Monday, October 19, 2009

Rationalization or Mosquito Management?

I have taken to smoking cigars while fly fishing nowadays.

Cohiba, Romeo y Julieta, Punch… makes no difference… just a nice fat smoky stogie!

I tell my wife this is actually an important “mosquito management” technique that works well with ticks and other dangerous critters… no self respecting member of the wild animal kingdom wants to stick around for an exoskeleton-popping or fur-burning forest blaze.

She’s a city kid so that line worked pretty good… Problem is, I’m not usually one for inviting trouble, especially the carcinogenic esophagus-rotting type, but now I find myself buying my own Bull-Hooey.

The way I figure it, it’s a long and short term play… trade the potential of mouth/throat cancer when I’m 80 for today’s immediate threat of Lyme disease, West Nile or… who knows maybe even Dengue fever!

Yea… it’s a bit of a stretch but it’s good enough for getting out the guillotine and preparing that next smoke.

Though I have to wonder if this is a slippery slope of sorts… what's next?... bottles of Jim Beam just in case I need something to brandish should I face an attack of Mexican bandits… or possibly cheap hookers to keep certain of my bits free from frost-bite.

Anyhow… anyone else light up under the same pretenses and if so… does it really keep the skeeters at bay?

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Some Recent Purchases

Ok, I must be totally hooked (or re-hooked) so to speak because I’m spending money like a drunken sailor.

First, after flicking a couple of those ugly and filthy little piece of crap ticks off my legs I decided to get me some good, quality waders.

I did some light research and decided that Cabela’s Guide Tech Dry Plus Bootfoot was likely the best value keeping in mind that with my rough skills at wading and hiking, I would likely put some substantial ware on them.

I can beat them up real good and if they eventually rip beyond what I can repair, they weren’t so expensive that I would feel bad about junking them and getting a new pair.

So far the waders are really great. They are light and have a built in pouch which still fits with my want of travelling light.

Also, I got a couple of pieces of Cabela’s Bug Skinz clothing… a shirt and a hood to be exact and I have to say… this stuff is really great.

It really is like having another, mosquito proof, layer of skin. It’s adds no heat… and wicks away sweat so you don’t even know it’s there and you can simple wear your normal cloths over the top of it.

No more bug spray!

Finally, I just came back from a trip up to Maine and while I was there, I stopped by at LL Bean in Freeport , and I was simply compelled to get a complete salt water/salmon fishing fly rod and reel setup!

I got their Streamlight outfit including a 9 foot 8 weight Streamlight rod, a Streamlight Large Arbor Real, Streamlight line and a hard travel case for $199!

I know this is probably a starter quality rod-reel combo but I have never done any salt water fly fishing so I doubt I could tell the difference in rod quality not to mention that I have only ever used my cheapo Cortland fly rod for Trout fishing so I’m not very picky.

While I was at it, I picked up a stripping basket and a whole bunch of nice saltwater flies as well.

I haven’t even gotten a chance to use the salt water setup which hopefully I’ll do in the next few days when I go chasing some Strippers… Ill report back any good or bad news.

Well, I better get back to work so I can pay for some of this splurging!

Monday, June 25, 2007

Out Out Dam Beaver

Here’s a troubling scenario that I encountered on my last trip out to the Stillwater and with any luck, you’ll offer some advice to make my next trip more successful.

I came to one of the best pools on the stretch of river I have been fishing lately and noticed, somewhat surprisingly, that its size had swelled, even though the general water level in the river has been steadily falling.

Initially, I thought “Yippy!” as this pool had already been a productive hotspot and now with the deeper water seemed to be all but guaranteed to hold some fat Trout.

Then I noticed him.

Staying mostly submerged with his beady eyed bucktoothed snout staring from the middle of the pool, occasionally flipping about above and below the surface.

I had stumbled across the Busy Beaver.

Investigating a bit I now recognized that I was standing right next to a new and well crafted dam that was clogging up the river flow and backing water up significantly.

My first I thought was that this might make for some really good fishing but then, he noticed me.

His mannerisms seemed to say “Bring it on Bitch!”

So, not wanting to end up in a tussle over fishing rights with a lower mammal who I knew for a fact could easily chew off one of my legs, I decided to hop ashore and hike around the rodent paradise.

Unfortunately, this detour sort of threw off my momentum requiring longer than I expected to find another entry point and leaving me in riffle when I was set to fish a flat pool.

It was getting dark and I had difficulty changing flies, all told, I likely lost over 20 minutes.

The question is… Did I do the right thing in avoiding the Beaver and if not, what have others done?

Is it safe to simply start fishing a pool where a large and possibly territorial Beaver is plainly in sight?

As always, thanks in advance for your response.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Rodding The Stillwater (A Slight Return)

I was able to get back out to the Stillwater (see my previous post on the river, it’s location etc.) last Sunday afternoon and what a great experience it was.

I started out by hiking down river quite a way in hopes of starting as far downstream as I could and fishing the river all the way upstream to the bridge on Dana Hill Road.

Falling back on a prior winning pattern, I tied on a Woolly Bugger and switched between fishing it like a dry and wet fly through a long shallow riffle section.

Things weren’t going well.

Not a single hit even after wading over a 100 yards and through two good pools where I had taken Trout on the last outing.

I was thinking maybe the water level was too low, it was much lower than the last time I was at the river, or maybe it was too warm. I panicked a bit.

I didn’t want to get skunked knowing that I could easily drive to the Millers River and fish a more well known Trout stream.

I came to the third and largest pool on that stretch of the river and I was about to hop from the river and b-line it to the car.

Then it occurred to me. “I’m just fishing this friggin' Bugger… it’s not working. Why not change it!”

I decided to use this opportunity to try my hand at nymphing for the very first time.

Fortunately, last time I was at the fly shop, I picked up a couple of Hares Ears and a Pheasant Tail for just this occasion.

I tied on the Pheasant Tail and casted directly into the fast moving water that was heading into the head of the pool.

The fly sunk immediately and I attempted to fish exactly as I would a dry fly, stripping line and watching very carefully for any sudden unusual movements of to the section of line that met the tippet.

Sure enough the line stalled for a microsecond and I quickly gave the line a good set.

Fish on!

I was stunned. It was a good size fish with some strong pulling and thrashing about under the water.

When I eventually landed him I was pleased to see I good size, 8-10” Rainbow Trout (pictured poorly below) and this time, he didn’t hop off while I was removing the hook.

I kept on nymphing and while working away I noticed some fairly sizable flashes of fish sides in the pool.

It appeared to me that a fish was actively feeding, occasionally turning to its side while scurrying over and across the pool.

Then, a few more casts and BAM!

Another sizeable fish although as I got closer to landing this one, I could see that it was not a Trout.

Instead, it was my good friend the Bass.

Now, I’m not certain what type of Bass this was though. Largemouth, Smallmouth, Spotted? I don’t know but below is a rough video clip I took and if you know what it was, please let me know.

Next, feeling more confident that the river was truly worthy of sticking with, I waded up stream to the next pool and continued nymphing.

Again, success.

First, a nice size Brook Trout then another nice Rainbow.

I waded still further and continued nymphing but by now my Pheasant Tail was looking really ragged and beat and eventually got hung up on a tree and ruined a nice pool when I had to wade right through the middle in order to get the fly off.

I decided to retire the nymph and try to do some dry fly fishing as the river was now getting much smaller with very shallow water.

I tied on what I can only describe as an Adams tied with a Muddler Minnow-like body.

I cast directly into a fairly fast moving broker riffle at the head of the pool I had just fouled.


Some crazy little insane fish was now flying out of the water feet into the air.

This was no Chub… and I could see during its brief flights that it had a series of light round marks on its side.

It reminded me of images of immature Brook Trout that I had seen so I assumed that’s what it was although having talked to the guy at the local fly shop, I now think it may have possibly been a Landlocked Salmon Fry.

Unfortunately my crappo cell phone camera was dead so no pics… next time Ill be sure to bring a digital camera and get some good shots.

Well I proceeded to land another five or six more of those little buggers, all about 3 – 6” and all completely crazy.

One thing though, I think I may have been using too large a fly for this size fish (a 12) as they were being hooked in unusual ways. Next time I will use some newly purchased 16 and 18s instead.

At this point, I was starting to get kind of tired but I was committed to getting to the bridge and then walking back to my car by way of the road so I continued on fishing the now very productive Muddler-like Adams.

I came to a really nice looking run that was swift and smooth with large overhanging ledges where the water cut into the bank.

I cast a few times over the sight of a rise that I had caught out of the corner of my eye.


Now this was a really nice fish. Very active and strong… no breeder but easily the largest fish of the day.

After making doubly sure that the hook was set I proceeded to land him to find that I had caught a really nice, roughly 10” Brown Trout.

What a great river! Not a sole fishing it and seemingly loaded with nice Trout.

Well I continued on my way, hiking a bit, all the way to the bridge, walked back to the car, filled out the Trout Unlimited catch report and was off very satisfied that I was now thoroughly back in action.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Stand Up Boat Rodding?

I’ve been thinking about how great it would be if I could easily get out on some of the ponds, lakes and flats around New England to do some fly rodding.

I remember back in the 80s reading in the fly fishing magazines about using a float tube and although it certainly looked interesting, it seemed to be somewhat unnatural.

You’re submerged up to your midsection and have paddles on your feet, not to mention the fact that you have to inflate the thing and walk to the water looking like some delinquent baby huey.

Possibly if I tried it I might feel different, but still, I would rather use something more boat like where I could stand comfortably and cast similarly to the way I do in a stream.

A small boat or canoe might work but neither is easy to transport and both may lack the true stability required for fly fishing with all its false casting.

Well, I recently did a little Googling around and sure enough there is a local manufacturer of an extremely interesting twin-hull kayak that seems like it is exactly perfect for stand up fly fishing.

Called the WaveWalk Fishing Kayak, it’s uniquely stable and portable platform that, weighing in at a mere 56 pounds, can be strapped to your car top and launched with ease.

It’s like having a large pair of magic floating boots!

Watch the following video and see for yourself.

There are a host of other interesting videos posted at the WaveWalk website some showing the craft being demoed and some even highlight it’s use in the ocean with breaking surf!

It’s a bit pricy, around $1000 for one with a couple of built in rod holders but since this thing doubles for a two person (or one adult and two little kids) kayak, it may justify the expense.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Fish Killer

San Diego, usually know for its near-idyllic sunny climate and pristine beaches was rocked on Saturday after Lifeguards discovered the body of an 150 pound endangered giant black sea bass, impaled on a spear, floating off the coast of Windansea Beach.

Authorities have ruled out suicide and, having created a profile (see above artist rendering), say they are searching for a single male Caucasian spear fisherman, in his mid 20s or early 30s who may harbor unusual animosity towards the species and have expressed so publicly.

This is the third in a disturbing series of violent acts perpetrated towards giant black sea bass coming only a day after several local men fishing off the coast of Catalina Island accidentally caught one victim who is now, fortunately, recovering from his wounds.

In 2005, three men were also charged in the senseless shooting of another La Jolla victim who wasn’t so fortunate.

Officials are asking that any information that might lead to the capture and subsequent arrest of the killer be brought to their attention and that the wider community of giant black sea bass should stay vigilant and alert but not overly concerned as stepped up police presence should act to deter further violence.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Rodding the Stillwater

Last Friday I managed to make my way over to the Stillwater, a small river that runs through Sterling Massachusetts.

Originally, I had intended to fish the nearby and better know Quinapoxet River that flows through Holden but decided against it after actually laying eyes on it, and witnessing it’s small size and overhanging trees and other growth.

Don’t get me wrong, the Quinapoxet looks like an amazing river, especially if you like fishing for those frisky little wild Brookies but I really didn’t feel confident that, at this point, I had the skill needed to fish it.

It seemed to me that I would likely spend the majority of my time either untangling my fly from the bush or scaring off prospective fish with my clumsy wading.

I still need a bit more practice on casting, technique and approach for the “Quinni” but someday soon Ill surely make it a destination.

The Stillwater, which is just up the road from the Quinapoxet, is quite a bit larger and has very easy access from John Dee Road in Sterling which runs parallel to it for a stretch.

It also has lots of casting room and was generally easy to wade given its depth the speed of the flow.

Another attractive aspect of the Stillwater is that, as a feeder stream of the Wachusett reservoir, it routinely serves as a destination for spawning landlocked Salmon during the Fall and apparently holds a large population of smolt Salmon that can be readily caught anytime.

After arriving at the river and seeing the easy access, I decided to simply tie on a Wooly Bugger, find some riffle and start wading upstream.

My first cast was to a small eddy near a large rock on the side of a fairly active and broken stretch of riffle.


To my surprise, it was immediately taken and I instantly had a fish on without even needing to set the hook!

After retrieving the small but vigorously fighting little bugger I was pleased to see that it was a wild Brookie roughly 5-6 inches packed with attitude.

Unfortunately, I was unable to get a snapshot as he hopped out of my hand while I was unhooking him reminding me again why I need to purchase a net.

Oh well, at least this Trout was “in hand” for a time leaving me feeling even more assured of my rusty fishing skills.

After that I worked my way about fifty yards to a slow moving pool “woolly bugging” all the way without a single hit.

At the pool though I noticed some really small rising fish and after ten or twelve really frustrating missed hits I managed to hook one.

I could feel that it was really small and I was thinking “Baby Salmon… another Brookie!”

Then I landed the little miscreant and he looked Trout-like yet no color, and a funny mouth.

Then while I was unhooking him, he started to chirp and crapped in my hand! Yuck!

Turns out he was a little Chub and that the river had loads of them.

I suppose a fish is a fish but I think the crapping part really makes the Chub a fish I would like to avoid.

Anyhow, I was able to notice their activities and steer clear of them for the rest of the visit.

Next, I decided to try my hand at actually using the Wooly Bugger with a wet fly technique as, up to this time, I had been using it like a dry fly.

I cast across a deep section at the head of the Chub pool and let it drift down with the river.

Almost immediately I felt a strong tug on the line which I promptly answered with a good tug of my own and felt a nice fighting fish on.

After a good skirmish, I had in hand a nice 10-12 inch Rainbow!

After that, I waded a bit longer, two or three more pools, got scared out of my wits by an adult Beaver swimming right next to my feet, changed between a Caddis pattern and the Bugger but saw no more activity.

I started to get a bit tired and it was getting late so I decided to pack it in and resolved to do a bit more reading on how to nymph and properly use wet flies so that I can add a little dimension to my tactics.

At the moment, I’m still a bit of a one trick pony whose experience mostly hinges on using the dry fly but now it seems obvious that if fish aren’t actively rising, you need to fish below the surface which I’m simply not skilled at.

On the way back home, I stopped at my local fly shop and picked up some nymphs and some more wet flies as well as getting some books on fly fishing and specifically on fishing nymphs.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

I’ll Drink To That!

Ahh… Nothing says “clean and fresh” like the imagery of the Trout.

The literal “canary in the coal mine” of freshwater streams and waterways all across our nation, the Trout, as a symbol of clean livin’ nature, has taken on iconic status among anglers and the popular culture alike.

If there are holdover Trout in the stream, you can rest assured that it’s a reasonably clean and healthy piece of water.

Put em’ on a label, and he sells crisp and refreshing products with an ease that would make the Poland Spring bear viciously jealous.

To that end, a popular Montana microbrewer, Bayern Brewery, has decided to change the name of their “Trout Slayer” light wheat ale, a stalwart product for the company, to the more fish friendly “Dancing Trout” and Easy Rodder could not possibly support the re-branding effort more.

Where “Trout Slayer” conveyed the imagery of some Sh#t-faced backwoodsy lush, busting through the bar doors all ready to teach some unsuspecting stream critters who wears the pants in this phylum, the “Dancing Trout” embracing the true frolicking and happy nature of this wonderful fish.

Better yet, Bayern has decided to donate a portion of the new brand's proceeds to the Montana chapter of Trout Unlimited in an effort to heal any rift that may have been created by this indiscretion.

You know, I’ve long pondered how wonderful life would be if I could step up to a bar, relax, order a favorite brew, and engage a human sized and sociable Trout, in polite conversation, a game of backgammon and possibly a slow dance or two.

I’m not entirely certain where things would go from there, but I do know that Bayern Brewery has taken a significant step in enhancing human-Trout relations.

Please let the brewery know of your approval of their latest efforts and let them know that Cahill sent you!

Tuesday, June 5, 2007


Man alive! What are they feeding the fish in this lake?

There must be some kind of nymph dispensers under there somewhere to allow these gluttonous fat boys to grow to such a tubby state with minimum effort.

I’m not sure how I should think of this fish… finely trained mega-athlete ready for a fight or grotesquely flabby plumper wheezing through its gills.

Either way, I guess the hookup was quite a shock… The lucky angler must have thought he had a stump or worse yet, a body!

I wonder if I would stick to my catch-and-release policy if I hooked that oaf.

Keep him and you’d be eating on that lug for quite some time.

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Back In The Saddle Again!

Well it’s been a good 20 “some odd” years now since I’ve done any Trout fishing… err… come to think of it… any significant freshwater fishing whatsoever so I thought I might start a journal chronicling my foray back to the dry fly.

When I was a kid I spent endless hours skipping up, down and through the rivers and streams of northeastern New Jersey mostly hooking up Bass and Crappies (yes that’s a fish for you non-anglers not a “floater”) with the occasional outing west for Trout along the Raritan and Pequest rivers.

A few times I even managed to get out to the incredible Willowemoc in Roscoe New York for a helping of what “Trout Town USA” had to offer as well as making trips to the Battenkill in Vermont with my parents and to the Sierras, Yosimite and surrounding areas in California with my uncle and cousin.

I even went so far as to get deeply involved in the “black art” of tying flies but I should admit that this was mostly done as a means of cutting down on the costs of my poor backcasts.

Well, then things changed a bit.

First there was school, and then work, marriage, kids… the next thing I knew I was closing in on 40 and hadn’t seen the likes of the wily Trout for decades save for possibly the smoked buffet style sort.

Of course, I did practice some other forms of fishing during my respite from the Trout such as occasional bouts with “Striper Madness” and a crack at the Blues from time to time.

I shellfished during the summers regularly with my family on the Cape, and I even took up recreational Lobstering for a short time when I lived in Plymouth which eventually set me off on a long, still unresolved, period whereby I set myself to the task of concocting a technologically superior Lobster trap, but that’s a story for another day.

The point is, there was a discreet moment in time when me and the Trout cleanly parted ways with nay a hookup or even the mere sight of a rise for almost two decades.

Then it occurred to me, last Wednesday, like a clear strike of lightning ripping through an otherwise overcrowded and overtaxed mind.

“Sabe!!… Me workkee alone!” I grunted to myself, “Me boss now… If Me go away, half day, here e there to stream, no one notice… Me thinkee… Sabe!!”

Before you know it I had my old “cheapo” Cortland 7.5 foot rod re-rigged with some nice new 5 weight floating Orvis Trout line and a heap of dope from the local fly shop proprietor on where to go the next day I had free.

It wasn’t long after that, Friday as a matter of fact, that I made my way out to the nearest reputable Trout water, a stretch of the Millers River that runs from Orange to Erving Massachusetts and beyond.

When I arrived at Orange, I quickly decided, given my current state of inexperience, to choose an easy access point and not to get to experimental in wading long distances up stream.

The last thing I needed was to overestimate my fortitude against the current, slip and float unconscious through the old burnt out textile towns of western Massachusetts only to eventually become fodder for some beaver paradise.

Instead, I stuck to a single, simple and slow stretch of water behind the Orange Waste Water Treatment Facility situated along route 2A just outside of town.

At first, this didn’t sound like such an attractive site to kick off my heroic comeback but one quickly discovers, after entering the grounds just outside the facility, that the river is clean and well cared for just as had been noted at the local Trout Unlimited chapter website.

Friday was initially pretty warm and sunny and there were very few fish rising to the surface, maybe one or two rises, but seeing as I had lots to work to do merely reacquainting myself with casting, presentation, de-snagging and the like, I decided to wade a bit into the river and use a dry fly.

I started with a March Brown, worked on my casting a bit, and then, having no luck, moved on to a dark Caddis pattern partly for the color as well as simply for its buoyancy.

Sticking with the caddis I moved up and down the stretch of water, hitting what I had suspected as “hot spots”, under a train bridge that crossed the river, at the tail end and midsection of a nice smaller pool towards the head of the stretch, and back down into the broader flatter area where I had started out originally.

Well after some time I had managed to stabilize my cast and gained some sense of comfort with walking the river but still no hits.

I began to wish that I had brought some wet flies as well as how great it would be if I learned how to nymph as I suspected that there was probably plenty of activity going on below the surface.

It had always been apparent to me that an overhead midday sun was a great deterrent to surface feeding and this day seemed to support that notion.

Also, there was a tremendous amount of what I can only describe as “fluffiness” floating into the stream from, I’m assuming, the trees or some local plant or bush that had me wondering how these fish ever get a square meal without incurring a constant penalty of cotton mouth.

Trout are cleaver but dammed if I know how they are able to discern between a spent light colored mayfly, White Wulff, or one of these cottony puffies.

Eventually, I decided that the Caddis wasn’t working for me and remembered that at the fly shop, there was a sign posted indicating that the Wooly Bugger was currently a hot item on this river.

I skipped it initially as, to me; it just doesn’t look like any insect I know of.
Maybe it looks like the abdomen of some really dark and fuzzy dragonfly or a caterpillar that took a wrong step or, I guess, many wrong steps.

It’s just kind of unnatural plus all I had was a real fat #12.

I should also mention that I did not know at the time that the Wooly Bugger is technically a wet fly.

I tied it on and fished it like an oversized dry. My false casts were erratic… It was as if I had tied on a large wet Cheeto.

Well, I presented it about as well as I could and it landed with a large ugly plop which, to me honest surprise, was almost immediately answered by a strong and resounding hit!


Luckily I wasn’t so shocked as to forget to set the hook which I immediately did and then, feeling that he was likely a smallish 8 – 10 inches, settled in for a mostly leisurely retrieval.

I’ve never been one to simply jerk the fish out of the water as I have always thought, possibly wrongly so, that if I could run their energy down a bit, it would make it a lot easier for both me and the Trout when it came time to remove the hook.

I’m a “catch and release” type angler so I try very hard to return the fish as unharmed as can possibly be for a creature that has just been skewered through the lip and yanked from its homeland.

That said, I was letting the Trout run a bit, noting that it had a surprising amount of strength given its size, while slowly drawing it closer.

At about two to three feet from where I was standing and after getting a quick glance of it’s back and tail fin, but not long enough to determine rainbow from brown, he hopped off.

Poor me. :( Oh well. No biggie. ;)

At least I had him for a moment and anyway, what was I to expect from my first hookup in decades.

Next time, Ill just have to remember not to be so demure when setting the hook.

I have to say it felt really nice to have a Trout on and to know that I still had most of the basic fishing skills intact.

After that hookup I de-fouled the Bugger tried for a while longer but it was getting to be late afternoon and I still had a long ride back to Boston.

I left knowing that, although I hadn’t quite succeeded in completely landing a Trout, I was well on my way toward rekindling my love of fly fishing and would return soon with some new ideas and even greater optimism.