Thursday, September 19, 2013

Fly Fishing in Italy, and a new butterfly

I finally got to go fly fishing this year.  First time in 2013.  And it happened in Italy.  Go figure.

There are many great things about my new job that brought me to Southern Maryland.  But the one not-so-great thing is that it has virtually eliminated my fly fishing for trout.  Nothing really close by - the Gunpowder is almost 2 hours away - and my travels haven't been taking me to any trout areas.  Until now.

I just got back from 2 weeks in Urbino Italy for work. The city is beautiful, the food insanely good, the wine plentiful and wonderful.  And, since we had a fee weekend, I decided to look into going fishing on the Saturday we had free.  Through the power of the Web, I found Luca Castellani,   a guide in the Tuscany region of Italy.  We emailed back and forth and I secured a day with 2 guides for 4 of us.  We met near Sansepolcro  in the morning, secured our licenses, and set off for the Tevere River.  (Which, as  I later found out is actually the Tiber River, which eventually flows through Rome.)..  The section we were to fish is a Catch and Release tailwater section that is home to brown trout and grayling.

Luca took our two more inexperienced flyfishermen.  Reports back from both of them was that they had a blast , Luca was a great and patient teacher, and they caught some fish.  I fished with my rep, Greg, who has limited fly fishing experience.  Our guide was Moreno Borriero, a very experienced fly fisherman originally from South Africa.  He has  intimate knowledge of the stream, hatches, and fish.  He is also a very accomplished bamboo rod builder.  He showed me the water and then spent some more time with Greg, working a bit on his casting.  (After my first few casts, I felt like he should be helping me.  When you take a substantial amount of time off from fly fishing, it becomes apparent that you can no longer make even a simple effortless cast.  It all came back, but it did take a while!)

                                                    A morning brown trout

                                                 Greg fishing a bugger against the bank

                                               Wooly buggers work everywhere!

The fish in these waters are pretty highly pressured and are extremely selective.  There were a few rises as I worked my way upstream.  Occasional BWO's lifted off the surface.  I had to go to a 9' 6x leader with a 3'-4' 7x tippet, and a #20 CDC olive.  I brought a few trout to hand in the morning, but really had to work for them.  It was, in a word, perfect.  Nothing big for me - fish were all around a foot in length.  The other guys were throwing buggers and brought a few nicer fish to hand - 16"-18" fish.  There are some really big fish in these waters, too.  I set up on what Moreno thought was a rising grayling and , after a couple dozen casts, finally got him to take.  Of course, a grayling has an over-slung mouth and needs to come up and over a dry fly to take it - much like a redfish in saltwater.  Of course, I pulled the fly away before he actually go it in his mouth.  Nice move, Joe!

A light lunch was to be provided, per Luca's website.  To me, that meant a sandwich and a bottle of water.  Instead, we went to a very small cafe along a nearby road.  We sat outside, drank wine and beer, and were served a couple of large platters filled with the most delicious cured meats and cheeses imaginable.  A couple loaves of fresh bread, some olive oil.  Awesome lunch!!  Then the bowls of pasta came out.  This "light lunch" at a roadside cafĂ© was seriously better than anything from the finest Italian restaurant in the states.  The food in the region is amazing.

                                            The second or third course of the "light lunch"

So - back to the river after lunch.  The afternoon turned out to be the kind of day you dream about. Well - at least I dream about.  Good, solid hatch of BWO's.  Constantly rising fish.  TOUGH, selective fish.  So selective that they consistently refused the NATURALS that were floating down the current seams.  I had a dozen fish within casting distance of me rising steadily.  For 3 hours I cast to them, extended my tippets, changed flies to smaller , more subtle patterns, got ignored, got refused, missed hits, got ignored some more.  I finally got one small brown trout, and I couldn't have been happier if it had been a 26" trout.  These fish were tough, selective, and demanded perfection.  I LOVE fishing to these kinds of fish, even though they almost always win..  I had a ball.

                                                          A very well colored brown trout

                                                   Me and Moreno with another brown

Finally, at the end of the afternoon, I decided to see if I could still catch any fish, and tied on a San Juan worm under an indicator.  3 trout and 30 minutes later, I decided that, if I really needed to catch something, I could still nymph fish and bring something to hand.

Now I remember why I love fly fishing - it is days  like this that live on forever in my memory.

On the home front, my wife saw a new butterfly come into the butterfly bush.  After a couple of failed attempts, I finally got some pictures of it.  The shots I tried to get with its wings upright were blurry, and this little guy doesn't hang around very long.  Also, I leave you with a photo of my favorite spider - the Orb Spider.  He's got quite a lunch, feasting on a pretty good sized grasshopper.

                                                Our new butterfly - a Red Spotted Purple!

                                                                    Orb Spider

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Butterflies to get you through a week and a half

I'll be out of town - in Italy, actually, for a week and a half, so I'll post a few pics to pass the time before I go.  (For those few folks who have been long time sufferers at the hands of this blog - you're probably thinking "A week and a half???   Usually you only post twice a year!!")   I should come back with a lot of photos - keep your fingers crossed   In addition to spending the time in a beautiful old walled city - Urbino - I get a chance to fly fish for trout and grayling on Saturday, and hunt pheasant and red legged partridge on Sunday.  Plenty of photo ops.

The pictures below were taken on our vacation.  We visited the Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens in Richmond VA - I HIGHLY recommend it if you're in the area!.  They had a butterfly exhibit, and these shots came from there.  Nothing really artistic - just cool butterfly photos.

See you in a week and a half