A winter camping trip to Shenandoah materialized in the beginning of February. Naturally, I brought my small stream fly rod just incase we ventured along a stream that harbored some of the last pure stocks of native brook trout on the east coast...
Sunday, February 23, 2014
A solo mission north for two days of swinging flies was met with unseasonably warm temperatures. With freedom from ice in the guides, I took advantage and fished a skagit line for a little more fun casting and some much needed practice. I kept the tips on the lighter side and flies in the 2-3 inch range hoping to entice a fresh winter chromer into taking a fly. In the shallower sections, I switched it up to a scandi and went with a mono leader and a small wet fly. The lower temps resulted in a few periods of snow intermixed with sleet and freezing rain. It had been awhile since I fished gloveless on a steelhead river, so I enjoyed the two "warm" days…
Thursday, February 13, 2014
A few years ago, Adam Hope created the Carp Damsel, which is a hybridized version of a damsel and dragon nymph designed to target carp. The fly excelled across a wide range of conditions but made its name fishing mid-column to prowling carp and to bank feeders where the fly was delicately dapped in front of the fish. The fly was developed out of necessity due to the wariness and intelligence of the carp we target on our home waters. After learning of Adam's success, I developed a very similar version to call my own and fished it as successfully over the past few years. It has accounted for some of my best carp on fly, all of which took the fly in the middle of the water column, as it slowly parachutes down.
Sunday, February 9, 2014
I had been looking forward to this trip for exactly a year. We've hit the tributaries on this weekend like clockwork for the past five years because it's the only time I'm on the continent when the fish are running. We'll do it again next year.
To step into a flowing river and to feel the pull of the water on your waders after thinking about it for so long is a funny experience. I know what it feels like and I can call it to my imagination without hesitation but the coldness seeping into my boots always makes me feel extremely alive.
Familiarity with such processes probably leads to a dulling of the senses regarding the smallest things, or maybe not. Ice slowly accumulates in my beard and guides, chemical handwarmers wait for my hands in the pockets of my jacket and I try very hard to take note of everything, to install it in my memory so I can recall it when I'm sitting in my apartment, sweating from the African heat, to escape it.
Monday, January 27, 2014
As I sit and write this it’s currently January 27th. It just so happens to be one of three weekends I went without swinging flies on the Salmon River since the last week of August. The only reason I’m not there is because Mark had persuaded me to attend the show in Somerset NJ. Between a full-time job and swinging flies from sunrise to sunset two days a week I rarely get to open a computer.
Back in August through the first two weeks of October I fished for Kings on the DSR. In my time spent there I befriended a season pass holder who also believed in “swinging or going home”. The last weekend I fished the DSR there were steelhead pouring in from the estuary and we stepped down a few runs together, both of us were rewarded.
Monday, January 13, 2014
Thursday, January 9, 2014
Outside of one day swinging for king salmon in early September, I didn't get to fish with one of my best friends. Different work schedules have a way of making that happen and so we fished individually for a few months. Those few months were filled with a complete void of pictures from the photographer in the pair, and a lot of selfies for Adam, who was able to spend more time than ever walking the snow covered banks of the Salmon River swinging for steel. In late December, the stars aligned and we had the river mostly to ourselves. It ended up being quite the day, as several new variables in our approach produced one of the best days we've had in quite some time.
Wednesday, January 1, 2014
Three buddies and I traveled north to Pulaski for some true winter steelheading in typical Great Lakes conditions. The temperature was low and over the course of two days, it rarely stopped snowing. Each morning we awoke to 6-8 inches of snow that added onto the few inches received throughout the day. The temperature and wind resulted in frozen reels, lines, and flies, but we overcame that to have a successful trip. For my three buddies, it was their first time on the Salmon River chasing steelhead and they were able to experience some scenic conditions. Two of us focused on indicator fishing, while the other two swung flies. Both methods worked and we were able to get into a few slabs in the midst of a snow covered landscape.
Thursday, December 26, 2013
Alone with my thoughts and five hours of open road, I told myself that this trip was going to be different. Different in a sense that I was going to focus more on my swing and presentation of the fly, rather than my casting, distance, and loops.
Tuesday, December 10, 2013
My sister's birthday came around and as usual I waited until the last moment to think about what to get her. Due to my lack of creativity when it comes to gift giving, I simply asked her what she wanted. To my surprise, she only had one request, "TAKE ME FISHING!". Needless to say, but I was willing to oblige. For someone that only fly fishes once a year, she is a pretty fishy individual and likes to remind me that she caught a bonefish on fly before I did. This sole fact, according to her, makes her a better fisherman than me. Typically, I have no response for her boasts and shake my head whenever I account that moment in time. Nonetheless, we planned on an early Sunday outing before family festivities took over.
In typical fashion, we overslept and arrived on the water with only two hours of fishing time. Despite a few risers here and there, I gave her an indicator rig armed with some meat (san juan worm) for those greedy fish looking for a meal. I dropped off a midge on 7x, for the more pressured and picky wild browns. Both flies scored in the cold weather. The picture above reveals my sister's joy at catching a colorful rainbow on the san juan. We were laughing, because of her three second delay from when I said, "set", to when she actually raised her rod to set the hook. The rainbow went for a rollar coaster ride and my sister dropped the fish a few times into the ghost net before settling on her patented "death grip". Despite the picture looking as if the rainbow is about to explode, the fish was fine and swam off with authority.
We ended the day in reverse situations, as she guided me to a large brown trout sipping midges from atop a bridge. I took my time to get in position while my sister told me the whereabouts of the trout. On my first good drift, the brown rose and ate my size 26 midge. My hook set pinged off the bridge and the fly never found flesh, karma for laughing at her inability to hold the rainbow. I gave the brown a break and tried a few more times. I dropped off a subsurface midge and had my sister watching the fish's subsurface feeding habits to let me know when to set the hook. This time, the midge found it's home but after a few head shakes, it was thrown. Defeated, I knew that it wasn't meant to be. I should have let my sister have that shot. With her luck and skill, she could have been the one to catch that wild brown on her birthday.