Sunday, August 30, 2015
Thursday, June 18, 2015
They came off late.
The sulphurs; Like the flurry of ideas here as I attempt justice in the writing, they swarmed the river after I had thought they would or possibly could show. At the edge of the day's fading light, the sun melded with the overcast slate and they somehow appeared, with the street lamps, in unison.
The family of dad, uncle, and two boys, fishing bait, had had enough. They waved their goodbyes in broken English. They had caught nothing but stomped to me quietly, the boys did, as the fly took a small brown. A sullen feeling across me that wished one of those boys had held the bouncing rod. Maybe next time. Off they went with the last of the natural light. And on came the yellow bugs with big wings. They flicker through the sky as the trout sip and salute them.
It's been a year since this fishing nirvana occurred last, yet here they are, different than I remembered, later too, but here just the same. The questions enveloped my head from which fly was perfect for the top to which fly would fool the big flash at the bottom, two feet in front of me and sweeping the crumbs off of the riverbed floor. She had been flashing at me for an hour and a half like a lady of the night who had a phantom sense about her. Was she really there? An answer I would not find. Suitable, I thought. Back to the fish on the top.
From 8:36 pm, if I had to guess well, to 9:15, I took trout one after the other. Some slashed within feet, some across the stream. They all sent fast and pulsating vibrations through the rod to the arm of the angler. The arm sent signals to the mouth. The smile, big and wide and shit eating, did not dissipate until the business of the next day.
There is nothing better for the soul than a late hatch that one thought may never come at all.
Monday, May 25, 2015
Monday, April 13, 2015
Wednesday, April 1, 2015
Tuesday, March 31, 2015
"It's me or it's not. Now or never", I stated flatly trying both to be brave and tough. I was a sapling though.
She pointed her eyes down. Took a drink. Smiled.
"There's a lot to think about..."
"There's not," I demanded.
A drunk girl, twenty some-odd-not old enough to drink, strolled by gasping, "You guys are soooooo cute together!"
We laughed as the girl passed. I remarked about how even the drunk girl knew about us. She tilted her head back up and set her brown eyes upon mine. The flicker of a candle sparkled inside of them. I held my breath and sharply swilled at the beer.
"I just needed some time. I may need more but I understand if you can't give that to me."
"I can't," I answered, "it's too much already. If you go, I won't be here when you turn back."
Hardball. A gamble. I risked everything. At that moment she might have gotten up. I might have paid the tab and walked out of that bar with nothing but a cheap buzz as I stared blankly while she walked down the tiled subway platform. She didn't though. She sat. She smiled. I took her hand.
"Are you sure about us?" She paused. "Are you sure?", she asked.
I turned her soft hand up into mine and interlocked our fingers. I pulled her in, across the small table. We kissed.
"Let's go," I said. "I've always been sure. Always."
We stood up. She was radiant. The point had turned and she was mine.
(I know. It's not about fishing. But winter is officially over and opening day is at hand. Another turning point. One that we can all celebrate. Good luck out there. Tight lines. Back to our regularly scheduled program. -- Mike)
Sunday, March 1, 2015
River's Edge; A Fly Fishing Realm is a remarkable journey throughout the streams and rivers where North Western New York State mixes company with the beautiful wildness of Pennsylvania. Each chapter has the reader walking along the trail-side with Walt on one of his "home" streams in this seemingly timeless region. The author writes with ease and recounts his experiences on these waters while offering insight into some practical items such as access areas, species, ideal rods for specific streams, etc. Nary a Sunday morning went by for me in this last month or two where my coffee wasn't accompanied by a chapter or two.
Walt takes us for a ramble along the Kinderhook, where he got his start as a kid "on the fly". Dropped off by his parents at the ripe old age of twelve, Walt seems to have connected to the solitude immediately. Upon his return years and years later, the memories flood the fisherman as well as having the present moment take him directly back in time. With each passing chapter, the author connects us to his life's fishing journey utilizing history; not only his own but of the streams and rivers he meanders on. Tales of townships, watering holes, citizens, etc. keep us company while we wade through the pages. The solitude that the reader finds in the author's words are never an image of loneliness. Yes, there are a couple of tales of days spent with fishing partners but mostly Walt is on his own in nature. It is no wonder that we sense from him an expertise on birds, flora, vegetation, critters, and what have you. It is inspiring to read of the knowledge that Walt has, not only of fishing, but of all that he is surrounded by. In his humble exploration, the reader never feels that the writer is doing anything but sharing in a selfless way. I've read some of the "experts" and they certainly want you to know it. Walt attempts no part of that but instills in the reader a curiosity for things unknown in the wild.
What must be mentioned regarding River's Edge is it's connection to conservation. The author, again without presumption, not only knows the waters he fishes like the back of his hand but contributes much to the lifeblood of these streams. Whether a trail-side communication to an unethical fisherman or a full blown stream restoration effort through different communities, Walt has either had a hand in these or at least knows and appreciates the trials and tribulations these rivers and their inhabitants have survived through. Clearly a passion of the writer's that connects him to the species he fishes for, conservation ties the entire existence of fisherman to fish, to surroundings, to nature at large. This, the reader takes away and hopefully carries to his or her own home streams.
My thought before writing this "review" was to explore a few of my favorite chapters for you out there in cyberspace but instead I invite you to find yours. There are bound to be a few, this much I can promise. As I mentioned, Walt Franklin is a damn good writer, and this book reflects this undeniable fact from the riffles to the pools of his favorite trout streams and back out into the wild surroundings that all of us treasure.
Friday, February 20, 2015
They sat in the kitchen of the fishing cabin smoking and playing cards. I could hear the happy commotion from the tiny bedroom as the light slipped under the door and onto the wood planked floor. I wanted to be included, to be older, to stay up late. The wish of so many kids throughout the years. I got up and peeked through the skeleton keyhole. Smoky denim and the back of a flannel shirt. A yellow linoleum tabletop with large hands perched on them, at once slapping the table with joy.
"Full house, Jack! Beat that!", he barrels out as the roar from the table emerges.
"Ha, ya sonofabitch! Ya got me..."
I creak open the door slightly as the laughter slowly subsides and the "pfffffffftttttttt" of the cards shuffle.
"Dad," I say timidly, "I have to pee."
I didn't but this was my plan to get in on the action. Who could sleep through this anyhow?
A quick 'go ahead' from Dad's nod and I sweep through the kitchen like a mouse with a broom following it.
From the crusty bathroom I hear, "Hey, let the kid stay up a bit, Jack. Why don't ya?"
"No. Too young. Maybe next year..."
"Ah, you're no fun!", the guy ribs away.
"Next year, next year..."
I scurry back, averting the eyes of all but dad who winks.
There never was a "next year".
Happy birthday, Dad. You are missed.
Monday, February 2, 2015
A bright spot in a gray season a couple of weekends ago was a visit to the Fly Fishing Show out in Somerset, NJ. I have wanted to attend in previous years but hadn't had the opportunity until this one came around. I took the drive with my brother in law, whom you all know as "The Mick", and my buddy Chris from over at Juniper Fly Fishing. Chris and I have never met in person but have been in frequent touch over the past couple of years. The day proved true to me my assumptions about the guy; that he is a kindred spirit in things such as fishing, music, and beer. A good hour plus ride out had the three of us talking the Croton Watershed, the Catskills, and the Farmington. It was joyfully painful to talk technique and tactic as we all agreed that a trip to a fly fishing show was only a distant second best to a trip to the stream. You take what you can get.
Out at the show was row upon row of gear, tiers, artists, lodges, you name it. If you could dream it up, you could pretty much find it here. A Catskill Conservation group sold raffles to raise money to their worthy cause and offered free casting "tune ups" in which I took part. This was coupled by a fantastic demo later in the day by a gentleman named Gary Borger. The tips I took away from these experiences will hopefully stick with me until the spring makes its anticipated return. "Whatever the end of the rod does, the line must do as well."
At the show, I had the pleasure of meeting Matt Delorenzo in person, a guide on the famous Ausable River at the Hungry Trout Resort. Matt and I have a mutual friend in common, Frank DeGrazio, who guides in our local waters as well as the Catskills and is affectionately known as Hendrickson Spinner. Matt told me to bug Frank about getting me up to fish with those guys on the Ausable. Hint, hint, Frank old pal ;) He really was a good guy and it was neat to have my "online" fishing life merge with reality at the show. We even ran into Pete Kutzer from The Orvis Company. Pete does some great casting lessons for Orvis and a slew of them can be found online. Talk about a laid back demeanor and a "trout bum" tone. Pete was a cool cat and when Mike and I asked him to say hello to "Uncle Tom" for us, he laughed and knew exactly who we meant. We dubbed Rosenbauer with that nickname a couple of spring times ago on the just- before-daybreak banks of the Willowemoc while we slung streamers to much success thanks to one of Uncle Tom's helpful podcasts.
One of the highlights of the day was sitting in on a seminar in which 90 year old Lefty Kreh gave us his freshwater tips. We joked that it should have been called "Lefty's Life Hacks" because he offered a lot more than just regular old fishing tips. His sense of humor alone was admirable but his ideas shared on simple things like 'putting your name on all your gear' to 'strapping luggage to a car roof' were a solid way to spend an hour of our day. He spoke with Mike after the presentation about Mike's upcoming trip this May to the Florida Keys to do some bone fishing.
The pinnacle of the day for me was meeting John Gierach, the famous fly fishing author out of Colorado. We said hello to him at his table and he was a pretty unassuming guy who seemed a bit out of his element and we decided he might just hate doing these things. I was pleased to think that this was probably the case, at least the part where he had to read aloud a chapter of one of his books to about seventy people in a conference center ballroom. He seemed genuinely tortured by it but loosened up once he cut himself short and just took questions from the crowd. I was fascinated to listen to the man that kept me a fly fisher throughout all of those years where I never touched a cork handle or waded into a stream. He kept me there, on the streams of my youth with my father by my side, and he eventually brought me back to this sport that I love so much. Someone asked him which he considered himself, a writer or a fisherman first. He answered that he was a writer who loved to fish. It was interesting to note. He also admitted that he fishes for reasons that we all do but he would never presume to know how to capture the grand scheme of "why" one fishes in his writing. He hoped that this would just come through in his stories. It does, John, it most certainly does. I was inspired by the man that day and I hoped for him that it would end soon and he would find himself driving up the mountain from his Colorado home with a fly rod in the bed of his pickup sooner than later. But not before a picture with me.
Sunday, January 11, 2015
In 1864, Robert Lowry wrote this hymn. In church this morning, it brought me to the river.
"Shall we gather at the river,
Where bright angel feet have trod,
With its crystal tide forever
Flowing by the throne of God?
Yes, we’ll gather at the river,
The beautiful, the beautiful river;
Gather with the saints at the river
That flows by the throne of God.
On the margin of the river,
Washing up its silver spray,
We will talk and worship ever,
All the happy golden day.
Ere we reach the shining river,
Lay we every burden down;
Grace our spirits will deliver,
And provide a robe and crown.
At the smiling of the river,
Mirror of the Savior’s face,
Saints, whom death will never sever,
Lift their songs of saving grace.
Soon we’ll reach the silver river,
Soon our pilgrimage will cease;
Soon our happy hearts will quiver
With the melody of peace."
With thoughts of tight lines on Sunday mornings of springtime -- Mike