Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Grand River Special

Here's another Jerry Darkes "crossover" fly pattern to share with you. He calls it the Grand River Special. As Jerry puts it, "this is really a glorified Zonker". This fly's color scheme is geared to be productive in the tannic colored water which often happens during Fall rains when the leaves are falling or in cloudy water from Spring runoff. Jerry chases steelhead with this fly but it can also deceive other species like the atlantic salmon pictured above that Jimmy Balogh (Hydrus Expeditions) caught in Canada this past November.

Here's the recipe for the Grand River Special

Hook: Daiichi 2461, #2.
Body: Boa Yarn, also called Eyelash Yarn (you'll probably have to go to a craft store to find it). Use a section where the color transitions. The version pictured goes from yellow to orange.
Wing: Barred sand variant Zonker strip, with some gold Crystal Flash mixed in
Hackle: Gold barred variant schlappen
Head: Smallest gold cone
Atlantic salmon photo courtesy of Jimmy Balogh
Fly photo and contribution by Jerry Darkes


Herb said...

Are you sure about that! That is NOT a Salmon, but a Brown Trout or better known as Salmo Trutta!

cdaddy said...

I would not claim to definitively tell from that picture - and there may be some identifying means - but I would say that the author is probably right in the original post. i have been fortunate enough to see a number up close and that looks to me very much like a male Cains River (trib of the Miramichi in New Brunswick) Atlantic Salmon with its characteristic red markings that match the high tannic nature of that river. Salmo salar I blieve it is....

Herb said...

Perfect! You are absolutely right! It is a Salmo Salar! From the picture on this site, it does indeed look like a Brown! But of course the new picture you sent me (from the side) clearly shows that! I will update my response to Jerry, and when I'm wrong, I admit I'm wrong. Thanks for the quick response, FISH ON!

Anonymous said...

The photo that was sent to Jerry Darkes is indeed a true wild Atlantic Salmon, better known as Salmo Salar, and not a Brown trout. That fish and others I caught in the fall, were all hooked on the Matapedia (which is located in Quebec in the Gaspe) in September last year. That was one of 3 fish I hooked that afternoon on that same fly. One fish was in the 20lb range, but came unbuttoned, and the other fish I hooked was probably the same size (based on my 13 years of Atlantic Salmon fishing in the Gaspe) but never showed itself. It was a heavy fish though. It is not uncommon to catch Atlantic Salmon in the 20+ lb class on the Matapedia, with early season (May and June) and again in September (season closes the last day in September) being the most productive times. The Salmon season in the Gaspe last year was a slow one, but some rivers like the Restigouche and Matapedia, were producing fish on a daily basis.

It is always hard to tell how big a fish is or in this case what kind of fish that was, because it is in a picture and pictures can be deceiving. One thing that happens to Atlantic Salmon in the fall, (starting as early as August) is the fish get a kype and the body turns from a bright ocean silver to a dark bronze or brownish color. This change may be accompanied by the appearance of red spots on the head and body, making the fish look remarkably like a brown trout - its closest relative. Often brown trout have circles, or halos, around some of its spots and the spotting may be heavier than in the Atlantic Salmon, extending onto the lower half of the sides and the fins including the adipose fin." Taken from the I.G.F.A. world record book. Here's a link to a picture which shows the fish a little better; take a look at the spots and where they end -

This all started when I went to a fly shop in Metro Detroit to see Jerry Darke's slide show on fishing for Steelhead. This one fly (the one in the picture) was sitting on the fly tying table and as soon as I looked at it I knew it would take an Atlantic Salmon on the rivers I fish in the Gaspe. Jerry gave me the fly to use. The reason I liked the fly was in its color. The Causcapcal river runs into the Matapedia river and when it rains (often in September in the Gaspe) the Causcapcal river will run reddish due to the red clay that makes up some large stretches of bank on the river. That fly just screams fall fishing!.

If you have any other questions regarding this, give me a call and I can go into even greater detail. If your interested in maybe catching some of these Atlantic Salmon in the fall or anytime the season is open, give me a call and I can set you up with a quality lodge or independant guide that will work hard for you.


Hydrus Expeditions, LLC
Jimmy Balogh - Owner
31433 Cardinal Lane
Bingham Farms, Mich. 48025

david smart said...

very nice Jimmy. Good to see some pictures and success of others that get out and chase atlantics. I have never fished the Matapedia but do frequent the Restigouche almost every year.
I just dont think there is a more exciting fish. I love watching big 30+ pound fish come up from the deeps to inhale a dry fly.
Caught my first and biggest salar at age 8 and havent lost the bug for it since. Surely an amazing fish.

Anonymous said...


The photo sent by Jimmy Balogh is definitely an Atlantic salmon. Being from the same genus, Salmo, and having a European origin, atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) and brown trout (Salmo trutta) are similar in appearance and share many characteristics. Males in spawning coloration do resemble each other, but wild atlantics tend to be slimmer and have a more elongated head.

Jimmy Balogh spends several months a year on the Gaspe' where this fish was caught and photographed. I don't believe there are any trutta up there to confuse things.


Jack said...

Hey Jimbo, where on the Matapedia did you catch the salmon? It is very pretty, however, it does kinnda look like a trout>

Rich said...

They all look like that after they've been in the river long enough...Cains river...any river.

And btw, if that's a metal conehead (brass or tungsten), then it's an ILLEGAL fly for Quebec...which could land the angler a hefty fine as a braconnier!

El Pescador said...

Thanks for the information Rich. Rules are meant to be...followed.

Anonymous said...

The original Grand River Special pattern and the recipe given does have the smallest gold cone used at the head for a bit of flash. This is the one I have fished for steelhead and smallmouth here in OH. The version used by Jim Balogh in Quebec was tied without the cone at the head to comply with regs.

JD said...

I caught that salmon in Routhierville. We also caught some on the upper streches- Alice, Hepple and the Fourchs.

Hi. Where on the Restigouche do you fish? I know a few lodge owners as well as a bunch of guides for the Restigouche Salmon Club. I fish Haleys pool every now and then when drawn. Thats a pool that is shared with the RSC. Let me know when your headed up this year. All the best, Jimmy

rich and el pescador,
Yes that is a rule, and anglers should be aware of that. In fact, there is a whole pamphlet describing the rules and regulations for fishing the Quebec rivers for Atlantic Salmon. I include that in every package for customers I send up to fish for Salmon. It pains me greatly to see anglers from the states breaking rules and not getting educated on the rule and regs for the rivers that they fish.
The fly I used (Grand River Special) tied by Jerry Darkes had no brass head or any head on it with weight. Again, the picture is very deceiving, and I understand that. One thing I can mention is when that fish was caught, I was fishing with Quebec guide Peter Firth. Peter has been fishing the Matapedia forever. In fact, his brother is the one who runs the ZEC for the rivers: Patapedia, Causcapal and Matapedia. So, I have been made aware of the rules and regs, a very long long time ago. Plus, he would have kicked my butt if he saw me fishing a fly like that. Sorry it took me so long to respond, but I was away on a few fishing trips.

El Pescador said...

Thanks for the follow up Jimmy. How have the trips been going?

David Smart said...

Jimmy, Where is go is up around Kedgwick. We fish private water from the confluence of the kedgwick and little main restigouche down about 7 miles. Not able to fish all of it, but a good portion.
Unfortunately I am not going to make it up this year but my family will be there from July 14-27.
Its always nice to be reminded of the NE and atlantic salmon while I am chasing cutts and silvers in the salt of Puget Sound.
Tight lines and good luck. said...

El Pescador,
Hi, the trips are going good right now. I will be in the Gaspe the end of July probably thru August if everything works out for me. If I get a chance, I might stay a few weeks in September, but I have a Hugh trip to florida in October to fly fish for Swordfish, so I might make it back earlier. I was also in Costa Rica for 40 days this year. I've been going there since 1995. Getting a bit crowded, but I go to some really great out-of-the-way spots that dont get really pounded.
So, maybe you know "Star" or Gilberto by chance?

Hi. Ya know I never got a chance to fish the Kedgwick. That would be an awesome experience, but I have fished these rivers: Causapscal, Matapedia and Glen Emma, Restigouche, Nouvelle, Petite Cascapedia, Bonaventure, Grand Cascapedia, Cap-Chat, Sainte Ann, Darthmouth, Saint Jean, York and the Matane. I have taken some photos of the Restigouche up high by Indian house, but thats about as far as I have been. If you ever get an extra day or two, give me a call an we can check a few different beats if you like.
P.S. My guide on the Matapedia called me this afternoon, and this is the year to be fishing Salmon. They have been seeing fish almost daily, and they got one 26 and a few grisle's and 15lb's the past few days
-All the best,

David Smart said...

Jimmy shoot me a line at if you'd like to talk more atlantic salmon.
Our camp is just about Larry's Gulch. I'll send you some pictures if you drop me a line