Sunday, July 29, 2012

Rainbow fishing with the Egg Butt Scud

Early this Thursday it started to look like it was going to be a pretty day and a great evening to be on a lake. Mike and I decided to try Birch lake, a lake I have never fished in the summer, but have had very good luck in the winter fishing for stocked rainbows, char and silvers through the ice. Rainbows in these lakes have always been a challenge to catch in the summer.

I remember a trip earlier this summer to Quartz lake when the rainbows were trying to spawn on the sandy beach of the lake. I was up at 5:00 in the morning, at the beach alone and the fish were spawning in very shallow water with dorsal fins cutting the surface. Eagles were wading around in the shallow water catching and eating fish. I threw every fly I had at the rainbows with no luck. I tried my own patterns and standard  patterns. I tried dry flies and wet flies, they would bite at nothing. I didn't have any egg patterns with me. The evening before, the fish were not visible but they were there, off shore, staging for the spawn. People were having some success fishing from shore with salmon row.

The Development of the Egg Butt Scud and cousins
The memory that morning at Quartz lake stays in my mind. I thought if I'd had a wet fly egg pattern I might have been able to get some rainbows to bite. There is a very popular Alaska dry fly pattern called the Salcha Pink, its very good for grayling on the surface. In my mind, I needed to put eggs under the water. There is also the very popular egg sucking leach, it's very effective for many species of Alaskan Salmonids. Our waters don't have any leaches to speak of except the egg sucking variety.

Scuds and nymphs are a very important food source for stocked rainbow, char and silvers in interior lakes, so I thought that a pattern that combines an important year-round food and salmon eggs might be effective. Scuds are fresh water shrimp, the ones in our lakes are black. The Egg Butt Scud may be just the thing to spark a bite from an otherwise inactive fish. Before Mike and I left for the lake I tied a few Egg Butt Scuds, Egg Head Scuds, some Egg Head Nymphs and Egg Butt Nymphs.

Some Egg Butt Scuds and shirt sleeve relatives ready for Birch lake.

When Mike and I got to the lake there were two boats leaving, they had both fished all day and between them caught two small char. Some people were fishing from the dock but they had also not caught anything. The outlook was bleak but we had two things going for us, we were arriving in the evening and the fishing should be better than during the heat of the day. We also had the Egg Butt Scud.

I didn't know how to fish the lake so I spent the first couple of hours rowing around trying to find some fish-able water. The lake bottom is almost pancake flat with shallows stretching out to quite a distance from shore. After a while we found a reasonable weed line with what seemed to be a good drop off. We anchored casting distance from the weed line and casted toward it. The fishing was not hot but when I did get a strike, it was explosive. The rainbow hit the fly from below, at almost the instant it hit the water. The fish cleared the water with the first hit and did it again several times during the fight. It was a pretty good tussle that I thoroughly enjoyed.
The first rainbow with the Egg Head Scud, the fight almost over.

A chunky fish, just over 19 inches and just under three pounds. You can tell this is a hatchery fish by the missing pectoral fins.

The holographic dubbing really sparkles blue when it's wet.

I am pretty pleased that I was able to catch a fish in a lake I had never fished when no-one else was catching fish.

Tying The Egg Head Scud


Hook No. 10 curved pupa hook
Thread      70 denier
Tail           died mallard, wood duck or Guinea fowl chest feather
Body        black rabbit
Rib           copper or black wire
Back        scud back film, mottled black
Legs         mallard wood duck or Guinea fowl chest feather and holographic dubbing
Egg          med. to small dark red chenille

The hook is dressed around the curve and four or five feather fibers are tied in for the tail.

A four inch piece of copper wire and the scud back film is tied in.

Next, spin on some black rabbit dubbing fur. Scud colors change from area to area so change your materials to match.

wrap the dubbing leaving about 1/3 of the hook shank free.

Turn the hook up-side-down, tie in the legs, in two places under the belly of the scud. I mixed the feather fibers and the holographic dubbing. It gives the scud an iridescent blue color.

Turn the scud back over, pull the scud back film over to cover the top of the body, tie it down at the end of the dubbing.

Wrap the copper wire around the body of the scud to form even segments. Use a dubbing needle to free leg fibers and dubbing from the wire as you wrap it. Tie it off and clip it.

Tie in the red chenille.

Form the egg with two wraps of the chenille, tie it down and clip it.

Whip finish the fly and cement the head.

Close cousin to the Egg Head Scud, the Egg Butt Scud is tied the same way as the egg headed relative, except the egg is tied in before the body. The nymphs are done the same way, just add an egg to your favorite nymph pattern, I tied some eggs in at the head and some at the butt.

Some Egg Heads and some Egg Butts with a penny for scale.

Mike and I are leaving on a float trip of the lower Gulkana in a couple of days, I plan to really give the Egg Butts and Egg Heads a work out on rainbows and grayling. I also tied some flies for reds and kings.
Red salmon flies.

King salmon flies.

We've been making our own fly boxes with old VCR tape cases and weather stripping, they work really well.

The really interesting thing about these interior Alaska lakes is how much these fresh water snails are used for food by large rainbows. The last two I kept both had stomachs and digestive tracts full of them. This is about one third of the snails I found in one trout. It may sound a little funny, but I think I will try a fly pattern that imitates this food source.

Stay tuned for news from the Gulkana and some Red salmon fly recipes.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Rainbow fishing and king salmon flies

On July 8th Mike and I brought my raft down to Lost Lake (we were able to find it), near Birch lake to have a go at rainbow fishing. The weather was blustery with rain squalls blowing through. With the rain, wind and waves, it made fly fishing pretty tough. I was able to get one fish to strike. Mike with spinning gear was able to do just a little bit better and had his fish on for just long enough for us to get a look at it. It was still a nice day out, but adding a rainbow to my list of species caught on my own fly pattern will have to wait. We did get to watch a cow moose with her new born calf for most of the day.

King Salmon Flies
Around July fourth every year the king salmon run hits the interior. This years run was running a little late, but I was going to give king salmon fishing a try in the Salcha River. A friend has some property on the river and invited me to fish in his bend of the river.

It is recognized that some salmon do not feed after they reach fresh water, king and red salmon are the two species most well known for that. A fisherman has to trigger a strike response for other reasons than feeding. It is believed that kings can be enticed to strike by irritating them. I can be irritating at times, in fact my wife will tell you that I excel at it, so king fishing should be easy for me.

In researching for my king salmon pattern I found that most popular king patterns had purple or chartreuse in them and that egg patterns also did well. Some anglers believe that egg patterns do well because a spawning salmon will pick up eggs from other salmon to remove them from it's nest.

I decided I would try variations of a large, irritating, purple and chartreuse, articulated egg sucking leech.

The Atomic Egg Sucking Leech is born.

The articulation is tied with a 2/0 red octopus hook and the shank of a 2/0 streamer hook . Thirty pound monofilament is bound to the hooks with one half inch between them. I weighted the hooks with .035 lead wire to get the fly to the bottom. Kings spawn and hold on the bottom and sometimes the pools are deep so if you want to invade their space you have to get the fly down there. I found after tying a few of these that it's much easier to tie onto the leading hook if I wait to cut the hook from the shank until after the fly is tied. There's just not that much to hold onto if the hook is cut before the fly is tied.
I tied two purple hackles in for tails, I call them ticklers. I imagine me waving this in front of a king just tickling his nose until he gets frustrated enough to bite.

I tied in some purple flashibou and marabou, then a hackle and some chenille.
The chenille is wrapped and tied down then the hackle is palmered around the chenille, a head is whip finished and cemented.

Flashibou and marabou are tied in for a tail on the leading hook shank, then some egg colored flashabou chenille.
The egg is wrapped, I tied in a hackle and for a little more weight some barbell eyes.

I tied variations with different colors, less weight and deer hair eggs.

I hope to get out and fish some of these king salmon flies, but the run is off to a very bad start, very low numbers and the rain is making all the rivers run high and muddy.

I'm using a new vice and many materials given to me by my friend Janet Bourne after her husband Dennis died. These are some of his patterns.
Next some Red Salmon fly patterns and hopefully some fishing.