Vic Special

Join the club

Postby Eperous » Wed Dec 08, 2010 6:51 pm

CJ,

I also wanted to join the Vic Special club, so I tied a few bucktails myself, and LOVE that frame of brook trout flies you so elegantlyly tied/contsructed.

Image

For those folks out there who don't know who Vic Pomiecko is, I suggest that you Google his name as you'll find some interesting stories about the man, and his bucktail, written by Nelson Bryant of the NY Times. Bryant attests to this pattern’s fish catching charms for brook trout. Personally, I didn’t need Bryant’s endorsement of this pattern as I have witnessed a friend, and fellow fly fishing member of Frost Valley - Wade Burkhart, seduce numerous colorful autumn brook trout for several seasons now using it, while I just flogged the water.

This is what we are after, falling fishing for brook trout.

Image

While not caught on a Vic Special, this brook trout was caught/released by me. All the brookies are wild in this pond, not far from the shadows of Slide Mountain. In 2011 I'll be more than ready with a supply of Vic Specials myself.

Ed
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Re: Vic Special

Postby catskilljohn » Wed Dec 08, 2010 6:56 pm

Here is the story Ed was refering to...


Of Gleaming Trout and Undying Friendship

By Nelson Bryant
Published: October 13, 1996


Vic is dead and I am still trying to comprehend that unacceptable subtraction.

Vic Pomiecko and I met more than 40 years ago when I became managing editor for the Claremont (N.H.) Daily Eagle, the newspaper in his hometown, and we began a lifetime of angling together, the first few decades focused on fly fishing the region's remote trout ponds.

There are various trails to enduring friendships. Our route, born of a fierce urge to angle for the glorious squaretail trout in wild places, led through forests, alder swamps and juniper thickets, past hillside homesteads abandoned a century before, to a lifetime of unspoken intimacy.

At one point we had sapling rafts -- floated by four car tire inner tubes and lashed together with nylon cord -- on a dozen remote waters. We built the rafts on site and packed in the tubes and a pump on each trip. Some of the ponds were accessible by Jeep, but we couldn't afford top-quality fly rods, let alone a four-wheel-drive vehicle. Vic, a high school shop teacher, made us pack frames. I still have mine. He even fashioned himself a pair of hiking boots, and I thought he pushed frugality too far in this instance: rubber hip boots cut off at the ankle and held on with circlets cut from inner tubes.

We chose remote ponds because we had them to ourselves most of the time. We became skilled at still-water fly-fishing for trout which can be as pleasurable -- and as challenging -- as flogging a stream.

Talk was sparse, particularly while we were fishing together. Even when we were standing six feet apart balanced precariously on one of our rafts, half a day might pass with nothing more than an exclamation when a trout hit, or one asking the other what fly he was using. We were immersed in fishing and in shared solitude. Excessive talk would have intruded on the silence of the forest.

Later, sitting in the kitchen nursing our beers, words would come, but they were mainly a recapitulation of the day's adventure: of the trout and the flies they had favored, of the wild mushrooms we had gathered, of the grouse, deer and beaver we had seen. Intimate feelings were revealed by indirection or default.

One winter, when barely a teenager, my youngest son, Jeff, wound up in the Claremont police station, beaten, drunk and scared after his first encounter with booze. Vic went with me to fetch him. Jeff, who was slumped on a bench, whispered, ''Take me home, Dad.''

Stricken, but chary of showing emotion, I draped Jeff over my shoulder like a sack of grain, thanked the police, and departed. Vic, my wife learned from his wife, went home and wept. Although touched and surprised, I never mentioned his tears to him. It wasn't our style.

Usually quite taciturn, Vic would get excited when we burst out of the woods on the shore of a remote pond in October, our favorite time of year to fish, and trout were rising. Paying more attention to the rises than to what he was doing, he usually managed to miss a guide or two when stringing up his fly rod and would have to start all over again.

We fished on mornings so cold that we had to plunge our rods into the water to melt the ice from the guides as mist curled from the pond and half-obscured the tattered, yellow ensigns of shoreside birches.

On one such dawn at Cole Pond in Enfield, N.H., Vic raised a giant brook trout -- three to four pounds -- that lifted from the depths of a cove near the outlet and made a pass at his streamer fly, then turned, red-gold flank gleaming, and descended.

''Quick!'' Vic cried, ''cast to him!''

Telling me to try for a trophy trout that should have been his alone to woo was an offer of spontaneous generosity, and for me that fish -- we never caught it -- became a symbol of our friendship. It rises often and unexpectedly from the past, and thoughts of Vic rise with it.

For many years after I left Claremont for Martha's Vineyard, Vic and I visited our remote ponds in fall, but about a decade ago he had a small stroke and apparently decided -- although he never said so -- to limit himself to less strenuous excursions. He continued to fish readily-accessible lakes and ponds near Claremont, and also visited me on the Vineyard to fly fish for striped bass.

During his visits he reveled in retelling stories of our early days together. Within minutes I would join him. It was our way of celebrating our friendship without relinquishing reticence, a tribal chant, if you will.

Vic and another friend, John Houlihan, enjoyed a splendid evening of fly fishing for bass on the Vineyard's Dogfish Bar with me this June. Vic died in his sleep several weeks later. Jeff, now in his mid-40's, was with us that night at Dogfish Bar and a few days later he said that it had meant much to him to be able to give Vic tips on how and where to fly fish for stripers at night, a tiny repayment for all the trout fishing lore that Vic had shared with him.

Everywhere I turn I am reminded of Vic.

There are the streamer flies -- Royal Coachman bodies overlaid with gray squirrel tail -- for brook trout, that I call Vic's Special, in one of my fly boxes. There is the dill flourishing in my garden; the seeds came from Vic. There are the tools in my workshop that were gifts from Vic, a wood lathe, a wonderful old hand-powered breast drill, an assortment of knives and chisels.

And while I am sentient, there will always be the great trout at Cole Pond rising from the deep and gleaming for an instant in the bright October sunlight
"Gentlemen,remove your hats,this is it"
"This is where the trout was invented?"
"Oh he existed in a crude,primitive form in Waltons England"
"But this is where they painted spots on him and taught him to swim"
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Re: Vic Special

Postby catskilljohn » Wed Dec 08, 2010 6:59 pm

Great tye Ed, and that Brookie...lord that thing is huge. Looks more like a Labrador fish than from the Catskills! CJ
"Gentlemen,remove your hats,this is it"
"This is where the trout was invented?"
"Oh he existed in a crude,primitive form in Waltons England"
"But this is where they painted spots on him and taught him to swim"
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Vic Special - NY Times

Postby Eperous » Wed Dec 08, 2010 8:13 pm

There are a whole host of stories written by Nelson Bryant, published by the NY Times on Vic Pomiecko. For the most part, each transcends time, place, and other wordly matters - dealing with the human spirit and friendships that last forever. Here's one in which Bryant provides the recipe/pattern for the Vic Special, as he often did, many times over.

NY Times...OUTDOORS: CASTING ON STILL WATERS
By NELSON BRYANT, Published: July 6, 1987


SHARON, Vt.— HEAVY rain and his daughter Cathy's wedding caused Vic Pomiecko of Claremont, N.H., and me to modify our annual June trout-fishing excursion in northern New England.

We had planned - for the morning after the wedding - a reasonably early encounter with the nearby Sugar River's brown trout, but the deluge had transformed that stream into a coffee-colored torrent utterly unfit for fly fishing.

This was probably fortuitous, because we had stayed up late the night before, and what was left of the morning after we roused ourselves was devoted to lingering good-byes to the newlyweds and their entourage, and to convincing Cathy's cat - which was being left with her father for the duration of the honeymoon - that nothing was awry.

During the wedding feast the previous afternoon, I began thinking of what lake or pond Vic and I might substitute for the Sugar River the following day.

Although most anglers prefer to cast to trout in a stream or river, stillwaters have their special charm and are as fishable after a storm as before it. Over decades of fly fishing for trout in northern New England, Vic and I have become adept at stillwater fly fishing for trout, and there are at least a dozen such places - from remote mountaintop ponds to large lakes in which one may drive and launch a canoe - within an hour's drive of his home.

This time around, however, the problem was - I mused as the champagne flowed and I nursed a cup of coffee - that I didn't have my pickup truck with me and Vic and I hadn't gotten around to rigging up a canoe rack on his new car.

The difficulty was solved by the generous offer of a wedding guest who sat at my right, George Disnard, a state senator.

''Why don't you and Vic be my guests at my trout club?'' he asked. ''I can't go with you because I have to attend an Old Home Day Parade in Walpole, but I'll call the club's caretaker and tell him you are coming.''

Tucked away in the forested hills of Sharon, the club's 27-acre lake holds brook and rainbow trout, and the only buildings on its shores are a brooding, venerable lodge and a boathouse where several aluminum skiffs are tethered.

Although there is a part of me that resists fishing private waters, I do not allow this plebian attitude - now almost vestigial - to overwhelm my judgment, and to reject the senator's generosity would have been churlish. I knew that Vic would feel the same. The lake glittered in the early afternoon sunlight when we arrived. But a few minutes later dark, rain-filled clouds moved in from the northwest. We had scarcely finished donning our foul-weather gear when the wind shifted 180 degrees and we were once again in sunlight.

Such squalls came and went several times in the four hours we spent on the water, the wind - a torrent of sound in the surrounding hardwoods, pines and hemlocks - spinning the boat on its anchor.

During the moments of infrequent calm, we saw occasional trout rising, but we paid them little attention because we were both fishing sinking lines, an approach we have found most effective on such waters save for brief periods in early spring and fall.

My companion caught and released our first fish, an 11-inch rainbow, before 10 minutes had passed. We made a few dozen additional casts, got no more hits and moved to a new location where - after we had discovered more suitable flies - trout were hooked and released with regularity, about 15 in all.

Stillwater sinking-line fly fishing in lakes or ponds no deeper than 20 or 30 feet involves making as long a cast as possible, allowing the fly to sink close to the bottom, and retrieving at various speeds.

Often the trout will be just above the bottom, but they may also be only 6 or 8 feet down. The simplest way to consistently deliver one's fly or flies to the level - once it has been established - at which the fish are cruising is to count the number of seconds the line takes to reach that depth. One casts, counts, then begins the retrieve.

Sinking fly lines come in various densities and one is usually best-served by a line that descends as rapidly as possible. The inevitable quest for the right fly can be hastened by fishing two of them at a time, the second on a dropper about a foot above the tail fly. The dropper leader need only be a few inches long because, no matter what its length, it will lie flat along the main leader when retrieved in still water.

Vic and I have taken stillwater brook and rainbow trout on dozens of different streamer, wet fly, bucktail and nymph patterns, but over the years two flies of our own devising have accounted for most of our fish.

We call them our ''specials.'' Both are usually tied on 3X No. 10 or 12 hooks. His, the most versatile, has a body of red fluorescent floss, a butt of peacock herl, a few golden pheasant tippets for a tail, over which is tied a small swatch of hair from the tail of a gray squirrel.

When retrieved in short jerks, this hair pulsates in the water. My special, which is drab by comparison, substitutes orange fluorescent floss for the red, and fine, brown bucktail for the squirrel tail. I created my own pattern after a day when the big rainbow trout in a large lake largely ignored his.

My special has never worked as well as it did that summer when rainbows rising after dark gobbled it up when it was retrieved rapidly an inch or two below the surface, but it has performed creditably in the decades since.

On our most recent fishing excursion, Vic and I were catching rainbows and brookies - none over a foot long - on a variety of other flies and nymphs. We had kept none of them and my companion remarked that we should bring home two or three nice fish for the senator.

As if on cue, we each tied on Vic's special and I also replaced my dropper with my own special. My first cast with this combination produced a solid hit and a short powerful run before the fish, a rainbow of about a pound and a half, burst out of the water 100 feet away. It jumped once more before I brought it to the net, and as I was removing the fly (Vic's special) from its mouth, my friend hooked and later boated - a slightly smaller rainbow on the same pattern.

Three casts later, my special was taken by a 1-pound rainbow and we left the lake with three fish, suffering no qualms about our half-day of privileged angling.
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Re: Vic Special

Postby dennis » Fri Dec 10, 2010 4:36 pm

All good stuff! Thanks for sharing. I will share with you another great one.

Outdoors: An Early Shutout
By NELSON BRYANT
Published: April 10, 1989




ED VAN PUT did his best to put a trout on my line, even providing me with two peacock herl nymphs ribbed with silver tinsel and wearing bibs of brown hackle, but I foiled his plans.

Early-season nymphing is not a giddy celebration of spring. It is a demanding fly fishing ritual that requires a level of discipline I have not achieved, and even as Van Put, his wife, Obie, and I set forth on the Catskills' Willowemoc River on April 2, I was reasonably confident that I would catch nothing.

Many times in more than two decades of wandering along streams on the April 1 opening day of New York State's trout season, anglers have asked - as I scribble their names and tales in my notebook - why I carried no rod.

My answer has always been that chronicling the event left no time for angling, but that is not the whole truth. There has never been an opening day, when, duties done, I didn't have time to spend at least an hour with the shivering throng.

More than 50 years ago, I was abroad on opening days before dawn with a steel telescopic rod and a can of worms, and if I had clung to that technique I would be so motivated today. There is no better way, unless it is with live minnows, to catch trout at that time of year. It all changed when fly fishing became my favorite way of wooing trout.

Except for unusually warm weather and low water, early April fly fishing for trout in the Northeast usually calls for weighted nymphs and leaders adorned with split shot. The water temperature is in the mid-30's or low 40's, and the relatively inactive trout are hugging the bottom and not inclined to move very far to pick up a nymph. One does not really cast such a rig. One stands in a strategic spot at the head or edge of a pool, lobs the nymphs - approximations of aquatic insects in their pre-winged phase - upstream, follows their downstream passage with the rod, then repeats the performance, waiting for a nudge or a movement of the leader or line that might indicate that a fish has taken.

For me at least, a substantial part of the fun of fly fishing is the casting itself, which includes the pleasure of laying out a long line and dropping the fly a foot upstream of a rising trout. Early-season nymphing calls for picking away at small areas for long periods of time. One cannot, as in wet fly angling for trout or Atlantic salmon, occasionally daydream and have the fish hook themselves.

Although there are some fly fishermen who will angle the no-kill areas (which are never closed to angling) of the Willowemoc and Beaverkill virtually every month of the year, May and most of June are the ideal months for the sport in the Northeast, particularly for those who prefer to use the dry, or floating, fly. Those are the months when the fly-rod angler comes into his own, when he consistently hooks more fish than he who uses spinning lures or bait. And even in early May, the days can be warm and the breezes soft, and the land is alive with bird song and green.

Advancing years may also play a role in my preference for May and June fly fishing. Having been nipped by the frost of failure, I am usually persuaded that there is small reward in rushing the season, whether by pursuing trout in early April, by setting out delicate plants before Memorial Day or by precipitous decisions involving life, love and the pursuit of happiness.

This year as the trout season approached, my hard-won caution deserted me and I toyed with the idea of doing some fishing myself, a notion that was fortified by a chat with Van Put, a superb fly fisherman whose home is hard by the Willowemoc. In late March, he told me that the rivers were low and clear, and added that hatches of tiny midges were not unusual in the sun-warmed pools of early afternoon.

I had already tied up more than a dozen tiny, No. 26 midges in anticipation of fall still water fly fishing in northern New England, and that coincidence plus Van Put's information prompted me to put fly fishing gear in my truck before I headed for opening day in the Catskills. Perhaps, I reasoned, the time had come to wet a line in April.

Dense fog - often it was impossible to see more than 30 yards - shrouded the highway soon after I entered the Catskills, and recent rain had caused both rivers to rise about a foot. A light snow began to fall soon after dawn on opening day, as did my urge to fish. The Catskill Fly Fishing Center and Museum in Livingston Manor offered me a desk at which to compose my opening day observations and as chilled fly fishermen dropped in for free coffee, soup and doughnuts, then sallied forth to have at it once again, some of their enthusiasm got to me.

My story filed, I joined the group clustered about fly tier Walt Dette -whose demonstration of his craft was part of the Center's open house -then talked with Joan and Lee Wulff about Atlantic salmon fishing trips in which we will visit New Brunswick and Quebec together. Late in the afternoon, Joan pulled on her neoprene waders and headed for the Willowemoc. I thought of doing the same, but the coffee and the talk was good and there was still snow in the air.

The skies were clear the following afternoon when the Van Puts took me to the river. Before I had assembled my terminal rig - the nymphs on separate droppers and two split shot at the very end - he had hooked and released a good-sized trout.

He repeated that performance an hour later, during which his wife and I had one nudge each. In retrospect, my nudge may have been the split shot momentarily hanging up on the rocky bottom.

Dutifully trying to emulate my mentor, I managed to concentrate on nymphing for 10 minutes, a concentration that was shattered by his shout.

His rod was bending to a big fish and I sloshed ashore to where I had stashed my camera, only to discover that I had left its exposure meter activated while loading film the previous evening and had killed the batteries. I was hurriedly replacing them when Ed shouted for me to relax. His fish was a three-pound sucker, proof, if nothing else, that his nymphs were riding the bottom.

We remained on the water an hour more without another hit. As we were leaving the river, he pointed to a long pool against the opposite bank and said, ''By the first of May when the water drops and warms and that pool is more defined you'll see trout rising everywhere at this time of day. You'll have to come back.''
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Re: Vic Special

Postby catskilljohn » Fri Dec 10, 2010 8:54 pm

Another great one Dennis...thanks! CJ
"Gentlemen,remove your hats,this is it"
"This is where the trout was invented?"
"Oh he existed in a crude,primitive form in Waltons England"
"But this is where they painted spots on him and taught him to swim"
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