Monday, May 23, 2016

Pride.

So proud. And fishing really has nothing to do with it and everything to do with it all at once.





Saturday, May 7, 2016

Trout Town USA - Coming Up Roses


The fishing was poor as the grey dusk and cold mist fell over the Beaverkill.  There were caddis flies and rising fish, not many, skittering off of the water.  Maybe tomorrow.  The young trip was colorless so far; dank and muted.  That is until my company arrived just before dark fell overhead.  "I already got the beer," I reported. (Roscoe Beer Company

"Well alright, alright," he said.

We did what we do on trips like these; we sat around the fire and caught up with no interruption.  We talked, we laughed, we drank and ate like earlier versions of ourselves.  The fire was the epi-center of our universe.  The sound of the current behind us and the strum of the guitar rang out over the site.  The color rushed back into the trip like red must rush into a rose.  

The next morning got us some good advice from a guide (Catskill Flies) who happened to sell me some flies the day before.   Sometimes an egg sandwich in the right place at the right time does wonders.  Hell, I didn't know he ate his breakfast here.  Lucky us.  Off we went.  The rest, as they say, came up roses.

Fish on!



Happy campers.


Bring Me Roses - An original tune by yours truly that I strummed that evening.  



Hope your spring is coming up roses as well. -- Mike

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Shine.

I've been busy but fortunate.  The early spring has provided an abundance of good weather and good fishing. The outings are coming at a pace of about once a week or so and that is actually more than I could have expected. I have not been out on the weekends, which is my usual slot in past years, but I've found my boots wet on weeknight evenings. There are a few bonuses to this but the thin crowd is probably the most enjoyed. That and the opportunity to see sipping trout as the sun makes its final shine behind the trees. One such outing had me alone in the midst of a decent caddis hatch. The fish were excitedly rising for the artificial for a good solid hour. I tailed an emerger off of a beige elk hair caddis, size 14, for some fun on the top. Consistent dry fly fishing in mid April seemed like a treat to both me and the fish.  And we were the only ones there keeping each other company.


 On another recent evening I had the fortune of my favorite company, my kids.  With my wife out to dinner with friends, we strung up and suited up in our driveway.  My daughter, now a young lady much to my everlasting surprise (will it always be this way as they grow?) no longer fit into the adolescent waders that she once splashed through the rivers with.  That was okay, she thought, she'd gotten a 35mm camera for Christmas and offered to be the photo journalist of our evening pursuits.  My son, now grown into her outgrown waders, was excited to hunt the trout with his nymphed up rig as we arrived to the water.  To my sheer joy, he hadn't really lost a step in his under the surface pursuits; he flipped his late grandfather's rod like a champ, fly line just off the water while following carefully the indicator underneath his rod tip.  Within a few casts, both kids began to shine.









I hope you are all getting the opportunity to shine this spring.  Tight lines.

  

Sunday, April 10, 2016

What Goes Around...

You know the old saying...what goes around comes around.  It's always been true.  At least for me.

My kids and I had the opportunity recently to volunteer some time and driving miles to help the NYS DEC stock our local streams with my favorite speckled species.  A couple of weeks ago I had some vacation time while the kids were in school.  After some hard wood floor and lawn care work early in the week, I decided that "hooky" was in order.  What better way to get them outdoors in early spring, off the devices, out of school, and together with their lunatic trout fishing old man?  An odd notion it seemed to all of us to take buckets of fish from a truck full of water and release them into the streams with the hopes of catching them in a couple of weeks on a hook, only to release them into the streams again.  Oh well, there are stranger ways to spend one's time.  Albeit not many.



Today after work and after a good steady rain, I took a drive to one of the said streams to try and take a couple of these "self" stocked fish.  I arrived just after 5 pm and stood alone in it for a good few minutes before the first crunch of footsteps echoed in the woods behind me.  A nice enough guy from eastern Europe, who made my acquaintance after he watched me hook and play a couple of small rainbows, had forgotten his worms, he reported, and wanted to know if I thought the shiny spoon he attached would bring him any luck.  Yup, I said, of course it would, and within a few minutes he landed a beauty of a 12 inch brown with the help of my net.  He was thrilled with the fish and released it immediately as neither of us knew exactly what the regulations were for this part of the stream.  I told him that I was pretty sure it was one fish of 14 inches but I didn't pay it too much mind because I release all of the stream fish that I catch.  He seemed disappointed but that was outmatched by his excitement of having had a good photo op of he and the trout.  I told him that he could come back later in the summer and catch the same trout at 14 inches.  Releasing it was good "Karma".  What goes around comes around.  He agreed.

More crunching of more footsteps, as if the whistle had blown throughout the small town, and soon enough there were two more fly fishers and two more spin fishers.  The stretch was hardly long enough for the comfort of three, and, after catching my share of the same sized rainbow, I decided it best to relinquish my much sought after spot.  After 6 or 7 fish, my new friend asked what magic did I have on the line.  That gave me a good chuckle.  A younger guy just upstream of me began to slide into my spot as I waded back into the shore.  He asked me politely if I was certain I was all finished and I told him that I was, but was going to try my luck before dark at the stream located just up the road.  They haven't stocked that one yet, he said.  I smiled at him and nodded.  That's good, there'll be no one there.

There was something very satisfying about leaving that stream that I had literally stocked with my own children.  It had provided for me on this evening and it had provided for others.  What goes around comes around I thought.


Up the road and getting dark, the sun glossing through the cracks of the rain clouds as I looked downstream and up to the southwestern sky, I knew I did not have much time.  The kid must have been correct, this stream was not stocked yet.  I noticed no other cars as I pulled up and no other fishermen as I made the hike to a spot that I have enjoyed in the past.  I sank the tandem flies deep in the current that welled up past my knees.  Once, twice.  I stepped in further...there's nothing here I thought.  Three times, four.  Stepping out once more.  Five.  Stop.  The indicator sank.  A snag I thought.  It felt like a tire.  It moved but did not bounce.  I would pull up slowly and it would sink back down.  I think 30 seconds went by before I realized this was definitely a fish.  A good one too.  Maybe a sucker fish, I thought, as it definitely had some weight to it.  And then it happened.  The fish just took off.  Zipping line off of my reel, my hand cupped around it, and the knob rolling over my palm.  This was no sucker fish.

The rod arched to as round as I can remember as the fish went side to side trying to spit the hook.  I followed the brute downstream for awhile but I worried about how deep the cold water might get on me.  There were also some downed trees not too far off.  I knew I had to keep this fish up around where I was.  I believe I actually willed the trout back upstream and now he was really moving up.  Great, I thought, he'll tire as he fights up the current.  This up and and down, side to side, went on and on and on.  The light was slipping and I kept telling myself to breathe and be steady.  Breathe and be steady.  Occasionally, throughout the battle, I would look up to the budding trees and the sky overhead and pause.  Please, I would ask, please let me land this fish, and if it is not meant to be then I will understand.  I felt that way too.  I have lost fish like this on a fly rod over the past couple of seasons.  Not sure why but it is a fact of the matter.  They've just "popped" off and I've been left with slack line and a broken heart.  I spoke out quietly that my heart would not break this time should the line.  I told the universe that, no matter the outcome, I was here, in the present, just me and the fish and the the quiet fading sun, and that would be enough.  We were the universe right now.  The trout splashed its wide tail heavily on the top.  It shone pink and purple and majestic in the dusky water.  An absolute thing of beauty should there ever be one.  This fish and I.  Ten minutes.  Maybe twelve.  I didn't know in the end who was shaking more at the conclusion of our meeting.

Maybe I wasn't ready in the past couple of years to net such a fish.  Maybe I needed to be there with my kids releasing these beautiful creatures into their waterways to truly be part of what happened this evening.  What goes around comes around, I guess.  Until we meet again.




My personal best trout on a fly rod.  A just shy of 22 inch brown trout.





   

 

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Ya Just Never Know

The asphalt turned a rust color as I launched the car forward at a good clip on Route 8 Northbound in Connecticut.  The white birch trees flung loftily out of the craggy rock along the roadside with their pine counterparts.  I haven't seen the beautiful tree in some years in my neck of the woods.  A shame really.  They were abundant here in lower NY state as a kid.  I was happy to see them flourish just an hour and a half north east.  To me, they represent innocence.  An old white birch was once first base in a decade long Wiffle ball game in my best friend's backyard many moons ago.  Now just a stump, the memory of the tree and the friendships made last a lifetime.  The sight of them as I breezed by just after dawn brought a lump to my throat.  We humans, like the great trout that we seek, are certainly complex.  Happy to be tooling along on an adventure to a new stream (for me) with comforting tunes at one minute and a somber reflection of the rapid passage of time the next.  Those trees and the image in my mind of that old stump painted the morning in a different hue.  'Tis yet another reason why I love a solid fishing trip.  Ya just never know what you'll get.

CT had treated me well back in late February where a turn in family plans left me with four hours open on a Sunday morning.  The temps were in the low 60's and the Mianus River is just a half hour jump away from me, so off I went with promises of a late winter Stone fly hatch that never surfaced into much.  Be that as it may, I was able to find some good pocket water in front of a plunge pool, a stretch of about 15 yards, that consumed me and my pheasant tail nymph long enough to net 3 or 4 fish and lose another couple along my happy outing.  Nothing like taking the waders off of their lonely garage hook.  The season was unofficially uncorked.  Upon returning home, and knowing that my local stream, the East Branch of the Croton, has recently been snobby during the winter and early spring, I set my sights upon March 24th as my day to hit the "Farmy".  I had this past week off from work and, knowing that my duties as a "handyman" husband and father could be managed early in the week while the kids were at school, I pegged the date a month in advance.  "Honey, I'm going fishing all day on March 24th.  From dusk 'til dawn.  You won't see me that day."  Period.  Exclamation point.  If there is one thing I've learned about a fishing addiction it is to call your shots as early as humanly possible.  I was able to bank the date and make good on it.




The Farmington River appeared just as it had in pictures.  Beautiful.  Quiet.  Nary a fisherman in the first run I set my sights on.  Driving along Route 181 and armed with the same successful pheasant tail as a dropper to my hare's ear (I know, I'm so original) I veered the vehicle onto the dusty shoulder.  I had just passed some fast water that looked yummy on the seams and I was able to drive slowly enough by it to know that I wouldn't have much company.  I bounded down to the bank like a 12 year old in a 42 year old body which is to say that my brain was certainly more able than my legs.  Tripping hard over a raised root, I tumbled for a good spell.  First checking the one and only rod I brought and then my ankle and knees, it was decided that none were worse for wear.  After a quick flashback to my wife saying she always worried when I went off venturing alone, what if I got hurt, etc, I continued on and began to fish.  To my surprise, within twenty minutes, and pretty much exactly where I thought things looked fishy, I hooked a solid trout.  I played him with a stunned silence all too familiar to most fishermen.  I also showed my 2016 honeymoon face as I just kind of stared at the line darting down and ripping off of my reel.  In other words, I froze.  I have done this several times, mind you, and have yet to learn my lesson.  When a big fish is on, one should not just hold the line against the rod and pontificate on how much line to let the trout take.  Instead, one must let the trout take as much damn line as she very well pleases.  Oh well.  Maybe by writing this, I will finally remember it.  Needless to say, I 'lost' the trout.  As Theodore Gordon once said though, "One can never lose what he never had to begin with".  Either way, a good start to the day.



After a couple of hours of feeling dejected and not having another single "bump" at the end of the line, I decided to change location.  I had moved up and down this beautiful stretch plenty and never spied another soul.  Actually, I didn't even really see a boot print on the banks.  This was curious to me as I had read online about how crowded the Farmington could be on a somewhat warm day in late March.  I got in the car and drove upstream.  Within maybe a mile and a half I saw them all, probably 10 of them, swinging their rods over the water within fifty yards of the bridge at Route 318.  I was dumbfounded.  All of this gorgeous, wild looking water and here they all were, jamming up the lanes.  I was cold and thawing out from a good stretch of time in the frigid water, so I parked the car in the dirt lot and warmed for a bit.  I thought about food and hot coffee but decided I may as well take a look and see if anyone was having any luck.  I left the rod in the car and strode down to the stream.  A few guys were nymphing, one was chucking a streamer, and a couple of guys seemed to be swinging wets.  I sat on a bench in the radiant sun and watched for a spell.  Another guy came up behind me and waded in.  Then another.  "Shoot," I thought, "when in Rome."  I went back to the car, slung on my vest and grabbed the rod.  I walked briskly back as if to beat a run on the bank, literally, and waded into the river.



My first fish wasn't for two hours.  The pang of hunger and lust for coffee was replaced by promise.  Ya just never know.  That's always the thing with fishing.  I finally saw a few sipping in some soft water by the bank as time drifted to past noon and beyond.  I tied on a blue quill dry.  I quickly and excitedly collected a nice buttery brown and another after that.  The guy with the white beard behind me was slaying them on streamers.  I asked his favorite color after some chit chat and he told me that, of course, it was olive.  I took that to heart, slapped on an olive woolly bugger, and netted another feisty Farmington brown.  This day had really turned on.  It seems that sometimes the crowds are onto something.  A couple more misses on the dry fly and I decided to relinquish my spot.  I got in the car, drove back to find the 'one that got away', never did, and I hit the road.




I had told my wife that she wouldn't see me until well past dark.  That March 24th would be a long day for me.  I was wrong.  I was on my way home and it was before 5pm.  I missed the kids.  I missed my wife.  I had had my fill for the day.

The white birch trees waved goodbye to me on my way back to Route 84, New York, and home.  When I walked into the house, she asked me why I had returned so early.  I told her that with fishing, ya just never know.



  

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Forgotten I Haven't...

Forgotten I haven't, those of us who've made the pledge
To seek the rises on the ledge
As we cruise the water's edge...among such beauty.

Forgotten I haven't, O' creature of flash and speckled brown
Giving life to our imagined crown
As we work the stream bed down...into our past.

Forgotten I haven't, those who pine among the blogs
Sweeping streamers, chucking frogs
Floating dries in search of hogs below the fading sun...

I'm only busy in the now
Wondering how the water plows
Past the rocks and runs of memory...

Spring is but a song away...I'll meet you on the banks
Together we'll give thanks
That nothing is truly ever...
forgotten.

You bring the beer.


Sunday, August 30, 2015

Lousy Fisherman

The deep woods sound of cicadas.  The water is cool enough at dusk now for a few sipping trout.  How I missed that scene but here I am as if I never left.  A cold beer with an old friend, going through it which we all do at times, is just what the doctor ordered, whether his doc or mine doesn't matter.  Hits the spot for the both of us.  I practice casting to some rising pumpkinseed who happily take an imitation cinnamon ant.  The trout pay me no mind, they are too smart this time of year after a long summer of being fished over.  I figure I've got another twenty years or so before I can fool the late August brown on a dry fly.  Hell, even Hemingway said that anyone is a good fisher in May.  True.  So long as I can be a good friend and have one, I'll take "lousy fisherman".