Tuesday, October 30, 2012

After the storm

The storm has passed. It's early still; seems earlier with the power out though the purr of generators, ours included, echo up the valley.

The winds were strong all afternoon yesterday. By late day they were up and constant and the occasional gust made vertical things seek horizontal and took your breath away. And we hadn't seen the strongest winds.

With darkness the peak of the storm arrived. Why does this always happen at night? I can't recall a storm where we went to bed thinking "Phew, that's over". It's always "I wonder what'll be left in the morning?".

Sunday afternoon, between the search for D batteries and an oil change on the generator, I managed to spend an hour or so on a local stream. The leaf hatch was going strong and no bugs were seen. I fished up a long slow pool with nary a nibble. When I got to the head of the pool I looked back and saw two fish slapping at something. Damn.

Wets on and I worked back downstream swinging in the current. The first took a swipe and tugged hard and took both flies with him. Damn again; felt like a heavy fish. The second turned off perhaps seeing the commotion and wanting none of it.

Today will be spent cleaning up what little mess we have. My parents are down on the shore so I'll have to get down there to see how they've fared and to test my minimal mechanical skills to see if I can get their generator to turn.

Thankfully the major rain fall was well to the south and we've been spared the flooding that came with last year's storms. Most of the local streams are still orderly and will soon be fishable.

And we're dreaming of steel for the weekend although Sandy still has a part to play in that story as she boomerangs out of sight.

Good riddance.

In the calm before the storm trout were pursued.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Watering the Steel

Pulaski, NY. Early November. Steelhead.

Do you think they'll be enough water?

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Peanut Envy

I have streamers on the brain; articulated streamers

I fished the Deerfield on Saturday with the Harrison brothers. The fishing was good on articulated streamers. Those that nymphed, my boys, did less well.

Olive, articulated streamers. Gotta tie some.

And yellow too. The Housy trout like yellow. With a bit of orange.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Seeds of Spring

The first hard frost has come prematurely crimping the growing season at an abrupt end. The wildflowers are gone too, mostly; gone to seed.

Tomorrow it will be seventy degrees. The weather pretends that the season hasn't changed but we know it's just a ruse. More of the same is in order. Sweaters are out of boxes hanging on the backs of chairs, ready at hand.

Like most cycles, the end of this one just sets up the next.

There are tiny flies on the water now. It's the start of good Blue Wing Olive weather and thread on small hooks below CDC puffs catch fish and test the limits of eyesight and tippet.

Looking forward, the season of large flies isn't too far off and deep below the stream's surface last spring's spinner's seed is already preparing the next generation of hatch.

It's coming.

We only have to wait it out.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Interesting Times for Outdoor Writers

The other day I read a very satisfying essay in Fly Rod and Reel, Alaska: Adventures in the Trouting Life, by Troy Letherman. I don't know if this is a fundamental shift in the industry or just a nod to the fact that the current issue also includes the Traver Award essay but finding an essay in the middle of a major fly fishing magazine was surprising. And satisfying.

The sporting essay is a rare creature these days. The small dribble that emerges in the end papers of most angling and hunting magazines wouldn't keep a illiterate nourished much less those that consider themselves readers. Solid fiction and non-fiction essays seems trapped in a world of sparse opportunity and questionable commercial viability.

The written word has been changing for some time; accelerating in the past decade. Distribution was the first to change, online buying expanded access to titles. Borders and Waldenbooks were turned over so the new crop could be sown.

Then form changed, wicked fast. E-things are supplanting paper at an accelerating pace. No longer does one need to to actually publish to self publish though that's also gotten easier and cheaper, too.

This shift in medium is the big change. Even though I, like others, still appreciate the heft of a good book electronic media, including blogging, is now the game.

I came late to blogging, like I did to fly fishing, but I think I came at just the right moment. I am standing next to giants, feeling short. This community of writers is diverse in experience, style and talent but it has tremendous passion and the many unique voices make scanning the RSS feed worthwhile.

Within this medium you can separate the hobbyists and fringe elements from the folks who take craft seriously; it's about writing. The writers are not sworn to the daily post but instead to the semi-regular publishing of essay. Popular, quality writers are finding reliable audiences and readers are beginning to see a way out of the desert. But there's still a gap begging to be transformed.

It's still nearly impossible for a writer to create a bridge across the chasm separating a quality hobby from something resembling, at a minimum, part-time employment. Even the Grandmother hand knitting pot holders can find a market at a local craft fair; not so for the writer.

But that may be starting to change too.

The intersection of electronic ease of publishing and the multitude of payment systems is one such bridge.

Bruce Smithhammer started an interesting experiment with Pulp Fly. It's hard to sort out whose idea Pulp Fly was or how exactly it came together, it's a circle of modest, talented people, but Bruce is the ring leader and editor. This book contains eleven essays, mostly fiction, from various authors. Some names you'll recognize in that, "hey I think I read something by him in The Drake" sort of way. Others are new.

What's also new is that you have to pay the authors $4.95 to read it. Unlike bloggers or the ubiquitous e-zine, writers get paid.

As Bruce readily admits in his forward, this book is a latter day derivation of the pulp fiction novels of the early twentieth century. And it's genius. It is the metaphorical craft fair for pot holding writers.

Of course, now we need more editors and publishers in this new format. It will be interesting to see who takes that on but my gut tells me that if writers can get paid, they'll abandon venues that want to use their work for free and be attracted to venues where there's even a modest likelihood of payment.

I think the supply side is going to pick up steam.

Perhaps most importantly, we need readers willing to pay $5. The toughest challenge for Pulp publishers will be getting publicity and ironing out competition from "free" sources. I suppose writers will have a big hand in sorting that out though if given an economic incentive, it'll be an easy decision.

And eventually, some writers will make money the old fashioned way. A ton of very talented, perhaps even the most talented, are going to continue as hobbyists and go no further. But a few, the Hammets, Lovecrafts or Harrisons of our generation, are going to break out and be big.

And between now and then it's going to be a hell of a ride.

Who wants to start publishing house?

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Dumb, Stocked Trout

More glorious afternoons could not be dreamt.
There was a time a few years back that I was in the back woods of Pennsylvania fishing a remote stretch of a popular water. As I drove down the one lane dirt track one morning I saw a rather large truck coming towards me. Naturally, I yielded.
What followed the truck was quite the spectacle. Easily two dozen cars on a track that probably saw that many cars in a day. Apparently, the State of Pennsylvania announces the when and where of the stocking event and meat anglers follow taking as fast as the putting occurs. When we returned a few hours later, passing by the stream that was stocked, no anglers lingered. I don't think any trout lingered either.
Last Tuesday the Housatonic was stocked.
Now I'm not a truck chaser but when 9,000 fish get dropped into ten miles of water it attracts my attention. To be sporting I gave them a couple of days to get really, really hungry acclimated to their environment and decided to hit the stream on Sunday afternoon.
English texted me while I was at church and with a brief apr├Ęs worship consultation we agreed to meet up at our usual spot mid-afternoon.
The water levels were perfect and the weather spot on for fall fishing in New England. Jonny swung the wet as those from his country are wont to do and managed six to the hand before I had my first. After that we were into fish with regularity, most on the surface, though the occasional trout would chase the sunken fly.
Jonny making it look easy
Jonny managed the gem of the day -- a holdover with buttery flanks and a tail like an oar blade -- though he also managed a fall fish which those in the former colonies generally deride as not worthy of the angle.
All my fish were eager and cookie cutter from the hatchery. Late in the day, as Jonny decamped, I did hook a fish on a sunken fly. The befouled bit of deer hair refused to float and I caught a hint of a suggestion of a flash near where it aught to have been and with a lackadaisical stroke managed to hook and loose a fine fish.
But then there were more eager fish to salve the mental wound.
I suppose a better title for this article would have been "Desperate, Stocked Trout". Regardless, it was good fun for a few hours on a splendid fall afternoon with a good buddy.
Pink seems to be the elastomer color of the year. Very stylish.