Saturday, October 30, 2010

Got blanked, again

On Friday, right after the work I once again headed to the coast, trying to get some contact to seatrouts. I was a bit worried about the wind so I took both my fly rod and baitcasting rod with me. While driving along the sea, I noticed that the weather was not that bad, I could easily use my fly rod. Great!

Once I got to the outer shore, I noticed that the waves were much higher than they seemed to be and the water looked clear but it was very murky in reality. The water was grey! They are digging the ship routes deeper and all the fine sediments flush to the shores now. It's fucked up because it will ruin all the seatrout fishing in this area for this season.

Grey waters.
Despite the wind, my rod and line played very well together, I could still fling the fly out for about 20 meters straight through that head wind. Also some cool currents were there, flowing through the rocky lagoon, between the shore and a little rocky island. If the water would have been clear, I'd be 100% sure to catch something from that stream.

Cool currents.
Sunset was close and I fished until it was time to go back to my car before it was too dark to climb on those slippery rocks. I took a few more pictures and had a little sightseeing on this nice outer island.

Waves hitting the outermost rocks.
When I walked through the pine forest in almost pitch black, I faced another problem. I was in the middle of a network of old trenches, dating back to second world war. Took a little time to navigate through there as it was too dark to start leaping over them.

Shallow shore.
Finally I found a way to the road and to my car, the trip was finally over. Nice fishing, great surroundings once again.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Hunt for the silver.

Right after the work I put on my waders, loaded my car and headed to sea. I had a nice hour and a half to try for some seatrout on a fly. Weather was nice, wind was tolerable and old waves hit the shore gently, making the water flow just nicely. Still no bites at all, which was not a surprise but the surroundings were phenomenal. Wading in the deeper inner lagoon while the waves break in the outer reef, swans and other birds swimming by, wondering what the hell was I doing there. I enjoyed the golden hour and fished until the dark.

Golden hour.
This was my first trip with my new seatrout outfit. The rod was TFO Ticrx 7wt, the reel was Nautilus FW7+ and the line I used now was Guideline Coastal slow intermediate in 7wt also. It worked like a charm, casting was easy and effortless and I could get good distances with minimal effort even with moderate headwinds.
New outfit under testing.
This is a good start. I'll be doing this sport until the sea gets frozen. Hopefully I get to catch something too although it's not very important. 

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Therapy fishing

I had a plan I'd go fishing this morning. I looked outside and the temperature was -5.5'c, way too cold for fly fishing so I had to wait until afternoon. The water has still been messed up in the coastal areas so I decided I'd go to a little quiet river once again.

When I got the shore, first thing to do was to break the ice inside my boat. It took a bit of violence before that two inch thick ice was in pieces. All the stuff on board and off we go!

The water was very clear and the weather was calm. All the shallow coves were frozen from the surface. I tied one of my latest fly patterns to the end of my line. Those flies really had some great moves underwater. They pulsate like jellyfish and they also have jerkbait-like gliding action in both vertical and horizontal directions. When the stripping is paused, they sink very very slowly. Perhaps I'll try to add some thin saddle hackles or similar to give the fly even more movement under water.

It's getting icy.

First cast and while testing how the fly moves, first little jack attacks from beneath and goes straight past the fly, wondering where did the bright colored bugger go.  Rest of the day went just the same way. I landed a total of 8 pikes in about two hours but the size was a disaster, almost all of them were under 1 kg. Nonetheless, It was so damn interesting to see those pike rushing to the fly and I saw many of them, 35-40 pcs in total. Water was 2-3'c and the pikes were so clumsy that only few of them hit the fly. I also lost two bigger fish after a careful take as they only grabbed the tail of the fly and started pulling. First one made a huge wave after hitting the fly and the second on was on for about 5 seconds. During that 5 seconds it pulled like a maniac and opened its mouth and the fly was let loose once again. After the last missed fish, I frustrated and turned back to the shore. On the way there I got a few more little jacks and saw about a dozen of them trying to eat my fly.
As a conclusion, It was awesome to see those little jacks ambushing their prey. I've never had a change to see so much underwater action on one trip. Too bad most of the fish were so small.
I must tie more of these.
Still I got to admire those little pikes, one of them had the guts to rush for the fly five or six times before actually hitting it. It seems that cold water really makes things small.....

Friday, October 22, 2010

Winter is coming, part 1

It's this time of the year again, fishing can be excellent at times but choosing the correct clothing could be difficult. A few thoughts about clothing when fishing from boat, mainly about gloves and headwear:

Mornings are cold as temperatures are usually close or below 0'c. Sun is also still hiding for the first moments of the fishing trip, especially when travelling to hot spots by boat so it will get chilly. Most important thing would be to keep your head warm as it will dissipate most of the heat from your body. It is also quite difficult to cover your head well enough when travelling at higher speeds. Ultimate solution would be a well fitting neoprene hood that keeps the wind away as the normal headgear lets the wind between the hat and the head.

Need to get me one of these.
Ursuk is one manufacturer whose products are easily available here and the hood in the picture is priced at about  22 euros, very tolerable price for comfort on the seas.

Another critical piece of clothing is gloves. I still have not found gloves 100% suitable for fly fishing but I have been close. I have carried at least two pairs of gloves with me, thick neoprene ones for travelling by boat and normal fleece gloves for fishing. Depaul Design's cheap orange gloves have been quite nice, they are warm even when wet but they are also a bit too thick so the feel is not too good.

Another nice pair of fishing gloves is Snow Fox's thin neoprene gloves. They offer a very nice feel and the grip is excellent. They don't last too long though but it is not an issue as they only cost ~6 euros a pair. Not the ultimate solution for warmth.

When fishing from boat, your feet usually get cold very easily. I bought myself a pair of safety boots as they have a nice soft sole with a lot of grip even on wet fiberglass. Always buy shoes that have enough room for at least double socks without being tight. I like to use thick wool socks in my boots.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Decisions to be made once again

I think it's time to end pike fishing season in the northern archipelago as all the murky waters of the river delta flow through it and make the fishing too difficult. Also it's a pain in the ass to move there by boat as all the underwater rocks are invisible now. This also renders a great deal of excellent pike fishing grounds further north totally useless. Luckily the western and southern coast will still produce some nice pike fishing as soon as the water gets clear after the last week's gale. But the jerkbaits won't be used this season anymore, as I only used them once this year and the only reason why I used them was the murky waters and one lure maniac in the boat on our last trip.

On the other issue that has been on my mind for more than a year now: I need a new boat. I have little rowboat by a little river in the middle of wilderness where it suits very well. On a trailer, I have a strange looking 4.5m long combination boat that was originally intended for both sailing and motor use. It has a full length, 30cm deep keel and it has some weight as a ballast. It has some nice features, it's very sturdy for its size and one could stand  on the side without excessive roll at all. It's also very good when letting it drift in the wind and the sides are not too high for pike fishing when behind some protecting archipelago.

On the other hand, it's very slow so I need to use a lot of time when travelling longer distances and it is way too small and low sided for the windy days and open seas. Also it is rather heavy for its size and the keel makes it run quite deep.

I've been looking for a center console boat in about 5 meter class with a 40-70 hp outboard motor. It seems that used boat market is way out of balance as the offering of such boats suitable for fly fishing is minimal compared to the demands. The prices are sky high and when a suitable boat comes on sale, it will be sold instantly if the price is somewhat right.

It seems that the boats larger than 5 meters are much less wanted. For normal pike fishing, a boat of 5.5-6 meters might feel like a little overkill and it will be difficult to maneuver when in the middle of rocks. Also the trailing will be difficult, as I need to change my car also. But on the other hand, there is no boat big enough when travelling to outermost seatrout islands through the cross currents and those bigger boats are available at very decent prices. It really makes me think.

Oh no, it's far too complicated once again. And it's getting expensive for todays engineer salaries. A boat, a car, my god.......

And now I'm gonna take a phone call for one 5.6 meter boat with a 70 hp motor. Good bye dear money, see you again in 10 years...

Saturday, October 16, 2010

It's getting more and more difficult

This morning I took my boat on a trailer with me and drove to the rocky and shallow archipelago. Pasi drove from Tampere to meet me at the shore where I had time to put the boat in the water before he arrived.

It was a bit tricky to open knots from the ropes as they were all frozen. Also my depthfinder was unreadable at that temperature. Luckily it was sorted out when sun started to shine and the air warmed up a bit.

We headed to the other side of the bay, which is full of nice shallow and rocky coves. When I first saw the water, I knew it's gonna be difficult; The water was like coffee with a dab of cream and it was low, about 50 cm below normal level. Also all the rocky shores and little islets looked so different now. This is more than enough to upset the big mamas.

We started fishing from one of the rocky lagoons where Pasi had a pike mayhem on our previous trip. Pasi is a die hard lure maniac and I also decided it would be easiest to use jerkbaits instead of flies. With this visibility, we needed to fish every square meter of water very carefully because the lure was only visible until the depth of 15 cm. Getting strikes from there would be almost impossible.

We fished the first rocky pools which smelled like pike. Not a single bite, not a surprise though.

We moved further on until we arrived to vast shallow reed beds between two bigger islands. As we started fishing the long passages in the reed bed area, water started to flow in from the outer sea. This water was much clearer now and I could see my lure again.

The place was more than ideal for big autumn pikes and the water looked fine now. Still no bites. More casting to the lonely rocks inside the coves. FISH ON! A small little bugger, WAIT A MINUTE, It is not a pike at all.
Yeah, it's silver, not gold....
I had to take a picture from the bloody bream that was really hooked from its mouth. I've got plenty of them with jerkbaits and pike flies hooked from the sides or the neck but none has been hooked from the mouth before.

So we fished and fished, place after place and still no bites. I was getting frustrated as we had fished reed beds, rocky lagoons, deeper banks etc. and still nothing.
Smells like 'big mama'

We checked more places with the same results, nothing at all. Best offering was the coffee break between two island that gave us some shelter from the cold wind. It was unbelievably warm and relaxing to drink some hot coffee in a warm autumn sun.

Nobody was home, we checked.

After the coffee break, we headed back to the shore and fished a few hot spots on the way there. With no bites at all. And someone still dares to say that it is so easy to fish pike.

Coffee, fisherman's best friend.

After all, this was a great trip. Weather was fine, it just can't get any better this time of the year. I'll have great time memorizing nice trips like this in the long winters.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Fly reels for pike, light or heavy?

Most people say that the reel is not important in fly fishing. I don't agree completely.

I've had more than half a dozen fly reels during the last two years and I have only been pleased with two of them.

The worst thing I know is an unreliable reel that does something it is not supposed to do. My Vision Koma has been a pain in the ass, although I have used in light fishing. To be honest, it's a great reel for its price, it's light, has a large arbor, the drag is excellent. But it sometimes loosens its drag on its own and the one-way clutch might slip randomly. Also I have managed to catch the spool release knob with the flyline a few times. Nicest thing to do while in the stream: Looking for your spool from the water.....

I had an Airflo-brand cassette reel as one of my pike reels. It also had a nice drag, the cassette spool system was handy and the mechanical structure felt sturdy in my hands at first. It felt solid until I got to fight a few 90+ cm summer pikes with it. It started to flex so badly that the spool hit the reel body. The flexing also caused the reel foot screws to open so the reel started to fall apart when fighting fish. It wasn't even saltwater proof. Despite all the washing with fresh water, the clicker system jammed totally because of the salt and I couldn't any more line out. This happened on a dark and foggy late autumn day when I managed to hook a 96cm fat and mean torpedo. I will never again fight a fish of that size with a seized reel.

I have a Guideline Reelmaster as one of my sea trout/pike reels. It's a nice basic reel and quite reliable too. Only it's drag system, made of brass and plastic cones, is prone to uneven operation. Also the surface finish is not smooth and might damage the fly lines. A good reel after all.

This spring I bought my second Colton, a little 3-4wt reel. It's nice and very inexpensive, I remember it cost me about 70 euros total. It's completely machined, has excellent drag and the one-way clutch is supported by ball bearings. Great reel for the price and I like it a lot. My choice for very light creek fishing.

The first Colton I bought was the Torrent, for line weights 8-10. I think it will hold a 12wt line and loads of backing. It's really a heavy duty saltwater reel for those big fast buggers from the warmer waters but the moment I really got pissed off with my previous pike reel, I decided that from now on, I will only use tackle designed for such use. I've had no regrets for that decision. I'm totally in love with this piece of equipment. It's as sturdy as it gets, no free play in any direction can be felt. Material thickness in every place of the reel is generous, this reel won't flex when reeling in that big bastard.

Pic not taken by me...
Torrent has some very nice features that I value very highly. It doesn't have a one-way bearing that is prone to failing in low temperatures. Instead it has a mechanical, quad pawl for engaging the drag. The pawl ring is made of titanium and coated with some super-plastic and they say it should last a lifetime. Don't know about that but it works like a charm. The drag itself is unbelievable, smooth as butter but has total of 18lbs of braking power, which is way more than needed for pike. I only need the use the 3-4 lowest steps. The brake adjust is very precise, drag knob is large and steps are very clear. The whole range can be adjusted in about one revolution of the knob.

As the anti-reverse pawl system is mechanical, the reel doesn't reel the line in by itself as many of the other reels do, which is nice. The feel in the retrieve is very sturdy, it screams "reliability".

Same picture as before.
The main shaft is very thick, drag seems to be sealed and the spool is suspended by a an oversized bronze bushing instead of ball bearings. Ball bearings have a habit of collecting salt and other debris inside and the bushing system seems to be almost maintenance free, just some cleaning and changing the lubricant. I got the reel at about 250e total, which is a steal for a reel of this grade. It really competes head to head with Abels etc..

The reel is quite heavy, which I first thought to make casting a bit heavier. I was wrong, it seems. It really seems that the heavy reel balances the whole rig when casting heavy lines. Now I can cast the whole 12h days with my 9wt without any sign of fatigue. Before this with the lighter reels I quickly started to feel stress in my wrist. I think that the heavy reel combined with fast casting strokes needed with my fast action rod, the reel counterbalances the weight of the line when doing casting strokes as opposed to slower action rods and lighter reels. Slower action rods seem to cause me more stress and fatigue when casting long periods anyway, I think it's a fault in my casting style as it is best suited for fast, tip action rods.

Some new 7-9wt reel is also arriving soon, I'll put some review about it when I get my hands on it.

Thursday, October 14, 2010


Some new flies were born:

Dark weather special
I thought I needed something for very slow fishing on the shallow reedbeds. I think these will be almost suspending in the water, which is nice as most of the strikes will be had during a long pause in stripping. These buggers have the rear body made of slinky fiber which gives a nice chunky profile. I added a generous hank of christmas decoration for some flash effect. Front body consists of some bucktail, tied with hollow-style. Head has a collar of craft fur and pair of molded eyes, just for my own amusement. Eyes are secured by a layer of epoxy. The fly above is intended for darker days as the fly below is one of my favourite universal colors for allround use.

As manly as it gets!

I also tied a few smaller baitfish patterns for targeting sea trout later this autumn. They are tied to a stinger-like hook, material is craft fur, tied with hollow-style and eyes are secured with a dab of clear urethane glue. These buggers have one lively action, they wiggle side-to-side and pulsate along with the water movement. I still couldn't catch the brightness of the colors though.

Little buggers

The innocent look of a serial killer.

It was a dark and stormy night...

Sitting in the office, I can see some serious blowing outside. Windspeed has exceeded 20 meters per second and tree branches and twigs are already flying, just waiting for the trees to start falling down. I think this will lead to one hell of a gusty chaos.

I hope nobody is out in the sea right now with some skinny skiff. Finnish institute of meteorology has given a forecast for wave height in the open seas:

Wave height in meters
It seems that this guy is heading to the sea right after work. It's time for some weather spotting.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Attaching the fly to leader material

This spring I lost my record pike as the leader snapped. Partly it was my own fault as I managed to get the free running line tangled around my fingers. The fish pulled hard, almost took my fingers with her and then the leader snapped. This incident made me to change my leader material to solid titanium wire. Well the titanium was reliable to be honest, but it was way too stiff for my liking and now I like to use Strike Wire's stainless steel braid.

Before this titanium era I always used a snap of some kind between the leader and the fly. My first candidate for a snap was a Duo-Lock-type Rosco. It had its good things, it was easy to handle and it gave the fly a nice, free movement. However, it was not very reliable as I broke many of them while casting. It could also be opened by biting so it was not my top choice.

The second candidate was a sturdy no-name cross-lock snap. It happened to be quite reliable as it still held the fly even if it was open. This was because you needed to twist the eye of the hook through many tight curves before pressing it shut. And when it was open, it still held its shape as there was another wire to support the hooking end to. This was also its worst feature and the reason why I abondoned it in the first place. It was so god damn difficult trying to put those pike hooks on. Loud "PERKELE!!" was heard many times before my rig was ready for fishing.
Rosco duo-locks
So the latest few months I have fished with no snap at all, always tying a new knot to leader material. Now I'd like to find a new snap suitable for fly fishing, as I'm using way too much leader material now. Well, I just need to keep searching for new solutions.

The whole weekend ahead, no fishing in sight?

After checking the weather forecasts, it seems that I will spend my weekend tying flies and checking my equipment. Water levels have slowly started to rise, but the incoming gale from the North-West will do the trick once again. This is one of the longest periods of northern wind I can recall.

And it's not just the low waters but the expected wind speeds from 15 to 25 meters per second can really mess up the water in coastal areas and it will take a while to get it all settled up again. But on the other hand, it tears off the dying plant life from the bottom so the fishing should be good for the rest of the season if the weather just stays bearable after that.

Well time to fill my fly boxes with something new...

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Inspiration needed

For the last few months, I've had a feeling that I'm slightly stuck with my pike flies. I was always tying the same patterns, I also fished with the same patterns time after time. I caught fish quite nicely though, that was not the problem, but the reason why I fell in love with fly fishing for pike was the fact that it was such a versatile sport.

I stumbled upon Simon Graham's awesome blog a few months ago:

Simon has awesome patterns and just the right attitude for the sport. I never started fly fishing for just to catch more fish, I started it for having more fun.

I was so lucky that on my first fly fishing trip, I managed to catch my first pike on a fly. It was early March and only a short strip of water was open in the river, everything else was covered by thick ice. I was there with my little boat, in the middle of the ice chunks, desperately chucking fluff. I managed to get a bite and after just a few more casts I caught my first pike on the fly. It was not a big one, ordinary little jack at about 1 kg but it really set me on fire. I had to stop fishing as my reel started to freeze solid when the sun went behind the trees but I could hardly wait until the next fly fishing trip.

It seems that finnish fluff chuckers don't really experiment too much. They use the flies they have seen to work. Flies are rather simple, made from one or two materials, three at most. Slinky fiber, craft fur, schlappen, bucktail etc etc.... That's the way I have done it and that's the way many many others have done it. These flies work, they swim quite nicely and they catch fish. They don't even break down easily. But that's it, they just don't seem exciting anymore and there is no passion in tying them. They're just a sort of tools made for doing something.

Mickey heading for the pike hunt!!
For now I promise myself and the pikes of the western coast to tie something totally different. I promise to try different techniques and materials. Amen.

Complaining about the weather

It's been blowing from the North for a while now and the water levels have dropped significantly. When water flows away, it usually means bad for the fishing and last night the wind was horrific for a while. I was looking for reports for water levels and there it stood: water level has dropped 15 cm in one hour, which is a lot as we don't have any powerful tidal effects here.

There is one situation that is even worse than sinking water levels, its the water levels going up and down all the time. Right after the sudden drop, the water level has started to rise again rapidly this morning. On the other hand, weather forecast predicts that strong winds from the North will be blowing for at least the next 5 days, meaning that the water will flow away again and starts pumping up and down.

This year has once again been difficult also regarding the winds. We don't have a lot of protecting archipelago here where I fish so any wind above 7-8 meters per seconds makes chucking the fluff difficult. Almost every trip we have suffered from either no wind at all or a raging 10-15 m/s blow from the open sea. The spring season of 2009 was similar, I remember many trips when we tried to go wading and trying pike on the fly. It was almost impossible to cast as the fly simply fell down after a few meters, so we needed to take on baitcasting rods and jerkbaits. It was quite extreme pike fishing though as the waves hit our faces when wading...

Sometimes the fishing could be surprisingly good despite the conditions though. I found some old pictures from the computer taken in 2008 and before.

Rare sea conditions in October.

Picture above is taken in October 2008, a minute after successfully landing a nice, fat sea trout from the shallow underwater reef.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Traditional finnish coastal lures vs. Bondo express

For a change, a few words about lures...


Finnish coastal sea trout fishing has had one specialty compared to our neighbour countries. Erkki Virolainen was probably the first guy to start experimenting with a new type of lure in the 70's, specifically designed for fishing in shallow, rocky and windy areas. Erkki had a long experience in this sport and it seems that he knew very well what were the desired features for a good lure.

Here is what I think is important:
  • Long casts, lure must be quite heavy and aerodynamic.
  • Shores are shallow so lure should sink very very slowly when not being retrieved.
  • Swimming action must work in all speeds as big waves hit the shores and strong currents are present.
  • Sea trouts have a habit of knocking their prey unconscious before eating it, so lure should stay in a horizontal position when retrieve is stopped.
Erkki developed a so called "lightened spoon", something between the traditional spoons and scandinavian coastal lures of today. The body of the lure is made of a normal looking spoon body but there are no holes for the split rings. Stainless steel loops are welded to the metal body to make the body slim looking. The secret of this lure is the buoyant glued to the inner side of the lure, making the spoon "lightened". Of course it doesn't make it any lighter but it makes the lure sink much slower and in a controlled manner. When the movement stops, the lure turns it outer side down and starts sinking slowly, swingin gently from side to side, imitating dying baitfish. This makes it possible to cast this lure to shallow places and still be able to pause the retrieve as this is the most productive way to fish sea trout.

His lures are very highly valued in Finland and the older versions are valuable collectibles. They are 100% handmade and the craftmanship and color chart is absolutely fabulous, unlike anything else I have seen.
Erkki has now retired from making his lures but his apprentice is now running the business.

And now about my little project....

Bondo Express

For a couple of years, as a cheapskate I am, I have built my own lightened spoons. With a trial-and-error, I have managed to develop a system that suits my skills to build something even remotely similar.

At first I tried doing those lures with a metal body and a floating buoyant. Yes, I got some success but the amount of time required to finish one lure was way too much. This method also was very difficult when I wanted to create many somewhat similar lures. I had to figure out something else....

Then I came up with something like this: I made a model of a lure I wanted to build using aluminium sheet and plastic filler. Plastic filler is easy to sand in to desired shape.

Next step was to make a mould from chemical metal by dropping the well oiled model piece to chemical metal and letting it cure. Now the bottom piece of the mould was done. I oiled the bottom part and model and poured more chemical metal on top of the model. Bingo! I had a mould that could be used to produce lures much faster than before. 

Model piece and the mould halves.
The casting process is easy, first I need to bend a suitable wire that has loops in both ends to create loops for split rings. Then I cut suitable pieces of lead sheet to be inserted in the casting, this makes the lure heavier and balances the lure. Then I lubricate the mould carefully, apply some casting material in to the mould, polyester filler in this case. I put some lead in the filler, insert the wire, some more lead and squeeze the mould shut. Now I give the mould some heat gun and wait for a few minutes and voila, a new lure body is born.

Where is the Bondo Express from? Well the easiast material to cast these lures seems to be some Bondo-style filler.....
Shape of the lures.
A few finished lures.

That's it for the lures department for now, next time perhaps something about fly fishing...

Silver ingots of the autumn

Fly fishing for pike is not my only passion. Every year at the very same time when leaves start falling down, the silvery torpedoes come swimming closer the shores. Sea trouts I mean.

These are probably the most challenging fish to catch in the Finnish coastal waters. It's not that they are too picky with the lures or get scared easily. It's mostly the low density of fish compared to fishable area and the weather conditions at this time of year. In the autumn season when water temps have dropped to 10'c, sea trouts come closer to shores following their prey, namely sprat and baltic herring. Fishing starts from the very outermost islands and rocks in October and moves closer to continent during November and December as water temperatures keep dropping.

In the beginning of autumn season, large schools of silvery torpedoes can be spotted when they make their feeding assaults in the windy shores of the outer islands. After the assault, they swim back to deeper and colder water.

When water keeps cooling down, sea trouts spend more and more time in shallow shores. At some point they stay all the time in very shallow water, warming up their bodies in the latest rays of warming sunlight. Usually they lie right next to big boulders, one side pointing to the sun, another side very close to the protecting rock. At this point, sprat and baltic herring are far gone and their feeding consists mostly of tiddlers or 'three-spined sticklebacks', what ever is a correct term. During this phase, sea trouts are quite slow in their movements and they slowly start moving back to deeper, warmer water as the water temperatures in the shores have fallen to 1-3'c. Usually the shallow bays have their ice cover when these mysterious creatures leave the shores.

As someone could guess, I'm dying to at least see the first silvery missile of this autumn!!

Perhaps next week...

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Fresh autumn days....

Went fishing this morning to a little swampy river close by. Weather was nice for fishing: Cloudy, calm and a little foggy, a refreshing autumn weather. Way too calm for pike feeding frenzy though.

Calm waters

Water has got surprisingly cold but most of the vegetation is still intact. Last summer with its record breaking water temperatures really made these shallow areas bloom, I don't think I've ever seen that much vegetation in here. This also made fishing very difficult during the summer so I needed to concentrate on other species.

Back to the fishing trip then. I pushed my little boat to water and started gently rowing upstream. Water was as calm as it gets, not even a slightest breeze in the air. I tied on a red-yellow fly made of slinky fiber and craft fur. It's one of my favorite color combinations together with pink-white and red-white. I like to tie those slinky flies quite fluffy so they have a nice profile and I finish the head with a collar of bright colored craft fur. This gives a nice color contrast as slinky fiber doesn't have any striking colors. Some epoxy to the head and a pair of eyes of course. Epoxy and craft fur create nice spherical head which gives a nice side-to-side action to fly.

After a few moments of casting both sides of the river, first jack hits the fly. I can clearly see a golden flash heading towards my fly just before I can feel the strike in my fingers. And on the very same moment my fly has traveled about 10m, this little snot rocket really hit the fly with all it's rage. Too bad it started to bleed badly from gills so I needed to take it for the dinner. I have only needed to take a few pikes this year as all the others have been virtually unharmed. I also usually keep the fish in the water when taking pictures.

Swimming in your river, eating your flies.
I manage to catch a couple more pikes in the same 1.5-2kg range and one bigger monster decides to follow my fly to the side of my boat and make a huge splash when I pulled my fly out of the water. Always freaks me out badly when after a period of silence, some big bugger comes close to the boat and gives a "bye bye" with its tail.
Shallow and rocky.

I head to a place where the river starts. I have caught some nice fish there in the late autumn but this time I only managed to see something large swimming slowly through the water lilies. Oh, I caugth my smallest pike for ages, still wondering how it could get the fly in its mouth....
Weapons of choice.

Back to the shore and I started cleaning the unlucky jack. When I got back home, the kitty was already waiting for his meal. As I'm writing this, kitty came back for some more of his favorite, pike fillet. A cat weighing in about 6 kilograms seems to be able to eat almost 1 kg of pike in one day, how cool is that?

Friday, October 8, 2010

Hooks for pike flies, ultimate solution still not found?

There are plenty of excellent hooks out there but which one would be the best compromise/solution?

A few thoughts about this:

There are lots and lots of excellent, saltwater resistant hooks that can handle big fish with no problem at all. However, fly fishing for pike has its own challenges:

  • Fly patterns are usually very large and have a bulky appearance, therefore the mouth of the hook should be wide.
  •  Most of my fishing is done in the brackish water of the west coast so at least some degree of saltwater resistance is a must.
  • Pike is a toothy fish and most of its mouth has a very hard surface. Therefore hook should be as sharp as possible and the wire shouldn't be too thick as this will make the hook penetration much worse. Also the shape of the hook is important as some hooks intended for warm water species don't seem to get a hold of pike's mouth.
  • Fishing is often done in rocky areas so the tip of the hook shouldn't be too sensitive for contacts.
  • Affordable hooks are never a bad thing.
Here's some of the hooks I've used and some thoughts about their features (bad picture):

  1. Top: Sakuma Manta 540 #5/0. Extremely sharp, very wide gape and medium thick wire. I like this hook a lot. I've managed to get far better bite/land ratio with this hook than with anything else. Hook is also black nickel coated so it does not corrode. The tip of the hook is a bit sensitive for rock contacts. This hook is also available in bigger sizes and with stronger wire and the pricing is very decent. I will test the heavier versions also in the future.
  2. Middle: TMC 911S #4/0. Many prefer this as the ultimate pike hook for deceiver-style patterns. 100% saltwater proof. A nice hook over all but it also has its flaws. The wire is very thick and heavy and the hook is not very sharp. Also the gape is not wide enough and the shape of the hook tip is not optimal for pike fishing, I assume. I have lost a lot of fish from this hook.
  3. Bottom: Kamasan B940 #6/0. Very sharp hook with a decent sized gape.  Hooking ratio is very good with this hook, so is the pricing. Only problem is that this hook corrodes rather quickly.
My next thing to do on this issue would probably be the testing of those stronger wire Sakumas as well as starting to experiment with tube flies. 

So this was purely theoretical blabber, perhaps something less theoretical next time...

Starting up the blog....

This blog will mostly concentrate on fly fishing for pike in the western coast of Finland. Occasional blogging about fishing for sea trout, perch, zander etc. will also be on the list but the hunt for the water wolf will be the main course. Also some lure building and lure fishing articles can be expected.

I will write articles regarding the equipment, flies, boats and of course the fishing reports. I've never been very keen on taking pictures but I'm working on it, perhaps one day I will be a better person...