Tuesday, September 29, 2009

School's Out.

I left school in a hurry. The 8th period bell rang, my students left and I followed the herd down the hall and out the front doors. I made my way out to the truck threw my bag in the back, carefully stowed away a mountain of work to be graded and hopped in. My destination was home, a quick two hour ride up I95 and the PA turnpike. I was going fishing and could not wait to be on the water. For the past three weeks I had not gone fishing and was itching to get away for awhile and find some solitude. Life as a first year teacher has been pretty daunting. Week five and I am in survival mode. The kids are used to my awkwardness and are starting to probe for weaknesses in my defense. A long week filled with after school work, grading, and parent teacher night has led to this singular moment. A two hour ride to the promised land.

In Typical Fashion, I Heard Adam Before I Saw Him.

Sun Setting On The Lehigh.

The Trout & Spiders Were Content.

I am heading to the Lehigh River. BWOs and Isos have been coming off strong and I intended to fish one of my favorite spots with a friend. A quick phone call revealed that they were coming off and the fish were rising everywhere. I realized I was still over an hour away and my buddy was probably picking and choosing his quarry. I finally arrived at the destination and before I saw Adam, I heard him whooping and hollering as he fought a brown trout. I descended a steep cliff and slid down some loose spree and snapped some photos. I looked around and embraced the scenery. I took my good old time rigging up and preceded to fish some unfamiliar lies. After missing a few fish on the swing, I waded across river. I reached the honey hole but most of the activity had stopped. I talked with Adam for a little bit then tried my luck. I had zero rises to my dry nor any takes on my soft hackle dropper. The fish were full. I fished until dark and then sat along the river bank gazing up into the unknown. The moon was out shining brightly down on the river. A smattering of far off suns could be seen above the mountain range. I took it all in. The sound of rushing water and the smell of the river was satisfying. I didn't care at all that I didn't catch a fish. I was where I wanted to be and thats all I really cared about.

The View From My Rock.

Adam's Quarry.

Lehigh Browns.


Healthy Brown.

The Release.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Shark on the Fly

After about two hours of nothing but a missed snapper that darted to my fly from under a wreck caught up in some mangroves, I decided to check out some coastline a bit farther north-east that I had spotted on google earth earlier in the day.

Upon arriving, I hiked out to a rocky outcropping a hundred yards or more off shore. The wind prevented me from doing anything but casting in one directions, so after 10 casts or so, I dejectedly waded back to shore and hiked farther north along the shoreline.

I was walking under a dead tree limb when I spotted movement a few feet off shore. A shark was cruising the shoreline looking for something to eat. I had on a 16lb fluorocarbon bonefish leader with a wire tippet section connected to a gray Clouser. The shark was 10ft from shore and on the 2nd cast and strip he turned and engulfed the fly. I set the hook, incredulous that I had a shark on the end of my fly rod and whooped it up as she made one short, fast run, leapt out of the water and death-rolled to try to shake the hook.

I didn't have a camera so I called my girlfriend to borrow a car and bring hers to where I was. I brought the shark in close, tightened the drag, and began to follow her wherever she wanted to go with just enough pressure to keep the hook in her jaw. I didn't want to tire her out, but I knew she had to keep water flowing over her gills to breathe. She led me about 200 yards down the beach, gently swimming against the pressure I was applying.

Stacy arrived in about 6 minutes. I tailed the shark with one hand, dropped the rod into the water and grabbed her behind the head with my other. The muscular movment of a shark in your hand is unlike any other fish. They are stronger than you would think and can just about twist around to bite near their own tail faster than anyone can move their hands. Luckily, their skin is rough and easy to grip.

Tailing her...
Firm grip behind the head...
Find those damn forceps...

Retrieving the fly with all of your fingers intact...

First grip-and-grin of the BVI.

Pretty sure this is a juvenile Caribbean Reef Shark.

Time for the release.

Gray Clouser + Steel Leader

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Volume Three

In June of this year, This River is Wild took on the Maryland waters of the Gunpowder, Savage, Youghioheny and North Branch of the Potomac Rivers and the hallowed flows of Fishing Creek, Spruce Creek and the Little Juniata in Pennsylvania for the 3rd annual Taste of the Dream road trip.

We slept in tents or the truck for 9 days, woke with the sun and fished until after it had set, fished in the heat, the rain and the mist, ate shitty food and drank cheap beer, tied flies by headlamp or anywhere that was open 24-hours, developed a new respect for soft hackle, caught more than our fair share of fish, didn't bathe and survived the swine flu.

This vid represents but some of the awesomeness that ensued.

-dedicated to the brookies of the Savage. Still surviving amidst all of those beautiful browns.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Sunday Slam.

Another great saltwater video that should get my brother out on the flats, stalking bones and permit.

Best Fishing Video: Drake Magazine 2009 Video Awards

Slam by World Angling

Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Madison of the East.

The Lehigh River's rebirth as a trout fishery has not gone unnoticed over the years. Many local anglers who have fished extensively in the West, have stated that the Lehigh River is the Madison of the East. Quite a bold statement, considering the Madison is one of the premier trout fisheries in the world. All it takes is to get out wading in the river, and you can picture yourself in the middle of Montana. However, the fishing is still no where near the quality of the Madison. With 10-20 more years of protection, fingerling stocking, and cold water the Lehigh could very well live up to it's great expectations.

A Look Downstream.

Mountain Biking The Gorge.

Prolific Insect Life.

Stones Are Everywhere.



The river is pretty wild, especially above Jim Thorpe. Here it snakes its way through the Lehigh gorge that provides some of the best white-water opportunities in eastern Pennsylvania. Along with this perfect pocket water, long deep runs and pools below Jim Thorpe produce ideal habitat for fish. The only problem is, a consistent supply of cold water. This past summer has been extremely wet, with long periods of rain that have kept flows much higher than normal. This led to the temperatures of the Lehigh to really never reach a level that would result in massive fish kills. The browns and rainbows have had a good summer and many of them will be surviving until next year to prowl the deep pools and prey on a vast amount of aquatic life.

Double Fisting.

This Little Guy Fought Hard In The Fast Current.

Nice Female Brown After Losing A Huge One.

A Slab Rainbow on the Woolly Bugger.

A recent outing to the Lehigh produced some quality fish, insects, and scenery. Browns & bows upwards of 16 inches were caught on dries, nymphs, and streamers. This was accomplished by wading a small stretch of river. These are great signs for it's future. Hopefully, it will one day truly rival the Madison.

Another Quality Bow.

Released To Fight Another Day.

One of the Prettiest Lehigh Brown's I've Caught.

Mini Hook Jawed Male.


Lunch: Pierogies, Bacons, Onions &...


Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Small Stream Love.

On another outing from labor day weekend, I hit up some of my favorite waters near my hometown. These waters are very small and contain numerous wild browns and the occasional brook trout. In the latter part of summer they can be difficult to fish because of low flows, spooky trout, and the overgrowth of the flora and fauna that seems to takeover the stream. Nevertheless, I love this challenge and look forward to it every year.

Whatever You Do Frodo, Stay Off The Road.

Summer Tunnels On The Chutes.

The Toughest Hole To Fish, Also Holds The Biggest Fish.

Huge Undercut Under Massive Evergreen.

Brown From Undercut.

One of the first sizable holes I fished almost always contains a nice sized fish or two. But I was shocked when on my first cast, a large brook trout took my butch caddis at the head of the riffle. The size of the fish was unexpected and a weak hook-set resulted in a lost fish after one head shake. In these waters, strong hook sets are a no no, due to the overhanging branches and bushes. One missed set and your rig more than likely will be the start of a new bird nest. After this near miss, I took a break and waited for another shot at the big brook trout.

Darker Brown.

The Butch Caddis Scores Big.

Almost Stole My Chance At The Brookie.

After a little while, I took another cast and along the same seam, a nice sized brown took my caddis imitation. I quickly steered him in and landed the brown who blended perfectly with the bottom of the stream. I now realized that my chances of taking the brook trout were growing slim since I had pricked him & caught a fish right on top of him. I waited again, and tied on a small club sandwich, hoping for a different look. Nothing happened. I swallowed my pride and tied on a dropper. The fish was mine on the first drift.

Black Mouth.

The Brookie In All His Glory.

After Swallowing My Pride, The Dropper Scored.

Further upstream, lies a meadow with some of the wariest trout I have ever fished for. They spook easily and disappear under grass-lined undercut banks on both sides of the thin corridor. I rarely even have a chance to see them before I spook them. Up to this point I had never caught one of these fish out of the meadow. I decided to give them another shot. I kept the club sandwich on, but lost the dropper. I false casted away from the water over the tall grass and arched a long one way upstream. The 12 foot leader unrolled and the club landed with a plop along a deep undercut. The brown exploded on the sandwich and I had to stand on my tip toes to get my 7ft rod over the grass and lead him down the 4ft wide section of stream to my feet. It was one of the prettiest browns I had seen in a long time.

The Meadow.

Meadow Brown, Really Red Spots.

The Undercut.