Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Catching Up

The past few weeks have been pretty busy! Fortunately for me, I've been able to squeeze in a good bit of fishing and tying! I have slacked a little bit on the updates though. My apologies!

This past weekend I had the incredible opportunity to meet up with a buddy, Alex Bond (Bondo) of Alex Bond Photography. Bondo is one hell of a photographer and an even better guy! He's just one of those guys who, no matter the setting, is always fun to be around! This photo shoot was no different. We trudged though melting snow and mud, and through the river, and had a bunch of laughs. Bondo is one of the many people who left the area we grew up in and has come back with a professional skill set and a deep appreciation for the area we call home. The PA Wilds is a pretty happening place with some fantastic people and true artisans.

After the shoot, I did a little fishing and bumped into Pat Burke. Pat and his buddies run a blog, "Troutbitten." It's full of great stories, fly fishing tips, and most importantly, big beautiful trout. Take a minute and do yourself a favor -  go check out their site.

Tailgaiting for Trout
Have you ever gotten out of your car to fish and felt a little off? Like maybe this just wouldn't be your best day of fishing? Me neither! Haha, every time I pull on my waders and string up my rod I think, "Man, this is going to be one hell of a day." That feeling is exponentially bigger when you're taking a drift boat off the trailer.

As usual, I had pretty high expectations for this day of fishing. I was feeling pretty damn good with a piping hot cup of Yerba Mate while I was rigging up. Once I was in the water, I lost a couple fish right off the bat and then I missed a few. There went my confidence in my nymphing game for that day! I've really been trying to work on my nymphing lately, but I settled back into the comforts of chucking streamers on sinking lines and it paid off. Nothing huge, but feeling strip, strip, BOOM! - a tight line, a bent rod, and an angry fish - is a pretty damn fun way to fish.

With deer hunting season in full swing, I usually stay off the rivers every day but Sunday. I'm sure it'd be fine, but I can always stay in and tie flies this time of year. Not like there isn't plenty of work to be done!

Copper Johns - One color almost done!
Last Sunday, a few fishing options fell through at the last minute and I ended up fishing at home. I hadn't fished my home stream in a while and I was reminded how nice it is to rig up the rod in the garage and walk to the water instead of driving. It'd been a while since I caught a fish with a red stripe. It was a nice little change of pace.


So, I was fishing right by the house and feeling really relaxed. I'd already caught, released, and photographed a few rainbows and a few browns. Then, for a very pleasant surprise, I brought a gorgeous, good sized, kyped out brookie to the net! Grand Slam baby! So, I set up the tripod, readied for the shot when a gust of wind came and blew over the tripod, toppling it into the river. As I watched the GoPro dive first, the foot of the tripod snapped off on impact. Before I could reach the disaster scene, the gushing water washed it away and into the depths of an off color, chest deep pool. YEP. In the melee, the brookie got away before I could get a decent picture. YEP. Relaxed, zen-like peace was officially gone. COOL.

Jess, Rita, and I were out for a walk about a week later and I said, "Hang on a minute, I have to go look for that piece of the tripod." I had almost no hope of finding it. Miraculously, after about 10 minutes of scanning the bottom of the creek in an area below where it was lost, I saw it! It just so happened to be resting in about 4" of water in an eddy behind an island. So, the tripod is whole again, but I'll probably never get a picture of that brookie.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Early Winter

Over the last few weeks, we've been given an early taste of winter here in Pennsylvania. We were seriously lucky that we didn't see the snow that pummeled Buffalo and the Western part of New York State. Single digit temps and ice gave way to temperatures exceeding 60 degrees here last weekend!

The fish as of late haven't been terribly big, but they've all been extremely healthy. We had a cooler and dryer than average summer which didn't make the fishing all that great, but hopefully fewer fish had trouble with thermal stress. With a larger population of fish, the food base is spread more thinly for each fish which generally leads to more fish with not as much size. Time will tell if this is the case around here.

This weekend we're supposed to see more warm temperatures. We'll see if flows are good enough to put the boat in the water! If not, there's always plenty of fly tying to do. Have a safe and happy Thanksgiving! Save me some taters.

Black/Brown Sex Dungeon

Thursday, November 13, 2014

A Whole Different Ballgame

A few months ago, a buddy sent out a message about taking a trip to the great lakes tribs. Let's just say, my experiences with these waters has left me indifferent in the past. I've been up before and seen the huge crowds, the "combat" fishing where people try to force you out of your spot (seriously), and the shoulder to shoulder proximity to everyone else. I've also gone in the colder months when fewer anglers are present but there are usually lower numbers of fish. Needless to say, it's been a few years since I subjected myself to that scene.

In this instance however, we were going to a very famous river where I know he'd had some pretty good success in the past. I said, "What the hell, why not?" As the trip grew closer, I have to admit my excitement didn't grow. You see, I'm spoiled here in rural PA. I can go to a secluded section of stream, catch multiple 20 inch or better fish, and not see a single person all day.

When it came down to it I was excited to hang out with an awesome group of guys. If that was all I got out of it, so be it. My goal was set on hopefully catching at least one fish and just having a good time doing something new. Well... my expectations were a little off.

The first several years I fly fished, it was rare that I shared the stream with anyone. I was more than happy being out on the water alone. When I lived in Philadelphia, time alone, with not a soul around was hard to come by. Over the years, it's become rare that I tackle the water by myself. Through my adventures, I've met some really great dudes. I really have to say, fishing with buddies makes you push yourself harder. You do things that, being alone, you'd think "That's crazy," but with a little nudge, you go for it. I can't think of a single instance in fly fishing when doing something a little crazy hasn't paid off. Even though we were staying just a few miles from the river, it was paramount that we get there early and claim some of the best stretches on the river. We hiked in with headlamps and got our spots. We sat in the dark BSing, tying on our rigs for the day, and just listening to the river. I enjoyed wasting time until we could justify putting lines in the water almost as much as the fishing... almost.

This little guy, believe it or not was probably the fish that brought the most smiles.
Moral of the story - if you ever get an invite to do something outside of your comfort zone, something you'd never do alone, suck it up and try it. You just might be pleasantly surprised.

Out Takes

What trip between a bunch of buddies doesn't have its fair share of shenanigans?

Kris mulls which live bait would pair best with his new "Buckeye Scent."
I left Aaron a nice little present on his GoPro after I got done getting a few shots of his fish. He was kind enough to send it back to me.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Birthday Trout

Well, the calendar tells me I'm another year older. Being that this past weekend preceded my birthday, I was told to "Do whatever you want!" I did just that.
Not sure how it gets much better
The weekend brought with it a time change and the season's first snow. Things are getting colder and the hatches are getting less and less. Though, a few caddis can still noticed here and there. This time of year, the trout are looking to pack as many calories into a single meal as possible.

Josh getting it done

Brown Town Parade

So, I'm another year closer to 30. Big deal - some things will never change.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Dry Fall

Our rivers remain low here in northwest Pennsylvania. We've had rain, just not enough to make a real difference. Two weekends ago, the water levels were close to floatable and rain was in the forecast through the day. We went for it and we stayed dry pretty much the whole trip - so the ride was a little bumpy and we were forced to walk the boat through a couple stretches. This past Saturday, I decided enough was enough and I waded a river and fished nymphs. Nymphing is certainly not my desired way to fish, but you can't argue that it puts fish in the net. I'll just keep practicing my rain dance - it's got to work eventually right?

Kris showing us how it's done.

One of a handful of pretty identical fish. All fooled on nymphs.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The Last Train

^Fish tunes for your enjoyment.

The fall leaves have pretty much reached the peak here in Northern Appalachia. The days are getting shorter and colder and we all know what we have to look forward to over the next few months. I don't mind winter as much as some people, but I'd be lying if I said the beauty of fall wasn't bittersweet. Fishing larger water for larger trout is appealing to anyone who has ever held a fly rod and that's what the colder months bring for me.

The blazing yellow, red, orange and green hills, the falling leaves, and the crisp air signal a culmination of my favorite fishing. Technicolor trout attacking bushy dry flies like they might be their last meal of the year - nothing compares. Sure, the clear little rivulets you're following while kicking through the crispy leaves are no wider than the over-engineered graphite stick you're toting is long. That's the beauty of it.

The sole purpose of flyfishing is to have fun. You can't help but chuckle when the little brothers of the trout you're actually after do somersaults over your ginked up stimulator. Repeated splashy rises in a tiny riffle leave you grinning and shaking your head. Time to step up to the next run.

I had intended to do a little more exploring and fish a few different creeks, I simply had too much fun to leave. It's easy to get lost in time when you are getting rises in almost every fishy looking spot. I've done a lot of exploring different bluelines this summer and some really didn't pay off. So on this day that could be the last consistent dry fly fishing I see this year, I was happy to keep threading casts through more beech brush and low hanging hemlock branches as I got closer to the top.

There's no better activity to clear your head and recharge.  I climbed my way back out of the mini-canyon I was in and walked the dirt road back to where I parked the truck. A day like this gets you feeling so good, you turn on the radio thinking, "..the old '97's gonna make it this time."