Thursday, October 27, 2011

Aspects of Angling

I have recently experienced two very different visits to upper Vltava. On my first I travelled alone and had a great sport - the conditions were just perfect: a sunny day after overnight frost brought up a strong BWO hatch, the fish were active on the surface and my size #18 Olive Quill met their appetite exactly. I had great time, having caught several fish over 40 centimeters on a dry fly.

The next week I returned south again with two friends. I had shared my enthusiasm with them, so naturally the expectations ran high. Martin and Dalibor were looking forward to some quality grayling fishing and I wanted to play the perfect guide.

Unfortunately the fishing conditions did not repeat themselves. A cold front was passing over the Czech Republic, which brought a strong wind and put a stop to the BWO hatch. The fish were loath to rise and sudden gusts of wind made havoc of our light lines and long leaders. We really struggled to connect with any fish, and the big ones were out of the question.

The surprising thing about all this was that the second trip turned out a great success, but in a different way than the first. The misery that we all shared has brought us all together and as the fishing was no good we could afford to take some time off, enjoy a streamside lunch, tell stories of better fishing and really drink in the eerie beauty of late season Šumava.

The sun cast long and dramatic shadows over the dry meadows, the willows were already bare, the birches still full of colors and the three of us were about as far from civilization as is possible in our densely populated country. We enjoyed ourselves immensely, despite the fact that the fish turned out rather uncooperative.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

No Hackle Olive Quill

A new tying sequence has been added to my SBS pages - No Hackle Olive Quill. It is a neat little fly, a great favorite of Czech grayling and sure to work wonders when the autumn generation of Baetis sp. hatches (i.e. about this time of the year).

I will award a special price to the first person to correctly guess the currency on the picture! :)

Monday, October 17, 2011

October Optimism

The gloomy days of early October have passed, and the mist and drizzle were replaced by sunny, if crisp and cold, autumn days. Nothing awakens grayling appetite like a combination of overnight frost and a good BWO hatch, so I headed to the mountains of Šumava to pay a visit to what is arguably the best grayling fishery in Czech lands.

By the village of Dobrá the Vltava river meanders through fields of sedge (locally called "pineapples", quite challenging to pass through). In its gentle flow grows ranunculus and other plants, supporting a variety of aquatic life. The banks of the river are littered by concrete bunkers, now overgrown by the forest but still serving as mementos of darker times.

By about noon a mixed hatch started, with blue winged olives and little stoneflies. Even an occasional big sedge (Rhyacophila sp.) could be seen, but it did not seem to find any risers. The most productive imitation were #18 green quill & CDC mayfly and #18 Hare's mask emerger. Especially the green quill was very hard for the grayling to resist.

Over the stretches of Ranuncul I caught several fine fish on a dry fly The surface activity peaked by about 2 PM, but I could see occasional rises until about 5 PM.

The fish showed a surprising variance in color - some were very light, with only a few blackish scales, while other were of very dark complexion.

Monday, October 10, 2011

October Gloom

After an unusually warm and sunny (and fishing-wise very dull) September the Czech Republic was hit by the old fashioned dull October drizzle. The temperatures dropped about 15°C - from over twenty to just about 6°C - and the fine autumn gloom settled in.

The same change in weather has also signaled the start of proper Grayling season, and as such was eagerly anticipated by many fly fishermen. We are strange creatures indeed...

For the weekend I headed north of Prague to my favorite rivers Kamenice and Jizera. The thin drizzle has caused a slight rise in the water, but as there has been hardly any rain in the past few weeks the countryside was very dry and soaked the thin rain very easily. The rivers were thus still rather low and only a little off color. A hatch of lightly greyish Baetis mayflies started to appear very predictably at around 1 PM and woke up the grayling to action.

I struggled in trying to catch a sizable fish, chiefly because of the sheer numbers and activity of the grayling youths. After a while I stopped my casting and settled to watch the drift of hatching duns and their slaughter by hungry fish. From my place on an old tree stump I could not see any surviving dun passing by alive. The Baetis duns came down like little sailing ships, drifting very gracefully downstream and the grayling picked them off one by one as some sort of sea monsters without showing any hint of mercy.

In a wilder stretch of the Kamenice river I happened to catch an out of season brown trout lady. I released her quickly and carefully, and she rewarded me by posing for a while in the shallow water, so I could make a picture of her in the slow drizzle.

On the Jizera river I caught a smallish Rainbow trout. It has quite surprised me by its unexpected beauty - I am not partial to stocked fish, grossly overweight with their short stubby fins and foolish need to attack anything remotely resembling a food pellet. I was however reminded how graceful they can grow, if stocked as small fry and left to grow feral. Not to mention the unmatched fighting spirit of a nature grown rainbow,

The best imitation of very lightly colored duns proved to be my Eagle Owl emergers, tied in size #18 with wing of CDC and bodies of Eagle Owl herl.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Grayling Candy

A couple ties for the Ladies, all tied on #18 Hanák 130BL hooks:

A little redhead

The tie
#18 Hanák 130BL hook
14/0 Sheer thread gray
Heron herl
3 CDC feathers
70 dernier red Danville thread to cover the head

Green Quill

The tie
#18 Hanák 130BL hook
14/0 Sheer thread gray
pardo Coq de León tail
3 CDC feathers
a pinch of natural hare fur to make the thorax

Hare Emerger

The tie
#18 Hanák 130BL hook
14/0 Sheer thread gray
3 strands of twisted orange flashabou
body of dubbed hare ribbed with #16 UNI gold tinsel
3 CDC feathers
a pinch of natural hare fur to make the thorax