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01/09/14 – World’s Best Fly Box

01/09/14 – Ahhhh……………the search continues for the World’s Best Fly Box.  Something I’m convinced doesn’t exist.  There are lots of them out there.  Yep, all kinds – thick ones, thin ones – metal ones, plastic ones – and all of them are the “Best” when I buy them but it isn’t long before I find some shortcomings.

Altoids TinLike many my first “fly box” (that I remember) was a tin of some sort. Small enough so that I could stick it in my pocket and it had a cover that fit tight so it wouldn’t come open and spill all my flies if I dropped it.  I didn’t see why anyone needed anything more than that.

Until one day while applying great pressure trying to get that tight cover off it suddenly released and the resulting jerking motion I made with my hands tossed every fly out of the box onto the water.  After that I started looking for a “tin” that opened easier.

What I found was the ubiquitous 35mm film can.  Something that’s not so common today. I had plenty of those and some of them were clear, well you could sort of see through them anyway, and you could at least pick out a colorful fly like a Royal Wulff that had been stuffed in there.  Yep – stuffed – space was becoming a problem.  Dry flies didn’t float so well back in the day of “Agricultural Fair” selected rooster hackle and crushing that poor hackle didn’t help flotation.

Perrine Fly Box

Then I found Perrine Fly Boxes and my search was over.  They were themselves practically indestructible and they were thick enough so hackle didn’t get crushed. And they had springs and clips – all sorts of good features.  They were the answer until I opened up a box one day and found the ventilation holes didn’t really allow your flies to dry and rusted hooks became one of my ever since reoccurring nightmares.

So not liking the water retention features of springs and clips I moved to foam fly boxes.  Ripple Foam – yes sir – now there was the answer. At least until I realized that barbless flies don’t stay in foam very well.  I was tying my own flies by then and I didn’t pinch the barb until I tied the fly onto the leader.  Mainly because if I pinched the barb on a fly when I tied the fly it wouldn’t stay in place in the ripple foam. I could always tell which flies I had pinched the barbs on – they were the loose ones that fell out when I opened the fly box.  I was right back to the problem I had with the Altoids Tin.

But then someone came up with the idea of cutting slits in foam and trapping the hook in a slit instead of shoving slim fly boxthe point of the hook into the foam. They simply let the foam “grip” the hook bend.  Good idea. And that’s what most of my fly boxes are now.  Some are thick, some are thin but most all of them have foam with cutouts for hackle space and slits to grab the hook bend.

The slim box shown here doesn’t take a hackled fly very well (no cutout in the foam in front of the slot to prevent crushing hackle) but it sure does a good job on nymphs and parachutes (small parachutes or you crush the post). It also holds a LOT of flies in a very small space. That’s a good thing because the larger boxes are just that – large.

For a larger box I go to the C&F waterproof boxes (you know the ones that are really only water resistant not waterproof) or another brand of box with similar design.  I really like the double sided fly boxclear top ones Orvis offers now but only for streamers and nymphs.  You can’t put big dries like Drake imitations in them because there isn’t any cutout in the foam to prevent crushing hackle. But the clear tops are nice.

So my search for the “World’s Best Fly Box” continues and I think the answer might come in my lifetime.  If we could only get Orvis to put C&F foam in their big clear top fly box we’d be a lot closer.

But then maybe I don’t have to wait – if I get out my X-acto knife and do a little careful carving…….how hard could it be…………………





12/12/13 – Let’s go Dredge up some Fish Eggs….ah, Gold

12/12/13 – Well, I guess the inference that gold dredging can suck up fish eggs is a bit of an exaggeration since State of Maine saw says:

A person may perform motorized recreational gold prospecting only from June 15th to September 15th and only with written permission of the relevant landowner.

So no fish eggs should be sucked up.  BUT that wasn’t the case just a year ago. Coming soon to a river near you.Nope a year ago prospectors could and did dredge during those mid-winter thaw days.  You know those January Thaw days when you thought – I should get my fly-rod out.  Heck, they sure weren’t limited to getting out there mid-winter they could go dredge a stream mid-spawn.

But a bunch of Maine local volunteers talked with their legislators and after a lot of volunteer hours and legislative work the 126th, Maine Legislature passed Legislative Document No. 1135 (LD-1135)  An Act To Provide Consistency in the Regulation of Motorized Recreational Gold Prospecting.

But the fights not over. Even with the time restriction that protects our state’s fish eggs and young of the year spawn we still have to protect areas Inland Fish and Wildlife, and the Atlantic Salmon Commission deem essential to post spawn growth and development.

To that end Senator Doyle has submitted a Legislative Request (LR2434) asking that the Rapid, Magalloway, Carrabassett, Sandy (and its tribs), South Bog and a few others be given protected status.  The 126th, Maine Legislature will be back in Augusta in January for an emergency session.  If things go well this Legislative Request will become a Maine law. But there’s a lot of legislative work scheduled and there’s always the chance, even during the normal session, that with all the hustle and bustle a good bill doesn’t make it.

That’s where volunteers come in .  You can help LR-2434 become law.  I’ll be posting on the forum as this issue come to the forefront and, if you would, I’d like you to start thinking about sending an email when they call for public comments.  I’ll put the email address up on the forum – all you’ll have to do is click on it and type something like “this bill should pass” it really doesn’t have to be much more than that.

I guess we don’t have to worry about it until next year – but next year is just weeks away.  I’ll let you know what’s happening with the bill – keep checking the forum.

Oh, and here’s a YouTube video of some people dredging here in Maine.  It’s only a few minutes.  It shows you the kind of hole they make in a stream.  (a hole they are supposed to fill back in by the way – you tell me if you think they filled it in). Oh, and there is a 4″ maximum hose size for a dredge.  That’s not a problem for these guys – they just brought in a second 4″ dredge.

12/05/13 -I’m a Book Guy

I’m a book guy – a bibliophile.  I love to read books, stand and gaze at stacks of books, browse titles looking for one that peaks my interest, the smell of books.  And best of all I love to sit and read them.

All types – a myriad of topics and types and I own a lot of them but most of my library consists of fly fishing and fly tying books.  Many of them are instructional books that I reference in preparation for one fly fishing trip or another. My big regret when it comes to my books is I can’t take them with me. But I’ve found I can take the contents.

When I take to the water I have a copy of Dave Hughes, “Trout Rigs and Methods” which covers about any water flow and equipment combination I’m apt to face.  A veritable encyclopedia of fly-fishing methods for both moving and stillwater situations.  And I’ve got it in my hip pocket on my cellphone.

Oh boy, I like my free Kindle reader app for my smartphone.  Click that link and you’ll be able to download it also.  Or Barnes and Noble’s Nook app if you’re a Nook fan.  Either or both can keep a world of reference at your fingertips without having to purchase a Kindle or a Nook.  Their reader apps work just fine on PC’s and Smartphones without requiring you own either a Kindle or a Nook.

Of course, you’ll immediately be faced with the I’m not buying an e-copy of that book I already own a hard copy – or at least I was.  I often reference my printed copy of “Trout Rigs” and was tempted to buy an e-copy IN ADDITION to my print copy when I found “Trout Rigs” offered for free by Amazon.  Yep, the Amazon Kindle site offers free books occasionally at this location.  Not only did I get “Trout Rigs and Methods” within a week of picking it up free I got Dave Hughes “Handbook of Hatches” also free. Checking the free fishing book webpage has become a morning ritual for me.

Doing so has provided me with a lot more than these two books.  I don’t try to keep all my electronic books on my phone – I’ve got a Kindle for that, But these two quick reference books come in handy because I can use them if I’m on the water and stumped by the conditions and flows I find. No need to check late at night to find out what I could have or should have tried. I only need a few minutes streamside to get tips from one of the greats of our sport – Dave Hughes is on-stream with me! Too much.

And when I do get home if a good read is what I want or I need tying instructions for some pattern I got my hard copy books. But now if I’m staying at a camp or camping  – I’ve got ebooks that go with me. There’s “Yorkshire Trout Flies” by Pritt and “The Year of the Spider” by Philip Storey also free and sooner or later I’m going to find a book I’ve just got to have and I’ll now have to decide buy the book or buy the e-copy. That’s going to be hard.

So, while I’m a book guy who loves getting settled into a chair surrounded by shelves of books I’ve got to admit there’s something to this e-book thing.  Perhaps I can’t just sit and flip pages on my smartphone or computer but there something to be said for the ease of instant access and the ability to take your library with you.


11/08/13 – If Nothing Else the New Trout Are Pretty

11/08/13 – Well, most of the Kennebec is closed to fishing now and this will be one of if not the last Friday Updates for the season.  I’ll start the Thursday Reviews soon.  But for the time being our fall rains have held off and we have good wading – fairly cold but good wading. Or I should say that’s the way I remember November but according to we may luck out and skip the big Pretty Brown TroutNovember rains this year.  They show little rain in the forecast and temps holding in the mid-40’s through to Thanksgiving. I suspect many (myself included) will take advantage of that.  However, fishing, or at least catching, is slowing with the reduced temps and lack of insect activity.

Shawmut was stocked about a week ago.  Fall yearlings that range up to 15″ right now. They probably won’t grow over the winter but if they hang around through next summer by next fall these guys will be breaking tippet 🙂 for us because they are strong fish. Colorful also. But more importantly these fish are part of a two-year Radio Telemetry Project IF&W in conducting.  A study that hopefully will pave the path for the recovery of Shawmut’s collapsed fishery and boost Brown Trout survival statewide.

This project was outlined in the Presentations IF&W made during October.  If you missed the presentations and would like to review them the Kennebec Valley Chapter of Trout Unlimited has put the slides on their website and here’s a link for you.


The “New Gloucester” strain IF&W has stocked for years seems to grow well in some areas and not so well in others.  Why? No one knows for sure so two new strains are being tested.  Hopefully, test results will show the problem is the “New Gloucester” strain because we can do something about that – simply switch strains.  If that isn’t the problem the solution will require more time and testing.  Here’s hoping the answer at the end of the test is that one or both of these new strains perform well.

There is a lot of good information in the slides IF&W provided and I urge you to take a look at them. It won’t take you long, The presentations are broken up into three river sections – The Forks to Bingham – Solon and Madison – Skowhegan and Shawmut.

One important note about this study – THERE ARE ONLY 24 RADIO TAGGED TROUT. If you catch one please put it back as quickly and carefully as you can. Radio-tagged fish are expensive fish and the whole project depends on some of them surviving through a couple of seasons. If someone catches them and takes them home or kills them by way of rough handling it will have a negative impact on the study. So how will you know if you’ve caught one – don’t worry you’ll know because they will be the only ones swimming around with a surgical scar and a wire hanging out of them.  Take a look at this photo and you’ll see what I mean.

Radio tagged fish

Well, that’s about all I know about it.  They are out there.  People have been catching them (no tagged ones yet that I’ve heard of thankfully) and I for one will be out there next spring with new hope – make that I might be out there today with new hope :-).  Either way I hope you can find time to take advantage of this good weather and get out and fish or hunt if you’d rather. And remember – if you catch a tagged fish please return it quickly and carefully.


PS- curious little note – here’s a photo of an Adipose Fin on one of the new Brown Trout.  I thought only trout and salmon had this fin but today I found out Catfish have it as well.  Who knew Catfish, Trout and Salmon had something in common.

Adipose Fin

10/25/13 Bugs are Small and Smaller

10/25/13 – This fall is treating us well.  There are good flows and while the last couple of days have been cool, all in all, it has been a mild fall.  But, for sure, the hatches are failing. I haven’t seen a caddis in awhile and other than the occasional Leadwing Coachman

Blu Winged Olives ?

I’ve seen nothing but small mayflies.  Like the two show here. I mean – which one of those do you want to imitate the size 20 or the size 28? At least they were on the water and bringing fish up – AT SHAWMUT.   More on that later.

Lets get to the river.  Fishing is still good.  Lockjaw hasn’t set in and there is still an afternoon hatch and flows are good up and down the river.

Starting at the East Outlet we have a flow of 1050CFS – great for wading – a bit bumpy for driftboats.  Then we have Harris – only flowing 340CFS for most of the day – I’m heading for the Gorge as soon as I finish this.

Dropping down to Bingham we find more of the same.  Bingham’s flow will be about 2,100CFS all day and that sort of level continues down the river. Madison is only 2,500CFS and Shawmut is at about 4,500CFS – great, easy wading.

However, wading Shawmut hasn’t produced very well for me. I can find fish in the Pasture Pool and the day before yesterday there Pasture Poolwere 5 to 8 trout working the Pasture Pool during an afternoon hatch and it was calm.  I never did manage a trout on a dry but did get to set up on a couple and get one or two casts in before they moved on (or my casting drove them away 🙂 )

Nope, I couldn’t do the dry fly thing but before the hatch (which ran from about 2:30 to 4:00) I poled to top of the Pasture Pool and drifted to the bottom throwing a 250-grain, Depth Charge line.  I found a couple and one of them I managed to get to the boat.  Not a real healthy fish but a fish for sure.

After the hatch and my unsuccessful attempts to hook up using a dry I repeated my drifting and Depth Charging but couldn’t hook up again.  I suspect they were all full of those tiny BWO’s and Leadwinged Coachman they were feeding on.

Yesterday was just too windy so I didn’t go back and today I’m heading north but Saturday I plan to go back and give it another shot at Shawmut.  Nice to see a few trout there even if they were  below the wading area.

Shawmut was so low that one of the REAL AND DANGEROUS hazards down in the Pasture Pool showed itself. This hazard I’ve dubbed Sharp Steelthe Can-Opener because of its shape and position.  Normal flows most boats would go right over this but when the flow drops to 5,000CFS or below this thing becomes a potential – big problem. It stems from a very large piece of steel and has resisted all effort to hook onto it and move it or at least tip it over.

Anyway, below is a picture of the trout I took and below that a picture of the LARGER of the Blue Winged Olives I was seeing.

Enjoy and go fish before it’s all over.




Shawmut Brown – although it looks like a Salmon I do think it’s a Brown.

Trout taken below Shawmut  Dam















Tiny Blue Winged Olive

A Small One

10/11/13 – Almost Columbus Day

10/11/13 – Hopefully the big dump is over and upper river flows will stay down so we can fish the rest of the month out without fear of washing away 🙂 As you can see by the flow chart below Wyman Dam (Bingham) has been flowing at 5,000CFS for a week. The East Outlet and Harris have had a similar flow – much to much water for comfortable wading. BUT today’s flows are much – much better.

Bingham Flow Chart East Outlet is flowing at 2020CFS. Now I remember when people used to say don’t bother with the Outlet at 2,000CFS because that flow is too fast.  However, our last few wet summers have made people get used to 2,000CFS.  It was either wade it at that level or don’t fish it for a couple of summers.  Fortunately it turns out there is a fair amount of the Outlet that you can fish at 2,000CFS.

The flow out of Harris makes me wish I wasn’t at camp (over 4 hours to get to Harris from here) because I’d sure be fishing the Gorge today if I could get there in a reasonable amount of time.  The flow from Harris is only 450CFS all day.  Man I’d love to launch my canoe at the Forks today and pole up.  This is my last week at camp and I’m hoping they repeat that flow at least one day next week.  It won’t matter much what I have planned if they drop to 450CFS next week I’m fishing the Gorge.

Dropping down to the Forks you’ll find a lot of water coming in from the Dead – just shy of 1,000CFS – too much for me. It’s not a 6,000CFS rafting release but it’s still a push.  I guess now that they have Moosehead down they want to drop Flagstaff (fifth  largest lake in Maine anyone out there know the four that are larger) to its winter level.  That won’t take long and we’ll have the Dead for the rest of the month as well.

Stonefly Pattern

Then going down the river you’ll find flows are good – even a bit low.  The exception to that is Madison which remains at the 5,000CFS level it has been at for awhile. Odd, because my understand is Madison is supposed to match the dam above it which is William’s Dam (Solon) and William’s is flowing at a wonderful 3,600CFS.  If fishing wasn’t so good here right now I’d be pounding the Kennebec this week.  But it’s hard to leave good fishing to go to what should be good fishing so I’ll stick with my plan and fish out the week here hoping the flows stay low and temps don’t drop too much.

Speaking of temps I’m getting reading in the low to mid fifty’s – nice to have mild fall weather hasn’t driven the temps too low. I don’t know what happened to the Blue Winged Olives but I haven’t seen a midday hatch of them since last week.  If my streamers can’t dredge up a fish it’s turned into a nymphing game for me (not seeing caddis either)  Fish are still hitting stoneflies (I’m using smaller tungsten bead patterns as I figure all the big adults have hatched) and a Prince nymph and small Pheasant Tail combination is the clear winner for me.

Pheasant Tail Fly

My hope is there is still some dry fly action to come. With 50-plus water temps the Blue Winged Olives shouldn’t stop. Perhaps the Blue Winged Olive hatches I have been seeing weren’t the fall Baetis I’ve been waiting for.  Blue Winged Olives are a constant throughout the summer and they aren’t fond of good weather.  This last week has been nothing but good weather (color me happy) so that may explain the lack of them this week.

However, the fall Baetis (a swimming nymph) doesn’t seem to mind the good weather and once they start (in my experience) they hatch every day sun or no sun. Perhaps because the water is cooling fast and they have to beat the cold. Anyway, the lack of Blue Winged Olives in this good weather make me think what I’ve been seeing are last of the Blue Winged Olives that like rainy days and the “I don’t care if the sun is out” Blue Winged Olives are yet to come.  One can hope.

Regardless the hatch time is about done for this season and most of the day it’s a streamer or nymph game. Nymphing is OK – it definitely gets me into fish but I’d rather swing streamers.  Love that smashing hit Landlocks deliver when the slam your streamer.  Thank goodness for 2X tippet.