Wednesday, December 24, 2014

My 2014 Alaska Guide Season: The Aftershock

© Barry & Cathy Beck (

As some of you know, I spent my summer guiding and fishing at Reel Action Fly Fishing's Alaska Lodge located on the Kanektok River. I had an incredible time and I'm looking forward to the 2015 season. Since being back, I wanted my first post to be a special one... So instead of sifting through thousands of photos from Alaska I thought I would start with the photos I began taking  within moments of stepping off the plane...

Friday, December 12, 2014


Colors of GL steel...

With the thought of several fishless days on my mind, I eagerly anticipated a day when everything would come together. Thankfully, I didn't have to wait too long because of an extended weekend. Adam had a few days off from guiding and we were able to reconvene for our first steelhead action together in almost a year. The last time we swung the river together, it produced one of our best days of fishing. This particular trip did not disappoint and we were able to find quite a few willing participants...

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

The Stinger Missile Fly

Steel on the stinger missile...

During a winter storm in 2009, I concocted a fly for one of my first sessions ever swinging for steelhead. It is heavily influenced by John Barr's Slumpbuster, but is much larger and has a few key differences. At the time, I was learning on a switch rod with a 510 Airflo Skagit Compact and I was tying and throwing some seriously heavy stuff. Needless to say, it was not pretty. On a late November outing, Adam and I did really well for ourselves. My fly was able to pick up my first ever fish on a legit two hander setup. The brown pictured below crushed it in a very fast section of water and I was hooked. The fly became my "go to" pattern for the next few years as I learned the ways of the skagit. I started calling it the "stinger missile," and it has still accounted for more steelhead from the Salmon River than almost all my other flies.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Money in the Bank

A Mid-November Winter Wonderland

A planned retreat brought my girlfriend and I to the shores of Lake Ontario. We met up with some friends to stay at a lakehouse and fish the Salmon River for a few days. Faced with the first lake effect snows and plunging polar temperatures we had our work cut out for us, but our trials and tribulations were money in the bank for future steelhead trips…

Monday, November 17, 2014


First of the season...

Super high expectations always tend to be quickly disappointing. Such was the case with the beginning of my steelhead season. The steelhead gods were not too kind to me and they made me wait and truly work for my first fish this Fall...

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Getting into the Swing of Things...

Amped would be an understatement. Winter and my last swings for lake run salmonids seemed like a distant memory but the thought of hooking into a chrome steelhead fueled a few weeks worth of anticipation and the straight five hour drive north. The icing on the cake was easily the autumnal peak that surrounded us around every inch of river...

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Rhea Steelhead Muddler

For steel...

Over the years, the flies in my steelhead arsenal have gotten progressively smaller and I fish them in the middle to upper column. For the Salmon River, I've settled on flies in the 2-3 inch range as my preferred size because thats where I've had the most success. With that in mind, I am always tinkering at the vice with new patterns. This is one I am confident will produce this fall and winter. A little twist on a classic I'll call the Rhea Steelhead Muddler...

Tuesday, October 14, 2014


I've been jonesing to go to the Great Lakes tributaries to swing for some lake run fish for the past few weeks. Thankfully, I was able to resist going up for some salmon and my bank account officially thanked me for it. However, there was an empty hole inside of me that needed to be filled with something, anything to stave off the yearning for my first steelhead of the year...

Monday, October 6, 2014

Two Saturdays in September

River carpin...

Summer has a way of flying by, even for the teachers that don't have to work. My two months went by so fast, that I neglected a favorite river of mine and the many carp that call it home. Technically, my summer was over by the time I got to fish this body of water but I was able to eek out two Saturday outings with my girlfriend and her Australian cattle dog mix, Zoey. Fly fishing for carp from a SUP with your girlfriend and her lovely dog is not the best scenario, but I made it work nonetheless...

Monday, September 22, 2014

The Maryland Unicorn

Fly fishing offers an excellent case study in intermittent reinforcement. Your next cast might connect you with The One and at some level you always expect it to. But that only ever happens once if you're lucky. It's for the same reason that we cast and expect that causes some poor people to check their phones, email, Facebook or whatever hundreds of times a day. Sometimes there is a ping, but most of the time there isn't. Occasionally something awesome pops up, and that's more than enough to keep us coming back.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

A Fly Rod's Greatest Hits

In memoriam...

The favorite fly rod I have ever owned recently met an untimely end. In a bit of nostalgia, I went back into the archive to relive my Loop AEG 696-4's greatest hits...

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Thoughts on Fly Fishing for Carp

McTage's Trouser Worm

This summer afforded me plenty of opportunity to fly fish for carp. In recent years, that hasn't exactly been the case because of travel, weddings, and family gatherings. For the first time, I got to explore some local haunts in July and August. I've come away with several thoughts that have been ruminating in my mind over the years on carp, techniques, and gear...

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Summer Sojourns

Delaware's Finest

There once was a time when Matt, Adam, and I ate fire cooked spam off a stick for an entire week. Fast forward a few years and Matt is attempting to relive that experience in the woods of western Maryland. I warn him not to do it, but he insists that its tradition. One bite is all thats needed before the entire block of spam is thrown into the embers where it turns black after an hour. Apparently, spam doesn't taste as good if its not your only option on a week long bone fishing trip. Matt settles for hot dogs and chili, before packing it in for the night. Another day of trout await him in the morning...

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Tidal Carp

I've lived on the Delmarva peninsula for ten years now and have been carping most of that time. For the most part, my carping experiences have been in still water ponds and lakes and more recently creeks and rivers. In my experiences driving up and down the coast, I've always known that carp existed in the brackish waters of the many tidal creeks and rivers. Unfortunately, I believed that sight fishing in such turbid water would be nearly impossible. I was wrong…

Sunday, August 10, 2014


Can your homewater be nowhere near your actual home? Can it be a place you've only fished a handful of times? What matters more: how a river has influenced your evolution or how many times you've fish it and how well you know it's character?

Thursday, July 24, 2014

To Johnson City, Tennessee

Cornelius Vanderbilt, dressed for the occasion...

A road trip was scheduled to Nashville, Tennessee to meet up with a group of friends renting a house. The plan was to take two days driving south before spending some time day drinking with friends and listening to copious amounts of amazing live music. Along the way we'd camp and maybe fly fish a little around the Smoky Mountains…

Sunday, July 20, 2014


A little pre-Alaska carping send off...

Over the past few years of fly fishing for carp, I've come to realize that they can be caught during the spawning period. Carp spawn when water temperatures reach into the upper sixties. This can vary from body of water significantly and it can also span a few days to several weeks. The next time you reach your favorite body of water and find the multitudes of carp spawning, don't dismay, wrig up and look for carp on the periphery.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Here there be Tygers

My wife and I recently packed up the truck for a road trip through southern Africa from our home in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. We covered just shy of 5000 miles in a month, and blitzed through our home country of Tanzania before traversing Zambia, Botswana, Namibia and South Africa en route to Johannesburg and our flights home.

It was an absolute feast for the senses, for the mind and for the soul. We saw and experienced some unbelievable things, and an upcoming blog post will outline those.

the mighty Zambezi

Monday, June 23, 2014

Stress Release

A good friend of mine named Ben was set to get married midway through June. With two weeks to go until the big day, Ben was still busy working overtime and spending the precious free time he had planning for the big day with his future wife. Fortunately, I was able to break him free on a beautiful weekend day to provide some much needed stress free fishing…

Wednesday, June 18, 2014


Late spring and the carp have snapped out of their winter doldrums. More active, they are exploring shallower water and putting their feed bangs on. All of this in preparation for the spawn, which depending on water temperature varies from body of water to body of water. This short period can feature some of the best carp action of the year before things shut down until the spawn is over…

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Dude, Where's Your Boat?

Tyler- "Dude, where's your boat?"

Kyle- "Where's your boat?"

Those aren't exactly words you want to hear after driving four+ hours. We planned on fishing for two days for stripers, reds, and maybe some cobia but the situation was looking rather bleak. After the realization set in that we didn't have a boat, Kyle set to work planning a backup plan that featured another hours drive. Despite the misfortune and misunderstanding, we made the most of the next two days and still left the south with big smiles across our faces. 

Monday, June 2, 2014

Long Overdue, Winter Part 2

For the first half of Winter I primarily fished the upper river. After awhile the crowds and drift boats became a bit too much. I spent the latter half of the season in peace and quite covering the lower river in search of willing participants.

This was probably my most enjoyable time on the river. Long periods of casting interrupted by violent grabs followed by ridiculous laughter on my part to be witnessed by no one but myself.

Good times were had...

Wednesday, May 28, 2014


The amount of biomass migrating into the Chesapeake Bay and into every reachable tributary of the watershed cannot be truly fathomed by fishermen. Beyond the large stripers are many species of shad and the all important river herring. These anadromous species combine with local species and even the catadromous American eel to create one of the most bio-diverse fisheries in the US. It all comes together in the upper reaches of the Bay in the Susquehanna River. Here, anglers from all over the U.S. travel to catch Hickory and American Shad en masse…

Monday, May 19, 2014

No Hatch, No Cry

The last weekend of April saw my buddy Ryan and I heading north to New York. A fabled trout stream awaited us that is home to beautiful wild browns, large holdovers, and some freshly stocked fish. We eagerly anticipated the first onslaught of Spring hatches: black caddis, quill gordons, and hendricksons. When we arrived just before sunset, our hopes were dimmed a bit. The temperature read 33 degrees and the day called for 25-35 mph gusts. Needless to say, but we didn't see any fish rising over the course of our day and a half of fishing. Despite mis-timing the bug activity, we still made the best of our situation and had a great little trip up north...

Friday, May 9, 2014

Striped Bass With Tidewater Charters

Spring brings the world's largest striped bass into the Chesapeake Bay as they follow a smorgasbord of bait and other anadromous species on their annual migration on the East Coast. Although not too far away, I never got around to targeting stripers on fly or gear, but for only a few hours this year I was able to get out with Tyler Nonn of Tidewater Charters to do what he does best, catch monsters…

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Carpin Tales

As I approached the bank of the pond for the first time this Spring, I immediately saw an image I had not seen in quite some time. A long dark shadow prowled a few feet off shore obscured by turbid water and freshly disturbed detritus. I hunkered down and tied on some fresh 4x and paired it with a size 14 glo bug. When I arose, the fish was nowhere to be found but I knew it would only be a short time before I saw him again. That moment came fifty yards down the bank. Fresh mud billowed from the depths and my eyes strained for any sign of the carp. As my contacts began drying, I finally remembered to blink. Amidst the plume, a dark shadow lurched forward. A flick of sixteen feet of leader and my fly slowly descended at the carp's ten o'clock. As the fly approached the zone, the shadow shifted 45 degrees to the fly and moved forward. The carp paused and I set the hook into my first respectable carp of the season…

Sunday, April 27, 2014


I should know by now that thinking too much about the potential greatness of an upcoming day on the water will probably lead to disappointment. Making fly fishing only about the fish is a mistake, but it's hard not to do that when you haven't had a shot in a very long time. I've lived here for 18 months and this was my first chance.

The feeds that had been turning the Indian Ocean into a boiling mass of tuna and mackerel for the past few days never materialized. The flies I stayed up late tying never got wet. The coin I dropped to fish in just the right conditions felt more like theft than anything else. But that's unfair. This is fishing and no one is owed anything, no matter how long it's been since you've had a shot. Coming from the land of public waters, paying for access is hard for me to stomach.

The setting sun turned the ocean to poured gold and the tankers we navigated, shrouded in anti-pirate razor wire, reminded me of a city skyline. The smell of the water and the wind and the birds and the colors are usually the cherry on top of a day spent fishing, but as the little boat skated over the surface on our way back to the harbor I became aware that I was thinking more about how I never even got to cast than I was about the beauty around me.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

A Tale of Two Mornings

After a long drive and a longer day of fishing, sleep came easy for us. While Austin and Pat opted for their tents, I slept in my hammock. The temperature dropped into the thirties but I was still comfortable in my cheap sleeping bag. As we awoke from our slumber we restarted the fire to finish off the sausages from the night before and began preparing for another day on the water. Our preparation pace slowed as we realized that no one was around and we had most of the entire river to ourselves. It was already ten o'clock and we geared up awaiting the slowly cooking sausages and the wild trout a football field away…

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Fresh, Dumb, & Willing

On a 3rd annual fishing trip to celebrate my good friend Austin's birthday, we found ourselves riverside after an all night drive west to the land of stocked bows. It was the last weekend in March and the fish were freshly stocked, incredibly dumb, and willing to be caught more than once…

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Spring Ahead

Daylight savings time in the spring is probably my favorite day of the year. It affords the fly angler an extra hour of daylight in the afternoon to not only enjoy the increasingly nice weather outside, but to go fishing after work. This year springing ahead fell on March 6, and should have ushered in some Spring-like weather. However, it decided to snow multiple times in the Mid-Atlantic region since then with the temperatures and weather fluctuating on a weekly basis. This made Spring seem a little farther off than anticipated, but I didn't let it stop me from heading outside to do some local trout fishing. I even got in a few carp sessions when the water clarity finally began to clear.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Ice, Snow, and Steel

After a personally disappointing Fall Season on the river the steelhead gods began to show me some sympathy. My winter season proved to be one that I’ll never soon forget. As the flows began to stabilize so did I. I spent some of my time on a stretch of river that I'm quite familiar with, it’s only drawback is that 10,000 other anglers are too. Swinging flies in a combat scenario can be unnerving at times, but the reward is there for the taking if you keep your head in the game.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Humming of Mystery

A winter camping trip to Shenandoah materialized in the beginning of February. Naturally, I brought my small stream fly rod just incase we ventured along a stream that harbored some of the last pure stocks of native brook trout on the east coast...

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Winter Jaunt

A solo mission north for two days of swinging flies was met with unseasonably warm temperatures. With freedom from ice in the guides, I took advantage and fished a skagit line for a little more fun casting and some much needed practice. I kept the tips on the lighter side and flies in the 2-3 inch range hoping to entice a fresh winter chromer into taking a fly. In the shallower sections, I switched it up to a scandi and went with a mono leader and a small wet fly. The lower temps resulted in a few periods of snow intermixed with sleet and freezing rain. It had been awhile since I fished gloveless on a steelhead river, so I enjoyed the two "warm" days…

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Carp Flies: Damsel in Distress

A few years ago, Adam Hope created the Carp Damsel, which is a hybridized version of a damsel and dragon nymph designed to target carp. The fly excelled across a wide range of conditions but made its name fishing mid-column to prowling carp and to bank feeders where the fly was delicately dapped in front of the fish. The fly was developed out of necessity due to the wariness and intelligence of the carp we target on our home waters. After learning of Adam's success, I developed a very similar version to call my own and fished it as successfully over the past few years. It has accounted for some of my best carp on fly, all of which took the fly in the middle of the water column, as it slowly parachutes down.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Quality over Quantity

I had been looking forward to this trip for exactly a year. We've hit the tributaries on this weekend like clockwork for the past five years because it's the only time I'm on the continent when the fish are running. We'll do it again next year.

To step into a flowing river and to feel the pull of the water on your waders after thinking about it for so long is a funny experience.  I know what it feels like and I can call it to my imagination without hesitation but the coldness seeping into my boots always makes me feel extremely alive.

Familiarity with such processes probably leads to a dulling of the senses regarding the smallest things, or maybe not. Ice slowly accumulates in my beard and guides, chemical handwarmers wait for my hands in the pockets of my jacket and I try very hard to take note of everything, to install it in my memory so I can recall it when I'm sitting in my apartment, sweating from the African heat, to escape it.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Fall In Full Swing

As I sit and write this it’s currently January 27th. It just so happens to be one of three weekends I went without swinging flies on the Salmon River since the last week of August. The only reason I’m not there is because Mark had persuaded me to attend the show in Somerset NJ. Between a full-time job and swinging flies from sunrise to sunset two days a week I rarely get to open a computer.

Back in August through the first two weeks of October I fished for Kings on the DSR. In my time spent there I befriended a season pass holder who also believed in “swinging or going home”. The last weekend I fished the DSR there were steelhead pouring in from the estuary and we stepped down a few runs together, both of us were rewarded.

Monday, January 13, 2014

The Fish of 2013

2013 was another great year for my friends, family, and I. As 2014 begins, enjoy this photo montage of the best moments we had on the water catching a wide variety of freshwater fish...

Thursday, January 9, 2014

A Confidence Day

Outside of one day swinging for king salmon in early September, I didn't get to fish with one of my best friends. Different work schedules have a way of making that happen and so we fished individually for a few months. Those few months were filled with a complete void of pictures from the photographer in the pair, and a lot of selfies for Adam, who was able to spend more time than ever walking the snow covered banks of the Salmon River swinging for steel. In late December, the stars aligned and we had the river mostly to ourselves. It ended up being quite the day, as several new variables in our approach produced one of the best days we've had in quite some time. 

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Los Quatros Amigos

Three buddies and I traveled north to Pulaski for some true winter steelheading in typical Great Lakes conditions. The temperature was low and over the course of two days, it rarely stopped snowing. Each morning we awoke to 6-8 inches of snow that added onto the few inches received throughout the day. The temperature and wind resulted in frozen reels, lines, and flies, but we overcame that to have a successful trip. For my three buddies, it was their first time on the Salmon River chasing steelhead and they were able to experience some scenic conditions. Two of us focused on indicator fishing, while the other two swung flies. Both methods worked and we were able to get into a few slabs in the midst of a snow covered landscape.