Monday, December 30, 2013


Things slow down a bit this time of year, thankfully.  It is, hopefully, a time of reconnecting with those that are most important.  I am lucky to have the family and friends that I do and a touch luckier to have some time off around the holidays to spend some quality time with them.  This, for me, is the entire meaning behind the season.

Leading up to Christmas, I had managed a couple of December outings to the East Branch of the Croton River.  A gift in its' own right because this stretch of river remains open year round.  If you can brave the conditions, you might even get a reward.  Fishing for trout is tough on the fly at this time of year and that proved to be the case on these two outings.  The river can be a lonely place in the winter as you don't run into too many folks.  The ones that you do run into seem to have the same luck as you do, which is no luck at all.  The lack of our friends with fins, of course, makes the stream a whole lot lonelier.

Either way, with the afterglow of the season coupled with the anticipation of the New Year, I figured I'd hit the river once more and see if I couldn't close out '13 with a bend in the rod.

I chose a different stretch of the water today than on my previous December oh-fers, and I was happy to find it vacant of anglers.  Lonely is one thing but not having the stretch you want is another.  With a twist of a couple of knots, I sunk a dropper nymph rig and hoped for the best.  It was somewhere around 9:30 a.m. and the indicator, as red as Rudolph's nose, disappeared into the depths.

Finally, I reconnected.

I hope that all of you have had the chance to reconnect with those you hold dear during the season and I hope that 2014 brings you an abundance of those connections.  And, yes, the other kind too ;)

Thanks for a great '13!  Tight lines.


Monday, November 25, 2013


I've been off the water for quite some time now.  Elsewhere.  Waders are bone dry and listless in the trunk. The rod in it's case has forgotten the feel of sunlight and water.  It must be desperate.  Well, maybe that's me.

So desperate in fact, that on a 48 hour business trip to Chicago, of which I had exactly three hours of free daylight, I spent an hour commuting into the city and two hours lingering in the local fly shop.  The proprietors of said shop, simply enough called "Chicago Fly Fishing" (, did not inquire once why a man would do such a thing with so little time.  I liked them immediately.

I dillied and dallied.  Perused and browsed books, picked through flies, shuffled through gear, and chatted here and there with the shop guys.  It was as close as I'd been to the water since early October which was odd considering that I was surrounded by skyscrapers and a strange city.  That just means that they're doing it right.

Elsewhere has also been good to me in the time off the water near home.  This fall I spent countless hours on the soccer field with my son and his team and more hours at pee-wee football games as my daughter cheered them on, pom-poms and smiles.  Another fall season where they'll never be this age again.  I get to thinking, "The fishing can wait."

But not for too much longer and not without a new favorite cap.

Tight lines, all.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

What Once Was

We headed up there on Friday afternoon in different vehicles at different times from different places.  Each in his own excitement of the possibility of freedom from the common days of work and sleep and work again. Not that life is bad, mind you, but it is on no level similar to standing in a stream with a fly rod in one hand and a bottle in your wader pocket.  A smile from a friend waits around every bend and riffle.  The hope inside that this friend will be "on a fish" rises higher than the hope for weight in my own net.  My methodical fishing routine aside, it is the only "real world" concern that I have.  Hell, I already know that the beer is cold. Under the bridge, on the narrow bank in the purple dawn, is more muffled laughter of another duo of tired fishing partners.  Probably laughing at me but, hey, I'm sure I deserve it.  I've sworn at this tippet out loud at least a dozen times by now.  It is rather funny.  The cook is in the cabin preparing a heartwarming meal that is only fit for a crowd like us.  We eat together, drink together, fish together.  There are many hours of this for the first 24 and little time to sleep.  The only thing that wanes us off the fly are the showers that arrive late Saturday evening.  As I write, I can still hear the short propeller "ffffffffffttttttttttttt" of the dealer's cards readying another hand as the rain swamps down on the covered deck.  Even this is okay.  It's all okay up here.  The fish are a bonus.  Just a bonus to all of this.  The tunes sound tinny in the background of the room. I can still hear that too.

My fishing report will be brief.  I did well.  Not so well as to fool anyone into calling me a serious angler but well enough to note the difference that a season of reading and asking questions and, well, fishing has made. The hot ticket was nymphs in the morning, caddis in the evening, and streamers after dark and before dawn. The mid day fishing was the toughest and made for easy choices of chicken wings and Roscoe Beer for lunch at a local establishment.  A trip to the Roscoe Brewery made a good excuse for further resolve that the fishing was too tough in the gin clear and sun soaked waters of the Willowemoc.  

On Sunday morning I lost a fish.  A giant.  A reason to go back and get it right.  The rivers now run lower and colder. The light, as it fades with the clarity and crispness of autumn, takes with it a season of fishing and memories of laughter and lessons learned.  The hardest of those lessons is of what once was that can no longer be.  A lost treasure?  Perhaps.  My first full season of fly fishing, from April to October, and all that came with it, has passed as swiftly as the stream takes food over foam bubbles where trout lay waiting underneath.  

I wish more weight in your nets than mine.  Tight lines.


Thursday, September 5, 2013


The tinny sound of the local A.M. sports talk radio clashed with the calm of the morning as the tarnished Nissan bolted up the Saw Mill River Parkway.  With a sip of my coffee and a twist of the knob all was quiet again.  The sun cast it's first light of pink haze under the soft belly of the bulbous clouds.  The Train station platforms that could be spotted along the way through the fading green leaves of the roadside were strewn with ties and stiff collars.  Those suckers were not as fortunate as I.  Good for me.  After all, someones got to be "gone fishin".

The stream was empty but for one car whose inhabitant I never did see.  Another fortunate soul who was able to find some solitude.  As for me, I'd have plenty of company.  Just not sure if they knew I was invited.

The air was crisp and clean.  The water ran clear.  It was one of those outings where the comfort of a well worn flannel under the vest made for a good choice.  Fall fishing is here.

I decided to fish the old rod this morning as I hadn't since back in June or early July.  Each time I've fished in recent months I've felt a little badly for the old guy.  He just sits there curiously peering at me while I string up the new rod which I methodically take out of it's well groomed case and delicately slot the four pieces together like I'm handling fine art.  I never treated the two piece this way.  Honestly he just bangs around the trunk of the maroon shitbox, still strewn with a leader and fly 90 percent of the time, placed only carefully enough to survive.  He's a "grab 'n go" type of guy and today felt like that kind of day.

I figured I'd start in the "Bathtub" as it usually has an angler or two in it and I haven't fished it in a while.  It proved to be a good choice and, to my surprise, there were consistent rises and swirls all around me fairly soon.  It didn't take long for me to notice the Caddis flies lofting about and I was enamored at the prospect of fishing the dry fly.  The flies were mostly tiny but now and then I'd see a nice sized bug twittering off of the water.  I tied on a size 16 or so and had immediate attention.  I must admit that this was the kind of attention that an eight year old kid gives Lima beans.  They are there on his plate.  He sniffs them, pokes them, might even touch one to his tongue, but he is not going to eat it.  Fair enough, I thought.  Perhaps it is my presentation.  A handful of refusals later and I lengthen the leader.  Tied on another three feet of 6x tippet and put the 16 back on.  Same result.  I cut it off and put a size 18 on, although it was a little paler than that of the Elk Hair tan color.  Again, Lima beans.  Shoot.  I clipped the wings back a bit, shorten the hairs.  That ought to do it.  At this point I am seeing flashes of gold five feet in front of me in the perfect current between the seams.  The fish are active.  There are three fish that I am consistently casting to who rise every minute or so in the same spot who have been sniffing and whiffing at my every offering.  The one closest to me I believe to be a Rainbow.  The others seem to be larger Browns.  I am consumed by this game.  I'm at the party, folks, but no one is letting me in the door.

I look back in the small fly box.  It is there and it has been there since I began this lunacy of changing flies to refusals (there were a couple sizes of Blue Winged Olives that I tried as well with similar results).  The beauty of it is that it is a size 20 Elk Hair Caddis.  This is what they are feasting on.  The shame of it is that I only have one and it is no less than twenty five years old.  The hook is rusty, the eye is rusty, and it is the only thing that will get this damn kid to eat his veggies.  I tie a clinch knot and it snaps.  Once.  Twice.  Three times.  The eye of the hook must be jagged.  I swear a few times.  I try to clean it, smooth it.  I tie again.  It's on.  It ain't pretty but it's on.  If a fish takes it, it most likely will not hold.  My day will be over.

I false cast three or four times to present this rusted artifact to the closest trout, the Bow.  The fish that seems to have given me the "fin" more than the others.  I need the perfect drift.  I hold my breath.  He inspects. Wham!  Fish on!


Fish off.  Fly gone.

That's about how that went.

The bad news is that I didn't take the fish.

Good news is that I knew what they wanted and, after some time, figured out how to join the party.

That, and I wasn't standing on a train platform.

Happy fall fishing to all and tight lines.


Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Trout Bum

Iv'e been reading a lot of John Gierach this summer and, most recently, his 1986 offering, "Trout Bum."  What I enjoy most about reading his books is that he really does put you on the water with him, has you sipping his camp coffee or looking forward to a beer.  He's got a way of making you feel like you are standing in between he and A.K. Best, just looking down quietly at the dirt on your wading boots in the dusky light of another successful fishing day.

I've read quite a few of Gierach's books.  He was the only connection to fly fishing that I had for all of those years that the zippers of the old vest stayed closed and the fly line dried out.  He always kept me one step away from being stream side in my mind.  Now that I am fishing and fishing quite a bit (at least my wife thinks so), reading his work makes me feel like a full on "Trout Bum" myself.  I'm waist deep either literally or in my mind.  

I fished just a couple of mornings ago.  Headed up to the EBCR with a much less desirable cup of joe than would have suited John.  I noticed a funny thing as I geared up, strolled streamside, checked out the water, strolled some more and, eventually fished.  All of my inner thoughts about flow, clarity, fly choice, seams, runs, pools, flats, all of it was no longer in my own voice but the voice of a late 60's, white bearded, calm but red tempered fly fisherman.  Strange, I know.  But true enough indeed.  I had been reading too much and not fishing enough.  Hey, I'll take what I can get.

The first couple hours I was fishing in the Bathtub and, even though the fish weren't really rising, there were enough of them to try and take one on a dry.  I tied on a small white sulphur, then a caddis, then a blue winged olive, all to no avail.  I didn't mind so much but after an hour or two one does start to concede to the skunk.  Thoughts of "not knowing what the hell I am doing" in an old man's voice are much more comforting than the same thoughts in my own voice.  Really it might have been a blend of the two voices.  At least I hope so or, not only am I crazy but I am telling you all that I am crazy.  Oh well, I've been called worse. 

With not so much as a look from a trout I decided to head downstream and fish a favorite run of mine (and everyone else's for that matter).  I changed over to a double nymph rig.  I like fishing nymphs, I do.  But then there's been this whole season in which I have never really fished a hatch or a successful dry fly so it is a bit disheartening to tie up the heavy rig.  

When you are in the midst of going 0 for whatever in a ballgame you start to get the feeling that you just never might reach base safely again.  An actor who wraps a film or draws a curtain on a play feels as though they have just finished their last job, never to be hired again.  A fly fisherman who hasn't had a take in the last two hours is convinced that he has caught his last trout.  This is where my head was.  Just lazily flipping the nymph rig over while watching the gentleman downstream of me presenting the most beautiful roll cast of a tiny dry fly.  What a cast.  He knows what the hell he's doing.  Why am I even??---BOOM.  The indicator went stiff and straight down in a frenzy.  Fish on.  Boy what a great call it was to nymph.  I am one helluva fisherman.  Smart cookie.  The trout fights well and long; running to me, away from me, in the current, out of the current.  I realize I'm holding my breath.  The professional roll caster, in a respectful manner, pretends not to watch but I know I've got an audience.  The trout is close to the net but not close enough.  A beautifully fit and chrome Rainbow.  I just can't seem to get to him.  This extra 6 inches on the new rod now seems like a mile.  I'm down on one knee.  The fish is wallowing but hard and he's four feet from me in the shallows and a sound unleashes not unlike a bullwhip as the line snaps free from the trout.  He's off.  Damn.  I let out a decent "Aargh" and the dry caster responds, "That was a nice one...did he take your fly?"  I couldn't believe he hadn't.  The whole rig was intact.  The whip sound was something I had never heard in real life or in a Gierach story.  I wanted to ask the caster if he had heard it too but he must have and I was too deflated to talk much.  A few minutes goes by and I'm flipping those nymphs over again and he calls over, "Man that sucks.  That was a nice fish."  I respond that I'm still torn about it and he promises to drop it in an "I feel your pain, man" tone of voice.  This is a good guy.

So good that about ten minutes later when I hooked and started to battle another gem, he was there on the banks behind me.  I had thought he had gone but I guess he was just tying up back there.  "If you need any help let me know."  A kind offer.  I did need help.  I wanted to ask him to net this trout for me but I couldn't.  I needed to land this damn fish and save face.  Geirach wouldn't have A.K. babysitting for him!  After an admirable fight, I was able to land the fish.

My newly found friend was kind enough to take a photo of me with the second rainbow.  I don't believe it to be as big as the first but such is the fodder of a good fish story.  

We parted ways soon after and another fisherman came to the hole that we had been sharing.  As it turns out, I knew the guy from over at the Westchester Fishing Forums.  We BS'd for a while as I pondered calling it a day and he mentioned driving down to a stretch that I have only fished once before.  I called my wife who didn't answer so that was an indication to me to fish for another hour or so.  Thanks, honey.  We talked about where to park down there and split ways.  He had to get gas and I had to get going.  We never did meet up down there and I'm not sure he ever made it.  This is a working man's fly fisherman.  Solid guy.  Kind too and gave me a Prince Nymph after I had told him my woes of losing two that morning.

I fished this new run and will say that it is tricky water but, for a Sunday, it was desolate.  Not a soul.  That's already a plus.  I stared at this water for a while, walked the trail upstream and then back down.  There's everything here.  Flats, eddys, deep pools, plunge pools, riffles, etc. and there's even a stretch where the "all of the above" bubble would be filled in if this were a Scan-tron test (boy, I hated those).  

I picked my spot after a careful study and netted two smaller and wild fighting Browns.  These two fish might have come as even more of a surprise than did the Bow.  To fish new water and find success had the old man in my head calling me a legitimate "Trout Bum".

If only that were true.  As it is, I am already disqualified from that title as I had recently purchased a $19 hat from Orivs with a mesh backing and the words "Trout Bum" printed on the front.  Gierach nor A.K. nor the fantasy of myself, standing between them at dusk, would ever don such an article.

Friday, July 26, 2013

This is 40

Yesterday, I turned 40.  This is no great feat, mind you, as it is inevitably what comes after 39 and all the rest.  Still I can't help but say to myself in quiet moments, "Wow.  I made it."  Whatever the hell that means.

My wife, amazing as she is, threw me a surprise party a couple of Saturdays ago in which about 100 of my closest friends and family attended.  There was a band and bbq food and booze and cigars and a whole lot of laughter and love.  A whole lot.  So began the celebration coupled with a lot of reflection.  "Wow.  I made it."

I've never been much for new things.  I don't know if this is a by-product of being one of nine children (number 8 to be exact) or if I'm just not all too amused by shiny, out of the package...stuff.  Might be a bit of both.  As you know if you've read this blog before, I have been using my late father's (can one still use the term "late" if the person they are referring to is gone well over 20 years? How about very late?) fly fishing setups since he passed.  The waders have leaks in more places than did the Nixon administration and the 5 weight rod is just about finished.  It's not yet, but just about.  So, a party, some friends and family, and a whole lot of Orvis gift cards.  Who am I kidding?  I love shiny new stuff.  

I am so happy to report that I have, thanks to said friends and family, acquired a whole new outfit for the fly side of this little fishing hobby of mine.  I went down to Orvis yesterday and picked up a nine foot, five weight, mid flex Access fly fishing rod coupled with the Access mid-arbor reel with backing and line and all of the fine fixins.  I also acquired Orvis' new line of waders called the Silver Sonic Waders.  Talk about snazzy.  The name says it all.  Not only do they keep you dry but you can hover over the water in them by pressing a button on the suspenders that vents a force field of air through the sole of the boots.  Not really.  But the name sure sounds like they would.

Not only did I attain this fantastic new gear, I actually got to use it today. 

It was a fine day on the East Branch of the Croton River.  I spent quite a bit of time there this afternoon and into the evening.  I fished nymphs and dries, emergers and streamers.  I even had a bit of luck.  The new rod yielded me a nice 12 inch Brown within the first five minutes of my arrival.  Soon after I hooked and lost another decent fish.  Upon moving downstream, I decided to "play" with the small Bluegills for a good half an hour as they were having fun pretending to be trout while rising to my Elk Hair Caddis fly.  At one point I had the dry caddis on and fished two dropper nymphs below that.  A Prince Nymph and a tiny Hare's Ear.  Oddly enough I managed a trout on all three of these flies within the next hour.  I lost a solid 14 inch or so Rainbow and then swiftly netted his little brother.  It was a day full of action and fun.  There was a nice break at Trestle Pool with two Captain Lawrence Pale Ales and a decent cigar while the sun sleeked its way through the solid green cloak of leaves.  "Wow, " I thought, "I made it."

Not that those who made it happen for me necessarily read this blog but I would like to say a heartfelt thanks to you all for sharing in the passage of another decade with me.  And thanks for my shiny new fantastic toys.

This is 40 and I like it very much.

Tight lines.


Sunday, June 30, 2013

Days Like These

I don't have many words to describe this morning's outing.  I was still coming off of a high of catching that gem of a Brown just a few days ago.  I kept promising myself that my next trip would be stream side with a beer and a fly rod for an evening hatch but the reservoir lured me once again.  "Didn't you like that Brown I rewarded you with?  How would you like to double that?"  Let's face it.  I couldn't resist.  I'm very good at keeping promises.  Just not to myself.  I am so grateful to have days like these...

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Rivers and Reservoirs

I am a fortunate guy.

Within a twenty mile radius of my home I have what I consider to be world class fishing.  I can be at the fabled Kensico Reservoir (fabled due to it's damming of water up over the old town of Kensico back in 1915) within 5 minutes depending on the excitement in my legs as forced through the accelerator.  I can also be on a stream within twenty minutes should I use the same method of trumping the speed limit.  For the record, I rarely do but that's not to say I don't.

About a week or so ago, I stopped into the Bedford Sportsman ( and picked up a couple of leaders and replenished a couple of flies.  Early in the spring I had lost a monster on the East Branch of the Croton Reservoir on a nymph that looked like a cross between a Copper John and a Prince Nymph.  I lost two of those flies that day and had been thinking about them ever since.  We have had a tremendous amount of rain here in NY recently, so I figured it wouldn't hurt to arm myself with a couple of these unique bottom bouncers.  I had a small chance for another "Tweener" in which I had the occasion to cross Route 35 on my way back to work which, in turn, meant I had to cross the Amawalk River.  My car made a sharp left onto Wood Street and my waders and rod were in hand in what felt like seconds.  I had a half an hour and I made a b-line to a spot that I thought might produce in higher water.  It had produced for me before in the way of some small wild Brown Trout back in the spring.  I hoped for a repeat.

I did get a repeat in the "wild" department but not so much in the "small" department.  I fished a tight pocket and swung said nymph in front of a slab of boulder (I mean, I might have even bounced the damn thing off the rock and into the water) and just as it was about to hit a swirl into the next run, the indicator sucked down into the depths.  Fish on!  What came to hand after an awesome up-current battle was one of the most beautiful trout I have ever seen.  

This speckled sensation with it's golden hue put a big grin on my mug.  I released it safely as she darted off and I darted back up Wood Street and back to work with time to spare.  A rarity on so many levels.

With a fortunate thunderstorm on Monday evening, I woke Tuesday morning with a clear decision to fish the Kensico.  I say fortunate because anytime a fishing decision is made for me due to weather it is just that; fortunate.  Otherwise, I spend time on one body of water wondering how the other body of water is fishing.  A disease I know full well that I share with at least some of you.

My pursuit of a generous sized reservoir Brown Trout has been the fodder of many late night meanderings of the mind.  I have read, talked, asked, read some more, talked and asked some more about these elusive fish for more hours than I can equate.  Not to mention the time I have actually put in on my bony rearend on the seat of a jon boat.  That is not to say that I haven't enjoyed those hours.  I most certainly have.  I have even caught a bunch of fish in those hours...just not the spotted, big bellied beauties that I have seen and heard so much about.

Armed with Baitfeeder reels and a busted up old plastic bucket of Sawbellies, I hit the water at about 6:30 AM.  After hooking and releasing a smallish Laker, I decided that I would row about a half an hour away to a spot that always seems to produce for me and that I now know holds some Browns.  Well, you all know how those half an hour rows go, don't you?  Within the first five minutes the wind picked up and attempted to blow me back from whence I came.  Now I was born with an Irish temper and a bit of Italian stubbornness to boot.  Both of those wonderful genetic features kept me at it.  I'll be damned if I don't get there.

About forty five minutes to an hour later, I was precisely where I wanted to be.  The wind disappeared as if it were rewarding me for my efforts.  Nature, as you know, has a way of rewarding us at times.  This feature of the unknown temperaments of the Great Mother is another reason that we find ourselves doing what we do.  It adds a bit more glow to the rewards.

24' to be exact is where I dropped the Belly to.  I was fishing over water that was around 70 feet deep.  I had only one line out as I was replacing the leader on the other line from the Lake Trout who had compromised it's integrity.  I was deep in thought regarding the placement of the downed Belly, what to do and what depth to fish the next line once I re-rigged it, how will the wind behave if...wait a second...a slow tic, tic, tic of the baitfeeder.  Freeze.  Quiet.  Shhhh...tic, tic, tic again.  Now slowly it peels and stops.  Don't touch it.  Shut up, Mike, it's not a Brown....or is it?  Slowly, another peeling of the line.  I wonder if the fish knows it's me up here in this stupid tin boat...peel, peel, peel.  Stop.  Wait.  Nothing.  Shit.  Gone.

ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!   There she goes!  Pick up the rod, dummy!!


After all the tell tale takes and all of the running "side to side" as all the great fisherman I know have foretold, she flashed a beautiful streak about fifteen feet down and I knew she was what I had hoped for.  I got her close, maybe five feet down and ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! this time on the first drag system.  Boy, did she dive down.  Now she's turning the boat!  How big is this thing??  Up again and shaking her head...diving down again.  Can I breath yet??  

Finally, after the longest five minutes of my life, she was in the boat.  If the stream trout made me grin then this thing made me smile like a big dopey puppy.  I let out a "YEEHOOOOO!" or three as loud as one might imagine but probably louder than that.  And then I let out a couple more as I gave thanks for the catch.

This trout, mind you, is by no means a monster but she is my monster at the moment.  I have fished for most of my life with times of many years between trips and times of exciting fishing and plenty of skunks.  

This is my most exciting catch.  My "fish of a lifetime".

Until the next one.  Boy, I'll tell you...these rivers and reservoirs...

I am a fortunate guy.


Monday, June 17, 2013

Two Mikes...

The alarm blipped at 4 a.m. this past Saturday and I was happy to hear it sing.  I rose and left the house quietly as to not wake the three pre-teen girls who slept in the living room as a post birthday party celebration of my daughter's 10th.  They had been fairly loud the evening and into the depth of the night before so I am going to estimate that I had gotten, at most, 3 hours of shuteye.  I wasn't bothered much by this as I was headed out to fish with a friend that I've been acquainted with for some time but whom I've never had the opportunity to fish with.  In fact, we had never met in person.  I should also note that he is a hell of a fisherman.  Now being a "hell of a fisherman" is by no means a prerequisite for me to want to fish with someone but it certainly doesn't hurt things.  I was looking forward to it to say the least.

After I had slurped down a cup of Mobil's finest sludge and a granola bar, I met Mike on the reservoir at about 5.  The sun was still just barely out of hibernation as we loaded a dry land bobsled of sorts of my partners finest gear; a few 10 and 12 foot noodle rods with bait feeder reels attached, a couple of jigging outfits for Lake trout and a curious collection of lead core setups.  The loading of the gear was coupled with pleasant conversation but I knew that I was now a part of a tactical operation.  We were catching fish.

We decided to row for a bit to an area that both of us had previous success at.  Once we were satisfied with our location, we dropped a couple of sawbellies down.  We chatted about our families and shared some pictures of them on the cell phones.  A warmth appeared in the boatman's words when he spoke of his.  I appreciated that.  So often when men talk about marriage and raising kids with each other there are too many of a couple of things; complaints or bad jokes.  With Mike, I got neither.  I got the sense that this guy was a hell of a husband and father.  Again, not a prerequisite but it don't hurt.

Bang, the first hit came and it came on hard.  The baitfeeder ripped and Mike asked me to handle it.  We both hoped for a Brown.  I wasn't sure.  It bounced down a few times on the run and then raked sideways just like the finicky speckled Trout.  After a short battle and a long hold of my breath it was a nice fat...Small Mouth Bass.  Ok, I thought, I'll take it to wash off the skunk from the last two outings.  We both agreed it was a good omen that a fish was on within minutes of dropping.

Boom, another hit, another Bass.  And again soon after.  That was three Smallies in a row.

You've got to handle the next hit, I told him.  Enough is enough.

It should be understood that Mike is somewhat of a Brown Trout magnet these past couple of seasons.  Don't get me wrong, he works his tail off for his success and has his butt on a boat seat for more hours than you and I combined but the man can catch some Trout.  He is very humble about his success and I give him a lot of credit for that.  I'd be writing books. (Says the guy who writes lengthy blog posts about NOT catching fish!)

It surprised me to learn that with all of my cohorts success, he has yet to net a Brown out of Kensico.  Mike has a few boats on a few different reservoirs and Kensico is a good 45 minute trek for him so I believe it to be his least fished body of water.

Anyhow, after asking him to handle the next hit, he did.  And he boated his first Brown Trout.  Now, I don't call myself a mathematician but if we got 4 hits and 4 fish and I took three Bass out of the four hits into the boat and Mike took the Brown, wouldn't that equate to me being a lousy Trout fisherman?   But I digress...

Soon after, I hit a nice Laker on the jig which, in itself, is bounds of fun.  We would mark a fish at a certain depth and then send the jig down while we watched it on the fish finder.  Right at the same depth we'd close the bail and start the jig.  Bounce, bounce, reel.  Bounce, bounce, reel.  WHAM!  It was both invigorating and hilarious at once.  Two grown men giggling like the girls at the previous nights slumber party as we watched and waited while the Trout played cat and mouse with the jigs.  This is an exciting way to fish, folks.  You need to get out there and do it.  You won't be disappointed.  At one point I was awarded the assist for jigging a Laker off of a 90 foot floor as I got him to chase the jig up to 20 feet where it found Mike's bait hanging on the bait feeder.  He nailed it from there and we giggled some more.

For the last leg of our morning trip we decided to pull up the bait and focus on the jigging.  While singing some "Travelling Wilbury" tunes, we each boated a few more Lake Trout and I decided to keep one for the table which I ate for a late night Father's Day dinner.  We never did get to the lead core setups so my curiosity will have to hold for now...

In the end the "Two Mikes" didn't catch any monsters out there but we did manage a heck of a lot of action.  I will say that I had a great day of fishing with a new friend who I admire for more reasons than just being a hell of a fisherman.  But let's face it folks, that certainly doesn't hurt things.

And, if you care to know, I had an amazing Father's Day...

I hope you all did as well...

Tight lines,


Monday, June 10, 2013

Pepe Le Pew!

For those of you who may remember Pepe Le Pew, you will know immediately what I am referring to; the charming, ever romantic, cartoon skunk who mistook a black female cat with an accidental white stripe painted down her back for his target of affection.  Well, I am pretty sure that I am presently playing the role of said female cat.  Yup, I've been skunked.

Two outings in a row to be exact.  12 hours of seat time on the Jon Boat but, hey, who's counting?

I've been focusing on the reservoir, and Brown Trout in particular, these past two outings both out of desire as well as necessity.  The streams have been inundated with three torrential and long lasting rainstorms in the past two weeks alone.  It is a substantial blessing for these waters but it does take the fly rod out of one's hands.  I am thankful for the rain as well as the easily made decisions as to what waters to fish when my feet hit the floor at the ungodly hour that they do on a fishing day.  Usually it is a torturous and long decision for me that has been lately swiftly and thoughtlessly made.

With Bait at the ready each of the past two outings and armed with three Okuma baitfeeder fishing reels as well as my Pflueger spinning rod for casting, I felt pretty confident that I would find the elusive Kensico Browns that I have been hoping for. 

I have been fishing, generally speaking, over 60 to 90 feet of water and I've had Sawbellies set up at depths of anywhere between 15 and 30 feet as well as one on the top water on a long line out and away from the boat.  The first skunking came on a rainy morning and one that felt like a "fishy" morning.  That day I marked almost zero fish anywhere in the water column and I did not get any strikes at all.  It was an odd experience to say the least but I do realize that these things happen.  The day was a "wash" in more ways than one.  "No big deal", I thought.  "I'll get 'em next time." 

"Next time" happened to be yesterday; a perfectly calm Sunday morning with no wind gusts and warm temps.  There were schools of Sawbellies swarming the top of the golden sun swept water as I launched at 5:30 or so.  I rowed at a nice even pace to the deeper waters, having had my setups all ready to go.  I marked fish almost immediately this trip and I marked them fairly consistently. 

I had only three hits in 6 hours and each of the three were on and off too quickly for me to figure out why.  Well, I do know that I rushed the first one at 20 feet down and the second one ripped at the bait on the top water so quickly that I was left with a "birds nest" on the reel and the fish was off.  I don't recall the third hit but I do recall that 0 for 3 feeling I'd had at times as a kid playing ball.  Just wished I had one more at bat but the innings had been spent and it was time to go home.  The Browns had "no hit" me twice in a row.  In June.  I can't recall getting shut down in June once before, let alone on two consecutive outings.  Oof.

My new pal Pepe sat on the bow of the boat singing to me in a cartoon French accent as I took the long, arduous row back yesterday. I've got to get this white stripe off of my back soon so that  he realizes I'm no skunk, damn it!  Go spread your love somewhere else Monsieur Looney Toon!

Until next time, tight lines to all.  

Wednesday, May 22, 2013


All in a tweener's eve.

The 'tweener' is the fishing trip one takes in between this and that and the other thing on the long list of things that one has to do to survive.  Yesterday I had just such occasion to hit up a local stream to get in an hour and a half of fly fishing.

It was the first outing of the year where the heat and good old "suck the soul out of you" humidity had reared it's ugly head here in NY.  I rigged up at the car and felt the suffocation of my thickly woven 30 year old busted up and torn Hodgman waders.  Man, I really need a new pair.  That's for another day, though.

With beads of sweat rolling down my back I stepped into the stream.  Sweet relief.  The coolness of the stream with a slight upstream breeze was just what I needed.  I was in heaven.  This brought me immediately into the present moment, my day's tasks, whether before or after, were now non-existent.  This is why I fish.  All else disappears.  It does help that I like to catch fish I suppose but that's the bonus, right?

The Good Lord's AC cranking, I began to scout.  I didn't fish, didn't strip the line out just yet.  Yeah, I only had a limited fishing opening but I've got to mature at some point, right?  I looked and then I looked some more as the water slogged into a newly formed tear in said waders.  There it was, just upstream.  Pocket water.  They must be there.

I quietly made my way upstream and across the riffles to a good run between a couple of decent sized boulders.  If one can tiptoe across rocks then that was what I was doing.  I had a hunch.  I was right.

My first four casts produced three trout.  All Rainbows.  All beautiful.  One I won't soon forget.

I've heard and read about this type of action out of a particular hole and I've even caught a couple of fish out of the same run but this felt a little ridiculous to me.  How did they not see it coming?  How did they not get spooked?  Where was the hidden camera?

Satisfied immediately and still plenty of time to linger in this 'tweener', I walked upstream to fish a run that I've had a hunch about for quite some time but has never produced.  That was also turned on it's ear as I managed two smallish feisty Browns within just a few casts along the outside seam of the run.  If there is a hog heaven then call me a pig.

I probably could have fished more but I didn't.  I'm maturing, you see.  I can look at the water before dropping a line in and I can leave in time these days to get to my next "this or that or the other thing."

Of course, I was late to my next thing.  By about ten minutes.  Maybe fifteen.

Darn traffic.

This was one of the toughest fighting Rainbow's that I've had the pleasure to tango with.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Rain Date

They say that the best time to go fishing is "when you can" and I agree.  This morning was my only chance at an outing in the past couple of weeks so, rain be darned, I set the alarm for a bit after 5 and off I went.

I put the fly rods down as I have been overdue for an early morning reservoir trip so today was the day for the Kensico.

A quick stop for a hot 'cup 'o joe' and a granola bar and up the Saw Mill River Parkway I went, singing along to the sounds of this great tune here:  I got some Sawbellies and was excited to use them this morning with my new Okuma baitfeeder reels.  I have had one of these reels since my birthday last July and just acquired two more used outfits for a great price from a friend over at  Today was the first time that I fished with them and I was hoping to hear them "sing" louder than I was singing Springsteen.

The window was short, from about 7 to 9:30 of actual fishing time as I had to rig up three rods and get the boat launched, but it was productive.  The baitfeeders started to sing at about 7:30 and were fairly consistent for the next couple of hours.  In all I had 5 hits.  Two of them I missed but with the other three I was able to bring some trout to net.  I am pretty sure that the first hit that I missed was a Brown Trout as, it seems to me, these finicky fish like to "play with their food".  He tapped at it a few times and then ran as I counted down from 10.  On 11 I flipped the switch and heaved up the rod to set the hook and "poof", he was gone.  So was my Sawbelly.  Call me prejudice but I just don't think a Lake Trout is smart enough to steal bait after running with it for 10 seconds (or two seconds for that matter).  When Lake Trout hit, they hit hard and aggressive.  I had two of the hard hitters come up early in the outing.  One at 18" and the other at 20", both released to gorge and grow.  The third was just before my row in, a nice 24" and 4 and quarter pounder who put up a nice diving fight as Lakers will do.  I kept him for the table.  A nice treat to end a rainy A.M. and another example of the why, no matter what, "when you can" is always the best time to go fishing.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Photo finish weekend on the great Catskill Streams

I'd love to be able to put into words the fly fishing weekend that I just experienced with my brother-in-law but I don't think I'd do it any kind of justice.  It was comprised of two die-hards, fishing sun up to sun down and beating a path to and from probably a dozen locations on three Catskill Streams.  There was good food and great beer.  There was not enough sleep and leaky waders.  There were personal best trout caught on the fly and...didn't I just type that I can't put it into words??  I'll shut up now.

Off we go.  Friday. Post work and on the road!!

First stop was Catskill Flies on Stewart Ave in Roscoe for some timely advice from Walt and Dennis.

Creekside Cabins.  These folks run a great setup.  Beautiful stretch of the Willowemoc right outside our back door.  We wasted no time and my partner hooked up and netted a nice Brown quickly.  Check out the talon markings.  This was one tough fish!

I'd have to wait to connect early the next morning but these Amber Ales from Roscoe Beer Company hit the spot at dusk on the Willow.  This is a new brewer and I've been looking forward to these suds for over a year.  Well worth the wait.  This was the beverage of choice along our journeys this weekend.  I even found a big bottle cap!!  If you get the chance, I highly recommend this tasty brew.

This feisty little speckled Trout broke the ice for me at 5:25 on Saturday morning while swinging a streamer. Speaking of ice, it would riddle our guides and freeze up our reels for the better part of Saturday morning!  It was time for some hot coffee and bacon at the Famous Roscoe Diner!  What a great tradition.

We fished a few of the famous pools on the Beaverkill on Saturday with a good deal of success but Barnhart's Pool was magic for me.  This 18" Rainbow is my personal best and was taken on a size 14 Pheasant Tail.  I was fishing a double nymph rig with the PT on top and a Hare's Ear (go figure) dropped off on 6X tippet.  The fish fought like hell and my right leg was actually shaking!  I was hoping he wasn't on the 6X and, thankfully, he wasn't.  I was fishing far from my cohort so this is the only pic I could snap before a safe release.  I couldn't believe I had taken such a slab.  It was a great feeling of accomplishment for me as I have really been doing my homework this winter and hoping for results like these.                                            

My brother in law has also been a fine student of the fly this winter.  His work paid him off in even larger dividends on the East Branch of the Delaware River later that afternoon.  We got no official measurement on this slab but we didn't need one.  This was a hell of a fish!! 

Catching these fish was just a bonus to the weekend.  There were so many other things to take note of.  Simple beauty was easy to find everywhere you looked. 

My Dad used to say that all the time.  "Catching fish is just a bonus."  What a great lesson he taught me.  I made it a point to pass by the old Hansel and Gretel Cabins, long shut down, that started this fishing journey for me more than 25 years ago.  You can see that there are only a couple of cabins remaining and a couple of concrete slabs where others once stood.  The trees are cut down to stumps and there are "No Trespassing" signs all up and down the driveway.  I'm not sure what they are doing here but that water behind those cabins, no doubt, holds ghosts from the past.  I am glad I got to see this sight, different as it is, because it seems it won't be there much longer.

All said and done we had what both of us considered to be the greatest fishing experience we've had to this point.  Looking forward to the next one.  In the meantime, "THANKS FOR VISITING".

Lastly, even though we always want to fish some more, at some point, we have to take the bear's advice:

Saturday, April 20, 2013


There is something special about seven.  Something that cues up eternal curiosity to match the soundtrack of boyhood independence.

"Go ahead Daddy, I'll stay here, I wanna dig up this root!", he said as I fished just a bit further downstream of him, just beyond the reach of his eyes.  I had carried him through a small run of water and onto an island of white washed river rock that couldn't have been larger than my son's bed.  It didn't need to be any larger. He was the King of this island and it's only inhabitant and these adventurous dreams were real.

I'd handed him the fly rod about a half hour before and he practiced flipping nymphs for maybe five minutes. There was more excitement over the sound of the "ker-plunk" that large stones make as they hit the drink.

"I'll throw them in up here, Dad.  I'll spook the fish so they swim down to you, so you fish down there."  he instructed me where to go.  It was not a bad plan.

"Can you lift up this tree that fell, lean it against this one?  I wanna make a shelter!"

There were many of these moments in our short window of time on the stream together.  None of which I'll soon forget.

The sun was starting to recede behind the tree line.  The unusual warmth of the day which had us in short sleeves was waning.  I'd really like to hook a trout for this kid.  Oooh, so close.  I missed him the first time but I had found the trout's lie.

I hooked him again and my son bounded down the banks.   I handed him the rod.  He would be the third generation to take a trout on this antique of an instrument.  That was something right there.  He played and landed a nice hatchery Brown Trout.  It didn't fight particularly loudly.  It might have known that this would be the boy's first.  After reeling in the wrong direction, my son calmed and the fish agreed to come to net.

My son holding his first ever trout on a fly rod.

We soon went home, all smiles.  My son ahead of me, skipping and running back up the dusty trail to the car, the faded navy blue cotton of the Derek Jeter Tee-shirt, size small, swimming on his scrawny frame.  Surely he wasn't thinking of the fish, the fly rod, the lie, the seam, what have you.  

Seven doesn't think about the past or the future.  It just lives in the moment, matching curiosity with independence and skips and runs and splashes and does what it darn well pleases.

We could all use a little bit of that.