The Great Pumpkin (trout)

Yes, Charlie Brown, there is a Great Pumpkin, and he’s a trout; at least according to Marc Williamson.


Fall Albacore 2016

The big storm is over, the east coast is more or less back to normal, and the Albies are in and nipping. My good friend, Chuck Furimsky, chased them with our mutual friend, Capt’n Jake Jordan in North Carolina. The Albies were most cooperative, and Chuck nailed a bunch, including the nice big one pictured below. Albacore are tuna, and they fight as if Satan himself was chasing them. They are not only speed demons (as are all the tunas), but they have endurance that is the envy of any iron man competitor. When you get a hook in one, might a well figure it will be a battle royal and then some-hang on. If you up for a try, get in touch with Jake (see contact info in Links at right under Capt’n Jake Jordan) and sling some line at one of the hottest fish in the sea.


Lake Michigan Browns 2016

         Looks like the big browns are back in the Lake Michigan tributaries. John Beth was searching for them last week, and he found them in one of our favorite streams. He got really excited when he landed a big female of 29 inches and 15 ½ pounds on a dead drifted egg fly, fished blind into a deep-water slot. After all the photos and congrats, he straightened his shoulders and moved on, fully satisfied with the day. Well, he decided to fish an orange streamer for a while, and on the third cast into a nice slot against the far bank, saw the enormous mouth of a 34 1/2 inch 18 ½ pound male inhale the fly. Talk about being on a high. Those two brown trout had a total weight of 34 pounds! That’s some kind of fishing.

By the way, these things fight well, too!


15 1/2 pounds–whee.


Then, this mouth came out and inhaled the fly!


Look at the rest of the fish that was attached to that big mouth. Yes, John, I would smile, too!




Last Day Ritual

My long time friend and fishing companion, John Beth, has a ritual of fishing the last fay of the inland trout season in Wisconsin with gear from modern fly fishing’s earliest beginnings (the mid to late 1800s). His reports are always fun because I can see him stalking the spring creeks of SW Wisconsin with his greenheart rod, brass Hardy reel, silk line, and early 20th century, gut-snelled wet flies from L.L. Bean. This is the same John that wields his graphite rod and size 22 and 24 Tricos on the Bighorn, and streamers and egg flies on the Lake Michigan tributaries for the big salmon and browns.

His day was a great one, actually with nice sized browns grabbing the wet flies handily in the morning, followed by some great fishing with terrestrials in the afternoon. A nice brown fell to a midget hopper and then came the crowning glory of the day, an 18 inch rainbow on a size 16 ant. What a great way to celebrate the ending of the inland trout season. Gotta love it


Browns of this size took the smelled wet flies very well in the morning.



A nicer afternoon brown that took a midget hopper imitation.



The big rainbow that inhaled the size 16 ant imitation very softly.

Theo’s Eel Skin Rattlers

Theo’s at it again. He loves to use freshwater eel skin for many of his long flies. When wet it undulates, well, like an eel. And then adding rattles? Wow. He will be fishing with Chuck Furimsky later in November for striper and blues off the New Jersey coast and promises to send along reports on the effectiveness of these imitations. Can’t wait.


Theo’s Eel Skin Rattler–notice beads inside EZ Body and long tapered tail of fresh water eel skin.


Lake MI Kings in Wisconsin 2016



My long-time friend, John Beth, and his friend, Scott Allen, just returned from a trip to a Lake Michigan tributary, fishing for kings and browns.

Wisconsin has experienced more than its share of rain this year, and the river finally fell to just a little over 300 cfs. John was understandably anxious to get over and see what was going on. The water was still dirty, but fish could be seen splashing and moving, and so he and Scott stayed and fished. John nailed a king of about 15 pounds, and then a bit later, Scott hooked into a nice one. He had not caught kings before, so John coached him on putting the fight to the fish. No success. And then the fish jumped, and the reason was obvious—it was a really nice one. Scott fought, John coached and fretted, and finally the beast was subdued—but not before John had to reach arm deep and grab it by the caudal peduncle and shove it into the net. It was a 28 ½ pound king, 39 inches long. That was ol’ fighter! No wonder Scott had a hard time.

John, knowing that browns are usually in when the kings come in, and eat drifting eggs, drifted his egg fly down over a lip and into a deep hole and nailed a 28 inch, hook jawed male. Great battle, and great photos to follow.

Nice work, guys!

If you live anywhere close enough to Lake Michigan to get to a tributary, get there. Now is the prime time, and the fishing can be outstanding.


John’s king–nice but Scott has got you beat.


At a boy, Scott. Nice, nice salmon.


And, John, nice, nice brown.

Theo’s New Rattle Flies

My friend, Mr. Goldbead, Theo Bakelaar, from Holland, is constantly coming up with great ideas for using gold (and other color) beads. His former rattle streamer used a loop of nylon on which the beads were strung (see here). His newest version uses a mesh body of EZ Body with the beads inserted in the body. There’s a bit more noise because the beads are freer to move and can clink against the hook shank. The fly is tied upside down to minimize hookups on bottom structures.


Beads are inside EZ Body. Great rattle!


Some other color options, note gold beads inside EZ Body.





Sparkle Snail and Hair Leg Crystal Bugger

Marc Williamson and I are planning to fish Cold Water Lake later this month. Cold Water is an offspring of the Mt. St. Helens eruption on May 18, 1980. When fishing the lake, one looks right up into the massive crater left when the north face of the mountain slide away and the volcano then erupted. Mat Holmes, who fishes the lake often, will be with us, and he suggested terrestrials and smaller buggers.

My friends, Dan and Janice Smith at Estaz, sent me some samples, and two of the colors, Opal Black and Black (which shows significant purple, too) proved to be exactly what I was looking for. The Opal Black shows green, and is a great flash substitute for peacock herl. I used it to tie a half dozen Sparkle Snails. Trout in lakes know what snails are, and this design has worked very well for me in the past.

I also used the Opal Black and the Black to tie a half dozen Hair Leg Sparkle Buggers (3 in each color), with burnt orange tails. My friend, Denny Rickards, who has specialized in lakes most of his life, and written several books on the subject (Fly Fishing Stillwaters for Trophy Trout, and several others) has long recommended olive and black buggers with burnt orange tails.

Marc is dressing flies that he has found to be especially productive on the lakes of central Oregon.

Should be a good day. I’ll let you know.


Sparkle Snail. 3-4 turns of brown, dry fly hackle at the rear of the hook, and then wind the shank front to back with copper wire, do not clip tag end of wire.



Tie in Opal Black Estaz and wind to front of hook.



Spiral wire over body; make 3-4 turns with brown, dry fly hackle at front. That’s it. Simple and very effective.



Hair Leg Sparkle Bugger. Tie in a burnt orange tail of marabou or other soft fibers.



Wrap Estaz over rear 2/3 of shank.



Form a spinning loop and insert Eztaz and black mink guard hairs, or similar stiff fibers.



Spin the loop tight and wind over front 1/3 of shank. This style is based on my Hair Leg Woolly Worm, and is very potent in many situations.

South Africa Dreams

My friend, Tom Sutcliffe, sent the photos below from his waters in South Africa. I have fished some there with Tom and his friends that look identical to those in the photos. I have fond memories of stepping out of the stream to see leopard pug marks in the sand, to having been warned not to approach baboon troops—they throw grapefruit sized rocks at you—to some great fishing and great food (including ostrich steaks).

South Africa has mountains to over 11,400 feet, thousands of miles of both cold-water and warm-water streams, superb reservoir fishing, and some rather impressive surf casting with the fly rod. If you every choose to vacation in Africa, South Africa has great game reserves—and don’t forget the fly rod.












Trico Photos

John Beth has sent along a few more Trico photos from his trip to Montana’s Bighorn a couple of weeks ago. For those that have never fished big waters, the Trico hatch o the ‘Horn can seem unreal. But the big western rivers like the Missouri, the Henry’s Fork, Canada’s Bow, and others all have Trico hatches that are off the chart, and which can go one for over a month. The total number of insect is truly astronomical.


Arriving at the boat ramp in early morning one is created with untold numbers of Tricos.


The spiders get fat on the multitude of Tricos that hang up in their webs.


So many that one can actually breathe them in.


A mating ball illuminated by the sun. This is going on for miles up and down the river.