Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Shad Fishing

You know, Shad fishing is funny business. Sunday I stood within sight of a guy who was hooking fish every ten minutes for at least an hour. Know how many I hooked? Zero, Nada, Nothing, None.

We both seemed to be doing the same thing as to technique, casting across and down, letting the fly swing until it straightened out and then retrieving with short strips every five seconds or so.

The day before I had done the same thing in the same place with good results but on this day I was having no luck.

The one big difference was that I had been using pink flies the day before. He was using one today but
I had lost my last pink to a log just before leaving the night before.

The funny thing is that as I was gathering my gear to go out again Sunday morning I thought about tying up a few pink and golds but decided that I'd rather be fishing than fly tying.

Well, that is what I ended up doing- a lot of fishing and not much catching. I'm not certain that was the problem but I've seen enough days when certain colours were all the fish would touch that I've been tying up a handful of pink and golds this evening just in case.

Here is what they look like. You can add a bit of lead wire for high water conditions but usually the bead eyes are sufficient. When they work they can't be beat. When they don't...well, you know.

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Sunday, 25 April 2010

The Shad Are In- Shad Run 2010 is Underway

Went out to check on the Shubenacadie River and the Nine Mile today. Figured I'd get some trout fishing in on the Nine Mile which I did, lots of trout around. As I got farther downstream towards the Shubenacadie I started seeing the tell-tale swirls of Shad moving in the river. I fished hard for an hour then decided to walk down to the junction with the big river. That is where I hit the fish.

I met this fellow, Greg Lovely, and we fished across the brook from each other for an hour or two. He is a good fisherman and tells a good story too.

 Between us we touched about twenty Shad this afternoon. Landed a few, lost a few and had lots of action and even a few double headers.

As I type this my arm is still a little sore from what my buddy Brad calls "Arm aching action". Get out there boys the fish are starting to move up the rivers.

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Monday, 19 April 2010

Shad Flies and Some Experiments

I have been thinking about flies for Shad fishing in the last few days. The main flies I have been using for the last couple of years have been an ultra simple thing with heavy lead eyes in a bunch of different colours. Quick and easy to tie it sinks like a stone and catches a few fish. The problem is that it isn't really a great fly.

When fish are the least bit selective, I'm just out there practising my casting.

So here is what I've been doing. I've been thinking back to the basic flies and colours I've used over the years and am tying a few variations of each style to see how much difference the separate pieces make. The idea is to still have a simple quick to tie fly but one that actually works a bit better than what I've settled on over the last few seasons.

Here is an example of a simple red and white fly version of a shad dart. Some with buck tail, some with crystal flash, some with lead wire, some with bead eyes, and so on. All variations of the same fly.

I'm still going to keep it simple, using a basic pattern with different colours, weights and tails. I've got another week or two before the run hits to get a bunch tied but it should be an interesting season.

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Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Ocean Trout Farms - Rainbow Trout Escape

Well it has happened again. Another 2,000 Rainbow Trout have escaped from Ocean Trout Farms, a sea based aquaculture operation located in Queens County, Nova Scotia.

The operators of the fish farm think hungry seals may have caused the problem that allowed the fish to escape.

The last time Ocean Trout Farms was mentioned here was in 2007 when 500,000 Rainbow Trout escaped during Hurricane Noel.

Those trout showed up in rivers along the coast from the Mersey and Medway all the way to the Sackville River here in the HRM.

The fear is of course that the fish may carry diseases and parasites from living in farm conditions that could get into the wild populations of Atlantic Salmon and Speckled Trout here.

 There is also concern that non-native Rainbow Trout could colonize some of the local rivers and lakes putting the native species under critical pressure.

This escape happened earlier this month but I heard nothing about it until I happened to see a small article in today's newspaper. I wonder what obligation this company is under to report escapes, mortalities, disease outbreaks or parasitic infestations? Having said that, I am not sure what value that information would have after the fact anyway.

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Monday, 12 April 2010

First Trout of 2010

Spent sometime fishing today with my buddy Brad. We started in Musquodoboit and worked our way around to the Ninemile River. Stopped and looked at the Shubenacadie to see if any Shad were moving yet.
Still too early for Shad it seems but we did find a few trout. There was a hatch of Black Stoneflies going on and off all day but very little sign of trout feeding on the surface.
I had some luck with a Hare's Ear nymph and a Dark Brown Stonefly Nymph. Brad did alright but wouldn't tell me what he was using.

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Friday, 9 April 2010

Nova Scotia Shad Run 2010

With everyone's favourite Nova Scotia Fishing dot com website shut down for a little while how about putting updates here in the comments section for those other Shad fishing fanatics out there. With the price of gas, it is expensive to run up to the Valley or out to Shubenacadie on a hope.

If you have any information on when the Valley runs are starting or the Shubenacadie run, let us know please.

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Thursday, 8 April 2010

Building a Fly Rod - Part 7 Finishing the Rod

Once all of the wrapping is complete it is time to string the rod and make sure everything is right before epoxying the wraps.
By pulling the rod gently into an arc you can confirm that the guides are exactly where they should be. Make sure that there are no flat spots in the line as it follows the rod's shape. Nothing is permanently fixed yet so the guides can still be moved or removed and re-wrapped if necessary. This is the time to pay attention to the details.
After I was finished with the fussy parts all that still needed doing was to sign the rod with length, line weight and of course the name of the new rod's owner.

To finish the rod the wraps are saturated with epoxy and turned very slowly until the epoxy cures into an even, permanent bond. I should note here that you can use a colour preservative solution on the thread wraps to keep the original colour intact after applying the epoxy. You can use no colour preservative and let the thread become translucent which is what some of the high end manufacturers do or you can use an NCP thread which holds its colour when saturated. It is all a matter of choice although some folks argue that a saturated thread with no colour preservative is stronger.

I used NCP thread to preserve the colour scheme and pop the whole thing into a double rod dryer so that I can do both sections of the rod at once.

A rod dryer uses ultra low RPM motors to rotate the rod while  the epoxy sets creating a smooth, uniform finish. This could be done by hand but it is such an important part of rod building that it should not be left to chance. The rod dryer is the only specialized tool I bought ready made. They are very easy to build if you are so inclined. Drop me a note and I'll send you pictures of how one goes together.

So now the rod is finished and the new owner is delighted with it. I had only cast it in my yard to test it since I wanted to deliver it before fishing season opened.

I  borrowed it last Saturday to try it on some open water and caught a couple of fish. I should have named the rod "Lucky".

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Building a Fly Rod - Part 6 Wrapping the Guides

The blank is marked at each guide location. Now the interesting part of the build begins.

I start by placing the stripping guide and fixing it into place with a little bit of masking tape. Just to make sure that everything will line up I mount a reel to the blank and sight along it to the stripping guide. When it is exactly where it should be the reel is removed and the wrapping begins.

My set-up for this is a homemade set of rod stands and a couple of thread tensioners mounted on a piece of wood. It is a little bit crude compared to some rigs but it works fine.

Power winders are available and while they are pretty slick I really enjoy the hand winding process.

To start a wrap I cross the first two thread wraps and pushing them tightly together with my thumbnail, keep turning the blank until the tension of the wraps evens out and the thread turns are laying neatly side by side.

Tension is important , too tight and you'll create a dead spot where the blank is compressed and liable to damage in the future. Too loose and the wraps are messy and won't lay right. It is another one of those things that is done by feel. When it is right, it feels right and looks right.

If the feet of the guides have been filed to a nice taper the winding thread will just follow up and over to cover the guide foot. About ten rotations from the end of the wrapping, a loop of thread is laid on the blank and the wrapping continued over it. To finish, clip your thread free from the spool, slip the tag-end through the loop and pull it under the wraps. Clip it off where it emerges and use a quick flash of flame from a lighter to remove any fuzz.

Sometimes you will want to leave the tag end long until you are ready to apply the finish epoxy. The reason is that each guide needs to be straight in line from the reel seat to the tip top. With all of the winding and handling they can creep out of line. They can be nudged back into place and the wrap tightened using the tag you've left.

I clip them. It makes a neater looking job while building and the worst that can happen is that an occasional wrap will loosen up and need to be redone.

Once the basic wrap is complete it is nice to add a little bit of contrasting trim. This is started and stopped exactly like the main wrap. the trim is for vanity. It looks nice but doesn't really do anything except please the builder and hopefully the eventual owner of the rod.

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Sunday, 4 April 2010

First Fish of the New Season

We interrupt the story of building a rod with a little note about the new fishing season starting here in Nova Scotia. I ran up to a nearby spot to try for a few trout. No trout but a couple of Smallmouth Bass, one  nice one.

Always good to start the season off with a few fish coming to the fly.

Next chapter coming soon in the Fly Rod Build -Wrapping the Guides.

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Friday, 2 April 2010

Building a Fly Rod - Part 5 Guide Placement

You might have noticed from the pictures that when it was time to start fitting the pieces I transferred the marks showing me the guide side of the blank from masking tape to the blank itself. The best way to mark directly on a blank is to use a China Marker. That is a waxy pencil for marking on glass, metal or fishing rod blanks. The best part is that you can rub the marks off with a finger or cloth as you need to.

This blank has recommended guide placements at 4, 9, 15, 22, 30, 39, 49, 60 and 71 inches from the tip.

Having measured for the guide placement and carefully marked the blank it is set aside. I will prepare the guides for wrapping by carefully filing the guide feet so that the thread, while wrapping, will easily fall into place and flow easily up and over the guide feet without any bulges or over wraps.

When the guides are all ready to go after that long and fussy job I will measure the rod blank one more time just to double check that all of the markings placed earlier are accurate.

Guide placement can be checked once the guides are in place, wrapped but not epoxy finished. At that point the rod can be strung and pulled into an arc. Any flat spots or misaligned guides are pretty obvious and can often be nudged into place without a complete re-wrapping.

Now that it is time to wrap the first guide this rod is starting to come to life.

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