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Shawnny3July 24th, 2010, 5:36 am
Moderator
Pleasant Gap, PA

Posts: 1197
The light-on-the-water approach is a Harvey technique, and I doubt anyone would argue with his success. He would actually use a really big, powerful light. He would sweep it quickly over the water in a back and forth motion so as to keep it from landing on any one spot for any length of time. He would locate a large fish in this way, then wait a full two minutes (an eternity with the bats buzzing around your head, I'd imagine), then sweep over that spot again to make sure the fish was still there. Then he'd wait another 2 minutes before getting into position and making one good, slow strip with his night fly to that lie. He found that, as long as the light was moving and not staying in a single spot, fish would almost never spook from the light. This whole process (as well as sketches of the night fly) was found in Lefty Kreh's book, Presenting the Fly. My thinking is, if he's using this technique and making 1 cast every 5 minutes as opposed to 25 casts every 5 minutes using conventional water-covering methods, it must be significantly more effective, if not in number of fish caught then at least in size.

I have not tried the light technique, but I have tried the night fly. My one major problem with the fly is that it windmills while casting and stripping and twists your leader. I've had a lot of trouble getting it to fish as Harvey intended (with pulsating wings), or maybe I was using materials which were too stiff (but he used loon feathers, as I recall, precisely because they were so stiff). While I like the idea for the fly, I have not been pleased with the results. I have an idea of my own for a night fly that I really like, but I don't fish at night enough to screw around with it right now.

-Shawn
Jewelry-Quality Artistic Salmon Flies, by Shawn Davis
www.davisflydesigns.com
DitchJuly 24th, 2010, 6:09 am
Fuquay-Varina NC

Posts: 36
just a little off topic

My grandfather who got me started fishing at the ripe old age of 2 (my first fishing pole is in the middle of lake euphalla OK) would use a bright light low to the water to attract bait fish which would be attracting the bass that he was looking for it would seem that with all the discussion about mouth full O' midges that this might work as well in the fly fishing end of the sport. (My grand father did have one fly fishing rod but i never saw him use it very early fiberglass with automatic reel but hey he got me started)

Phil
There are no bad fishing days.
Jmd123July 24th, 2010, 1:57 pm
Oscoda, MI

Posts: 2530
Honestly guys, if I tried this on my favorite Michigan brown trout waters, I could probably kiss the fishing goodbye for the night. And, if I were sharing the water with anyone else, would probably be thoroughly cussed out if not actually shoved face-first into the stream...

Not everything works everywhere for everyone at every time. As I have said on this site many times already, your results may differ...but DON'T be shining a bright light around the stream at night if you're WITH ME!

Jonathon
No matter how big the one you just caught is, there's always a bigger one out there somewhere...
Flatstick96July 24th, 2010, 2:57 pm
Posts: 127
Shawnny,

Here's what Joe Humphreys had to say about leader selection when fishing the Harvey night fly:

"If it's too light, it will twist to hell. Use the heavy stuff."

Not sure how heavy, exactly - but apparently if your leader is twisting, you're using too light a leader.
Windknot79July 24th, 2010, 3:54 pm
on a stream

Posts: 16
Well I must say I'm not a fan of light on the water.There is certain places were it might work.If you are close to a bridge were cars would come by with lights on the water it might work.Maybe a stream with a road next to it were at night cars could place light on the water.These are places were this might work but in the middle of the woods I have no confidence.Just a thought on the subject of lights on the water.
mike.
Shawnny3July 25th, 2010, 10:57 am
Moderator
Pleasant Gap, PA

Posts: 1197
Maybe a stream with a road next to it were at night cars could place light on the water.


...or maybe a place where some bright light, such as the moon, occasionally shines on the water. Point is, it's not like fish NEVER see light overhead at night.

Jonathon, do you routinely run into lots of people fishing at night? I know you guys get the hex hatch at night, but I can't imagine at other times you would bother anyone with a light. If so, then that's some pressured water you fish. I've fished some very heavily pressured streams at night and have never run into anyone. Then again, I've never used a light, so maybe I just can't see them.

As for leader material, I believe I've fished it with 6-lbs Maxima, which is pretty stiff. I suppose I could always try bailing wire, but I don't often carry it in my vest. The point is well taken, though. Maybe I'll tie up a really heavy leader just for that fly and give it a shot some night.

-Shawn
Jewelry-Quality Artistic Salmon Flies, by Shawn Davis
www.davisflydesigns.com
Jmd123July 25th, 2010, 9:58 pm
Oscoda, MI

Posts: 2530
Shawn, the Maple River in northern lower MI gets busy as hell around Hex season - even back when I was a newbie in the mid 80s. I recently talked with a professor & fellow fisherman from UMBS who told me it's like "get in line" these days so he goes south to the Sturgeon (another storied - and big-fat-brown-trout-filled - northern MI stream) for privacy...I was there on the 2nd of June and three other fisherman parked where I went in, two already there and a third pulled in while I was rigging up. I did, however, have my favorite (and oldest ever flyfishing) water completely to myself - as I did last August when Hex season is a distant memory...

On the other hand, I can't tell you how many nights I had the Rifle River all to myself, including nights with outrageous hatching activity and fish rising left and right! Some of us who know the stream suspect it's because the much more famous AuSable is just another hour north...

However our fishing experiences may differ, as I have said, I will still stick to my guns on this one and say that I will not turn on a bright light on a trout stream at night, I don't want anyone else doing so within my visual range (at the least you are going to blind ME!), and when using a light at night I will always use a small one and ALWAYS turn my back to where I am fishing when I turn it on. If you want to argue with me about special circumstances in which trout actually like lights at night, whatever, the places I fish are generally black as tar and the brightest light at night is a firefly...

Jonathon
No matter how big the one you just caught is, there's always a bigger one out there somewhere...
Shawnny3July 26th, 2010, 10:45 am
Moderator
Pleasant Gap, PA

Posts: 1197
Jonathon, I think we're talking about very different types of fishing. Fishing a mayfly hatch after dark is different in many ways from fishing streamers. The Harvey technique is for the latter scenario. I suppose someone could have been clearer about his Night Fly, which is a streamer pattern designed to create a ton of disturbance underwater. Not trying to stir up an argument at all - just sharing ideas.

-Shawn
Jewelry-Quality Artistic Salmon Flies, by Shawn Davis
www.davisflydesigns.com
Jmd123July 26th, 2010, 12:32 pm
Oscoda, MI

Posts: 2530
Understood, Shawn, but the flashlight technique was described as a way of seeing if big fish were feeding at night, yet this is now described as "streamer fishing". How to you tell if a big fish is feeding on minnows or etc. at night with a flashlight if they're not breaking the surface, which they most likely wouldn't be? I still don't quite get it and I still think most if not all fish would be spooked by an unnatural source of light on the water.

Jonathon
No matter how big the one you just caught is, there's always a bigger one out there somewhere...
GutcutterJuly 26th, 2010, 7:03 pm
Pennsylvania

Posts: 470
jonathon
i think the idea here is that a "large trout" spotted at night is a predator. it is out there to hunt. harvey describes a quick flash then a settling period then a flash and if still there a settling period again and then fish the "meat fly" - not a hex but big protein.
i knew mr. harvey (i never could call him george as he often scolded me to) and if he said it worked.
you may not want anybody doing it on "your stream" but it is also the other guy's stream, too.
live and let live
gut
All men who fish may in turn be divided into two parts: those who fish for trout and those who don't. Trout fishermen are a race apart: they are a dedicated crew- indolent, improvident, and quietly mad.

-Robert Traver, Trout Madness
Jmd123July 26th, 2010, 9:55 pm
Oscoda, MI

Posts: 2530
I do believe that I am actually speaking for the vast majority of Michiganders here, guys. Do it in PA if you like, but I doubt many of my fellows here would appreciate a light at night...

Jonathon

P.S. I am just speaking from 25 years of MI trout fishing at night, and what I have seEn, heard, and done. YOUR RESULTS MAY DIFFER!!
No matter how big the one you just caught is, there's always a bigger one out there somewhere...
OldredbarnJuly 27th, 2010, 9:36 am
Novi, MI

Posts: 2600
Brother Ray sang, "The Night Time is the Right Time to Be With the One You Love"!!! Now if that happens to be a big old Brown trout, who am I to judge...

My uncle used to say I had a mean streak but I always thought he was suffering a bit from "transference" because when he was young my father, his brother, beat him up all the time...I have been told I look like my father. So, I'm betwixt & between here on whether to play nice re: this night fishing topic or to go rogue and get all Doctor Detroit up in here...:)

We here in Michigan believe we invented night fishing...The rest of the world would know this was true if it wasn't for the fact that the practitioners of this "dark-art"(he,he) are like Ringwraiths and they don't want you to know this...In fact they would rather you just stayed home and watched the Tonight Show or whatever normal non-night-fishing-folk do.

They might say, concerning the light idea, "if you need a light to get around the stream in the dark it's time to relax in your comfortable old couch and take a nap...There's always brook-trout up on the shallow North Branch during the day for those that need some light to see what they are doing."

Night anglers and daytime anglers are two totally different breeds here in our state and I'm risking my club card here by bringing this up...I've already said too much. These two groups aren't even aware that the other exists...Their paths never cross...In fact the "night-boys" are tickled pink that those daytime guys don't fish at night and, if we could get them to admit it, would rather that everyone else take up golf.

Now let's remember that part of the problem here is that we are at the tail end of the time zone and around Hex time we are also enjoying the longest daylight hours of the year...This is a genuine strain on the night time boys because that even-glo temps those daytime guys to linger astream a little longer and the two oppossing groups may actually cross paths...This can be awkward as the night boys aren't known to be great conversationalists or you would see them out and about with the rest of us during the day...If they could handle this. Which they can't...You will have to just trust me here on this one.

Tony...We know that Mr. Harvey has earned his spot as a genuine "River-God" period. But sometimes "old-coots" are well..."old-coots"...Vinny Marinaro et al use to keep a coffee can near the stream with something in it to attract "Jap-Beetles" and then chum the water with them...Just because Vincent did it doesn't make it ok...(You don't know how hard it was for me to type that last sentence...being a Marinaro-phile...I'll need to see my shrink this afternoon).

(Speaking of chumming the water you don't know just how much fun I'm having with this...I better stop...I'm smiling at work and my wife will fire me!). How does one spell tongue-in-cheek?

My grandfather (born in 1908) used to hunt browns at night with a kerosene lantern and spear in the Middle Branch of the Muskegon (some call it Crooker Creek some Beebe Creek because my grandmothers maiden name was Beebe). He said you walked upstream and could practically walk right up behind them...Think night time Herons if they could hunt after dark.

I find it interesting that the "science boys" are quiet here...They haven't chimed in...There is probably some good science about the size of Herr von-Braun's little pea brain and his reaction to light...The flash of light probably startles him for a moment but long term...During a heavy feed...Probably not...The flashing light avoidance here in Michigan is true, as Jon has stated, but it's probably due more to the Ringwraithes general fear of light.

The night-time-boys believe that the brown trout, better yet the brown trout of size, is a nocturnal creature like they themselves. Their fishing season doesn't really get started until the latter part of May and runs from spinner falls of sulphers, then Brown Drakes, Hex & Gray Drakes, & the Iso's and the myth is that it stops somewhere around the 4th of July when it's tradionaly believed that the Hex ends...The night-time boys want you to believe this lie very much...They don't really want you to consider hair mice, Houghton Lake Specials, Madsen Skunks, Picket-Pins, night-time moths or even some guy named Harvey's Night Fly...

I have bumped in to some of these folk from time-to-time...Remember I don't fish after dark because my wife believes I don't...They are usually getting on the river after everyone else has already left the river, had a beer at the truck, and drove down the two-track for home...For the most part you may approach them, but they can be snarly as Jon has hinted at. The deeper in to the Hex hatch the snarlier they may become...It's the lack of sleep.

The night time guys don't really wade they sit. They have been sitting in the same spot for years since their dad's and grandfather's first put them there as wee lads. They were never taught to fear the dark. They feel, somewhere deep in their souls, that this spot is their spot, they have senority afterall...You, on the other hand, are an intruder.

I have walked right up to them sitting there in the dark and they will not speak first unless you of course turn on a lamp or wade through their hole...They may not even say anything then in hopes of you not thinking that this may be a "good spot" and just walking on leaving them alone again. In May I saw a guy sitting in a good spot in the dark and I walked right up to him and I said..."Were you waiting for me to get right up on you before you said boo and scared me or what?" He said, "I was just going to let you walk by...I wasn't sure you saw me." What he really meant was, "I was hoping you would just walk by and not bother me...In-f**king-intruder!"

I smiled in the dark back at him and then asked where his buddies were sitting so I didn't mess with them...What I was really thinking was, "You little shit (I knew he was staying at the Recreation Club and he was a bourgeois night time fisherman...He was less than a quarter mile from the safety of the club and a warm brandy)...You little shit...I just waded upstream from you the infamous "shoot" in pitch darkness and have done so since your little spoiled ass was in diapers instead of waders now give me some respect...I don't want to have to crack you on the head and drag you off in to the swamp across the way there..."

Excuse me there that last rambling...I was starting to sound like one of those night guys which we all know I'm not...Right dear???

Spence the Prince (of darkness)

PS I don't know where this is from (probably George Harvey I'll say to quiet down those "Pennsylvania Boys" on this site) but "the rule of three" isn't a bad thing to remember when it comes to leader twisting problems (though sometimes it's those sparrow wings you have tied on there). You have all heard it before...divide the fly size by three and there's your general tippet size...i.e. a size 18 get's 6x, a size 12 4x...When you get in to those large night flies you can see really quickly that you should be using some heavy tippet to help turn the fly over. As long as you don't turn on a light in the dark :) I doubt the trout will be leader shy when he sees that mouthful of yumminess floating over his simple-minded self in the dark.



"Even when my best efforts fail it's a satisfying challenge, and that, after all, is the essence of fly fishing." -Chauncy Lively

"Envy not the man who lives beside the river, but the man the river flows through." Joseph T Heywood
GONZOJuly 27th, 2010, 11:11 am
Site Editor
"Bear Swamp," PA

Posts: 1681
I find it interesting that the "science boys" are quiet here...


Spence,

I think that the empirical evidence is pretty clear: If George Harvey used a light to catch big browns at night, that can work. If Jonathon catches fish at night by turning his back to keep the light from shining on the fish, that can also work. The "cult"-ural and geographical considerations are another thing entirely. I can't recall any notable scientific studies of fly-fishing fetishism and territoriality.

The problem I have with either approach has more to do with my reaction to light than that of the fish--turning on any white light ruins my night vision for quite some time.

As an anecdote, I can only add that a favorite (unstocked) stream used to suffer the attention of a nocturnal baitfishing clan. They fished from the high banks of a channelized section under the constant glare of several hissing Coleman lanterns. Despite this, they managed to do considerable damage to large wild browns on a regular basis, and I'm happy to report that I haven't encountered them in many years. (Perhaps they all died in a hideous propane explosion.) But they were "Pennsylvania Boys," and their tactics might not have worked in Michigan. :)

PS--As for "science boys," Shawn, Jon, and Tony have degrees in science. I can only claim an honorary BS degree (and I don't mean Bachelor of Science).
OldredbarnJuly 27th, 2010, 12:00 pm
Novi, MI

Posts: 2600
(Perhaps they all died in a hideous propane explosion.)


Gonzo...Why am I smiling here? That would be such a cruel cruel fate. Were there such justice in this world...

Unfortunately friend "bad manners" knows no state and are universal it seems. The maxim "big fish/big problems" is a way of life over here. The rivers that know steelhead & salmon can get ugly at times. We all have horror stories, no doubt.

Back to the light issue...I wonder, as someone else hinted in their reply to this, if fish figure out that flies like the Hex are attracted to light and post up under lights near dock lights or nearby street lights and stare longingly up from the river at all those big bugs circling the light?

I know of a spot near a bridge where there is one of those large outdoor lights in front of some cabins. I have been there after dark when some rather large fish move out from under the bridge and into a nice feeding lie. Without Harvey's light there is enough light there to watch them feed without a problem and I wonder if it facilitates their ability to dine all night if there are bugs about.

I hooked one of the bigger boys here one night and had made the mistake of not changing tippet from the 6x I had been fishing before dark. I squeezed closed my hand on the running line and he felt the tug and flipped out. I had two very violent bends in my rod tip where it almost touched the water and "ping" he broke me off...All in a split second...You know I always pause a few moments here before I leave the river and head to the car!

Spence

BS degree? What does Spence know of BS? :)
"Even when my best efforts fail it's a satisfying challenge, and that, after all, is the essence of fly fishing." -Chauncy Lively

"Envy not the man who lives beside the river, but the man the river flows through." Joseph T Heywood
GONZOJuly 27th, 2010, 12:28 pm
Site Editor
"Bear Swamp," PA

Posts: 1681
BS degree? What does Spence know of BS?


C'mon, Spence, I'm sure that you and I did our advanced studies at the same school--the College of Rants, Anecdotes, and Pontification! ;)
OldredbarnJuly 27th, 2010, 1:29 pm
Novi, MI

Posts: 2600
Gonzo,

I knew I knew you from somewhere before...You were that kid a couple logs over feet in the stream staring at some mayfly dun floating by instead of taking good notes! We should swap our notes and maybe we will be able to fill in some gaps because while you were watching the duns floating by I was staring off in to space myself. Probably watching the Bank Swallows swooping down waiting for those duns to lift off...(I love the Bank Swallows scientific name Riparia riparia! If I believed in reincarnation I would want to return as one or maybe a Night Hawk).

I will admit a fondness for the company of good natured men and their bullshitting ways...I loved hanging with grandpa & uncles when I hunted as a kid, hanging in the Teamster driver's room when I drove truck through my college years, all night card games with "the boys" during college, and the infamous hockey locker room...I guess I come by it naturally...I loved watching my uncle Arlie tell tall tales in the old cabin in the middle of winter and watching my grandfather laughing at his stories...We all knew that Arlie was the consumate bullshitter but we hung on every word...I never saw my grandfather happier, except when we were in the woods, than when we were listening to old Arlie carrying on!

Bring up politics (I was a Poli-Sci major) or religion, or gossip, or mean-natured blather and you will see me turn and run so fast off in to a swamp somewhere you'll never find me...I may of inherited this from gramps as well...My grandma was a horrible gossip and when I would visit and there was a crowd about I would notice grampa would quietly leave the room for the kitchen...A little while later I would follow...We would have some peace until grandma would eventually follow and in due time he would quietly move back in to the living room...What a ballet! They were absolute opposites and lived together married for 60 years!

Spence

Sorry guys! This has the hint of a message that should of been private and is horribly off topic...What were we talking about anyway? Oh! Harvey and his lighthouse like beacon across the water in the dark...For me personally I attract mosquitoes so badly that I'm reluctant to help them find me by turning on a light. I only use it to make sure I still have a fly on the end of my line and my leaders not a mess.
"Even when my best efforts fail it's a satisfying challenge, and that, after all, is the essence of fly fishing." -Chauncy Lively

"Envy not the man who lives beside the river, but the man the river flows through." Joseph T Heywood
GONZOJuly 27th, 2010, 2:10 pm
Site Editor
"Bear Swamp," PA

Posts: 1681
Sorry guys! This has the hint of a message that should of been private and is horribly off topic...


Not to worry, Spence. I think we scared the others away several posts back. It's just between you and me, pal. :)
Jmd123July 27th, 2010, 9:11 pm
Oscoda, MI

Posts: 2530
Nope, guys, I'm still here, defending Michigan's trout streams from wandering searchlights and errant flashlights...

Honestly, Spence, I have met plenty of night-timers here in MI that were plenty friendly enough - met a couple of them up on the Maple back in June, and they had both been fishing the river for well over a decade. I've had plenty of nice - and informative - conversations with other MI fisherman out in the dark. There is a certain comeraderie amongst us night-owls, at least in the waters I have fished, as we are a unique breed - heck, I cut my fly fishing teeth on night fishing 25 years ago. NOTE, however, that I sure as hell never beamed any of them with a flashlight at night!!!! That's just a NO-NO around the parts that I fish!

Let the George Harvey-worshipping PA crowd shine their lights all they want at night, we'll keep ours OFF (unless changing a fly with our backs turned to the fish), and let's see who does better...

Jonathon
No matter how big the one you just caught is, there's always a bigger one out there somewhere...
OldredbarnJuly 28th, 2010, 8:27 am
Novi, MI

Posts: 2600

Honestly, Spence, I have met plenty of night-timers here in MI that were plenty friendly enough


Jon...Sometimes you are like a lead weight! What about the line, "Do you know how to spell tongue-in-cheek", don't you understand? The "truth", if we can call it that, of my post is only slightly veiled here in my often weak attempts at humor...Don't take me literally or you may wade in over your head and drown my Michigan friend! There are some very deep holes here, right Lloyd!?

I'm only telling "out-of-school" tales on your "Dark Knight" buddies and if they were to read this, which they never will, they would pass me a cold one the next time I pass them up somewhere in the dark...They would do this anyway, but what the hell! "Hey Spence...Pretty funny shit man...but what the hell is a Ringwraithe? Is that some new secret night fly you stole from Charlie (Picketpin)? You want a beer? I'll swap you a cold one for one of those Ringwraithie flies."

Spence

I have two close friends from my high school that graduated the year before me and headed to Michigan Tech in the UP...They were nerds not unlike you...but they love me...Jerry's nickname for me back-in-the-day was "Incorrigible" and Dougie called me the "Blasphemer"...Need I say more?

"Even when my best efforts fail it's a satisfying challenge, and that, after all, is the essence of fly fishing." -Chauncy Lively

"Envy not the man who lives beside the river, but the man the river flows through." Joseph T Heywood
Jmd123July 28th, 2010, 12:57 pm
Oscoda, MI

Posts: 2530
Spence, you are either a night fisherman or you are NOT. You yourself said day and night fisherman rarely if ever mix. During my earliest days, I didn't even feel comfortable trying to fish during daylight because, well, all the damned fish could see me coming! And I still catch more fish in the evening-into-dark hours than in broad daylight...

My point being, if someone is used to fishing strictly during daylight hours, it is doubtful that they will ever become a hard-core night fisherman - they'll just be TOO FREAKED OUT to ever get comfortable with it. You gotta get the feel of where your fly is going, where the fish are holding/feeding, and where the edge of brush, logs, snags are IN THE DARK where YOU CAN'T SEE ANYTHING other than vague shapes and shadows. Then there's all of the WEIRD SOUNDS you hear at night that, of course, sound LOUDER because you can't see what's making them (I had a green frog startle me last evening when he croaked very loudly right next to me - and it was still daylight!). And this is pure honesty, no exaggeration as to what you'll encounter out there in the darkness...

So Spence, I really don't think our nighttime realm is going to be flooded with former daylight anglers any time soon. Let 'em go out there, lose numerous flies in the tag alders, step in a few holes or trip over a few logs, get mobbed by hungry mosquitos, dive bombed by bats, scared sh*tless by a beaver slapping its tail or an owl screamingly like a banshee straight out of hell - and catch NOTHING because of all of the above...Me, this is how I STARTED fly fishing for trout, on the Hexagenia limbata hatch on the Maple River in Emmet County, so I am used to all of it, don't even flinch anymore when the owl screams or beaver tail slaps.

I once took my boss out with me on the Rifle into the hours of darkness. He tripped over a log and went face-first into the river, then nearly tripped over a boulder which I told him about just in time to prevent it. He didn't want to go back there anymore after that...

Jonathon
No matter how big the one you just caught is, there's always a bigger one out there somewhere...
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