Sunday, May 29, 2011

Winter's Back...


I am snowed in.  Another 4-6 expected tonight.  I'll take some pictures.


Thursday, May 26, 2011

State of the Dudewater Union

While it may seem like all's quiet on the Dudewater front, don't let the silence fool you. Despite the endless monsoon that's been walloping the Eastern U.S. the last two weeks, We've been fishing like maniacs because, well, that's what you do this time of year. All that fishing hasn't left much time for blog posts, so let me briefly bring you up to speed:

We had planned for months to spend the week of the 16th of May at a favorite spot on Penn's Creek, PA. With big rains in the forecast and the river already flowing at above average levels we made a difficult (but not that difficult) last-minute call to accept our friend John Miller's inivitation to spend the week on the West Branch of the Delaware. It was a wet week, but we we're not dissapointed with the fishing. I dragged the big camera up there only to find out that I'd left my SD card in my laptop, which was at home. Subsequently, all the choice grip-n-grins from last week are on Brett's camera and it may be a while before we see them; more on that later. On Friday we said goodbye to the Big D and dashed home for all of about 37 minutes before jumping back in the car and driving East again to host my Orvis Cleveland Warmwater Fly Fishing school. The fishing was tough but the school was a successful one and I'm looking forward to chasing some of those big bronzebacks for myself...

Meanwhile our buddy JD was stalking the Jersey shore searching for stripahs. Haven't gotten the details yet but looks to me like he found 'em.

So now it's back to business as usual for me, getting ready to chase some warm-water quarry close to home and planning my next adventure. Brett on the other hand is Wyoming bound for the summer. He should be arriving at the gates of trout heaven any minute now and hopefully will give us an update when he gets a chance.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Spoils of The Savage

The empty Budweiser can on my nightstand explained why I'd slept through my alarm. It was almost 7:00 AM and I was pissed I'd slept in. After having gotten a taste of the Savage and its seductive pocket water the day prior I was itching and anxious to get back in the river. Fishing fast, bouldery pocket water is addictive in that it tantalizes the imagination. Every gurgle and swirl and divot and eddy and riffle could hold a trout and on the good days, they do. The cloud cover overhead and my tendency to be overly optimistic about the fishing had me feeling that today could be one of those days.

Still sporting my Jockeys I strolled out onto the porch for a prognosis. The pool behind the house looked inviting but showed no sign of rising fish; I could enjoy my coffee at a leisurely pace.

Brett and I enjoyed a fishless first hour but it was not without exclamation. Brett had opted to swing for the fences from the get-go and rigged up a grossly oversized streamer on a short, stout rod. While I was plunking for dinks he managed to move two garantuans that I'm sure he'll describe in detail in a later post. Still, with no fish to hand by 9:00 we decided to explore some agua nueva. Eventually we stumbled onto a pod of midging dinks (gorgeous, wild dinks, mind you) and Fast Jimi managed to get on the board...

Not to be outdone, player #2 topped my high score..

Around Noon a familiar face showed up. After spending the wee hours of the morning in the woods chasing gobblers PJ had bagged his thunder chicken and was ready to tango with some truchas. We enjoyed a cold beverage over the story of his trophy bird and then relocated. The Savage smiled on us again...

After bringing two stunningly beautiful browns to hand within minutes of each other Brett and I agreed it was best to quit while were were ahead. We'd gotten a taste of the fantastic fishing in this area and agreed that we'd be back. And we will be.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Maryland, The Deets of Day .5 and 1

Around this time of year the steelhead run starts to wind down.  Last year was very early, and this year it feels like it never really got going.  It's about this time when I start to get antsy to get out of town, make my way to Wyoming, and start my summer in trout paradise.  When Jimmy called me last week and said that we had an opportunity to fish a bunch of different watersheds in western Maryland I jumped on it.  I'd heard a lot about this area before from a couple people, and a fly shop close to Baltimore that I pop in to from time to time - the dry flies, bigger fish, and diversity of water available to fly fisherman had me chomping at the bit to get there and give it a try.

I pulled in to the cabin at Savage River Outfitters where Jimmy and I would be spending a couple days, met the owner, and took a walk with him down to the creek right behind his house.  Fish were rising everywhere to a thick midge hatch.  After trying to wrap up the conversation without being rude, I rushed back to the car, threw on my waders, and started fishing.  I fished until dark, caught some great fish, including one really nice brown, and then came back to the cabin and fell asleep on the couch waiting for Jimmy to get in.  

The next day we started out upstream of the cabin in a nice looking piece of smoother water.  From what we'd been told, the fishing didn't really turn on until later in the day, but we figured that in some slower stuff we could still get in to something early on in the morning.  After working the run pretty thoroughly with a dry we got to the head of the run, which was some pretty great looking trout water.  A couple quick rig changes, and this guy decided to come out to play.

Right after we sent this fish back home a guy showed up behind us and asked if we were Jim and Brett.  It was PJ, the head guide at Wisp Outdoors, who was the Orvis endorsed guide service of the year in 2007.  PJ had been turkey hunting early, but was meeting up with us to fish for the rest of the day.  He suggested we pack up and hit a little brook trout stream a few miles up the road.  Jimmy and I were happy to follow.

We fished some fantastic looking water.  Pool after pool after pool and still not a single rise.  Then like someone flipped a switch, we started to find the pretty little natives.

By late afternoon we'd made it all the way up this creek to some private property, and it was time to turn around.  We decided to fish one section of the Savage before calling it a day.  Most of the river is pocket water, and Jimmy and I were fishing 10-11 foot rods in order to high stick flies through pockets that you just couldn't fish with anything else.

Before dark we landed a couple fish working the pocket water above a beautiful pool.  We split with PJ, and started to get ready for the next day...

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

"Dude...we're in Maryland?"

Fast Jimi and I just returned from doing some fishing in western Maryland.  Let's just say we were very impressed.  More to come tomorrow...

Friday, May 6, 2011

Friday Fish Porn: Miller Time Edition

Dudewater favorite Johnny's been busy on the Big D...

Last week he was saying that the river was about to pop...looks like he was right.

If you want to go fishing with him over there check out for more information.

Sooner or later he'll get a big one...

Thursday, May 5, 2011

A Final Fix?

With a couple of trout trips planned for my next round of days off, Victor and I got out Monday for what may have been the last "steelhead" outing of the year. Fittingly enough we had the river to ourselves with near-perfect conditions. It turned out to be probably the finest morning of fishing I've had all year, with plenty of big, aggressive and acrobatic fish in the mix along with the usual assortment of midget steel. As much as I say I'm over steelhead for the year, truth be told I know I'm going to be missing the hell out of these fish sooner than later...

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Fishin' with Dad

Now that I'm a little older, and a little busier the time I spend on the water with my Dad is a little bit more valuable.  He's a working professional, one of the best at what he does, and that means that there usually isn't much time for our schedules to work out for a day on the river.

On Sunday, things fell in to place.  I was scheduled to guide, but some rain the forecast had things looking about 50/50.  With my client coming in from out of town, and wanting to stay and fish for a couple days, he made the decision to cancel.  With the way the weather was looking, I thought it was a pretty wise decision.  When drive time is likely greater than or equal to fishing time sometimes it just makes sense to stay put.

That said, if the rain held off my Dad and I would head out.  The next morning the pavement was dry, and the charts hadn't spiked.  Off we went.

I'd fished this section of river the night before, and it seemed like a nice push of fish was coming in.  I figured that overnight even more would have followed in behind them and that the same area would be a good bet for the next day.  My Dad picked out a good looking spot, and I walked up above him.  Just as I was peeling the line off my reel, I saw him set the hook, and a big fat silver hen came flying out of the water.  I started to walk down there to help him land the fish and snap a couple pictures, but before I'd gotten close the fish made another jump and his line went slack.  As soon as he lost tension my Dad jumped in the air and said a couple quick four letter words.  When you don't get out much that first one is a heart throbber, and when its going nuts on the end of your line I think you realize how much you've missed fishing for them.  Losing the fish is heartbreak, and it was evident on his face.  I'll say this, the guy still has some serious ups, though.

After a few more fish hooked and lost, and a few dozen casts without another, my Dad walked upstream and was a little dejected.  We saddled up and decided to take a little walk upstream.  This stretch is a popular destination, and all the usual spots get pounded.  A short walk, and a not-so-obvious drift later and my Dad was tight to another angry fish.

It was pretty obvious after our first fifteen minutes that there were a lot of fish in this section.  It was a good mix of both fresh and dropback fish, mostly small, but with a few bruisers mixed in.  Although the Jackhammer may be tired of skippers, and I was still a bit beaten from my encounter with the rod-breaker the night before they're still some of the most fun fish to catch.  They aren't shy to a fly, and at times they tend to forget that fish live in water, not air.

This thing was no exception.  Before the indicator had even twitched, this fatty was airborne like a submarine-launched missile.  

We fished through the rain until early afternoon, and had some really fantastic success - all with very little company, which was pretty nice.  At this point we'd done everything that we had set out to do, and a lot more.  On the walk back the most popular spot on the stretch, and probably the whole river, was open.  We decided to jump and and give it a try right in the sweet spot of the run.

One cast, one nice dropback...

Then my Dad jumped in, and after a couple drifts he hooked up.  The fish was going crazy, upstream, downstream, all over the place.  After ten minutes of the fish dictating every part of the fight I was starting to think that it was fouled...until it jumped.  I could see the line going straight in to the mouth of a big, big, buck.  As the fight wore on my Dad was starting to get the upper hand on the fish, and after a couple more runs, and a few awesome jumps, I netted his fish.

 It was one worth waiting for.  

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Double Take

As it often does, 4:45 AM Saturday came earlier than expected. Actually, as far as I was concerned it never came at all - just rolled right on by and kept goin'. So when I finally did come to I turned on the turbo jets, skipped the sh*t-shower-shave routine, dove into my waders and headed East.

As it turned out by the time Victor and I caught up with our fishing party we hadn't missed much. The river was a little off color and a couple of hookups was all that anybody could account for. It seemed a stroll upstream was in order.

I was given first crack at the run under the condition that I approached with the two hander. Fine by me. The sun was shining and despite carrying a season-long swinging skunk, I was content to make a few casts. I pulled off some line and let 'er rip and quickly found a rhythm. If nothing else, when swinging flies if you can just find that rhythm it makes the time go faster...


Shit, bottom. better give it a second anyway.

Thud-thud-thud thrash.

"HAHA! No way!"

I'd swung and missed so many times this year that I had a hard time believing I'd actually hooked something. Not a biggun' but a fish nonetheless and I was tickled pink. I was even more excited when I realized it was the first ever lake-run brown trout I'd taken in Ohio!

Awesome. Off the snide at long last. I was so happy about catching that dinky little fish that part of me felt like calling it for the day. But I hadn't even gotten through the good part of the run and I figured there had to be some more players in there. After a few dozen fishless casts I felt another thud and was pleasantly surprised yet again.

As much as I love lake-run smallmouth their arrival in the rivers usually marks the beginning of the end of spring steelhead. Again, fine by me. It's been a difficult spring season and I'm more than ready to start tackling the bronzebacks. I drove home happy as a clam thinking about how great it is to have a quality mixed-bag fishery so close to home. Time to start tying Clousers...

Finally... "We Got 'im!"

After years of searching, a handful of close encounters and some missed opportunities, Jimi Jackhammer finally landed a legitimate steelhead...