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Old 06-18-2013, 08:31 AM   #1
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New Boat, New Flies, New Methods

(Not to be cliche, but) Long time lurker, first time poster. Please pardon the length of the post, I guess I had a lot to say after all this time. I figured that I would have something worthwhile to put down before I made my first message.

Anyway, I just got back from a week long trip to the Old Forge area. It is an annual trip that I do with all of the men over 18 in my family. Lots of hiking, fishing, drinking, and stories. This year was of particular interest to me for several reasons - I had a brand new boat, I just started tying flies over the winter, and I had been lurking here for a while so I had some new tips tricks and methods to try out.

So, the boat. Ever since I was 2 years old, I have admired the guideboat tucked away in the old boat houses around the Adirondacks. I could never afford one, so I decided to build one myself! Over the past 14 months, I have been building my own Adirondack Guideboat. Its really only been about 2 months of actual work but my boat shop is 8 hours away and my fiancee is not a huge fan of me being gone for weeks at a time (I actually proposed to her after being away working on it for a whole month). Either way, the boat was done for this trip. I had actually just gotten it ready for the water the night before leaving. It is a 16' guideboat modeled after Grant's Virginia with a few changes. First, I elected to do a Skin on Frame version instead of strip planking the whole thing. This was mostly to save on weight (it worked as the finished results with seats and oars is only a touch over 50lbs). Then because of the added weight, I decided to Beam it out by a few inches. So, I have a wider, lighter guideboat that hadn't been wet in 14 months - You better bet that I was excited for a fishing trip to my favorite lakes in the ADKs. Take a look at the Gallery of my build here:

Now for the Flies. Like I said, started really getting into tying flies this winter. I really began last spring, but fishing season was here and I quickly buckled and bought the flies that I needed for the year. Either way, the cold, gray, windy, boring winter dragged my vise out again and I was hooked (pun). I began blasting through a few tying books and youtube patterns that I felt were interesting - mostly nymphs and streamers to start (I had never dry fly fished before). Then I started fooling around and creating some of my own. Loads of funky streamers, many with names derived from my pets who donated a lot of hair (eg. Barney's Bluegill - multicolored spun deer hair for the head to match a bluegill and brown and barred dog hair for the tail).

Much closer to the trip I began fooling around with drys. It started when I was on a local pond fishing for perch and crappy and pickerel (no trout here). I had a really successful morning wading up to the mouth of the stream and caught a few fish on a garish bright pink and blue streamer, but when I got to the feeder creek, I couldn't buy a bite. I noticed that these warm water fish were feeding heavily on tiny little midges hatching at the mouth of the creek. That was it, I had to tie up some drys. I immediately matched that midge pattern with some #18 and #20 poly-winged midges and an assortment of Adams midges and Griffith's Gnats. I also filled my boxes with a full range of the likely Mayfly and Caddis that I would see this spring and summer as well as an arrangement of prospecting flies like Stimulators and Wulffs. All in all, I think that I had a pretty good looking collection after my first winter of tying.

Finally, the trip. I'll start with the launching of my boat. This was so exciting to be getting it wet for the first time after 14 months of dreaming about it. From the first pull of the soft maple oars, I knew that I got it right. This thing was blisteringly fast. I'll concede that most of my experience rowing (20 years of it) has been in those heavy aluminum Jon boats with the battle-axe oars, but still. The oars flexed and snapped and I was off. The lake was like glass in the late afternoon and I had cruised over a mile before I knew it. I dug the left oar in hard backwards and I spun around on a dime. Back to the dock and it was time for dinner. In those few minutes of rowing, I knew that all the time I put in (and one angry fiancee) were all worth it.

Over the next week, I took it out on the main lake every sunrise and sunset (we would often venture off to other lakes or rivers during the day). It played a part in hauling in (and releasing) a few nice lake trout - one my uncle had was pushing 6 lbs. Strangely, all of the lake trout were caught on that deer hair bluegill pattern, - you better believe that I'll be making up a few more of those for my next trip. Every time I took someone new out in the boat they always asked to use that fly, but I got my chance on the last day and caught a lively 4 pounder (see last picture of the boat building gallery).

Now, for some of those new methods. Remember those #20 poly-winged midges? My cousin and I were out on a small lake on the second day of the trip. We'd each taken a few nice brookies on worms (the only 2 fish I killed on the whole week out of dozens for a shore lunch) and then switched over to flies. We dragged some buggers and leech patterns, then a BND and mickey finn but couldn't get anything to hit. Here comes the new method. Around noon, it started to drizzle a bit (if you were in the ADKs over the past 2 weeks, you will note that it was VERY wet) and we saw some small shapes buzzing the surface of the water right in the middle of the lake. I paused to take a look and notice that they were a small brown bird (finch maybe?). They were zipping right over the surface and I knew that something had to be going on. I heaved that heavy jon boat over to the middle as fast as I could and then I saw it. The tiniest midges were blasting through the surface. I hastily scooped the surface to grab a few from the water. It looked like a #20 or #22, black with a bit of grey and brown and the emergers were almost iridescent. I tied on a double dry - a #20 black and white poly-winged midge and a #18 Adams midge. My cousin and I set up a drift in the light breeze and it was on. There were risers all around us and after a few refusals on my fly, I got one! It was a beautiful 12" brook trout with purple and orange and blue. We fished straight through lunch and each ended up boating several nice fish. This was the new method - finding and capitalizing on a still water hatch.

Another fun experience was trying to solve the conundrum of the high water. Depending on how hard the rain was, the river was between 2 and 4 feet up on its normal levels. This made our normal runs very hard to fish. On my first attempt, I got goose egged using a Montana rigged nymph set up and then some buggers. I was stubborn and just tried to fish the usual runs and holds that had produced in the past. Because of the high water, the trout must have been hiding in the deep slack water behind the large bolder and in the eddies around sharp corners. Our second trip was more successful, I had 2 brookies and a rainbow in a big eddy below a waterfall on a weighted bugger and on a black muddler. Our third trip out it happened - we were fishing off a point in the river to a slack pool when what felt like a bat slapped me in the face. I jumped but then noticed that it was a huge mayfly. Later, having showed an example to my uncle, I learned that it was a big green drake. This thing must have been a #4 or 6 because it was huge. It was a long hike to the point, so I only had a small mint tin full of random dries. I first tried to match the size with a #6 yellow Stimulator. 1, 2, 3 times it was refused and then WHAP! I was hooked into a little rainbow. After quickly releasing it, and realizing that I left my floatent at the car, I switched it up to a white Wullf - no luck. Then I tried a #12 sulpher (nothing like a green drake whatsoever except for the general shape) and I got a brookie. In all, I had 3 fish on dries on moving water that day and I think it's safe to say that I am addicted.

In all, it was a great trip. We were soaked from the first day to the last and I left the windows down in my car for one of them but it could not have been better. I'll be counting down the days till next years trip.
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Old 06-18-2013, 09:48 AM   #2
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Welcome to the forum. That guideboat is a beauty. Did you buy stock in the clamp manufacturer? I have never seen one with that type of skin before. It should be a great fishing platform. As you can see fly tying can be as addicting as fly fishing. There are lots of people here that share that interest. Sounds like you had a great trip. Looking forward to hearing more from you.
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Old 06-18-2013, 12:21 PM   #3
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Great post! Man, that's a pretty boat.
"Ahh! The old fishing hole... so peaceful and relaxing. Doesn't even matter if I catch a single fish -- ah! Come on you stupid fish, take the bait! Don't make me come down there!" -Homer Simpson
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Old 06-18-2013, 01:03 PM   #4
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You have the patience, vision and technical talent to go far with your new-found avocation. We all wish you well in your chosen pursuits. Welcome to our little forum!

A word of advice, though: Whatever you do, don't listen to anything Glen says. He'll soon have you convinced that the only fish worth pursuing in the 'Daks is a Splake.

That's a seriously nice boat you built!!!
Oscar Wilde:Work is the curse of the drinking class
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Old 06-18-2013, 02:47 PM   #5
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Nice job on the boat. My dad just built a cedar strip canoe so I can appreciate all the work you put into yours. Looks like a fine fishing craft. I bet you can get that thing going fast enough to troll for landlocks on L. Moose if you feel like a workout.
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Old 06-18-2013, 05:47 PM   #6
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Terrific post! Many thanks for sharing!

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Old 06-18-2013, 11:42 PM   #7
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Nice boat! Thats definatly going to expand access for fishing. It is great to fly fish waters that are less traveled. I cant wait to take my boat up to some ADK remote ponds for some wild brookies!
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Old 06-19-2013, 07:21 AM   #8
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I know it was a long post, so for those of you who toughed it out, thanks!

I am definitely excited to get it out into some of the remote ponds that this boat was invented (100+years ago) for. That trip out to where the midges were hatching was a drive-row-hike-row trip that we do every year. I would like to give it a try in St. Regis or Pharaoh Lake wilderness areas. Do you all think that the extra beam will make those carries impossible? It is about 44" amidship maybe 45 with the oralocks. Will the paths be wide enough?

One other thing I forgot to mention, My brother and I are planning on doing the 90 miler this September. We've requested application forms and I know they are sent out in mid June, but we have not received them yet. Anyone out there gotten them yet?
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Old 06-19-2013, 07:22 AM   #9
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or maybe those are questions for the Paddling in the Adirondacks section?
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Old 06-19-2013, 08:10 AM   #10
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Love reading posts like yours...!! I have always said reading stories/posts,etc about fishing ,especially flyfishing in the adk`s is the next best thing to being there!!...Very beautiful boat and excellant story!!..thank you for sharing...guess you are very deeply hooked as badly as all of us!! Glad to have you on here!!

"Get your mind off trout,if you can.I know they`ve got you.I can see it. Every fraternity of sufferers knows its brothers.Trout hook men;men don`t hook trout.Better try and throw the hook while you can.By the time you`re a grown man there probably won`t be a pure trout healthy enough to fiddle with"... Quote from Emerson in the book "The Earth Is Enough"by Harry Middleton
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brook trout, fly fishing, fly tying, guideboat, lake trout

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