Saturday, October 7, 2017

Theres No "I" in Team

A Golden Stone

In early October, a golden opportunity presented itself to three close friends. Time on the water. Not just any time on the water, but time together on the water. I decided to take Dan and Ben out fishing on a local river. With Ben working his butt off and having a family in Middletown, Delaware we don't get to see each other as much as we want. Dan recently relocated back to Pennsylvania and bought a house in Emmaus. In addition to the big move, he has a son on the way with his wonderful wife, Jessica. With such a rare occasion presenting itself, Ben, Dan, and I made sure to make it happen. 

We decided on a local float for smallmouth bass and hopefully the occasional trout. The day ended up being hot and humid and the fishing was slow. It ended up producing two memorable fish. Dan hooked a good smallie (for the waterway) on a topwater popper. The fish moved off a log jam in less than a foot of water. It was splashy take, the kind that makes the person on the oars turn around to see what all the commotion was about. 

The next memorable fish found us anchored up in a nice hole that I knew held some nice trout. Having told my compatriots about this spot, I could tell they were hesitant to believe me. Nonetheless, I let them fish the spot for a little bit, before I grabbed the switch rod from Ben and made a cast. The indicator slowed, but did not drop. I set anyway into a 22 inch wild brown trout. Even I was surprised when I saw the size of the brown trout emerging from the depths. 

The second day needed to be shorter than the first. We decided to float a stretch of the river that has some cold water influence for a greater chance at catching some local trout. After the morning rains settled, we found several pods of rising trout in the 5-8 inch range that we had a lot of fun targeting from an anchored position. The larger fish came on an indicator rig. 

The fishing definitely wasn't on fire but that didn't matter. The time on the water was what this trip was all about. With Ben and Dan in full "adulting" mode, chances like this one don't come around that often. We shot the shit, drank beer, and busted each other's balls. Towards the end of the float, Ben fell onto and broke three rods in half. It didn't help that they were not his rods. Even so, we laughed this moment off because it ensured that we could make fun of Ben for his clumsiness for the rest of our days...

Good times. 

The smile says it all...

A beautiful smallmouth bass

A good one...


A soaking wet bald eagle...

Heading downriver...

"Nymphed Up"

Another bald eagle surveying the river and its many opportunities...

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Happy Birthday Pops

Every September, Big Poppa Pump's birthday comes along and I have two "go to" gifts for the old man. I either take him golfing, or I take him fly fishing. When it comes to golf, the old man plays every chance he gets. On my end of things, I play once or twice a year. Despite my lack of play, I almost always kick his ass. When playing the old man one on one, the scorecards he brings home and brags about don't always add up. I chalk it up to the relentless trash talking, laughs, and jokes I throw his way on the course. When it comes to fishing, the end of September is hit or miss. Sometimes it is simply too hot to fish. This year, we were able to get out and find some cold water and a few fish. As the years progress, I aim to take "Big Poppa Pump" fishing as much as I can.

Saturday, August 12, 2017


Sunrise at Bob's Lake

I hadn't been to Canada in a very long time. In my youth, my Grandfather would take my father, brother, and I across the border to fish the St. Lawrence at one of his friend's cabins. I have vivid memories of those trips and the tourist spots we often frequented. My brother and I would have our fill sitting on the boat and catching sunfish while my Dad and Grandfather baited our hooks, and untangled our lines. On one trip out on the river, I accidentally dropped a brand new rod and reel into the St. Lawrence. The next summer, my Grandfather miraculously snagged the same rod/reel while fishing, cleaned it up, and brought it back home. I was shocked. I ended up using that combo for the next seven years until I bought my first fly rod. The picture below sums up our enthusiasm for fishing that carried its way all the way to this here write up. Thanks Grandpa. 

Fast forward 25 years and I found myself driving across the St. Lawrence with Katie and our dog Zoey in tow. We were meeting up with a group of friends at Bob's Lake and had a cabin reserved for a few days. Our friends had a sweet house rented on a bluff and two bass boats towed up from Pennsylvania. Bass and pike inhabited the lake and we brought our kayaks to join in on the fun. To be honest, the highlights of the trip weren't fishing related. I enjoyed the down time on the porches/docks of the cabin, watching the sunrise/sunsets, and waking up to Loons. We spent a lot of time relaxing out on a rock beach, swimming, cliff jumping, and playing games in the cabin. The fish were all icing on the cake...

Several photos by @ktbmarie

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Loud and Clear

"You're fishing for only one fish with that kind of fly," my brother said as he dug in at the oars, ferrying us across the current. I could hear the grin on his face. I pulled my gaze from the too-large yellow articulated undulation I was leading along the bow on a fluorocarbon leash to look back at him and nod, and smile.


This morning the river was high and off color, 1400 cfs and holding when it is said to fish well at 400, and this was our first time angling it. We'd heard of big brown trout and within an hour of shoving off we met what we sought. Mark placed his streamer tight to an undercut root ball and a big fish breached but missed. As we ripped past in the current he cast upstream to replace the fly, twitched it once and the fish came back. Twenty-two inches to start the day and a memorable eat to start our week together on the water.

I was up to fish and decided to try a streamer cooked up during a winter evening of altered consciousness. After an hour or three its form emerged from the hazy crucible, fixed in the vice atop a heap of hair, fur, feathers and flash. My fingers were bloody from hidden hook points. When I returned to it in the morning with clearer eyes I knew the fly would hunt. It called to me whenever I would consult the meat locker but it hadn't aligned with a river and the water until now.

That the trappings from the bodies of terrestrial and aerial organisms can be arranged to create something that acts like it evolved in the water is one of the reasons I love fly fishing.

Mark is better at the oars. In the lee of a small island he began to inch us quietly upstream into a narrow side channel. We entered an eddy across from a large boulder sheltered under the branches of a leaning hemlock, deep in shade. He told me where to cast. At the splash, unseen, a big, beautiful fish peeled off from her lair in the slackwater as I swam the fly lazily back to the boat.

Holding starboard in the current the yellow streamer fluttered like a descending angel until a quick, white hole opened beneath it, a singularity, folding the fly into itself, vanishing. The fish turned and I clamped down. It thrashed on the surface and the black water frothed. I was in shock and the fish sounded. When I brought her back my brother was there with the net. He knew it was the best trout of my life.

That the fish was severely gill hooked threw a wet blanket on our enthusiasm pretty quickly. Clouds of red billowed from the net and dispersed downstream with its fading heartbeat. We cursed as it died in my hands.

I'd forgotten that fly fishing is also a bloodsport. We consume a resource whether or not we catch and release, and what we take from the experience, flesh or memories, should be able to justify our continued participation.  I took the oars for a few hours and led us down this healthy river, watching my brother practice his art from the bow, and suddenly aware of the imbalance between what these waters have given to me, and what I've, thus far, given to them.

That evening, with a few miles left on our float, my brother asked if I was ready to fish. I pinched my barbs and stood in the bow, looking for likely holding water.