs” – which will mean nothing to you if you aren’t a Dick Tracy fan. But you can take my word for it Gravel Gertie wore stockings with black and white stripes. And so was borne the name.

Streamer FlyI occasionally see a picture of the pattern and 8 out of 10 of the pictures show the black and white bands as spirals. An easy mistake to make since most patterns describe the body as “alternating black and white chenille.”

However, if someone wants to tie a “real and true” Gravel Gertie they will build the body with bands. Here’s a video that shows how you can weave a banded body on a streamer. (body weave starts at 1:30 – the full recipe is at the end of the video)

Warden’s Worry

A fellow fly tyer generously sent me a few cards of wool he had dyed.  The color he was looking for when he dyed the wool is … elusive. “Orange-yellow spun fur or wool applied loosely or picked out to make it fuzzy” is how Joe Bates, Jr. described the body color of a Warden’s Worry in his wonderful book: “Streamers and Bucktails.”

It turns out there are almost as many shades of “orange-yellow” out there as there are people who tie the Warden’s Worry. Happily the “orange-yellow” shade he ended up with is a close match to the shade I like.

Of course I had to sit down and tie a few just to see how they would look. Like many who tie flies I make subtle changes to patterns when I’m tying for myself.  When tying the Warden’s Worry I make two in particular.

Fly Pattern: Warden's Worry

The first change is substituting marabou for the wound hackle collar “gathered downward” into a beard.  The second change is substituting the brown hair from a yellow bucktail for the “light brown bucktail” used in the original pattern. Neither change is dramatic and both have a reason.

When held in the hand, the finished fly with a marabou beard simply “looks” better to me than the hackle collared finish fly and the marabou beard doesn’t require wrapping hackle. Looking better and being easier to tie seem like good reasons to me so that’s the way I tie them. As a bonus the fish don’t seem to mind the change. One good reason for tying flies is that you get to – tie them the way YOU like them.

Using the brown hair from a bucktail that has been dyed yellow for the wing isn’t a change so much as it’s simply the way I was taught.  I guess the end result actually follows the original recipe. Fly Pattern: Warden's WorryThe wing is indeed “light brown” perhaps a little lighter than most having been dyed bright yellow. Fortunately the fish don’t seem to mind this small change either.

Whichever way it is tied the pattern has been around since Joe Stickney, of Saco, Maine dreamed it up in 1930 and it catches fish to this day.  I’ve asked people to weigh in one way or the other on the subject of the beard.  If you care to vote for the traditional or the marabou beard please visit the forum and cast a vote. 


Tape-Backed Caddis Wings

When Caddis are resting or skating across the water’s surface their wings are normally tented over their body.  There are lots of way to imitate tented wings. Some patterns call for Deer Hair others for Duck Quill segments and if you really start poking around in tying books you’ll find many more materials.  All of those materials have a place and almost all have proven their worth.

One method that I like but don’t see used often is Tape-Backed Tented Caddis Wings.  If you’re looking for a good Caddis wing – watch this 3-minute video to see if Tape-Backed Tented Caddis Wings will meet your needs.

The Great Hendrickson Hunt – June 13, 2014

06/13/14 – The Hendrickson Hatch has come and gone for the Waterville area.  At least as far as I can tell.  Now it’s time to head North in search of an area where they are still hatching.  As I hoped it might the hatch seemed to stop gradually as you moved up the river.  When Shawmut died out, Madison still had some as did Solon.  Shortly after that there were none to be found (two days) in Madison (at least not by me) but Solon had them but I haven’t been back since the 7th and they were weak.

With the rain we have high water again – over 3,000CFS at the East Outlet, 4,700CFS in Bingham 5,000CFS in Solon but Solon Rainbowthat’s all subject to quick change since the Sandy and Carrabassett don’t have overly high flows.  Be sure and call 1800-557-3569 to get the flow phone for tomorrow if you’re planning on fishing.

Buy the way if you call the flow phone the interface is different this year.  At first I had to redial for each location I wanted flow information on. I found a work-around for the menu. If you call try this.

During the blah-blah they make you listen to initially just hit the # button.  That jumps you to the place where you hit 5 for the Kennebec.  Hit the 5 button and that will take you to the menu where you hit 1 for Harris, 2 for another location and so on.  Well, I just couldn’t get back to select another location so I’d end up hanging up and calling again – until – I discovered by hitting the * button I could select another location without all the hassle.

Shawmut IslandAnyway, above is a picture of a Solon rainbow – not Bingham but Solon.  Greg B and I had a Solon Grand Slam up there on the 7th a Rainbow, a Brown, a Brookie and a Landlock.  Fun time.

Dropping down to Shawmut again here’s a picture of some junk hung up on the island. I managed to get a bunch of the styrofoam out from the decking but I have to go back with a hatchet or an axe to get rid of that rope. What a mess. One thing about it though the styrofoam sure didn’t weigh much – it didn’t make poling any harder :-)

Canoe with loadOn the 9th I dropped down to Waterville (Shad and Stripers still there) and found we still have good temps there as well as some fish traffic moving up the river.  Look below and you’ll see the temp I got for that day and the “count sign” they keep at the lift.

Fishing is as good as it’s going to get.  GO FISH!



Water Temperature this week - low 60's








fish lift count

The Great Hendrickson Hunt – June 6, 2014

June 6th, 2014 – The Hendrickson Hunt continues.  The Hendricksons are hatching up and down the Kennebec River Valley.  56 and holdingWell, at least from Bingham down to Fairfield. I admit since I discovered them on the Shawmut Section I haven’t gone further North than Bingham to fish them.  They will be stopping soon in Shawmut and Madison and the end for Solon will come shortly after.  Not so for Bingham. While they have started in Bingham they have just started and if they run their normal 10-days to two week course they will be there for awhile longer.

The water temperature in Solon on June 3rd was 56 degrees and while the hatch wasn’t really heavy it will be.  As it was there were enough Hendricksons coming off so that I could easily seine them both from the water as nymphs and riding on the surface as Duns.

The fish still aren’t looking up in Solon. They are looking up in Shawmut and Madison.  Or perhaps I should say they weren’t looking up in Solon on the 3rd – the fish have probably figured it out and started feeding on top by today the OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAsixth.  I’m heading out today for another shot at Shawmut hoping to find one or two of the fish IF&W stocked last fall.

If you’ve got a minute or two you might want to watch the video clip below.  I was lucky enough to seine a nymph just as it was hatching.  I didn’t get the whole emerging sequence but I got enough to be very interesting. Check it out.