Tuesday, November 29, 2011

A day of extremes...

I am still amazed at how much the Farmington has changed, in recent months, due to Irene and Alfred. Once familiar spots now feel like uncharted lunar landscapes with submerged trees and branches that make wading a joy. On one hand, these changes have been frustrating as I feel like I was just getting to know the river however, I now feel like I have a completely new river to fish.

This trip wasn't about the catch as much as it was about being out and re-energizing, something that seems to happen best with a fly rod in hand. I could still smell the fresh cut wood that had been cleared from the roads and parking lots and, like home lately, the hum of a chain saw could be heard in the distance.

I had the good fortune to experience polar opposites with some "average" sized fish stuck in the middle.

How the day started...
How the day progressed...
How the day ended!
The final fish of the day was a spectacular piggy. The situation that lead up to this fish was textbook...I was in totally new water, fishing above an island that split the river in the middle. I presented a cased caddis with a trailing orange scud and at the front of the island the strike of the season. This fish was positioned right where you read about, at the head of the island. The strike was severe, the first leap amazing and the immediate downstream run, terrifying.

That first leap allowed me to see that this was no acrobatic rainbow and that if I wanted to net this fish I would have to be patient.The second leap was a prelude to the fish turning around and bolting right at me, so fast, I wasn't sure I could reel in line fast enough and, at this point, I am hearing the words, "you should have seen the one that got away", running through my head.

Patience won out and I was able to net and revive my most beautiful Farmington brown to date.

Absolute nirvana...and re-charged batteries!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Wishin' for fishin'

First things first...I am back in the running for Father of the Year! The new set is awesome and the kids have already been tearing it up.

It's been 30 days since October Storm Alfred paid us a visit and trips to the water were, sadly, limited. My time has been spent picking up the aftermath, not only of the storm, but of the tree work we decided to have done. My wife and I had been planning to do some tree work in the spring however, the storm had one great after-effect,traveling tree companies offering some very attractive prices. Given this opportunity, we moved our tree work to the top of the project list and saved a substantial amount of funds in the process.

The unfortunate consequence of our tree work has been the amount of newly felled trees lying about my back yard.

While I was happy to see most of these trees go, I was saddened at the necessary departure of the tree we  lovingly referred to as the "$2000 tree" based on one of the quotes we received a couple years back for its removal. On a side note, the company we just used for our work did it for $500. You can see the stump in the foreground of the top picture and the large rounds in the center of the lower. This tree was over 110 years old and likely older as it was difficult to count the rings. The stump had a diameter over 40" and the upper portion of the tree carried a lot of weight very near the house.

I've been spending my time trying to take back my yard and address this mess before the snow starts flying. This mess has left me little time to take advantage of the unseasonably warm temps and head to the water. Hopefully, this week will allow me some time to get out and wet a line before we slip back into the cold grips of late fall. At this moment, my fondest hope is for a post, in the very near future, of some hungry little friends...tight lines!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Father of the Year...maybe next year...

So my neighbor Paul and I had become fairly proficient at dropping trees that we felt confident enough to tackle one that had lost it's top, which was still hanging on by a thread. While excited, we were in no way approaching this in a cavalier fashion. We planned the notch, planned the landing area and in general, took a slow approach.

The initial notch was made and during the straight cut from behind, the weight shifted and caught the chainsaw in the cut. This saw was not budging. At this point, the proper landing area was out of the question as the urgency shifted to keeping the tree off the house.

When it became clear that the tree was going to go the wrong direction, there was only one way to go...

Oak tree 1, Swing set 0 - and there goes my Father of the Year medal. One the flip side, the tree has since been cut, removed and the space is clear for the delivery of the replacement set on Thursday...amazing how fast I can work when I carry the guilt of trashing the boys swing set.

Friday, November 11, 2011

I'd rather be lucky than good...

I've used this phrase on many occasions, in business, on the golf course and elsewhere however, I have never used it more than I have on a river.

I fished for a short time today with TroutI, from Fly-Addict, and we were both having a tough go of it for awhile. TroutI, otherwise known as Pete, only had a couple hours so we hit 2 spots... 1 of his go to spots and 1 of mine in the LTMA. The first area, mine, is where I landed a couple beauties earlier this week. The water was a little higher but not by much and there were still some nice seams to work. We both fished this area thoroughly for an hour with nothing to show for it but wind knots and cold hands.

We moved to Pete's spot and separated a bit and Pete later reported he landed a 10" brown on a black BH Wooly Bugger within his first few casts than struck out for the next 50 minutes. I continued to exceed my limit of large leaves and ended up with a big goose egg...man, was it cold and windy.

At this point, Pete had to take off but I decided to try 1 last stand-by spot that has produced in the past. Here's where the lucky part comes into play :) - I was pretty cold by this point and the wind was getting pretty annoying so I was only going to give it a go for about 15 minutes at the final stop.

I was about to leave and was repositioning for a few final casts and I let my fly drift well beyond the normal swing range for my purposes. I had the rod tucked under my arm and was surveying where my next steps were going to be when I felt a nice pull on my rod.

This guy was fat. He took an orange scud that had drifted so far below me that the fly was almost behind me at this point. In the second photo you can see, near my palm, a little war wound this fish had from some recent battle. After a little revive and some reflection about how enjoyable time on the water is, I watched this brown glide back into the depths and decided that my day was done.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Mayfly Guide.

Now that the dust and / or trees have settled a bit, I have begun to study a fantastic little book called The Mayfly Guide by Al Caucci. I was able to get a signed copy from Bart at the Delaware River Club.
 Pocket size and printed on water-proof paper, this guide has a simple technique for identifying significant mayflies at their various stages from nymph, dun to spinner. The color photography, detail and depth of concise information is perfect for the novice to the seasoned angler. I'm not sure where else this guide is available however, the link to the DRC's site is below and you can connect to their online store from their homepage.


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

A break from the chainsaw.

Allowed myself a small break from all things work today and hustled to the Farmington for a visit. Down in the Collinsville / Burlington area the parking lot of the area I was hoping to fish was closed by the town. I continued further and found myself in an area that I have driven by in the past but never fished. The goal for the day was just to be out enjoying the river for a bit and any fish caught would be a secondary benefit.

Before gearing up, I took a walk along the bank and scouted the water. There was one particular stretch of riffled water between to decent size slow moving pools. If ever I found fishy water, this was it. I fished a small area no greater than 30' long, between the pools, and 15" wide.

Once again, on a self tied March Brown Anchor of all things, 2 beautiful browns came to net.

And gone...

For just a brief time, it was great to be able to tune out the chainsaws, chippers and all the added noises brought to us be Alfred.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

October storm Alfred.

Wow...where to begin with this one? I certainly didn't expect to be spending some prime fishing weather clearing debris from my yard but I have to say, with the amount of trees we have, we are fortunate that there was no real damage. The photo below looks worse that it is...but the sound and subsequent impact were scary. The night of the storm was, by far, one of the freakiest of my life.

As I continue to clean up, I am constantly reminded how lucky we were that there was no significant damage to persons or property. On the plus side, I can't even begin to guess how much firewood I am going to have once we finish our tree work and clean up. I'm sure we'll be talking about this one for years to come...

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Has it really been a over a week...

Yep, the blog has been a little neglected this past week or so. It's pretty easy for that to have happened given that today is November 6th and we still have no power. Thank goodness for the wood stove insert and the generator purchased by my in-laws as a house-warming gift about 6 years ago.

The storm has had one great upside for me...I am fortunate to live in a town full of decent people. Having only been here a few years, we are still becoming friends with neighbors, our kids school mates, etc. It has been great to see how easily and without hesitation people have opened their doors for my family and others as we all find ourselves riding the wave of no power together. We are fortunate to have some great neighbors and everyone has done what they can to pitch in and make this situation tolerable for all of us. Being a native of Connecticut, I long ago drew a serious affinity New Hampshire, the place I truly consider home. This storm has given me a renewed spirit not for CT, but for those small towns around mine and the people I have met that have reminded me that doors will always be opened in a time of need, you are never truly alone and there is always a time to mend fences.

I will everyone impacted by this storm the best and I can't wait to get back to fishing!!