Saturday, 23 February 2008

Play it Safe When Fishing - Use a Wading Staff

A few years ago, I started using a stick when wading across brooks and streams. The first time it was because I had picked up a piece of Maple, gnawed by beavers into the perfect shape and length for a walking stick. Having it to hand anyway I continued to use it as I walked across a freshet-full brook to get to a fishing spot. It made what would have been a mildly treacherous adventure much less risky.

From then on, when walking into or out of favourite places, I would scan for a good stick and carry it with me to the fording spots. After crossing, I would leave the stick there and continue. Before long there were good, wading sticks stashed at each difficult crossing.

Wading is a big part of my fly-fishing. If you have read much of what I write, you will know that I always apply a few simple strategies when on the water. Confident wading is often the key to successfully implementing these ideas:

· First, I try to find places others may not think to try.
· I will fish from angles and approach lies from directions that are not always conventional.
· I am always game to walk another mile in an effort to find undisturbed water and so on.

It is simple stuff but cumulative.

Safe wading like any aspect of good fishing involves being aware of a few techniques or ideas that are used together in different combinations to contribute to safety, comfort and success. When wading I may appear bold but only because I am careful.

Here are the things I think about when in the water:

· I try to avoid wading past the point where I become buoyant because I want to put my weight securely on my forward foot before lifting my rear foot to take another step. This is critical. Always have one foot well placed and not slipping before lifting your weight off the other foot to take a step.

· I wade parallel to the current to reduce drag and usually cross at an angle rather than trying for a straight line.

Here is the simplest and most important tip I can offer:

. I never step on something that I can walk around or step over.

That is a good tip for walking in the bush in general not just when wading.

I always use a wading staff with a lanyard to keep it from drifting away should I drop it and I wear a belt around my waders.

The idea of the belt is to slow the rush of water into your boots if you fall. You would be close to neutral buoyancy with your waders full so sinking like a stone is not the big problem. Try getting out of the river with a hundred pounds of water sloshing around your feet. That is a problem. An immediate benefit of a wading belt is that it minimizes the discomfort of a little water splashing in over the top here and there.

I will be honest, I did not and do not always follow the common sense rules listed. Heck, I only started using a real wading staff in the last couple of years yet of all the things I can think of to improve one’s comfort and security in the woods or on the stream a good walking stick/wading staff is hard to beat.

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Tuesday, 19 February 2008

Pinched barbed hooks now mandatory for Atlantic Salmon angling in Nova Scotia

Pinch the barbs of your salmon flies!! A note just in from the Flies and Lies e-mail list.

Pinched barbed hooks now mandatory for Atlantic Salmon angling in Nova Scotia in 2008.

The Nova Scotia Salmon Association has been lobbying for the use of pinched barbed (barbless) hooks while fishing for Atlantic Salmon for the past four years. Meetings through the Zone Management Committee Meetings and consultations with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans has resulted in this becoming a regulation commencing this year.

Commencing June 1st, 2008, pinched barbs will be mandatory, on the fly you are fishing with, in Salmon Fishing Areas 19 (eastern Cape Breton), 20 (eastern Nova Scotia) and 21 (Southern Nova Scotia).

Commencing October 1
st, 2008, pinched barbs will be mandatory, on the fly you are fishing with, in Salmon Fishing Area 18 (western Cape Breton and northern Nova Scotia).

This will make it easier to safely release these wonderful fish unharmed and to ensure they return to spawn again

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Sunday, 17 February 2008

Ruby-Throated Hummingbirds in Nova Scotia

Here is a video clip done by a friend of mine. It is from a DVD project available on a website called Hummingbird Valley. It features a bird called the Ruby-Throated Hummingbird.

They are magical creatures. We start seeing them in mid-May and they leave for the South in September or October. On the male, the head and back are a jewel-like green. The amazing feature is a patch of iridescent feathers on its throat. This patch can seem to be the darkest black from one angle and then flash to a brilliant red from another. They are tiny, about the size of your thumb. They breed here in Nova Scotia.
There are over 300 species of Hummingbirds known but the Ruby-Throated is the only one normally found here. Most live in the tropics. Here is an interesting thing. The Hummingbird is found nowhere but the Americas or as Robie Tufts puts it, "the New World".

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Friday, 15 February 2008

American Shad, Traditional Recipes for The Poor Man’s Salmon

Here is a picture of me with a big fish I caught a few seasons ago. It is an American Shad. You can see from the picture why a Dobson Clip can come in handy.

In the last few years, I have started to look forward to the Shad run with the same excitement as opening day for Trout. These fish are truly awesome on light fly gear. In fact, the Shad run is a great tune-up for the Salmon season.

Most fly anglers I have encountered on Shad water practice catch and release for Shad, me included. There was a time though when the Shad and Shad roe were an important food source. Here are a couple of the traditional recipes, one for Baked Shad and the other for broiled Shad roe.

Traditional Baked Shad:

· One whole shad (at least three pounds but the bigger the better) scaled and cleaned.
· One cup of chopped onions.
· Two strips of bacon

Place the fish in pan large enough for the length of the fish. Stuff the fish with chopped onions. Make a few cuts in each side of the fish. Then, lay the strips of bacon on the fish. Add salt and pepper freely. Bake at 350 degrees until tender and cooked through -about a half hour, give or take.
Broiling Shad Roe

· Wipe and dry the roe well on a paper towel or cloth
· Add salt and pepper freely
· Place on greased cookie sheet
· Broil for five minutes, turn and broil the other side for five more minutes.
· Serve with melted butter

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Sunday, 10 February 2008

Seeing Fish – Part 2 of Fishing Where the Fish Are

If there is one thing, we all should do when arriving at a fishing spot it is to stop and look. I mean really look. Get a feel for what is going on around you and most importantly in and on the water you are about to fish.

The biggest surprise about fishing is how much of it is visual. When you take the time to study your surroundings you will start seeing fish. The step from seeing more fish to catching more fish is a short one because now you will be fishing where the fish are.

As a youngster starting out, fishing with bobber and worm, I rarely saw fish. I would watch my bobber intently and seek to translate its movements into clues about what the fish were doing but unless caught, they were invisible.

During the first year of trying to learn to fly fish, I started seeing fish. I would notice a rise here and there or a strange motion in the shallows as a trout flashed at a minnow or snatched a hellgrammite.

As I became more proficient with the fly rod, I also became better at spotting fish. The two things seem to go together. It certainly adds an element of fun and challenge. Having seen the subtle bulge of a big trout feeding on emerging nymphs, the same effect happens to the fly angler as happens to the trout. Both key in on their quarry.

Seeing fish is about knowing where to look and what to look for. The reason I began seeing fish when I started fly-fishing was that I was paying attention to what the fish were feeding on.

By studying the insect life around the banks seeking to imitate it, I also began to see the feeding activities of the fish that were preying on the insects. From those observations, certain patterns started to make sense.

For example, if a trout is laying in a particular spot waiting for an insect to blunder into the brook and I notice him because he takes a bug from the surface I will take a moment to think about what makes that spot a good place for him to be lurking. The same characteristics of current speed, available food supply and nearby shelter that makes this a place a trout holds will usually apply anywhere else you find those specific conditions.

Each observation adds to your bag of tricks and your success rate but “fishing where the fish are” is where it all starts.

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Fish Where the Fish Are

I had the chance to review some of last season’s fishing with Brad a while ago over lunch. It was not a very serious discussion but one thing he said has stuck with me. We had been talking about how busy we both were last year which meant we did not get out fishing as much as we used to.

I said, “We still did alright though.”
“Yes,” he said “but now we fish where the fish are.”

In thinking it over, I know what he meant. In the years we have fished together, we often spent as much time exploring as fishing. We discovered some great fishing. The best places we invariably named The Secret Spot.

Fishing where the fish are comes down to knowing or finding out a few things:

What species is most active and is therefore the best target for your efforts given how much time you have available to travel and fish?

What are the fish doing that makes them available to you and how do you adapt your technique to exploit it?

For stream fishing ask yourself; what does the water flow, streambed structure and plant life along the banks indicate about where the fish might be? Is there any insect life obvious?

For lakes, what does the shore structure tell you about what might be happening further out in the water? What does the plant life along the shore tell you about hidden brooks or springs? What do the weed beds out in the water tell you about depth and bottom structure? Always look for obvious insect activity, baitfish and of course fish rising or chasing schools of minnows.

What we need to think about is what do these things tell us about where the fish will find food and security? We cannot always see fish but we can often get clues from their environment as to where they will likely be. That is where we should be fishing.

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The Brook Trout - What You Need to Know

The Brook Trout is a native North American species but it is not really a trout. It is a Char. Char is the common name for members of the genus Salvelinus. So, if we look at the proper name for Brook Trout which is Salvelinus Fontinalis, we get some clues to the lifestyle of the Brook Trout. Salvelinus tells us that it is a Char and the Fontinalis part means “of springs” or “living in springs”. That is an important bit of information when it comes to figuring out where you might find trout.

Brook Trout prefer to spawn in places where springs well up. This is more important to them than almost any other consideration such as what the gravel is like on the bottom.

If there are no springs then Brook Trout will spawn in riffles or runs out of pools but these spots must meet very select criteria. The water must flow at a certain speed; the gravel bottom must be within a certain size and so on.

Interesting information or not so much but here is the bit that may help you to locate fish when a field. Because they are so well adapted to this environment and able to spawn successfully in brooks, rivers, ponds and lakes, Brook Trout might be found in any –even the smallest –spring fed water.

To locate trout in tiny brooks look for cover. That is where the trout will be. In a stream trout prefer a bottom of gravel and smallish rocks. The cover only needs to be near by. They will establish a territory and feeding lane and stay there. If you locate one of these spots the same trout is likely to be there all season. They will usually chase other trout out of their chosen territory but funnily enough are quite happy to share a bit of cover when needed.

In a lake things are very different. Trout in a lake are not territorial and cover is not so important to them. It is of interest to the fisherman however because cover might be where bait fish and insects congregate. Where there is food there are probably trout.

The most important thing to know about Brook Trout is that they don’t need much more than 2 feet of water to be comfortable. Rarely will a Brook Trout be found much deeper than 15 feet.

It is not uncommon in the summer, as water temperatures rise, to find trout in very shallow water clustered around a spring even though there is deeper water of almost the same temperature within easy reach.

The important key to beginning to understand Brook Trout and consequently becoming a more effective fisherman is in their name, Salvelinus Fontinalis –Char that lives in springs. In this case knowledge really is power, taxonomically speaking.

(This is a re-posting by request of a segment of a longer article.)

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Friday, 8 February 2008

Paris Hilton Loves Fishing

No kidding-

I was on my way to work, listening to the news and the big-voice headline going into the break was, "Paris Hilton Loves Fishing".

The story comes on and it is revealed that she also likes to play hockey.

Here is the quote used in the story, Paris said: "I love fishing. I like to catch the little critters, but I don't eat them. I just put them right back, because I feel really bad for them."

It leaves me speechless.

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Thursday, 7 February 2008

Political Leaders to be Thrown in Jail for Ignoring Science?

David Suzuki has called for political leaders to be thrown in jail for ignoring the science behind climate change.

It was at a Montreal conference last Thursday, where the scientist and TV star spoke to an audience of 600 saying they should hold politicians legally accountable for, “an intergenerational crime”.

If ignoring science becomes a crime things will get crazy fast. Presumably, Mr. Suzuki will get to decide which science is real science and illegal to ignore and which science is not real science and therefore can be ignored. Wonder what he makes of the intelligent design movement vs. Darwinism. Somebody would be going to jail.

David Suzuki was named one of the “Greatest Canadians” not long ago by the venerable CBC. He is a fellow of the Order of Canada. What was he thinking? Maybe a more important question is, “What does he really think?” The spin-doctors will be in full damage control mode and this story will soon vanish but still, when someone of the stature of David Suzuki speaks people listen.

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The Winter Blues

 I still have not been able to settle into any fly tying yet. This winter seems to discourage the thought of spring as a possibility. As I stare at the jumble on my workbench, which will need cleaning up just to make room for my tying vise, tools and supplies, I realize that I still have not finished the last two wraps on that Bamboo rod I have been working on forever. There are several half-finished Dobson Clip projects randomly scattered. They stare at me accusingly. Sprinkled on top of everything else is a pile of notes for articles I have not gotten around to writing. On it goes.

Just listing those few of the things awaiting my attention and energies reminds me of the time my brother Al told me he was feeling down, un-invigorated, listless.

He said, “I went to the doctor to see if I had mononucleosis or something.”
“Scary stuff.” I said. “What’s the problem?”
“Well” Al says, “after a bunch of tests and stuff, it turns out I’m just lazy.”

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Saturday, 2 February 2008

Grey Squirrels Cause Trouble in Fredericton, New Brunswick.

I was listening to the radio the other day during a long drive to Yarmouth, NS and laughed out loud at this story about Grey Squirrels in Fredericton, New Brunswick.

The City has spent more than $10,000 putting energy efficient LED lighting on the magnificent trees that grace its downtown. The effect is beautiful but they are having trouble keeping them lit.

Vandals are damaging the strings of lights faster than they can be repaired.

The mystery was solved when it was discovered that the vandals are Grey Squirrels. The squirrels have developed a taste for the cool burning, plastic bulbs. Anyone who has bird feeders will know how this story is most likely going to turn out.

First the city's downtown business association hired a contractor to replace the damaged bulbs but with multiple strings of lights on each tree it soon became too expensive to keep up with those pesky squirrels.

The end result is that the city has retreated. They are keeping the lights up and working around one spot where they also maintain an outdoor rink.

 A decision will be made about the rest of the area when they can come up with a solution to the inexplicable tastiness to squirrels of LED light strings.

I'd be curious to hear if anyone has any thoughts on why the squirrels would chew on the wires and bulbs of a string of electric lights. Any ideas on how to outsmart them on this one?

As I said, anyone with a bird feeder has dealt with the resourcefulness of squirrels and might even qualify as an expert.

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Partridge Discontinuing Hooks

I and the others on the "Flies and Lies" mailing list got this note the other day from Larry Shortt:

----- Original Message -----

Hi Folks,We received word from one of our suppliers that Partridge will be discontinuing the following hooks:
Bartleet Supremes- all sizes;
the CS-42 Bomber Hook;
the Carrie Stevens streamer hooks;
single salmon in sizes 2/0, 3/0 and 4/0.
If you like these hooks now is the time to stock up.
Larry Shortt

It was followed up later by this information:

From: Larry Shortt To: Flies & Lies List
Subject: Partridge Hooks Discontinued
Importance: High

Hi Folks,
I e-mailed Partridge yesterday enquiring about their hooks. Below is the reply I received.

----- Original Message -----

From: Jeff Pierce

To: Larry Shortt

Sent: Thursday, January 17, 2008 8:39 AM

Subject: FW: Partridge Hooks Discontinued

Good morning Mr. Shortt
Thanks for taking the time to email us with your question. I'm sorry to say that it is true that many Partridge hooks have been put on hold for the time being due to production transfer backlogs. Some of these items may come back as production gets caught up but Partridge management in Europe has not made any calls on that yet and this stop of many model numbers is global. That being said, there is still a decent inventory of some of these items in the Mustad warehouse in Auburn, NY as we took some action to bulk up where possible when we heard about these plans. You can read about the hooks that are dropped at this link where I posted the information. On FAOL, my posts show up under "Dr. Fish" and that should help to sort fact from fiction.
-Thanks again for contacting us and hopefully some of these hooks will be back as there are favorites of mine in that list as well.

Best Fishes,
Jeff Pierce a.k.a. - Dr. Fish
Sales Manager O. Mustad & Son (USA), Inc. / Partridge of Redditch
SHARPEST Site on the Web -

These are Mr Pierce's comments on FAOL:

First Post:

I'm getting questions on just what was dropped so here it is . . .
The Capt. Hamilton series of fly hooks were discontinued a few years back. The new Flashpoint hooks were introduced and THE WET (TWH) and THE DRY (TDH) were meant to replace the Capt. Hamilton Dry and Wet hooks. All of the "Y" series hooks have been dropped as well over the past 4 years and those that sold OK were rolled over into the new Flashpoint range.
Reviewing the list of items classified as ON HOLD (meaning no production on these items while backlogged production on key items are caught up) , the are as follows:
BIN (Barbless Ideal Nymph)
CS6 (Adlington & Hutchinson Blind Eye Salmon
CS10/2 (Bartleet Supreme)
CS10/3 (Bartleet Traditional Blind Eye)
CS12 (A.E.M. 6X Long Shank Salmon Fly Treble)
CS15 (Carrie Stevens 10X Long Heavyweight Streamer)
CS17 (Ken Baker Extra Long Limerick Streamer)
CS42 (MW Bomber Salmon/Steelhead Dry Fly)
CS43 (Ad Swier Pike Fly)
CS52 - sizes 8 and 10 only (Sea Prince Saltwater Fly)
D3STF (Straight Eye Streamer)
E1A (Hooper L/S 4X Fine Dry Fly)
GHH (Gold Headed)
GRS12ST (Grey Shadow Emerger/Nymph)
HE2 (Extra Long Bartleet Blind Eye)
IN (Ideal Nymph)
K1A (Vince Marinaro Midge)
K3A (Swedish Dry Fly)
K5A (Extra Heavy Scud/Egg)
M - sizes 5/0, 4/0, 3/0, 2/0 only (Single Salmon)
MM3STBN (Nordic Single Tube Fly)
N - sizes 1/0 and 1 only (Single Low Water)
O1 - sizes 2 and 16 only (Single Wilson)
P261BLN (Aberdeen Perfect)
Q - sizes 2/0 and 1/0 only (Double Low Water)
R1A (Double Limerick)
V1B - sizes 12.5mm and 10mm only (Double Waddington Shanks)
X1BL (Outpoint Treble)
X3BL (Needle Eye Tube Fly Treble)
There is a chance that some of these items will be brought back after production is back to full speed but that remains to be seen.
Hope this sheds some light on things.

Jeff Pierce
Sales Manager
O. Mustad & Son / Partridge of Redditch

Second Post:

I have seen discussions on a few boards so here's what I have right now as far as info goes . . .

Hello everyone;

Sure is tough to keep up with what's going on on all the various boards on the web these days.
Just wanted to quickly post on this subject. There is no truth whatsoever to any rumor about Partridge being sold to anyone. It is still a brand that falls under the Mustad umbrella. I can assure you of that. As for the comment about Mustad putting little effort into the product line I can assure you that is not true either. Since there have been no massive SKU intensive hook roll outs for Partridge I can see where it may appear as though little is going on but such is not the case. In the last 3 years, Mustad has invested a very significant amount of money into the Partridge brand. Production in Redditch was tough. Quality issues were many and that had to be addressed. We have upgraded all tooling that is used to produce the Partridge hooks and this has helped tremendously to improve the quality. Production had moved to Singapore but recently we shut the Singapore operation down with the opening of the worlds largest fish hook factory on the planet, our new facility in Wuxi, China. When we opened it 2 or 3 years ago it was the largest and we are now doing a huge expansion to make room for more machines and manual production. This is the most state of the art hook factory in the world. Quality will not suffer, it will only get better and availability of Partridge products will also get much better. Partridge management in Europe made the call to stop production on many long standing staple hooks like the CS10/3, CS42, CS15 and others in order to focus efforts on the core items and get caught up on the backlog created with the production move. As production gets caught up, the plan is to add some of these popular items back in and as far as I'm concerned, this cannot happen fast enough as some of my favorites are cut for now. Many new hooks have been added like the 2 Klinkhamer hooks, Shrimp hooks and other Flashpoints to name a few.
The warehouse in Auburn, NY did stock up on some of the items that are being dropped for now so many of these items should be available during the dry spell. Your dealer can check status of items for you.

Hope this helps to answer some of the questions.
I'll follow up later with the current drop list.
The message is - stock up now if you have any favourites on the list.

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