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Thread: From Cownose Rays to Rainbow Trout

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
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    Pasadena, MD
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    Default From Cownose Rays to Rainbow Trout

    Those of you who have read my book know that prior to kayak fishing my angling background was primarily wading freshwater rivers for smallmouth with a fly rod. Occasionally I would venture to PA to test the Yellow Breeches for trout. But by no way am I experienced in catching freshwater trout. So, when I got an opportunity to join an outing of the Free State Fly Fishers to the Casselman River in Grantsville, MD this weekend I thought I would rekindle an old interest. Iím glad I did.

    I learned a lot. I learned that I missed the joy of driving along a country road bordering a river searching for a place to pull over and pull on my waders.

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    I learned that I missed the interesting sights one encounters in the country. For example, a road going right through the center of an Amish farmÖhouse on the left, barn on the right.

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    I learned that I missed the peaceful beauty of a river in a pastoral setting.

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    Most of all, I learned how exasperating trout can be. Whereas much of kayak angling in tidal waters is dash and splash, hunting trout in a river is an exercise in patience, subtlety and pinpoint presentation.

    Observation is critical. You look to see what insects are hovering near the surface of the water to match the hatch. That is not just an idle saying but very important if you want to trick a wary trout. Caddis flies were prevalent this weekend making this elk hair caddis a pretty good approximation to entice a hungry trout:

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    Then you look for rises of feeding fish. You wonít see the turbulence of hungry stripers savaging bait fish on the surface. Instead youíll see a small dimple on the water. Or you might hear a slight sipping sound. Then your goal is to float your fly over that spot as naturally as possible. That means no drag Ė i.e. the current grabbing your fly line and pulling your fly abnormally fast through the feeding zone. Where a feeding striper might be encouraged to chase a fast-moving bait, trout recognize an unnatural drift and will ignore a fly floating in that manner.

    Sending a long cast upstream to create a good float precisely over a feeding trout is another skill required. That was actually quite an enjoyable test for me. Casting bass bugs and heavy Clouser Minnows from the non-stationary platform of a bobbing kayak can be inelegant. But casting a 4-weight rod with a small size 12 fly while my feet were firmly planted on the river bottom was simple. It was textbook fly casting. Iíve often thought that casting large warm water flies will make a person a better all-around fly caster. I think I proved that concept to myself this weekend.

    If you do all of the above right, your chances are pretty good at hooking up with a rainbow trout. I had fair success in getting four to my net while losing several others. Here are two that didnít get away:

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    But you can also see the telltale dimple in the water, loft a perfect cast, make a flawless drift, strike exactly at the moment of the bite, and end up with this:

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    A chub!

    So, trout fishing can be humbling. But the rewards it offers are the pristine environment in which they live and the satisfaction of fooling one of the most challenging fish there is to catch.

    Also, the skills I had transferred from my freshwater experiences to my kayak angling came back to me fully. For example, reading a river current to see its seams. Itís the same as noticing a rip in tidal water and launching a cast to its edge because thereís a good chance a striper will be waiting for bait to flow by in that seam. Finding fish holding in an eddy behind a rock in a river is the same as tossing a lure behind a piling facing the tide. Knowing that feeding fish face the current, are oriented to structure and prefer locations with nearby variations in depth are three other similarities between river wading and kayaking tidal waters.

    Lastly, I was taken by what Maryland has to offer to anglers. Only five days ago I was tussling with two cownose rays that I had hooked simultaneously while trolling for stripers near Goodhands Creek. Yesterday and today I was standing in the serene Casselman River in Marylandís Allegheny Mountains catching rainbow trout on the fly. As Marylanders, we are extremely fortunate to have those varied angling opportunities relatively close at hand.
    Mark

    Olive Hobie Revo 13
    Hidden Oak Native Ultimate 12

    Author: The Simple Joys of Kayak Fishing (Tips and Tales From an Old Guy in His Plastic Boat)
    Available on Amazon.com

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    columbia
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    544

    Default

    Outstanding!
    Many of us have come "full circle" (some of us several times).
    There is a subtlety to finesse fishing with tiny flies flies using delicate tackle, in comparison to the tackle we use in salt water-even the ultra light gear we may use for perch is considerably heavier than a 4 wt. fly rod-and cownose rays are brawlers relatively to trout.
    But both are fun in a relative way.
    There is a satisfaction in a trout striking the perfectly placed fly, a testament to your skill as a fisherman, certainly a challenge that is similar in some ways to placing the perfect cast that skips back under an overhanging branch where some pickerel is lying in ambush.
    You versus the fish and the fishing habitat.

    Quite often when fly fishing for Trout or sunfish, I'd reflect that the fish I was trying to catch was about the size of some of the baitfish we used on the Bay. LOL

    But it's all part of the big picture. It's the fishing, no matter what form it takes, that is what is important.

    "Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing that it is not fish they were after." Henry David Thoreau

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Posts
    3,739

    Default

    Great report Mark. I know how much you enjoy using the fly rod. You got to try the lightweight end of the fly fishing spectrum this time.
    John Veil
    Annapolis
    Native Watercraft Manta Ray 11 and Slayer Propel 10
    Member - Pro Staff team for Native Watercraft

    Author - "Fishing in the Comfort Zone" - light tackle fishing techniques for kayaks and small boats

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
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    Pasadena, MD
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    Thanks guys.

    I do enjoy it.
    Mark

    Olive Hobie Revo 13
    Hidden Oak Native Ultimate 12

    Author: The Simple Joys of Kayak Fishing (Tips and Tales From an Old Guy in His Plastic Boat)
    Available on Amazon.com

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
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    154

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    I don't often visit this forum but thank you for the report.

    I understand the relaxation fly fishing and country side can bring.
    2016 Hobie Outback
    2015 Hobie Revolution 11

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
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    Pasadena, MD
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    Quote Originally Posted by Seasalt View Post
    I don't often visit this forum but thank you for the report.

    I understand the relaxation fly fishing and country side can bring.
    Thank you, John.
    Mark

    Olive Hobie Revo 13
    Hidden Oak Native Ultimate 12

    Author: The Simple Joys of Kayak Fishing (Tips and Tales From an Old Guy in His Plastic Boat)
    Available on Amazon.com

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
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    Midway between Baltimore and Washington
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    1,684

    Default

    Mark, we need to go smallmouth fishing!
    Thanks for the trip report and great photos!

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
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    Pasadena, MD
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    2,508

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by DanMarino View Post
    Mark, we need to go smallmouth fishing!
    Thanks for the trip report and great photos!
    Would love to.

    No subtleties required to catch smallmouth, that’s for sure.

    Trout need to be deceived. Smallmouth need to be dared.
    Mark

    Olive Hobie Revo 13
    Hidden Oak Native Ultimate 12

    Author: The Simple Joys of Kayak Fishing (Tips and Tales From an Old Guy in His Plastic Boat)
    Available on Amazon.com

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