Wednesday, December 31, 2014

At the end of the year

Thanks for sending along "Hendricksons" for our review. It has its moments, and it carries strong feelings of familiarity for all us aging anglers. Therein lies its charm, but also its drawback: it's simply too familiar an approach, into far too familiar a topic, to elbow its way into [Insert name of famous journal]. - Editor

As the year waned I was consumed by urgent professional matters that seem to have evaporated opportunities for angling, heck, for much of anything other than email and PowerPoint. I see that my last post was in early October which was roughly the last time I wrote for Hatch Magazine and fell into a black hole of work. Being in the middle of the holiday season, work has moved to the background and I've been able to refocus on the important things: family, rest, sport.

I sat in a blind last week waiting for geese to fly. We saw some geese but the only shot we took was at the bull. It was good to be among sportsman again talking about nothing more consequential than whether we needed more dekes and if that was a crow or a hawk on the far treeline; consensus was a hawk.

My boots, muddy from the cornfield, got a proper cleaning when Ann and I took Ripley for a walk in the woods. Sam and I got them dirty all over again yesterday as we spent a few hours wandering on the trail. There's something to be said for having opportunities to get wet and muddy. It feels a whole lot more like living than what we do most days. Tomorrow I'll be on a stream hoping for a winter trout. It's good to be out again.

I've been in a bit of a writing funk. I'm not sure if that's due to the urgent, stressful matters at work or if there's something else at play. Regardless the words have been slow in coming though I do have several half-written pieces that I should probably be polishing up. I've set some time aside today to write and clean my office. I'll probably get more of one done than the other but at least I set off with the right intentions.

In this stack of writing there's a piece of fiction I wrote two or more years ago. It sat with an editor for almost a year as he promised to put it "in the next issue". It turns out his publisher didn't like it as much as he did. We eventually agreed to set it free. Since that time it's been with several other editors. Some sent quick declines, others sat on it and one, the author of the quote above, made it clear this piece wasn't publishable.

In May I sent it off to yet another home and since I haven't heard back I'm now confident I've exhausted opportunities for financial renumeration. I'll have to be satisfied with the renumeration of knowing that someone other than a few editors have read the piece.

So, to end the year, I present Hendricksons for your reading pleasure and critical review.

I hope you enjoy the piece. Have a happy and safe evening tonight, and I wish you all a prosperous New Year!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Little Things

Articulated streamers designed to imitate large meals are all the rage lately especially with the crowd that likes large fish. I suppose that includes most of us, though once you try casting those beasts you might reconsider. That is, until a large trout slams the thing, then it's all worthwhile.

The reality is that most of us spend a lot of time casting more modest flies to trout of the more common variety. This time of year the game gets smaller and smaller as we move into midge and olive season. A buddy recently wrote me about a pending fishing trip. The advice was that we'd start at size #18 flies and work our way down until we found the sweet spot probably around #22 or less.

Since we're only seeing small flies hatching, it's not a big leap to assume that's all that's in the water column. And while it might be true that these smaller bugs are the majority of the fauna all those bugs that hatch in warmer months have to be live somewhere off peak. It's no surprise that they're living underfoot.

You can read the rest of this article at Hatch Magazine.

I'm doing some writing over on Hatch Magazine each week (or so). Stop over there to read my complete articles and more from other great writers.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Casting Distance

On one of the less storied stretches of the Housatonic River there's a long riffle that pauses twice creating two very fishy places. I've fished this spot regularly over the past few years. While these spots are no great secret, they attract far less traffic for a variety of reasons. First, they're relatively harder to access than other spots. The well worn paths go upstream and downstream. Second, during most water levels they look relatively featureless with little obvious opportunity for holding water. Finally, the folks who fish it keep mum about it.

On Saturday the water was low. I expected some exposed riffle based upon the gage reading but what greeted me when I got there was a surprising lack of water. I was still thirty feet from damp ground and the main current was on the far bank. A short ways upstream an angler sat high and dry upon a boulder that was normally under water. He was just at the edge of the first good spot so I walked upstream over the dried cobble to the second pool.

You can read the rest of this article at Hatch Magazine.

I'm doing some writing over on Hatch Magazine each week (or so). Stop over there to read my complete articles and more from other great writers.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Strip mining for bass

As an angler it's easy to get down on the coal industry. What they've done to water and air quality over the centuries is a crime. The industry continues to enjoy the protection of both parties at all levels of government. I suppose that's because we like what happens when we throw a light switch but there's clearly room for improvement in how things get done. Of course, in every cloud there is a silver lining and I may have found one in coal.

West Virginia is the place I most associate with coal mining. I'm not sure why that is. I was going to blame it on A Coal Miner's Daughter but it turns out Loretta Lynn is from Kentucky. It also turns out West Virginia isn't at the top of the list. Wyoming produces more than three times the coal of West Virginia; 388 million tons in 2013 down from 457 million tons in 2008

Indiana is also in the top ten. As America has sought energy independence all manner of taxpayer funded incentives have been lavished on the industry. As a result, Indiana's coal production has increased over the past few years reaching an all time high in 2013 at 39 million tons.

You can read the rest of this article at Hatch Magazine.

I'm doing some writing over on Hatch Magazine each week (or so). Stop over there to read my complete articles and more from other great writers. 

Friday, September 5, 2014

Endless Limited Choices

Like you, I have too many fly boxes. This could mean I carry too many flies but I doubt it. In fact, I probably have just enough of a selection to always have the right fly. My primary challenge is to recall a specific
fly's existence at the right moment and then find the damned thing.

Most of the fly boxes I own are the new type with foam slots. While they're easier to use than the old style boxes, they invite chaos. I can put nymphs next to dries and midges next to Hendricksons. If you were to look at my "streamer" box you would also find a dozen bass poppers, some damsel fly nymphs and a couple of big honking dry flies among classic and contemporary streamers. Strangely, you would not find a half dozen purple woolly buggers tied last month that should be here but are living in sin elsewhere.

You can read the rest of this article at Hatch Magazine.

I'm doing some writing over on Hatch Magazine each week (or so). Stop over there to read my complete articles and more from other great writers.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Broken Dial

It's small fly time on northeast tailwaters. On the Farmington River folks are fishing the trico hatch. A well tied imitation makes a #20 fly seem like a battleship and 6x look like an anchor chain. I like a brown thread body with a tuft of dun colored CDC and a #24 hook. It's one of the rare times I fish 7x. I'd fish 8x if I had any.

One of the nice things about tailwater hatches is that, despite all the variables that affect any natural process, they're pretty reliable. The hatches line up to fill the angling year. The fish seem as attuned as the anglers and I've spent many evenings fishing a single pattern. Once you're dialed in, you're set. Mostly.

Freestones, untethered to regular, temperate flows, can throw you more curves. Sure, they have the epic hatches that arrive like clockwork every year -- Hendricksons, March Browns, Alders, Cahills, White Flies, Isos -- but mixed in between and among are all manner of chaos. You can always count on some sort of caddis buzzing about, any number of small stones, midges, and BWOs. And, of course, the main events always overlap. It can make tying something on the tippet a total crapshoot.

You can read the rest of this article at Hatch Magazine.

I'm doing some writing over on Hatch Magazine each week (or so). Stop over there to read my complete articles and more from other great writers.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Hike your own hike

Sam on St Johns Ledges. Brutal downhill.
You can see the leg to my walker on in the
lower left.
When you're two miles in with thirty pounds on your back you realize two things. First, thirty pounds weighs more on the trail than it did in your dining room. Second, two miles on foot has no relationship whatsoever with two miles in any conveyance. You also realize that leaving behind the rod, reel and fly box just to save a pound or two may have been the wrong decision though that's an easy regret to have when faced with a startling green pool in a fast moving mountain river. Such regrets will evaporate twenty miles onward when the ounces crush your arches and leaden the spirit.

On a recent Friday evening, my son and I camped along the banks of the Housatonic River. The relatively short hike into the Ten Mile River campground allowed us a jump off point for an early start on Saturday. Sam has aspirations to do a thru hike of the Appalachian Trail after high school. He has read alluring tales of the AT penned by AWOL and Bryson and his mind has been captured with the epic adventure of it all. I figured a taste of the reality of an encumbered walk in the woods would provide data for a more informed decision. We planned to go north as far as we could muster. At a minimum we'd get to test out knees and muscles and equipment against a fine summer day or two on the AT.

You can read the rest of this article at Hatch Magazine.

I'm doing some writing over on Hatch Magazine each week (or so). Stop over there to read my complete articles and more from other great writers.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Hubris: The Certainty of the Mining Industry

Mount Polley Mine Tailings Pond Dam. Water almost meets water standards according to mine CEO 
There's a tired old joke about discerning lying politicians by observing the mobility of their lips and there is a close parallel to mines and their assertions about the hazards of their operations.

Before a mine can begin operation in the US, owners must submit Environmental Impact Statements (EIS) to the federal government. The percentage of mines that predict low impacts to water quality in their EISs is 100%, according to a 2008 report by the US Fish and Wildlife Service. In actuality, the number that actually pollute ground and surface waters is summed up in the report by a simple phrase: "the majority".
You can read the rest of this article at Hatch Magazine.

I'm doing some writing over on Hatch Magazine each week (or so). Stop over there to read my complete articles and more from other great writers.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Review: Trout Magazine

Trout Magazine - Summer 2014 Cover
This past weekend I spent time camping along the Beaverkill nestled deep in a fold of the Catskills. With no cell phone service I had the opportunity to get caught up on my reading in between a little trout fishing, socializing and relaxing with the family. In the stack of dead trees that accompanied me was Trout magazine. Trout was fairly high in the stack, well above the well recognized "how to" periodicals. During the past few years I've come to have a keener appreciation for the writers who are closer to the literary end of the spectrum than the "hook and bullet" end. The Drake, Flyfish Journal and Gray's Fly Fishing issue (though I feel it's aging out) are my new staples. Trout's in that class too though that's a fairly recent development.

I first met Kirk Deeter in 2012 shortly after he was announced as editor of Trout Magazine. Kirk's vision for Trout, the in house magazine of Trout Unlimited, was to be of such high quality that folks would join TU just to get the magazine. That sounded awful ambitious.

You can read the rest of this review at Hatch Magazine.

I'm doing some writing over on Hatch Magazine each week (or so). Stop over there to read my complete articles and more from other great writers.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014


Yesterday afternoon I had the water to myself. During the dog days, the Farmington is one of the few local places to reliably find trout. Weekends it can be crowded but mid-week you can still find places to be alone. I fished and caught in solitude until rush hour. The road across the way, unnoticed through the afternoon, suddenly had a spurt of life. It was the only indication of the rhythm of elsewhere.

A little while later I heard commotion in the small lot behind me. Late of some workplace, three guys entered the pool above me. While they were a hundred yards off the quiet of the valley and the reflective quality of lazy water made their banter easily heard. These three took up what seemed like the usual spots and the cliche, stream-side taunts bounced back and forth. Portly guy was into fish quickly and rated a few hoots while his buddies struggled. Before long the abundance of the Farmington yielded bent rods for the lot of them.

You can read the rest of this essay at Hatch Magazine.

I'm doing some writing over on Hatch Magazine each week (or so). Stop over there to read my complete articles and more from other great writers.

Friday, July 18, 2014

What Congress has done this week to piss me off!

If you want to know where this bullshit comes from, just follow the money. I love this idea.

Are you friggin' kidding me?

So the EPA is poised to propose limits on mining in Bristol Bay which comes after years of research and science that indicates that, contrary to the opinion of mining companies and politicians bought and paid for by mining companies, the mine would destroy habitat, kill jobs, and threaten the best salmon runs on the planet. Sounds like a good thing.

Sadly, it's too good to be true.

A bunch of representatives on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee have prepared a few choice pieces of legislation that would gut the EPA's regulatory powers:

H.R. 5078: Waters of the United States (WOTUS) Regulatory Overreach Protection Act of 2014: The EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers recently used something that politicians don't understand nor like, we call it science, to determine that headwaters are important to clean water and therefore need to be regulated. The EPA even proposed some rules about that. This bill seeks to set those rules and the EPA's authority aside because.....well, for no friggin' reason other than they don't like the EPA. I suppose they think clean water comes in plastic bottles. Dopes.

H.R. 5077: Coal Jobs Protection Act of 2014: Jobs protection?! More bullshit. This is the Coal Mining Company Profits and Political Donation Protection Act of 2014. When a mining company wants to take a mountain top and put it in a valley in which a stream runs, chock full of wildlife and cold, clean water, this turd of an act limits the time in which regulators can study the problem to determine its impact. I know it's inconvenient for businesses to actually have to deal with the regulations but c'mon. It's not like the coal industry is renowned for their environmental stewardship....

Rep. Bill Shuster
Ensuring all Americans get the
water they deserve.
H.R.4854: Regulatory Certainty Act of 2014: This is the most relevant to the types of situations faced by Bristol Bay. This little beauty of a bill basically kills the process, called 404c in regulatory lingo, that allowed the EPA to develop good science then exercise its power to protect clean water in Bristol Bay for all Americans.

I am hopeful that the battle to save Bristol Bay is in its final phase but that doesn't mean we can no longer be vigilant. While Bristol Bay was a highly visible and important battle, there are many more battles that have to be fought each day to protect less storied watersheds including headwaters streams that may run through our backyards.

Stay vigilant. Stay involved. Write your Congressman. Make smart choices at the polls.

Tight lines.

1) When I am king, elected representatives get one term, that's it.
2) And Corporations wouldn't be people
3) And you'd have to wear those sponsor patches on your $1,200 suit. And none of those patches could include the American flag. Politician's wearing the American flag demeans the flag.
4) Can you tell it's a Friday in the summer. I probably need to go fishing.

Thursday, July 17, 2014


The Usual fly for low light fishing
As summer air temperatures in New England veer sharply from their northern roots most water courses warm beyond the tolerance of trout. With trout hunkered in thermal refuges the sulking trout angler has some options. There's opportunity on stillwater for largemouth, crappie and bluegills but that requires tactics and tackle that is foreign to many. In several renowned trout rivers smallmouth share the same neighborhood with their sleeker kin. With yin to trout's yang, smallmouth come alive when water temps suppress trout. While both are a fine distraction, truly tormented trout anglers seek the succor of a tailwater in the days after the mid-year solstice.

Last week I had smallmouth on the brain and was prepared to make the hour drive for a few hours fishing. The previous evening a summer storm rolled up the valley and created a muddy torrent while sparing neighboring, smallmouth-free watersheds. I could have scrapped the whole notion but my buddy Steve had planted a few seeds with solid tailwater intel.

You can read the rest of this essay at Hatch Magazine.

I'm doing some writing over on Hatch Magazine each week (or so). Stop over there to read my complete articles and more from other great writers.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Hundred Mile Latte

If you have never seen Green Drakes and Coffin Flies hatch, well, I recommend you make the effort to do so. I had always been somewhat dismissive of folks who chased these blue-chip hatches. I'm partial to the hatches of pale yellow mayflies on late spring evenings on my home waters so I never really got into being on rivers outside my normal range just to fish something exotic. It was an error not to pay attention to the Drakes. They're pretty damn fantastic.

In mid-June Jonny and I were heading west with the hope of taking some carp in Indiana. Driving eight hundred miles to fish for carp may not seem like the most sensible thing but we had good reasons. It's not something I'd done before -- neither the epic road trip nor carp fishing -- so I was looking forward to having an adventure. But being a trout angler I couldn't tolerate the thought of driving so far, passing some of the finest trout streams in the east, without stopping to wet a line.

You can read the rest of this essay at Hatch Magazine.

I'm doing some writing over on Hatch Magazine each week (or so). Stop over there to read my complete articles and more from other great writers.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Protecting Browns Canyon

From the Save Browns Canyon Instagram
There are 22,000 acres in Colorado that have recently come into the sights of the extractive industries -- the folks who bring you mining and drilling and the issues and risk from all that -- and a bunch of anglers and hunters in Colorado have joined forces to try and protect this wilderness from be spoiled.

According to the Sportsmen for Browns site:
Browns Canyon, located along the upper Arkansas River in Colorado, is known for premier trout fishing, outstanding big game habitat, world-famous whitewater, rugged and remote wildlands, and a proud cattle ranching tradition. This diversity supports thousands of jobs, from river outfitters and guides to ranchers in the nearby communities of Salida and Buena Vista. Protecting this 22,000 acre gem along the Arkansas River as a National Monument is a community-driven effort to preserve this unique natural and economic resource for generations to come.
 I suggest you head over to their website to take a look at this special place and their efforts. In particular, they're seeking National Monument status for the site which would provide protection for this place in perpetuity. Sign-up for their emails. You can also find some great pictures on their instagram site.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Trout Blitz

Trout Unlimited is sponsoring a wild/native trout citizen science effort to help map out healthy wild and native trout populations in the U.S. This effort relies upon citizen scientists to report data about wild and native trout populations.

What is citizen science? Well, it's where you become the scientist as a "data gatherer" (i.e. angler) and conduct science by catching fish and reporting your catch. This provides data for scientists on the location and species in a particular watershed.

As soon as I started reading this my "secret fishing hole" radar went off. Report where I caught fish? Wild fish? Umm, No. Well, maybe.

The interface on the TU iNaturalist site is pretty straight forward. I entered the information about my trip in a minute or so. The hardest part of recording the location, both technically and psychologically, is the GPS part. But I conquered both challenges pretty quick using Google Maps and a feature on the iNaturalist site.

First, you need the GPS coordinates. Google Maps can provide this. Find the approximate location on Google Maps, right click on the location where you caught the fish, and select "What's here?". The Latitude and Longitude appear on the upper left of the screen.

Second, you need to see the selection box below the iNaturalist map that says "Change Geoprivacy". Change that to "Obscured". That way only the scientists get the data on the "where" and the public gets something that's vague but not really all that helpful.

You can see the public version of my "Obscured" entry below. There are no map coordinates, only the reference to "Fairfield County".

This seems like a great way for us all to get involved in fisheries science. I encourage you to check out the website and start reporting your (obscured) catch of wild and native trout.

Monday, June 30, 2014

How to Fish

A buddy of mine went fishing with an angler of local repute. Having not fished the particular stream before, he was looking for guidance. His companion pointed to the rocks and runs where fish he virtually knew by name were lurking. They caught fish in the right places. They caught fish on the right flies.

The observation my buddy later made was that this guy wasn't so much a fine angler as an he was an expert on this particular fishery. He presumed that if this expert was taken to a new place he might not possess the skills to quickly identify the holding water and fly selection that would make for such a successful day. And while it seemed to me a bit of a leap to assume the expert would struggle elsewhere, it got me thinking.

That's a fish catching cap! (Photo: Hatch Magazine)
I'm doing some writing over on Hatch Magazine each week (or so). Stop over there to read my complete articles and more from other great writers.

Thursday, June 26, 2014



Is coming here...

Which means I'll be going someplace like this...

Monday, June 23, 2014

Predator becomes prey

You know times are tough when a dragonfly preys on a dragonfly instead of those fluttering mayflies. Listen carefully and you can hear the sweet sound of a dragonfly carapace being cracked.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Swinging Twofer

I don't usually swing wet flies but I was doing some nymphing last night while waiting for the hatch and I was getting strikes on the swing. So, knowing that the trout wanted moving flies, I tied on a pair of soft hackles and worked the run. The flies got multiple strikes and I managed a few smallies and trout to hand. While bringing in one trout a six-inch smallie decided not to waste the dropper and did me the good service of hopping on. That made for an interesting fight.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014


What happens when a fly rod maker starts noodling around a travel coffee mug design? One word: Cork.

Check out this Kickstarter campaign for the Cortica mug. The perfect companion to the Jetboil french press.

Monday, June 16, 2014

A busy spring season

It's been a transitional time here at Sipping Emergers. As you've noticed my posts are fewer lately owing mostly to a very busy personal and professional life. The little writing I have been doing has appeared over on Hatch Magazine or been submitted to The Drake or The Flyfish Journal for printing on dead trees. Getting a check for writing is satisfying in many ways not the least of which is the bump in the bank account that partially offsets all those angling purchases one is inclined to make from time to time. I still write here when time permits and I'll certainly point you to articles that are published elsewhere on the intertubes.

While I've been busy with other things others, besides you, have been judging my writing. Earlier this month, the Outdoor Writers Association announced the winners of its 2014 Excellence in Craft Awards. I won four awards; one for an article on stoneflies in The Drake and three for pieces that appeared on this blog.

The Award Winners

Additionally, the piece titled The second to last summer won a President's Choice Award as one of the six best for the year. As my buddy Jonny says, I'm now an award winning writer of some acclaim which I suppose means my fifteen minutes of fame are up.

Back to our regular programming

In case you missed it two weeks ago, I wrote a bit about a milestone in my fishing career. A picture tells a thousand words, but you can also find 600 additional words about the event over on Hatch Magazine.

Action Needed Today!

From our friends at Trout Unlimited:
"Emergency action needed today! Call the Senate Appropriations Committee and tell them to leave the Clean Water Act alone!"
Go to their WOTUS Emergency Page and give a Senator a call.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Muddy Waters

The sound of rain on the roof is a sweet sound that I desperately miss during the time of year when all that can be expected from the sky is something frozen. That said, there's a time and place for everything and Wednesday is never a good day for rain. Neither is Thursday or Friday for that matter. All rain should fall on Sunday or Monday. Tuesday at the absolute latest. In that way all that water can run downhill by Saturday morning and the weekend, the blessed weekend, will find the streams well behaved and the trout in their usual spots.

Read the rest of the story over at Hatch Magazine.

I'm doing some writing over on Hatch Magazine each week. Stop over there to read my complete articles and more from other great writers.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Simms G3 Guide Boot Review

 A few years ago all the manufacturers changed their wading boot soles from felt to rubber. This seismic moment in the industry was not prompted by new materials or consumer demand but rather by a threat to fisheries; Didymosphenia geminata. The assumption that didymo was being carried from far off places to domestic streams via angling equipment -- felt soles were the great demon -- prompted the action. It turns out that greater forces than anglers may have had a larger effect on the increased presence of this nuisance diatom. According to recent research by Queen's University in Ontario global climate change has a hand in didymo blooms. Climate change induced changing ice cover and nutrient loads both create more favorable conditions for the blooms. I don't think this lets anglers off the hook, but it's worth considering for many reasons.

Read the rest of the review (yes, I get to the actual review in the next paragraph) over on Hatch Magazine.

I'm doing some writing over on Hatch Magazine each week. Stop over there to read my complete articles and more from other great writers.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Little Mountain

My buddy Bruce Smithhammer wrote a piece in the last Trout Magazine about Little Mountain. It's another one of those stunning places where trout happen to live and thrive. And it's also a place where gas companies would like to set-up shop. See also an article over on Hatch Magazine.

Little Mountain - Haley Powell from Trout Unlimited on Vimeo.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Farm Pond Reconsidered

I now have a chauffeur. It's an extravagant expense but I'm worth it. My eldest son got his driver's license last summer and now drives whenever we share the car. It's a nice break after more than a decade of being his chauffeur and it gives him time behind the wheel to hone his craft. Before long Sam will be taking his turn at the wheel and I'll be doing even more gazing at the countryside as it slides by.

Coming home from church last Sunday, I told Chris to stray from the usual route. Sam knew where we were going and before long Chris, a reluctant angler, let out a groan. He pulled the car over as instructed when we got to the pond.

Read the rest of the story at Hatch Magazine.

I'm going to be writing a story once a week for Hatch Magazine the next month or so. I'll publish links to that story here each week. 

Monday, May 12, 2014

Buckingham to Long Eddy

I've often thought that owning a drift boat would make my angling life complete. Roaming the Housatonic, Delaware and Deerfield I would fish the sweetest spots on these storied waters. I would secretly smirk as I dropped anchor mere yards from eager, rising fish out of reach of those wading the far bank. I would grant boarding privileges to dear friends and angling's royalty and deny the hangers on and pretenders.

Of course the reality of owning a boat, even something as low maintenance as a drift boat, is a whole other matter. And I probably wouldn’t get out all that much. And I'd have to arrange a shuttle. And whacking a keyboard doesn't really prepare you for rowing a boat all day; my buttery smooth hands would get rough and calloused. And I don't have that many friends (though I suspect I would make new ones with two empty seats to fill).......

Read the rest at Hatch Magazine

I write a weekly piece over at Hatch Magazine.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014


Spring can be cruel. After a long winter of desperation our need to wander in the water can be foiled by her swollen clouds clinging to hillsides dispensing valley filling deluges. We complain about this bounty of water but if she shirks her role we'll be bitching come August. Always the trade offs.

Saturday night rain pounded on the skylight telegraphing the state of rivers come morning. Sure enough, the gage reported Sunday's river at twice normal size and it looked to be getting bigger. The Sunday sky, clear at dawn, by noon was spitting a preamble to the showers we'll see all week....

Read the rest of the story at Hatch Magazine

I'm going to be writing a story once a week for Hatch Magazine the next month or so. I'll publish links to that story here each week.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Size 12s

I never stop fishing for trout. Closing day. Opening day. The season's milestones hold little meaning in a state where there is a generous open season and many options during the brief off season. Even in the depths of winter, when the fishing yields little catching, the lure of the water draws me if for no other reason that to revisit the places where rising trout slashed at bugs and came to hand with abundance when the water was warmer and the air was thick.

Spring is late this year. There have been frosts well into April and it's almost Easter and the forsythia are not yet in full bloom. The peepers have started but their songs but are not yet at max volume. Good fishing is coming, just not fast enough.....

Read the rest at Hatch Magazine

I'm going to be writing a story once a week for Hatch Magazine during the next two months. I'll publish links to that story here each week.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Wednesday, April 16, 2014


I found this at the bottom of a run. My egg patterns are much too small.

In need more Chartreuse Mcfly Foam

Monday, April 14, 2014

Taxman Cometh

I finished up my taxes a short while ago. I should have been done earlier today but I played a bit of hookie.

Last night I attended the Mianus TU chapter's fund raising banquet. I won a new Orvis Superfine Glass rod and it came complete with a reel and line -- ready to go for the water. I swear they auction these things off like that just so you'll be compelled to fish the next day.

I returned to a small stream that had a fish kill last year. It used to be thick with wild trout and I wanted to see if any had migrated back in. I was in luck. Two fish took a swipe at my fly and one came to hand. Further upstream, above the kill, the trout were numerous and eager but I was especially encouraged that the blighted section was making a comeback. There may be hope for the human race after all.

And that new glass rod, my first, casts like a charm.

Monday, March 31, 2014

When a guy walks into a fly shop....

Asshats don't catch nice trout

....he should not be an asshat.*/**

I've given fly shop owners a hard time now and again for their lack of customer service. I think it's a fair complaint and one that certainly has struck a chord with fly shop customers. I get more traffic and comments related to fly shop posts than most anything related to actual fishing. Maybe that also says something about my skills as an angler.

One of the great challenges of owning a shop is beating the competition. This used to be a simple matter of knowing who was upstream or downstream of you. But the internet has stomped into town and made things cheap and abundant and easy to get without going outdoors to prepare for one's outdoor sports.

Just last week I noticed I was getting low on Comparadun hair. I suppose I could have driven an hour or so to the nearest fly shop on the off chance that it would have something in stock. I could even have called ahead to check stock before I showed up. But the internet has made it easy. Sadly, the sample of Comparadun hair that arrived was substandard. The hairs are all very short, not good for anything bigger than #16.

HRO. One of the better ones.
The prime difference in shopping experience between a fly shop and the internet*** is the ability to fondle the goods. With something variable, like deer hair, if I want what the shop has I have to buy it from the shop. I can't scope out the best feathers or hair and then expect to get something identical from the intertubes.

But when it comes to mass produced items - rods, waders, boots, etc. - one can fondle locally but purchase globally. Now this behavior isn't unique to fly shops. I've walked into Best Buy, fondled the goods then scoped out the web for the best price; sometimes right in the store.**** More often than not the best price is from Best Buy or some other big box retailer. I don't feel so bad doing this with large retailers because that's the game these guys play.+

But I think it's a different game when you do this to a small retailer. Sure, they've signed up for the Russian Roulette of Capitalism, but the game is much different for the small guys. Volumes are low. Margins are slim. Cheating them of a well earned sale is cold. If you walk into a shop, scope out the goods, take the rod for a test drive, make the clerk answer twenty questions and then go buy on the internet to save a few beans, then you're an asshat.

Shop owners aren't operating a charity and they don't get commission when some other guy rings the register. If you take the time to visit the shop and scope out the goods, then you should dance with them that brung ya. Heck, amortize those internet savings over the number of fishing trips you're going to have during the lifetime of the product and you're probably talking about chump change per trip.

Shop on the internet or shop in a shop. But don't showroom. Showroomers are asshats.++ Don't be an asshat.

* Gals can be asshats too
** I was tempted to use the term "douchebag" in this article but restrained myself because it is too vulgar for family audiences. I do, however, love how the word feels rolling off the tongue.
*** Well, besides the generally apathetic sales force.
**** Referred to by professionals as "showrooming"
+ At least that's what I tell myself.
++ Except for the previously mentioned exclusion

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Monday, March 24, 2014

So Damn Close

The calendar lies. It speaks of Spring and that bullshit about out like a friggin' lamb but the thermometer is spot on. Thirty-two degrees and heading south.

I was tricked into feeling the joy of the coming season last week. When I left a meeting Wednesday night fat rain drops were steadily falling. I was almost giddy with delight at the absence of gently swirling snow. Over the next few days air temperatures taunted my misery melting the last of the snow cover. Piles still sit below the eaves and in places where the sun can't burn it to nothing but the end of grubby snow is here.

Except for tomorrow. One last jab from the menace.

Two Saturday's ago I swung a purple Wooley Bugger in muddy flow. The melt had just begun and road sand coupled with farmland tailings made it difficult to see much of anything beneath the surface. It was one of those days that less infected individuals were sitting by the fire. But I am deeply affected and tired of sitting. I inhaled deeply the odor of the striped one and was as satisfied as a mad man.

Suffering through the week's toil I escaped on the Sabbath for something that my hopeful brain phrased a scouting trip though I knew it was more. The muscles of my forearm had forgotten the pressure applied through three yards of graphite and I desired a refresher. 

I hiked water I had not fished before spying those places we all recognize. This thin ribbon on a map, no more than three strides measured by cleated boots, displayed little though I did catch glimpses of a few sleek objects balanced on splayed wings edged in white. They knew my game and were not playing.

Twenty degrees. And falling. I can feel the freezing water. In my bones. At the bottom of the stream, anticipation. Ready to spring forth as soon as the unknowables align.

This shit has to stop. Soon.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Bad math

"Ten, maybe fifteen, pounds of salmonid on three-pounds of floro. That’s bad math."

I wish I was in this math class. Check Mike's report. I bet Marc's knees are still shaking.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Book Review: Flies for the Greater Yellowstone Area by Bruce Staples

I won't be getting out to Yellowstone this year. After three blessed years of wandering the greater Yellowstone area a variety of events have conspired to keep me elsewhere this year. I will still savor memories of tight lines in the pocket water of the Lamar, casting between willow lined banks on trickles in the back country and otherwise staring slack jawed at the majesty of the place.

As part of my Yellowstone therapy I'm already plotting next year's return. One the things I realized by wandering the fly bins in West Yellowstone fly shops is that they do things differently out there. Hoppers are much more important than they are here in the east so the number and variety are stunning. And even the familiar bugs, Drakes for example, are different patterns than you'd find in a shop in Pennsylvania.

The folks over at Stackpole sent me a copy of Bruce Staples, Flies for the Greater Yellowstone Area ($29.95, $23.75 Amazon, $14.99 Kindle) This book is just what is says it is, fly patterns for the Yellowstone area.

This isn't a "how to tie it" sort of book. It's a pattern book. 220 pages of patterns. Each pattern has a paragraph or two with a wide variety of commentary. Some of it is the "why" of the pattern. There's some "where to" and some recommendations on variations that work.

The book is organized into roughly bug-based sections: Caddis, Stonefly Mayfly, Damselflies (or Dasmelflies), True Flies, Scud/Shrimp with sections on Streamers, Terrestrials, Worms and Vertebrates and Attractors.

The variety of patterns is stunning. When you have this many patterns, some of it feels like variety for variety's sake. But much of it leaves you thinking "yeah, that could work" and digging through your materials for something that matches.

The challenge of the practical application of this book is that when you put together 220 pages of patterns with a land mass the size of "the Greater Yellowstone Area" it's much like walking into a fly shop with 300 fly bins and try to figure out where to start.

So, I see this book as a great place to match pre-trip intel (river + hatches + fishing reports/ tall tale factor) with some patterns that might be found effective on the water.

I also like about this book because of the stunning variety of patterns. The combinations of materials and styles gets the fly tying juices flowing. Already I'm thinking of a version of a cripple emerger I tie that might be better with a CDC wing instead of a deer hair wing.

And these flies aren't just for Yellowstone. I cleaned up one afternoon using a yellow sally on a small river in the Blue Ridge foothills and there's a yellow sally pattern in the book that I'll tie for later this season.

If you're looking for ideas for patterns, this is a great place to start. And if you're lucky enough to be heading out Yellowstone way this year, well, get tying.

Full Disclosure: Stackpole Books sent me the book free of charge for review.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

A dearth of me

Bloody Bastard. Courtesy of Me.
My buddy TJ Brayshaw has posited that once one has twice achieved success in a given arena one has achieved sufficient expertise to counsel others with authority. I cannot deny that his logic leaves an indelible impression upon the mind. It is both mystifying and liberating at the same time; the explication of the profundity of angling expertise on the intertubes is at once revealed.

Last November I missed a trip to Pulaski, New York. It was an annual event that I missed for the first time in two years. During my absence an otherwise mundane journey turned into the most successful Steelhead trip in recorded memory. Not only were the fish numerous, but they were large and strong and firm and brightly colored. Nickels and Kardashians were by comparison dull. Tales of this epic will be told for years to come. I'll be sitting on the sidelines nodding and smiling wanly as the stories are retold. I will pretend that I understand one iota of the awesomeness that I missed. I will be wrong.

As I pondered my misfortune through the bleak, frigid days of the season I wondered if there was anything to be taken away from this. I even ventured to the water myself to try and find some connection. I couldn't. There wasn't.

As the year turned I received another invitation. This time to journey to the Blue Ridge to find a connection to mild weather, flowing water and brook trout as long as your arm. But as a minion I was not able to sever the strings. The clan gathered and they drank their shine and fished lines in the mists of waters curling around hillocks smooth and firm like the Kardashians while I dialed into conference calls.

The first text I received about this trip seemed to be error of auto-erection. Sitting around the fire, sipping shine and bourbon the host passed to me a story told in less than one hundred and forty characters of brook trout exceeding eighteen inches. It was too fantastical to comprehend and I fell asleep pondering such mystical creatures.
Grrrr..... You're welcome

The next morning, I was awoken from a mid-meeting doze by the urgent buzzing of my smart device. This genie beckoned me and taunted me with the news of a rainbow trout measuring thirty-five inches. I swore that I was bewitched by some demon of labor. Yet the characters told of the insufficiency of brodin and 6x and of the escape of the beast. Surely this was a tale from Quill Gordon or Twain! The story was repeated yet still I doubted. But the words and the emotion and the certainty eventually led me to believe that it was, disturbingly, true. Epic fishing, alone a grail, had been eclipsed by the discovery of the Castle Anthrax and its willing inhabitants.

And I wailed at the injustice and doubly painful pain.

Until the argent fringe was revealed.

In my absence I had twice granted bounty which was unexpected and undeserved and yet it did manifest itself. There can be no explanation other than my expertise in the matter of the dearth of me and its effect on angling success.

I am unavailable for your next adventure. I await your invitation. And your gratitude.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Ten bucks and a taco

UPDATE: The website seems to be a pit pokey due to volume of users. Don't give up if you don't get in. Give it a try a bit later. Also, you don't need to post below to get entered into the drawing. As long as you allow TU to see your contact info, you'll be entered into the drawing.

An odd title for a post to be sure.

What it is, is a request. For ten bucks. Not for me. For them. And you can get a chance to win a Simms taco!

There's a online fund raiser going on today, Friday, March 7th and only today.

This fund raiser is unique. Bank of America and the Fairfield County Community Foundation provide prizes and matching grants to organizations that reach certain milestones. Most of those awards, up to $25,000, reward the number of donations gathered, not the dollar amount. That's where your $10 comes in.

You can help the Candlewood Valley Chapter of Trout Unlimited continue to provide the regions largest Trout in the Classroom program (31 tanks, 1,000+ kids), Youth Education Day, and conservation programs with a donation of $10. I think we can easily win the $1,000 matching grant. The bigger grants are within reach as well. But only if you help.

If you can spare $10 for a great cause, you'll make a lot of kids happy. And maybe you'll put a smile on your own face. And, I'll enter you in a raffle for one of the most innovative products to come out of the Simms laboratories: The Headwaters Taco Bag.

First, give ten bucks. It has to be today.

Second, let me now that you've given ten bucks by putting your full name (or first name and zip code) in the comments section below. I need some info to match with the donation records. I'll pick a winner at random on Saturday.

Thanks for your help!

No, you don't get waders and boots too. It's illustrative, dammit!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Good day! I said, good day!

Even as an adult, I approach an early season snow storm with a bit of wonder. It's probably nostalgia. I also think that it gives purpose to the cold weather. And the white makes the gray of winter a little less shabby.

It's March. My wonder and nostalgia are gone. This weekend's storm, named by sensationalist morons at the Weather Channel, will pass to our south. Flurries today. Less than an inch overnight.

Good day, Winter. You are dismissed.

Friday, February 28, 2014


Watch any Frontside Fly video and you are struck by the sheer joy that these anglers have for the sport and the adventure.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Trout in the Classroom

Trout Unlimited does many good deeds out and about to improve habitat and water quality but perhaps the most important mission is where they reach out to children -- in youth education experiences and more broadly in the Trout in the Classroom programs.

Kit Kechejian, the TIC leader for the Candlewood Valley chapter of Trout Unlimited, put together this quick overview of the the TIC program. Great stuff.

If you have the opportunity to get involved in TU's youth programs, I highly recommend it. It's the next generation of our river's stewards.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Hatch Mag: The Scale of Shale

An excellent article about shale gas drilling in Pennsylvania by Chad Shmukler over at Hatch Mag. The article takes a look at the simple magnitude of these operations without getting wrapped up in the impact. Chad also observes that he was not as informed as he could have been on the scale of these things. A keen message for all of us who have interests on myriad issues. Being well informed is the first step.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

On a winter's day

Like much of the country, Connecticut has been consistently colder lately. Rarely does the temperature get north of freezing and that means that the regular snows, most modest in depth, accumulate and linger. Old snow normally acquires a patina after a few days. The grayness of winter seems to inject itself even into this thing that is at first so pure. There's no magic though. Much like southern streams befouled with ash and advanced industrial chemistry, old snow accumulates the poison of modern society. Soot and dust spewed from smokestacks and tailpipes eventually settles downwind and New England is downwind from most everywhere in the United States. Add some sandy, salty crust along the road's margins and snow rapidly becomes less magical than it was when it first fell. Not this year, though. Every few days we get another couple of inches and the snow looks as fresh as I imagine it would be on the flanks of the Rockies.

In the heat of summer the flood plain of the Farmington River is thick with growth. Native and invasive species guard the flanks with thorny, twisted branches that bites skin, tears at cloth and snags line and leader. Just getting to the water's edge can be an adventure unless one takes well established paths. Of course, the waters at path's end are common. One has avoided the snarls but has achieved what one has earned.

In winter, the landscape is cleansed. Above the clean plane of snow the dried. leafless tentacles look impotent. The way seems clear. But it is a mirage. The shimmering whiteness lures you to something that is much more that it seems. Beneath the surface lurk all the obstacles of the past. Your eagerness blinds your mind to the risk. But it is there, perhaps more so than in the opposite season.

I drove a mile or two of the river on Sunday. The roads were poorly plowed and the only parking spots available were those where snow mobilers and cross-country skiers gathered. I had scouted some new water on satellite photos but nearby parking was impossible. At best I would risk the attention of law enforcement. At worst, some yahoo would sideswipe the car. Glad for deeply grooved snow tires I found a spot to park with the winter enthusiasts.

Despite the immanence of being knee deep in moving water, I suited up hesitantly. The water at the far side of the valley was good water, water that I had fished before. For some reason my inability to get to the new water disturbed me disproportionately to my anticipation. There was no pent up expectation, it was a plan hatched shortly before I got in the car, yet I felt deeply denied. Hell, I wasn't even sure if there were fish there or if they would eat. It was hunch based upon rumor but still I was annoyed. Fortunately, ritual turned the mood. The donning of the vestments brought me back to where I needed to be and turned me in the right direction.

Buffs are sexy.
On some parts of the river the valley's walls draw twilight sooner during the winter months but this broader section remained well lit by afternoon sun. The sharp angles of the light added depth and drama to the landscape that could easily be stark. A deceptively alluring straight line ran from the car to the river's edge. There were no tracks before me to follow and I managed to find what ended up feeling like the most difficult route.

Just shy of the water's edge I wedged my toe under an unseen log and took a fall. I fell back on my ass but my legs landed in a tangle which made it difficult to regain my feet. Though relieved to have not broken my rod or twisted a body part unnaturally, I felt quite foolish and was glad to have been alone in my indignity. Sitting in eighteen inches of snow I floundered a bit before I grabbed one of those slight twigs poking above the snow. It was startling how this wisp of additional leverage allowed me to regain my feet and take the final steps into the river. Small things matter.

The water wasn't as cold as I expected but the wind was another thing. It blew steady over my upstream shoulder turning discomfort into something worse. I cast down and across to avoid the wind on my face and the foil to my cast. With my back to the chill, I fished up through the run. It's a spot that has a late spring Sulphur hatch that is memorable year after year. The best that could be found in the dead of winter are small caddis and midges, but they were absent. My nymphs remained untouched.

On the way back down I swung a wooley bugger on a sinking line. It was a desperate move that has saved the day in the past. Sunday was not one of those days. I fished down further trying to stoke a bit of hope into something real. Burning through a second cigar I succumbed to the reality that this day was meant to be one of those days.

The walk back to the car was slower and more deliberate than the earlier stroll. I meandered a bit and found a way that was less taxing. Though I lacked the satisfaction of fish fooled, I savored the walk. Time on the water had again proven worthwhile. While the layers of life's burdens had not been removed, they had been covered, at least for a time, with something fresh and bright.

First trout of February. But that's another story.