Monday, June 18, 2012

Father's Day 2012

Ahhhhh the joys of fatherhood.  I had big plans for the weekend; lots of yard work, barbequing, family fun, fishing, a yummy treat, and a good beer.  Believe it or not we accomplished it all.  From the weed pulling, mulch spreading, kids playing in the pool, strawberry picking, blueberry coconut cake, spare ribs, and Southern Tiers Double IPA beer. Oh yeah, and the fishing...almost forgot. 
It worked out that I was able to take my youngest daughter fishing late Saturday afternoon.  We usually are content dunking worms, but I offered up the chance to try the flyrod.  Amazing she agreed and off we went.  The location we chose is simple shoreline and dock fishing with most casts needing to be ten or twelve feet at best and there are plenty of warmwater fish willing to take a fly.  The casting side of this outing needs lots of work, but the effort was there and before we knew it, she had a small, largemouth bass flopping on the dock.  Her excitement surpassed my expectations and satisfaction was achieved.  We fooled around some more and missed a few fish here and there.  The true surprise came when I had walked just a few feet away to scope out another potential spot to cast to, when she yells "Daddy I got one...I got a fish!".......certain she had seaweed to the bottom I went to see the situation and sure enough a sunfish was firmly attached to the hook........"atta girl"'s were had and again her excitement was impressive.  I look forward to our next adventure. 
Sunday morning I woke my oldest daughter and said it was time to go fishing.  For me, this was a trip I had thought about for a while.  It was time for to experience the Salmon River and all it has to offer.  Dunkin Doughnut's apple fritters were on the menu and away we went.  A long peaceful drive, with little traffic and only the sunrise in our eyes.  It was nice to share the ride with someone eager to experience what lay ahead.  We made it to the river and trekked our way to the chosen spot.  I gave some instructions, which is never an easy thing to do, since it seems my patience aren't there in volume.  The slippery rocks were a challenge as was getting a good cast, but she worked at it and never complained.  I let her struggle a bit as I strung my rod and stepped in the river behind her as we swung wet flies through the pool.  I would shout corrections in her casting as the water rolled past us......and praise when a good drift was had.  The fish were not very cooperative and I had but a few short grabs.  We worked out way down to the next spot and soon I had a fish on and handed the rod to her to let her fight it.  Not a big fish, but fun none the less, the fun ended as slack line was had.  Time was running out and we edged down the river a little further.  I looked back only to see what I thought was a grizzly bear in the water, but instead it was my daughter as angry as a hungry grizzly falling on the slippery rocks....again and again.  A trooper she was and back to fishing we went.  The last spot right under the bridge.  I had taken a few cast with her rod to show her where to target and had a little grab.  She put the drift in the right spot over and over with no luck.  I fished a little above her and further out when on the swing came a solid grab.  I had a nice fish on and I made my way to my daughter and handed over the rod.  Instructions on how to handle the fight flowed from me and followed them perfectly.  I nice side glimpse of the smallmouth bass gave her that extra shot of adrenaline as line peeled off the reel again.  It was a long battle but the fourteen bass eventually came to shore and posed for a picture or two.  My daughter wasn't too interested in picking it up, but we can work on that the next time.  The other nice note, was the fly was something I had created the week before at the Mayfly Club. A great Father's Day it was and I've never been more proud of my girls. 

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Catskill Trip June 2012 Part Two: The Fishy Side

Catskills June 2012 (Part Two: The Fishing Side) Now for the god stuff. Let me lay out this disclaimer; I am not a big dry fly guru, I am a terrible fly caster, and I don't have top of the line gear. Not excuses, just keeping everyone on the same page. My adventure started Friday mid morning with my buddy Wylie showing me some water on the West Branch of the Delaware. We worked our way from the parking area to this sweet looking spot and played te waiting game. We scanned the water like a kid with a new video game. For the non fly fisherman, I'm sure it would have been agony, but for me it was good. Not my usual motif, but it was great watching for risers and what bugs were coming off. It was a great time shooting the breeze and organizing fly boxes, another thing that I never get to do. Which usually results in countless flies being dropped in the river. Eventually there were enough risers for us to try our hand. Wylie was laying out some deadly line and some sweet drifts. I struggled a lot and was regretting not stringing my switch rod, since my 8 footer was under gunned. The best part was watching to see what would rise. Was it a monster poking it's head or just a little six incher? Wylie eventually brought to hand a nice 15 inch brown that fell victim to a sulphur. I eventually took one of those six inchers on a soft hackle. I missed one other decent fish. As the sun scorched our necks, a Guiness was needed to refresh and soon I was leaving Wylie for the rest of my journey. It was a new experience and it was good to be worrying about hatches and not everyday life. I traversed many miles of river and soon made it to the cabin on the lake near Livingston Manor, NY. A few beers later, which were handcrafted by Eric using the hops I harvested for him the previous fall. Eric and I tested the waters around the cabin. A missed smallmouth bass for me and nice 14 inch smallie for Eric. The rest of the gang showed up, just about the time you would want to be camped out on your favorite Catskill River, we chose a different path. We caught up on old times, cranked some Neil Young, ate amazing pulled pork and venison roasts, more homebrew, and a fine cigar. Then it was into the lake we went with more bass fishing in mind. My buddy Martin and I fished together, and as the darkness set in the fishing turned on. As I plugged away with a foam STP Frog, it was inhaled by a smallmouth bass, and my 4wt switch rod was in heaven. Then the green drakes took flight like helicopters from the surface of the water. This was my first real taste of a green drake hatch (not even on a trout stream) and it was impressive. The fish were keyed into gulping them, but didn't ignore a foam popper or two from Martin and myself as we each took a few more bass into the darkness. The rest of the night washed away in a flood of Jerry Garcia and the Legion of Mary rocking the cabin in the Catskills. Saturday morning brought the polar plunge and off to the Mayfly Club tying show. Once the tying part of the day was over, the gang and I regrouped and decided to fish the Willowemoc near the Catskill Fly Fishing Museum. I always dread trying to find water for friends to fish together, but not be invasive and cramped. I thought we did this pretty well, and a gentleman was leaving I asked to make sure we weren't squeezing him out, since he had a Beaverkill Angler hat on. He assured us that we were not, and he even offered up some advice on the spot he had just left. Great advice it was and it set the mood for the rest of the afternoon. Fishing a dropper rig or a brace of soft hackles was the ticket. Before I knew it there was a grab and soon the switch rod coerced what I believe to be a small tiger trout. After consulting with my buddy Martin he too was tangling with a brown trout, and then another. The consistent dropper in black and chartreuse was the ticket and I was agin in the mix with a brook trout. Before I could pass along the info to the rest of the party, my buddy Eric scored a beauty of brown in the 16 inch range. As I passed the difference maker dropper color to the rest of the gang we ended our mid afternoon excursion with everyone taking fish. We headed back to camp as Martin whipped up the mightiest quesedilas in the galaxy. After dinner we stepped back into the lake to dance with the drakes and bass. It was productive, but our boy Matty raised the bar with a monster smallmouth bass exceeding the limits of the 18 inch net scale. Other fish came to hand and the trip was spiraling down, we celebrated into the evening. Sunday was pack and run back to reality. As friends we have made it a point to fish together annually for close to twenty years, and this is the first time in a long time that we all shared equal success. There is a lot to be said for the memories past and present....but the future is rejuvenating. Wylie waiting for the rises Martin's smallie Martin working the two hander at dusk Martin Bass Eric Trout Eric Trout 2 Martin Trout Matt Trout Tiger? Balck & White Brookie Tiger? Three Amigos Matt's Monster Welcome Home!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Catskill Trip June 2012 (Part One: Fly Tying)

I've been trying to do an annual trip to the Catskills in early June for the past few years. The goal of each trip is to do a fly tying demo, some fishing, and connect with friends old and new. This year gave me plenty of options to tie at: The Beaverkill Angler Fly Shop, The Mayfly Club, and the International Brotherhood of the Flymph (IBOF) . I opted for the Mayfly Club since the plans hadn't been finalized for the IBOF at the time. This was really a great time to be in the area with a ton of talented people all around. My Friday ride down was filled with some fishing, a visit to the Beaverkill Angler where I ran into IBOF guru and leader Mark Libertone where we agreed to meet on Saturday when we could. Friday evening lead into libations, great food, tremendous friends, and bass fishing at dark with helicopter sized Green Drakes taking flight. Saturday morning brought a polar plunge into the same bass infested lake to erase the previous nights cerebral pulses. As rain showers filled the sky I was excited for a good fly tying demo crowd. I stopped by the Catskill Fly Fishing Museum to wish the IBOF members a good tying event and was fortunate enough to meet William Anderson and Lance Hidy. I trucked it on up to the Riverside Cafe on the banks of the Beaverkill in Horton, NY to set up with the Mayfly Club members. This was kind of a special treat for me, since the first fly tying demo I ever attended as a spectator was the Mayfly Club a few too many years back. The Riverside is a great little lodge and restaurant that literally overlooks the Beaverkill. This is a quaint location to say the least and I considered it an honor to be able to tie there. I could run through all the names of folks I encountered, but I'll let the pictures speak for themselves. The two tiers I will mention are Val Kropiwnicki and Don Bastain. Val takes fly tying so far outside the box that it his creations are in my opinion are nothing short of masterful. I had a great time chatting and learning a bit more about him. His website is . Don Bastain is to say the least a master wet fly tier and historian. Don is very thorough in his execution at the vise, every step has a reason behind it, and every fly has some historical content wrapped into it. My favorite comment from Don was, "I didn't recognize you without the hackles in your hair". As the afternoon took shape, I slipped out of the demo a bit early and ran back over to meet the IBOF gang one more time where I had the pleasure of seeing Jim Slattery and Ray Tucker. Jim is the other half of the IBOF leadership and Jim's Fly Co. . Ray has been a friend for some time now and he always makes to my demos at the Oak Orchard Fly Shop. Ray has a tremendous amount of talent and a niceness in personality that makes seeing him a delightful experience. I was lucky enough to watch Ray explain how to use Mitch's bobbin whirler first hand. I have to say I'm sold on these. Passion is an understatement for all those I encountered and I'm grateful for every experience I get. The fishing side of this trip will follow soon. Don Bastain Fishy Fullum & Ted Pattlen Joe Fox & Jim Froio Bruce Corwin Bruce Corwin Spider Val Kropiwnicki Fly Ted wishin he was fishin' Myself behind the glass May Fly Signatures My creations Welcome Sign Hidy Art Mark Libertone & Jim Slattery William Anderson & Lance Hidy Ray Tucker A great weekend and a great assortment of tiers....time to bring it all home.

Monday, June 4, 2012

The Deerfield and the Deluge

This is my second year participating at the Deerfield River Spey and Fly Day which benefits the Reel Recovery program. The fiver hour drive is always interesting and for this event I bring the rest of the family along. The big excitement last year for the girls was the overnight in a tent. We agreed that this year we would try two nights, since last year wasn't too bad. Thursdays forecast for Friday wasn't looking tent friendly and by Friday morning the 70% chance of showers and 90% chance on Saturday was enough for me to pull the plug on tent camping. By some miracle, the campground (Country Aire) had two new cabins this year for rent. By a second miracle one of those was available for Friday and Saturday night. We booked them sight unseen, not something I usually like to do. All I can say is this....WOW! The cabin was like the Taj Mahal of cabins....forget roughing it, this was exactly what we needed. Around 1:00am Saturday morning the rain started and never ended until late Saturday night. The event went on regardless of the weather, because we flyfishers are cut from a different cloth....LOL I had a blast as always and really enjoy the network of people that show up both old and new. It was a pleasure to meet a few folks from and fellow blogger Garry at Walt Geryk did a great job as always and Scott Anderson was a tremendous help setting up and breaking down. Phil Krista assured us that his Scottish kilt would weigh 700 pounds with all the rain, and none of us wanted that burden for sure. Raffles and auctions went well netting some money for Reel Recovery. The fly wallet I created was well received and fetched a decent bid in the auction. Some truly great items and bargains were again to be had for those willing to tough it out. Kudos to all who helped and organized. Next year I'm going to fish! I felt the same way after we got home