Monday, March 31, 2014


I like to tie nymphs, particularly with soft hackles. Sometimes I try to tie them with materials from only one or two birds (some exceptions are made for the dubbing and rib). The two bigger flies are tied only with assorted parts from a pheasant and a bit of turkey quill. The smaller are Pheasant with a marabou tail. The dubbing for the thorax is fluff from a pheasant crest feather.

Thought it was Over

Winter gave us one more blast this morning, with some sleet and snow. It may be a week before rivers are fish-able after this last rainstorm. Oh well.

Sunday, March 30, 2014


This ought to weed out the weak of the freshly stocked trout to pass on those healthy strong fish genes to their wild offspring....

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Stocked Trout

For a little while now, we trout fishers can only fish TMA's . I am not close to a wild trout management area, I have to settle for my daily fun on stocked trout. There luckily are some native brookies and wild browns in this river, but it is hard to tell the difference sometimes. I saw risers when I reached the stream , and decided to tie on a stimulator. It was impossible to get a cast when a trout wouldn't hit. Eventually it became a game to see what type of presentation they wouldn't eat. I couldn't find one.
A Wild From a Tributary

Friday, March 28, 2014

Do Bass Eat Jigs in Frigid Water?

Evidently it must be warmer than it was today. I spent an hour chucking big old football jigs in my local fishing hole. It is stream fed and therefor ice less. I tossed to some structure, including a fallen tree in deep water and a culvert. I did get to watch a big walleye as he drifted in some rip-rap. He was probably getting into prespawn habits. I unfortunately could not entice a fish to eat. A fish would certainly have improved such a dull, grey day.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Beavers and Icy Giudes, But no Fish

As I promised myself, I fished today. This meant braving horrible winds, with leaves blowing into the stream and catching on both line and fly. I did see two trout, one an obese looking holdover rainbow, the other a smaller brown. Neither wold eat. The cold snow melt must be the culprit. I did see an enormous beaver. My father told me he had once seen a beaver so big he mistook it for a small black bear. I now know why!

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Pike Prep and a Good Read

Been' preparing to get on the pike as the spawn in the shallow wetlands of the CT river- tying flies and hunting for locations using maps. Soon I'll be out casting to those big old water wolves with my stoutest rod. I'm getting excited thinking about it....

Those flies are on top of the Armchair Angler, a great compilation of fishing writings by the likes of Ray Bergman and Ernest Hemingway. I highly recommend it. There is plenty of material there to dig through during winters like the one we here in CT have just left behind.

Spring Time

Before the next cool down, I thought it would be a good idea to go to a productive brook trout stream to see if it's natives had survived the deep freeze. My brother, my dog and I hiked out to this little creek. We saw some little fish, but no big ones. Perhaps the big guys stay in the pond downstream for the winter. Last fall there were 14 inch trout in there spawning, they had to have come from somewhere.
 On Wednesday this week I will fish, regardless of the weather.... stay tuned!
Lots of vegetation here, almost like a limestone spring.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

How to Catch Trout on Dries All Year

The answer is simple: if there is plenty of open water, brookies in tiny creeks will eat at the surface. If you can fish the water successfully with a nymph, a dry will work just as well. The secret is that fish in small freestone streams are almost always hungry, and they will get a meal whenever they can. That means they will take small flies when a hatch is on, and big flashy ones when they can fit them in their mouth. Don't hold this rule to me, nymphing and using wets is much more productive in the winter, but there will always be a little blue line with brook trout willing to eat dries. I demonstrated such this winter by catching at least one trout on a fly fished dry each month I was able to fish. I landed many on wet flies skated on the surface in December (that counts, right? ) and managed a few on Bombers in January. In early February I caught brookies on a Royal Wulff. These outings kept me from getting really bad cabin fever that I typically experienced in the past, when I thought winter was not the time to be fishing.
An Attacker of the Royal Wulff

Dark, Icy, But not Abandoned

Wednesday, March 19, 2014


I looked out my front picture window this afternoon to see a good sight: bluebirds feeding. It brightened my day quit a bit. I love all types of native birds. They add sound that is very important on a stream. One of my favorite songs is the call of chickadees accompanied by falling water.

The background noise is the fly fishing documentary film 'Eastern Rises'. It is really good, I highly recommend it
The male wouldn't stop moving!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Happy Saint Patrick's Day!

Ah, one of my favorite days of the year. Time to indulge in corned beef and cabbage, soda bread, and potatoes. I hope you all spend this fine day with family and friends and eat well.

Here are some flies to match the holiday: a green woolly bugger and a golden stone fly nymph.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

The Secret Stream

I think everyone has a stream, pond, or cove like this. I have mine. I have done my best to learn as much as I can about it, and would be distraught to find a spin fisherman killing the gorgeous wild trout that call it home.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Small Stream - Big Trout

This is what its all about- gorgeous wild trout on small, rarely fished streams. Hey, these ones are big too!

How I Organize My Trout Flies

I am bored and haven't been able to fish, so I've been tying and organizing flies.

All around trout box: Dries on one side; wets, nymphs, and streamers on the other.

Match the Hatch box; dries, emergers, and pupa patterns for terrestrials, mayflies, stoneflies, and caddis.

Streamers, worms, eggs, and nymphs.

Small Stuff: Midges, small mayflies, cluster midges, micro-caddis pupa

Scouting a New Stream

I finally remembered my last trip, scouting for a new thin blue line. There was still plenty of snow on the ground, but my dog and I went out in the cold. We found the stream, but it was far to small to hold even brook trout fry.

Yo, Buddy, ain't that water cold?

Monday, March 10, 2014

A Tale of Two Fisherman

I wrote the following story a short time ago. It is fictional.

A small Catskills brook flows over boulders of many colors, its gin clear water sparkling like gemstones. The banks are vivid green with moss and ferns, dripping with moisture. Hemlocks and Mountain Laurels block enough light that the forest floor is cool, even in mid summer. The same dark canopy keeps the brook cool. That water flows down from springs high up in the mountains. It tumbles over rocks, collecting oxygen. This cold, oxygenated water is the lifeblood of fish. Brook Trout, their young, small suckers, and minnows flit about the bottom. This life attracts a small group of fisherman. Such sportsman no longer want to catch the biggest fish. They live to find the most beautiful, wild trout in pristine surroundings.

I found myself obsessed with the beautiful Brook Trout of this Catskill creek as a young man. I had found my heaven in those woods. I would drive up an old logging road to where it crosses the creek. I then fished upstream. The day I discovered the stream I fell in love. I caught the most beautiful fish I had ever seen. The river was healthy, with young of the year trout darting in the shallows. I had made my way up a small ledge when I stood to stretch. I saw an old man sitting on a bridge. He had a fly rod and a net lain next to him on the bridge. He was jabbing a fly out of his box, and tied it to his leader with obvious struggle and frustration. I shouted a hello, and he looked up. He struck me as a mountain man, his scraggly grey beard reaching nearly under his ancient chest high waders. We started chatting, at first about the fishing and what fly was working, then later about life. We instantly became friends.

Over the next few years I met the old man on the bridge nearly every time I fished that stream. His name was Bobby James. That was his actual birth name. Bobby was a tough man to be around. He had no filter. He said what he felt regardless of how abrasive it may have been. I learned he had moved to Alaska from the Kills in hopes of getting rich gold mining. He had done some bad things; treated a lot of people disrespectfully. Bobby moved back to New York, only to find his family and friends long gone. He no longer felt that he fit anywhere other than in the woods. I found that I felt the same. I wondered why I should be spending my life in the woods. I wasn't spending time around other people, but Bobby was a person. We talked often, and over the five years that I knew him I talked more to him than anyone else. Bobby and I talked about how brutal society could be, how awful cities were, and how much we disliked electronics and what they were doing to the younger generations. After some time we had both realized that our own opinions and lifestyles were what was wrong with us. Bobby and I were the ones who weren't willing to understand other people. We were outcasts by our own will. We were missing a big part of what it means to be human. But we decided not to change that.

One day Bobby asked me a tough question. “Will anyone miss me? Other than you, that is. I've been such an ass to people all my life.”

“I don’t know.”

I thought about that for while. Bobby seemed like he didn't care that nobody would miss him. I came to believe that he felt some regret for the ways he had treated people, but was at a point where it wouldn't matter. I saw some of this in myself. I did know that some people would miss me. I would be missed by my family and close friends, all of which were avid outdoors-man. All those Bobby had grown up with were gone. It was a few weeks before I found myself at the bridge again. Bobby wasn't there. It was a few trips before the reality had set in. My friend was gone. I sat on his seat on the bridge and wept, the salty tears dripping into the water of the stream. The sun came out, and I could feel it’s warmth on my back. It calmed me, and I went back to my truck. Two weeks later I received a package. It contained a net, a box of flies, and a rod. They were Bobby’s. He had left them for me. I was told by the judge that they were the only things in his will.
I went back to the woods. I fished. I listened to the birds and the crickets. I observed the wild flowers and vegetation. The woods are static. Without human interference they will be alive indefinitely. The changes occur with the weather and the seasons, but these are each good moods, all beautiful in many ways. The stream, the trout, the water, and the woods are friends that can not die, leave, or betray.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Fishing in Foul Weather

I have never been one to shy away from fishing, regardless of the weather. That means I will brave rain, cold, hail, lightning, high winds, and snow, even minor flooding, just in case there is a hungry fish willing to take a fly.

This, however, does not mean that I don't have a respect for dangerous weather. As a storm photographer I am used to going head to head with weather most run from. I never shy away from a good storm.

I could go on and on about my close encounters with bad weather while fishing, but I'll just give some of the best anecdotes.

A few years ago my good friend and I fished a day that the Storm Prediction Center had given a 'slight risk'. That is to say that severe storms are probable, but there is a minimal chance of tornadoes, damaging hail, and severe wind. I knew storms would fire, but I did not anticipate being chased all over the state by a cell that eventually dropped hail on us. Afterwards, with tons of runoff in the pond we found ourselves at, we got into some great catfish and bass.

The same year we found ourselves in hypothermic weather fishing for bass in a big lake. We ended up soaked and cold, but with a lot of huge bass. They go mad under those conditions, and we even managed to move a fish that would have gone 15lbs! That fish was actually startling.

A large bass caught just before a storm

This sucker chased us off the river.

Ominous thunderheads signal the end of a good day of brown trout.

Dreams of Spring

Lately, I have been feeling sick. I am tired o snow, cold feet, and the dull grey of the woods. I have had day dreams of warmer, colorful days. Today I imagined a spring creek with native brook trout in the driftless region.

It was a perfect evening at the end of a warm September day. The liquid gold of the sun had just started to sink behind a distant ridge line. In the meadow, crickets and katydids began their shrill songs. The occasional bee fumbled from golden rod to golden rod, heavy with his hive's sustenance. The field is rustled by a light breeze. To the insects, it is like a tornado, blowing them in small clouds till the can grab hold of a stem or leaf.
I pushed through tall  thick tall grasses and wild flowers. In one hand was a dainty bamboo fly rod; in the other, a box of flies. Robust concoctions of deer hair, turkey quill, silk, red hackle, and rubber leg lined the little plastic box. As I glided through the golden and green jungle, a militia of grasshoppers flew out of my path. Some were tiny and a beautiful light green. Others were like little monsters, brown and yellow beasts that barbled a dark putrid juice when captured. This did not prevent the birds from making a meal of them, as many species swooped and dove to collect the evening meal.
Something else was hungry for grass hopper. I reached my destination, a clear, slow creek; it was no bigger than a sidewalk. I slid to my knees and watched the scene. A hopper tried to clear the stream, but the wind knocked him down. He splashed in a panic. A shadow appeared from the grey and green limestone bottom. With a slurp and a flash of olive and red the big insect was gone. I opened my fly box and extracted a gaudy pattern very similar to the victim I had just seen. It had been tied at my bench some cold winter night while sipping tea and dreaming of warmer days, of some mystery stream concocted by my own imagination. I tied the pattern to my tippet and pulled some line from the reel. With a few flicks I felt I had a suitable length of line out.
I looked behind me. The meadow loomed like a wall on either side of the stream. It was hungry, but I would not feed it my hook. A roll cast was made, and the imitation landed softly on the opposite bank. With a twitch it plopped into the current. It only made it a short way before being set upon by a hungry fish. I lifted the rod and a defiant char struggled at the surface. After running down current and trying to bury himself in a clump of grass, the fish gave up. He stared up at me with annoyance and fear. I wet my hand and gently nudged the hook free. For a few moments, in the dying light, I gazed upon the king of that tiny kingdom. His olive back and maroon flanks were fairly spattered with yellow speckles and red spots and their blue halos. It tapered back to his broad square tail. I slipped the brooky back into his river, where he swan among aquatic plants and scrambling crayfish. I returned to the fading heat of the meadow.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Golden Stone Nymph

Tied a few of these yesterday....

Hook: Size 10 curved caddis, 2x heavy
Weight: 15 wraps of copper wire
Bead: glass, tan
Tail: yellow biots
Body: yellow silk
Ribbing: Orange superfloss and natural quill
Abdoman: olive poly dubbing
Legs: yellow biots
Wingcases: olive duck quills

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Some Scouting

Today I went out to scout out a familiar stream for some productive sections that I hadn't fished yet. I found some good pools and runs for the native brookies and a couple large flats for big, smart, picky wild brown trout.

This old pine was huge, an actual old growth.

Some Saltwater Tying

I've been stocking up on patterns for stripers, blues, and albies, I plan to spend a bit more time in the salt this year. Hopefully it won't be as big a bust as last year! I only managed a small sea robin, a couple snapper blues, and a crab.