Monday, February 28, 2011

History In The Making

I awoke to chaos this morning after having slept like a baby through what was apparently an epic February thunderstorm. My phone had been inundated with panic-inciting text messages…

“Chagrin @ 19K?”

“Dude, you see the Chag?”

“16.57 ft. and going up!”

Turns out the Gates Mills Dam, constructed over 100 years ago, gave way this morning during what may turn out to be a 100-year flood. The dam was an iconic landmark for Cleveland’s East-Siders and I know it holds a special place for both Brett and I as it was where we both connected with some of our first steelhead. I jumped out of bed and decided to capture a few images before all hell broke loose…

Sunday, February 27, 2011

February Fixes

Seems like everybody but me has managed a fix this month. I shouldn't really complain though, as I'll be south of the border chasing a triple-digit fix of my own before the week is out...

Joe Doug was at it again last week, harassing spring creek specimens on a few PA limestoners over the holiday weekend. I've reproduced his report below for your viewing pleasure...

"Fortunately signs of spring are slowly making themselves known. The sun is out and the harsh bite of winter seems to be waning ever so slightly (Or this could be delusionary wishful thinking at its finest). The same could not be said a week or two ago when the winter doldrums were becoming truly unbearable.

Presidents’ Day offered a needed reprieve from the office and some extra travel time in the pursuit of trout. The destination was south central PA, due to the number of spring creeks that the region offers. I was able to drag my father along and we hit Big Springs, Falling Springs, and the Letort. The fishing wasn’t epic by any means, but we kept the skunk off and tightened up everyday. I had never fished the region so I didn’t really know exactly what to expect. Watercress was everywhere, the water was gin clear and trout seemed to see my lanky
ass from miles away.

At Big Springs on day 1, I was walking downstream haphazardly flipping a streamer, wondering how we were going to catch fish when a 15 inch brookie nearly came out of the water trying to eat my fly. He was only 6ft from my rod tip and surprised the hell out of me. I thought I lost my shot, but lobbed the streamer back in his wheelhouse to see if he would reengage. He came out from his rock with vengeance and crushed the fly. It was one of the coolest eats I’ve had in a while and will certainly be a memorable fish.

From there we went down to Chambersburg and nymphed up some bows on Falling Springs on Sunday. Monday, we spent the majority of the day weed whacking and getting stuck in the silty Letort streambed. Fortunately, right before we had to pull chocks for home, some BWOs started hatching and we managed to fool a small brown in the bottom of
the 9th.

I got to spend some quality time with my pops and although we didn’t catch any of the absolute pigs that we saw, I did add another stop on my summer mousing tour . . ."

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

What's A Dude To Do?

It seems like everywhere I look, or fish, water is disappearing.  I'm not talking about losing it to ice like we do in winter, or to weather like we do after rain, I'm talking about losing it to ourselves.  All of you have seen it or heard about it before.  At home, the amount of public access and "unposted water" on the southern shore steelhead streams has never been lower.  Nothing sucks worse than rounding a bend in the river and seeing orange and black signs on trees that tell you that you can't fish water that was previously "yours".  I'm not saying that we're justified in feeling this way, but the funny thing about fishermen is that the water we love becomes the water we own, regardless of if its actually ours.

Can't fish here anymore...

I've heard all the arguments about why landowners are wrong for posting their property.  However, the simple truth is that most of them have pretty damn good reasons for doing, and if it was my land I probably would have done it a lot sooner.  Maybe that makes me an asshole, but if so, then I guess that's just the way it is.  If you've fished around our area for a while you've also heard about lots of half-hearted efforts to restore access, change the laws, and give the fishery back to the people.  Admittedly, I shouldn't be one to criticize.  I've participated in some stream clean-ups, but I don't belong to any clubs, and would never say that I've participated in a "grassroots movement" to bring the water back to the hordes of greedy anglers all looking to get tight to a big, sloppy trout.

This was one of the aforementioned big, sloppy trout.

Being young and on a tight budget doesn't lend itself to charitable donations or paying for club memberships; being an angler doesn't lend itself to being overly generous with your fishing holes either. Looking at it all now, my conservation efforts have been pretty selfish.  I pick up the trash that I find when I'm out fishing the places I like to fish and don't leave behind any of my own.  Instead of lobbying for the rights of the masses, I knock on doors with the intention of finding places to escape them.  I guess with the way things are Ohio now that's kind of what you need to do if you want to have a place left to fish in solitude on a Saturday.

Survival of the friendliest? To the talker go the spoils?

There are lots of days where I think that if all of us were a little more selfish we wouldn't have this problem.  The last thing I want to see when I walk down the bank is a plastic bag, a cigarette butt, spawn sack netting (sorry to all you bait chuckers out there - I couldn't resist the opportunity), or any other trash in a place where I go largely because this sort of stuff doesn't belong there.  So I pick up what I find, and hope that at the end of the day I made it nicer for the next time I come back.

By this point you're all probably wonder what could possibly have set me off on this when nobody has been fishing our streams for the past six weeks, so here it is.  The states that have high-water-mark have always had a special place in my heart.  I just think there's something really cool about a state who's citizens, landowners, and government value the rights of a sportsman so much that they fight to protect them and provide them with the freedom and ability to pursue the hobbies and passions that they have.

Montana was one of those states, but that is currently in jeopardy.  For those of you who don't know me very well, I've spent a lot of time in Wyoming and Montana since I was very young.  It’s where half of my family is from, where my grandfather first taught me to fly fish and tie flies, and now I’m drawn back there to continue those things - but also to guide and to share that experience with others.  Every summer when I return it feels like I’m home - coming back to a place where the air is cleaner, the water clearer, and the fish more plentiful and willing to take a dry fly with no regard for their own well-being.  It’s the birthplace of my passion, where exposure to fly fishing started me on a trip that hasn’t ended, and I doubt ever will.

Big brown trout, and being able to fit in while wearing a sweet 'stache builds Montana's case as one of the greatest places to fish in this country.

After you become a licensed guide in Montana, the next thing you do is join F.O.A.M - the Fishing Outfitters Association of Montana.  It's a good group - they do their best to protect the rights of their members, to provide a certain degree of quality control in the guiding industry, and to keep the folks involved in the business informed about things happening in government that might matter to them.  The other day, this email from F.O.A.M. arrived in my inbox:

"FOAM members: 

House Bill 309 is an attempt to modify Stream Access Law by redefining the term 'ditch'. Remember that recreational use of water in a ditch without landowner permission is prohibited in current stream access law. HB309 has two key points that FOAM opposes: 
 1) A live, flowing braid or channel can be defined as a ditch if there is any kind of control structure at the head of the live channel, including 'natural features incorporated into the water conveyance system';
 2) Recreational access is available only with landowner's permission on water bodies created at least in part by waters diverted from a natural water body where the diverted water is the principal source of water in the water body - think about low flows in August and September and the many Montana rivers and streams with side channels and braids that have diversion structures on them where return flow could be considered the 'principle source of water' in the river or stream.

#2 above could potentially turn side-channels of rivers, streams, and possibly whole rivers into ditches where recreational use is allowed only with landowner permission. The bill was 'heard' on second reading yesterday in the House and passed by a vote of 55 Yes, 44 No.  It will face a similar vote today and probably pass by another close vote..."

For most of you, this will never matter.  But for me, and for lots of other anglers - it might - and that's a shame.  There's always lots of jargon and vague wording involved in stuff like this, but the bottom line is pretty simple.  If this passes, there's likely a lot of places that anglers won't be able to fish anymore.

This is no "ditch", but parts of this stream might be classified as one if this bill goes through.
As a group, we anglers need to stop giving landowners reasons to keep us away from the streams that we fish.  So go join a club, or pick up some trash, or knock on a door just to say thanks to a property owner for allowing us to do something that all of us at one point or another take for granted.  Be selfish about what you do while you're out fishing - take care of the resource for yourself, because it gives you some sort of enjoyment when you're out in it.  If we all act this way then maybe - just maybe - we'll stand a chance of reversing this trend.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

More Time Wasters

The anxiety is thickening around here. T-2 weeks to Mey Hee Co and maybe less than that to the big thaw that will kickoff spring steelhead. It's important to have distractions right now, lest the angst should keep me from doing anything productive...

Stumbled onto a new TV show a couple weeks ago and it has quickly become my favorite. If you consider yourself an outdoorsman you will no doubt get a kick out of this one. It's called "The Wild Within" and it's of the same ilk as "Man vs. Wild", but with a few interesting twists. Check it out and let me know what you think...

Also, no doubt that you're all in the loop on the Pebble Mine fiasco currently unfolding in AK (if not, read here). Well add the Orvis Company to the list of many institutions that are taking action to prevent this surefire environmental catastrophe. has created an action page that makes it SUPER EASY to throw your hat in the ring in the fight against the proposed Pebble Mine. Do us all, including yourselves, a favor and use the template to shoot a letter to your state legislators to let them know what a bad idea the Pebble Mine is.

Monday, February 14, 2011


Can you dig it?

Why Poon?

Hearing anglers talk about personal fishing addictions is almost always pretty damn cool. Whether it's the rush they get casting big foam to a wild trout gorging itself along the bank....

...or participating in man and 12 weight versus tarpon....

.....or feeling the crunch of a steelhead throwing it's weight in to the sculpin that you just swung through his house...

There's just certain things in fishing that are better than others. Over the past few years I've started to like flats fishing more and more. There's just something cool about seeing a big fish in water so shallow that it barely covers it's back, and knowing that unless you put your fly on the money, your chance of catching that fish is nil.

No feeling is more gratifying than landing the fly softly, right in front of his nose. Twitching it once, maybe twice, and then having that permit or bonefish tip up, or watching the black abyss of a big tarpon's mouth open up and envelop your fly after a few steady, slow pulls.

It's not long now...

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Walkin' On Water

I'm running out of creative ways to pass the time leading up to our much-awaited Mexican tarpon slaying extravaganza. Pulling panfish through the ice was a logical plan that I'd been talking about putting into action for a while. Only yesterday though did it finally happen.

I haven't fished through the ice since I was probably 7. Part of it was exactly what I remembered: blistering cold and miserable with a degree of anxiety. On the other hand, hauling on slab 'gills with a micro-sized rod was more than enough fun to warrant it.

The magic machine was awesome too. Like Atari Fishing, except you get to eat the high score.

Looking forward to that fish fry fellas...

Friday, February 11, 2011

"Hey young buck... where'r ya' egg patterns at?"

Sittin' on a whole lot of flies who are just dyin to go for a swim. I wonder if I can get a tarpon to eat a glo bug...

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

At Least Somebody's Fishing

Maybe life in The Big City's not so bad after all. In the midst of the worst winter in recent memory our buddy JD has been finding time to stick a few trout and was kind enough to rub it in with a report and some pics. Enjoy...

"I have a fairly serious love affair with spring creeks. Regardless of drought, rain, sleet or snow the flows are rarely unfishable; more often than not the river runs clear and consistent. Accordingly, the insects are healthy and the wild trout feed hungrily . . . albeit warily.

I’m clearly biased, as I first learned to fly fish on a local limestoner. But when the salmon fly hatch is months and miles away and exotic flats can only be accessed through blogspot URLs, many spring creeks are patiently waiting in spite of Old Man Winter.

Sure, it was 35 degrees and sleeting. And yes, the 8x was certainly not preferred, but the beers were cold and the trout were rising. Now that’s a tasty Molson."

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Phil's Full of It

Old man winter just won't quit. He dished out another frosty beat-down this week, and February is picking up right where January left off, crawling along at a sloth-like pace. I'm told Punxsutawney Phil popped out of his hole this week and did not see his shadow, thereby ensuring that we'll see an early spring this year. All I can say is it's a good thing for Phil he didn't pop up anywhere around here. I'm so desperate for sport right now I'd have put a slug between his eyes. I have to admit, it has proven to be a pretty tall order trying to maintain a semi-entertaining fly fishing blog when there's not a whole lot of fly fishing to be done. I know we could post links to and blah blah blah you to death, but the truth is we're hardly "pro bloggers," just a couple guys who like fishing and taking pictures and we're just as depressed as you are to be stuck inside with cabin fever. The closest I came to fishing today was sorting about 150 packs of dubbing by item number.

That said, it's come to my attention that there are more people paying attention to this silly little blog than we originally thought, so I figure the least we can do is try to humor you. So if you haven't already found these cabin fever cures (they're hardly secrets), here's a couple links that should help you kill a few hours on a cold, fishless night:

1. Catch Magazine - Hands down the best collaboration of Fly Fishing Photog's out there. Makes the pictures you see on here look like child's play and really highlights what a pro can accomplish behind the lens in this sport.

2. This Is Fly - Different, cool, well-done. The kind of stories you can knock out one-at-a-time while sitting on the throne... except it's a digital magazine, so you should probably wait 'til after your done.

3. Ten and Two - Another cool digital mag. Checkout the Catskills article in the current issue, you might recognize some scenes from previous DW posts...

4. Sleeping in the Dirt - Check out the blog and then subscribe to the digital mag. This is friend Aaron Otto's baby. I got to hang out with him for a few days during the summer of 2009 - great photographer and even better dude. You will probably recognize his work from some other popular publications.

5. Orvis News - I am admittedly a little bias with respect to this one, but the bottom line is it's a perfect first stop on your daily blog roll. A nice mix of media, including top-notch photos and stories from some talented and dynamic contributors. Plus, I don't know about you but even I need a (brief) break from the "just fly fishing" blogs now and then. I like to click over to the hunting & conservation blogs. I always learn something and
the hunting pictures especially are spectacular.

So, there it is. Chances are you probably already knew about all of those, but at least they'll be easy to get to next time you get curious. Do me a favor and drop a comment below if any of those were new to you and let us know what you think!

Oh, and I promised a fishing report in my last blog. I ended up braving the elements after all, so here's a brief synopsis:

- Found some fishy-looking new water

- Test drove some new creations; They swam nicely.

- At one point went 6 casts in a row without having to break ice out of my guides!

-Nearly froze my dog to death

- Turned my 11 ft. 4-piece switch rod into an 11 ft. 5-piece switch rod.