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.