Sunday, February 21, 2016

Fishing Giggles

  Well...It's Sunday morning and I have nothing to share other than a few of my favorite comic strips:
The Far Side by Gary Larson and In The Bleachers by Steve Moore. So... grab a coffee, fire up the hookah, or whatever  mellows you out, and enjoy.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Tackle Box Time Machine

  Have you ever been asked what you would do, or when/where you'd go if supplied with a time machine? Sure you have, and you've probably discussed the topic extensively. It's human nature to try and control our environment and the opportunity to change the present by affecting the past has been a dream for millenia. Whether to witness the marvels of the past or to right some wrongs, just about everyone would accept the challenge.

  Walking with dinosaurs sounds delusional,  if possible it would more likely be fleeing from dinosaurs. Witnessing the building of the pyramids would probably result in a "request" to help. and stopping (or possibly starting) a global genocide may seem noble but highly impractical for a common individual.

  Of course you know I'm already a time traveler, it's just that my travels are of the forward persuasion, one day at a time. If given the chance to travel the opposite direction, my needs would be comparably simple; one day back...and the time machine itself, light weight and compact enough to fit...lets say... in a tackle box. I don't want to give the impression that I'm not curious about the past, it's just that I've been told far too often "You should have been here yesterday".

  On the topic of time...Monday marked the latest date in my personal history to get out fishing in the New Year, and to celebrate the event Tackle Shop and I rearranged the alignment of the planets and made a reservation for the next day with Lake Simcoe's yeller bellies.
  Overnight flurries played havoc with pre-dawn rushhour traffic, and the normal 45 minute trip to Gilford took twice as long. We were met at the lake by Rob, operator of Gilford Yellow Huts, and he taxied us out to one of his rental ice huts situated over 20 feet of water a mile and a half from shore.
  As always, the first thing to go into the water is the transducer to the fish finder, followed by our "go to" ice fishing bait, a silver Slab Grabber with a chartreuse bead. It's an amazing lure that, with a little practice, you can make it glide away from the hole at a 45 degree angle or a side over side roll.
  On the first drop, a school of perch could be seen on the screen, charging off the bottom to meet the fluttering spoon , only to follow it down to the bottom and proceeded to stare at it like a swarm of penny less window shoppers. No amount of erratic jigging or deadsticking could elicit more than an occasional bump. It didn't take long for us to cycle through all the proven perch lures with only a handful of dinks to show for the effort.

  Now was the time to break out all those flies I'd tied specifically for a slow perch bite! What ensued was reminiscent of that Goldilocks story with a lot of too much of this and too much of that. Let me explain.
  This one had a great swimming motion with a subtle jigging action, slowly moving ahead with the tail fluttering up and down, but ended up scaring the wary perch with it's size and movement.
  Like the previous fly, this one had great fluttering movement, but didn't have enough weight to keep 20' of 4lb braid tight enough to feel the bite.
   This one came to life once submerged, but again, not weighted enough and too imposing in size. I should say here that I've never been a fan of adding extra weight to ice jigs as it throws off the balance and feel and frequently, when sight fishing, you can see the fish biting the added weight instead of the lure. I suppose that's a sign it's time to downsize.
    Attracted a lot of interest, but again too light. 
  I caught a few with these. Their weight forward design allowed them to dive head first and at 1.5" in length, proved to be a nice snack that bit back.
 Being the dumb old f*** that I am,  I completely forgot to bring these.

  So...after my tale of woe, you'd assume it was a tough day on the hard water with about 75 fish landed and only 4 "keepers" between the two of us in an 8 hour period. This was not the case for the six others that accompanied us in the sled back to shore as they each had 30lb buckets full of yeller bellies, mostly caught at sunrise! "You should have been here earlier"

I joke, of course. It was refreshing to finally get out.  

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

DW Micro Minnow

  I sat at my bench the other day, taking mental stock of what I have and what I'd like to do, and a subconscious instinct took over. Apparently my inner fly child was telling me I needed more variety of flies for the annual spring panfish bonanza/harvest/massacre. I call it that because not all participants practice sound conservation ideals. Anyways...before I knew it I had a handful of of what I call the diamond wing micro minnow. They were tied on #10 &  #12  partridge hooks and 3/32" bead.

   They should be shallow water "crappie killers". Or should I say "crappie catch and releasers".

Friday, February 5, 2016

The Simcoe Bug

  It was about a decade ago when I started seeing this bizarre fly being sold in the tackle shops around the Lake Simcoe area. It had the appearance of a simple, technicolor scud on steroids and right off the bat Tackle Shop was urging me to mass produce them. At the time I had absolutely no wish to buy or tie that weird little fly as I had more than enough terminal tackle for icing perch. A decade later and it's more popular than ever, attaining legendary status in some areas. The word is that when the perch are off the feed bag and nothing else seems to work, those in the know tie on a Simcoe Bug.

  As I've mentioned in a few posts lately, buying ice tackle is out this year and anything new will have to be made. I didn't really need tying instructions, but I did a Google search anyways hoping to find some info on who originally tied it and was surprised the only reliable info came from John White's excellent website Time On The Water Canada . In a detailed article on perch fishing through the ice I found the originator of the Simcoe Bug was a long time local guide by the name Leon Maloney.

  Tying the SB is incredibly simple; a weighted hook, a bulky tapered body with a rib and shiny coating. These tying instructions are geared more towards ice fishermen.

1. Wind thread onto a #6 partidge hook. Wind 3"
 heavy lead wire onto hook shank leaving 1/8"     space behind the eye. If you don't have lead     wire hammer a large split shot flat and roll it   onto the hook. Wind the thread over the lead to   secure it and leave the thread near the bend.



2. Tie in rib material at hook bend. In this case I used 5 strands of crystal flash with the tag ends hanging as a tail. Tie in body material and wind thread to the front of the hook .



3. Wind the body material forward in tight wraps, building a humpback shape. Tie off and clip excess material.

4. Twist the strands of crystal flash into a rope and wind forward in even wraps. Tie off and clip excess.

5. Apply a thin coat of 5 minute epoxy and ley dry.
  For the rib you could use anything that will contrast the body color: wire, tinsel, thread etc.
  For the body: yarn, thread, string etc. 

  Yesterday I tied another deer hair bass bug. I was so excited to see the patterns appear as I was trimming it to shape that I mistakenly cut through the thread near the tail! Immediately the hair started to fall out but I managed to repair it by winding a new thread through the affected area, catching both ends of the cut thread and dousing it with head cement. I was left with a 1/4" bald spot by the tail which was filled with a palmered hackle. 

Monday, February 1, 2016

Fishing Limbo = Tying Times

  Weather conditions late last week had finally come together in a wintry way to make 5"-8" of safe, black ice on Cook's Bay, prompting Tackle Shop and I to plan our first trip of the season out for jumbo perch. We spent Thursday night charging batteries, swapping reels over to the short rods, and generally organizing tackle and sleds. My phone rang long before sunup Friday morning with the news from TS that there were 50kph wind gusts out on the bay and even the ice hut operators were hesitant to venture out on the slick , barren ice under such conditions. Since then we've taken another ride on this winter's weird weather roller-coaster. This afternoon it was shirt sleeve temperatures out and our start to the 2016 ice fishing season has taken another giant leap backwards. door closes, another door opens. While waiting for optimal ice and weather conditions I've continued to over pack my fly boxes with new creations. The other day I found a few things that had worked their way to the back of a couple drawers: some popper bodies and some Fish Skull Sculpin Heads.
  These were tied with marabou tails, mohair leech yarn bodies and collars of either marabou or polar ice chenille.

  I suppose the "art" in tying popper bodies lies primarily in painting and to a lesser degree in material selection for the tail. I don't own an air brush or any paints, just a couple bottles of nail polish but I've got tail materials coming out of my tail.
  While at Bass Pro Shops a few weeks ago I made a point of re-stocking my supply of deer belly hair. hoping to get more practice in spinning and stacking. My first project was an exercise to practice shaving the hair to it's final shape using a double edged razor blade, so I chose to do a simple bomber.
  Using the flexible blade is far faster and easier than clippers and allows for a smother curved surface but requires a subtle, practiced hand. Once the material's removed, there's no putting it back.

 You really couldn't call this a popper as it doesn't have the classic cupped face. I'd over trimmed the deer hair around the hook eye to the point where a cupped face was impossible to make so I left a lip projecting above the eye and applied a thin coat of 5 minute epoxy to stiffen it up. One door closes... this gave me a brainstorm for my next tie.
Before trimming
After trimming

   After trimming I made several thin coats of epoxy on the lip, gently shaping it into a slightly cupped shape that you might find on a crank bait. My aim was to create a fly that would dive with a gentle side to side wobble on the strip and bob back to the surface on a slack line. Whatever the final results may be when I finally get a chance to try it, I made a huge pile of shaved hair and had a great time in the process of making it! What else are you going to do when you find yourself in fishing limbo?