Wednesday, May 30, 2012

A friend's driveway.

Somewhere back around 1991, I met a girl in the driveway of a close friend's house. She was a high school senior, dating someone at the time, one of those "macho" high school guys and I was all of a college sophomore, older and worldly. Such a small world, we actually attended the same high school and I dated one of her friends for a short time.

As fate, karma, luck or whatever you want to call it, would have it, we ended up in that same driveway that fall evening. I'll spare you all the exact details and skip to the part where I end up in the hospital later that night due to being hit in the eye with an egg...yes, an egg...and getting knocked out and losing sight in my right eye for a few days. This young girl came to the emergency room with me and kept me form freaking out while the doctors removed pieces of egg shell from my eye...yes, there might have been alcohol involved in this story.

Shortly thereafter, we began dating and, on May 30, 1997, we were married. Today celebrates 15 years of marriage to an unbelieveable woman. Sadly and somehow ironically, I am celebrating by myself, in Las Vegas, due to work conferences.

I couldn't resist...
My wife is a good woman. Those who know me best understand that remembering where you come from is very important to me. Those first years of marriage, we didn't have a pot to piss in. We were living just outside of Boston, paying to much rent and generally robbing Peter to pay Paul. I wasn't really happy in my job at that time and sometimes brought that attitude home from work...those first years were tough. I wasn't easy to live with and sometimes I'm still not easy but at the core of it all, we both know we love each other. I couldn't do it without her. As those first years passed, I changed jobs, we moved to New Hampshire and settled into a better groove...still robbing Peter but enjoying life together.

Somewhere around 2001 we bought our first house finally started to stay above water. We had a couple of dogs, some good friends, a canoe and life seemed to be ok. Fast forward to 2012 and I find myself celebrating 15 years with a woman who has grown into a great mom and an even better partner. I am fortunate that, over the years, with some hard work, life has been kind to us. We are still together, have a couple of dogs, some good friends, add in 2 great boys and, oh yeah, a canoe!

I could go on with stories and memories for days however, I am going to end this entry by simply saying " Thank you and I love you! "

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Happily, it wasn't a fluke.

After my recent outing with Derrick, I was left to wonder how things would go, on unfamiliar waters, the next time I ventured out solo. Happily, I didn't have to wait long to find out.

My wife wasn't to excited when the alarm sounded at 5am and I rolled out of bed, dressed in minutes and headed to the river with the anticipation of a child on Christmas Eve. I had spent the previous evening constructing a straight leader, with bi color sighter material, one that was similar to what I had fished over the weekend. At first, I thought I was in for a long night as I watched the Uni knot tying video before trying it myself. For a first attempt, the leader turned out ok however, the ultimate test was still to come.

Having limited time, I bounced to a few spots, with varying success. My first stop yielded several newly stocked browns in the 14" range. Having had a taste for some larger browns, I was looking for that fix. On the positive side, my uni knots held up nicely and the bi-color sighter was easy to pick up when cast.

I moved to a second location and, within 2 casts, success. A nice sized feisty Rainbow to net. This bow was particularly enjoyable for me as I was actually able to see the fish slide out from its resting place, flash it's belly and take my offering. Almost like watching an aggressive brown taking a streamer. For whatever reason, I usually only know of the take from the sighter...this was a fun one to see develop right in front of me.

I will never again pass up a chance to cast into skinny water, even if it's just to prospect. This bow came out of water barely over the top of my boots.

I continued upstream from the area that produced the bow with the intention of heading to the car and my next spot. I wasn't far from the car when I had to walk past a spot that gave up a 20" brown in April 2011. I hustled down the bank and took up a position that allowed my to cast into the slack area behind a large boulder. The first couple casts didn't feel like they were getting down so a quick anchor change and success 2 casts later.

Now it's around 6:45 and I can hear the ticking inside my head, knowing that time is getting short. Off to the final spot, a new stretch of water for me and a good test. Everything came together as I slid into a comfortable position in some faster water about mid-thigh high. I had changed my anchor and trailing fly and the combination proved deadly.

almost lost as it was being landed

biggest Brookie to date

As much as I wanted to be a little greedy and keep fishing, since I had some good mojo going, I packed it in after snapping off a fish that was kind enough to show me how big his belly was before rolling and shaking a few times and, finally, taking off with my rig. That's usually a sign that it's time to go. It's funny, I had a non-angling friend comment on some recent images I posted to Facebook and, while he was amazed a the size of the fish, he commented that he just didn't get " the whole fishing thing ". Having acquired enough gear over the last few years, I offered to take him out and let him see what it was all about. He paused and politely declined. You can't explain it. Fly fishing is Nature's chess game. It's you versus the fish, the water, the branches, the leaves, the hot, the cold, the rain, the wind, you name it, it's all there. On some levels, I felt sorry for him...his lose. Images and words can only go so far...

Sunday, May 20, 2012

The Barter System

As a general rule, I don't fish a hell of a lot on the weekends. Aside from the crowds, I would rather spend that time around either the house, yard or with the kids since I travel a fair amount during the week. I am usually content to fish early weekday mornings before my grind begins and this is perfectly fine with me.

A couple days ago, I decided to do a little bartering with my wife. Since she is a stay at home mom and has a lot more time with the kids than I do, I sometimes feel guilty sneaking away on a Saturday or Sunday to fish. Therein lines the beauty of the barter system! I had 6 guilt free hours of fishing this fine morning and all I have to do is build a coat / shoe organizer for her...no problem, at least on paper no problem.

I spent the morning with Derrick " HeavyD" Kirkpatrick learning some of the finer point of various euro nymphing methods. Aside from being very good at explaining these styles, Derrick likes to target larger trout. We hit a few spots that were new to me and I was not disappointed. In my opinion, the fishing was great and I was able to land a few beauties.

photo credit: Derrick Kirkpatrick
Each of the spots produced fish and, to be honest, on average, they were larger than those I catch on my solo outings. I am continually amazed at how much there is to learn on the water. Even within nymphing methods you have French, Spanish, and Czech styles. I tried some indicator nymphing with yarn for the first time and, I can see how this method can be deadly if fished correctly. I landed a couple of fish using this method and hooked and lost another 5 or 6.

photo credit:Derrick Kirkpatrick

If you are looking to hone your skills, be introduced to some new methods or just flat out find some big fish, check out Derrick's website. I think it's safe to say you won't be disappointed.

Monday, May 7, 2012


There is really no other way to describe the takes this particular morning. There was nothing subtle about it, the takes were hard, immediate, on the swing, you name it, everything but gentle. I fished some great riffled water in the LTMA and was rewarded for my efforts.

an absolute beauty
With sunrise coming earlier each day, I can actually get out with the dawn, fish for a couple solid hours before heading to my workaday life. Not sure about these folks paying others for therapy when you have the free resource of a river that will help clear your head. The cost of my CT fishing license is some of the best money I spend each year. Perhaps this cost should be covered by my health insurance as a sort of preventative care plan. I take comfort in early mornings, spent alone, on the river and I find that I actually carry on conversations with the fish that I land or, in some cases, the ones I don't net. I'll converse with the passing of a duck or bird and the occasional eagle. 

a torpedo on the swing
I also find it interesting that I will sometimes come upon other anglers, either walking or in the water, and they will choose to pass by with barely a word. Now, those that know me best understand that I am not the most social being however, would a " hello " actually kill you? Many of my non-angling friends already assume that fly fishing lends itself toward an elitist attitude and my coming across some gents, outfitted head to toe in all sorts of gear, only reinforces the thoughts of my friends. I know this to be to the contrary as I have met and fished with some really nice people but, all to often, they walk by with their head's up their ass. I guess that's ok, as it keeps me from having to tell them I had a good morning and let them figure out what flies are working on their own.

an immediate take
I am left to start that other part of my day, knowing that I am fortunate for today and hopeful for tomorrow.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

The Delaware

So, last year's 40th birthday trip to the Delaware River Club was so enjoyable that I decided to make the trip an annual event. The first 2 days of May were spent at the DRC receiving casting instruction and floating the East Branch of the river. My instructor / guide for the 2 days was Bob Lewis. Bob was just what the Dr. ordered. His instruction was first rate and done in such a fashion that, even when I asked a ridiculously obvious question, Bob made me feel at ease and that no question was to stupid.

The first few hours of each morning were spent on the expansive lawn of the DRC working on casting technique. When it comes to dry fly fishing and casting, I've pretty much been self taught and I've picked up some bad habits as a result. Bob was very patient and thorough as he worked through my poor initial attempts at target casting.

After lunch, we headed out to float the East Branch of the Delaware. I've been out with guides a few times and, for the most part, I have found that guides tend to be full service. By that I mean, they choose your fly, tippet material, tie the fly on and basically get you to a point where all you need to do is cast. Well, Bob threw that out the window immediately. I had just swiveled around in my chair when he hands me a fly and says - " ok, tie this one on " - oh shit, was the first thought that came to mind. You see, I tie a decent clinch knot however, I have snapped off enough fish to know it needs work. Tying my fly on for a native Delaware trout is another story. After I hooked and landed my first brown, I flashed a nervous look of relief to Bob.

18.5" Brown
Bob asked about the look on my face and I mentioned my concern about my knot tying ability and snapping off the fish. Bob's response was invaluable...he told me that he could have tied the fly on for me but how would I ever learn something if others are doing it for me. That was the key to all of my instruction with Bob. Bob's point also made mea realize that it's ok to mess up, as long as you can learn from the mistake you made, improve and move forward. For those who have fished the Delaware, you know the fish are easily spooked. For 2 days, we fished glass smooth water with barely a current. Another part of Bob's plan was to teach me that if I could drift a fly on this surface and get a fish to eat that I could do the same thing on any other water as this surface is most difficult.

During day 1, fish were taken on Hendricksen's and day 2 with caddis and March browns. All in all, a fantastic trip with a guide that I would not hesitate to float with given the chance. Already thinking about a day trip to float again this summer...

another beauty