Saturday, August 27, 2011

Client Feedback

A few weeks ago I had a client that took me up on my Learn to Champlain Carp Special. Tim hooked 3 fish and soaked up everything that I taught him. I just received an email from him with a thank you. He was more than happy to let me share it with my readers:

Tim with a nice carp!
Hey Drew,
I hope all is well and that you are having some great late summer fishing. Attached is a picture of me and the carp I caught today. I wanted to make sure to send you the first picture. It was because of you and all of the great knowledge that you taught me that I was able to get this fish. It was really cool. As soon as I saw the fish I started to remember all of your teachings. Thank you so much! And I hope you know what a great job guiding that you do.

                                                                                     Tim O'Leary 

There are still some opportunities left for folks that want to learn how to carp still! The fishing can be good through September. I am hoping that Champlain doesn't get too messy with Hurricane Irene, but it should clear up quickly in any case. Hit me up, I want to teach you how to do this!

Friday, August 26, 2011

After School Special!

Pickerel are already on the bite and a ton of fun on the fly!
So the fall is upon us and I am back in school! I will still be available for weekend full day trips, but I still want to be able to get folks out for some awesome fall fishing on weekdays so I decided to run an after school special (not like those you used to see on ABC). There are quite a few spots to stalk pike, pickerel, bass, perch and others around the Burlington area and I would be happy to show you where and what to do. 

The deal will be from 4 until dusk in my canoe for $100- gear and flies provided. Not too bad! A great way to learn about some really fun fall fishing!

Butter yellow browns are happening now!
The other special I am running for the fall is chasing big browns. I love chasing  big wild trout in tight cover. I am offering a wade fishing trip for 6 hours for $200 (but bring your own waders). The fish are in the smaller streams right now staging for the spawn and I guarantee with a bit of water (which might just be heading our way) they will be up there in bigger numbers. Let me show you some techniques to chase these big, spooky fish.

And my appologies about the Friday Angler Interview this week, I just didn't pull it together in time. 

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Lake Champlain Permit

Such a cool lookin' fish!
So I am chasing one of the most difficult fish found in Lake Champlain. It gets big, can be pretty spooky at times, fights hard, and is extremely selective. The majority of its cousins live in saltwater and it is the only fish in the lake that has planktonic larvae.  They are one of the noisiest fish in the lake and when they spawn at night it sounds like thousands of bullfrogs underwater. This fishes' diet has made a huge shift in the past 20 years and now 2/3 of what it eats are zebra mussels which makes them very difficult to catch on a fly.

I landed a small individual the other day of about 23" and hooked up with another that was much larger, which came unbuttoned during the fight (causing great disappointment). I am back out after them this week after work.

Anyone know what the identity of the fish I call the Lake Champlain permit?

Monday, August 22, 2011

Great Press! Thanks Pat and Orvis News!

Pat with his first bowfin ever! (and certainly not his last!)
I have been pretty busy lately... and I will be a lot busier soon too! I just got a job at a school and start tomorrow! Not a teaching position (yet) but it keeps me working with kids... so not as much time on the water as I might like, but really looking forward to it.

Anyway, back to fishing... I got out yesterday with Pat Cohen, smallmouth fanatic and deer hair virtuoso. The weather was against us unfortunately... a lovely storm system rolled in during the course of the day. But why should I tell you about it when Pat has it all written up on his blog here:

Pat also put it up on the Anglers Net at the Albany Times Union website.

Check out the gar-ticle or hire me!

Never fear, Pat and I already have plans for a Lake Champlain Primitive Fish Hunt Redux... coming to Lake Champlain soon!

On another note... I wrote up a "Gar-ticle" for Orvis I give you the basics of chasing longnose gar on the fly. If you are interested in learning how to get after these ancient predators this is a good starting place for you! Or you could hire me to take you out after them... just sayin'!

I have been out for a lot of other things too... sheephead, perch, pickerel... more stories to be told... I will keep ya posted!  And I have a fall special I will be running too... let you know about that shortly!


Sunday, August 21, 2011

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Friday Angler Interview: Chris Lynch

Chris with a nice local 'bow
Chris Lynch manages and guides for Green Mountain Troutfitters in Jeffersonville, Vermont. I love going into the shop and shootin' the bull with him and shop owner Mike Kontos. Those guys have a great handle on the doings in the Lamoille River watershed (and beyond). Chris also has his NYS guiding license and offers some trips for steelhead during the hard water season here in the 802. If you are ever up in the Johnson/Jeffersonville area stop by and see these guys!

How did you get into fly fishing? 

I grew up in NY State and did a good amount of fishing as a kid in local reservoirs and bass ponds. I moved to VT in 1995 to attend Johnson State College and one of the first courses I enrolled in was a fly fishing course worth about a half credit. I attended the first couple of classes and was honestly bored to tears so I dropped the class from my schedule. Kind of ironic huh? Fly fishing seemed like a lot of fun but I had this slightly warped image from those first classroom experiences that made me question whether it was really for me. A couple years later, I ended up renting a house in Waterville, VT with Mike Kontos (owner/Troutfitters) and a few other folks. Mike was way into fly fishing and actually gave me my first casting lesson out on the lawn. This was way more my speed than learning about the sport in a classroom. From that point, I would routinely go down to the river and flail...and flail...and flail, until eventually the stars began to align, my casts got better, my knot tying got quicker, my presentations were getting better and better and low and behold, I was actually starting to catch fish! 

Do you remember your first fly fishing rig? 

Absolutely. It was a Browning Diana 8'/5 weight that I bought from Bob down at Fly Fish Vermont when he had his first shop in Stowe's Lower Village. I used that rig for a LONG time until it finally met its demise in the door of my truck as many long rods eventually do. I also purchased a float tube pretty early in my fly fishing game and used it a ton over those first few years. 

Conditions aside, what is your preference: dry, nymph or streamer and why? 

I'm a nymph guy hands down and a firm believer in using some sort of strike indicator. There's still a stubborn cult of anglers out there that turn their noses up to using anything that resembles a "bobber" on a fly rod, and I have made believers out of many of them after their catch rates go way up with the addition of a strike indicator to their setup. Fish have an incredible ability to sample and spit out a potential meal in a fraction of a second with absolutely no clue to the angler. If you wanna get a clue, use a strike indicator. Presentation aside, I like to throw a setup that balances well. A bonefish rig is a perfect example. A 7-9 weight rod, floating line, fluoro leader and flies in the 4-6 range make for a setup that you can cast a country mile! 

Trout are a big part of what you do. How has this summer been for trout in your neck of the woods? 
Mike and Chris escaped VT for some striper action recently

Trout fishing certainly occupies a large portion of our business, but we do a ton of bass/warmwater trips as well throughout the season. Mike by far does the brunt of the guided wade trips and you can be assured that you are getting your monies worth fishing with him. He does plenty of pre-trip homework to assure his guests the best chances of success. We absolutely, under no circumstances will fish or guide trout water that is over 69 degrees. Whereas the Lamoille will quickly heat up in the summer, the tribs are generally cool enough to trout fish (unless we get a massive heat wave) throughout the season, but we can't necessarily march a group of 3-4 raw beginners up the North Branch of the Lamoille and expect them to enjoy the experience. As luck would have it, prime tourist season falls directly in line with some of the worst trout fishing of the year during July and August. Prime tourist season also generally means larger groups for us to guide, which pretty much equates to a lot of guided bass trips. Most of the bass trips are wade outings, but Mike and I both own motor boats and we've been doing more and more guiding with them. We realized very early on that if we wanted to have a successful guide business in this state, we had to have a trick up the sleeve for any type of fishing condition. Vermont is not necessarily a fishing "destination" where people come from all over the world to fish for massive King Salmon or other migratory fish. Because of this, fly fishing is usually an after-thought for tourists visiting VT. Tourists see the beautiful rivers and streams we have and often opt to simply "give it a shot." As a result we fish with over 90% raw beginners and are effectively growing the sport as we see it. As guides (especially in VT,) our job requires more "people skills" than anything. We are teachers first and foremost. With the right kind of instruction, success at fly fishing comes naturally. We try to keep things fun and offer a service that is professional and high quality. There was one season that we experimented with some new guides with hopes of expanding our business into other regions of the state....BIG mistake. There's plenty of great anglers out there. But if you don't have an ounce of people skills, don't ever consider a career as a fishing guide. The only complaint we ever had regarding our guide service was about a "guide" we had hired on a part-time basis. That was 1 complaint too many for us. Now Mike and I do 99% of the guiding and we have another guy by the name of Steve Stanley help out every now and then. We've found that less cooks in the kitchen is a good thing in our line of work. 

Do you have any concerns for the Lamoille watershed right now? How did it weather the really nasty flooding we had this past spring (when the brown trout from the Johnson sewage treatment plant were set free)?

I most definitely have concerns for the Lamoille and it's tributaries. I would love to see protection offered to spawning fish in the spring. Our shop is on the banks of a major spawning trib of the Lamoille and, over the years, I've witnessed heaps of breeding rainbows leaving the river on sticks and stringers. If anglers could get quantity out of their heads and leave those fish alone for a month, they'd watch the quality increase. I always say that it's most often the anglers that like to take home every fish they catch that come into the shop in June and say, "the fishin' ain’t what it used to be." Go figure. There are also the newest threats the watershed is facing in regards to invasives like didymo. It's here and not going away, so we just have to learn how to live with it and hopefully keep it in check. Being a freestone stream, the Lamoille can be a stressful place for a trout in the heat of the summer. It doesn't help that much of the river runs through farmland and can receive some pretty heavy doses of phosphorus if farmers don't adhere to responsible ag practices. Nothing irritates me more than seeing rows of corn planted right up against the river. The flood moved a great deal of earth around and the river has taken a different course here and there as a result. It's incredible what a little water velocity will do.

How is the fall fishing in your area and how are things shaping up for the fall season? 
Chris shows a client how fun smallies on the fly are.

The Fall is a great time to fish in VT. For me, the flying ant hatch (going on right now) signifies the start of some great trout fishing to come. Water and air temps begin to cool, insects and fish are more comfortable doing their thing and options become less and less limited for trout fishing. We also see far less evidence of the hatchery fish planted in the spring, leaving more of the wild trout in control of the prime habitat. The fall really gives us the best snap shot of how our wild trout faired the summer.

I know after the trout season shuts down in Vermont you guys head out for some fun in New York. What are you guys after? 

I can remember a long, long time ago being in an Orvis shop around the Glens Falls, NY area thumbing through some photo albums they had kickin' around. The size of the fish in these photos was absolutely insane and they were being caught not too far from home in the Great Lakes Region. I believe it was around 2003-2004 that we began making annual trips out to Western NY to fish for these large brown trout and steelhead that were migrating up tributaries of the Great Lakes. We used to focus our efforts just west of Rochester, NY on a stream called Oak Orchard Creek or "The Oak" for those that know it. The Oak has some incredible runs of chinook "king" salmon, steelhead, brown trout and more and more Atlantic salmon (landlocked variety) these days, but the river was often ridiculously crowded and we wanted solace, so we began pushing further and further West where we could find unpressured fish amidst incredible scenery. Once we discovered Cattaraugus Creek with its emerald green water and enormous valley walls, we were sold. Four of us do an annual trip to WNY every November to fish the Catt and surrounding areas. We have gut-wrenching laughs, we bust balls endlessly and we catch some amazing fish in some amazing places. I mean, isn't that what it's supposed to be about? 

It is pretty cool that you guys also guide on the Salmon River during the winter. It provides a great opportunity for Vermont anglers to fish with a Vermont guide. What do you guys offer? 
A fish like that is worth some cold fingers and toes!

The Salmon River and Great Lakes tributaries in general provide me an opportunity to do what I love doing year round. I've become so familiar with the steelhead fisheries of NY, that it was a natural progression to begin guiding out there in the winter months. It's not really as easy as it sounds though. I have a wife and two young boys here in Vermont that I can't just up and leave for weeks at a time. It's not realistic for me to spend half the year guiding in Alaska or some other world-class destination like other guys that might not have anyone or anything to leave behind. The Salmon River is less than 6 hours away, it does in fact offer world-class fishing and it has helped me squeak through a couple of Vermont's long winters already. I would encourage my guests to book multiple days and offer better rates for doing so. I don't punch any clock and the length of the day is completely up to my guests. Mike didn't get a NYS guide license, but he often accompanies me out to NY a few days before I have guests to do a little scouting and pre-fishing. That's been a great way to get quickly in tune with what's going on on the river. I've had some excellent repeat guests that have become great friends and that's really what it's about for me. Winter steelheading is definitely not for the faint of heart and it's not a numbers game. It takes the right kind of angler to truly appreciate that type of experience, and when you share long days standing knee deep in 33 degree water just praying for the tug of that electrifying steelhead, you develop a strong bond with a person mostly on the basis that the person standing next to you is just as crazy as you are. Even some hardcore anglers think winter steelheading is crazy. But when you feel that first head shake after sometimes hours of chattering knees, frozen fingers and no love, it'll all make sense. 

What has the Salmon been like lately? Did you notice a lot of differences after the flooding last fall? 

I completely avoid the Salmon River during the salmon run which begins in late August and peaks in Sept/Oct. The place is an absolute madhouse and it's really not the kind of fishing experience I want for myself or my guests. In November, the numbers of steelhead entering the river increase drastically and the fishing can be excellent. The crowds are still pretty thick, so I haven’t guided the Salmon River in November but I give it more and more consideration each year. The high unemployment rate doesn't make for any less fishing pressure on the river either. Even in the dead cold of winter, I'm often surprised at how many people will be out. Fishing's pretty cheap, so it's still easy for someone with no job and little to no income to get out. The fishing last winter was pretty tough out there. The floods did change things a bit, but once steelhead find a prime lie they occupy it constantly. If one fish moves on, another takes its place and so on. The quandary with steelhead isn't finding them, it's enticing them to eat when their metabolism is slowed almost to a halt at times. 

You guys have been a big part of the Ditch Pickle Classic for the past couple of years. Can you tell me the history of that event? 
Chris you caught that a day too early for the DPC

The idea for the DPC came up about 3 years ago when Mike and I were discussing a tourney that some friends of his had out west. The winner won one of those singing fish wall mounts which we thought was hilarious. Around the same time Brendan Hare and I were discussing our gripes about the LCI. I don't really wanna say it was an "anti-LCI" event, but we did hold our first tournament on the same day as the LCI. We figured not many fly anglers competed in the LCI, so it wouldn't effect our attendance. That first year's event was a smallmouth tourney we called "Bass on the Fly" that we held at Waterbury Reservoir. We had about 11 guys show up and all throw in $20. Winner takes all. That tournament happened to be a super hot one and there was no shortage of water skiers that day. A pretty good size smallie won that tourney and we had a few guys stick around and BBQ at the state park afterward. We were already plotting how to make it better... Then Ken Capsey and Brian Price suggested Missisquoi Bay as a possible future venue. But "Bass on the Fly" was to chintzy...we needed a new image for this thing. Hundreds of emails, Facebook messages and a few drunken evenings later we planted a new seed that we would call the "Ditch Pickle Classic." We were all super excited about it and knew we would watch this thing grow and grow. In 2010 the DPC hosted about 14 guys for the inaugural run on Lake Champlain. In 2011 we grew to 37 guys divided over 17 teams and I'm not seeing any signs of shrinkage in the near future. 

Any big plans for the future of the DPC? 

I'm already extremely excited for next year's event! There's no doubt that it's gonna be bigger, better and a ridiculously good time! Each year we learn a tremendous amount from our accomplishments and our mistakes. We're developing great bonds with some key players involved in conserving the resource. We're gaining more and more attention from sponsors that want their brand attached to the event. We're meeting some great anglers from different parts of the country that all value the DPC's ethical spin on tournament bass angling. Our tournament fish are caught, quickly measured and documented digitally, and returned to the water in the same area where they were caught. We're not trying to change the world of competitive bass fishing. The Ditch Pickle Classic is simply an alternative kind of event solely for fly chuckers. I definitely see a bigger, expanded format for next year's DPC. One issue that I'd really like to fix is our tournament fishing hours. We're missing the best parts of the day with a 7am-3pm format, so we'll have to make some changes there. The idea of a 2-day event has been kicked around in the past and I'd like to give that idea some serious thought. The idea of an expanded tournament boundary has also come up and this year we did extend boundaries some. Next year we could possibly have multiple check in sites. We've even thought of hosting a series of tournaments throughout the season and having the DPC as the finalists' event. It's exciting to think about this event getting huge. But the bigger it gets, more structure and discipline will be required to keep things running smoothly. We're very open to feedback from the competitors as to how we can improve the event. We want everyone to be happy and to enjoy themselves. It's fishing after all. 

Have you been out for bass much this summer?  

Absolutely! It's the only way I can justify that motor boat sittin' in the driveway. I love poppin' for bass on the lake...I absolutely love it 

Ok, time to bring up unpleasant memories… what fish(es) that you got into but didn’t land haunt your nightmares? Tell me their stories… 
Not the tarpon he wanted, but Chris seems pleased with this jack!

My first ever tarpon experience haunts me to this day as it does for many others that have ever been in the presence of a silver king. I have fished with a guy by the name of John Meskauskas out of the Stuart, FL area a few times for snook, tarpon and big jack crevelle. My first time out with John a 125#'ish tarpon rolled right in front of the boat. When I casted I watched as a giant mess of tangled fly line made its way toward the first stripping guide, stopping the fly dead in its track. "That's ok," said John. "You didn't want that to be your first tarpon anyway." Thanks John. I feel much better now. 

I love asking this one: if you could go anywhere in the world to fish for anything, price is no object, where would you go and what would you target? 

I'm an absolute nut for the outter islands of The Bahamas. It's truly one of those places where the fish are really just an added bonus, but let me tell you that bonefish can be a big bonus! Wading a flat amidst a landscape that looks as though it was painted around you will change your life forever. It certainly changed mine and if I could drop everything right now I'd most definitely be in the Bahamas with a Kalik in hand and bonefish on the brain.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

White Perch on the Fly

Morone americana
A couple of weeks ago I headed out on a quest to catch a Master Class white perch here in Vermont. I have been actively pursuing the Vermont Fish and Wildlife’s Master Angler program and I had not yet caught the 13” white perch that I needed to tick that species off the list. With that in mind I did some research on where to find these guys and headed out. 

The white perch showed up in Lake Champlain in the 1980’s, likely heading into the like via the Champlain Canal. This scrappy fish is a member of family Moronidae which is much better known for its largest member the striped bass. That’s right, white perch are actually a bass (and largemouth bass are actually sunfish, walleye pike are actually perch… I could go on). They don’t attain the size of their larger cousins but they do put up a similar fight. White perch are also highly regarded table fare. In Maine folks tend to throw back yellow perch and keep the whiteys. I had that in mind when I went out.
you can definitely see the resemblance to stripers!
I chased my target species two separate days. I anchored in a likely spot and just started casting. Initially I was using a 6 weight rod with a 10 foot sink tip and a couple of flies. I had a tandem rig with a white bugger and an olive bugger, both size 6. That was not getting any interest from the fish so I switched up to a tandem rig with a couple of Clouser minnows. That changed everything. I had both a chartreuse and white and a pink and white in size 4 on there. The fish showed a distinct preference toward the pink and white. It didn’t matter what retrieve I used, slow, fast, medium, or varied all caught fish. I did seem to get more action on the faster retrieves though. What is really cool about these fish is that once you find one you have found a ton of them. They travel and feed in schools so just keep putting your fly back in the same spot.

The fight with these guys is awesome! They dig and pull like crazy. Even the 6 and 8 inch fish are tough customers! I definitely want to try them out on much lighter tackle like a 5 weight. I know it would be a blast.

13.5"- my Master Class white perch
The first day was really productive. I lost track of how many fish I caught but it was well over 50 in a few hours of fishing. I got fish up to 11.5” and I had one on that was definitely Master Class but it came unbuttoned next to the boat. If I had a net with me it would have been a different ball game. The second day I got out there I had slightly different gear- my 8 weight Hydros with a 15 foot fast sink tip, a cooler with ice and a net. I went minimal. A handful of Clousers, some tippet, and a Gatorade rounded out my gear. 16 fish came home with me for my neighbor and Beth’s sister in law. One of those fish was a 13.5” Master Class whitey! That fish was an awesome fight!
A mess of fish... sucked to clean though...spiky lil things!

Generally I am a catch and release angler but I am not opposed to keeping fish. Fish are an excellent source of protien and as long as you are targeting a species that is numerous why not keep a few? As far as I am concerned the white perch is a perfect table fish- it is an invasive species in Lake Champlain, has excellent numbers, and is great tasting. I can't confirm that last bit being deathly allergic to fish and shellfish myself, but the folks who ate it said they were great!

Next on my Master Class to do list- yellow perch (and a few others)! I will keep you posted on my progress. Right now I am at 16 of the 33 species in the Master Angler Program. I want all of them if I can... 

Thursday, August 11, 2011


Pete on the Ausable section
I got up to visit my brother Pete at the house he and his lady Thea just bought. Great house in a great location.... with access to private water on the West Branch of the Ausable River.... not too shabby huh?  We did fish it for a little bit in the morning but it was a half hearted effort to be honest. We were far more interested in a float on another river in the area for smallmouth and pike. So after half an hour or so we got off the trout water and headed over there. 

We dropped off one vehicle downstream and put in upstream for a nice long float. We were both pretty psyched about it. The weather seemed to be pretty good- gorgeous sun and light wind was a great way to start. Before we even put in I had several fish in hand- a couple of smallies and fallfish got things underway. It didn't take long to get into more smallies. The river wasn't too large and there were good spots to get out and wade fish, which we did several times. Using buggers got a lot of attention from smaller bass, fallfish and rock bass. Pike were more interested in the Clouser half and halfs we were chucking.

Smallies are just a blast on the fly!
Of course there was a pike that was far more interested in a smallie Pete hooked. That fish was easily 36" but disappeared into the depths and would not respond to anything he tossed back at it. Shortly after that we were floating near a road and a worker from a local sewage treatment plant drove by in a municipal truck and yelled at me "Sit down a$$hole!!!" (I was standing up in the stern watching for fish like I do frequently). Quite a lovely acknowedgment of concern from a member of the local town's employees. Gotta love the northern Adirondacks!

Nice fish Pete!
Shortly after that things got ugly. Huge thunderheads loomed and some serious rain came down. We started high tailing it downstream. It let up and we started to fish again but more dark clouds and thunder got us moving again. We rolled over a huge pike again. This river has some pigs in it for sure. And some huge smallmouth. We saw some 4+ pound fish in one spot we stopped to fish. I got a decent one, but the real big ones were very spooky. Definitely need to go back and fish this more slowly on a day without thunderstorms!

All in all a great day with my brother. We don't get as many of these as we would like. I truly treasure days on the water with Pete. He is a solid guy that fishes as hard as he hikes (and I dare anyone out there keep up with him on a mountain trail- he hikes for his job and is in amazing shape!). Pete- we will be out there again soon man! And I will start shooting that bow soon!
Pete with a spunky smallie

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Another Gar-reat Day!

We had Steve and Taylor out yesterday chasing after a variety of Lake Champlain species. The day started out rough weather-wise.... That was no 6mph wind out of the north, much closer to 15 mph with 25 mph gusts... brutal to paddle in. Taylor hooked into two bowfin but both took him into the weeds and broke him off.

We switched gears and headed elsewhere. The wind calmed down and the sun came out and the gar started showing themselves. Taylor made the best of it and landed this gorgeous 44" specimen!  Great fish!  Steve had some takes but unfortunately no "unhooked hook ups". Taylor also had a take right next to the boat with a fish that was much longer than my stablizer- at least 50", certainly one of the biggest gar I have seen!  I know where he lives if you want a trip!  Let me put you on one of these beasts! You will love it! Taylor definitely did!
Nice Master Class fish for Taylor while fishing with Master Class Angling!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

More Champlain Carpin'

Tim with his first carp ever! Great job on that Tim!
Tim hit me up for my Learn to Champlain Carp special on Friday. It was a great day for it too. Lots of carp around mudding, circulating, doing all the things that carp do. Combine that with a light wind and great sunlight it is a sight fishing carp dream come true. Within the first hour of being on the water Tim had a carp on but it dug into the weeds hard and broke him off on a fast run. Big fish and light tippet can do that.  Something similar happened a couple of hours later and the fish came unbuttoned so we got the fly back. Barry Reynold's new fly pattern is really kicking some carp butt on Champlain. I think he is waiting until his new book comes out to showcase it so it really isn't my place to debut it online. I will be happy to show it to you and help you get a fish on one if you book a trip though!

That's a lot of fish and fun for Tim!
 It got down to the last half an hour of the trip and Tim got a great cast into a pod of carp. One of the fish jumped on it and he had his third fish of the day on! It took off into the emergent weeds and I told him what to do and the leader came out unscathed. The fish went on a short run but was really a bulldog fighter. It took about 25 minutes to land that fish. It really put Tim and the tackle to the test- but he was up to it and so was the Hydros and 3X Mirage (the best fluoro out there- thank you Orvis!). 

The fish came it at 15 pounds and was a great fish for Tim. He could not get the grin off his face and I can't blame him. 

I snuck out with Kevin yesterday to get in some carp and gar time. I managed a 10 lb carp on the new Barry fly (love that thing!- thanks again for sharing!). A pretty typical Champlain fish that was mudding. They have been mudding like crazy this year. Wind direction has been a great indicator of where to find them.
I just love carp!

The gar were around but the combination of wind and half-assed sun made it tough to find them. Mostly they ended up too close to the boat and spooked. Keep your fingers crossed for better weather tomorrow- two guys heading out on the lake!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Friday Angler Interview: Barry Reynolds

The name Barry Reynolds is well known in warm water fly fishing circles, some might even go as far as legendary. His books Beyond Trout, Pike on the Fly, Carp on the Fly, and Mastering Pike on the Fly are go to books for those venturing beyond the traditional freshwater fly targets. I have been talking/emailing with Barry for several years now and I have found him to be really open and approachable and more than willing to help, even if he does have a sick sense of humor. Hey, I like that about him! Ken Capsey and I have been trying to get him out here to Vermont for a couple of years now... until that happens (and I will keep you posted about when it does happen) the best I can offer is a Friday Angler Interview... so here it is!

How did you get into fly fishing?
Barry Reynolds with a buddy...

My first experience with a fly rod was back in the early 70’s while growing up in San Antonio Texas…. We had several small creeks and a small lake all within walking distance of my home. One of our neighbors at the time was fly fishing for small bass and bluegills and he would take us and let us mess around trying to catch panfish on small poppers…… while I did not know what the hell I was doing it was a lot of fun and set the stage for my fly fishing future when my family relocated to Colorado…

You were definitely one of the first guys to write about the other fish in your first book “Beyond Trout”. What got you looking beyond the traditional fly rod targets?
Gorgeous tiger there Mr. Reynolds!

Much of my of my first years spent fly fishing on a everyday basis came after our move to Colorado and those early times were spent pursuing Trout! Having pursued warm water species for so long though I tired of chasing trout everyday and soon found myself wanting to pursue other fish such as pike, tiger muskie, carp, bass, crappie and other “alternative” species…. Problem was there was very little information for these fish in regards to flyfishing for them! So I read everything I could about taking these fish on conventional gear and then began to apply it to fly fishing for them. Many times I would go out with my baitcaster or spinning rod and throw lures at them just to learn as much I could first there and then slowly introduce fly fishing applications…. The one thing that I quickly noticed was at the time very few if any other anglers in the area were pursuing these fish with a fly rod…. Success came slowly for some of these species such as carp and tigers but once I began to unlock the secrets it became addictive and I could not get enough of chasing these other fish around and trout became secondary!

So how often do you chase trout these days (and do you still enjoy it)?

Barry needs some help identifying this fish from the So Platte...

Trout? What’s a trout? We have trout in Colorado? Seriously though, yes I do still pursue trout on the rare occasion. I guided trout for 8 plus years and really enjoyed it but as the world opened up to me and I began experiencing other species it became a hard choice on should I drive 130 miles to fish pristine rivers full of trout with 100 other people or drive 3 miles to the dinge of the South Platte River where flows through downtown Denver and try and present the fly to 20lb to 30lb fish tailing in 18” of water all by myself? I chose solitude!

At this point pike have become a fly fishing staple and your book “Pike on the Fly” was one of the reasons. How does it feel to lead a trend like that?
Now that is a pike!

All the books I have written were done so for two reasons….. the first was because there were no books available to me when I started pursuing these species with a fly rod and the learning curve without at the least basic knowledge can be long, tedious, and even discouraging at times. My books I hoped would be a simple way of helping to shorten the curve. The one thing I still swear by today though is this one simple fact… “nothing beats time on the water” , books, DVD’s, guides, these will all help shorten the curve but if you are not willing to put in time to learn and experience these fish at different times of the year and get up close and personal with them. Learn their habits, tendencies, and food availability throughout the season and you will become a very successful angler on a consistent basis.

Are you still chasing pike as often as you used to?

I still fish pike but not as much the last few years….. work has dictated otherwise and as such found myself sticking closer to home these days which has worked out just fine allowing me more time to pursue carp on regular basis. Before that though I was travelling to Alaska and Canada every year for weeks at a time and in many cases I would make multiple trips to each area, usually once in the spring and again in the fall. All total I was spending anywhere from 50 to 100 days a year chasing pike in some of the world’s best pike waters! I got spoiled to say the least!

How many pike over 50 inches have you hit at this point?
Think this one breaks 50"?

My current count of pike over 50” stands at 34! My largest pike to date came from the Innoko River in Alaska and that fish was 54” x 28” and was estimated at close to 40lbs! My largest from Canada was 51” and my largest from Colorado sits right 48”….. all total 32 of my 50” pike came from Alaska and 2 from Canada… I have seen 50” class pike in Colorado, not many but there are a few and as such I am still trying to break the 50” mark in Colorado!

There is this crazy pike nut named Ken Capsey around these parts. Do you know this redneck and what do you think of him?

Ken Capsey? Oh you mean numb nutz? LOL! Ken is pure angler and has an unbridled passion for fly fishing and like me and yourself Drew, he loves to chase everything! My kind of guy!

Speaking of leading trends, another "new" classic fly fishing title is “Carp on the Fly”. It seems like that had a reprinting since I remember copies going for big bucks on Ebay a couple of years back. Do you know how many copies have sold and what do you think of the popularity of it?
A face only a mother could love... I mean Barry....

Carp on the Fly has sold about 40,000 copies and when in print still selling like hotcakes! It sells better today than it ever did so it looks like people are starting to catch on! I don’t want to tip my hand to much but look for a new carp book from me sometime late next year!

What do you think it is about carp that makes them so addictive to fly anglers?

One of the most exciting aspects of fly fishing is sight fishing! That is spotting a fish and making a presentation to it…. A lot of salt water fly fishing is done this way, bonefish, permit, tarpon, redfish, and the list goes on. It is a very exciting way to fish! Carp have become wildly popular with fly anglers as of late because of their ability to sight cast to them and to me there is no better feeling than watching a fish suck the fly in! The other reason is that they are so readily available but yet can so damn difficult at times to entice them to eat a fly, plus they get really big as well! What other fish can you find right down the street, tails and feeds in skinny water, can reach weights in excess of 30lbs and will smoke your reel and show you why we use backing behind the fly line! What’s not to love?

How often are you chasing carp these days? Are they the fish that you target most at this point?

Right now I am fishing carp 2-3 times a week! This year has been very good for carp! I have dedicated so much time to them the last few years because of the ongoing book project and a few new patterns we have been developing for them plus I just really love chasing them around!

Besides reading your book, what is the best piece of advice that you can give to a beginning carp fly rodder? 

Want to get a fish like this? Check out Barry's advice!
Time on the water! Read Carp on the Fly! Hire a guide! All of the above! Really and truly the three items listed above will help shorten the learning curve but time on the water and paying your dues will lead to success. There are so many little things you must learn along the way before you can truly be successful chasing carp on a regular basis! Carp display a lot different behaviors or body postures that will tip their hand on what they are doing and whether they will be receptive to your fly! Tailing, rooting, mudding are all modes of feeding carp that you will quickly learn and recognize. Then you must learn where and how to present the fly to them so they don’t spook on your presentation. Once you get all that figured out then you have to figure out what they are eating! Is it crayfish, aquatic worms, nymphs, or perhaps it is vegetation today… these fish will challenge even the most skilled anglers because there are so many factors to play into it…. Got to love it!

I saw a picture of you with a huge grass carp last year… was that a new state record or something? That thing was a pig!  Tell me about it…

That thing is a PIGGIE!!!!

Last year I was lucky enough to hook into something special… while fishing one my local carp hangouts I was casting to a group of mudding carp! The water was pretty dirty and the mud clouds being stirred up from the carp feeding on the bottom only allowed me to see the odd tail here and there just below the surface. On my first cast I hooked up and the fish took off for the other side of the lake! My first thought was I had foul hooked a fish while crawling my fly through the group… it happens when there are a large number of fish in a small area like that as you crawl your fly along the bottom! Normally I would break the fish off because trying to land a 20lb carp that has been ass hooked is a futile effort! But the way the fish fought told me it was not foul hooked so I proceeded fight the fish, glad I did! After a long drawn out fight I got the fish close enough to see it for the first time. Turned out I had hooked a 45” x 33” grass carp on 4x tippet! I chose to release the fish as I do with any fish I catch. Colorado keeps records for kept and also for released fish. My grass carp now stands as the state release record! Funny thing was this vegetarian took a crayfish pattern and inhaled it!

What is the difference between targeting common carp and grass carp?
Definitely the Colorado state record....

I only target grass carp a few times a year when they are fairly predictable and that is usually during seed falls like the cottonwood seeds and Elmwood seeds both trigger predictable feeding that can be easily matched with flies making success a lot easier! Grass Carp typically feed on both aquatic and terrestrial vegetation. They feed on aquatic weeds, overhanging leaves, grass and so on… but in lakes where they have exhausted their food supply they will also gladly feed upon insects and obviously crayfish as well!

Have you had the opportunity to get after the Asian carp (silver and bighead) that have gotten into the Mississippi?  It is a huge disaster, but being a resourceful fly angler I am curious if they are worth catching on flies (to be made into cat food later)?

Asian Carp…. Only 2 cases of them been reported in Colorado waters so far! I know a small lake that as them but as of yet I have not targeted them.

I hear a rumor that you might have another carp book in the works… care to share anything about that?

The new carp book is coming … look for late next year! Lots of new patterns, tips, techniques….. it will be similar to the follow up book I did on pike, very in depth and detailed!

I am completely jealous of the trips you have had to the Amazon- it is by far my #1 dream destination. Is it worth every penny to get to those big peacocks?
Cichla ocellaris...

The Amazon is an amazing place but the fishing is just as amazing! Peacock bass on a fly is unlike anything I have experienced…. The first thing you notice is their amazing colors and the next is their pure power! They hit flies hard and with bad intentions….. I don’t have enough space here to tell how great these fish and that trip is….. all I can tell you is this, I have made multiple trips and I am not done going yet!

Those big peacock bass are tackle busters I hear… is that true? What kind of rods/gear do you need to use to get them in the boat?

I have had peacock bass go through 40lb tippet like its sewing thread! They are that strong! My choice for gear down there was a 9ft 9wt rod, reels should have a good drag system and ample room for backing because you never know what they hell you are going to hook down there! My leaders are simple, 7ft of 40lb hard mono! Flies, Gen X Bunnies, Flashtail Whistlers, Skok’s Mushouth or other baitfish patterns work best!

Have you had a chance to get into an arapaima down there?  That is an amazing fish!

Arapaima ….. not as numerous as they once were but we were lucky enough to fish a river one year there that had a fair population of them and we did get shots to present the fly to them! I had one around 100lbs chase the fly to the boat on 4 different occasions but never did manage to hookup! The hunt continues!

What other critters have you tangled with down there?

…. Other species we have caught down there reads like a laundry list at a tropical fish store! I have caught a variety of Oscars, Jacunda, Triara, Bicuda, Catfish, Piranhas, just to name a few!

Ok, time to bring up unpleasant memories… what fish(es) that you got into haunt your dreams? Tell me their stories…
One that didn't get away! I want to see the pic of the one that did!

The fish that haunts my dreams? I have a couple but probably the worst was a monster pike I lost in Alaska! First day out on my last trip there I was messing around with fluoro!!! About that time I saw the biggest pike of my life…. The big pike hammered the fly and after a quick fight we had the big fish boatside. The owner of the lodge was with me and looked down at the fish and quickly stated I think we are going to need a bigger boat! Funny shit! About that time the pike rolled and made one quick run and head jerk and was gone….. we guessed that fish to be around 57” and was much larger than the 54” pike I had caught there the year before!

What North American fish have you not tussled with yet that you would love to get into?

Bull Trout!

I love asking this one: if you could go anywhere in the world to fish for anything, price is no object, where would you go and what would you target?

Mongolia for Taimen or Egypt for Nile Perch, one more would be Australia for Barramundi!

Barry, this is a big one… when are you going to get out of the mountains and come out to Vermont to wet a line with me and the redneck pike freak?  Just a tease here, but big unpressured carp in clear water…  you know the drill, I have told you about it…

I’m coming, I’m coming, I’m coming! LOL!

Thanks a million Barry! I will hit you up again for sure!  For more information about Barry or to order one of his DVD's, or just see what he has been up to lately, head over to his website: 

Thursday, August 4, 2011

An Apology

So the other night I put up a post that was over the top. I was fired up and excited after landing my two largest carp to date. I wrote a few things that were really too much. I definitely came across as a pompous ass. For that I apologize.
I also want to let all my readers know that while I am one of the only guides that fly fishes on Lake Champlain at this point, I don’t feel that I am the only good guide in Vermont and certainly not the only guide who can put people on big fish. I know that there are many excellent guides in this area and I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge some of the other guys that do an amazing job around here. I guide trout on occasion but these guys are the ones you really want to talk to if you are in this area and wanting to match the hatch or chase wild trout.
Jesse Haller and Wes Butler at the Middlebury Mountaineerare both fanatic bug chuckers that know the waters around Lower Otter Creek like few others. If you are looking for a guide in the Vergennes to Rutland area you want to talk to these guys. They are both very good instructors and are true professionals on the water. They are also great with getting folks into pike and bass on the Creek.
Chris Lynch and Mike Kontos run the Green Mountain Troutfitters in Jeffersonville and guide for the Inn at Essex, the only Orvis Endorsed Lodge in Vermont. These guys know the Lamoille and Winooski intimately and routinely put their clients on gorgeous trout on these rivers and their tribs. They are also super bass guides and have a lot of ponds and lakes in their neck of the woods that give up some huge largemouth and smallies (and some big pickerel too!)
It goes without saying that Lawton Webber of Pleasant Valley Fly Fishing is “Mr. Trout” in Vermont. He wrote the book on it as a matter of fact. There are few guides in this state that have the encyclopedic knowledge of salmonids in the Green Mountain State like Lawton. From the Upper Connecticut to Central Vermont to down south, there are few places in the state that Lawton hasn’t guided successfully. To top that off, he is one of the most outspoken advocates for trout conservation in Vermont.
If you are heading into the northern Adirondacks, definitely look up Vince Wilcox at Wiley’s Flies. Vince is a signature tyer for Idlewylde flies and has been fishing the waters in Northern New York since he was a kid. His track record for putting folks on wild trout in the Adirondacks is impressive to say the least. He also spends a lot of time chasing bass and pike on some unpressured rivers in his region. He also has a great shop in Rainbow Lake that is worth the drive from Saranac Lake. (I also think he has a great taste in music).
All of these folks I know well and I have worked with. I think if you were to look any of them up you would get a high level of professionalism and have a great time on the water with them. I would also like to say that if you do book a day with me for the species that I target I will do my utmost to make sure that you have a fantastic day on the water too. I am more than willing to share testimonials and provide contacts with previous clients to anyone who wants to know what time on the water with me is like. I want to make sure that you come away from a day on the water with me a better angler, be it new techniques, skills, or species you haven’t caught before.
Finally, there are a lot of excellent guides across the country that chase many of the species that I target in Vermont. I know a few personally and please feel free to ask me for suggestions when you head out. Another great place to look for guides is the listings of Orvis Endorsed Guides. As many of you know I am a huge fan of Orvis gear and these guides match the quality of the awesome equipment that Orvis is known for.