Tuesday, January 31, 2012

54 and 16

Two numbers that made me very happy. 54 degrees, really, January, no shelf ice, no gloves, no balaclava, no toe warmers...I'll take it and apparently so will the bunches of others I saw as I drove by Church Pool.

16 - the size of the browns that came to net today. The first was a sharp take and a great fight in water about 3 feet deep. I've really had to educate myself with regard to winter fishing. Cold weather makes this fishing a completely different ballgame. I chose a side channel, in an area where I have fished before but not as far down as this trip.

fish taken tight to the bank just left of the tree
this fish took a Vladi woven nymph, green / yellow
Again, time was my enemy however, I'll forgive the clock this day. I mean, how can you complain given the conditions. As I was gearing down back at the car, a DEP pickup pulls up and a young guy hopes out and walks over to me. He was part of a survey the DEP was conducting. He asked what town I was from, how often I fished the Farmy, what method I had been fishing, had I caught anything today and a host of other questions. I'm hoping the DEP realizes what a jewel they have and just how much revenue this past time brings to the CT.
note the red elastomer behind the eye
still amazed at the storm damage from last year
I'll take days like this one all winter long...tight lines and warm hands!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Farewell my friend...

It only took about 30 minutes and I was able to off load a friend of mine and notch my first brown of the year.

so happy to see this guy...
can you find me?
This fish was taken on medium to slow water, on the seam and the take was, by far, the most subtle I have ever experienced. It's as if the fly drifted up and slid right into the trout's waiting mouth. Luckily, right after the take, the fish rolled toward the opposite bank and the white underbelly confirmed my suspicion...fish on! There really is nothing like it...I don't care how many fish I land, how cold the weather is, how rain soaked I become...when you are alone on the river, there is nothing as exhilarating as the tug on your line followed by the first view of your opponent.
just a dusting to remind us it's winter
A beautiful day, a little bushwhacking to get where I wanted to be, no shelf ice to contend with and only a sporadic gust of wind...now, if I had only remembered my thermos of Dunkin Donuts hazelnut coffee, the perfect day would have been in the books...alas, I happily bid farewell to my friend Pepe'...29 days...given all that has been thrown my way this month, I'll take it!
until next year...

Thursday, January 26, 2012

In need of a fix.

Recent days have found me doing all those things that keep life interesting. My wife is still out of commission with her broken right leg which leaves me pulling double duty. Certainly no complaints, as it makes me realize how much she does as a stay at home mom...certainly underpaid. Spending the day in court, in Bedford Hills NY, fighting a speeding ticket also does nothing for your sanity. However, my streak of successfully negotiating moving violations down to the lowest possible infraction and paying almost nothing remains intact. The highlight of court was the Judge asking me, because I showed up in a suit and tie, if I was a lawyer...I replied that I was not, that I was in sales but I guess you could consider that the same thing...this brought a smile to the Judge's face and a further reduction in the fine as he appreciated that I took the time to drive from my home in CT to NY for the court date.

We are also in the beginning phase of having our basement finished. Sadly, our basement is already finished but the previous owners did every home improvement project on the cheap and, over the last 5 years in this house, we have fixed their mistakes. Fortunately, my involvement in this project is limited to writing the checks so, all in all, not that bad. I did have to fill a 5 yard dumpster with crap that needed to be purged after having it follow us around from New Hampshire to Connecticut. If we hadn't needed it over the past 5 years, off it went into the dumpster.

One of the bright spots this week, besides the continued unseasonably warm weather, was the arrival of a new reel...well, new to me that is.
Hatch 4 Plus
I've heard consistent rave reviews for Hatch reels however, with 2 little kids, certain discretionary purchases sometimes take a back seat. I was fortunate to come across a couple posted for sale on the TPO forum. The price for the 4 Plus was just right and I decided to pull the trigger as I knew neither reel would last long. Aside from a few small signs of use, this reel is in great condition and i can't wait to get out and give it a spin. As I have only managed to get out a couple times in January, I figure I have a handful of days to get on the water and drown the skunk that is following me around.

don't get to comfy Pepe...

Friday, January 20, 2012

Fly Lesson.

Today I spent several hours being properly introduced to the art of fly tying by Rich Strolis. I had the good fortune to fish with Rich a couple times this past year while he was still guiding on the Farmington River. I've spent a small amount of time, this fall / winter, trying to teach myself to tie however, Rich was able to shorten the learning curve on some of the basics for me.  As the old saying goes, "practice makes perfect" and I realized quickly that the most important thing, for me, will be to sit and tie a pattern until I am happy with the outcome and can reproduce that same look time after time.

The following images are a sample of the days work:

Rich's are on the left...
Check out www.myflies.com for a selection of Rich's flies that are available for sale. His blog also has some good instructional videos that are easy to follow...check it out at the link below...


Monday, January 16, 2012

Favorite places...Italy.

Another work trip afforded me the opportunity to visit Italy a few years back. Fortunately, my boss and I tacked a couple days onto each end of the trip. We flew into Rome and, for 2 days, saw as much as you could imagine without creating any international incidents.
The Vatican
Not sure if I will ever contribute to the second collection after visiting the Vatican. Overwhelming is about the only word that comes to mind. I better never hear the church cry poor again. What I found interesting and, at the same time unfortunate, is the fact that marble to build the Vatican was taken from the Colosseum. This, in part, explains the ruined look of the Colosseum.
La Pieta
Certain places had some serious restrictions regarding photography. I'm sure this was to protect the integrity of ageless treasures however, you wonder if this might also be to force you to purchase a picture of anything you wanted to truly remember. Being typical Americans, my boss and I snuck pictures of the Sistine Chapel. To be honest, I was really surprised as I thought The Creation of Adam fresco, by Michelangelo, was much larger however, it is surprisingly small.
The Creation of Adam - Sistine Chapel
Sistine Chapel - expanded view
After a whirlwind run through Rome, we took the train up to Venice, the site of our work meeting. Now, I'm sure Venice is a beautiful place however, this is one of those places you need to see in season and not in the dead of their winter. It was cold and, for the most part, everything looked really run down. Don't get me wrong, Venice is an amazing city but I believe you need to sunshine and life of the crowds to truly appreciate all that she has to offer.
One of the many "streets" of Venice
Sadly, our time in Venice was mostly spent in meetings and the highlight of each day was the new restaurants that we would visit each night. Aside from its canals, gondolas and Murano glass, Venice is world renowned for its lace. I happened down a side alley to a small shop run by a father and son. Here, I purchased an exquisite table cloth and napkin set for my wife. I humorously refer to this purchase as my kids college fund...I still haven't told her how much it cost :) - After a few days in Venice, my boss and I split for a brief stop in Florence before heading back to Rome for the return flight.
Michelangelo's David
The photo above took a lot of work as security really didn't want photos taken anywhere within this facility. Needless to say, getting the picture was as much fun as seeing the sculpture. Florence had the best food of the trip. Imagine being in a place where you likely could not go wrong with any place you choose for a meal. Our first night's dinner was so good that we returned to the same place the next evening. It was there that I had a Caprese salad, by which all others will be judged. Italy was one of the few places I have travelled where I hope I am fortunate to return with my wife so that I can share some of the food and sights that are hard to capture in word of photo.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Customer service at its best!

Hats of to Simms for a recent customer service experience that was second to none.

I received a pair of Rivertek Boa boots for Christmas and I purchased some cleats for the soles. If you follow the Simms suggested pattern, you need a total of 18 cleats and they are sold in packages of 16. I know, over time, I may lose one or two, if they work themselves loose before I notice however, I didn't feel like buying another package of 16. I emailed Simms customer service, explained my situation and requested if it was possible to purchase 2 individual cleats.  About 5 days passed and I was surprised to have not received any word from them regarding my enquiry. I returned home from a business trip yesterday and was surprised to have a small envelope from Simms on my desk...enclosed - 2 cleats and some Simms stickers.  It may seem like something small however, being in sales myself, I understand the value of this simple gesture and there are a lot of companies out there that could take a lesson for how Simms chose to address my initial enquiry. Hats off to the folks in Bozeman and thank you!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Just good to get out.

I've never measure the success of any time spent fishing by the number or size of fish caught. Rather, I look to see how clear my head is when I get back to the car. This was one of those days...I drove toward my goal with the anticipation a child feels as they walk into a candy store. While I did have some time constraints on this day, I was excited that the weather could not have been better for this time of year and I was finally going to road test my new wading boots.

Maybe this is a bit premature however, I am digging the new boots. The Boa lacing system, on the Simms Rivertek, was ridiculously easy to use and slipping the boots on and off was a breeze. Tightening the " laces " gave me a real custom fit feel around my feet and ankles. While I  did put the AlumiBite Star Cleats into the treads, I am going to also order and install the Hardbite Star Cleats as well. I think the overall grip will be greater with the additional cleats.
Simms Hardbite Star Cleat

I did enjoy the fact that I could be out in January without having to battle lots of shelf ice as the areas I fished were lacking this obstacle. What I also realized today is, I need to look at fishing in cold weather as a completely new undertaking. While I went out in cold weather a few times last year, I am really looking to develop into an angler who can fish productively in all elements. Cold weather is a whole different ball game and boy, do I need some coaching.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

2012 Food for thought.

Wow...Happy New Year! 2012, another turn of the final month of the calendar and we have another year for the history books. With the temps in single digits today, I have decided to pass on a much needed trip to the river and work instead...novel idea.

The last days of 2011 were not kind to my household. My wife was the victim of a small hole, dug near the deck by one of the dogs...who looks guilty? I'll give you a hint...it's the black dog...
The resulting tumble left her with a broken leg...what a way to end / start the year. So, as you would expect of any Irish / Italian family, mine began to show up with food and lots of it! Stuffed shells, meatballs, spinach bread, sausage & peppers, Shepard's Pie...I could go on but I am salivating on the keyboard enough already. Partaking of all this comfort food got me to thinking about all the great recipes floating around our family.

Shortly after I was married, my mother gave my wife a family cookbook chock full of her recipes and some of those given to her. Sadly, I am left to wonder about the fate of many of these delights. While valiant attempts have been made, I don't know who could duplicate the Easter Bread that my mother makes or the spinach bread for that matter. Growing up, my family was not overly nostalgic or one for traditions, which might explain why the traditions of my young family mean so much to me however, nothing can bring you back to a time or place like a familiar meal.

Allow me to share just a few of my favorite things...may you enjoy them as much as I have should you try them out.
often imitated, never duplicated
A holiday favorite
I could live on this alone