May 25th Fish-A-Long Report

Thank you to everyone who came to this months Fish-A-Long. Also, a double thank you to CFF members Kevin and Joey who did some extra recon over the last couple weekends to help us find the right place to go today and also to Robert Campbell, co-author of Fishing Mt Hood Country, who generously shared his knowledge of this lake.

For several years I’d been hearing good things about Timothy Lake so I was excited to finally get to fish here. On the way to the lake I stopped in at The Fly Fishing Shop where Tony gave me some good advice and hot flies (#8 AP Emerger) that worked all day long.

Even thought the weather was cool and a little windy, all the other stars aligned to make this a great day. The lake had been recently stocked, the water was very clear and 55 degrees; perfect for good trout activity. Everyone caught fish, a couple trout over 20” were landed and to top it all off we saw a pair of eagles teaching their young how do dive bomb the surface of the lake and snag a trout dinner. Richard Harvey did a great job capturing a video.

Fly Tying: May, 2019

The Ice Cream Cone

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Early in my time with Clackamas Fly Fishers I got invited by a group of members to join them on their annual outing to the Owyhee River.  (I’ve got to give a huge shout-out to Ron Bouchard for organizing these trips. The fishing was at times amazing, but the trips getting there were equally memorable. I imagine Ron is still having flashbacks of the lady pulling alongside on the road and informing him that his trailer was on fire!)  

On the second annual trip for me in 2011 we had to change plans because of poor water conditions on the Owyhee and the destination was moved to Diamond Lake.  Pulling in to the parking area, near the area where we ended up camping, we saw huge clouds of mosquitoes in every direction and thought that there was no way that we could survive stepping out of Ron’s pickup, or at the very least we would be needing blood transfusions.  As we set up camp we discovered that what we thought were mosquitoes were actually midges, relatives to mosquitoes, but not of the blood sucking variety. 

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Swarms of Adult Midges

Adult midges are often mistaken for mosquitoes, so if you see a bug that you think is a mosquito, but it is not biting you, it is probably a midge.

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Adult Midge– It’s easy to see how they are mistaken for mosquitoes.

 

It was on this trip that I got my introduction to Ice Cream Cone chironomid patterns.  They were by far the most effective fly for me on the trip. If I had known more about chironomids and how to fish them I would undoubtedly have done even better. The midge hatches were of monumental proportions.  On the second day I was forced to head to shore with my pontoon boat to answer a call of nature. As I approached the shoreline I saw a layer of scum on the water that started about eight feet from the beach.  Upon close examination I could see that the scum was made up of insect shucks, the vast majority of which were chironomids. We were on the windward shore of the lake and the prevailing winds had piled the insect shucks onto the beach to a depth of about four inches. I had experienced some prodigious insect hatches before but nothing like this.

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A mass of chironomid shucks found lining the shoreline of Diamond Lake.

(As an aside… the midge hatch that we experienced at Diamond Lake, although memorable, was apparently minor compared to what happens annually in some areas of the country. In June of 2018, Cleveland had epic midge swarms that were so thick and vast that they were showing up on doppler radar and were described daily on the local TV weather reports!)

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Chironomid Background Info

Midges are small insects with two pair of wings in the order Diptera, along with house flies, mosquitoes, crane flies, and others.  The midges are generally non biters, although a small group of them are called biting midges, another name for the extremely annoying no-see-ums.  Midges go through a complete metamorphosis during their life cycle, that is, from egg to larva to pupa to adult. Fish will also feed on the larva (blood worms) and adults, but for this article we are going to focus on the pupa stage of midges, commonly referred to as chironomids.

 In stillwaters the chironomid pupae are one of the few insects that attract a trout’s attention by moving, not horizontally, but vertically through the water.  However, the movement is not a swimming motion. The pupae slowly rise to the surface as gases form underneath their body segment covering.

Chironomid naturals showing size and color variations.

As it reaches the surface, each pupa will break out of its shuck and work its way through the surface film of the water, emerging as an adult midge.  Getting through the surface tension of stillwater is no small feat for an emerging insect. At times the surface of the water acts like a stretched elastic membrane that provides a real challenge to an emerging insect. Cooler temperatures and windless days seems to enhance the surface tension of water, therefore making it even more difficult for emerging insects, and thus making them more vulnerable to foraging trout. Many anglers report that midge hatches seem to occur during the warmer parts of the day during the winter months, and conversely during the warmer months they occur most often during the cooler parts of the day.

Chironomids are generally curved in shape, so using scud-style hooks, sizes 8 -18, is a good way to imitate them. The bigger sizes would be effective in some alkaline lakes where the midges are famously large, but for most stillwaters you seldom would need anything larger than a size 14.  In streams the chironomids tend to be smaller so some anglers tie their pupa down to size 22 or even smaller, which is tough for those of us that are visually challenged. 

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Using a stomach pump is a good way to figure out what size and color of chironomids to use.

 

 

Chironomids come in a wide range of colors, including black, olive, red, maroon, brown, silver, and others. Nearly all color variations can have some red in them due to some residual hemoglobin that shows through the skin. The body is segmented, with some tyers insisting on having seven segments in the chironomid patterns they tie.  But are the fish really counting? At the head end of the pupa there will be some protruding gill filaments, that can be simulated in artificial fly patterns using any number of white materials like ostrich herl, antron. or poly yarn.

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A chironomid showing very evident wing pads developing and highly visible gill filaments.

The question often comes up about why bother fishing chironomid patterns at all.  Well, midges are available year round. They are arguably the most available food for feeding trout.  What they lack in size is made up for by the sheer numbers that are available. It is estimated that they make up at least 50 percent of the trout’s diet in stillwater habitats. 

Brian Chan, noted stillwater fishing guru, has written extensively on chironomid strategies.  Check out this link for some great advice about fishing chironomids in lakes and ponds:

10 Tips For Success With Stillwater Chironomids by Brian Chan 6/09/2015  on Rio Website

https://www.rioproducts.com/learn/10-tips-for-success-with-stillwater-chironomids

When fishing your chironomids at depths greater than the length of your rod, landing your fish will be made a lot easier by using a “slip strike indicator”.  Here is a helpful short video from In The Riffle:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u2cbPXxvxRI

The Ice Cream Cone

If you do some searching on the internet you will find all kinds of chironomid pupa patterns.  And, surely, they all will work. But, as always, simple is a good place to start for a fly tyer. I have found the Ice Cream Cone, also known as the Snow Cone or Sno-Cone, to be both effective and easy to tie. The history of fly patterns is often up for debate, but credit for coming up with the Ice Cream Cone seems to go to Kamloops, B.C. guide Kelly Davidson back in 1992.  There are lots of variations, but the one common identifying feature of an Ice Cream Cone is a white beadhead. Using a white bead, either metal or glass, seems to be acceptable to trout in representing the white gill filaments.

  The body of the flies are often wrapped with thread or super floss, sometimes incorporating other flashy materials like flashabou, frostbite, or krystal flash for some added pop. The amount shine in the pupa body corresponds to gas that builds up in the pupa as it slowly rises through the water column.  At times the chironomids will appear to have an almost chrome-like segmented appearance due to the accumulation of gases.  One of Phil Rowley’s well known chironomid patterns is in fact called the Chromie.

Coating the whole fly with super glue or UV resin, though not essential, will greatly increase its durability and extend the life of the fly. You can fish Ice Cream Cones under an indicator or let them sink near the bottom and then patiently simulate the pupa slowly rising to the surface by using a slower than slow hand-twist retrieve.  When fish appear to be feeding just sub-surface, club member Lane Hoffman likes to grease all of his leader except the last six inches or so, thus leaving the  chironomid pupa pattern suspended just under the surface.  And don’t forget to try midge pupa patterns in streams, too.  Dead drifting them tied off the bend of a larger nymph can be deadly.  When the trout are feeding near the surface of streams, fishing them in a dry-dropper combination can be lots of fun.

Join us at our next CFF Fly Tying Night on Wednesday, May, 29th to tie up some Ice Cream Cones.  They will become an effective addition to your stillwater fishing patterns.  We will be meeting at the Royal Treatment fly Fishing shop in West Linn.  As always, we get underway at 6:00 pm.  Hope to see you there!

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CFF Auction for May

Euro nymphing is all the rage. So we have an opportunity for all you raging CFF members – a custom built 10′, 4 wt nymphing rod!

As a byproduct of the CFF rod building class, member John Warren donated his rod kit for George Coutts to finish building as a club auction item.

Details: 10’, 4 piece, 4wt, Euro Nymphing rod,  PacBay blank (gloss black), maroon thread wraps. (George reports the total rod weight is only 3.5 oz.)

“GLOSS BLACK – THE PACBAY Quickline series of rod blanks is lighter and more sensitive than anything they have offered before, providing premium performance and craftsmanship to rod builders who require the very best.  In addition to some time-honored lengths and actions, there are also application specific models offered as well.  Try one yourself and see why Quickline is the flagship of our rod blank lineup.”

This auction will run until Monday, May 20 at 5:00 p.m. and is open to paid up CFF members only. To make a bid go to Auctions. If you have any questions please contact me at bartschp@gmail.com.

Kyle Tidwell May 21st Speaker

Student Biologist Kyle Tidwell studies Oregon Spotted Frog (Rana pretiosa) in Conboy Lake National Wildlife Refuge, Washington. © Michael Durham / www.DurmPhoto.com

Kyle is a PhD working at the US Army Corp of Engineers Fish Field Unit. His presentation will be on the Fish Predators on the Columbia Basin, focusing on Avian and Pinniped management and research. It will be a very informative presentation you won’t want to miss!

Meeting details: https://clackamasflyfishers.org/meetings-events/

April 2019 CFF Fishing Reports

The Clackamas Fly Fishers board retreat at Rocky Ridge was a big success with many large trout landed. The wind was blowing hard but the trout were on the bite. There’s lots of room on the Rocky Ridge schedule so get over there!

Don Lewis with a Yakutat Steelhead on his father & son trip with Gary Lewis.

Don Lewis traveled to Yakutat to fish for steelhead with his son Gary. They had a great father/son trip and hooked many steelhead!

In mid April Chris Dudley made the journey to Omak Lake to fish with his sister Cynthia and other friends. The fishing was a little slow with 6 fish landed in two days, but all the fish were big! The best techniques were slow trolling a woolly bugger on an intermediate line or suspending balanced leeches below an indicator. Wind was a problem for the pontoon boats so most fish were taken from shore on this trip.

Chris Dudley and his son Jason and fished Justesen Ranch Lakes April 19-21, with four pairs of fathers and sons. They did very well with suspended leeches, chironomids and dark woolly buggers, but by far the best fly was the Jolly Rancher, obtained a the  Deschutes River Fly Shop in Maupin. The largest was 22 inches, with many at 16-19″. A great time had by all. The best chironomid patterns were chrome, snow cone and black in medium sizes fished just before dark.

Darryl Huff got this net busting Redside on the Deschutes River opening weekend.

Darryl Huff fished the Warm Springs section of the Deschutes when it opened on Monday April 22nd. The water was high running at 6300 CFS but the color was ok. Crowds were expected but the high water and Monday opener kept most away. No single fly was best Darryl caught trout plenty of 12-18″ trout on the san juan worm, zebra midge, blue perdigon, olive sculpin, glow bug plus multiple stone fly patterns.


Hagg Lake Fish-a-long Report

We had a great day at Hagg Lake last Saturday. The weather was good with mild temperatures, no rain and very little wind.

About 12 people joined the Fish-a-long including a new member Sue Deering. Sue was first on the water and did well casting & also trolling green/black woolly bugger on intermediate line, which was the best fly fishing tactic this day.

The Simi Seal Leech, featured at our March Fly Tying night, was a good pattern too.

Fishing was interesting and everyone had lots of strikes but relatively few hookups. Short strikes, lots of them, were the norm this day. The trout that were caught were about 12 inches long and fought stubbornly. We heard from some other local fly anglers that trout to 18” were possible.

The water was a pea green in color but it was clearer than it looked with 5’ to 6’ of clarity. The temperature was 55 degrees. There were no visible hatches. Those of us with fish finders noted the almost all fish were about 9 feet deep.

Hagg Lake has a good population bass and we hoped to catch some, but the water was a little too chilly for good bass activity. Common wisdom says Smallmouth’s like water temps around 65 degrees and Largemouth’s closer to 70.  

This is a good place for float tubing and kayaking. There is really not enough room to fly cast from the bank. Also, the banks are clay and a little slippery.

The parks are nice and we were able to set up a good place for lunch, which was Taco’s with ingredients provided by Cheryl. We had a ton of food and everyone enjoyed seconds. Thanks again for everyone that came to make this fish-a-long another successful event!

Henry Hagg Lake Fish-A-Long

This month’s Fish-A-Long will be this Saturday at Henry Hagg Lake, located near Forest Grove. Hagg Lake was stocked April 1st with 7,000 legal rainbows and 400 trophies. Beside trout, good size Largemouth and Smallmouth Bass are available. This is a new location for us and we are looking forward to exploring new water!

What: Rainbow trout and bass

Were:  Henry Hagg Lake near Forest Grove

When:  Meet at the Sain Creek picnic area at 8:30 AM. There is $7 day use fee.

Equipment:  Best fished with a float tube and standard lake patterns. The weather should be OK but rain is always a possibility this time of year.

Lunch: Coffee, donuts and Lunch will be provided.

Directions:  About an hour’s drive west of Portland: you can take either Hwy 26 to North Plains then head south on Hwy 47 past Forest Grove to Scoggins Valley Rd then on to the lake. There are several alternate scenic routes on Mapquest. Once at the lake, pay at the fee booth for your day pass then go left drive across the dam then follow West Shore Drive to Sain Creek  Picnic Area.

If possible send me a text or email so I know who will be there. Paul 503-635-3156 or ponzdog@icloud.com

Fly Fishing Hagg Lake Video by Micole Jensen, who did a presentation on Kayak fishing for CFF a while back: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=84Th1W3H6fM

Fly Tying: April, 2019

Euro-Nymphing Flies

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This month’s fly tying article is going to be a bit different.  Instead of highlighting one particular fly we are going to be looking at a whole family of flies.  

Background Info:

European nymphing?? It seems that the whole fly fishing world is euro-nymphing.  But it is not a matter of just getting on the bandwagon of the newest fad, because in fact, euro-nymphing is not really all that new. Although new to many of us, it has proven to be very effective since the 1980’s.  (Some flyfishing historians will argue that european-nymphing is simply another step in the development of high-stick nymphing techniques that have been evolving for the past 150 years!)

Perhaps you are on the fence in deciding whether to jump into euro-nymphing. Well, when you hear that the highly competitive USA fly fishing team has added euro-nymphing to its arsenal of methods, it should make you sit up and notice.  Back in 1989 the fly fishing world was changed when Polish angler Vladi Trzebunia caught more fish by himself than the combined total of the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th place teams at the world championships! A little closer to home, when Josh Linn, the “Fly Czar” at The Royal Treatment Fly Shop, tells me he recently had a 20-fish day on the Metolius I really start paying attention!  That is no easy feat on that river.  Now, I don’t get over to the Metolius very often, but I am not sure if I have landed 20 fish on that river in my lifetime. So we are in for a treat this month getting to have Josh as our guest speaker and also have him available as the guest tyer to share his knowledge at our monthly Fly Tying Night. (And at our meeting be sure to ask him about landing two fish at once. Also on the Metolius!)

So, what is euro-nymphing?  In its simplest description, it is a way to fish subsurface flies without using a strike indicator or adding extra weight onto your line.  it is a method of maintaining a tight connection with your fly, a method to dead drift your fly and to eliminate slack in your line, and a method to maintain control over the depth and speed of your drifting fly.  Some people call this Czech nymphing, some call it European nymphing, and some call it tight-line nymphing. You can call it whatever you want.

There are a number of variations of euro-nymphing styles (Polish, Czech, Spanish, French, etc), each employing both similarities and differences to the other methods. If you study them all and overthink too much, all of the information will soon put your brain on overload.  Before you blow a fuse and get discouraged, we’ll let Josh break down this whole European-style nymphing to the basics and teach us enough to get us started.

Euro-Nymphing Flies:

The types of flies for euro-nymphing will differ from many of the nymph patterns that you are accustomed to using.  They nearly all are heavily weighted for their size, usually employing tungsten beads to get them down to the desired depth.  Along with the tungsten beads tyers often add wraps of lead wire for additional weight.

You will notice that many of the euro-nymph flies are also sparsely tied and have a smooth and streamlined appearance. This aids in getting the flies down quickly to the fish zone.  Many of our standard nymphs have a bushy or rough look to them, which causes them to drop more slowly due to added friction as they sink through the water column. Many patterns employ a bright hot spot near the head or tail, or both. The appearance of many of the flies can best be described as “attractor” patterns since they do not seem to closely resemble any life forms in the river, (or on this planet for that matter). Suffice to say we are not trying to closely “match the hatch” when tying up many of the euro-nymph patterns.

Flies for euro-nymphing are rapidly evolving. Here are a number of euro-nymph patterns presently in use:

The Perdigon

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This fly was first developed by the Spanish competitive fly fishing team but really was made popular by the French team. Wraps of lead wire are often added behind the tungsten bead head.  The tail is generally coq de leon. Using different materials for wrapping the body accounts for the numerous variations of this fly.  It generally is tied with a very smooth and streamlined look, and needs to be coated with UV resin or clear fingernail polish.  It is interesting to note that the name Perdigon comes from the Spanish word “perdigones” which translates as “pellet” or “shot”, as in bird shot.  So the Perdigon is literally a weighted pellet with a tail, and it drops through the water like a rock.

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The Mic Drop

A Perdigon style fly with a body made of thread wraps ribbed with wire.

 

The Quilldigon

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Basically a Perdigon made with a peacock quill body.

 

 

The Frenchie

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Most of the credit for this fly seems to go to Lance Egan, a member of the USA fly fishing team.  He actually says his version is a variation of a previous pattern (perhaps borrowed from the French team?, hence the name). Using pheasant tail fibers in the body, it is sometimes described as a pheasant tail with a hot spot. Egan says he won one session of the world championships in 2006 using the Frenchie.

The Thread Frenchie

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As the name implies, this fly substitutes thread for pheasant tail fibers in the body.

 

 

The GTI Caddis

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Another Lance Egan pattern, GTi is a short for “Go To Imitation”.  It is a larger fly and makes a good point or anchor fly in a euro-nymph rigging.

 

The Red Princess  (or Czech Princess)

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Not as smooth in appearance as many euro-nymph patterns due to an added cdc collar.  (Club member Kevin Luettgerodt likes this pattern after recently landing a beautiful 18-inch redside on the Metolius.)

 

Join us on Wednesday, April 24th at the Royal Treatment Fly Shop in West Linn for our next Fly Tying Night. Guest tyer Josh Linn will be guiding us in tying up euro-nymph patterns, including some of those shown above. We will be starting at 6 pm.  Hope to see you there!

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