Saturday, December 27, 2014

The Most Beautiful Fish On Earth - A Fishing Report

Last week Doug headed south to North Carolina to fish with a couple of his friends from the U.S. Youth Fly Fishing Team, Hunter Hoffler and Hunter Enloe.  They fished the Nantahala River in western North Carolina, within the Nantahala National Forest, and near the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  The river is a tailwater that Trout Unlimited lists as one of the United States "Top 100" trout streams. Doug tells me it is an incredible trout fishery.

Doug reports that the fishing was great.  The top flies were metallic pink bead Hare's Ear nymphs, CDC collared Hare's Ears, and Squirmies, mostly in size #12, and although Doug didn't say, I would bet they were tied jig style.  All of these flies are competition style flies you can Google to see and get the recipes for.

So what about these most beautiful fish on earth?  That is what Doug calls the Nantahala's wild rainbow trout, and he may be right.

Looks like I'll be taking a trip to North Carolina with Doug in 2015.

Sharpen you hooks.

Thursday, December 25, 2014


Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

We celebrated  last evening with my three children, Megan, Matt and Leigh, and Jon and Nate and of course, Henley.  And below the Little Man celebrates his first Christmas morning.

Have a safe and happy holiday everyone!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

The 6/0 Olive Danville Effect

This morning I was the instructor at the Sunday free fly tying class at Shannon's Fly Shop in Califon, NJ. We had a good crowd, about 12 guys, and a few more standing, watching, and enjoying the proceedings with the rest of us.  It truly is a lot of fun for everyone; we tie a few flies, share fishing stories, have plenty of laughs, and in the end I think I get as much out of the sessions as the folks that come to learn.  And if that were not enough, eleven of the twelve tiers were using olive thread!  I wonder where they got the idea that olive was a good thread color for most flies?

Shortly after I got home from the class, my daughter Leigh and the Little Man, Henley, arrived at the house to stay for a few days.  After we ate some lunch, the three of us went out and got our Christmas tree and a wreath for the front door.  At ten months old, Henley clearly has no idea what all the fuss is about, but he seemed to enjoy all the activity at the farmstand where lots of folks were buying trees, wreaths, poinsettias and apple cider.  

If you haven't asked for it already, 6/0 olive Danville thread would make a great gift this holiday season, don't you think?

Sharpen your hooks! 

Monday, December 8, 2014

Tying the Hippie Chick Midge

In keeping with the winter fly theme, in this video, Tim Flagler ties up a simple UV midge pattern shown to him by our friend Bill Sylvia.  I haven't fished this one, but I've heard noting but good reports on its effectiveness on local rivers and streams.  

Sharpen your hooks.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Tis the Season

Henley and his cousins Beckett and Mya, visiting Santa at Bass Pro Shops.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

A View From the South Branch

(Click photo to enlarge)

Monday, December 1, 2014

Changing Seasons

Hope everyone had a good Thanksgiving weekend.  On Thursday, my friend Paul sent me a photo taken from the deck of his house in Roscoe overlooking the Beaverkill River,  When I saw it, I recalled that I had taken a photo when I was at the house in early October when fishing with Douglas. The photos are taken from slightly different angles through the same gap in the trees that frame the river below.  You can see there is a lot more water in the river now then there was two months ago. Of course, the view is wonderful any time of the year.


Despite the chill, there is something magical about being along a river this time of the year.  The cold air is often so still the only sounds you hear are winter songbirds, a squirrel gnawing on a hickory nut in the trees above, and the soft gurgle of the low, clear river passing by.  Looking down the river corridor, a layer of blue-gray smoke blankets the tree tops as it wafts from chimneys below; the last remnant of the fires warming homes that line the valley floor. Even the fishing is unhurried - the lack of insects and the need to know which one, or ones, the trout are feeding on frees the mind from the burden of choosing the right fly for the situation. One simply ties a subsurface fly they have the utmost confidence in and fishes it accordingly, typically deep and slow to bring the offering right to the fish's nose.  The takes are gentle, often belied only by subtle vibrations of the angler's line where it pierces the surface of the water.   The fishing is easy. The catching? Well, sometimes that happens, too.

Sharpen your hooks.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

The International Fly Tying Symposium

We had a great weekend at the Symposium sharing a tying table this year with Tim Flagler, who as most of you know from his videos, is a very talented fly tyer. It was a lot of fun tying with him as many folks who have seen his work both at the vice and with producing the videos, got to meet him and show their appreciation for his efforts. Knowing first hand how much time and effort he puts into each video, it was great to see.   

Here's Tim putting the finishing touches on a nymph.

Douglas and his friends came to visit us today, which was a highlight of the weekend.  Doug, Bryson, and Alex, are members of the USA Youth Fly Fishing Team, and they share a passion for the sport much like I had at their age (and still have). Here's a short video I took of Doug today as he explains what some anglers do to get drag-free drift with dries to Tim.  Not only is Doug a very good fishermen, he can also articulate the nuances of the sport equally as well.

And finally, here's Bryson doing his imitation of Tim at the vice.

Sharpen your hooks. 

Friday, November 21, 2014

Tying the Smoke Jumper

I'm back in the saddle again, having sat down with Tim Flagler this past Sunday to tie this wonderful midge pattern under the lights.  It couldn't be simpler to tie, and the variations are unlimited.  I tie it here in a size #16, but recommend that you carry them in smaller sizes as well, especially for the winter months when the trout sip the little bugs hatching from the meniscus.

And don't forget to come see Tim and I and all the other fly tyers at the International Fly Tying Symposium this weekend at the Garden State Exhibit Center in Raritan, New Jersey.  Click on the link to the right for more information.

Sharpen your hooks!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Wild 'Bout Brookies

One of the guys I met up on the Esopus last weekend, KJ Prince, sent me this video a friend of his made.  It speaks for itself, enjoy.

It is not every day I find a special stream like this with such robust wild brookies and indescribable beauty below the surface. Brook trout have lost a tremendous amount of habitat and genetic diversity to urbanization and excessive fish stocking. Please support and speak up for wild rivers and wild fish conservation. BlueBlood

Sharpen your hooks!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Tying the Squirminator.......Really!

Many of my friends who are dyed-in-the-wool Catskill tyers will see this and think I have finally taken flight from sanity; some will say that happened long ago.  I assure you, I haven't, yet, but for shits and giggles I thought I would post something that pushes the limits for the sake of equal time. You are correct if you think I would not be caught dead with this pattern in one of my fly boxes, let alone fishing it, but that's just my opinion on this fluer. noun / A mating of a fly and a lure by confused fly tyers.

Word on the stream is that this jig/fly/fluer/lure works quite well at times.

Let us know what you think. 

For the record, as much as I enjoy learning and practicing old and new fly fishing and fly tying techniques, this "fly" is just too much for my own traditional sensibilities - see, I haven't lost all my marbles. That said, if it appeals to you, by all means fish it.

As usual, Tim Flagler does a great job of tying and filming the Squirminator, and he tells me it is deadly at times.

Sharpen your hooks.

P.S. - Douglas, I still haven't been able to bring myself to tying on beadhead jig hooks. : )   

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Imagine That..........

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Shuck's Vinnie's Isonychia Nymph

Yes, you read that right.  After seeing my post on Esopus Creek, one of our regular readers and feedback providers, Bill Shuck, sent me a photo of his version of Vinnie's Isonychia nymph.  So here it is - tis a well-tied fly that will work as well as any that I have tied, maybe better.  I don't know Bill's tying influences, but if I were to guess, this fly appears to be tied in the Catskill tradition - sparse tapered body with sweeping hen hackle legs, and beautifully proportioned.  

Sharpen your hooks.  And if you sharpen your scissors, we might have to put you in touch with Bill since he needs some pointers........I told him to just buy a new pair. : )   

Monday, November 10, 2014

Esopus Creek

I finally had an opportunity to take up a friend's offer to spend the weekend at their second home in Woodstock, NY, and to fish Esopus Creek.  The house is located on the top of a mountain facing north with spectacular views of the surrounding mountains both near and far.     

On Saturday, we didn't get down to the river until mid-afternoon.  The river was in good shape - flows were very good, clarity good, and very few leaves were in the water column and or on the surface. A steady breeze blew and the air was quite chilly under low, thin cloud cover.  Brian and Greg weren't up for fishing, so being a guest, I also opted out despite a very strong desire to fish what for me is one of my favorite trout streams east of the Mississippi.  Instead, I drove them to many of my favorite spots I have fished on the creek over the last 30 years or so, and gave them my take on how and why I fish each location the way I do.  Although Greg's house is 10 minutes away from the river, he has never wet a line in it, so I gave them a grand tour in hopes that he would give it go come spring.         

On Sunday morning, I got up to find the dining room table occupied with tired faces and hands wrapped around coffee mugs, and a general sense that no one was going anywhere any time soon. So I grabbed a cup of coffee, took a quick shower to wake up, and left to fish the river alone, which was just fine for me (and them; they encouraged me to go so I would stop encouraging them to join me). I got to the river, put on my waders, and was wading knee-deep in record time.  The air was cool, the sky bright and cloudless, and the river just as inviting as ever.  I tied on a Hare's Ear nymph, added some shot above it, and went to work fishing the long, fast run you see in the photo above.   As I worked my way down the run, the fish wanted nothing to do with my fly, not even a hit.  So I switched to another Esopus tried and true fly, a Vinnie's Isonychia nymph.  Three or four casts later I was hooked up to one the river's wonderful wild rainbow trout.  A small guy, maybe 8-9 inches long, but feisty nonetheless. 

I fished for the next 5 hours and hit 3 different spots, catching plenty of the river's rainbows, all of them on Vinnie's Iso nymph.  It was one of those days that you just relax, soak in the fresh air, and fish with a clear mind and a level of focus that is effortless.   

When I got back to my car after finishing up for the day, there were a couple of guys just getting ready to fish. We talked about the fishing and I shared how I had done and what fly worked for me. I gave them one of my Vinnie's Isonychia nymphs that I had used that day with success, and in return, one of them, Matt, gave me one of his Isonychia nymphs, which is shown above.  It's tied with a maribou feather, wire ribbing, a white feather stem for the dorsal stripe, and a thorax of peacock herl, I like the way the fly looks and I will be tying some up to fish in the future.  That maribou must undulate in the water and look life-like.  

After I got off the highway and headed home on the local streets, my day was completed by a bright orange and pink sunset that guided me home and left me yearning for the next day I would find myself lost in a world that only flowing waters can provide. 

Sharpen your hooks,and even if you don't, make sure you sharpen your focus on something along the stream you don't see at home. 

Thursday, November 6, 2014

A Couple of Jack Gartside Original Flies - Tying the Soft Hackle Streamer and the Sparrow

Although I have been out of the loop lately as far as tying videos go, Tim Flagler has been putting up some nice videos recently.  The two shown here originated in the vise of the late Jack Gartside.  Jack was an original himself, having a unique style and sense of humor that could put a smile on even the stodgiest angler that came across his tying table at the shows.  

In these two videos, Tim does a great job of showing how to tie two of Jack's best known trout fly patterns.        

Sharpen your hooks!  (I think it may be time for us to do a video on how we do this, don't you think?)

Wednesday, November 5, 2014


I spent a few days in South Carolina visiting my daughter Leigh, Henley and his dad.  No fishing, but I think this beats that by far.  Of course, when the Little Man gets a little older, I'll have him casting a fly and laying out a line better than the guys that give me a hard time about my lack of posts here. : )

Sharpen your hooks; no matter what some guys say, it helps!

Saturday, October 25, 2014


Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Spinner Fall - Montana

Here's a cool video of trout feeding on spinners from Joe Cummings.  I just love the sound of fish taking bugs off the surface! 

Sharpen your hooks!

Monday, October 20, 2014

A Blustery, Chilly, but Rewarding Outing - It Doesn't Have To Be Raining for Rainbows to Appear

I fished the upper South Branch of the Raritan River yesterday among a constant flurry of golden and red leaves that flew with each gust of wind.  The river was clear and cluttered with those same leaves, some floating along the surface, others in the water column, and still more blanketing the bottom of the river.  When the wind slowed to a soft breeze for brief periods, the bright sun warmed my face and hands making for a pleasant couple of hours wading the shallows and casting to the deeper, darker runs that likely held trout.

I started off fishing two nymphs using the leader set up Douglas uses, complete with sighter sections and one of his smaller Quill nymphs on the dropper tag above a size #14 Walt's Worm.  I fished this way for a while, but the slow currents where I was fishing along with the gusty winds made for tough going and great catching.......of leaves.  I then decided to switch leaders and go with the one I have much more experience with; a 12 foot, knotted, compound tapered leader, with the last 30 inches or so being 5X tippet.  I tied on a size #18 pheasant tail nymph and placed a small split-shot about 8 inches above it and fished this set up with a short line with my rod tip low to minimize the amount of line between my rod and the water, and hopefully reducing the effects of the wind on my drift. Again, I caught plenty of leaves and managed to get hung up a few times on the bottom.

After a very short time, I sat down on a rock and watched the water move slowly by; a liquid conveyor belt for dead leaves and twigs.  Like just about everything else in nature, there were anomalies in the way the leaves floated along - there were openings of varying sizes in the surface leaves that ranged in size from a foot or two, to maybe 4 feet in rough diameter.  It occurred to me that I could use these openings to get my fly down without interference from floating leaves.  I added a fresh piece of tippet to the end of my leader and to that I tied a #14 Walt's Worm that had wraps of lead under the entire body, which would get the fly down quickly.

I walked back to the river and waded in a very short distance and watched the surface of the water across and slightly upstream of me for an opening.   When one came, I quickly made a tuck cast so my fly would land close to the center of the opening.  Once my fly landed, I lowered my rod tip and followed the line/leader with it at the speed of the current, which I gauged by the speed of the leaves going by.  A few casts later, my leader twitched where it entered the water so I lifted my rod and hooked the pretty little rainbow you see below.

I figured it out, and over the next hour and a half I landed a bunch of rainbows ranging in size from maybe 7 inches, to one that was close to 15 inches in length.  I also landed a beautiful wild brown of about 8 inches in length. All of the fish came on the one Walt's Worm you see in the fishes mouth in the photo above.

Sharpen your hooks!  

Friday, October 17, 2014

A Few Tidbits and an Update

We finally got some serious rains this week - two inches here - and the rivers rose quite a bit in the tri-state area.  I'm sure the fish are feeling relieved at the fresh water and increased flows, not to mention some more depth in which to hide from predators.  I wish I could get up to the Catskills again, and repeat the great time we had last weekend, but with water in the rivers; kind of like Groundhog day, but with more water to fish.   Speaking of which, here's another shot of that nice rainbow Doug caught.

Earlier tonight I called Jim from Shannon's Tackle Shop, so we could talk about setting up dates this coming winter that I can teach their free Sunday morning fly tying classes, and also just catching up on things around the shop and on the river.  Little did I know, he was knee-deep in the South Branch casting a dry fly, a caddis imitation, to a rising fish,  Next thing I know he's hooking a fish and talking to it - he totally switched gears, and although he still held the phone to his ear, he was focused on the fish.  That's how it should be, so I said we'd talk in the morning, hung up and imagined him landing the fish and then letting it go a few seconds later.  Hopefully, I can get out this Sunday and wet a line, get lost in the world of a river somewhere, too.

And now, an update.  My grandson, Henley, is now almost 9 months old.  He's just starting to crawl, stand, eating solid foods, and he's teething. I'll be heading down to Charleston in a couple of weeks to see him and the family when he gets baptized.  I can't wait.

Put your sound on - go ahead and smile!

Tomorrow morning I will be doing one of my favorite things to do - teaching fly tying to two anglers I know through Trout Unlimited that won the lessons at a TU banquet auction.  It will be fun - at their request, we'll be covering caddis dries and parachutes.  Something to look forward to.

Sharpen your hooks.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Top Water

I like to nymph fish, and practice the technique more than any other, but I love to fish dry flies whenever possible.  The following offers a glimpse as to why many anglers feel this way, particularly the segment with the Atlantic Salmon coming to large dry flies.  There's nothing more to say.....

Sharpen your hooks!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

A Catskill Weekend

By the time I arrived at the cabin in Roscoe after a longer than usual drive up from New Jersey, the sun was below the mountains leaving only a pinkish glow on the horizon.  When I walked in, Douglas was already back from fishing, having left the river a short time earlier, making a compound leader complete with a sighter for nymphing the clear, skinny water the following day.  A year before we had come to these hallowed waters so Doug could compete in the Troutoberfest fly fishing competition.  This year the comp was canceled due to low water, and the resultant lack of interest from the competition guys.  Even so, we decided to give it shot since we had nothing to lose and everything to gain, because we had the time and had not fished together for a few months.  A few of Doug's friends where supposed to go as well, but for various reasons they canceled.

After staying up late Friday night discussing leader design, dry/dropper set-ups, fly design, and just catching up, we got on the water late Saturday morning.   The air was still, the sky cloudy, and the cool air was quite damp, as though rain was imminent.   The mountainsides were colored in a tapestry of golds, yellows, umber and shades of red only nature can produce.  The Beaverkill River was as low as I have seen it in almost 40 years of fishing it, and clear as a Kettle One martini with an onion. We had a difficult time finding water that had some depth and flow, settling on sections of pocket water where we could pick and choose the pockets and slots that had adequate holding water.

(Click on photos to enlarge)
After working hard without results, we decided to head to the West Branch of the Delaware, and check that out since the flows were good.  Bad choice; the flows were too high for safe wading, so after giving it a half-hearted try at the first location, and then at one other spot I often fish, we decided to head back to the Beaverkill and make the most of it.  We first went to a spot that has always had depth and a decent current along with plenty of fish.  Like most of the Beaverkill, this spot is well-known to many anglers, and on Saturday it had more anglers lined up along its banks than is really practical.  Not to be discouraged, Doug asked about the pocket water upstream of Grand Central Station, and suggested that the deeper pockets may hold fish and that we may as well give them a shot.  So we did, and shortly after he positioned himself along a decent sized run, Doug was hooked up to a rainbow.  I waded higher up river to a table top a hundred feet above him, and within a few minutes hooked and landed a beautiful small rainbow trout.

I should tell you that we were both fishing the comp system, two nymph leader set-up, Doug uses most of the time he fishes nymphs.  That morning, he had set me up with one of his reels and the line/leader system he uses so I could try it on my 10 foot, 3 weight rod.  I was using my own flies, and once I had the right combination with respect to fly weight/size to match the river conditions, I managed to get my flies bouncing along bottom drag-free at the speed of the current.  It really is satisfying and enjoyable once you get it right, and when you do, confidence comes as result.  Some folks say this is not fly fishing, but from my perspective, it requires more skill and concentration than fishing nymphs with a strike indicator (bobber).  Not that there is anything wrong with that.......

After we hooked 9 fish between us, we ran out of decent pocket water and headed up river to another spot in Cooks Falls that has plenty of pocket water.   Doug waded out to a nice run while I walked up river to a couple of decent sized flats where I saw a couple of rises. There were late season Stenos and Blue-winged Olives in the air, as well as quite a few tan caddis.  While I changed flies and set up to fish dries, I watched Doug to see how he was doing, and just as I looked up he hooked what appeared to be a decent fish.  The ran him down stream a bit and after a short battle, he netted the fish.  I quickly worked my way down to him and in the net he held a beautiful 17 inch wild rainbow.

Check out the pectoral fin on this beauty.

After Doug released the fish, I walked back up to the runs where two fish were still rising steadily. I First tossed a Blue-winged Olive imitation to the working fish, and they rose to the fly, stopping short just as their nose got within an inch of the fly.  They were interested, but something wasn't right. They kept rising and I just watched for a bit, noticing the mayflies passed over their heads unmolested, while any caddis that drifted within a foot or two was slurped up without caution.  So I tied on a size 16 Missing Link Caddis, crept into position, and after checking my fly and drift with a test cast away from my target, made my first cast to the nearest rising fish.  The fly drifted about two feet before it was sipped in just like a natural, and I set the hook.  The fish was heavy on my 3 weight, shaking its head and dogging it toward the bottom a few times before I turned it and brought it to net.  A healthy, butter bellied, pre-spawn fall brown trout.

We fished for another half hour or so before the dusk eased the light from this beautiful day on the water.  We worked hard for our fish, harder than usual thanks to the water levels, but it was worth every second.  We took only two browns, among a bunch of rainbows, which is becoming more usual for this river that has been known as a brown trout fishery for many decades.

Sunday was bright and the fish less cooperative, with many more anglers on the water.  Most of the stretches that held decent flows and depth had fishermen working them, but we did find spots to wet a line.  It was tough going, but Doug did manage to pull a nice rainbow from the run above.  After lunch Doug fished the water below the cabin, while I hung out on the patio and watched him from above, just enjoying the day.

I was, without a doubt, the best weekend I have had in months.

Sharpen your hooks.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

There's No Such Thing as "Normal"

I spoke at a Trout Unlimited meeting recently, and afterwards, a gentleman asked me, "What flies do you normally fish this time of the year?"  I thought for a second, and then replied that I fish flies that imitate the nymphs and adult flies that are most active this time of the year - in my head though, I thought; it hasn't been a normal year, and I haven't fished as much as I normally do most years and its anyones guess when we might return to fishing as we normally do in a normal year. The reality is that no two years are alike when it comes to fishing, let alone two days, even when conditions are seemingly identical both days. 

Did you ever get so lost in what you had on your mind that you forgot where you were?  The other day I was in New York, and after working for 6 straight hours, I drove to a burger joint, got out of the car, and while I was walking through the parking lot looking around I thought, This is weird, look at all these cars with New York license plates.  I kept walking and continued to think how crazy it was that all these New York cars would be in the same lot at the same time in New Jersey................yep, by the time I got to the sidewalk I realized those cars belonged there. That normally doesn't happen, does it?

There has been a lot of discussion in the town I live in about the deer and what we should do with them because they are eating many shrubs  they normally left alone, and even eating the needles of the pine trees that they can reach.  Normally, or at least until recently, deer did not eat evergreen trees.  Some folks think they are doing what they normally do, so they should be left alone, while others think they are eating everything they can because they are not doing what they normally do. Do we know what deer normally do when we create perfect habitat for them so they procreate like mice and decimate the forest under story?

And finally, I received the following inquiry:   

My name is Steve. I live outside Houston, TX. I have been following you blog and tying videos for a number of years. I really appreciate your instruction and overall participation in the sport. We don’t have a lot of good quality freshwater fly fishing around Houston, so I enjoy seeing the videos. I’ve turned to fishing the coast but do miss my fly fishing roots from North Carolina where I grew up.

My question:
Some of the video’s show fisherman standing side-by-side, standing in pools close to one another, etc. Generally, fishing the same water, in a very crowded manor. Is this normal? Just curious.

Thank you again,

Tomball, TX

I think it is safe to say that the only thing that is normal, is change, and even that depends on one's point of view.  Maybe the guys fishing the same water think that is normal.

I'm going fishing this weekend in the Catskills with one of my favorite people to fish with, and I can't wait.  We'll be fishing the West and Main Stems of the Delaware River, which is new water for him. I hope he hooks one of the Big D's rocket-charged rainbows!  I'll be sure to report on it when I return.

Sharpen your hooks.......I normally do!   

Monday, October 6, 2014

Joe Humhpreys - The Rest of the Story

As you know, Joe Humphreys was honored on Thursday evening, and as I didn't know, many of our readers are not familiar with Joe and his accomplishments.   Joe being an American legend, more than a few overseas readers asked to know more about him.

Joe is well known in these parts as not only a passionate fly fisherman, but an educator, author and conservationist.  He has authored two highly acclaimed books, Joe Humphreys Trout Tactics, and On the Trout Stream with Joe Humphreys, as well as many articles in regional and national periodicals. He has also hosted a fly fishing series on a nationally televised sports channel, and he has been featured on three fly fishing videos (The Fly Fishing Series), and produced and been featured on four very well-received videos.

Joe has taught fly fishing for more than forty years, including directing Penn State's angling program for nineteen years. I have been fortunate to live in the Northeast, where until recently, Joe participated in many of the same fly fishing shows that I also attended over the last 20+ years.  He has always been tireless and generous, sharing his vast knowledge of fly fishing for trout with ease. So those are just some of the reasons why Lafayette College and the US Youth Fly Fishing Team honored Joe, If you ask anyone that knows Joe, they will tell you there's a lot more to the story.  He has touched the lives of many individuals, and they all likely have a special story about Joe.

In 1977, Joe caught a 34 inch, 16 pound, brown on a Pennsylvania spring creek late one evening.  It is the largest non-lake run brown trout caught on a fly in the state.

Here is Douglas speaking at the event about his first encounter with Joe at one of the fly fishing shows.  It had a lasting effect, Doug's passion for fly fishing rivals anyone I know.

Here, Steven Ketterer, a commissioner of the PA Fish & Boat Commission presents Joe with a painting of Joe walking along a stream, mentoring a young man.

Next up are some of the fine members of the US Youth Fly Fishing Team and the man himself.  L-R Alex Rundella, Joe, Doug Freemann, and Rob Funk.

It was a wonderful evening thanks to the folks at Lafayette College (Leslie, Patricia and Diane), and the US Youth Fly Fishing Team.

And finally, a big thank you to Joe.   If I have even half the impact that you have had on the folks whose paths you have crossed over the years, I'll be content...........and like you, I'll always shoot for more.

Sharpen your hooks.   

Friday, October 3, 2014

Tribute to Joe Humphreys

Lafayette College and the US Youth Fly Fishing team honored Joe earlier tonight, and it was a wonderful event.  The sport is very lucky to have a genuinely good man like Joe as an ambassador, and in his down-to-earth style, Joe was gracious and humble in accepting the honor bestowed on him tonight.

I'll fill you in on the details in another post, I just had to write something tonight having had the pleasure to be in attendance.

Sharpen your hooks,.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Honoring A Legend - Joe Humphreys

On Thursday October 2, 2014, Lafayette College in Easton, PA, will be celebrating the life of a true fly fishing legend, Joe Humphreys, at their Skillman Library.  I've been fortunate enough to spend time with Joe over the years, mostly at fly fishing shows, and talk about fly fishing, fly casting, life, and best of all, enjoy his great sense of humor. So on October 2, come by the Skillman Library on the Lafayette College campus to join some great folks (I know this for a fact) in this tribute to a very special man. I'll be there, Douglas will be, too, and I hope to see some of you there as well.  The program starts at 4:00pm.

(Click photo to Enlarge)

Thursday, September 25, 2014

The Sound of Flowing Water

I took this short video with my phone one late afternoon on the Madison River in Montana this past summer.  One of the things I love about being on a river is seeing and hearing the shifting currents and the ever changing sounds of the water moving past.  I think about how down below the surface, the trout hold tight to the bottom in the quiet, fluid world that contrasts our view from above.  
Sharpen your hooks.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Rutgers University Senior Killed By Black Bear In New Jersey Preserve

A Rutgers University senior who was hiking with friends in a New Jersey nature preserve was attacked and killed by a nearly 300-pound black bear Sunday.

LINK: Rutgers University Senior Killed By Black Bear In New Jersey Preserve

Sad news, indeed.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

A Little More of DePuy's

Here's a few more sights from Paradise Valley and our day on Depuy's Spring Creek.

Here's a typical Yellowstone Cutthroat trout that took a small hopper fished just off the bank. The fly is cast softly into the high grass lining the undercut bank, and then after a brief pause, you gently pull it out so it lands just off the grass with a gentle "plop". If you are lucky, as I was here, the fly gets hammered almost immediately by a healthy trout.

Looking east toward the Absaroka Beartooth Mountains.  The cottonwood trees in the distance line the banks of the Yellowstone River.  

Here's a section of the lower creek looking upstream just a short distance from where it enters the Yellowstone River.

Sharpen your hook.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Montana Midweek

We had some great dry fly fishing while on the Big Horn River those first four days, and on the final night I even got to fish late thanks to my waders arriving in the late afternoon.  All those little black caddis that hatched during the day came back to the river dusk to lay their eggs.  Brachycentrus sp. will often lay their eggs by flying to partially submerged objects like logs, rocks, weeds and anything else that is on the bottom but sticking out of the water, and then crawling down on the downstream side a foot or two before affixing their eggs on the object. They then crawl or swim back to the surface and will then fly off if they have managed to avoid a trout's mouth.  My bare legs the first three nights were unsuitable, but my waders seemed to fit the bill as you can see here.  

The next day four of us headed out early to fish DePuy's Spring Creek in beautiful Paradise Valley, just south of Livingston, MT, only a stone's throw from the Yellowstone River.  DePuy's is a private creek flowing through an old ranch that permits 16 anglers a day to fish it for a fee.  When you get there, this is the "house" the owners live in where you register before fishing.  Its huge and fascinating, especially the interior, but also out of place in the ranch land of Montana.

The creek is full of trout, undulating weed beds, insects, and at first glance all the trout rising throughout its length appear to be feeding without caution.  That is, until you make your first cast to a working fish.  These fish have seen it all, and it took some adjustments before we got things figured out.  The first hour or so I had more refusals, fly inspections and false takes, than I thought possible in that amount of time.   The fishing was technical (tough) but rewarding, and once we lengthened our leaders to about 15 feet and timed out casts right, we brought a bunch of cutthroats and rainbows to net throughout the day, mostly on terrestrials - ants and small hoppers.

Late in the afternoon, clouds rolled in and a light breeze began to blow, and the river shut off - fish stopped rising and the river appeared to the lifeless.  We have all seen this phenomenon, yet it still seems impossible that something unseen can change a river full of rising fish to a river still as a puddle after a heavy rainstorm.  So we packed it in and headed into Livingston and had a wonderful meal at the Second Street Bistro before we made the 3 hour drive to our cabin on the Madison River - we arrived at 2 am, which was well after the other four had arrived and settled in for the night.  It was well worth it.

Next up, the Madison River - my home away from home; the place that soothes my soul like none other in the world.

Sharpen your hooks.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Dette Trout Flies/Partrdige Fly Tying Day

Dette Trout Flies 
Partridge Fly Tying Days 
September 13th, 10am - 4pm 
Catskill Fly Fishing Center & Museum

Partridge Fly Tying Days is a fun, casual format for a fly tying show with the objective to promote fly tying through education. The day is filled with demonstrations, presentations and workshops from some of finest fly tiers in multiple specialties, in the intimate surroundings of the Catskill Fly Fishing Center and Museum.

The presentations, which are free and open to the public, cover a range of topics from fly tying to fishing. They are meant to be thought provoking and informative. 

10:30 am: Michael Brucato
Why Should You Use a Soft-Hackle Wet Fly?
12 Noon: James Krul
Catskill Heritage Rod Makers Workshop
12:30 pm: John Shaner
Hooks Past, Present and the Future
2 pm: Joe Goodspeed
Match the Hatch: Tailwater Nymphing Patterns & Technical Rigging Strategies

Throughout the day, workshops are available with some of the featured fly tiers. These are small, groups of four, where you can hone your skills at the vise with an expert next to you. Equipment and materials will be supplied. Preregistration is required! ($25 per class) 

10:30am: Catskill John
Catskill Dry Flies
12 noon: Michael Brucato
Soft Hackles
2 pm: Peggy Brenner
Classic Maine Streamers

The demonstrations, which are free and open to the public, consist of over 20 tiers cross multiple specialties.

Pat Cohen – Deer Hair Bass Bugs
Michael Heck - Spring Creek Trout Flies
Joe Goodspeed – Tail Water Nymphs
Nichole Seymour – Streamers for Bass
Michael Brucato – Soft Hackles
Steve Silverio – Good Looks and Charm
Joe Calcavecchia – Saltwater Flies
Matt Grobert – Catskill Dry Flies
Ricky Bassett – Contemporary Nymphs
Ted Patlen – Weird Stuff
Jessica Lettich – Spey & Hair Wing Salmon Flies
Jonny King – Saltwater & Pike Flies
Dale Rushby – Easy Fish Catchers
John Shaner – Soft Hackles
Peggy Brenner – Classic Maine Streamers
Mike Hogue - Salmon & Egg Flies

Also featuring Mayfly Club members
Bruce Corwin
Bruce Marino
Shawn F. Britton
Ed Michaels
Val Kropiwnicki
Bob Mead
Dave (Professor) Brandt
John Kavanaugh

Sharpen your hooks!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

More on the Montana Trip

I didn't forget I owe you all the rest of the story.  

After the first evening on the Bighorn, we rented drift boats each of the next three days splitting up so each boat had one experienced rower at the helm.  We hit the water at the launch just below the Yellowtail afterbay dam somewhere around 9 each morning.  We had typical northern plains weather each day - cool, cloudy mornings followed by hot midday temps near 90, and then quick cooling once the sun dipped below the horizon.  Despite a bright sun breaking through by non each day, it was pleasant wading in shorts and a t-shirt.  In fact, it was perfect standing in the cool river in knee deep flows with high sun maintaining just the right balance in the dry air.  

Here's the best part of fishing this big river in late July; almost on cue at 11:30 am, the little black caddis start hatching in waves.  And also like clockwork, the trout start taking them off the film in the skinny water.  Anywhere there was thin water flowing over a long, gravel laden flat, trout lifted their heads to sip in the abundant caddis.  When the hatch first started, the rises were subtle and quick, and by mid-afternoon the rises were aggressive and obvious.  For some reason though, just about every other angler, with only a very few exceptions, continued to fish nymphs in the deeper runs and pockets.

We targeted the skinny gravel flats most often found just above each of the many islands where hundreds of hungry trout fed on the caddis like they hadn't eaten in weeks.  I set up with a 12 to 13 foot leader tapered to 5X, and a single black caddis dry that consisted of a short amber shuck, a grey-olive body, and a dark caribou hair wing or cdc wing tied x-caddis style.  We would beach the drift boat at the top of an island, and three of us would fan out on the knee-deep riffles above and cast upstream and slightly across to rising fish.  A good cast and drag-free drift over a working fish usually elicited a take and most often a hook-up.  We had a blast each day working a flat/riffle for an hour or two, and then moving down river to the next shallow riffle.  By the end of the day we were pretty beat, but also excited from a full day of dry fly fishing for hard fighting good-sized browns and an occasional rainbow.

Here's the senior member of our crew, Joe Lehner, landing a nice brown he took just after the little black caddis started hatching.  Joe is 79, and lays out a line as well as any of us youngsters.  He was also a pleasure to have in the boat with his many tales of his adventures over the years, and his incredible knowledge of Indian history - he is part Native American.  He is currently finishing a book on the topic, and spent a few days at nearby Little Big Horn doing some final research.        

You may recall that my luggage didn't arrive with my plane on Saturday.  It also didn't arrive Sunday or Monday, finally arriving late in the day Tuesday.  I finally had my clothes, vest, waders and fly tying equipment.  In case you are wondering, I did wear the same clothes over the period, although I washed my skivvies every night.  I could not have cared less; I had the things I needed to fish and we were having a blast  fishing, floating, eating and hanging out every night - I tied flies using Paul's vise and materials.

Next up, my last evening on the Big Horn, and the following day on DePuy's Spring Creek in Paradise Valley.

Be sure to stop by the Catskill Fly Fishing Center and Museum this Saturday if you are up in the Roscoe/Livingston Manor, NY area.  The Dette Trout Flies/Partridge Hooks Fly Tying Day event will take place from 10am to 4pm.   I'll be demonstrating how to tie Catskill style dry flies, along with many other accomplished fly tyers demonstrating the same and other tying techniques.  Hope to see you there.

Sharpen your hooks.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

River Rant - An Open Letter

The following was posted on a fly fishing forum today under the title "An Open Letter to an Uninformed Moron".  

Dear Mr. streamer throwing dumbass,

I know we all have to start somewhere......
That being said, when I started frequenting rivers with a fishing rod, I was an ignorant, uninformed moron.....I was seven years old, and it was short walk down West Main street in Clinton to the SBR. I learned in about ten seconds to keep a good distance from other fishermen, especially when you were a was 1977........The stares I got walking into the river on opening day, and the grumbling I heard about this damn kid......well, about fifty steps down the bank, and 10 seconds later, I got a thanks and a wave......

You are an adult...there was no one else within half a mile from where I was sitting and enjoying casting to spooky fish, in thin clear water......It was 64 degrees today in (river name redacted) know, you were there, probably didn't even care to know the water temperature.......I haven't been out in a while, it's been warm, and I have had other things to attend to...I planned this day for solitude, and maybe a pleasant conversation with another fisherman....I did have one back at the lot......ABOUT YOU!........

I didn't care that you were throwing, or trying to throw, streamers in that skinny ass water(you would have spooked a great white)
I didn't care that you could barely cast an inch......that is why I let you be....
I didn't care that you still had your beach tag on your *** ass beach hat..
I didn't care that you were shouting across the river to me...
I didn't care that you had no clue as to what you were doing...

Hey I am no expert, but I could have helped you...
I did care about the things you seemed to think were O.K.

Did you think it was O.K. to start tossing your streamer into my drift?
Did you think it was O.K. to splash around while you got your ass unsnagged yet once again?
Did you think it was O.K. to slash your fat ass streamer at my feet? ...for F***S SAKE!!!!
You spooked all the fish in that hole...put them on the bottom like took you all of three minutes....


Did the answer, "I am using lots of f***ing things", not clue you in that you were being a completely disrespectful weenie...
You don't just walk across the river from someone and start casting where they are fishing.....get a friggin' clue!

BTW...the guy I talked to in the parking lot was a complete gentleman and very knowledgeable about the area....
I hoped he went and fished right up next to you, maybe then you will get it.....
It is just plain


The guy that was very nice to you until you started casting into my waders...

Anyway, I feel much better now.......
I caught a few nice fish...One large Brown on a Stimulator....***ker came up 3 feet from under rock slow as hell and just sipped it in........AWESOME!!

Friday, September 5, 2014

Even Uncle Morty is Pissed

As you can see in the photo above, even Uncle Morty is a bit put off by my lack of posting over the last few weeks.  Lots of work, writers block, lack of fishing could all be factors and likely each plays a part, but none are an excuse either alone or in total.  In fact, lots of stuff has been filtering through my mind every day that normally makes it to "paper" either here, or in one of my notebooks.  I guess there has been a disconnect, and it took three consecutive days of golf last weekend to break the funk. Golf is fun; it's time with friends that don't fish, but what it really is/was for me is an eye opener - it made me realize how much I miss being on the water, and that's all that matters.

So let's start with a quick Montana trip report - Part 1 The Big Horn  

On Saturday July 26, at 7:30 AM, when I got to Newark Airport I dropped my suitcase off at the United Airlines baggage check counter and headed to the gate with my fly rods and a shoulder bag that contained my fly reels, some tackle and personal items in case my baggage got lost.   In all of the decades I have been traveling/flying to Montana to fish, any luggage I had checked arrived with the plane I was on, so when I got to Bozeman it was a surprise when my suitcase never showed on the baggage claim carousel.  It was a direct flight, too, so it should have been a no-brainer for the airline.

In any case, they assured me that it would arrive within the day and they would deliver it to the lodge in Ft. Smith the next day. No big deal; I was in Montana with 7 friends, I had my rods and reels and wading shoes, and I wasn't scheduled to attend a wedding or fancy shin-dig, I was going fishing.  I also figured it was only for a day.

After all of us arrived in Bozeman, we hit a local watering hole for a quick meal, some brew and some catching up as we are scattered around the country most of the year.  Then it was off on a 4 hour drive in three cars to Fort Smith, with a quick trip to the grocery store in Hardin.  The folks at the IGA there had a few laughs watching 8 grown men shop for food, beer, wine, and basic is a basic necessity, right?

When we got to Ft. Smith, we dropped our stuff off at the lodge and got our gear together and headed to 3 mile access to wet our lines.  Having no vest or waders, I stuck a box of dry flies in my shirt pocket, bought a couple of spools of tippet, a nipper and forceps, and wet-waded in the 64 degree water.  The air was in the upper 80's, so I was quite comfortable until the sun dove behind the mountains. I walked down river a few hundred yards from the access and found a nice run that had fish rising steadily to the egg-laying little black caddis that filled the air, bounced on the water surface, and that crawled all over me.  In the next 2 hours I took a bunch of feisty browns, all on dries, before the sun went below the horizon and air temperatures dropped like a lead balloon.

We got back to the lodge around 10:30 pm, pulled out the cold cuts, rolls, snacks and beer and sat on the front porch eating "dinner", talking and busting chops.  Around 2 am or so, we went inside and crashed knowing we had the entire next day to float and fish the Big Horn.

I'll post some photos and more exciting stuff this weekend.....I promise.

Sharpen your hooks.