Thursday, March 31, 2011

03.31.11 Great time in Atlantic City and nasty weather on it's way

     Back today from Atlantic City. Cindy and I had a great time as always. Can't beat the Borgata. Great room with a great view. Buffet was great and Bobby Flays was great to sit in the bar lounge and have drinks and apps. We did well at the slots and tables. We watched a guy, an as%^ole, hold court at the roulette tables last night. Betting 500 dollar chips on colors, with at one point 110,000 thousand in chips in front of him. At one point he rolled a tip chip to the dealer, it rolled off the table- so he threw another one. Each was a "pumpkin" as they call it- 1,000 dollar chip. So that was 2,000 for the dealer, and there were more chips that went their way, and they were orange too! It was nice to get away on them for a few nights before getting back to my reality here; boats, trailers, and taxes.

     Today we took a ride down to the inlet between Atlantic City and Brigantine that leads into Absecon Bay. The snotty weather that we're going to get has started to move in. The water was clear but the wind had the waves kicked up. Nothing like a god Nor'Easter to get the season kicked off. Usually we don't mind a nor'easter. Churns up the surf, breaks up the clams and disorientates the bait, brings the fish close and turns them on. But with current water temps in the low to mid 40's and sparse bait around I don't think this will bode well on the early striper season. From Sunday on it's a mix of rain, clouds and 50 plus degree temps, so maybe that'll warm things up a bit.


     When I got home my mechanic called asking me to pick up my drift boat trailer which I had dropped off to him after I dropped the boat off to be painted. The boat gets painted tomorrow and then picked up on Saturday. 

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

03.29.11 Trout in the Classroom Emergency, Helios arrives on the stoop, and heading down to Atlantic City!

     Trout in the Classroom is a great program. The teachers and students do a great job and every now and then the TIC Coordinators have to step in and help out where they can. Yesterday I got an email that one of my schools had a cracked tank. The crack got worse so I took a ride over to see if I could help. The teacher had emptied the tank and was going to put the +/- 90 three in fish in a smaller tank. He went out a purchased a plastic container and we set up things in there. It might be a temporary fix, but he says at least the kids will once again pay attention to him instead of looking at the trout!

     Then when I got home from that Fed-Ex had left me a long cardboard package. My new Orvis Helios 9ft 5wt arrived. Too bad I can't throw some line with it but the wife and I are heading out for a couple of days.

     We're heading down to Atlantic City. We'll be staying at the Borgata. While down there I'll be scouting out the Absecon Inlet and Bay. I'm sure things aren't in any kind of swing just yet. Water temps east of the casinos are 42 degrees today. I can't imagine the bay is much warmer then that. The next few days the weather looks like highs in the mid 40's and rain on Thursday. Not what we need.

Monday, March 28, 2011

03.28.11 One step closer to paint for "Julie"

     After all that work this weekend, here's where "Julie the drift boat", as my daughter named here, wound up. I was able to paint the bottom late last night and although it was still a little tacky I had to move it from the shop and get it over to Marlboro Auto Body for paint. John, whose family owns the business, rolled his eyes when he saw me. He said, "Oh, I was hoping you forgot about painting it.". Nice. No respect. I picked out a green which kind of looks like the Jet's color. It's going to be one solid color. If I want I can always add a stripe or something to it. Right now I just want to get it painted and ready for Upper Delaware.

I scanned the web and read fishing reports from the Raritan Bay down to the Great Bay. Basically, it's still February around here. Water temps just topping 40 degrees. It's shut down until we get some warm weather. Graveling Point is vacant according to Scott's Bait and Tackle out of Mystic Island. Betty and Nick's is reporting that bunker have been spotted around Barnegat Bay and that blue fish were seen ripping through them.  I think we are three weeks away from any decent fishing.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

03.27.11 Great Further show at Radio City and daddy's best helper

     I know this blog is about The Average Angler and fly fishing. Today's a little off topic. At least there's a boat in the picture. Last nights Further show was great. First set was a little slow for me although Bob Weir and the gang did a nice "Lovelight" before the break. Second set was great starting with " Playing in the Band" and an encore of "One More Saturday Night" In between was a great "Terrapin Station" and a really good "Help on the Way" into "Franklins Tower." I am sure I missed some other songs, wait, there was also a really good "Stella Blue". That was for any old Dead fans out there. I'm not lying when I say I miss Gerry (whoops Jerry, thanks) and the good old days. 
     I was back at it checking on the drift boat progress this afternoon. Due to the temps in the shop the Gluv-It was just finishing up it's cure so I had to wait till late tonight to paint the bottom. So since I was there my number one helper helped me work on the "other boat." That is a 1986 20 foot Marathon cuddy. I purchased it in 2003 and had it in the water at a marina in the Shrewsbury River for one season. It was winterized and had been in some poor storage outside my fathers shop since. Most tell me to junk it, of course I think it's still wonderful. 
     So it's the weekend and I had to finish up with the boat. No problem, I'll get some of my gang to help and it will be fun. I have four kids. Two boys an two girls. 5, 12 and two 14 years old. I mentioned that I was working on the boat to the kids, guess which one jumped at the opportunity to help? Of course it's my five year old. Five year olds are the best. And she's better than the best. She is always right there willing to do and help out with whatever I am doing. Taking out the garbage, cleaning up, watching the Nat Geo channel, going fishing, working on an old crusty boat. They say that's normal teenage behavior, who wants to hang with dad. I ask my partner all the time if she could just stay five. But, she to will grow up and want to do her own thing. I just hope by then all the work is done!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

03.26.11 Working on the drift boat and then off to Further at Radio City


    Last night I began the painstaking process of prepping the drift boat before it she goes into the paint booth. I first had to get int flipped over before scraping and sanding the bottom. I found a pencil sized hole in the bottom so had to Marine-Tex that and let it set. Then I cleaned and polished the visible aluminum sides which took about four hours due to the dings and oxidation that had built up over the last 16 years. I started at 7 and left the shop at 1230. I returned at 8 am to finish the prep and get ready for the two part epoxy for the bottom called Gluv-It. But due to the cold weather the patch on the bottom didn't cure so I had to set up some drying lights to quicken the process.
     The Gluv-It is a one shot $ 150.00 deal. So I was nervous that I would blow it and be out the money. It went well and I set up a heater to give it a shot so it will cure by tomorrow so I can sand it and paint it.

On a lighter non-fishing related note. Tonight Cindy and I are off to the Further Festival. Bob Weir and Phil Lesh and the boys are at Radio City Music Hall. Wonder if we'll here a "One More Saturday Night?


Friday, March 25, 2011

03.25.11 Checked out Raritan Bay and prepping the drift boat for some paint

     I took a quick ride up to see how things were looking in the Raritan Bay. Last week following the rains a good portion of the Bay looked like chocolate milk. Today things looked pretty good. About 40 rods in the water all guys soaking worms or clams without a touch. Water temps still in the 40's and the bait hasn't pulled in yet. We need a good run of warm weather to get things heated up. One thing I did see out of the corner of my eye while I was taking the above picture was this guy  just walking into the bay. No rod and reel, now bait in hand, just hands in his pockets walking.  I hope he's not totally frustrated this early in the season and gave up already!


     This weekend I'll be spending a lot of time with my drift boat. Not in it, next to it. I have to prep it for a paint job it's getting next week. I have to scrape, seal, and paint the bottom and clean up the exposed aluminum before it heads into the spray booth next week. 

Thursday, March 24, 2011

03.24.11 Good day to practice those fly fishing knots

    Well winter seems to have made it's way back to New Jersey and parts west and north. We only had a dusting of snow, but it was snow after an 80 degree day last week. Good day to do office work and catch up before the seasons start. After lunch I had an urge to practice some knots so I whipped up this tool to help me. A couple pieces of wood and a stainless eye were all I needed. I notched the base so the vertical piece would slide down and in. It makes a great play to simulate the hooks eye or just an achor point. I found a 1/2" piece of copper pipe and cut that in a short section for those nail knots. I did the usually spool to fly knots. Arbor, Albright, Nail, Loop to Loop, Perfection, Blood Knot, Surgeons Knot, Clinch Knot. Those are the ones I know and use the most. I still used my knee for a Bimini Twist, which I always screw up. I will it's fun to tie big, but getting it right in low light with a 7x and fish on spinners is a little more humbling!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

03.22.11 Fun at Graveling Point and Oyster Creek, but finding this goose made me sick



 Today was supposed to be a nice day weather wise it between a week of nasty weather. I decided to take a drive down to check on a few early spring hot spots. My first was Graveling Point. It's always one of the first places anglers hook up with stripers in the spring. They're usually schoolie bass feeding on worms in the sod banks of Great Bay. I arrived with an incoming tide and a strong W wind. There were several guys waiting and watching their rod tips as the bloodworms soaked in the mid 40's water. I stayed for about an hour throwing a pick and white half and half. As I left I checked with the dozen or so guys along the way and they hadn't had a bite yet, they were anticipating the outgoing tide after noon.


    I then took a right on the Parkway at Exit 74 and hit Oyster Creek. They're were a few guys out, one with worms, one jigging off the bridge, and two other guys changing every plugs to spoons to jigs every few minutes. I stayed with the same offering and worked the bridge area and moved down on the mud flats for a while. It was nice to get out, but I think the recent rains and cool weather shut whatever progress we had made to the early season down. Last week I re-visited the Raritan Bay and it looked like chocolate milk. The Raritan River was pouring out and bringing sand and silt from every tributary and river in the State.

    Just as I was leaving to head home I was standing on the bridge and I saw a goose trying to fly out of the brush near the bank of the Creek. I figured it was caught up in something, but I didn't realize it was as bad as it was. I tucked my fly rod in a safe place and jumped the guardrail and went over to it. It had about 60 feet of fishing line wrapped around it's legs, wings, and back. Attached to it was a two foot twig that hampered any type of flight. Below you can watch a short I put together, with a longer video coming. One thing that amazed me was how calm the goose was, and how it somehow knew I was trying to help. The banks of Oyster Creek are full of litter. Not household trash, but what's left when a bunch of anglers, irresponsible anglers, leave their shit behind. Beer bottles, lure packaging, cigarette butts, bloodworm boxes, and used fishing line. The whole scene was sad, the garbage, the bird, sick.

This incident comes at a time when I am about to launch the campaign, "Take Your Limit, Please!"

Monday, March 21, 2011

03.21.11 Coming to soon to your favorite fly fishing magazines !!

     I got an email from Pat Ford today. He was passing around some images that were making their way around the fly fishing community. Shown is the rarely seen oarfish, also known as the King of Herrings. Mostly found in the tropics, the species holds the Guiness Book of World Records as the longest bony fish at 58 feet long.

I little after Pat's email I got another, legendary angler Stu Apte chimed in on the fun about the fish saying, " I would take it on with my trusty 12 weight....Stu"

This fish will surely be gracing the cover of your favorite, then next favorite, and then least favorite fly fishing magazine, or free on-line fly fishing magazine in the next six months, for sure!

Friday, March 18, 2011

03.18.11 Back from the Orvis Guide Rendezvous & the North Country, and another deep fly fishing moment

Pete Kutzer, attendees, and Orvis Sandanona

     I can tell you a few things about me. I am a learner and a worker. Two things that I really enjoy doing. The harder I work and work to learn the happier I am. Not only do I benefit from it, but that "contentness" I feel  benefits others around me. I am a much warmer and fuzzier guy when I feel like I am achieving something. It's a win-win. So when I received an invitation to attend the 2011 Orvis Guide Rendezvous I was very excited. The annual meetings are invite only to guides who are Orvis Endorsed, which I am not, but hope to be one day. This year they opened it up by invite and I benefited from it greatly.
     On Wednesday night Orvis had dinner and drinks for the group at the Copperfield's Restaurant in Millbrook, NY. It was a short drive to Orvis Sandanona, Orvis' outdoor shooting range, bird hunting grounds and fly fishing school. I saw and met a bunch of guides that I have seen over the years at the Fly Fishing Shows and on the Upper Delaware River. It was a good time and an early St. Patrick's Day night as I was back in my room at the Cottonwood Motel by 830 pm.

Steve Hempkins talks about the Orvis product line

     Thursday was a beautiful day. We all met at Sandanona and had breakfast before a series of talks from the Orvis management team. It was really interesting to see another side of the fly fishing industry. Ever since I started fly fishing nearly 20 years ago I always thought it was all about the novice angler, which would later come to play when I named my business, The Average Angler. It's about the guy or gal who works hard, gets out when they can, are always trying to learn more, and even sometimes live vicariously through the fishing travels of others. That's who I am. That's who I like to be. That's who I like to know. And now it's the client I look to teach and build a relationship with.
     Along those same lines, Jim Lepage, the Orvis Vice-President spoke of how Orvis is trying to dispel the myth that the company is stuffy and elitist. He told a story about how he heard a new fly- fisher practiced for two years before calling a guide, hoping to avoid the embarrassment if they couldn't measure up to the guides expectations. He wants Orvis to be for everyone. In addition to Jim, we also heard about how products are being developed to both meet customer requests and  hit all the different price ranges. I am sure that other manufacturers go through the same processes to make their products more affordable, available, and within reach to the largest demographic there is, which I feel is, The Average Angler.

Getting to try out the Orvis line

     Before a great lunch they pulled out their lines of rods and reels for all of us to try. I immediately went for the Helios 9ft 10wt with the Mirage V reel and 10WFF line. It was a pleasure to cast. I knew I was spending a little too much time with it because I heard other saltwater guides asking where it was. They provided a great lunch that we ate on the grounds. It was just a great opportunity to meet other Northeast guides and in particular one special person.


                                               Tom Rosenbauer videos Pete Kutzer during the fly casting demonstration

     During a break in the talks and checking out the latest Orvis offerings I saw Tom Rosenbauer. I am sure you all know who Tom is. He was just named Fly Rod & Reel 2011 Angler of the Year. For me, he's the face of Orvis. It's his fishing guides and books I've read over the years as I continued to learn how to fly fish and way before I dreamed of becoming a guide. It's whose name you hear referred to when Orvis is mentioned. He is one of the guys who've I've never met, but kind feel like I know because I have learned so much from him. I have his books, read the interviews he has done, and I am one of the 1,000,000 people who've listened to his Podcasts. So I was surprised when I first saw him for the first time. He was shorter then I thought he would be, dressed king of regular guyish and not all Orvised up. He looked just like a regular guy. Well of course, right? Well I think when we have someone we learn from and hear about for years, we kind of build up an image of what that person might look like or be when we meet them. To relate it to something, remember the great lines in the movie Braveheart with Mel Gibson,


" Young soldier : William Wallace is 7 feet tall.

Wallace : Yes, I've heard. He kills men by the hundreds, and if he were here he'd consume the English with fireballs from his eyes and bolts of lightning from his arse.

Wallace : Sons of Scotland, I am William Wallace. "

     So it might be a bit much, but, you get the idea . So when I saw Tom standing in the back of the room I wanted to introduce myself. "Colin Archer, The Average Angler, fly fishing guide, here at the Orvis Guide Rendezvous". Simple. So when I went up to him I said, " Hi Tom, I'm Colin Archer I am a big fan." He kind of looked at me like I was someone who infiltrated the Orvis meeting, and then he read my name tag and saw I was in the right place. We then had a great quick conversation and I was really glad I got to talk with him.
     We finished up the day with some casting instruction and tips which always are a great refresher and welcomed by all. I have to thank Scott McEnaney, who runs the Northeast Endorsed Guide Program, and who always asked how things were going when he saw me throughout the two days.
     I then left Millbrook and headed up the Thruway and then Northway to Ausable Forks, my home away from home. My purpose of the quick trip was to shovel what I thought would be three feet of snow from the roofs of the lodge. Luckily, a deluge of rain took care of all the snow from the roofs throughout the Adirondacks. It may not helped with the flooding, but it did help get rid of the snow. I went for a quick bite to eat at Mad River Pizza across the river on the Jay side before coming back home and snooping around the house. I always seem to pause at my small library of books and magazines that I have left up there for the anglers staying at the house to enjoy. Well last night I pulled a bunch of them out and started to look through them. As much as everyone loves social media, and all of the different outlets for the information to flow between the authors and readers, I just think it kinda sucks. Why. Because it's all driven by content. Years ago content was important. It had value. The amount of content in a newspaper or magazine was directly related to the amount and size of ads that were sold. If you had more adds, you needed more content, more words, more pictures, more people, more staff, more people getting paid. It also worked that way when the advertising dollars weren't there. Well in this day and age, content- as important as it is- has become relatively without value, well without or less of a monetary value. Nowadays, there's so many outlets, so many free on-line magazines, so many willing to put you as as a link or for a by-line for words, stories, pictures that "you" created. Years ago that was a travel assignment for a writer and photographer. I need to shut-up. But you know what the thinking is, if you give the words and pictures up for free, then you will have exposure and then be able to make up for it in another way, ie. guiding, lodging, whatever. Sad, and kind of a rant on my part, but true.

Two binders of old Fly Fisherman magazines

     So back to that pile of magazines and books. I ran across the street and grabbed a coffee from Stewarts and came back and started looking. And soon I realized that some of the folks who are legends today, started out a long time ago. Example, Tom Rosenbauer, he's been at Orvis for 35 years, I am 43 years old. Do that math. Another example is Lefty Kreh, just celebrated I think his 86th birthday. I found an article he did in Fly Fisherman Magazine from 1972. I just shot him and spoke with him while he was giving casting demonstrations at the Fly Fishing Show in Somerset this year. Here's his article on tarpon on the fly that appeared in Fly Fisherman Magazine,

Left's Tarpon article 1972

Lefty being Lefty- Fly Fishing Show, Somerset, January 2011

The next thing that floored me was an old article by Pat Ford. Pat Ford, the well known photographer, I was just with him at the Bimini Big Game Club in February! This article is from 1972. I was born in 1968. The article is about how he discovered and started salt water fly fishing. That's 40 years ago! Here's his work from Fly Fisherman,

Pat Ford's 1972 Fly Fisherman article

Pat Ford on some bonefish, Bimini Big Game Club, Feb. 2011

And then one of my early favorites, Dick Talleur, who recently passed away. His book was one of the first I turned to when I wanted to learn how to fly fish for trout over 25 years ago. I remember meeting him several years after buying his book and asking him to sign it. I will always have that book, and the memories of having him sign it. Even though since that time I had talked with him at shows and took pictures of him, I will always remember those early memories of standing at his table and watching him tie and talking trout.

Dick Talleur signed my early edition of his book, with the later edition

Talleur at the Fly Tying Symposium, Somerset, 2009

     As I look at the names of the authors of the articles in the magazines and the books I have on my shelves, I start to think to myself, why do I continue to buy all this content that is being shared, swapped, bartered, stolen, screen grabbed, ect- when I have all I need, or want, to know from days past. Yes, technologies have changed, waters and access have changed, materials have changed, BUT, the things that haven't changed can be found from the people I admire most, just a few, Schweibert, Swisher, Kreh, Betters, Richards, Lyons, and many more. There were two more classics that I read more then my fathers Playboy, Trout Fisherman's Bible and Trout Fisherman's Digest. That was great stuff!

Excerpts from the above books

    And then I opened one last book, The Orvis Ultimate Book of Fly Fishing, by Tom Rosenbauer. The man I had met earlier in the day. That book has been sitting on those shelves up in the Adirondacks for a few years now. I took a sip of coffee and started with the Introduction. As I read I realized why I liked this guy. From Tom's intro- " You can enjoy its photographs of the more exotic fish or locations, leave the book on the shelf for six months, then pick it up in the middle of winter to dream about catching a steelhead or bonefish, or refresh your memory bon how to tie a nail knot. Down the road you might have use for other chapters. Maybe your college roommate invites you on a Bahamas bonefish trip. Perhaps your daughter moves to Cleveland and you discover there are steelhead rivers within the city limits of that city, and you can slip away to fish on family visits. I'm hoping you'll find reasons to pick up this book many times over the years, and pick up fresh nuggets every time you do." 


     So it should be no surprise that today while driving home to the Jersey Shore from the Adirondacks I looked over on the passengers seat and Tom's book was laying on top. It made the journey back. I think my search for fly fishing knowledge shouldn't always lie with the next click of the mouse or next months magazine, but maybe rather a step back in time revisiting my old collection and realizing how much content I have read and forgot along the way.