Monday, April 27, 2009

To Live In a Place Where The Brown Trout Fall From the Sky

From the comes this Monday madness. Makes one ponder what would happen if a trout landed in their (my) backyard.......I don't have Wally the Wonderdog to find it, or any dog for that matter. Would Karen the Wonderwife go out and make sushi of it?


To Live In a Place Where The Brown Trout Fall From the Sky

Life is Good. Especially if you live where trout fall from the sky.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Cool Evening - Few Bugs and Fewer Trout

Got out tonight for a couple of hours and fished some water I haven't fished in a few years. It was quite cool and breezy, but the sunset was beautiful. The entire time I fished, a woodpecker tapped away, high in a tall maple above me. The chill kept the (good) bugs at bay - saw lots of midges in the air when the air was still, but only a few on the water along with an occasional Hendrickson dun or Grannom. Didn't see any bad bugs - you know, skeeters or biters.

To make a short story shorter, I took two nice rainbows. One on top using a Dorato Hare's Ear, and one subsurface on a Blue Bitch.

Life is Good. Especially when the bitch comes through..............take it easy, its a fly.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Happy Earth Day

Here's a few things you can do today for Mother Earth to show your appreciation for all she does for us. Pick up some trash, plant a tree, don't drive - walk to work, recycle something, don't flush the toilet, don't turn on the lights for the day, leave the heat off in the house, kiss a wild animal or bug or hug a tree........whatever, just do something you don't normally do, but should do......or maybe always wanted to do but felt it was too weird or hippy-ish.

Ever since I went into New York City way back on the first earth day celebration with my older, hippy sister (I was 12) I always thought that was what the day was - a hippy celebration. It was fun, everyone seemed to be stoned and righteous, their long hair held back in a hankerchief,loose tie-dyed clothes, no bras, sandals and whole earth catalogs under their peace signs everywhere. It was a beautiful day, warm and bright, and the perfect day to celebrate. We heard speeches, good music and saw some great displays and shows in Central Park.

So how come my best memory of the day was when we were walking down 5th Avenue and some clown decided to steal a couple of hot pretzels from a street vendor? Yes, that sticks in my mind. This big, tall, smelly older homeless dude grabbing lunch and the vendor screaming at him practically before he grabbed the goods - as if he knew it was going to happen. The guy gets maybe 20-25 feet and he's tackled by a big-assed, bearded hippy who crushes him against the sidewalk, then picks the guy up, gives him a couple of bucks and literally carries him over the vendor and tells him to, "Pay the dude!"

The vendor takes the cash, the benevolent neanderthal puts him down, and the guy is promptly arrested..................well, sort of..........the cop took one look at the throng of stoners pleading and booing him, and let the guy go to thunderous applause.

Life is Good. Who said stoners never did anything productive?

Sunday, April 19, 2009

A Balanced Weekend for Fish and Fisherman

Despite working most of the day Saturday, I managed to be on the river by 5:00PM. To my surprise and delight, I saw one other angler (jerk is more like it), so I essentially had the river to myself. The jerk I saw wasn't really fishing, although he did ruin one or two pools he was wading in, and polluted the air something fierce with noise.

When I got to the river after walking a good 1/2 mile from my car, there wasn't a soul sight. The warm air was filled with Hendrickson duns and spinners, Dark Grannom caddis, and midges. I stood on the bank scanning the pool below me for rising fish in order to decide where I should enter the pool for optimum positioning. As I did this, I hear someone speaking very loudly downstream around the bend of the second pool down. I thought okay, the guys loud, but that may be so his buddy can hear him over the running water.....but why was it getting louder?

Simple, because it was a jerk. A bonafide, wader wearing idiot complete with a silly cowboy hat that looked about as comfortable on this guys head as a biker at the ballet. He was wading right up the middle of the pool below the one I had intended to fish, fly rod under his armpit, cell phone at his ear. And he kept coming, right up the center of the pool, leaving a wake that would make a weekend power boater proud - a bank-to-bank wake that put every fish down for the count. As he moved up stream he literally yelled into his phone so the person on the other end of the line could hear him over the sounds of flowing water rushing around his rapidly moving legs.

As he moved through that pool, I thought to myself (wished desperately) that he might have the sense to make a right turn and head to the bank before he entered the pool I hoped to fish. Not a chance, a jerk is a jerk is a JERK. Just after he had the audacity to wave to me, he waddled up over and through the short riffle that separated the pool he just ruined from the one he was about to ruin and that I was about to fish. Instantly, every fish in the pool stopped rising.......

I didn't wave back. Disgusted, I turned and headed upstream in the opposite direction and didn't stop until the jerk was well out of hearing range.

Here's what I don't understand: Even if one is too dense to understand that wading up through the center of a river might negetively affect the fishing for anyone that may come along, wouldn't it be easier to head to the bank and walk back to your vehicle on land rather than fighting the current? And what's with the cell phone? Does that enhance the outdoor experience? Is electronic stimulation so vital to one's existence that it should be plastered to our body everywhere we go?

Anyway, fortunately I can get over jerk fairly quickly. I walked upstream a good distance to another, long, smooth pool and found a quite a few fish rising throughout its length. After I got in at the the head of the pool and positioned myself I watched the rising fish to see what they were munching on. On the water surface, there were Hendrickson duns and spinners, lots of spinners, and egg-laying caddis. I watched the spinners and duns first, and all of them drifted unmolested by the feeding fish. I then followed a caddis, and then another, and another. All of them became part of a trout's well-balanced dinner. So I tied on an egg-laying caddis.

And for the next several hours until it was too dark to see, I caught lots of these beautiful Rainbow trouts and one big-ass brown, all on the same fly. The Rainbows ran 10-14 inches in length, and the brown, well he was massive, somewhere between 24-26 inches! No shit, I measured him on my rod. What an evening.

The big-assed brown. I didn't lay my rod down next to him for perspective, as the bank was soggy with mud from a recent rainstorm, but you get the idea.

And the fly.
With the exception of the Brown trout, I repeated the evening on Sunday in another section of the river. The best thing is, the river is a ten minute drive from my home.

Life is Good. If anyone tells you trout fishing in New Jersey is so-so, don't believe them. And if you see a jerk with a cell phone plastered to his ear standing in the river, give him a shove for me.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

A Day in the Life of a Fly Rod

The chef at the Tewksbury Inn, Chris, is passionate about two things - music and fly fishing - actually three, his son. He loves to fly fish, and every time I am in the Inn, that's all he (and the other guys and a couple of women) want to talk about. Of course, our wives, significant others and the manly men that don't fish, have some fun at our expense - sometimes it appears as though their eyes might roll right of of the sockets! Their loss..........

We marvel at his child-like love for the sport despite using an old, fiberglass rod that is about as responsive as a hickory limb. So, last fall, a bunch of us decided we'd get him a serious fly rod .

Having built many fly rods over the years, I suggested that I build him one instead of buying one, and make it real special. With that, everyone pitched in enough greenbacks that I could get a top of the line rod blank and components. I built the rod over the winter - a Winston IM6 Graphite 8' 6" 3-piece, 5 weight rod, complete with nickel silver hardware and a coccobola wood reel seat. The rod is forest green, and I wrapped it in deep red. I even measured his hand and formed a custom, reversed half-wells grip on my lathe. Here it is, what a beauty!

Dave, the Man-About-Town, threw in a Bauer reel, which we filled with line, and now he has one serious trout rod and reel combo to stand in the cool, clear currents of our trout streams with. Seriously, its one bad-ass outfit. When we gave it to him, I think he may have even wet himself a little.

Now on to the good part. Chris only has one day off, so over the weekend we planned to get out this past Monday. He was dying to fish the rod, and I figured the Hendricksons would likely be hatching. A perfect opportunity to break in the new rod.

When we got to the river, it was clear and flowing at a perfect level. The sky was pale blue and warm, with a slight breeze carrying the scent of early spring. Bright green buds, freshly emerged, peppered the stems and branches of streamside shurbbery and saplings. Tall trees, covered with buds that ached to burst free, swayed overhead. And the harbinger of the Hendrickson mayflies, the forsythia, glowed with its yellow flowers. It was early afternoon, and the only bugs we saw were dark grannoms - small, dark bodied, tannish ruddy-winged caddis. The trout ignored them, as is the norm.

The Hendricksons began to show around 3:00 PM or so. At first there were a few here and there, and as the sun moved on, more of them appeared on the water surface. The trout joined the dance, rising here and there at first, then, as more flies appeared on the water, more trout rose to sip them in. The feast of the mayflies was on.

Chris and I split up at first, but after I took a nice, wild brown on a dry, I thought I would see how he was doing. I walked downstream along the rocky trail and about 1/2 mile downstream, I found him standing knee deep alongside a rock filled, hip deep run. I stayed back and watched him cast his new rod for a bit, and then walked down and asked him how he was doing. He said there was a nice fish working just about a large, submerged rock, but he was having trouble getting a good drift over it.

After he showed me what fly he was using and watching him cast some more, I had him bring in his line so we could change his fly. I gave him a caribou Hendrickson emerger, which he quickly tied on, then gave him a quick casting lesson - the curve cast - so he could put the fly above the fish and ahead of the line, and get a nice, drag-free presentation over the trout that was now rising in a steady pattern. Once Chris was ready, I stepped back and waded downstream, leaving him to solve the riddle of the rising trout with his new casting tool.

A managed to get maybe 20 feet down river of him, and with my back turned, I heard him calmly say, "I got him." I turned and the rod had the sweet curl that only occurs when a fish has taken the fly and pulled the line taught. It was a nice fish. The rod pulsed with each run of the fish, its butterscotch flanks flashing for a moment in one place, and then again in another. I offered assistance in landing the fish, but Chris told me in no uncertain terms that he would land it. He had to touch it to feel the moment of his success without any interference for it to be real.

After a brief battle, he eased the trout into the slack water along the bank and bent down and cradled the fish in his hand. "Holy shit! That was awesome," was all he said as he gently backed the hook out of the corner of the fishes jaw before holding it face first into the current and releasing it.

The rod was christened exactly as it was meant to the hands of a passionate angler.

Life is Good. Even if you're a fly rod.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Fished Today and Kicked Trout Butt

The first major hatch of the year, Hendricksons, and the trout were on them. Story tomorrow, got to crash.........

Sunday, April 12, 2009

A Quiet Easter

Having done the family holiday weekend stuff Friday night and yesterday, Karen and I had planned to go out to a trout stream today, where I would fish while she sat in the warm spring sun and studied for this weeks pediactrics final exam. Well, after a lazy morning and a late breakfast, we headed out. The air was crisp and cold, the sky was deep blue, and the wind was high.

We checked some spots on a local river and then decided to go over to the Ken Lockwood Gorge and see what was going on there. The wind was blowing and the wind chill was in the low 30s, so we decided to just go for a walk down the dirt road that runs along the river. The gorge was chilly, but filled with sun, and almost void of people and fishermen. We saw two fishermen, and this is opening day weekend. I knew Easter would keep the crowds down, but I guess the cold really kept people home.....the place needed a break, I'm sure, after yesterday.

We walked until our faces were red and ears frozen, then headed home. It's a short drive through woods and farms, and small stream bridges. I took this photo of one our neighbors farms as it captures the kind of day it was - just add sounds of songbirds and the sweet smell of spring carried by a cool breeze, and you too can be in the NJ countryside.

Life is Good. Nothing like spending a quiet day with your wife. I'll hit the rivers tomorrow afternoon.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Opening Day

It's warm and raining, but that hasn't stopped the masses of trout fishermen from lining up along the rivers to yank in a freshly stocked brookie or rainbow. I'm heading down to the fly shop to sign some books, see friends, and generally get in the way if I can. Then I'll wet a line just for traditions a wild trout stream. No stockies, just richly colored browns and rainbows beautifully painted by Mother Nature with only the finest pigments genetics can provide. The weather conditions are perfect for a Blue-winged Olive hatch, or maybe the Quill Gordons will be on the water. We shall see. Even if I don't catch anything, it will be a successful trip, a soul cleanser much needed after a busy week of work.

Life is Good. Spring is here.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Rumors, Myths and Other Insect Falsities

Is that a word? Falsities? Probably not, but it fits.

I think I've found a new chapter for the book I'm working on. Well before the internet and the explosion of incorrect information flying around via fiber optics, there existed all kinds of trout fly fishing insect-bug-hatch bullshit. I'm speaking of innocent, non-malicious bullshit (you know, the kind that doesn't smell).

.......more later, I've got to crash. Long day.

Life is Good. We'll get back to this when I've had some sleep. Stay tuned, its going to be good.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Wickstrom: Grave and great: Fly fishing for our time

I couldn't agree more. Give me a pheasant tail nymph, a supple leader and a little room to cast, and the rest is cake........and if the trout are biting, icing on the cake.

Wickstrom: Grave and great: Fly fishing for our time : Columnists : Boulder Daily Camera

Life is Good. Keep it simple, stupid.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Fishing the Gorge - The Circus, and a Clown With a Spinning Rod

Took advantage of the nice, warm early spring day yesterday and hit the Ken Lockwood Gorge section of the South Branch of the Raritan River. With the season closed on all but special regs waters like the gorge, it was the only game in town. I heard the couple of other special regs waters were also in full circus mode.

Most (all) of the obvious holes in the 1 1/2 mile stretch had at least one angler in them. Not that this was a problem, I prefer the pocket water and fast runs. With the exception of one guy, everyone pretty much behaved and gave others elbow room. This one clown though, decided that since I was catching fish, it might be a hoot to move in below me and cast his Panther Martin upstream into the water I was working. Unbelievable, there's one guy chucking spinners and he has to be within sight of me..........the circus not only came to town yesterday, it came to my doorstep. After his third metal invasion, I calmly, in a friendly tone of voice, told him he may want to cast a little closer to me to see if that might piss me off. He stared at me for a moment, sizing me up, and then reeled in and mosied on off down river.

The water was at a perfect level and clear. Tons of Little-black and Early-black stoneflies in the air, as well as some dark Grannoms, and midges. Nothing was rising, so I started off with subsurface patterns that matched the nymphs and pupae of the aforementioned bugs. Zilch. So I went to the bread-and-butter tandem of a Copper Bead Bird's Nest and a Brown and Yellow LaFontaine Sparkle Emerger.

Here's the Bird's Nest. Purty little thing, ain't it?


Caught 9 fish - 8 cookie-cutter stocked brookies, and one butterscotch colored, wild brown of about a foot in length. All of them on the Bird's Nest. Once I caught the brown, I was done for the day. If I had caught him right away, I may have stopped fishing then as anything that came after it might have interfered with the photos in my mind.

Lastly, the Bird's Nest is effective all over the country. I first started fishing it on the Upper and Lower Sacramento and McCloud River in No. Calif., where it outfished anything else by a wide margin. As much as I love fishing dries, when nothing is happening on top, a little down and dirty nymphing can be pretty damn satisfying.

Life is Good. MEMO TO CIRCUS: Clowns don't fish.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

New Jersey Monthly Magazine - On the Fly

I have mixed feelings about this article for which I was interviewed at length, and quoted therein. On the one hand, the Ken Lockwood Gorge, which is maybe 30 miles outside of NYC, is such a beautiful, and secluded place it should be shared. On the other hand, it is already loved to near its breaking point. The reality though is, it is much more likely to be preserved when it is loved by many, then if it was loved only by a select few, given its location.

If you have never fished, walked or biked "The Gorge", you should. You'll be pleasantly surprised at the beauty of the place - a free flowing, rock filled, whispering river hugged by steep hemlock and hardwood covered inclines that shut out the busy world only a short drive away. Birds, ducks, otters, beavers, herons, frogs and other wildlife move about its sheltered confines as though they were far, far away from the civilized world. If you go, just be sure to take only memories and photographs, and leave only footprints.


Life is Good. There's nothing like free advertising.

Fly Lines - Part 2 of 2 If Seen One, Have You Seen Them All?

And now for the rest of the story - from Singlebarbed. Why would fly line manufacturers be any different than say cereal makers, or drug companies, whose single motivating factor is $$.

Advertising copy used by fly line makers are slicker than their line coatings. Features they tout on the box are shared by other lines in their product suite, many of their tapers are similar, and there’s no standard to judge words like; longer, shorter, and slicker.

Read it all here: Part 2 of 2 : Is the fly line industry running out of superlatives?

Life is Good. Do your homework, read the fine print, and don't take anything you are told by someone selling you something at face value.......that includes love - make them prove it.