Saturday, September 30, 2023

09.30.23 Here's a great podcast with one of fly fishing's OG's (original gangsters)....

      The other day I published a post about my experience in Montauk circa 2014. A few days later I found something interesting on the internet. It was a post about the Brooklyn Fishing Club. The BFC was founded in 2014, is based out of Brooklyn, and is led by president Victor Lucio. It's a fishing club that was formed around a few key rules, protect and respect the area you fish, respect the fish and if you kill it you better eat it, and lastly is to photograph everything you catch. It started as an Instagram page and morphed into a club. They have memberships with varying levels and a ton of merch on their website. You can se it HERE

     While surfing around I found the BFC hosts podcasts several times a year. I scrolled through the previous guests and stopped and listened to the one with Captain Paul Dixon. Dixon is known as the Godfather of fly fishing on the East End of Long Island, specifically Montauk and the flats along the Long Island sound. He started it all and his influence can be attributed to the careers of several of the 

best fly fishing guides in and around Montauk. Dixon owned a fly shop, Dixon's Sporting Life in East Hampton in 1993, before opening and running To the Point Charters. He splits his time between Long Island and Key Largo, Florida where he guides out of the Ocean Reef Club. 

     He was one of the first to run a flats skiff sight fishing for striped bass and has been known as the first to use the "tease them up" method to attract bass and blues. That involves throwing a hookless topwater plug that tunes the fish up and having an angler cast out a fly that hopefully the tuned up fish would eat. That something he did decades ago. So if you think you started it ten years ago, well, you didn't. 

     I have had the pleasure to fish next to him out in Montauk during that short two week run I had in 2014. There was a good guide hang hang out there at night and then a most memorable "Knights of The Round Table" session one Friday night at the old Somerset show. Somehow I got a seat at the table with some of the true legends in the game. That was when the bar hang at the FFS was just as important as what happened inside the hall. It was a late, late, late night and let's just say the stories and alcohol were flowing easily. 

Paul Manning photo

     Dixon is a true gentleman and one of true legends in our sport. He is involved in all kinds of conservation for multiple species including striped bass and is the steward for all things that are good. In 2021 he received the prestigious Izaak Walton Award from the American Museum of Fly Fishing. Below is the link to the BFC podcast featuring Dixon. Thanks to them for the great podcasts which helps me during my long commute to work each week. Below that is the link to the episode. 

Here's the link, DIXON on Apple Podcast or you can access it through the BFC website HERE

     And then if one podcast with Dixon isn't enough here is another that I found on the Mill House Podcast. You can watch that below. 

To read John McMurray's article from 2012 in The Drake just click on it to make it larger

Friday, September 29, 2023

09.29.23 I knew it was going to be messy...

     You don't know if you don't go. That's what I always say. You can get tipped off to a bite. You can creep on the internet reports. You can check out the tide and weather apps. But in the end you won't really know until you go. 

     Last night while taking out the garbage I looked up and saw the September Harvest Moon, the last supermoon of the year. This is a bid tide moon you always want to fish. If Mother Nature wasn't on her cycle and all kinds of pissed off this week it might be good, or at least fishable. And I'm talking out front. I love fishing crappy weather and big water. It keeps the fakers away.

    One of the bright spots about this morning was an alleged break in the NE wind which has been blowing for about a week. It was supposed to be 10-13 ENE, Yeah right. I kept checking the Windfinder app and the wind speed never changed. I'm not sure what's up with that but it was more 25 NE. 

    Richie and I met up and caught up and watched and waited but deep down really knowing it wasn't going to happen. It was just the flip from high to low and too off color. Not You-Hoo or chocolate milk but enough to decrease my confidence. I thought about waiting the drop out but I lost interest. I had the big stick out today which I thought would help with distance in the wind. I had loaded up a 550 gr line and pair of Snake Fly's as an offering. I didn't even make a cast although at one point I 

found myself trying to Double-Dutch time the waves to see if I could make it out and onto the rocks. At one point I took a step and a rouge wave came over the top which would have swamped me. Later....

     I made my way up the sand covered stairs and decided to break the rule and keep my waders on to hit another spot out back. One thing I have found handy is this magnetic rod holder that I put on the 

side of my truck which secures the rod, especially when it's blowing. It prevents it sliding down your vehicle and then stepped on when you don't see it. It's made by Tightline Enterprises from Oklahoma. 

     I thought one of the two inlets might be a better place to go. Maybe the bass, blues or even albies had tucked themselves inside and away from the big water. Besides, it was on the outgoing so maybe the bait was going to get pulled out to a waiting bunch of fish. I took a walk and fished without seeing any bait, birds, or bass. It was nice because I was out of the wind and the water was flat so I could see 

something if it moved. Thank God for some smart person in Manasquan that thought kindly enough to place a couple of Jonny-On-The-Spots in just the perfect location. You know what that means. 

     I moved to see if things had got any better out front with the dropping tide. Well, not so much. The beach was bad but the inlet was more than fishable. There were birds hovering out on the end but I 

wasn't feeling it nor did I want to risk it. Besides, they were looking to pick the north side which was unfishable with the fly rod. I settled into a spot inside where the current ran down the wall before wrapping around the start of the jetty. It was good as a spot that I could find even though the wind grabbed my fly on the backcast. I stayed at it for a while just thinking some might be home and hungry.

     It looks like there's another storm on the way for Thursday into Saturday which is just a gut punch to anyone looking to fish. Fluke ended yesterday so that's it for that. I hear the Raritan is a mess so if you go check out some place our back that tucked away from the weather. The bait is still in there and you know, find the bait, find the bass. 

Thursday, September 28, 2023

09.28.23 The "tank" gets a litle play...


     A few months back I was contacted by Fly Fisherman Magazine about images for an upcoming article they were going to run from New Jersey Captain Jim Freda. It may sound great, and it is, but when a publication asks, "Do you have any pictures?", it is a very broad question to what may be a very targeted need the photo editors have. So I dug through Jersey Shore fall run late peanut bunker striped bass fly rod fishing. I asked Leif and Andrew is they had any pics that I could add to the mix. 

     After a week or so of digging I had a solid selection that I thought would complement Jim's article. After some back and forth, which included sending large image files to the editors, they narrowed it down to just one image, which wound up running with Tony Freiedrich's, from the American Saltwater Guides Association, sidebar on "The Future of Striped Bass". And that is how the "tank" got some play in the magazine. 

     While there is a great backstory behind the tank and a bunch of striped bass and other species pics of  fish hanging in there the image went with a conservation typed sidebar about striped bass conservation. That's cool by me. 


     It's interesting these days about content and magazines and other media outlets. Years ago in the good old days stories were assignments. The last I did was in 2009 with Chris Roslan when we were sent up to Canada for Eastern Fly Fishing Magazine to Cooper's Minipi Lodge to shoot giant brook trout on the fly. The trip was covered, airfare, lodging, guides, tips, everything except I think alcohol. Those days are long gone. Below is one of my favorite fresh water fish pics of all time shot while on that assignment. In print it is much tighter and nicer and the colors are amazing. 

     These days the stories and the images are kind of separate. The author writes the story, and they may or may not have accompanying photos, or the art is submitted from others to compliment the story. Why it isn't fake news, it tells the story, but it doesn't tell the story. I like real time stories where the story is told and the images are captured while the story is being covered. I know it doesn't always work out that way and it does make for a nice complete picture, but, to me, it just misses the mark a bit. Maybe I'm a just a dinosaur that is stuck in my old ways. 

     My work paid off as I received a check this week for the rights to run that photo. And today, a really nice touch, was receiving a copy of the issue in print to my house. Print is, well let's say that game has changed, from newspapers to magazines and the like. It's nice to have something in hand besides an iPhone, tablet, laptop, or desktop. 

     Props to Jim Freda for continuing to write articles for various publications because several of my images have been chosen to compliment them. Jersey photographer Tom Lynch's work is also always in the magazines and his images are with Jim's story as well. I am also grateful to editors Ross Purnell and Dennis Pastuhca for thinking of me and giving the tank a little play in print. Maybe it could spark a thing for guys into conservation and are into catch, photo and release.

Wednesday, September 27, 2023

09.27.23 Things either find the dumpster or a new life....


     It's inevitable. When our loved ones pass we tend to hold on to things maybe longer than we should, all for good reason. Remember I held onto Ryan's car for the past six years? It sat there, all cleaned up and nice, but in the end and underneath it was a rust bucket. So I said good-bye. Funny story, last week

Lauren was in Podunk, PA looking for truck parts as Brandon got hit and the insurance would no doubt total it out. So they went and looked and what do you know. There was Ryan's car...right where it belonged. At first I was disappointed, like somehow I thought someone might tooling around in it. It was time. It's over Johnny. 

     So over the last five years Jim's wife and backbone Laura has been, let's say dealing, with all that Jim designed, created, invented, altered, and just a few more things, purchased. He had things, and then things on top of things. He may have invented Costco but we didn't know it, because, boy did he believe in buying in bulk. 

     About two years ago I listed the bucktail dryer on Facebook Marketplace. I reached out to my bucktail guys, like Brad Buzzi, but this is not just something you go and get and set up in the basement. We tried going the taxidermist route but that didn't happen. So, in the end, it hit the dumpster. It stood there for decades, and was broken down and loaded in about 20 minutes. 

     Friends of Jim like Mike Ferraro and myself have been selling off rods and reels and stuff over the last few years. There was a solid pic by those close to Jim shortly after he passed. It's always kind of 

creepy, in a way, when someone you know has passed and you are offered or have interest in something they owned, loved, and treasured. I was blessed to purchase Jim's boat, finally paid in full, and hopefully shortly will be ready for some fall fishing here in New Jersey. One thing I feel is that the person and their family take great pleasure in knowing someone is enjoying something they lived with and saw their loved one enjoy over the years. 

     Jim was the Pulse Disc. He designed it. Designed the contraption to produce it. And then made them and sold them with Laura at various shows along the East Coast. While it would be great if it were just the flick of a switch to produce the Pulse Disc it may have continued to live on. There were some buyers that approached Laura but in the end those possibilities just faded, and maybe rightfully so. 

     There were more parts and back up parts then you could imagine and it was all salvaged and nothing went to waste. After the dumpster was loaded up by a handful of helpers I started going through the things that had to stay, had to go, or I might be able to find a good home for. One thing I tried to do was 

to take everything down off the shelves that doubled as storage and as a display of Jim's fly tying mastery. He did things you can't even fathom, taking pointers from all the best out there but always putting his finger on it and tweaking it to his liking. Each time I've visited his laboratory always looked basically the same, like he could just pop down there and crank out some discs or flies. Now, it is a space, with things organized into categories for ease of location, donation, or sale. I regret not spending a day when it was pretty much untouched, just to be in his space and at his vice. I may do it yet, but it won't be the same. 

     In the corner was a contraption that Jim used when building rods, and he loved to build rods. He did one handers but two and spey rods as well. Of course he super glued the sections together except the tip section and Laura and I laughed as we tried to separate them, "Of course he did". 

     I didn't know who I could offer this to who would get out of it what Jim did. I knew Leif built a rod from time to time but this was an operation. Then I thought of Phil. Phil's a sweetheart of a guy and someone who is like Jim, extremely intelligent, likes the scientific side of things, works with his hands as an electrician, fly fishes and builds rods, from single to two handers. 

    I first fished with Phil in Montauk in 2014. We also hooked up here in New Jersey when he jumped on the boat with Andrew and Ian. He's just a fishy guy. Before I went out for the dumpster party Phil

had posted the above story of his best yet on a rod he designed for that spot. I knew he was the guy. I reached out to Laura and she agreed. Theresa and I loaded it up in PA and unloaded it at our house 

where it sat in our living room before I could hook up with Phil. Luckily I had a pick up because the rod dryer went over 10 feet long. As I unloaded the stash I looked in one of the bins and couldn't believe my eyes. Jim, of course, twisted up his own guides......"Of course he did" I could imagine Laura saying with 

a smile. And then on Saturday morning Theresa and I drove south and dropped Jim's stuff off at Phils. Things like this found their rightful home, either the dumpster or in the hands of someone who is going to continue to create things or memories with something Jim once touched. 

     So, in the end, the below picture may be all that we have to remember "BrineFly Innovations". The machine will be gone, the stock will be gone, and maybe even the sign will be gone. But the good times and memories we have of both seeing Jim and Laura running those flies up and down that tank will live on. This fall I must remember to tie one of those on and catch one for Jim. 

Monday, September 25, 2023

09.25.23 Great day for a visit with the girls, and Orvis....

     As you get older I think we just start to appreciate the simple things a little bit more, or at least we should. What better way to spend a miserable windy, rainy and chilly day then with your daughters. I don't know how to describe it, and if you are my age or older then you probably get what I mean. From zero to 18 years old you are their lifeline, their protector, their teacher and disciplinarian. Well after all  

that there comes a time where you just like to sit back and be in their space, like really enjoy being in their space, and just listen and watch them. There's no need to listen and then advise, like we used to, just kinda treat them like a grown up. It's one of my favorite things about getting old. 

     So Juliet and I went for a visit to St. Joseph's yesterday. It was her first time visiting her sister since she left for a college about a month ago. I remember way back to 2015 when Juliet started her first year 

at FIT in NYC. She has gone on from graduating there to a career in cosmetics design and marketing. I am very proud of her and see how grown up she has become. They may grow up but it's the good years, well the war years, that I remember most as I feel our best parenting years were then. They needed us and we needed them. Pretty soon we'll just need them. You know, for bathing, eating, 
know, return the favor time. 

     So every parent know that a good college visit ends with, "Do you need anything from the store?". We hit the Acme on Lancaster Avenue which put us right near Orvis Haverford. Knowing that this week won't be fishy I stopped in to see about some things. I asked the girls if they would like to join me and a,
"No we're good" reply was what I got. 

     I like the Haverford store. It's big. You can hang there for a bit if you want. And it has a fly shoppy feel to it. While there I watched as customers finished up with one of the salesmen. It was a lone middle aged guy and a middle aged couple. It was obvious they were both new to the sport. The guy got all set up for steelhead and dropped over $1,200...ouch, and the couple more of the trouty kinda Clearwater starter kit set-ups. There were waders strewn about but I'm not sure if and who went for them. But for a nasty Sunday sales were happening at Haverford. 

     I again found the discount rack. Last time I scored a redfish hat and this time I stopped and saw a water, maybe resistant, hat that was $15. with rain around the next week I thought this hat would serve me well. I'll go $15 for a hat, but these days $25 and up seems to be what hats cost, all the while just advertising for someone else. 

     I am now into trying to find the best wader socks I can. I won't go into it further here but this year has been a big wader year for me. You remember all of the Simms drama which led to me scratching that path and going with the Orvis PRO zip line in both the stocking and boot foot models. But as good as the waders are the socks you wear are very important. So I begin the search this week.  

     In the end I didn't go with the above gray lid. There must be something appealing to my cerebellum with that orange Orvis color because this morning as I penned this I realized how similar the two hats I had purchased were. Maybe it's my love of all things fall from the fall run to the food to the foliage. 

     So even though the weather was crappy, and will be, and there was no fishing to be done, there is better way I like to spend my Sunday then with my kids. One on one, six on six, with or without there significant others, it's all good, and makes me feel good.