Sunday, December 30, 2012

Krill Fly? Yes - Krill fly!!

Photo ID – Captain Doug Jowett’s Krill fly – don’t laugh to loud, it works.

       Striped bass flies are born out of necessity, imagined need and plain creativity.
       Sometimes the conditions on the water seem almost impossible to replicate. Matching the hatch appears difficult.
       One example of almost impossible situations is mid summer on a very calm ocean when striped bass, bluefish and bluefin tuna are feeding on krill.
       Krill are small crustaceans and are found in all the world's oceans. The name krill comes from the Norwegian word krill, meaning young fry of fish. In our Northeast waters we have lobster krill, shrimp krill and crab krill.
Krill are considered an important trophic level connection – near the bottom of the food chain – because they feed on phytoplankton and to a lesser extent zooplankton, converting these into a form suitable for many larger animals for whom krill makes up the largest part of their diet. Most krill species display large daily vertical migrations, thus providing food for predators near the surface during the day.  At times they remain on the surface for days on end.
A single krill is difficult to see, but when tens of thousands gather together they can be seen as large globs near the surface being corralled by predator fish. Or there will be scattered krill looking like pollen on the water’s surface.  The predators become very selective and usually won’t touch any other offerings from an angler.
One year I got real lucky using a small shrimp fly, so I realized stripers would take the fly when a krill hatch is on. But how could you actually match the hatch of such a tiny natural and have a hook bold enough to hold stripers?
I eventually came up with the fly pictured with this article. I was so embarrassed about its sophomoric look, I never exposed it to anyone but my finest and trusted customers who all laughed until it worked for them. The first fish I caught on the krill fly was a 26 pound bluefin tuna.
Last spring on Cape Cod we had a small cookout with a few light tackle fly guys. During our discussions, the problem of fishing striped bass when they were on krill came up. I mentioned the fly and all were interested. I sent the photo of the fly to the guys and asked them not to laugh.
Mike Rice, a commercial fly tier dba Mud Dog Saltwater Flies of blooded pedigree, wrote back and commented, “Doug- I like that. It’s brilliant actually”.
So, for the first time, I present the krill fly for public consumption. To my knowledge there is no other krill fly out there. Remember, this is a specialty fly which only produces when fish are feeding on krill, usually late summer and early fall in our Northeast waters.  
Big stripers and blues will look like sipping trout, just rolling softly on their prey. While fishing the krill fly, use a floating line and leader, keep a tight line and move it painfully slow. When a fish shows to take the fly, wait for it to turn on the fly before setting the hook.
I use 1/0 and 2/0 TMC – 600SP hooks for stripers and 5/0 for small tuna. The tie is simple. Tie a few overhand knots into a clump of rainbow crystal flash, fold material over the hook and tie in with clear thread and then bow tie it back over the hook. Several bunches tied in randomly complete the fly. Coat the inside areas of the clumps with Softex or thinned Goop to provide separation and form. Form is not exactly the term for this fly because it has no defined form.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Processing Maine Deer Meat

When you shoot a deer, how do you prepare it for the freezer? Some hunters simply get their deer tagged, haul it to a deer meat processor and call it good. Some like to hang their deer for four or five days prior to taking it to a processor or cutting it up themselves. There used to be many deer meat processors in Maine, but over time the numbers have decreased. I’m told most processors who gave up deer cutting did so because state regulators made it almost impossible for them to financially comply with demands of inspections associated with state imposed rules and regulations. The problem for most who were also in the business of beef, pork and other commercial meat processing. There are still some deer processors in Maine. One I visited this fall is Thibeault’s Deer Cutting in East Harpswell, Maine owned and run by Pat Thibeault with the help of her son Vincent for the past 13 years. The business was purchased from the Pinett family on Rt. 196 in Topsham, Maine where the operation was run for 40 years. Vincent worked for them for 10 of those years. Thibeault’s has a clean and efficient operation in the spirit of an assembly line. A big walk in cooler and a freezer keep your deer, bear and moose in good condition. A staff of 10 workers efficiently moves the meat along quickly; skinning, cutting, grinding, packaging, labeling, cooling and freezing. Only six workers fit into the meat cutting area at one time. When you arrive, they can tag your deer as an official, state tagging station. Ones tagged your deer is logged into a computer system, hoisted and weighed by a conveyor rail system that takes the deer with all it’s information attached into the cooler to wait it’s turn to be butchered. The conveyor system looks like a beef processing operation at Chicago meat packing plants. The goal at Thibeault’s is to process one deer every 15 minutes. That doesn’t always happen, but it’s pretty fast. The cost of having your deer processed, packed and frozen varies. Charges may include skinning, boning, vacuum packing, capping, sausage making, addition of fat for burger and other charges. An example of cost for a 150 pound deer, boned, packaged and vacuum packaged would be $91 with a yield of about 63 pounds of venison meat. That’s a pretty good bargain in my book. A chart of their charges can be seen on their Facebook page on the internet. Other deer butchers are listed on the internet here: