Monday, February 27, 2012


I had a nemesis for the past three years. A "big" wild brown trout from a trickle of a stream. By a large fish, I am referring to the fact that this is the hog johnson of the stream and his size is relevant to the body of water. By nemesis, I have hooked him several times and lost him twice at my feet. He has a habit of throwing barbless hooks and reminding me of the usefulness of a net. Each time I succeeded in getting him to eat a fly, it came during high water events, when I could sneak up onto his lair without spooking him in the gin clear pool. If there wasn't high water, I simply knew I didn't stand a chance. He was always too smart and super skittish spooking at the slightest disturbance or false cast.

So it was, that my father had the morning off. We headed out to a predetermined destination that simply hadn't produced after last spring. It didn't produce again. Left with an hour of time, I took my father to my little haunt anticipating high flows but receiving only a trickle. With the two of us stumbling upstream, many a trout spooked. I skipped over almost all of the water, fishing only the larger holes. Upstream, in the glory hole I spotted a small brown on the bottom of a bed of slate. He moved over four feet to eat a stonefly imitation.

Having already caught a fish out of the hole, I had no hope or thought of catching my nemesis. Unbeknownst to me, he was hanging out at the head of the pool in a small pocket of fast water that you can jump across. I was shocked with the difference in weight at the end of my line when I set the hook. I instantaneously knew who it was and was ecstatic. It was another great moment on the water with my father that I am sure we'll always remember.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

All Day Every Day

"I still don't know why I fish or why other men fish, except we like it and it makes us think and feel."
Roderick L. Haig-Brown

It started as "Tarpon Thursdays." We planned to resurrect an old tradition that we had heard about of meeting on the bridge with pizzas and beers and a few circle hooks and sabiki rigs on hand lines to catch live bait and to see what would happen. That was three months ago.

Now, as we are about to roll into March, we have Tarpon Wednesdays. Sometimes there are Tarpon Mondays. If Tarpon Mondays are good, Tarpon Tuesdays make an appearance and more often than not, they just happen to be in the same week. Never, ever has there been a Tarpon Friday, but there have been some memorable Tarpon Saturday and Sundays.

Our wives and girlfriends are not pleased. I am willing to admit that at least two people in our gang have a real problem.

The fly and long rod have been forsaken for stout 7 footers with 30lbs braid and a big circle hook. Let the live bait swim, dial down the drag, lean the rod on the railing, sit back on the wall with some friends and crack a beer. The sweetest sound is the clicking drag or the skittering hand line that stops the laughter, the stories, the jokes and the tall tales as the nearest dude sets the hook and we all gather around.

I am going to miss this place. I wish we started this 3-years ago.

Monday, February 20, 2012


The trailer eased down into the river, slowly releasing the jet boat into the high emerald green water. The sun was ascending over the mountain and illuminating the river's path between hills of leaveless trees. In the distance an immature bald eagle dove off a limb and swooped down over the water only to miss the intended target. We were after the same quarry, armed with an entirely different set of weapons to take our aim.

As we eased off into the flow, the trolling motor was frozen in place, a product of the really low temperatures. We fired up the propane tank on the bank and dumped steaming coffee to disengage the motor from winter's icy grip. From there we drifted into a lane along the bank. With the high flows and a half dead trolling motor, the current moved us at a brisk pace making it difficult to keep the flies in the zone for the necessary time period. However, we made the most of the situation and had one hell of a time in the process.

We pounded the banks with large streamers and intermediate sinking lines looking for something big. Throwing streamers and stripping lines back to the boat, the ice accumulated quickly and our fingers paid the price in the early morning cold. Another obstacle, was the water clarity at about 10-16 inches. This meant that we had to get the flies in front of the fish's face and hope that in the low temperatures they'd be willing to give chase. 

The moment came an hour into the morning. I had my flies running deep and I used the current and a deep belly in my line to swing six inches of articulated awesomeness close to bottom. The reward was the largest resident brown trout of my life. To the tune of 26 inches. I thought I easily had the fish of the trip. I knew we would catch some other nice fish, but I wasn't expecting for 26 inches to be beat. Awhile later, I was proven wrong. My buddy Tyler Nonn, Alaskan Guide and owner of Tidewater Charters in Elkton, Maryland, caught another hoss brown estimated at 27-28 inches. Quite the haul.

As the eagles struggled from above to find quarry in the difficult conditions, we casted endlessly below. We were occasionally rewarded with a nice fish or a tantalizing follow to the boat. Every now and then, a large brown would explode from below only to miss the intended target. We left with some nice fish and the images of the ones that got away are seared into our memory, until the next time we get a chance to go back. You can bet, we will.