Beautiful rainbow trout caught on the Housatonic River in Litchfield County, CT by yours truly this afternoon. It was a sublime weekend. Full post coming soon!
I’m a big fan of Hooké, who as they describe themselves are “A GROUP OF FRENCH CANADIANS, FLY FISHING ENTHUSIASTES WHO LOVE GOOD VIBES AND GREAT BEATS.”
They also love making stunning films about fly fishing. They really capture that sublime, awesome feeling of being out there on the water and being excited to go after fish.
Check out their latest video they made while fishing for Atlantic Salmon on the Grande Cascapedia in Québec:
I’ll tell you one thing – this video has sure gotten me fired up to buy a heavy-duty two-handed rod and go after some of those brutes myself! Québec – à bientôt!
After taking advantage of my company’s “Summer Friday” policy of being able to sneak out the door a few hours early on Fridays during the summer, I met up with Jinny and we headed over the Orvis Store in the city. Rob Ceccarini, the store manager, had given a fun little presentation on something that I’m really eager to try – carp fishing! I didn’t make the presentation on this particular Friday but had seen the same one a week previous. It seems that free magazines were given to those who attended this week’s presentation, but not last – what the hell, Rob?
After harassing Rob for a while, I bought a couple of his preferred carp flies, and the materials needed to replicate them (because no matter how much fly tying material you have, you never have exactly what you need.) We then headed to Casa Jinny in Brooklyn and were met by Luis, aka El Guía, and got some quality tying in over pizza and beers.
We decided to tie some hoppers, so the first thing I had to do was to coat one of my large turkey feathers with some flex-cement. This makes it possible to cut it into strips to use as the wing for the hopper.
While the feather was drying, I began to have a go at imitating the first of the two carp patterns that I bought – the Jan’s Draggin:
It didn’t turn out exactly like the store-bought version, I need to figure out a better way to build up the body and get a little more dubbing worked into it to make it as buggy as the store-bought version. Also, my soft-hackle skills could use some sharpening. And apparently, so could my photography. (Time to start thinking about getting an actual camera and not just relying on my phone.)
I wish I’d taken a few more photos of the process, these flies were really fun to tie and not terribly difficult either.
All in all I think my flies turned out pretty well:
Tying is a hell of a lot of fun. You definitely don’t save money by tying your own flies, in fact, you probably spend 3-4 times as much on materials (at least when you screw up as many flies as I do) than you would if you were to buy all your flies, but you learn so much more about the different patterns by making them yourself. A handful of flies that you see only when you go fishing are a lot easier to forget than a handful of ones that you painstakingly tied, cursed at, untied, and then tied again over the course of several hours.
And best of all it’s a great excuse to hang out with people and talk about fishing.
Tight lines, folks.
Towards the end of last week I was feeling the itch to get the hell out of the city for the weekend. I also really wanted to go camping. I also really wanted to go trout fishing. I called up my buddy Jinny and she was onboard, as long as we could figure out transport to getting out of Dodge. After a painful search to find a rental car from the greater New York City area for less than $100 a day, my cousin from Florida who works for Enterprise Rental Car sent me the text that meant freedom for the weekend – she said she could hook us up with a car for $24 a day.
As soon as I got this message I texted Jinny and asked her to book a campsite we’d been looking at in Roscoe, NY, near the junction of some of the best trout rivers in the country. The next morning I woke up, laced up my running shoes and ran to La Guardia airport to pick up the car. (I had get in a good run before this trip, given the menu we had planned for the campsite)
After picking up the car, I drove back to my place in Queens, loaded all of my flies, rods, some delicious steaks from the Butcher Block, and all the rest of my gear for the weekend, then went and picked up Jinny. We hit up Key Foods in Greenpoint for groceries, ice, and free “Go Brooklyn” newspapers to use to start our fires at camp, and we hit the open road! Traffic was a bit of a pain in the ass until we got to the Upper West Side, but from then on it was smooth sailing all the way to the Roscoe Diner for a quick lunch.
After stopping into a few fly shops for some extra beetle patterns, we drove to the campsite and set up our tent. We had a beautiful spot, right on the banks of the Russell Brook, complete with a fire pit, and even a plug to charge our phones. (Not that we needed to, neither of us had any more than a half bar of signal and no data for the whole weekend, which was just fine by me!) Then it was time to hit the West Branch of the Delaware for the afternoon.
It was a pretty quiet time on the water, neither of us hooked up, and even though there were a decent amount of little size 18/20 sulfurs coming off the water, nary a fish seemed hungry.
We decided to head back to camp at about 8 o’clock, and you can be certain that the second we were back to the car the fish were rising like there was no tomorrow. That’s okay though, we had an important task at hand – making a fire and cooking a sweet meal.
I really called up on my 1.5 years experience in the Boy Scouts (from age about 6 to 7 and a half) this weekend. While the majority of the people at the Russell Brook Campground had fully decked out RV’s, complete with all of life’s urban niceties – Satellite TV, porches, gas grills… we had a tent, wood, and flame. And yet I’m sure our dinner blew everyone else’s at that campground out of the water – seared ribeye steaks with a red wine demi glace à la Julia Child, fire roasted vegetables, and corn on the cob.
Remember kids, get your butter and fat smoking hot, and pat your meat dry before you place it in the skillet (makes the world of difference.)
After eating until we couldn’t feel feelings anymore, we sat around the fire until very late, talking about how awesome America is, and sharing stories of our younger and wilder days. We also killed almost an entire bag of marsh mellows.
During the night in rained like a bastard, and we were a little worried that it would be too difficult to get a fire going for breakfast, but my inner Boy Scout came through yet again! Once the coffee kicked in, we were able to wrestle up a feast of bacon and eggs. Then it was time to hit the big water of the Delaware once again.
We tried a different spot further downstream than the previous night, but it was tough fishing. There were hardly any sulfurs, or any other bug hatching for that matter, so I went with a hopper-dropper rig – a black and yellow wasp dry fly, with a size 18 Brassie trailing about 12 inches below it. On about the 7th or 8th cast through the head of a riffle, the wasp ducked under the surface and I set the hook. There was an almost imperceptible tug on the end the line. I thought I’d hooked a little chub, until I got most of the line stripped in, when all of the sudden the rod tip bent down and the little shit started taking line like it was his job. I decided to let him take some line in case it was a good sized fish (I had on 6x tippet) and boy did he take line. After a few minutes I’d gotten him into closer and saw that he was a small rainbow trout, maybe 10 inches, but Jesus he gave a good fight towards the end for such a little guy.
So despite the muddy banks, we did not get skunked! I’m not going to bullshit you, I’m green enough at fly fishing to where I still consider one small fish over the entire weekend on the Delaware to be a great weekend. (They’re all wild on the Delaware, and they’re smart little bastards – very hard to trick even for people who know what they’re doing.)
Driving back to the city in some of the heaviest rain I’d ever driven in that evening, I felt about as relaxed as I’ve felt in a very long time. Since the radio stations kept fading out, Jinny busted out her Ukulele and we made our own tunes for most of the way back to the city. Can’t wait to get back out there.
Tight lines, everyone.
From a recent trip with my old man and our buddy Will. We spent a few blissful days in the high country in Northern New Hampshire and happened upon some truly awesome remote trout streams. Between the three of us we must have brought hundreds of fish to the net. It was an incredible vacation and a memory I’ll hold onto fondly. Enjoy the trailer.
“45 degrees and sunny.” That’s what multiple weather information sources promised me for today, this 2nd day of March, the year of our Lord, 2013. It is for that bold-faced lie that a weatherman (or weather woman, I’m gonna be an equal opportunity hater here) will soon be tarred and feathered. I was really excited to feel anything other than mind-numbing cold today while fishing the Mill River, but alas, there were neither sun nor 45 degree temperatures to be had today. It also snowed like a bastard the whole way home.
My fishing buddy Luis and I have gone out in pursuit of the Slick Fins at least 3 weekends a month since Fall, and have endured all manner the hardships that come along with the territory of winter fly fishing. I’ve learned a lot about how to keep warm while standing in a 38 degree river when the air temperature is 23, (a fire and a hot mug of camp coffee help) about how to layer under your waders (do yourself a favor and look up Beagle Wear wool coveralls), and I’ve learned the value of bringing a complete change of dry clothes in the car for that inevitable moment when you fall ass-over-tincups into the aforementioned 38 degree water while reeling in a very pretty brown trout.
(Camp coffee is ESSENTIAL when you’re fishing in temperatures in the 20’s)
But most of all, what I’ve learned is how much I’m looking forward to Spring. I long for that first decently warm day on the river so much. I can picture it exactly—the water at just the right flow, hoards of insects coming to the surface to breath air for the first time, and lots of dimples in the water where they’re met by hungry trout. I catch a half dozen fish, (including a brook trout, I’m dying to catch a brookie on the fly and I catch a really pretty one in this vision) and then sit by the bank and just watch the river for a while as the sun starts to sink, content at how great I am at fishing and what a wonderful day it’s been.
Cut to today when I’m standing in the Mill River swearing like a sailor at the tree branch that’s snared my double nymph rig, and is JUST too high off the water for me to reach and save my flies. I’m cold, I haven’t caught a fish in weeks, and it really starts to feel like it’s always going to be like this.
But I know it won’t. It will get warmer. The insect hatches will begin. The Slick Fins will become active once again. And I will catch a damn brook trout, and I’ll appreciate it so much more having endured the long spell of winter. Spring is going to really be something to savor this year. Here’s to it.
(location of today’s adventure)
For an amazing book about the plethora of small streams in Fairfield County, CT that hold trout, pick up Jeff Yates’ Fly Fishing Fairfield County, available here: http://www.flyfishingct.com/thebook.html
Until next, time, back to the grind of the city…