Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Calibrating


Arriving. Black bear eating berries at the turnoff. Making camp. Stepping into a familiar and favorite river. Several beautiful, wild fish in the afternoon. Fishing slowly, methodically. Soaking it in. Being changed. A long glide for magic hour. No takers. Tying some flies in the firelight. Pouring rain overnight.

The new moon. A wet morning. Off-color water. Rigging up at the truss bridge. A family of mink chirping among the riverside stones. Fog on the green water. Setting the tone with a gold bar on the first cast. Losing count of trout by mid-morning. Breaking for a riparian lunch. Losing a nice fish during an unplanned swim. Then, my largest brown from this river to date. Seventeen, sparsely spotted, fleshy adipose, slight hookjaw on a head too large for its body. Wild. Contented, driving to investigate some native brook trout water. Hitting a chipmunk on the road. Low summer flows. A return for the evening hatch. A turkey vulture eating my dead chipmunk. No takers from a new tailout.

Breaking camp. Phoning to plan the upcoming rendezvous with Mark. Returning to the river because I have some time and the fishing is good. Several beautiful fish, again. Two perfect brook trout among the golden browns. Midges, pheasant tails and stimulators rigged as a hopper-dropper. One last fish on top and that was that. Hitting the road to meet my brother.

My river was kind and is still beautiful. All was now well, with many days on the water still ahead of me.












Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Localities


Pennsylania's finest...

It was a wet Spring filled with prolonged days of rain and ending with many nightly thunderstorms. Appropriately, a lot of my fishing was done with heavier rods, sinking lines, and a wide variety of articulated streamers. On most weekends, I found myself driving home to where I was born and raised. Over the years, several friends have been catching some amazing trout in waters I never ventured to nor explored in my high school days. From afar, I was curious and a little jealous. Being local, they were able to time everything right. With streamer fishing, timing can be everything. For a weekend warrior living a few hours away, I was never able to take advantage. This year, I finally did. Although I was able to catch some big trout and a few other species, I will be haunted by several big browns that got away. These fish viciously t-boned my flies before cartwheeling through the air and tossing the hook back at my face. Moments like those won't be forgotten and will surely keep me coming back for more...

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Three Year Anniversary


A little slice of heaven...

Time was of the essence as I left work to travel several hours into the heart of Pennsylvania. Reports suggested uncommon mayfly activity for this time of year and I was eager to arrive in time to catch the evening "hatch". This time of year, the march browns were out in full force but hendricksons, quill gordons, bwo's, and blue quills were still making an appearance. Reports also suggested that the first sulphurs were beginning to emerge producing a symphony of evening mayfly activity. With the car loaded down with camping and fishing gear, I decided to cram in one last item: a mountain bike. A secret weapon of sorts, I planned on riding my bike to a far flung hole and returning via headlamp. I arrived a little later than expected, unloaded my bike, threw on my waders, and rode down the gravel road and onto the trail. I didn't go as far as planned, but managed to find an opening at a productive hole. March browns littered the air but so did a lot of the other aforementioned mayflies. I settled on a size 12 mahogany spinner to produce a silhouette in the low light. With limited backcast room, I fished downstream at a tailout and managed four fish before dark. The ride back was pleasant. The cool Spring air chilled my face and the smell of old growth forest, campfires, and roasting meat put a huge smile on my face. I eagerly looked forward to Katie's arrival as well as a few friends the next day. A three year anniversary was at hand...

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Training Wheels


A stunner...

After our inaugural float with the Stealthcraft Hooligan XL, we witnessed the potential of our home river from a radically different point of view. No longer were we tempted to drive an additional few hours to fish the Upper Delaware. In fact, we ended up fishing the Upper D zero times this Spring despite it being the main reason for obtaining the three person raft. The Lehigh proved too tempting to pass up and usually had no other people on it to compete for runs, pools, and rising fish. Our first float produced two stunning wild brown trout, one on a nymph and the other on a Quill Gordon comparadun. On this float, we broke out the streamer rods and Ryan drummed one up from the deep. The fish, whether a holdover or a wild brown, was absolutely stunning and was another reminder of the potential that the Lehigh holds...

Monday, April 24, 2017

Evolution


Homewater

We are all products of our environment. We've spent 20 years walking through the fertile Keystone waterways of our home while only recently picking our feet up and into some fishing-specific kayaks. The accessibility they allowed was intoxicating, but their limitations quickly became apparent. They didn't quite hit the mark.

Monday, April 10, 2017

The Opener


The trout openers of my youth are a lot different than the most recent first days of fishing I've experienced. When I was little, my father, brother, and I would stop by the local bait shop to pick up some mealy worms, night crawlers, and two dozen minnows in eager anticipation of the first or second Saturday in April. We'd often arrive early, but not early enough, to compete with hordes of other anglers intent on taking home their limits of freshly stocked rainbows, browns, and brook trout. I can state for a fact that I had no idea what a "wild" trout was. All I knew was that there was fish in the water and I could take them home with me in a bucket or on a stringer. Most often, I felt guilty about keeping a trout and we kept the fish alive in a bucket until it slowly asphyxiated to death. I look back on those moments of childhood horror as one of the main reasons why I have caught and released almost every fish I've caught since. Anyway, as I transitioned into the sport of fly fishing in my early teenage years, opening day was just another day of trout fishing. I came to seemingly look down upon stocked fish (although I catch them all the time) and now anticipate wild places and the stream born fish that reside in them. Over the past few years, I have looked forward to the NY opener and it has officially replaced those eves of my childhood with something similar yet different at the same time.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Sojourn


Washing away the daily grind...

The middle of March has two faces, Winter and Spring. This manifested itself in the latter half of the month when I was wearing shorts, a t-shirt, and flip flops. A few days later, I was shoveling 12+ inches of snow and enjoying the benefits of a day off of work. These climatic variations show themselves on fishing trips too. March finds the angler layering and delayering clothes in order to stay warm and cool on the water.  Despite this, March is a great month for fly fishermen and women as its usually when the fishing starts to get good, the bugs start to hatch, and the fish begin to rise. Katie and I planned a short weekend trip to take advantage of the good weather but it ended up being even shorter than planned. It wasn't due to a poor fishing and/or camping experience but due to the constraints of work and school. The day and half on the water proved to be a stress reliever that we both needed in order to head back into the real world and the daily grind of adulting. 

Monday, March 13, 2017

Winter Windows


Full on weekend warrior status occurs in the winter time where the opportunities from work are restricted to a few precious Saturdays and Sundays. Fingers are always crossed hoping for a good weather window but more often than not, the temperature is terribly low. Every now and then, the stars align and you get to fish a winter day with temps in the 40s and 50s. Although rare, these days don't always guarantee good fishing but at least the fingers and toes aren't that upset. When I wasn't failing miserably at musky fishing from a SUP, I found a few good big water browns, small water gems, and even caught a few on top.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Almost a Year


Over the past two years, most of my fly fishing has been for musky, which has been a series of trials and tribulations. This winter, I had high hopes of fooling a few good specimens in our not so target rich environment. Time was spent with only a few follows and an early November eat that fueled a few more long days of casting and paddling on the river. My lack of success forced me to take a day trip to a creek that has produced for me before. I hoped to not go an entire year without landing a musky and I had a feeling with a new moon and rapidly dropping barometric pressure that my stars had aligned.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Rockvember


The alarm rings early, 4:30 to be exact, as I rise out of bed and straight into some winter fishing clothes. Unlike the previous five mornings, the snooze button is unused. Compared to work, the anticipation of fish is still one of the best alarm clocks one can ever use. I check the straps on the roof of my car ensuring that the previous night's preparation remained true and slide my 8 and 9 weights into the back of the Subaru. I meet Tyler around 5 and we put the kayaks in the bed of his pickup. Along the way we stop at Royal Farms for a little coffee and croissants with chicken, eggs, and cheese. We are on are way for striped bass and only have a small window of opportunity. There is little time to waste and Tyler is in a hurry. At the put in, the early morning light is obscured by fog as we push off into the flow...