A Trip for Landlocked Salmon

A Trip for Landlocked Salmon

I just got back from a trip up north for landlocked salmon. My last trip was in 2017. Back two years ago, the river was very low. And as a consequence there were less fish than we hoped for. Still we caught a reasonable enough fish to make the trip fun.

High Water

This year, however,  things were quite different. The dam releases were much, much higher and that brought hope that the river would be filled to the brim with landlocked salmon.  Unfortunately it didn’t work out that way.  For one thing the high water reduced the number of places anglers could get in. That meant crowds in the remaining spots. Second the salmon were not stacked up in the usual holding areas. In fact we saw fewer salmon than we had in 2017.  Yes we were able to get a few, but everyone struggled.

Female Landlocked Salmon

Fishing for migratory species, whether they be in fresh or salt, always poses a risk. Unlike  a Trout Management Area where the trout are always at home, migratory species come and go for reasons you can’t control.  Yes, water levels and weather play a significant role. Its just part of the angling adventure. So lean back and enjoy the trip with your friends in spite of  what nature hands you. Next year is coming.

 

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Stripers on Topwater

Stripers on Topwater

Here in Long Island Sound we have been beset with a slew of wind. My son got out a few days ago, however, and found striped bass on the ebb. He tells me it was mainly topwater plugs that did the action. Lasted the whole tide. You got to love that stuff.

Topwater Bass

As you might imagine, marine scientist have been following water temperatures in the Sound for many years. Their records show an October low of 58 degree and a high of 64 degrees. Where are this year?  Present water temperatures are 64 degrees, right at the max. Ummm. I remember many years when the water dipped to 50 by the start of November. No way it can drop 14 degrees in in the next 2 weeks. No way. The good news, I guess, is that this season is apt to last well into December. Striped bass for Christmas anyone? On the other hand, higher water temperatures in the Sound are not a good sign for the future.

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A Winston Fiberglass 10wt Fly Rod

A Winston Fiberglass 10wt Fly Rod

In my years on the water, fly rods have changed quite bit, in terms of construction, design, hardware, price, and above all performance. And nowhere are those changes more evident than in the salt.

North Truro in the 1980’s credit Phil Farnsworth

Why the salt? For one thing, the salt is a newer game and simply required newer thinking.  On top of that saltwater anglers increasingly pushed for rods capable of not only casting farther, but capable of subduing more and heavier species. Bring it on dude. The bigger the better. And face it, in every aspect, salt water requires tougher equipment. The brine kills things.

The B&Wphoto was shot on an October dawn in the 1980’s. Now it may look like I’m hooked to a killer bass, but its only a schoolie. The steepness of the beach, and the force with which waves charged up and down the slope, forced me to push the rod deep. Note I  even choked up a little with my right hand – not always a good idea – but this is a “glass” rod and highly unlikely to snap.

What rod is it? A Winston fiberglass 9′, 2 piece 10wt,  designed in the 1970’s. I bought it direct from the factory –  some many tides past- with two tips and a detachable fighting butt. Back then this rod was listed in the catalogue as one of six rods developed for “Steelhead, Salmon, Bass and Light Saltwater”. From the factory the reel seat (Cal-Air) was installed down-locking. As you can see in the picture above, I reversed it.

10mm Carboloy Stripper

Check out the shape of the bend. Progressive taper? Tip action? I don’t think so. Back then Winston said these six rods had  “special tapers” To me it appears to be a compound taper leaning to the parabolic. What do you think? Well, nothing like that today, nothing. And check out the stripping guide shown above. Today a 10wt fly rod stripping guide would have a modern ceramic insert and perhaps be 20mm. This rod has three stripping guides and the largest is a 10mm carboloy, just able to pass a chopstick. Times had changed. Why did Winston use such small stripping guides? Tom Morgan felt they increased distance by reducing line slap against the blank.

On the weight end of things , this rod is still competitive today. How is that possible? For one, the Winston had a removable fighting butt, not included here. (attached the rod would go over 6 ounces) Plus all rod hardware today – reel seats, guides – are far more heavy duty and much of it heavier because of it.

All and all I loved this old “glass” rod and used it often. Still got it. Wonderful memories. In its time it was a great product. Top notch. From a great company. Still it shows us how saltwater fly rods have evolved to meet the demands of the sport.

Interest in learning more about Winston fiberglass rod? There are several on this site as well as Cabela glass rods, Kabuto, and a Diamondglass.

Winston 2wt

Winston 5wt

Winston 6wt

Winston 8wt

Winston 12Wt

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A Tom Morgan Rodsmiths 8′ 6″ 4 Weight Fly Rod – Part Three

A Tom Morgan Rodsmiths 8′ 6″ 4 Weight Fly Rod – Part Three

During Tom Morgan’s lifetime he gave several interviews, often expressing his opinion on designing a proper trout rod. For one thing he felt many commercially available graphite trout rods were too stiff. More specifically he favored progressive action rods that performed best inside what he considered “normal” trout distance. Here’s Tom’s own words on the subject.

“I have really strong convictions that you need to make a rod that is going to fish for trout in the 20 or 25 foot to 50 or 55 foot range. If it doesn’t really bend or flex in that area, then you have got the wrong rod.”

Okay, lets see how this rod matches up with Tom Morgan’s goals. After rigging up it with a floating Cortland 444 DT, I worked out line. Nice. This rod is silky smooth, a real pleasure to cast. I’ll call the action moderately progressive. Not stiff at all. It is near weightless in the hand, tracks well and instantly responds to your lightest commands.  After 30′ I saw a single shock wave, so small as to be virtually invisible. And without major effort or double haul, I continued on, reaching 40′ plus leader. (This rod looks near black indoors, but in strong direct sunlight it is a rich red.)

Next I shortened up. I wanted to learn how this rod worked in close. With 10′ of fly line out, the rod formed a fine loop and was quite happy. With 5′ of line the same results, a testimony to the rod’s sensitive tip. Working my way down, the rod proved capable of forming a loop and unrolling the leader with only 24″ of fly line out the tip top. That’s impressive folks. Amazing. In those evening hatch when trout rise right under your nose, this rod is your friend.

All in all, Tom Morgan’s wishes are alive and well in this beautiful rod. It is bright, fun to use, and ready to take on trout near and far. I love it.

**** The owner has expressed some interest in selling this rod. If you have any interest drop me a line (ed@edmitchelloutdoors.com)  and I’ll put you in touch with him. 

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A Tom Morgan Rodsmiths 8′ 6″ 4 Weight Fly Rod – Part Two

A Tom Morgan Rodsmiths 8′ 6″ 4 Weight Fly Rod – Part Two

In the previous post we begin taking a look at a graphite rod from Tom Morgan Rodsmiths. Clearly we found a lot of attention to detail and a strong desire to produce a fly rod a step above what is commercially available elsewhere.

Okay this time around we’re digging deeper. My digital scale reports the rod to be 2.75 ounces. That’s light. Now if the reel seat was cork, I imagine this rod coming in close to  2 ounces. A super light 4wt. That’s not to say the existing reel seat is anything to turn up your nose at. In fact it is a handsome, single uplocking, nickel silver seat with an exotic wood insert and the Tom Morgan Rodsmith seal on the butt cap. Quite attractive.

The grip is a 6.5″ long, half wells, with a nickel silver check at each end. Note both checks are octagonal, like the rod tube. Here again attention to detail. Moving forward we see a hook keep with red windings tipped in gold. The rod’s size and line weight are next, carefully written in gold lettering. The original owners name appears on the flip side in gold as well. And in the above photo, you see that the female ferrule has a check and the same color windings.

There is a single agate stripping guide, followed by snakes guides and a tip top. All wraps are perfectly done. Yes, more attention to detail.

Now we come to the “vintage” question I rose in the first post. This rod doesn’t have a serial number, but it does have a build date of  April 1995. Here’s why that is interesting. When Tom Morgan sold Winston in 1991, you can be sure the contract had a “noncompete” clause. That’s the way the business world works. Consequently Tom was unable at the time to start building rod commercially under his name. At some point down the road, however, Winston gave Tom the green light to start Tom Morgan Rodsmiths. When was that? Ummmm. As best I know it was sometime in 1995, making this rod one of the earliest Tom Morgan Rodsmiths made. In fact this might be the first one out the door, the first one Tom sold. Who can tell?

In the final post, we’ll take this rod out for a test drive. I’m anxious to see how it performs, and I imagine you are too.

 

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