Friday, April 30, 2010

04.28-29.10 On the West Branch, and my first float in my new boat!

Well I spent the last two days up on the West Branch of the Delaware fishing with two ex-co-workers from a long ago past. I hooked the drift boat up early Wednesday morning and started the 3 1/2 hour trip up to Deposit. Outside of a few extra dollars for the tolls and a little more in gas money the trip went smooth. I stopped in Roscoe and hit Catskill Flies and The Beaverkill Angler as I do each trip. I always like to support the local fly shops. This trip was a little different. My fishing partner of nearly twenty years, Tom Buel, decided to take this year off. He's on a every-other-year cycle right now. I picked up a new vest and some flies and leader material and started the drive to the West Branch Anglers Resort where we're staying. I am only up for the two days, fish day one, and float those two guys day two.
The early word is, well, early. Probably a week to two weeks. The quill gordons are gone and the hendricksons and blue quills are in full, maybe a little past, full blast. The West Branch is running around 650 so it's a good amount of water, temps 46-52 depending where and when you're on the water. I met up with Andy Glasgow at the new fly shop at the resort and dropped another 20.00 on flies. After dropping our gear and clothes at the room Andy and I headed up to Stilesville to fish. Just as we got to the parking access a guy was netting a nice 20 inch
brown. I got out to get a few shots of him and his prize fish before he released it. Oh yeah, the other word of the day besides early was, WIND!!! The northeast has been hit with wind everyday for a week, here steady up to 40 mph winds. We didn't move a fish there and headed down to fish above the sewage plant. We jumped into the riffs below the train bridge and waited. Soon fish were rising to the hendricksons and blue quills that were trying to come off the water. I hooked into a huge rainbow and lost him just as it came to net. I also lost a good brown on a 6x tippet in the fast water, so 0 for 2 on hooked fish for me. That night we met up with Paul and we geared up and went out into the long run at the resort and waited for a spinner fall that never came. We had dinner and drinks at the River Run restaurant and listened in as the guides discussed the game plans for the next day.
The next morning was a tad warmer but the wind was even worse then yesterday. After some breakfast we started getting the drift boat ready for the maiden voyage. We decided to float from the West Branch Angler's Resort to Balls Eddy. Just as I backed in the boat to the access ramp, John Dembeck, a guide whose license number is 6,000 less then mine- he's 0189 and mine is 6226, was getting ready for his own trip. Gulp. I tried to look like I knew what I was doing. Mike and I slid the boat off the trailer into the water and when we did the front of the

trailer stood straight up in the air. I forgot to lock the ball. Dumbass. Then we put the boat in and pulled it out of the water and headed down to Ball Eddy to drop my truck and get some lunch for the trip. I stopped in to Border Water Outfitters redone shop and The Beaverkill Angler's new shop on the first floor of the Hancock House. There was no more time top stall, it was time to go. Back at the resort we eased the boat in the water and started the trip. I started to row my way down river before I remembered I was in a drift boat, with 40 mph winds behind me, and we were headed downstream-I DON'T HAVE TO ROW! Just steer, which was hard enough at times. We flew through the Upper Gamelands and stopped at the Monument Pool and fished the riffs below with no luck. It was hard to cast, but luckily we were just nymphing and Mike was throwing a big streamer to the banks. Oh yeah, I forgot, before we got
out here I had the boat a little sideways and we hit a huge rock towards the back of the boat and almost flipped. See between me and Andy in the back of the boat, that's about 500 pounds and Mike in the front goes about 130 wet. The water came right up to the top of the rail after we crashed over the rock but then luckily straightened out fine. Thank goodness everyone was seated. We drifted down to the Lower Gamelands and found a few guys in the water waiting. It was around 2pm and we had just got stuck on the shallow riffs, so we decided to stay there. I left the guys out and took the boat myself down around the islands. I had to stay left because there were guys in the water and by the time I got over to the other bank I was about 3,000 feet from my "clients", who had to walk down to get to me and the boat. It was also at that time
I realized we were talking on water. So we had some lunch and got the boat out of the water to drain it. We then hit the heaviest hendrickson hatch I have ever seen, even though the wind was still gusting at some rediculous speed. We found a pod of fish rising to the emergers and Mike waded out next to me and I tried to get him to get one to take. It continued heavy for about 45 minutes and then I decided to get in the boat and drift and try to find some bank feeders on the way down. There were no steady targets so we just enjoyed the ride and scenery, including a

large bald eagle in it's nest. Soon we made the sharp bend and we were at the Balls Eddy access. WHEW, we were done. I had a great time, learned how much I need to learn, and was lucky to have two great test clients. Since it was around 4pm we decided to fish above the Hale Eddy bridge, above the riffs. Andy and I stood and waited for about two hours before he left. I warned him we were going to get some degree of a spinner fall and to wait, but he left. Mike found his way up and fish started to rise. I put a few down but at 8 o'clock found a nice 20 inch brown working steady just off the bank. I casted 3/4 downstream and just short to size the cast and the drift and a few casts later he took my size 12 rusty spinner. After he made his runs up and down river we got him to net and after a quick pic he was back in the water. That made my day just a bit better. I said my goodbyes and headed down to Roscoe to drop the drift boat at our families home there. It was a quick trip but a good one!

Monday, April 26, 2010

04.26.10 Stocking the Toms River

Today I met up with some Jersey Shore Trout Unlimited members and local anglers and helped the NJ Division of Fish and Game stock the Toms River. We met up shortly after 10 and after a few of the guys surveyed the water in River Bend Park the flow was too fast to float stock. We wound up heading over to a stretch above the Route 571 bridge and released around 200 rainbows into the river. What always amazed me was seeing pictures of the workers throwing? the fish off the bridges and even into the air when the water was at their feet. Today the Division worker said you have to do that, especially with the rainbows, to shock them into breathing and swimming. It's almost like smacking a newborn baby to make it take it's first breath. Rain around the next few days and then I leave Wednesday for the West Branch of the Delaware and then the float trip on Thursday. On Saturday I am helping out as Project Healing Waters is taking a fishing trip out to western NJ.

Friday, April 23, 2010

04.22.10 A day on the Little J in PA

Today I had the pleasure of meeting and photographing fishing guide Eric Stroup and his client Terry Jones as they fished the Little Juniata River in Pennsylvania. I had met Eric at the Somerset Fly Fishing Show and a few weeks later we set up to shoot this trip. They set the trip time at 10am so I left Ocean, New Jersey at 330am and made the LONG 5 hour and 45 minute trip out. It was a breeze through to Harrisburg but from there on Route 76, to 75 to 641 to 522 to 22 and then I was there. I met up with both guys at a campground that sat on the Little Juniata River in Barre. After some introductions and some video interviews and pictures we

were off. Eric had his client nymphing most of the day high sticking a triple rig set up. Through the day we had hard sun, overcast skies and a downpour or two. The bug of the day was the grannom, or little black caddis. There were strikes throughout the day and some fish on and I think three to the net and then released. The river seemed a little fast and the rocks slippery

but I did my best to shoot from either side of, in the middle of, and from under the water. They fished half the day and we broke for lunch and it was a needed break for Terry, who worked the entire time on the water and for me, who needed to regroup and change some batteries and get the water housing ready for some underwater shooting. The afternoon went quick and they wrapped it up about 530. Just before they ended Eric used Terry's rod to fish a short stretch before we left. Me wanting to get a shot of Eric fishing, jumped in and kneeled down for that perfect angle. As soon I went down and got a few frames off I jumped up, I had forgot I had the Edirol audio recorder in my pocket. I tried to blow it out, dry it out, pray it back to life....later, it's done. So I was a little done after that, disappointed that I couldn't multi task with still, video and audio equipment without getting it wet. We headed back to the campground and said are goodbyes and I passed up on a beer and hit the road for the long ride back home. I stopped

to fished the same stretch we had fished and picked up two on a single bead head prince nymph. Before I left the river I practiced my "Take your limit, please" by grabbing three pieces of trash from the bank of the Little J. On the way home I traveled up to State College and jumped on

Route 80 for the LONG ride home. As I drove home I did everything I could to stay awake but I briefly left the roadway on Route 287 around 130 am and it scared the sh*t out of me when I woke up to the tires vibration on the side of the road. I pulled off the next exit and slept for an hour before finally getting home at 330am. So my day 24 hours, 618 miles, a coupla dollars for my work, one ruined recorder, spent the day with two great guys on a river in central PA fly fishing, priceless!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

04.20.10 Another night of "Bug of the Month"

Just got back from my Jersey Shore Trout Unlimited meeting. Tonight I presented another night of "Bug of the Month". This month it was all about the hendrickson, following last months quill gordon presentation. These talks are falling right in line with the hatch activity guys are seeing on the rivers in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and New York. Next month I will present the March Brown, and then in June the sulfurs. I was presently surprised to run into an old boss, colleague and friend from along ago life who decided to come back to some JSTU meetings after a few year absence. Funny how life goes in circles, or cycles. I guess fly fishing is just like life itself.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

04.18.10 Spent the weekend tuning up the drift boat

It's late Sunday night I have just finished up for the weekend. I took apart the drift boat and worked on replacing the floor and all the hardware. First I pressured washed it and it came surprisingly clean. After a dozen trips to home depot I got the replacement floor in and some no-skid tape down. I took the old seats out and have ordered two new ones. This week I will be filming a guided trip out on the Little Juniata in Pennsylvania, then the following taking a lower West Branch and Mainstem float trip. I have been reading some reports and it seems everything is coming sooner than later this year. Can't wait to wet a line!!

Friday, April 16, 2010

4.11-4.14.10 Work at the lodge, fix truck, fish, get drift boat

If that sounds like a busy three days, it was. I had a few day window to get a bunch of stuff done. However if one thing did or didn't happen it would send the whole plan into a spin. I left New Jersey with my friend Sunday night and we got into Ausable Forks around 2 am. Monday morning I took my truck up to Excel Transmissions in Plattsburgh to have the rest of the transmission work done on the truck after blowing the trans last month. I grabbed a rental car and drove back to the Forks to find Steve emptying contenst of the future Fly Shop and yard into a pile awaiting the delivery of a 30 yard dumpster. That dumpster was ordered for 9 am but didn't arrive till 3. After it did Steve and I worked late into the night filling it. On Tuesday I drove back to Plattsbburgh to renturn the rental car and pick up my truck in order to drive to Saranac Lake to pick up our future DRIFT BOAT !! Well the truck wasn't ready, and they needed a part from Dodge in Saranac Lake. So they let me drive my truck in four wheel drive high to Saranac Lake to get the part and the boat. Got the part, went to the boat and to DMV. Stalled picking the boat up to Wednesday, drove back to Plattsburgh. On the way back we heard this horrible sound coming from the truck. Back at Excel I have the owner take a ride, he says something is wrong. I take his truck and we head back to the Forks. We have some time to kill, so I gear up and go fishing. West Branch of the Ausable is cold and rumming high. I start with a wooly bugger to no avail, switch to a friend Paul Fleming bead head creation and then to his Jack Gartside sculpin fly that picks up fish right off the bat. My business partner calls me and I continue to fish, getting into a real healthy brown, only to snap him off as I reached down to get him. I also fell on some rocks along the river, surely fracturing my knee cap, blacking out, and cutting my nose. Packed up at the Forks, drove back to Plattsburgh. Truck still not ready. Took the owners truck to Saranac Lake to have dinner at my sisters and future brother in laws, which was AMAZING. Woke up Wednesday morning, washed the guys truck, had breakfast at the Blue Moon, picked up the boat and drove back to Plattsburgh around 430. "Colin, I have some bad news." The drive shaft didn't fit right, it broke the transfer case, it's not done, I have

to go back. So, we loaded up the drift boat onto my pickup (which has no four wheel drive) and headed back to New Jersey. WHEW!!! That was it, plus tons of food, laughter, aggravation, and good times. Oh yeah, on the way home the lights on the trailer went out. So we had to drive with the flashers on the rest of the way. Got pulled over once- NO TICKET!!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

04.06.10 Fishing the KLG and Project Healing Waters

Well it seems like it's been a while since I have been able to get out to rivers for a good day on the water. Last week we got pounded with rain here in the East and then it was Easter week with the kids off from school. It didn't matter, the rivers were blown out. So this morning I headed out to the South Branch of the Raritan River at the Ken Lockwood Gorge. It was a beautiful day after some early morning rain. I started by fishing the the lower section above the posted private water and picked two fish with purple wooly bugger. The smaller brown had a lip tag but I released him before I could read it. It might be from Shannon's Fly Shop or the State F&G. I moved up to the lower parking area and fished

there for a while. As it got closer to noon some caddis and BWO's were in flight over the water. It was starting o feel like spring! I took this picture of a guy fishing below the lower handicapped access. Both of these accesses are completed and hopefully will serve those anglers well. The road along the river seems to have held up with all the rain. There were

a few places were there was some runoff and potholes had formed. The river was still up but it was clear and loaded with fish. I tried nymphing for awhile, picked up one, bit went back to a black wooly bugger and had steady action with that in the big water. Before I left I turned over some rocks and found this caddis larva exposed from it's case.

It was a nice morning and I headed out around noon to get over to Lyon's Hospital for the Project Healing Waters fly tying class. I learned about PHW from Bob Cohen whose also a member of the JSTU. About 8 guys came to help out and we had about 8 veterans who came to the hospitals meeting room for the class. Each vet tied two wooly buggers each and if they want they can take the trip in May to the Pequest Hatchery to fish the big pond there. The vets had a good time and they did a great job tying for the first time. Since I not much of a fly tyer the class was just as good a learning tool for me as it was for the guys in the class. It looks like tomorrow is going to be in the 90's which will totally confuse the bugs and hopefully will not alter the hatch schedule as last years week of high temps in April did. Tonight I got a call from an old fishing and work friend who asked me to go a few days to the West Branch in late April. I told him I would bring the drift boat and take him and his friend for a trip on the lower West and upper Mainstem. The timing is good as I am heading to Plattsburgh next week to get the boat, check on the lodge, and to fish the West Branch of the Ausable!