Author Topic: Midnight Sea-runs  (Read 1965 times)

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Rory E. Glennie

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Midnight Sea-runs
« on: April 02, 2012, 10:49:08 AM »
                  
Flying at Night with the Afterglow Ninja

The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band sings a great ditty called “Fishing in the Dark.” Although that song has little to do with actual fishing, it is a catchy tune that loops through one’s mind while on the water at night. If you have been out there in the wee hours you know of what I speak. If not, read on.

Way back when, fly fishers in the UK, mainly from Wales and Scotland, discovered that plying the waters in the dead of night can pay off in better catches of larger fish. Their quarry was “Sewin”, AKA sea-run Brown Trout. Not to be out done by their brothers across the pond, US fly fishers also took to the night in search of monster Browns in streams. In the land of AUS and New Zealand, serious lake fishers seldom start casting before midnight. On the coast here night-fishing has been slow to catch on in a big way, but it does have its practitioners. Perhaps that is due to some great day time fishing which leaves most folks spent and fulfilled with little want to stay beyond the gloaming.

The “Sewin” of B.C.
The fish which captures the hearts and minds of these nocturnal coastal fly fishers is the Sea-run Cutthroat Trout. The same beaches and estuaries which produce Cutt’s during the afternoon will be great places to prowl after dark, well after dark. The transition period from day into night often sees a slowing of fish aggression. Once the nighttime settles in for good Cutt’s adjust to the darkness and resume actively feeding. The larger fish too seem to be less cautious after dark. A lessened fear of aerial predators may have something to do with this.

Daytime Familiarity
Especially for those who may be new to the nighttime fly fishing scene, starting along a well known beach eases the natural trepidation over things that go bump in the night. Stepping off into a deep spot or stumbling over a submerged root wad may be embarrassing in the daytime. After dark it could be dangerous. Slow down, the fish are not going anywhere. Refrain from using a flashlight for lighting the way while wading or when near the water, it ruins your night vision and alerts the fish to your presence. Daytime reconnaissance and steady nerves should keep you out of trouble.

Night Gear
Pretty much the same as in the daytime. The line should be a floater for ease of handling and effective presentation. Flies patterns are a different story. Conventional wisdom asserts using big dark patterns for better recognition by the fish. They do work well because, without sunlight, colours are absent or muted at best. Recent developments, however, in ultraviolet (UV) reactive tying materials and paints has opened up new avenues for creative nighttime fly tiers. So too has luminescent materials.

Creatures of the Night
Bioluminescence is an attribute of many salt water critters; dinoflagellates, squid, some euphausiids and krill are common types. That ability to glow can be an attraction for predators like Cutthroats. A fly pattern sporting a glow-in-the-dark aura will be spotted easily and, if it also has a good dark silhouette, all the better.
In 1986 Dr. Hiro Imai from Tokyo sat at my tying bench crafting his signature fly the “Blue Ninja.” This fly pattern was specifically for sea-runs in and  around the Oyster River. It is like a scraggly “Wooly Bugger” with a blue body and black hackle. He says it mimics the indigenous large stonefly nymphs. The Blue Ninja offers a good dark silhouette suitable for a nighttime fly. Substitute in some phosphorescent body material and it becomes a glow-in-the-dark Cutthroat favourite. Add some glow-beads to create a well defined naturally segmented look; voilá, the Afterglow Ninja.

Enlighten Me
Luminescent materials need to be charged up before use, and recharged occasionally thereafter. Cupping the fly in your hand over top a Mini-Maglite™ works to enlighten the fly, shields your eyes from momentary night blindness and from alerting fish. An old camera flash unit fitted with a shroud can be employed likewise and gives a hotter glow. If you have one a specialized UV LED flashlight is the most efficient charging source, but conventional white light works OK and is less costly. Keep the light source on a neck lanyard for ready use.

twitch, twitch, BANG!
The floating line keeps the fly in the upper water column where it should be; A slow series of short, sharp twitches is the retrieve; Covering all available water with casts in a radiating fan pattern; Bringing the fly in almost to your boot tops; On auto-pilot, casting into the black beyond, mechanical; The mind numbing loop of “You and me go fishing in the dark...” broken by a great mysterious tug on your line. Grand fun!
Ghillie -- A wise and discreet waterside companion to genteel fly fishers... that's me.

Nick Laferriere

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Re: Midnight Sea-runs
« Reply #1 on: April 02, 2012, 10:41:57 PM »
That's a gnarly looking fly mate! Nice tie!

Nick

Andy Larkin

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Re: Midnight Sea-runs
« Reply #2 on: April 02, 2012, 10:48:29 PM »
Rory,

Your posts are constantly reminding me of the phenomenal salt chucking sea-run cutty experiences I have in my backyard that I will be missing this summer!..

Great writeup and pattern as always,

Andy

Chris Puchniak

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Re: Midnight Sea-runs
« Reply #3 on: April 03, 2012, 04:56:53 PM »
That's a great write up on night time sea-runs!  I admit, I used to do it more often, but less so in recent years (and it's so much fun in lakes too).  But I need to get back to that.  No wonder so many of us love the sea run cutties.

That's an interesting pattern.  What material is in the body, and how does it fit in with the hackle?  I would like to try that.
I will fish anywhere and find beauty in it.

Don't be a Pessimist. Don't be an Optimist.  Be a Realist and change when you need to.

Marc Bilan

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Re: Midnight Sea-runs
« Reply #4 on: April 03, 2012, 05:44:00 PM »
I've been meaning to try this when fishing for large lake cutties on the coast.  I think I'll have to tie a few of these Ninja's up and give it a go the next time I'm targeting these fish.  Great article! :D

Rory E. Glennie

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Re: Midnight Sea-runs
« Reply #5 on: April 04, 2012, 09:16:26 AM »
Tying the Afterglow Ninja

The Afterglow Ninja

Hook – size 6 or 8,  Mustad 9672, (2X long) or equivalent, de-barbed and sharpened.
Thread – 1/0 Unithread, black.
Tail – Glow in the dark Flashabou™, ten strands.
Underbody – Silver tinsel.
Body -- Glow in the dark Flashabou™, twisted together.
Ridj-Bak – Glow in the dark plastic beads strung on fine silver wire.
Ribbing – Fine silver wire from bead string.
Body Hackle – Grizzly hackle.
Head – Tying thread, lacquered.
Tying: At tail position; tie in Flashabou™ for tail, silver tinsel and tip of hackle feather. Advance thread to head. Wrap tinsel over shank, wrap Flashabou™ over tinsel. Tie in wire at head, string on beads, lay beaded wire over body, wrap wire around tail position then spiral over body and between beads finishing at head. Palmer hackle feather over body and between beads. Tie off and lacquer thread.
Ghillie -- A wise and discreet waterside companion to genteel fly fishers... that's me.

Chris Puchniak

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Re: Midnight Sea-runs
« Reply #6 on: April 04, 2012, 11:51:07 AM »
That has to go on my "I got to try it!" list Rory.  Thanks for the idea.
I will fish anywhere and find beauty in it.

Don't be a Pessimist. Don't be an Optimist.  Be a Realist and change when you need to.