Tuesday, December 28, 2010


..."It's bad, man."

Let me start by saying that I F***ING hate Joakim Noah. Really can't stand that dirt bag. When he dropped that quote dogging C-Town last year I wanted to burn his house down and put a size 12 wading boot between that massive gap in his teeth. But, as much as it pains me to say it, I think he was right about one thing: It's bad out there y'all.

I'm suffering from a nasty case of seasonal depression. Today I was looking for a way out, but found it hard to motivate myself to get out onto all that shelf ice. In the end I put the hound on the scent in search of open water. There wasn't much to be found and what we did find yielded no fruit.

The good news:

There is none. Depending on how bad things get I may be sampling some seriously vintage spirits pretty soon...

Who wants to pay for my flight to Mexico?

Saturday, December 25, 2010

A Trouty Christmas

The past few weeks in Ohio have been tough - brutally cold temperatures, snow, and no sunlight to be found anywhere.  I'm kicking myself for not planning a tropical saltwater getaway over New Years...

After banging my head against a wall, or against the Chagrin for about a week I'd had enough of being couped up inside.  I called up one of my fishing buddies, got a commitment for a couple day foray off to god knows where, and then I started to make a few calls and look at weather forecasts.  

Michigan...way too cold.

Ontario tributaries...possibility, but we'd been doing the steelhead thing all fall already.

The Delaware...highs in the high twenties.  Now we're talking.  A decent weather forecast combined with the prospect of spending a couple days throwing big flies for big fish sounded as good as anything else.

Armed with that information I called up a good buddy who grew up in the area and since then has guided there for a long time, John Miller.  During the fall and the spring Miller is working around here, guiding steelhead on our local rivers - but his heart is always on the Delaware, and that becomes evident after just a single conversation with him.  After a short talk with him the decision was made - departure time was 9:30 PM.

Twelve hours later here we were...

The weather was really cold.  The forecast wasn't even close.  Highs were in the low twenties, the wind was howling, and when you're standing in a boat that makes for a damn cold day.  

I won't go through the details of each minute of the two days we were there, but I will share a couple awesome moments, funnies stories, and of course, some of the fish porn accumulated over the time we were there.

Two particular moments stand out in my mind.  Neither involved me actually catching the fish that was involved in either of them.  When I go fishing, nothing gets me more excited than being somewhere with the potential for big fish.  The Delaware is one of those river systems with the ridiculous amount of food and habitat for a big fish to live.

Near the very end of the first day we were floating through a section of water that just looked fishy.  We'd had a couple fish chase and follow up a little bit higher in the run, and were moving into water that was a little bit deeper, a little bit slower, and had some really big boulders scattered through it.  I slapped a big white articulated fly down just off the bank.  As I stripped it back a shape emerged behind it.  It was a huge fish - the brown trout of a lifetime.  My heart was pounding, I was yelling.  With each and every strip I kept cursing the fish for not crushing the fly.  I stripped faster and faster, and the fish was just inches behind the entire time.  The fish followed the fly for about thirty feet, until there was absolutely no way I could keep the fly moving.  I swung the rod back around the front of the boat, and twitched the tip to keep the fly going but to no avail.  Just as quickly as the fish had come, it was gone.

On day two we took a smaller side channel where we had moved and hooked a couple fish the day before. I casted to a stump, gave a few quick pulls, and my fly was absolutely throttled.  I gave a couple hard strip sets, and then for the next thirty seconds I got absolutely owned by the fish.  The 7 weight was doubled all the way over, and the fish was tearing up and down the river. One second I was tight to what might have been the biggest brown I've ever hooked, and the next second the line was limp.  

That's the beauty of big fish I guess - you might see them, you might hook them, but to catch them everything has to go just right.  More times than not, it doesn't.

And now for the pictures...

Why is he dumping a cooler out in to the river?  Because he knocked one of the plugs out.  

That's a happy Fabian.

Big n' white.

This is the net levitating.  Santa anyone?

Purty fish.

Cold hands, but a warm looking fish.

One of the good ones.

Great eat out of this one.

Fabian with his fish.

Big mouth = big flies.

Another good one.

Merry Christmas to all of the dudes out there.  See you on the water.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Feeling Nostalgic

It's been a brutal start to winter with no end in sight, as you can probably infer from the lack of posts recently. There are flies to tie and trips to plan, but that can wait. Today I'm content to fester and mope about the lack of open water, lack of funding for an exotic trip, and the end of duck season. As I was picking up the house, sifting through gear and organizing my book shelf (yes, it's that bad), I came across a tattered and torn pocket journal. It took me a minute to recognize it as a trip journal I kept during my visit to the South Island of New Zealand a few years ago. It was nice to revisit some details of the trip that I'd almost forgotten, and I thought I'd share a particular entry that you all might enjoy if you're feeling like I am today:

May 19, 2007

"... Five minutes out of town on route 6 we come to a left turn at Hansen Road. There is a sign noting that Lake Johnson is ahead. We turn up the gravel road and come around a corner to find a monstrous hill ahead of us. On either side there are wire sheep fences and for a moment I am concerned that access to the Lake is controlled by private property...

I quickly give up trying to pedal up the hill, but Tim powers his way past me to the top, only to find another beastly incline awaiting. I make it to the top and pause to catch my breath. Just as our hope of finding a hidden gem is beginning to slip I catch site of a Fish and Game sign announcing access to Lake Johnson via a gate at the end of the farmer's road. We jump the gate and hurry down for a look.

On our side of the lake the incline is steep with several sheer faces. At some points there is a 15 ft. vertical drop to the water below. The side of the mountain is tiered with sheep paths that provide the only routes down to the water. The water is not as I'd expected; clear, but holding a jade green rather than the now-familiar aquamarine blue tint. Quick glances reveal nothing in the way of targets, so we make our way down to an accommodating rock ledge for beer and sandwiches.

I take a slug of Speights Old Dark having more or less written off the chance of bagging a fish today. We sit in silence for a few minutes, admiring the view. To our left there are a couple of well-kept farm houses on top of the hill, at the East end of the Lake. Below them are a couple of old hunting shanty's and rusted old boats. A group of ducks root around in the shallows. Directly across the lake from our position the bank is more sheer and at the West end of the lake there is an open section of about 50 feet between willows that crowd the waters edge.

"Is that a fish??"

I put my sandwich down.


I put my beer down.

"Yes. It is."

I try to keep my composure as I string up my six weight but my excitement is teeming. In an instant I feel like our luck has shifted. I can finally taste my first legitimate shot at hooking up with a trout in New Zealand.

Tim stays up on the ridge to spot. I finish tying an unweighted damsel fly nymph to a 12 ft. 4X leader and make my way down to the water. The surface glare form my position makes seeing the fish impossible, so I call to Tim to help me pinpoint my cast. My first few attempts are sloppy and I'm lucky not to spook the fish. With the cliff face and trees so close to my back I'm limited to a long roll cast. With Tim's direction I finally unroll one in the target zone.

"Perfect, let it sit."

"He sees it..."

"He's on it..."

"Oh... Ohhhh..."


The line goes tight and it feels like my heart is being pulled out of my chest. I can't remember ever being this excited for one fish and my hoots and hollers seem to echo off the cliff face for an eternity."

May 20, 2007

"Slept 'til 9:30 this morning recovering from a solid night at The Buffalo Club. Celebratory Speights shared over adventure stories at the hostile and a 2-for-1 deal at the bar. It was a hangover I was happy to have."

Friday, December 17, 2010

Friday Fish Porn: Double Trouble Edition

Finding a bunch of fish on one of our rivers is a really good thing.  Especially in the winter, when they aren't all that likely to go anywhere, and they are even more concentrated than any other time of year.

Pay close attention to the background...

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Dear Santa...

If you haven't noticed, I've been a very good boy in 2010.  I know that this is the time of year that most good boys and girls give you their Christmas List, so I thought I would give you mine, too.

Here it is:

1.  A plane ticket to Balmaceda, Chile (it doesn't have to be a round-trip ticket, one-way will suit me just fine).

2. A quick ride to the put in.


3. A few floats down the Manueles or the Simpson (we could talk about a couple other different rivers too).

4. And a couple days fishing this lake.

Thank you in advance, Santa.  For your help I will happy to provide a couple chocolate chip cookies and a glass of milk.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Dudewater's Favorite River Recipe

Start with 1 white wooley bugger...

Add water...

Stir occasionally...

Sift out the good stuff...

Pre-heat oven...

Cook until meat is tender...


NOTE: This dish is best paired with river-chilled Budweiser (use cans for best results).

Sunday, December 12, 2010


For all you aspiring spey casters out there, here's a good reason not to make an off-shoulder snap-T cast with a downstream wind...

As my man Tony Rizzo would say, "No names please."

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Friday Fish Porn: Late Night Edition

There's nothing like a little bit of snow to brighten up your night.

Fast Jimi with a nice one.

The annual winter double shot.

And a couple more just for kicks...

You've got to love the winter scenery.

FJ with another.

Get out while you can - hurricane's a comin' on Sunday...

Photos courtesy of Eirik at vitsoimages.com...