Monday, December 5, 2011

Change of seasons on the S. Sandy, N.Y.

Four years in the making and it finally happens!

Rob lands his first steelie!

And  what a beauty she turned out to be.

Second fish was just as nice.

But it isn't always the number of fish landed
or even the number of fish hooked...

Sometimes you just need a spot to swing flies,
chill and count life's blessings.  Even with low water

you take the time to check
even the simplest of things
as you walk along the
river bank.

And if you look closely you
will see spring blossoms
waiting patiently as the river
slowly winds its way to the lake.

And with low water, warm temps and plenty of anglers out;
 the fish
were not all that willing to come out and play.

So I would imagine that my next set of photos will be looking
very different from these because I love winter steelhead
fishing even more and will get back out in fields of snow and rivers of ice.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Going Solo on the Salmon

Here it is, Nov. and time to think steelhead! Once again Rob and I have a trip booked for the Salmon River in N.Y. I can’t wait to head out and see what happens this year.

The last trip to Pulaski was interesting. Lisa and I headed up for what was to be her first trip to Pulaski. It was the busiest and craziest weekend I have ever seen. Just as I pulled off the highway I knew something was terribly different judging from the amount of traffic that was in town. The weather was nice – almost too nice with temperatures in the high 70’s to low 80’s. The water was way low with 450cfs and warm. These conditions were a perfect combination for fishing. There were guys all over the place and I told Lisa I had never seen it that mad crazy before.

Something else happened that we weren’t prepared for  which was our guide could not make the trip we had scheduled. There was a very sad tragedy that his family had to deal with. We were 15 minutes out of Pulaski when we received the call and while he was still willing to come on up, Lisa and I were adament that he not. We were grateful that he was concerned about our trip and our fishing experience but, as Lisa put it, “Time to put on your big girl panties, Mary and show me around the river.” Good thing it was dark ‘cause she could not see the look of “holy shit what are we gonna do now??” that was on my face.

So after the initial shock that we were solo I took inventory of our fishing gear late that night. Pickings were limited because we were planning on the guide taking care of all that "stuff". But I had enought equipment that I put together some leaders for Lisa, found my strike indicators and got her rigged up for some right angle high stick work. Not sure why but I even brought an assortment of flies and some spare rods. So all in all we lucked out and weren't totally caught with our pants down.I gave her a quick “how to” on high sticking and that was all the time we had. It was a short  night for sleep and the 5am alarm to get up and go to the Douglaston Salmon Run (DSR) was brutal. Lisa was psyched. Me? Holy shit. How was this going to work out?!

Down at the DSR we geared up using the light from the car. Yeah, didn’t pack any headlamps or so it took us a while. The parking lot was crowded and guys were all over the place getting ready or already standing in line ready to charge to the river.  Eventrually we headed to The Flats which was already packed. Joss Hole was not packed....yet. We made our first stop there and I started to teach Lisa how to high stick. She took to it quite easily but as the crowd started to build neither one of us wanted to stay. She fishes like I do – on the move and avoiding too many people.

All day Saturday I walked her all over the lower portion of the river trying for different spots while looking for faster water. We walked up, down, over here,over there you name it.  We saw plenty of fish but they were on the move. And unless you were lucky enough to have planted yourself at a deeper pocket and never moved you were lucky. I have never seen as many salmon moving up the river as I did that weekend. It was really cool to take a break and just watch those big fish blast up the skinny water. I think I might have overdone it because Sunday morning I thought Lisa was dead – she just kept on sleeping.

Sunday was a repeat and we were a bit better prepared for the day. I showed her Altmar where it was really,really, crazy, drove along the river by Ellis Cove where cars were jammed not only in the parking lot but also in the street.  We stopped at Compactor Pool but some of the guys there were creepy and neither one of us felt welcome so we headed back to the DSR.

Sunday was another long day; the river was just as packed but we still had a good time. No, scratch that. We had a fantastic time. Lisa is hooked and would like to return so we are considering the possibilty of a trip in Feb.

It looks like I have also created a monster. Last Saturday Lisa and I met at the Farmington for some fall fishing. She had mentioned that she would like to learn how to use a two handed rod so that is what we did for part of the afternoon. Last night I got a text message from her saying she told her husband she would soon be looking for a two handed rod. She said "he didn’t  say no” which in her mind (and I agree) means YES and that he just keeps shaking his head when he sees her walking around the house air casting. With any luck she will meet up with Jerry Jahn and Fred Krowchenko on the river next Sunday.

As for my next trip? Well, we certainly are looking forward to it. The weather should be good and hopefully no whiteout conditions like last year will appear. The water is still low but what the heck can you do about that? Nothing.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Getting Ready for Steelhead

I would imagine that some folk mark the passage of time with the fall or spring equinox. If so, I would imagine that they are also aware of the spring or summer solstice. For fishermen the cooler days of fall usually mean changing to streamers and such as one continues to fish during the days that keep getting shorter and shorter.

While I am well aware of the ever changing path of the sun's journey across the sky, I am also looking forward to October. Why October? For me, October marks the first of my steelhead trips up to the Salmon River in N.Y. This year I have dates in Oct., Nov. and Dec. Still working on Jan., Feb., March and April as I would like to get up there once a month.

The preparations for this first trip have been underway for the last year. How is that possible? Well, that is how long I have been learning and practicing the art of Skagit casting. Not only Skagit but Scandi as well.

I have two of the best instructors around with Fred Krowchenko and Jerry Jahn. Under their careful eye I have learned cack handed casting, river right, river left, Perry Pokes, Circle C, and countless others. I have even learned some new casting techniques like the, "Do what cast?" or as I call it, "Badda-boom-badda-bing" and that cast is just that! It's a three step process that sails your fly right across the water and into the fishing channel of your choice. Badda-boom you're in! These two characters are amazing with their knowledge about two handed casting. I kid them about looking for a way to download all their experience onto a thumb drive and then into me! We have spent many Sat. and Sun. hours on the river just casting, no fishing, just casting. Then during the week I would fish, applying what I had learned to the changing water level and speed of the river. It has been an amazing year with these two.

Scandi casting with my Dec Hogan 11'9", 4wt. kept me going all summer with wet flies. I have never landed as many fish as I did this year. It was great. At the end of summer it was time to make the transition to the heavier rod that I use for steelies, for that I have a TFO Deek Creek 5/6wt. 12'6". She is a sweet rod and perhaps one of my favorites. So with the trip date coming in fast I had started to get out to practice with the heavier sink tips, as it was time to adjust my timing to the tips and bigger flies. The only problem has been getting out to practice because the Farmington has been high and fast ever since Irene came into town. I have been able to get out only once or twice. Yikes. This weekend was a no go as well since the rain of last week has pretty much made the river unfishable.

So today I plan on tying up some flies to replace what I used this summer. I have also taken out my suitcase and started getting "stuff" together for my two day adventure with Lisa. Lisa and I met in May during Up Country's fly fishing day for gals and we hit it off pretty quick. We got together to fish several times this summer and on one of those trips I got to talking about Pulaski. The next thing I know we are planning the trip and preparations are made for one hell of a time. As I have told her, I think there will be a good story posted on this blog about our adventures!

Two weeks from today and we will be out on the Salmon River. Here's hoping for some much cooler temps and plenty of fish.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Hurricane Irene rains down on the Farmington River

My husband and I took a short drive up to New Hartford to see how the Farmington was holding up. That area got clobbered with rain yesterday from Hurrican Irene and the river shows it. At the time we went up the flow rate was over 11,000cfs. I had plans to spend my last day before school starts tomorrow fishing, but I think you will agree that my plans have changed! The picture below is taken from the bridge in New Hartford center and looking back to the town hall.

This is the infamous Church Pool. I was only on the bridge for a short time because it was vibrating from all the water rushing by it. The sound was also amazing. This next shot is looking upriver from Church Pool.

This is looking up to Whittemore's just down from the People's State Forest and campground.

This is looking down from the Callahan Park in New Hartford at the bridge where people usually park and fish from.

Today the skies are bright blue and there is not a cloud in the sky. The air has dried out and the temperature is in the 60's. The flow rate has dropped considerably since yesterday but I can only imagine the changes to the river from all this water.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Lucky as hell

This is something I wrote in March, 2009.
Well, here it is. Almost April, and I got to thinking about Montana. Hey, truth be told I can think of Montana any day of the year and at any moment. It doesn't take much and I can prove it. Take faculty meetings for example, start one of those up and I hit the mental replay button and skip town! Poof! I'm out of the meeting and on the Ruby River.

But this didn't happen during a faculty meeting. No, I remembered this particular trip to Montana after going through some photos of mine when I just happened to find one of a bunch of caddis on my leg.

I was out visiting son #1, aka Brian, five years ago during my spring break. Brian was going to Montana State University, which is in Bozeman. And if you know about fly fishing you know what else is close to Bozeman. The Madison, Gallatin, Yellowstone and Big Hole Rivers, just to name a few. I actually think he went out there for the fly fishing but he really did graduate with a degree and he is employed so maybe school really was the reason he hit the road. Anyway, he started fly fishing the summer before he left Conn., which is also the time I got into it. I just couldn't stand watching him in the Farmington River having a blast landing trout while I was left on the bank of the river just watching. Before long I was right out there with him and I quickly found out just how much fun it is. Not only was it fun fishing, but it was fun fishing with my son. It was great. But then he announces that come Jan. he is heading out to MSU for "school".

Now at that point I was still just getting into fly fishing. I hadn't started tying flies yet, hadn't even thought of the possibility of making my own rods yet, but I found it pleasant enough that I believed I would keep it up as time went by. So when my April break came along I thought what the heck, I would head out to Bozeman for the week and visit the kid.

I packed light, so light that I didn't bring any fishing equipment. Yeah, stupid is as stupid does. But like I said I was still relatively new to all this and so I was going to Montana. Ok. No big deal. But just so you do know, I have seen the error of my ways and have since returned to Montana with my fishing gear - thank you - and spent a month or so out there but that's a story for another day.

As I said, I went, visited with the kid, drove around hit the Museum of the Rockies (which is excellent, by the way!) and spent a couple of days reading along the Madison river. Unbelievable! Not because of the fantastic mountain scenery, the bright blue skies with eagles riding the thermals and warm spring breeze. Naah. Unbelievable because I was a complete moron to be sitting at a picnic table, reading some book that I can't even remember what it was about when I began to notice these bugs.

Caddis flies to be exact.

Now Brian had told me about the caddis hatch out there but hey, what did I know? Obviously not much if I am sitting next to a river reading a book, right?!

So as the afternoon gets progressively warmer and I take a break from my reading to enjoy the beauty, peace and quiet, I notice a couple of bugs on the water. Whatever, at that point I wasn't sure what I was seeing. A few minutes later I look up again and I remember thinking, "Humm. Seems to be a few more bugs flying around here." Then back to the book.

Then I feel something crawling up the leg of my jeans. I look down to see some of these bugs on the ground. I shake the critters out (yes, there were a good number of caddis that fell out) and, come on, you guessed it! I go right back to reading. Now I am not sure exactly how long it was before the ol' light bulb went off but I finally looked up to really take in the view and the view was bugs. Nothing but caddis, size #12. Thousands of 'em. Everywhere there were caddis flying, crawling, landing in the water. You name it.

They were thick. At times they moved upriver in clouds, like nothing I had ever seen before. There was no hint of a breeze but they would pulsate up and down the river just the same, moving along, driven by instinct. By now my shoes are covered with caddis that are just poking around minding their own business. Caddis are all over my jeans and when I go to put the book down on the table I had to brush them off first or make caddis soup. So there I am, sitting and watching millions of these brown caddis just fill the air. No lie, they were so thick if you kept your mouth open they would have flown right in. And yes, I am speaking from experience. I couldn't take a step without killing a bunch of 'em.

It lasted for hours. And I do mean hours. Brian was back at some silly chemistry class and it wasn't time for me to go and get him yet for some evening fishing. I watched those caddis for two hours and during that time their numbers only increased. I was sure that by the time I went back to Bozeman, picked him up and drove him back out they would be gone.

Eventually I walked to my car to find that it was literally covered with caddis and that the small valley that I was in was teaming with caddis flitting around in the late afternoon sunlight. I picked up Brian and his gear and we hustled back and the hatch was still on and I swear there were stil more of 'em than before. It actually looked like brown snow blowing around in the air.

Well, Brian did gear up and fish and despite the multitude of food on the water he landed some nice trout that afternoon. Me? I was still high and dry on land but the sight was just awesome. There he was, standing out in the river silhouetted against the sun casting here and there with caddis flying all around. This wasn't some "River Runs Through It" movie vista, this was the real thing and I was damn lucky to witness it.

I didn't really appreciate it at the time but looking back and knowing what I know now I have come to the conclusion that not only was I lucky, I was lucky as hell.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Technical difficulties

One of my goals for the summer is to fish in some new places on the river. I was hard at work getting this very important work done when I ran into technical difficulties.

Have you ever noticed that when you see fishing rising they are either on the other side of the river or....under some trees? Or....under some trees and on the other side of the river? But nothing in life is easy so you give it a go and do the best ya can.

So I figured out just where I needed to land that wet fly to let it swing on through. Sometimes I get lucky and this time I did. On the first cast the fly went right where I wanted it to be and for a very brief moment I felt pleased with myself. Then the line stopped moving.

I remember the words as if I uttered them only yesterday - which is exactly when it happened!

"Oh, nooo!! You have got to be kidding me. A snag?? There??? Please...."

So I gave the line a tug. Nothing.
Tried another tug. Again, nothing.

Great. I hate snagging logs, sticks, rocks, old fishin' line and beavers. It is never any fun when you end up yanking on your line waiting for that inevitable "snap" when you leader finally gives in and breaks. Those are the technical difficulties that drive me nutso.

So I moved on and tried a spiral pick up to see if I could wrangle that hook out of what ever it was lurking down there.


With a big ol' sigh and the realization that another leader was about to be fried, I tried another spiral pick up and this time with just a bit more oomph.  Instead of the leader snapping I thought I detected a very subtle movement at the end of the line.Not much mind you, but something was definately up because it moved again.

This time it felt "fishy" so I started stripping the line. It didn't take too long before the "somthing" that had caused technical difficulties was fighting and jumping. Soon I landed a nice 14" stocked brown trout. Didn't have to break my leader. Didn't lose a fly, either.

I sure wish all snags ended up this way.

Friday, July 22, 2011

The Plan for a Farmington River Grand Slam

The three of us met early one Friday morning, way before the crack of dawn and made a plan for a Farmington River Grand Slam. We could tell from the weather conditions that the fishing was going to be just perfect. Bright blue skies were headed our way, the temperature was headed for the mid 80's and the flow rate on the Farmington River was pretty good, not too low and not too high it has been held at a constant 350cfs for almost a week now.

The bugs were plentiful and included such delicacies as caddis, isonychias, march browns, midges, a variety of emergers and the ever tasty ants. Fish just love ants on hot summer days and it is usually the Chernoybal ant that gets the most attention. Despite all these tasty morsels the fishing was going to be tough and to get the Farmington Grand Slam you were going to have to work at.

So after our early morning meet and greet it was decided that we would split up and one of us headed up to the dam pool while the others headed downstream to another favorite fishing hole. We were waiting patiently and the day was looking just great when all of a sudden B. Rookie was hooked. Yup, he fell for one of those #10 partridge and orange wet flies on the swing across the riffles just below the dam on the end of a Scandi line. He put up a valient fight, but at 6" long B. Rookie could not resist for too long before being he was quickly released back into the cold water. In a couple of years Rookie is going to be one heck of a good looking fish; with his white edged fins and coppery orange body he was already a beauty to behold.

The day wore on and the fishing was still tough. There weren't many bent rods to be seen this day. Eventually the sun was heading over the western horizon and bugs a'plenty were popping out of the water. There were times when we would torpedo up to a fly only to decide at the last minute, "Nahhh. It just isn't floating as good as it should be. See that? Too much drag on that one. Oh, what the heck is that suppsed to be, a caddis? What do they think we are, stupid just because we have a brain the size of a pea?"

Eventually Bowie was spotted as he was slowly rising for some Isonychias. He would flip his tail, go to the surface, sip away and then sink back down. Rise, surface, eat and sink, just as we had planned. You had to have good eyes to see him. Meanwhile, I was making a big splash in ankle deep water. Ever the show off, I will perform these beautiful barrel rolls in water that doesn't seem deep enough to hold me. I like to tease anyone trying to get the Grand Slam, an almost in your face defiance of, "Ha ha. I won't fall for that stupid fly."

After numerous flies were presented along Bowie's feeding lane an old and beat up Isonychia #12 was tied on and presented in such a fashion that with a big splash Bowie was hooked up! Man, he went straight up for it too. I tried warning him as he went with mouth wide open and then that big ol' stupid look on his face as he tried to shake the hook out of the corner of his mouth but it would not budge. I watched as he was gently pulled in, adored for his beautiful pink and silver coloring and then released. He did look sheepishly at me and gave me a warning that he had heard the angler say, "Wow! What a beefy rainbow,about 12"-14" long. Thanks buddy, you are beautiful. Wait a second, a brookie, a all I need is a brown trout to get the Farmington River Grand Slam! Now to head back to where I saw that nice brown and...."

I never heard the end of Bowie's story because just at that same instant this big ol' March Brown came floating down and with a WHACK I took a hit at it.

Too late. I fought like hell by shaking my head and trying to hide behind some rocks but to no avail. After 12 hours of fishing our plans for a Farmington River Grand Slam came to an end after I was briefly admired and released to return to my hidey-hole.

The quite content and happy angler then headed on home with our parting gift of her first Grand Slam.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Anchors away!!

Well, it has been a very busy summer and the fishing has been great. Last week a group of us from the Connecticut Fly Fisherman's Association (CFFA) met at a lake in Wilington for some float tubing. 

The weather had been very hot and humid so it was time to do some cooling off in a spring fed 20 acre lake with some good friends. The lake was formed as a result of a thread factory that had built up a dam on the river. From what I understood this is the factory where bobbins were first produced for winding thread on. Until that time the thread was wrapped on a piece of heavy cardboard.

As you can see, it is a very pretty spot and with plenty of fish. There are crappies, trout, blue gill and bass so we could pretty much take our pick depending on what we wanted.  With plenty of float tubes to get ready it took us a short time before we actually got into the water.

Once everyone was set and ready the CFFA Flotilla was set into action!

Some of us decuded to use sinking lines and headed for the deeper and colder water in search of the rainbows. They were lots of fun to land from the tube and quickly released to return to the colder lake bottom.

After a while it seemed that the trout didn't want to participate in our fun, perhaps even they sensed that the temperature was just too hot and who could blame them? If I could have hung out at the bottom of a cold lake I would have done the same! So I decided to fish closer to shore and see what I could get.
I was rewarded with some beautiful looking fish.

I thought the colors on this guy were particularly pretty, especially in the sunlight.

So after a BBQ of bratwursts, some cold salad and ice cold water we headed back out. After a couple more hours things really died down and my brains were fried, literally. Even sitting in the lake water just didn't seem to work at keeping me cooled down. So we all called it a day and headed in. We have another trip planned for next week and hopefully we will have another good time.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Red, White and Blue 4th. of July

Miller's River

What a great weekend we all had. The weather was perfect for some weekend fishing with the family and friends.. On Sunday we decided to head up to Athol, Mass. and fish the Miller's River. With cloudy skies and showers in the forecast it was a great day for blue wing olives and wets. My sister and her husband and grandchild met us up there. While the water flow was just perfect the temperature was starting to get summer warm which meant the bass were very active. I managed to bring to net a couple of brookies that were quickly released, on on the very much used and abused orange and partridge wet fly. Actually, by now the thing is partridge-less because it has taken such a beating from all the fish it has hooked into. I keep using it just to see how much longer it will work, so far so good!

Here is the red (maybe pink). One day that princess rod will turn into a two handed trout rod!!

Farmington River, New Hartford, CT.

Here is the white and blue.

On Monday we headed back up to our favorite river, the Farmington. We met up with Fred and Jerry, two of the coolest Spey Evangelicals you can ever meet! I have been taking lessons with them and their knowledge and patience makes it so much fun to learn this two handed casting. I consider myself very lucky to have met the two of them. Now if only I can download all their information a-la Keanu Reeves in The Matrix!!

The water here was much colder since it is released from a damn. The fish at the first spot we stopped at were extremely active but what were they taking? They were gently breaking the surface as the swallows were dive bombing any of the bugs that managed to escape the fish. It was great fun watching those birds. What was even more entertaining was watching them zero in on our flies as they floated down the riffles. The fish were very selective about what they wanted and we finally figured out it had to be a very small fly, cream colored and it had to have just about as perfect a drift as possible. I managed to land a really nice brown and had a monster rainbow on but he broke me off - I just hate that when that happens. 

Of course, if you have been reading my posts you should recognize Cleo, our fishing companion.

Another shot of the Farmington.

We eneded up taking a break for lunch at a local pizza joint over in Winsted, Ct. Not only is their pizza the best but the air conditioning is super cold. Rob and I will take our lunch break during the hottest and brightest part of the day before heading back out for the late afternoon / evening fishing fivolity. We were very lucky to be able to return to our spot after lunch. We were both rather surprised that no one else was in there. We met up with a couple of friends of ours and ended up fishing until 8:30. Rob landed a really nice brown trout that must have been 12" - 14" long. Beautiful fish! I had a couple of hits but was the only one not to land anything for the evening. The blue wing olves #20 were coming off like mad. There were also some black, tan and green caddis. Since the temperature was now in the 80's I decided to wet wade and was glad I did.

So far this summer has been just perfect. The weather has been very cooperative with enough rain coming just when you need it to keep the rivers and streams happy, not at all like last year when we went on a four month drought with temperatures soaring into the 90's. The fishing has been great as well. I steal away in the evenings with my little Dec Hogan and swing away bringing many a brookie in while at the same time getting some nice browns and bows.

Here's hoping everyone had a great July 4th. and many heart felt thanks to all of you in the military, both currently serving and retired. You all deserve a hearty standing ovation.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

After moving dirt it was fishin' time!

Today was one of those days when it felt really good to get out. After moving a bunch of dirt and compost this morning for almost 5 hours I needed a break. The weather had turned a bit more humid and the temperature was 86F when I finally headed out to the Farmington.

As always I go through a series of options of where to fish. I had the new 2 handed rod packed up and a tin full of some wet flies that I tied up last night and finally settled down on a new spot on the river. The location turned out to be a darn good spot. The water was approximately 500cfs and there was a slight upriver breeze to cool things off. Boy, after working out in the yard the coolness of the water did feel good.

I wasn't alone. There was a pair of geese that were escorting their five young uns up and down the bank that was behind me. I watched the family as they moved out into the faster current with the babies peeping as they tried to keep up. I had a good laugh when I noticed they were getting louder and a bit more frantic in their noise making to find that the water current was pushing them towards me and that was the last place they wanted to go. To help them out I moved out of their way and I swear I could sense a big sigh of relief, that is if geese can sigh! In all it was pretty comical to watch them try like hell to avoid getting closer to me.

It didn't take too many swings of the #12 orange partridge before I got a hit. Dang, missed it. Some more casts and steps down river finally produced my first brookie of the evening. After that there was a spell where I could not get my d-loop placed just right and I kept hooking up in the grass behind me. Eventually I moved on down far enough where I didn't have to worry about it as I started letting more and more line out just to see how far I could cast across the river.

As the sun was setting low through the trees I landed some more brookies and then a nice rainbow, all the while working my way down the river and through this new found spot. There were only two other fly fishermen out, one was above me and the other below so there was plenty of room for all.

I managed to put in almost 5 hours of fishing today. Funny, I put in almost 5 hours of dirt moving too. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that the time spent on the river was wayyyyy more fun than moving dirt around the yard.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Spey Nation IV

For the first time I attended a spey clave up in Pulaski, N.Y. on June 25th. There were presentation, rod and reel reps available and a raffle that was to benefit the Fish Creek Atlantic Salmon Club. So on Friday I headed on up on a drive that is now getting to be quite routine. The only big difference on this trip was the weather. Instead of watching the car thermometer hover around 30F (or lower) and driving in snow as well as on snow or quite possibly heading into a white-out, it was 65F and the trees were full of leaves. Weird.

Anyway, aside from the warmer weather the trip was interesting. The presenations were informative and I can say that now only because I could understand and follow what they were talking about! If I had gone last year? Forget about it, it would have been a foreign language.

Andrew Moy did a great job discussing the beginning aspects of spey casting that included anchors, D-loops and the like. Neil Houlding and Rick Kustich demonstrated how to manipulate full sinking heads as well as the necessary casts when using them. So after several hours of picking up tips and what nots, I headed out to the Salmon River for some fishing.

I decided to take out my new Dec Hogan, Echo rod. My latest jewel is an 11'9", 4 wt. that I have designated as my trout rod. I use a compact Scandi 300 grain shooting head and to that I have attached my own home made leader. The fly of choice for the evening was a simple partridge wet fly, yellow or orange.

I headed out to a spot on the river that I last fished in the dead of winter. It was so cold that a curtain of ice formed on my waders! Yes, it was nippy. But Saturday night it was much different. The water was much warmer, obviously there was no ice on my waders or on my guides and the woods were thick with foliage.

The spot I started at had a deep channel on the opposite bank and aimed for that. Whoosh. Nice d-loop right over the water and pretty close to where I was aiming. Let the fly swing, adjust for speed and wait. It felt so good.

After settling down and practing the Perry Poke, Circle C and the Jerry Jahn cast the fish started to hit. The browns and bows were the choice of fish that night and while they were not huge fish, it was still a blast. I worked a small section through some riffles and down some until I noticed that it had gotten quite dark. There were dark clouds moving in and the woods appeared to move in on me. Yeah, I know, I had a flashlight with me but still, there is something called imagination that just spooked me. You might think it was Bigfoot or Sasquatch but no. Perhaps it was bears? Nahh... my imagination worked up bears, gnomes and elves. Something you might read about in a Steven King novel. Now I figured I could deal with the bears (maybe) but the elves and gnomes? They are a formidable group for sure. So I headed on out and decided to come back early Sunday.

Early Sunday I hit just below the spot where I ended on Saturday and picked up again with the simple wet fly. No browns or bows but the brookies were hitting it. My God, those fish are beautiful with each one having a slightly different color pattern and shine to them. Again, swinging that wet fly and letting it dangle for during the next five hours or so produced the most action.  It was fantastic.

Not only did I have a great time at the Spey clave but I also started my summer vacation. I've got lots of fishing to do, for sure.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Solitude and friendship

For no real reason I will, on  more occasions than not, end up fishing by myself. My husband works long hours at his job and only has Sundays off. So if I want to head out during the week or on a Saturday I go it alone. It isn't a big deal because after teaching chemistry to 125 students each day; well, I do appreciate the solitude.

No bells. No silly excuses for no homework. No administrative foolishness, nothing. Just pure peace and quiet. My time on the river is time for me to appreciate the beauty that surrounds me while waiting patiently for that tug when a fish hits my fly.

When the opportunity came to help teach a fly fishing class to a group of gals I jumped at it. And so I had a day of, "Girls Gone Fishin'" and it was a blast. But it didn't stop there.

A couple of the gals wanted to get together and fish once a month or more if we could figure out the time. We chatted up a date and meeting arrangement and yesterday was it. Meeting time was 5pm at UpCountry in New Hartford and it was simple; show up if you wanted to and we would head on out to the Farmington River.

The weather didn't really cooperate as it started to rain on the drive over but fish don't care, they are already wet and besides, I had a rain jacket. But if you know me you would already know that a little bit of rain doesn't bother me at all. Thunder and lightning will make me walk on water but rain is not a problem. Cold? Hell, I love the cold even more. I have a great picture of my waders with a coating of ice that formed on 'em while I was fishing for steelies on the Salmon River in Pulaski, N.Y. So rain? No problem.

Lisa was the only gal that was able to get out for the evening. We headed up to a spot and chatted while we put our waders on and chatted on the way to the river. Once at the river we each took a spot and fished. She moved this way and that and I did some of the same. We would call out with some inane comment once in a while but mostly we fished.

At one point I thought I heard a noise so I looked up to see Lisa releasing a fish. I couldn't help but smile at how much fun she seemed to have. She netted it, took a look at it, removed the hook and watched it swim away. Then she looked up with a big ol' grin on her face and gave me a thumbs up. She was thrilled.

While we fished we saw that the steel blue clouds were parting, allowing the light from the Strawberry Full moon to break through. The light from the moon would make the river appear as a dark ribbon against the wooded background. Then, as if on cue, the bashful moon would cover up with the clouds and we would have to wait a couple of minutes before she appeared once more. We saw some blue herons swing down the river looking for a fishy tidbit and Lisa remarked how prehistoric they looked with their long necks and silent wing movement taking them up and down the river. There were birds flitting over the water snapping up the sulfurs, caddis and blue wing olives as they made their first flight after emerging. These fly catchers would careen about and you would think they were going to hit the water when at the last second they would change course and head to a tree branch. The coolness of the air reminded me of fall despite knowing it was June and I actually started to feel chilly.

I couldn't help but feel jealous - that guys must fish with their buds for pretty much the same reason. You all get together, head out, joke, laugh and do foolish stuff but in the end you get to fish and the companionship is a bonus. But for us gals it is not so easy as there aren't that many of us that get out and fish. I don't know why that is and I suppose it will remain a mystery of life.

So we fished until dark and headed back to the river bank. We started another conversation on the way to our cars, talked about the evening and other things before each of us headed on home.

Solitude, friendship and a river. What a great combination.

Monday, May 16, 2011

The Trees Have Eyes

I had a very adventurous afternoon last Friday. I was busy all day as I worked my way up and down the river. There was nothing in particular that I was looking for, it was just fun being out in the warmer weather and the slight bit of sunshine made it even more special. The best part was that there was no one else there to bother me or get in my way until I heard a car door slam.


With great haste I managed to get myself into a predicament where I needed to grab hold of some branches with both hands and steadied my feet for support. Like I said, I was the only one on the river and I am always thinking of safety first.

With quiet trepidation I waited to see what was coming my way. I barely moved and the death grip I had on the branches actually  helped to steady my nerves. I was well camouflaged against a mossy oak background when all of  a sudden someone started talking to me.


"Come on out. I can see you, buddy."


Slowly, very slowly I poked my head from around the tree and realized that my foot had scraped the side of the bark and the noise is what gave my spot away. She sure had good eyes though to spot me 15' up in the pine tree that I had hidden in.

I looked down on her as she commented about my Betty Grable eyes and cute face. Her voice was soothing and I soon realized I didn't have anything to fear. She went back to the car and returned with an apple which she gladly took bites of and tossed them at the bottom of the tree I was in. I totally amazed her as I did an about face and headed back down the tree head first. She laughed aloud as I hit the ground looking for the chunks of apple that I quickly grabbed with my paws and then we shared her late lunch. It was a nice gesture on Mary's part, I rarely get to eat a snack with a human as we racoons like to keep to ourselves.

Eventually,  Mary did get to the river and I watched as she was fishing for some trout using something she called a wholly bugger. There were two different fish that she was going for, one she did mange to hook and a second that broke off, leaving the fly in the fish's lip. Man, that didn't make her happy at all! But she was a good sport and when an eagle landed on a rock scoping things out she stood in rapt attention. She was totally amazed when that bird jumped into the water along the river's edge, grabbed a fish and flew on upstream. She counted her blessings that day and I was one of them!

Imagine that.

So you never know when the trees have eyes and someone, maybe me, will be watching you.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Girls gone fishin'

     A friend of mine at a local fly fishing shop had a great idea. She wanted to have a class to teach some gals how to fly fish. Just gals. No guys allowed! Hummm. She explained to me that many times the wives, friends or girlfriends would often come into UpCountry with their husbands, friends and boyfriends. The guys were the ones that were always fishing, the girls just tagged along. So Carol came up with the "Girls Day" for fly fishing. Her vision was to keep it simple, get the gals out on the river, fish and have fun. That  idea sounded pretty interesting to me so I  volunteered my time to help her out.
     So last Saturdy there we were. A group of us gals on the river having a grand ol' time. I met some of the nicest and funniest people and we all got along just great. One lady was there because her son was always talking about fishing and wanted her to go with him. She is 70 years old and ready to take this on. Can you believe it? 70!! Amazing!!! Another gal wanted to learn because her boyfriend always goes and she wanted to be able to have fun with him as well. The reasons were various but the end result was all the same in that they all had the desire to learn.
     We practiced some dry casting on the lawn but it was clear to me that they really wanted to get to the river. Carol brought lunch and after a quick bite and some jokes it didn't take long before we headed down to the water.
     We broke off into groups and spread out, each of the newbies getting a feel of the water. Soon enough there were a few hendricksons flying around which they all thought was pretty cool. They thought it was cool to see the real fly and compare it to the one on the end of their line. I had decided not to fish simply because I wanted to watch. I wanted to see someone land their first fish.
    It wasn't too long before one of the gals hooked a decent brown trout and then a second one shortly after that. Score!!  Then another gal just above use hooked one. The two of 'em couldn't believe it. They wasted no time in getting the fly back out on the water because they wanted more.
     Like all good things the afternoon seemed to go by too fast. We walked back up to the cars, all the while gabbing like we had been friends forever. We exchanged emails and phone numbers and hopefully, with a little luck, we will get together during the summer and fish some more.
     Many thanks to Carol and UpCountry for putting this together. What a great idea.

Crazy pic of girls gone fishin'


Sunday, February 27, 2011

"...did you ever stand and shiver just because you were looking at a river?"

This partial quote is from Ramblin' Jack Elliott and it does pretty much describe how I feel about fly fishing.

My latest adventure on the Salmon River did happen as planned. My husband was right, I had the chance to go and should go because the weather is as the weather does. If I had stayed home I would have been wondering what I was missing. So I went on what will probably be my last steelie trip for the winter.

Two out of the three days were good for fishin'. Friday started out cloudy but it wasn't too long before blue skies and sunshine were out and layers of fleece were coming off as I treked up and down the Salmon River following my guide. It was great to see some eagles flying above the trees as they too seemed to appreciate the hint of spring in the air, the warmth of the sun. The silent passage of the wood ducks as they followed the course of the river would have gone unnoticed if it weren't for another angler who pointed them out to us. I looked up and watched the pair as they headed upriver, most likely to a nesting site. Then there were all the black stoneflies moving about on the snow covered banks. At first glance they appeared to be moving imperfections on the snow but I stopped to look take a closer look and was amazed at how many of them had been roused by the warmth of the sun.

As always there was the steady pulse of the river against my legs as I tried to dig in and keep my footing. That feeling of the river coupled with the sound  it makes as it heads for Lake Ontario did make me shiver and not because I was cold, because I wasn't. Unlike my last couple of trips this time I had the pleasure of the sunshine warming me up as I stood out in the river at a spot I had never fished before. I was soaking up the sunshine, the intermittent warmth of the breeze, the clouds racing up high above indicating a change in weather;  all that surrounded me as I attempted to coax a fish to fly connection.

Saturday was a totally different experience. The blue skies and 40F temperature of Friday were replaced with 35-40 mph winds and lake effect snows. Pulaski wasn't too bad, the brunt of the storm was further south. So with a good book I settled in for a day of reading.  No phone, no computer, no email, no radio, just the sound of the wind for background noise. I couldn't remember the last time I had such a quiet day. It was a good thing.

Sunday dawned bright with sun, no wind, a light covering of snow and a much colder temperature than Friday.  It was the same river but a different experience. There was no hint of spring in the air. Not this time. This time my guides were icing up at an annoying rate and all my layers of fleece stayed on. I had my turtle fur pulled up over my ears to keep them warm and despite the hand warmers I stuffed into my pockets I even broke out my gloves. There weren't any stoneflies out either. There was the occasional piece of ice that would scare the crap out of me as it bumped against the back of my legs, sometimes staying there until I kicked it away. One piece of ice got a thorough ass whuppin' as I sent it on down. Yes sir, I showed that ice who was boss!

The day just seemed to move too fast  for me and soon it was time to pack it in and call it a day. I hate making that final cast, especially knowing it might be several months before I get back up there.

Now at this time you may be wondering, "Good Lord girl, did ya land any fish?!"
I won't tell, not for this trip.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Should I stay or should I go now?

It's not just a song but the one thought that keeps hounding me for the moment.

What to do, what to do? Stay or go?

I had this steelhead trip planned for two months now. This Connecticut winter has been rough by some accounts, for me, it reminds my of a typical New England snowy winter. Almost 70" of snow so far and brother, it has been cold.

I did have one goal for the winter and that was to fish for steelie atleast once a month starting with October.
I did Oct.,



missed Jan. - doh! - and here I am, one day before I am supposed to take off for my February trip.
And as always, I start checking the weather for Pulaski.

It does appear as there will be a slight warm up for the next couple of days, and actually Friday was looking to be the pick of the trip with the temperature maybe hitting the 40s. Of course, there is a predicted  bit of a cooling for Sat. and Sun. but like I mentioned, cold weather doesn't bother me too much.

But there is a weather condition that just plain ol' chaps my waders.
It has four letters.


There. Take that you fishing Gods you! I wrote it and now I am saying it. Wind. Wind. Wind.
Wind for Friday.
Wind for Saturday.
How much wind? 22mph NNW wind is the forecast for Pulaski.

Should I stay or should I go?

Two out of three days. Sheesh...
Should I stay or should I go?

But I want to land another steelie on the swing.
Should I stay or should I go?

Guess you will just have to wait and see.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Showmhowtzdun - From Aug. 2009

     Ahh, here it is. The long awaited summer vacation of yet another year in high school. What's it been, another 17 years as a freshman? Teacher, that is. One would have thought that doing it once in 1973 was enough. So this summer I had plans, you know. To fish different places and to try some new techniques. I had this compelling notion that I had to make up for last summer's fishless season due to my winter fishing acrobatics that left me with a summer of physical therapy. But anyhow.....

     So the first day of vacation begins and what do I do? I start some home projects. If Bill Engvall was around he would have said, "Here's your sign, Mary". Yeah, not a smooth move (more like dumb ass) as the home projects seriously cut into my fishing plans. I am not sure how painting the kitchen morphed into peeling wallpaper from two rooms, priming, painting, new baseboards, etc. etc. but it did. Stranger things have happened, I suppose, although right at the moment I can't think of any. Must have been all the fumes I was breathin' as a result of having had the floors refinished at the same time.

     I eventually get enough of the work done that I did head out on a road trip to North Carolina to visit son #2, AKA Sam (the best and most awesome, of course). Thanks, Sam for proofreading!!

     After two days of driving I arrived in Winston-Salem. Sam had asked one of his co-workers where he should drive Miss Daisy to for some fishing. Seems that in this area of N.C. trout fishin' takes second place to bass fishin' and one of the closest places from here is up in Virginia. At this point, I didn't mind what we went fishin' fer so long as I got into some water and pulled up some fish.

     Saturday morning dawned partly cloudy and rather humid, just like New England this summer, but we set off for the New River up by Fries, Virginia. This section of the New River is approximately two hours from Winston-Salem. We googled up directions from Map Quest and found the "shortest route" or what I now refer to as the road from hell. The start of the trip was rather routine on highway 52 N but the roads gradually narrowed and the trees began to close in. Eventually we ended up looking for Pipers Gap and driving on a "road" that was barely wide enough for one vehicle, never mind our car meeting up with Bubba's truck barreling down the opposite direction with all the ease and skill of a wanna be NASCAR Champion. It was a beautiful drive, as drives go with views from behind eyelids that were squeezed tight as I sat in the passenger side of the car. The only thing that made the drive up to the river worse was knowing that we would have to go down the same way!

     But I did manage to take in the scenery of deep dark forests that met the edge of the road. I have never seen forests so thick with oaks, maples, rhododendron and various other greenery. At one point we saw a doe and her fawns romping through one of the few open fields and barely missed a woodchuck as it tried to commit suicide in front of us. But the road from hell had frequent hairpin curves that Sam seemed to relish driving faster than my comfort level. I do believe he saw his window of opportunity to get back at mom for keeping his room clean! Either that or I have really turned into Miss Daisy.....nahh, that can't be it.

     We eventually did find the river with the sound of banjos playing in the background. Two of 'em, to be exact. To really fish this stretch of the river you should have a canoe or kayak. Since we had neither we searched along the road for "easy access". Weren't none to be found until we headed to Fries and found a very easy access point, complete with parking lot and port-o-potty. Fishin' heaven!!

     At first blush the New reminded me of the Housatonic on a late July day. Extremely wide and on this day a slow flow rate. There was a dam upriver but the flow was over the top which kept the temperatures of the water fairly warm. There were stretches of nice pocket waters as well as gentle pools that drifted slowly downriver. There were geese hanging around and green forested mountains surrounded the area.

     We parked the car and got ready to fish. It was warm so I decided to wet wade. Since Sam doesn't fish he offered to pack the couple of fly boxes along and off we went.

     First, we headed off downriver and around a small island. My goal was to fish under the trees and brush as the sun was high up at this time with the occasional cloud moving through. The wind was a constant but not too strong presence. At one thigh deep pool that was under a very old oak tree I was rewarded with one fish on and then immediately off. After several hours it was time for lunch at one of the picnic tables along the river. As I was walking to the table I noticed that the parking lot was full of pick up trucks and that there were now more guys out in the river than when I started. As I was enjoying the scenery I heard someone say, "Showmhowtzdun".

     It sounded just like that. One word all drawn out and my brain going, "Huh?".

     "Pardon, what did you say?" I asked and when he repeated himself I was able to listen closely and hear him say, "Show them how it's done."

     I just laughed because from what I could see I had shown them how it was done because I was not the only one getting skunked by the fish.

     After lunch I fished for a couple more hours. NOTHING. I tossed muddlers, a variety of buggers, hoppers, ants and beetles. I even let Sam pick out some flies just for the heck of it so he handed me some leeches. I was starting to think that the budding cumulus cloud build up and increasing wind had something to do with the lack of fish. Sam's co-worker had warned me that the fishin' lately had been tough. He was right.

     We did our drive back down the mountain only this time without meeting any other vehicles coming up. Whew! Thank goodness.
However, Sam went into his comedy routine of , "Look Ma, no hands!" while rarely applying the breaks along the Road From Hell Drive #2. As we arrived back home we heard that there were flash flood warnings for the same area of the river we had left. Seems those cumulus clouds budded into something big and along with severe thunderstorms there were also tornado warnings posted. Yup, the fishin' was tough but I definitely think those bass new something more was up.

Dan River, Virginia

Dan River, Virginia

New River, Virginia

New River, Virgina

Go figure

     I finally had the chance today to get out to the river for some practice on my two handed Skagit casting with my 12' 6", 5/6 wt. Deer Creek. It seemed like forever since I was last out, but when I actually thought about it it was just two weeks ago. Go figure.  But I really do love this new type of fly fishing and I am determined to do it right.
     So off I headed with the temperature only in the teens; 18F according to the car thermometer. I picked one of my favorite spots on the Farmington River that is just above Riverton, got out of the car, geared up and headed out. I found a spot that had no footprints leading down to the water.

     So I headed down the gentle slope through the recent snowfall from last week to a spot that I determined would have room for me to "swing" flies. I tried to find some spots where I would catch some sun puddles in the river but at that temperature it didn't really make a difference.

     I had a couple of hand warmers in my pocket, my turtle fur pulled up over my head and my fleece jacket zipped all the way up. No doubt it was cold.  I could hear the chickadees, sparrows and many other small birds all in symphony around me. I was amazed that no matter how hard I tried to look I couldn't see them, yet I could hear them. Go figure.
     I finally settled on one spot and took out some line at the same time feeling the cold of the water through my waders and all the layers of fleece I had on. I picked a spot on the opposite bank as my target and started casting. The first couple of casts weren't so great, but after a spell I was getting better. It seems that each time I head out to practice I spend less time getting the rust off my casts and more time with improving and having better casts. I was able to work a couple of different casts keeping in mind river right and river left (how you stand to the flow of the river determines how you cast). I was working hard at slowing things down, watching the anchor and not letting my D-loop fall flat. There is so much to Skagit casting that it can boggle the mind, however, I am trying to get to the point with my casting where I am not as methodical as I currently am. Not that that is bad, mind you, but I just want to be able to cast and flow as I work down the river. I want it to feel more natural.
    At one point I noticed a rock that had a bush with branches overhanging the river. Then I remembered my first time at this pool on a warm summer day. Perhaps it was wishful thinking, perhaps it was the handwarmers in my pockets, perhaps it was just the peace that I find on the river. Either way, my thoughts drifted back to a summer day about 8 years ago.
     On that particular day I had dared to venture out to the river alone. It was a big step for me and I couldn't really tell you why.  But there I was, with my 8'6" 5wt. Loomis with an X-wing caddis tied. I really had no clue as to what I was doing, I had not taken any casting lessons, hadn't read a book about it.  Nothing. But I could see that there was a fish that kept rising right over by that very same rock and bush and I was doing my darndest to get that fly over to it. So I remembered how my son would cast and tried replicating what he did.
     I did have one slight problem - and this is the God's honest truth. I didn't know what the hell I was going to do if that fish did take my fly!  Part of me wanted so much to land a fish while at the same time part of me was thinking, "You have got to be kidding. Just how are you going to get it off the hook?"
     Undaunted, I kept casting and casting to the rise. He must have seen my fly pass over his head so many times that I am sure he was bored with my antics. So I was feeling pretty confident that as time went by I had less and less of a chance of hooking him which meant less and less of a chance of having to get him off the hook.
     So I was happy as a fool,  casting to the fish, feeling the sun on my back when all of a sudden "it" happened. That dang fish took my fly.
     Go figure!!
     What happened next? Well, I remembered  what my son did when he landed some fish in the very same spot. Keeping in my what Brian did I reeled him on in right up to me and next to my leg. I then made a quick look around to make sure no one was watching the show and then I gently reached down and jiggled the hook out of his lip.    
     Once he was off he darted right back to his spot and I thought to myself, "Gee. What was all the worry about? That seemed easy enough."
     The rest is history, which brings me back to today. Today I was out two handed casting which is something I never thought I would have done. I have fished the Madison, Ruby and Yellowstone Rivers. I landed numerous rainbows in Clark Canyon Reservoir. I fished a couple of rivers in North Carolina and Virginia. Yes, I am lucky that my sons live near these rivers so when I get a chance to visit them I can also fish. I also have the Farmington right here in Connecticut and not too far away are my beloved steelhead in the Salmon River. I just love it.
     Go figure.