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.