Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Fly Tying At Our Fingertips

After walking to the bottom of the beat on our chosen Wye tributary fishing venue last weekend myself and fishing buddy (Nick) promptly set up our rods in preparation to work our way up river.

Now Nick is someone who is always looking to try out new innovations that may improve his fishing experience and today he pulled out a something pink that certainly made me look twice (no not that!) it was a Camou French Leader but it was vivid pink in colour and had the obvious benefit of being easily detectable as you follow it down the river.

Nick with a nice Grayling caught using the 'pink' french leader
Anyway the days fishing was pretty average really and with the high winds and drizzly rain making fishing difficult we decided that the local pub was the best option to round the day off. It was here that the pink leader was brought back up where Nick explained it was one of many items that he had brought back from a visit to the FlyFishingPoint shop on a recent trip to the Czech Republic.

 Below: some of the vast selection available online or when you visit the FlyFishingPoint shop

This led us on to a discussion about fly tying and the huge variety of materials that are now available online from our European cousins.

It's the phonomenon of the modern age that we can sit in front of a computer and within a few minutes we have browsed a shop, added items to our basket and paid at the checkout, with delivery of the purchase arriviving within a few days.

A variety of 'Quill Body' nymphs I recently tied with high quality quills purchased from an online Romanian shop
I understand that by doing this we are losing the personal touch that we expect from 'physical' shopping but to have such a huge amount of choice available online has to be good news for us all.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

I saw a beautiful 7"+ Dungeness landed on the pier yesterday morning. He must have been waiting for the crowd to leave before he made his move. The pier is the emptiest it's been for over a month. The campground and store will remain open over the winter. Looks like some great weather this weekend. The commercial fishermen settled on a price for their crab so there will be a lot more buoys to dodge on the ocean and probably a few less jumbo crab available.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Dungeness crabbing slipped a little more this week. The best report from the pier was a from a fellow that caught six on his best day but was averaging three a day for the week, all on snares. Boaters in the bay were still catching dungies, but the sweet spots are getting smaller and less sweet. The outer bay is showing signs of wear, including empty pots and females with eggs. You can still catch limits out there but you definitely need to tend the gear and move pots that aren't producing. Even Ten Mile can take some effort.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The crabbing is slowing down inside the bay, especially on the pier. The strong currents throughout most of the day probably aren't helping. The strong winds and large swell are making the ocean a definite no-go. Friday looks good for boating weather but tomorrow will still probably be best for eating turkey. Happy Thanksgiving, whatever you end up doing.

Monday, November 21, 2011

A Lack Of Daylight

The winter daylight hours really do make you appreciate the time you get to spend out fishing at this time of year. Unlike the summer when you have the luxury of many hours of daylight, every hour spent fishing is a bonus at the moment.

On Saturday my trip out to this upper Wye tributary was a late start...arriving at 10.00am I parked up, got my gear sorted out, then ambled down the river taking in all the sights and sounds that attract me so much to river fly fishing.

On the way down the river I met a gentlemen out walking along the river who was the kind of guy you could happily talk to all day, a local man with a vast knowledge of the river and many years experience of fly fishing the surrounding area.

On this particular morning he was walking the stretch of river counting the Salmon Redds (where the gravel on the riverbed is excavated during spawning). He had counted a total of 5 along this length of river which was certainly encouraging on this particular Wye tributary.

At this time of year it is important that when wading on Salmon rivers to be very mindful to steer well clear of areas that look like potential Salmon Redds, these are usually obvious to see by an area of the riverbed that has a scoured, fresh looking patch of gravel as in the picture below.

Large 'Salmon Redd' photographed on the River Irfon on Sunday
By the time I eventually got to my starting point and started fishing a good portion of the daylight hours had passed (note to self... less wine the night before andget out of bed much earlier!!!).
A bit of a frustrating few hours followed with many lost flies (trees, sub-surface snags) and a sense that I never really caught the fish I should have, saying that there were still Grayling caught with a couple of very large fish amongst them. Next time I return I have a new plan to try out...!!!

The best of the day

Sunday, November 20, 2011

This is my son Gage with his crab catch of the day. It was furry and I believe related (distantly) to king crab and box crab. Here's a close-up:
If anyone can put a name to this critter I'd sure appreciate it. 
The Dungeness crabbing this weekend was a bit slower in the bay. The pier was definitely better for those using crab snares instead of traps or nets. 

Friday, November 18, 2011

There were at least two limits of crab taken from the pier yesterday, one limit by a crabber working three traps and one by a crabber working crab snares. The outer bay produced well for the guys crabbing there yesterday, and the reef off the end of Tomales Point has some nice lingcod available for those that know how to fish it. Live smelt would likely work, as well as slow trolling large herring as near the bottom as you can afford.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Good weather so far today, but there's a big swell and a chance of rain for the next few days. There's still crab in the bay, at least. Outside, the outer bay is still good and Ten Mile is fantastic, especially near Abbott's Lagoon. I got a limit of 7"+ Dungeness there yesterday from two pots soaked two hours. The rockfishing was just okay.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Randy from Carson City went home Sunday, so the rest of us have a chance on the pier. There were a couple of jumbos caught there yesterday that Randy missed. The bay still has crab but you definitely need to find the right spot to do well. Don't be afraid to move around if you aren't catching. The outer bay still has quite a few crab but it helps to work your gear a bit to keep the bait fresh and move the pots to the sweet spots. Ten Mile beach has a lot of Dungeness but the numbers may not hold for long, especially after commercial season starts. One crabber dropped five pots near Abbott's Lagoon on Saturday. He checked them in four hours and had an average of 22 crab per pot. He freshened the bait, reset the pots, and returned on Sunday for an average of 9 crab per pot. That's still plenty of crab, but it doesn't look like there is quite as many crab as Fish and Game had projected. The rockfishing over the weekend was slow.

Friday, November 11, 2011

The weather was wet and windy for most of today, but that didn't stop people from crabbing. The pier was the same as it's been with a few doing well and everyone else watching. The bay kicked out a nice grade of crab for the boaters that weren't afraid to get tossed around a bit. The ocean had lots of Dungeness but even larger swells breaking across the mouth of the bay. Only two boats went out and both made it back. The second boat rescued a couple of kayakers that got a little more fun than they bargained for.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

This picture is from late June of this year but it demands to be seen. On a one hour soak, Randy from Carson City pulled up 37 Dungeness in this pot alone. 8 were big, legal males, 23 were legal-sized females with eggs and the rest were short. Only the legal males were kept. His other pot had 25 Dungeness. This, at the end of the season when the crabbing was "no good." So far today, Randy has 9 keepers from the pier. The outer bay is still kicking out lots of crab but there's a few females starting to show up in spots.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Ten Mile has lots of Dungeness. Nate Porter set four pots for a two and a half hour soak and had to throw back eighty keepers. He had tears in his eyes while telling the story. The outer bay is still good and there's decent numbers of crab inside Tomales Bay, but it sounds like there's no waiting at the big beach.

Tungsten Flies And Thermal Underwear!

Waking up early Sunday morning in Mid Wales was a bit of a shocker with the car and surrounding fields white over with a severe frost, my thoughts immediately plunged back to last years harsh winter weather which resulted in a very lean time for me as far as winter grayling fishing goes.

On this occasion though the bright sun soon burnt away the frost leaving a cold but beautiful morning. I headed down to the River Wye but unfortunately Friday's downpour had left it with just a little too much water/colour pushing through it so I dropped back to the lower part of the River Irfon which I knew was running high but relatively clear.

Setting up my 10' #4 Greys Streamflex with 2 heavy nymphs I worked my way slowly through the likely looking areas, the point fly was gently tripping along the bottom where I assumed any feeding grayling might be. The first couple of fish were out of season brown trout which had likely entered the Irfon from the Wye in readiness to spawn, then a move a little further upstream found me my first grayling...nothing to shout about size wise but a grayling all the same.

A few more fish came to hand but on this occasion the bigger grayling remained elusive and after a few hours waist high in extremely cold water I wished I had put some thermals on and then retreated back to the warmth and a hot mug of coffee.

I guess for the next few months heavy flies and thermal clothing will be forefront in my mind when planning fishing trips.
So far today about 15 Dungeness have been caught on the pier. Unfortunately for everyone else, 13 of those crab were caught by one man. He will be watched closely.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Christian Valenti, pictured, and friends caught 42 Dungeness and 38 rock crab on Saturday, and 39 Dungeness and 6 rocks today. All were caught inside the bay, from a boat. The outer bay in 50 to 75 feet of water is holding a lot of crab, but probably not as many as last year.
Yesterday's revised totals: the pier was only good for a very select few with most people catching nothing. The beach casters had a little better distribution on their crabs but nobody really loaded up, at least that I spoke with. Boaters in the bay had widely varied success, with catches ranging from 0 to 41 Dungeness. One of our rental boats landed 18 Dungeness. There were crab pot raiders working other people's gear, so watch your gear closely. Make sure your name is on your gear. The outer bay had really good numbers of crab for those that dared the bar crossing. Today looks bad for trips outside with a forecast of 10 to 13 foot seas.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

The lucky crabbers are getting some nice Dungeness on the pier (which opens at 7am). There's a few coming in from the shore casters with snares as well, but so far the average is 0 to1. The boaters are doing better but there's no guarantee of success that way either. One boater returned before noon with a limit from around channel marker 5, very pretty crabs but a little light. The crabs hadn't filled in after the recent molt. The ocean is better than yesterday when a boat got swamped and sank on the bar, but it still isn't quite nice out there either. The three sunken boaters were rescued by a passing boat.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Here's part of a press release from Fish and Game regarding the Dungeness crab opener on Saturday: "The Department of Fish and Game (DFG) reminds sport crabbers that traps and nets for Dungeness crab may not be set before 12:01 a.m. on Nov. 5.

"Crab populations appear to be robust this year, especially in Central California, coming off a record harvest during the 2010-11 season," said DFG Senior Environmental Scientist Pete Kalvass, who oversees the Invertebrate Management Project. "This could mean another great season for recreational crabbers."

Crab pots (or traps), loop traps and hoop nets are all popular methods for catching the tasty crustacean. New regulations this year require hoop netters to raise their nets to the surface to inspect the contents of the net at least every two hours. Any undersized crabs and incidentally caught fish and invertebrates can then be more quickly released. The main purpose of the new regulation is to ensure that each fisherman closely monitors his or her gear and does not allow any equipment to be abandoned in state waters. Trap fishermen should also closely monitor their traps because lost trap gear can continue to fish and adversely impact the fishery by becoming a self-baiting "crab killer". "

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

One 14 pound halibut out of a kayak today. The water is cold and clear but this fish didn't care.