Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Fly Doodles

Ever since I was a little kid I have been a doodler. I do love to draw and I got a B.A. in studio art from SUNY Plattsburgh in 1993 (specializing in drawing and sculpture). I haven't done much with that degree but I still really enjoy drawing. At times I have a chance to just free draw a bit now and then and here are the results... not perfect by any means and the photography is less than stellar, but I like.  

Let me know what you think!
Grubs and pupae

Killer zonker

The Smeltaroo


Stonefly nymph

October Prince

Beady Egg

Black and Blue
Soft hackle

Soft Hackle Hare's Ear

Steelie Green

You know this color and if you are like me you love this color. Its the color of a river that is up just enough to make the fish comfortable. Just enough visibility to make a fly stand out but not so much that they feel threatened by every movement by a river. It signals a good bite and that migratory fish have moved in. It is that magical color that tells you that you need to fish even when it is too cold for most guys to be out there. Cold, damp, and unpleasant. Yes. Steelhead green for me please.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


Damon casting to salmon on Champlain
I have been wanting to spend a little time in a Jackson Kayaks Coosa for a while and last week Damon Bungard of JK let me do just that. I have to say this- I want a couple!  I found the 'yak to be very stable , although I have to admit being a bit nervous out on deep water in Lake Champlain in November... That is a reflection of me not the boat. We did spend a fair amount of time in shallower water where I stood most of the time. It took a bit for me to get used to the balance since I am used to my canoe, but overall it was a great platform to fish from. 

I really liked all the storage on the boat. Two closable compartments with lids, a watertight container for valuables and a behind the seat storage area for the gear you need quickly. Very impressive storage features indeed. Carrying two rigged rods was not an issue either. There are great spots to put second rods so they are not in the way and keep your line from getting tangled (if there were only a way to do that with feet!).

Not my pic, but a good idea of what the cockpit is like.
One thing I really liked and have liked since I have seen this design is the two grooves in the back of the boat for an anchor or a drag chain. The Coosa is primarily a river boat and this feature lets  you drop a chain to slow down or an anchor to stop. Damon and I both used anchors to hold ourselves in place to cast to lakers (which didn't appear) and salmon (who were not interested). I definitely see an easy modification with a pulley and a cam cleat to make that a bit easier. 

I see a couple of Coosas in my future for next year. They will definitely be great to fish out of, a great way to put an extra person or two on the water with me and a whole lot of fun. Definitely psyched to be introduced to a great boat by a great friend. Thanks Damon and looking forward to working with a couple of Jackson Kayaks next year... oh yea... can't wait to see the Cuda too...

Monday, November 28, 2011

November Awesomeness

Mike switching up flies on a gorgeous late November morning...
What do you do when you have a week off school in November? Well, fish of course! I got out and chased a bunch of fish for a few days this week with a good amount of success. The landlocks are still playing, steelhead are still around and perch are roaming in a bunch of spots. I do wish I had chased some pike too, but we will see if I can do that this coming weekend. 

I started off by getting on some big water to chase some landlocks. They have been pretty good to me this month. After a very quiet morning on a super bony steelhead stream this was the ticket. Second cast and line was heading downstream fast attached to a nice salmon. Nymphs have been my ticket and this fish was no exception. He liked my Black and Blue nymph. It has been getting the job done!  I had to chase this fish downstream which was pretty sketchy- I hadn't waded that area yet and I had no idea what I was in for.  

Fortunately the dark area near some logs that I needed to pass in order to get to a good landing spot was only about waist deep. No problem there (especially since I fixed the leaky crotch in my waders- thank you Aquaseal!). The fish came quickly to hand after that. 25.5"- a very nice fish indeed. I rounded out the rest of that day with another salmon of about 20. Good to be out there. 

Truly a football fish!
I headed out to the lake the next morning, a very cold morning at that. The weather reports dictated that it was going to be light enough wind that I might be able to access the lakers I have been hoping to  get into. No such luck. The wind was just a tad bit too high and the lake was very discolored from all the heavy winds we have had recently. But a sheltered cove offered options. The salmon were stacked in there and sight fishing with a streamer is always fun!   I had cast in between two salmon and was slowly retrieving a Smeltaroo back when this fish came charging up and snatched it. I could tell by the stripe it was a steelie. At 22" it was a very nice fish and a true football! A nice 21 inch salmon rounded out the day, along with a few smaller perch. The big schools of perch seem to have fled for other spots. Bummer.

Nice landlocked salmon with a DP's Smeltaroo in his mug.
I got out with Damon Bungard of Jackson Kayaks the next day to repeat the same thing in the Coosa- the fishing kayak I have been dreaming about since I saw it. I like it!  Great boat.  It was a great day on the water but one that didn't produce as well as the day before. A few small perch were landed but that was about it. Quite a few fish around, but not as many as the day before. My full report on the Coosa coming later this week!

I knew that the melt off of the snow we got during the week would result in some flows more condusive to steelhead so I got out after them with my buddy Mike this past weekend. The water was up and slightly discolored.... perfect!  The timing was right. Drifting a pair of flies along the bottom is my ticket in these situations and it didn't take long to find a willing partner. It wasn't a huge fish at 18", but you can't expect Lake Ontario sized steel out of this area. Put up a great fight and gave me a good smile. We worked a lot more water but with bright skies it made things tough. I definitely spotted a couple of more fish but that was the only player of the day. 
Just the ticket for late November

There is still a bit of time left to fish in 2011. I will definitely be out there more until I can't fish any more!

Sunday, November 20, 2011


I've had a tough few months. This may not be the best place to let some of these things out, but its an outlet for me, so here goes. 

I lost one of the most special people in my life a couple of months ago. Things between my fiance and I weren't working out. We loved each other very much, but we really had different plans in life. So things ended. It has been pretty hard on me, really emotionally and mentally draining. And with the end of that relationship came the loss of another of my best friends- the little dog she had that I became very attached to. Things just aren't the same without them both.

So here I am starting over again. I made a move to be closer to work and potential teaching jobs. It wasn't easy. I had a lot of severe asthma issues in the process which certainly did not make things any easier. 

I have been trying to fish a lot and reconnect with friends. I have been pretty fortunate to have some great friends who have been there for me.

One friend that I have tried to get out fishing with a number of times just hasn't returned any of my calls. This is someone that I have a lot of respect for and really enjoy fishing with. He has been fishing quite a bit with another good friend of mine, so when I had the chance to ask him what was going on, I did. Apparently that was the wrong thing to do. Now he has decided to insult me for taking on the challenge provided by Vermont Master Angler Program and it seems that he is just cutting me out as a friend. I'm not sure what is going on, but its just another loss to put on the pile. 

Here is to hoping that things will work out all around. I need my friends now more than ever.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

November Ammo

Some Soft Hackle nymphs that I have been using lately...

Soft hackle nymphs are great for getting salmon and steelhead this time of the year

I have been using them for years and have found that having a variety of colors can really make a difference..

A bit of flash or color helps to get their attention...

A soft hackle definitely got the attention of this 25" buck landlocked salmon...

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Hiatus Over! And New Press

So I am going to try and get back into writing here on the blog more frequently. I have had a lot of big changes in my life in the past month. It hasn't been easy, but I am doing pretty well (how can I not be doing well when I live 1/4 mile from Lake Champlain?)

Anyway, I have had some great nationwide press over the past month or so:

Check out the piece that David Paul Williams wrote for the Warmwater Column in the November/December Issue of American Angler. It's title is Tyrannosaurus Fish and is all about the bowfin. I guided David earlier this summer and it seems like he had a great time. I sent a couple of flies and their recipes into the magazine for this article. If you have been wondering what I use this is your chance to see.

Good friend and photographer extrordinaire Kurt Budliger not only has the front and back cover of the November/December issue of Eastern Fly Fishing but also has a great 4 page photo essay in the mag too. I feel pretty fortunate to have been able to provide the subject matter for 4 of his photos. Pretty cool... look for more collaborations between Kurt and I in the coming months and years... we get out a fair amount and there have been some pretty awesome shots that Kurt has taken (I get to see some samples now and then... but he his a really busy guy lately!)

I will put something up about the great fishing I have had lately... things have been pretty good so far... lots of great fishing still ahead too... I have a few openings next week if anyone wants to get out for a half day or something....