Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Big Poppa Pump.

The "disease" is gearing up in all its splendid glory. It senses what awaits after a long and filling Thanksgiving meal. The anticipation has been building for weeks, Great Lakes Steelhead Round 2. This time, we will be rolling to Erie looking for some sweet, sweet chrome. The anticipation has been killing me, and seeing the new Drake Video Award films did not help me concentrate on my schoolwork. Im kinda like RA Beattie in Stream of Consciousness, except instead of listening to a client, im sitting through a lecture on political theory. My mind is wondering about dead drifts under thingamobobbers, beef jerkey, and how drunk I was the night before. The situation is repeated right now, I have a 9 am tomorrow and a paper due but I'm tying flies and writing a blog. John Stuart Mill and Sparknotes can wait until uhhh say 8:15. Anyway, hopefully the conditions will be prime this weekend, and by prime I'm talking lake effect snow.
Praise the Steel.

Speaking of prime, Big Poppa Pump himself will be making his first appearance this fall on any fly fishing trip. His massive amount of experience (six times fly fishing?) will come in handy attempting to cast, hook, and land fish amongst other anglers. Bring your hard hats everyone, this could get ugly. All kidding aside, I am looking forward to showing Pops the ropes of steelheading. Anytime, he gets to come out and fish with my brother and I is a treat. He rarely catches anything, but when he does it makes for an exciting moment. The first time he ever went fly fishing with us, he hooked into a 20 inch rainbow and proclaimed, (to our astonishment) "WHOA, I GOT THE BIG ONE"!!! Needless to say, he did not land the fish, but anytime it is brought up leads to major laughs. Another example, the second time my father went fly fishing, was a week long trip to Colorado. In four days of fishing, my father caught one trout. He has got some mad skills with a fly rod. He has since made some progression and I am looking forward to having him land some steel this weekend.

That is One Sexy Dude.

(actual battle, somehow captured)

His only Fish in Four Days.
Notice, the patented Big Poppa Pump Landing Technique.

I look at these experiences with my father as my way of repaying him for everything he has taught me in life. Taking my brother and sister fishing when we were young and painfully puting up with us by untying birdnests of 20lb test that we somehow conjured at the ends of our lines took some serious patience. Fast forward to this weekend, in all likelihood I will be the one untying birds nests at the end of his line. It is ironic how things have flip flopped over time. For my dad, watching me grow up and become who I am today is probably one of the highlights of his life. While sharing my passion with him, in all likelihood, will be one of the highlights of my life.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Worth More Than Gold.

It began with a simple trailer, viewed from The Drakes film awards section, and then spiraled out of control into multiple daily viewings. The trailer had it all; an important issue, gorgeous cinematography, characters, and most importantly one of the best quotes of the year. Almost a year later, I found myself entering a quickly filling auditorium. My heartbeat began to rise and my anticipation was reaching a boiling point. I could not wait any longer to see this film.

Taking my seat, I scanned the audience and what I found fulfilled my expectations. You had your typical adventurous folk both rich and poor. You had your old filthy rich dressed in their best, and some young guns looking like they worked on wall street. Then you had the trout bums whose fly rods are worth more than the cars they drive. I fell into the latter category, and then I was bumped by my brother who whispered in my ear, "these guys are going to be your clients one day".

At first, I was a little standoffish like your typical fly fisherman but then I began to realize the commonalities we all shared. We were all there to see art displayed in its most visual form. Films made by fellow adventurers intent on making a difference in the world we have all come to cherish. These films ranged from climbing, saving the last of the earth's elephants, to protecting some of the last wild places on earth. Arts and causes that we all should be aware of. It did not matter that I never went rock climbing on the coast of California or kayaking down an untraveled river in the heart of Borneo. It also didn't matter that many of the people around me had never had the pleasure of catching and releasing a native trout in a pristine environment. We all have our differences, but we could all unite in supporting these filmmakers who lay their heart and soul on the line to spread the word.

The film I came to see, Red Gold, is Felt Soul Media's latest masterpiece detailing the proposed Pebble Mine in the headwaters of Bristol Bay, the last great wild salmon fishery on earth. The film is now traveling the country winning award after award and spreading awareness of the issue at hand. The filmmakers went our of their way to present all sides of the issue, the benefits and risks of both the mine and stopping the mine. With the issue so vividly displayed, where do we stand? We stand together united for a common purpose in an interconnected web of life with our environment and fellow species. This connection is our lifeline and is worth more than the gold beneath one of the last truly wild places on earth.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Where Are the Keys?

Having such high expectations for our first trip north to the Lake Ontario tributaries, we invariably set ourselves up for a huge let down. By no means did we have a horrible trip, we just didn't catch as many fish as we intended to. Over four days of fishing, the number of fish hooked outnumbered those landed nearly 5 to 1. The fish were strong, acrobatic, and incredibly efficient at throwing hooks. So, the first few days presented us with a learning curve before fish could come to hand. When the fish did come to hand, our self esteem was restored, and much needed fuel was added to ensure continued enthusiasm.

Adam's Weapon of Choice
Loop Opti Dry Fly

Adam & A Nice Brown


About to Land a Small Steelhead
Amidst the Fall Foliage

Day one saw us head north to the Salmon River where conditions proved to be unfavorable. Arriving around 7:30, we pulled into the upper fly zone parking lot to the tune of 30 degrees, ice, and six inches of snow on the ground. This being our first stop of the trip, we were pumped to say the least. So pumped, that rigging up proved to be quite the fiasco. When we did finally reach the stream, we were awestruck at the intensity of the flow. Twice the average, the river was roaring at 1,449 cfs. There would be no crossing of the river nor attaining better positioning to reach the best lies. We were stuck with one side, and about a 5-10 ft range of water along the bank to work with. After a few hours of fishing, all we had to show for our efforts were 4 brown trout 8-14 inches. After this, we headed to the lower fly zone where our luck yielded a zero percent change. Leaving the Salmon River, we had a positive outlook because we had caught some fish, while other fisherman around us had not. We decided to spend the last few hours of daylight exploring the little and south sandy creeks nearby. We ended up fishing little sandy for around an hour where I landed two small native rainbows and saw zero steelhead or brown trout.

My First Fish @ Oak
Coho Salmon

My, What Big Teeth You Have

Landed Two, Lost Many

Days two-four saw us head southwest to Orleans county and the Oak Orchard River, Marsh Creek, and Sandy Creek. We combat fished the Oak Orchard River for three days along the first half mile below the reservoir. Here we battled with fellow anglers, overhanging branches, a killer muddy slippery single track trail on a vertical cliff, and feisty browns eager to teach us a lesson. Adam hooked and landed three nice browns between 4-6 pounds while I had no luck on my particular lie. Joining Adam, I hooked into a massive steelhead that promptly broke me off after five minutes and a 100 yard joyride downstream. Later, Adam too lost a similar epic struggle. Several smaller steelhead were caught between 16-20 inches and my first salmon, a nice female coho. I also lost several monster browns whose head thrashes easily threw my hooks in the fast water. I managed only one brown at the Oak, a below average female, that would be a trophy at any other water. Adam and I later landed our first nice steelhead of the trip.

Pig Steelhead on the 5wt Helios Opti Combo
Get Optimized.

Bruiser Male Steelhead Put a Nice Bend in the 6wt.


Overall, the trip was an absolute blast. Anytime you escape the rigors of daily life and are free to fulfill your passion, is a day worthwhile. Traveling across New York fishing for huge fish while living out of your car only heightens this sense of freedom. The weather, conditions, and crazy people you come across provide endless opportunities for laughter and fun stories in the future. Looking back on these experiences will always bring a smile and a thought of the life a trout bum leads. Although we didn't land many fish, the ones that got away have made us eager to return and seek revenge on those that lurk beneath. This revenge won't have to wait long because in three weeks, we will be doing it all again. This time however, I am sure it will be even colder and crazier than ever before.

A Nice Female Brown

She's A Beauty


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