Thursday, December 10, 2015
A steelhead trip was planned for good ole Pulaski, NY on the banks of the famous Salmon River. The weekend excursion corresponded with the end of the salmon run and most of the leaves being gone from the trees, otherwise known as the second weekend in November. The time came quick, a product of life as a teacher and simultaneously going to graduate school full-time. On the night before, I found myself packing for two. My girl, Katie, would be joining me on the first trip north of the year. Scrambling through all of my possessions, I had a hard time finding a supply of egg patterns from several seasons earlier when I had an epiphany. Would she be more likely to enjoy the monotony and assembly line approach of chucking a bobber and an egg, or the creativeness of a spey cast and a swung fly? I stopped looking for the egg patterns, my bobbers, and a leader. I texted her with a few simple words: swing or go home.
Tuesday, December 1, 2015
As the twenty four inch brown trout of my dreams descended into the depths of the river whence it came, it marked the end of one part of our journey and the beginning of another. My brother and I stopped at the nearest lake for a quick swim (shower), then raced a few hours to the nearest airport to greet my sister in law, Stacy, and my girl, Katie. Week two brought us further west and into the Wind River Range for four days of backpacking and fly fishing several high altitude lakes. Of all the things we planned to do on the trip, this was the one I was most looking forward to and it did not disappoint. It was truly bucket list material...
Tuesday, November 10, 2015
Wednesday, October 14, 2015
While we're still young, and maybe a little reckless, there aren't many topographical restrictions on our fly fishing. We'll ride, walk, hike, pack or descend to where the fish are without a problem. That willingness has taken us to some unforgettable spots, none more surprisingly awesome than a little canyon tailwater we targeted during a recent trip out west.
While dead-drifting tiny tricos to fat trout our gaze was pulled from the dimpled surface to a hazy canyon beckoning downstream in the middle distance, parting the mountains. Sheer cliffs were all we could really see as the gradient and an oxbow pulled the water out of sight, down and away.
Just inside the canyon entrance we found a wonderland of massive boulders, plunge pools and pocket water. This was our wheelhouse and we were about to put on a hopper-dropper clinic.
Wednesday, September 23, 2015
Technical dry fly fishing...
Four days into the trip and nymphing was getting lame. We were yearning for some dry fly action and the trout weren't obliging us, or the millions of trico spinners floating down the river every morning. We ended up abandoning the most trout-rich river I'd ever laid eyes on for a chance at something different. We found it at a local meadow, where a portion of tailwater weaves through a ranch supported by plenty of stream side rehabilitation. The tricos were gathering for their last morning on earth and the trout were eagerly awaiting them in the gin clear water below...
Thursday, September 10, 2015
Monday, September 7, 2015
Not the brightest fish in the barrel...
On day three, we headed to a different tailwater that promised even better fishing than anything we had experienced thus far. After having fished this new tailwater, I can happily report that it is a little slice of fly fishing heaven. It featured an insane amount of fish, all large, healthy, and full of fight. It was not uncommon for their to be double, triple, and quadruple hookups going on at one time between my brother, the drift boats, and I. The guides on this river probably have one of the easiest jobs imaginable. It is literally so easy a caveman could do it...
Monday, August 24, 2015
A lovely snake river fine-spotted cutthroat...
Friday, August 21, 2015
The plane arrived at midnight, mountain time in Wyoming. We were tired and didn't feel like stumbling in the dark to find a campsite. Naturally, we found a Walmart to buy some food, water, and a cheap cooler for the week. The parking lot served as our unpacking and sleeping quarters and it was two o'clock before we finally settled down in the little space remaining in our rental car. New water beckoned in the morning and the anticipation was high…
Monday, August 17, 2015
It has been awhile since I've gone on a fly fishing trip that involved a plane ride to a place I've never been before. Over the past few years of being a homebody, I've stuck to my usual routines. A lot of that can be attributed to Adam beginning to guide in Alaska and my brother living in Africa for three years. With my brother having now moved back to the states, one of my two predominant fishing partners would be home for a summer of fishing. That alone was enough to light a little fire inside of me.
Monday, July 20, 2015
When I began targeting common carp in my local rivers and creeks, I wanted to design a versatile pattern to imitate one of their major food items: crayfish. I was looking for it to be an easy tie with a lot of movement that incorporated some of my favorite materials like schlappen and UV chenille. At the time, I was tying a lot of saltwater patterns for bonefish and permit and I really liked a pattern out of the northeast by Dave Skok called the Diablo Crab. It featured schlappen to create the wide flat body of a crab and the use of those feathers creates a lot of subtle movement on the strip or in any type of current. A very popular carp fly at the time was Mctage's Primordial Carp Stew and I used a few techniques on that fly to round out the fly that became known as the "Carp Crab".
The carp crab resembles a crab but is fished and does a great job of mimicking the profile and movement of a crayfish. When sinking or stripped, the schlappen collapses forming the profile of a darting crawdad. When stopped, the schlappen protrudes outwards and the fly performs a slight headstand resembling a crayfish in the defensive position. The fly is deadly fished on my home rivers of the Delaware and Susquehanna for carp. I've watched carp move over ten feet to take the fly and spin 180 degrees to turn around for second look and eat it. It is commercially available from Catch Fly Fishing and a step by step follows.
Thursday, July 16, 2015
We all have our premier destinations we'd like to travel to. The ones that we day dream of at work or when releasing our ten thousandth eight inch trout. Most of mine involve an exotic saltwater locale, far off in some other ocean, with huge fish that decimate gear. These include GT's, triggerfish, permit, queenfish, milkfish, and the list goes on. One's mind can easily slip off to the Seychelles, Oman, or Papua New Guinea where these monsters reside. Alas, some of these places are just out of reach at the moment, or put on hold for later in life. Most of us average joe's are stuck with what we have in our own backyard. In my case, I've been ignoring my backyard for quite a few years now, content with my comfortable routines of trout, carp, and steelhead. In reality, my backyard offers some premier fishing destinations and dare I say it, "world class fisheries". So as the summer doldrums set in, I've been venturing out to see what I've been missing all these years.
Friday, June 5, 2015
It begins slowly at first. The grip of winter casually dissipates and a few warm days get yours hopes up. You decide to check out the local hot spot and quickly realize that the lake is a huge chunk of ice that you can easily walk across. With hopes dashed, you realize there won't be action for quite some time. Much later, you arrive to find the lake only half covered in ice and you see your first mud plume of the year. A few sluggish fish that haven't seen your flies in months, come to hand in the cold water. Your car begins to smell like carp again. Road trips to other venues reveal that the season is on the precipice but the big fish are still lingering in the depths. Weeks go by and the temperature steadily climbs enough where you consistently have results. With the leaves budding, you venture out and find them en masse. It is a banner day marking the beginning of Spring and the fish that define it have finally arrived...
Friday, May 22, 2015
When you find two dying baby geese wrapped up in monofilament, you must help the baby geese.
When you must help the baby geese, you run around like a mad man on a mission.
When your a mad man on a mission, you put your fly rod on top of the car.
When you put your fly rod on top of the car, you forget your fly rod on top of the car.
When you forget your fly rod on top of the car, you run over your fly rod.
When you run over your fly rod, you get really upset about fishing too much.
When you fish too much, you forget to re-register your domain name.
When you forget to re-register your domain name, some dude in Korea gets your domain name.
Don't forget to re-register your domain name...and please discard your monofilament.
Friday, May 8, 2015
That fly's got shad appeal...
Nothing ushers in springtime like warming temperatures, budding vegetation, and great fishing. For fly fishermen, spring might mean zeroing in on a particular event. It could be early black stoneflies or blue winged olives enticing wild trout to the first dry flies of the year. Some of us might target the first carp entering the shallows, mudding aggressively, and easily falling for the first fly they've seen in months. Maybe it is fall back steelhead on the Great Lakes tributaries and swinging large streamers to hungry fish hoping for that giant slab of chrome. For those that live near the Delaware or Chesapeake Bays, springtime often means the shad run and all the other anadromous fish pouring into freshwater drainages. For some, it might mean all of the above.
The shad run is a main event of the spring season on the Delmarva peninsula. Hickory and American shad pour into both bays and anglers from all over line up to catch them en masse. Hundred fish days are not uncommon and the fish are pretty aggressive, especially when they are still in the larger waters of the Susquehanna and Delaware rivers. I prefer swinging flies with a light two handed rod because it is easy to cast and cover a lot of water. Plus, even a hickory's take on the swing in 80,000 cubic feet per second feels like a steelhead sometimes. For flies, I was always told that it needed to be flashy and they'd eat it. Over the past three years I've only used one type of fly which I've come to name: Shad Appeal. Why may you ask? It has the prerequisite characteristics that capture a shad's attention and it downright works and works well.
Tuesday, May 5, 2015
As one falls farther down the rabbit hole that is a lifetime pursuit of fish on fly, we tend to accumulate a tremendous amount of fly lines. The more species targeted in fresh or saltwater leads to a greater variety of specialty lines for a host of different species. More often than not, those lines only find themselves on a few different reels and spend most of their time on spools waiting to be used again. Depending on where and how you fish, you might use one reel for several different applications in the same month. For example, one might be chucking streamers to Allegheny River browns with an intermediate line one weekend, throwing lasers with a skagit the next, and then dredging an inlet for stripers with 450 grain sinking line. In times like those, changing lines can be a pain in the rear end. Until now, there have only been a few gadgets and spools out there that do a mediocre job at swapping lines on the fly. Enter the Reel Winder. A product of three Michigan fly fishermen, the Reel Winder offers a portable, efficient, and fast method of switching fly lines both on and off the water.
Wednesday, April 15, 2015
The old man parked his minivan streamside and approached the bridge to inspect a pool he may have fished over a 1,000 times. Although Ryan and I were zeroed in on one particular fish, he had several questions for us.
"It's been pretty slow out here huh? said the old man.
I replied, "It's been alright," even though the fishing had been quite good the previous day and a half...
Thursday, April 9, 2015
Even the most well known and widely trafficked streams harbor some sense of anticipation for the uninitiated. One's mind develops a mental image of what they think the stream looks like, behaves, and fishes. Upon arrival, that image can wildly differ from the litany of fish stories one hear's about a body of water. In my particular case, the perception I had of a wild brown trout stream situated in a highly populated area, far surpassed ten plus years of thinking I knew what to expect.
What I found was a beautiful clear flowing stream encased in several inches of freshly fallen snow. Winter's last gasp fell in the early day's of spring and I wasn't complaining. Expecting early black and brown stones, I found a fairly intense midge hatch. Due to the amount of midges on the water, I thought I was going to have an easy time of it, but the fish did not give in to my presentations nor flies. It took an hour, but I finally saw my first rise form in an area of a run I wasn't looking for one in. A delightful wild brown missed my dry fly and then fell for my dropper on the next cast. She signaled in the beginning of my spring and a burgeoning relationship between the new stream and I.
We can't ask much more than our expectations to be surpassed. Rather than having the run of stream from the get go, I prefer my fishing situations to be more of a challenge. In this particular instance, I now know that this flowing body of water will not be giving up her secrets easily. Our relationship will need to be forged overtime. As the seasons and hatches change, I look forward to getting to know this small stream and either falling short, matching, or exceeding the stories I've heard about her and her trout.
Thursday, March 19, 2015
The Muddy Mudskipper
"The highlight of the day came on my hike back to the truck. I decided to focus on fishing streamers on my return journey. I chose a large sculpin with the idea of going big or going home. I was rewarded with one of my largest fish from this stretch of water. Along a slow deep pocket, I bounced the weighted fly along the bottom before coming tight to something that had some weight to it. After a few tense moments I landed the beautiful brown for a few quick photos before sending her on her way." -From Solo in January of 2011.
Friday, March 6, 2015
We've been living in Tanzania for three years, and have saved a long break for a trip to Cape Town that we finally cashed in a few weeks ago. Last summer on our road trip through southern Africa, we met some Capetonians in Zambia and hit it off over mutual interests, including fly fishing. They crashed with us for a few days in Dar es Salaam towards the end of their journey, and they repaid the favor by generously hosting us in the city for an entire week.
Monday, February 16, 2015
The Al's Rat...
I found myself stream side gearing up for something I had not done in a very long time, fly fish for trout on my home waters. I happened to be on one of the lesser known limestone streams of my youth that flows through the middle of one of the largest cities in Pennsylvania. It is and has been home to a thriving population of wild brown trout despite the bad hand they've been dealt over the years. After catching a few wild browns, I saw a beauty of rainbow hiding in some slack water along the roots of a willow. The micro pheasant tail that caught my browns, was steadfastly refused by the big bow. Just like in the old days, I reached for my midge box and picked out a classic Lehigh Valley pattern. An Al's Rat. I sight fished the pattern downstream to the 18" inch fish and picked him up on my first cast. The Al's Rat might be the most simplistic fly pattern I have ever used while simultaneously being the most productive. Over the years, I have fished the original and a few variations of it successfully everywhere I have gone. It is a pattern that should be in every fly box, especially on streams where midges are a predominant food source.
Friday, January 23, 2015
A steelhead gathering was conceived in the Fall to spend a few days fishing with some friends whom I have not fished with in quite sometime. Ben had just switched jobs and didn't have to work a weekend for the first time in my living memory. My other buddy Dan moved to Miami last year to take up a job with the Bonefish and Tarpon Trust and never got to truly use his first two hander for steelhead. Another friend Eric, fished with us last year with a single hand rod and left the river wondering "what if". Upon realizing he could come on this trip, he immediately dropped a $1,000 on a brand new spey rod, reel, and line. Joined by two new converts and Ben it was a swing or go home type of time...
Tuesday, January 13, 2015
A holiday well spent...
With Christmas in the rearview mirror, Adam and I escaped north to swing for some steelhead. We were intent on landing some silver before ringing in the New Year. Over the course of three days, we experienced several types of weather but all resulted in some fish...
Sunday, January 4, 2015
2014 was another fine year for TRIW and our friends. A lot of nice fish were caught and some of them were downright beautiful. The year brought big time stripers with Tyler Nonn of Tidewater Charters, cobia with Kyle Sawyer and Ben Sheppard, tigerfish on the Zambezi, and Adam's first year guiding in Alaska. I held down the home front with the typical trout, carp, steelhead routine. If you happened to fish with us this past year, thanks for all the memories and cheers to 2015!