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.