January - June
January 14 - Published How to Fly Fish for Trout, the First Book to Read today.
March 18 – LITU Meeting – sold How to Fly Fish book to members donating $10 per sale. 20 sold.
April 2 – Fished the Carman’s with Jim. Two hook ups but no catches. Luke from LITU took 2 nice fish on small nymphs at the dam, right next to me. I was working a streamer. One hit on streamer. One hit on Prince Nymph (small black stone fly with white wings was on the water.) Jim didn’t connect either but we had a nice day.
April 5 - At Paul’s fly shop’s Open House. River Bay Outfitters. Brought Kevin and introduced him to the guys. Was bumped from my presentation due to John running over and Lee was set to go at 12. Not a problem. At least it gave me a deadline to make my presentation tighter. Paul offered another date and a book signing event. Nice guy. No books sold but Paul’s inventory which was 9 books is down to 5.
April 9 – Met Jim at Caleb Smith. Fished 11:30 to 3:30 session. Temperatures in the high 50’s, clear skies, windy. Fished beats 5 and 6. Took stockies all day on streamers. Jim had one on a gray scud he tied. Had at least two significant fish – one a brown that jumped and ran. The other a big kerplunker at the hole on 5. They had a promo on my book displayed at the sign in shack - Thanks.
April 10 – 11. Was to meet Joe Odierna in Catskill NY. Rivers were high and too much to do at home so skipped it. Joe checked in: high and cloudy on the Esopus. No rises, no fish. Day 2 on Schoharie – high water as well. Some rises but nothing in the net. Rain. I made a good decision.
April 14 – Presented at Art Flick TU meeting on "How I Came to Write and Publish a Fly Fishing Book." The audience seemed to enjoy it and a few books were sold.
April 18 – Boat went in on Good Friday. I rigged the gill net I bought from Memphis Net to keep the pigeons away. Need to make some adjustments but I think it will do the job. Need to figure out what to do with it once I am on the boat. Probably store it in a bucket which I’ll leave on the dinghy. Prepped for season by American Marine, they told me that the radio (AM/FM) crapped out. Nick put new chain on the mooring – waiting for the bill.
April 24 – Heading for the Alpine Inn in Oliverea near the Esopus tomorrow at 5:30 am with Joe O. Weather is not supposed to be great but the fishing may be. Still having cold nights (and days). 14 guys going up so it should be a good time. Back Sunday.
April 25 – Friday. Traffic was light. We picked up Mike who had asked to ride along. He is new to the group and we were happy to make room for him. We drove up to Joe’s family cabin in Durham first as he had to take care of something. This gave us time to scan the Catskill creek and for me to try to identify where in 1955 I caught my first trout. I described it to Joe as down a dirt road and parking in a field adjacent a tree line which bordered the river. Shale was prevalent in the river causing small waterfalls and riffles. The only place he knew that fit the description was right behind his cabin. I will never know for sure but his place is only a few minutes from the hotel we stayed at back then.
We drove over to Windham and along the Schoharie with Joe telling of the terrible flood damage from Irene in Prattsville. We stopped and looked at the pool behind the ball field where the Batavia comes in to the Schoharie. Water was probably 45 degrees or lower but it was clear and wadable. Mike picked up some trash in the area. That and the donuts he brought began to tell us he was a good guy.
We went to Betty’s for breakfast and then on to the Esopus via the back roads. The river was in good shape and flowing clear both above and below the portal. We went to check in at the Alpine Inn and went to check out the local fly shop/hardware store. Interesting and eclectic selection of merchandise, Joe found a rare propeller spinner for use this summer on his home water. Mike picked up a few flies and gave the matron a short course on not shopping a Walmart and the contributions of unions to the American dream. She sold him the flies anyway.
We looked at a few spots and settled on the iron bridge down near the slate yard.
I have not spent time in this area since Irene and was taken by the massive movement of rock and soil, trees and homes. What was once a woodland stream up by Big Indian is now a wide gravel bed with a stream in it. Below the spa on Rt. 28 what was an intimate water way split by an island is as wide as a football field made of cobbles and rocks. The fact that Joe found a tree to lose his flies in was amazing in the altered landscape.
Bushnell’s Pool was the first stop, just up from Shandaken. Water looked good but no takers. Some Quill Gordon’s were coming off around 3 O’clock but nothing was coming up for them. We moved to Jennings pool by the old bridge and worked nymphs and streamers in the cold water and had little luck. I was fortunate to pick up two browns on a grey ghost. (See video) The guys were complimentary but I was channeling Clark who I fished these waters with in the 80’s and whose favorite fly was the Ghost, primarily because it was invented in Maine which he considered home. We were joined late in the day by Bob and Bob when a family 5 came by with one spinning rod and a stringer of about ten 14 inch or better fish. My two paled in comparison.
Dinner at the Alpine was extraordinary in both quality and quantity. Roast pork with caramelized onions, buttered noodles, carrots and broccoli, all fresh preceded by cream of broccoli soup and a crab cake salad; rolls to die for and three desserts to choose from. All served family style by Jamie (or Jake?) who seemed to be part of the family that runs this comfortable resort. The rooms were large and fresh (no mold) with bathrooms my wife would use. We left the door open and put the Ranger game on TV as the coolers were being systematically emptied as the guys roamed from room to room – a great time was had by all.
Saturday’s breakfast was as good as dinner and the rain from the night before didn't affect the stream color. Joe P. joined us for the day and we headed out to explore Woodland Valley Creek from the junction up to the campsite. It had plenty of flow and like the other parts of the area water ways, was widened and cleared by Irene. Lots of riffles, pockets and pools with fish sighted at several spots. We did our best to entice them but left around 2 not having stung one. Joe tried to recall a spot he had fished earlier but his GPS was uncooperative so we decided to fish the water downstream of 28 near Mt. Tremble known as Rock Cut. The spinning guys were having some luck with white lures so we opted for white streamers. Mike landed his first trout and Joe P. had two in the net and one jumper that was a long distance release. Joe O. was still looking to use his net, cursed by my comment on the way up that he always catches the first fish.
On the way back to the Inn we saw Jason’s car at a pull off above Phoenicia. It was a spot we would want to remember. Rick has been a devotee of European style nymphing also known as Czech nymphing for the last few years. He introduced Jason to it last fall. If anyone had any doubts about the effectiveness of this technique (or the fishing acumen of Rick) they were dispelled as Rick and Jason each had about 20 fish with a number of them the storied Ashokan rainbows of the spring run. The river temperature was 44 degrees. Now that’s some expert fishing!
Dinner was served – NY Strip, sliced with mushroom gravy along with pan seared grouper. Wow. Afterwards we retired to the living room by the fire and laughed at Sean’s amazing trivia talents.
The next morning was highlighted with us all around Rick’s car (How many fly fishermen does it take to change a tire?). Lots of laughs at Rick’s expense but he was laughing more that all of us. Good sport. We all said our good-byes and headed out for some more fishing. Our foursome raced for the spot of the multiple fish, its name to remain a treasured secret. Joe O. got his fish and Mike had one on as well. We all attempted to simulate the Czech technique as Jason showed up, headed up stream, crossed over and began a repeat performance catching fish after fish.
I sat and watched for a while. I considered heading up there but the crossing was tricky, especially the way he did it although he made it look easy. I reconsidered, returned to my traditional style and hooked one. I had 4 more take the hook but only one saw the net. Chris now joined us as did Sean, Peter, Tom Lo. Some secret spot this is. Chris commented that I let the nymphs rise at the end of the drift and we talked about it. I was explaining why I do it and commented that in these cold water conditions I do it more from habit than as a tactic. Somewhere in mid-sentence a fish hit. Then he went up to work with Jason.
We packed it in mid-day and said our good-byes again, all in agreement that this was a great weekend of fishing, friendship and fun. April on the Esopus.
Thanks to Bob for organizing the LITU trip. See you there next year.
May 2 – Saw Jim today. They had monster rain in PA and the rivers are all flooded. Plus the hatch reports are indicating nymphs, nymphs and more nymphs. No sulfurs as he was hoping, not this early, not this year. I told him we can cancel or go somewhere closer. He will think about it and call Monday. We were to go to the Little Juniata again leaving next Wednesday and returning Saturday.
May 3 – Caleb Smith State Park. I met Matt from my son’s company (or ex company) by the Smithtown Bull and we went over some tactics and practiced in the fishless water. At 11 we headed to the park and fished down from the top of 5 through 6. I gave a few pointers and let him do most of the fishing. I was hoping for a productive day for him with lots of hits and fish in the net but it was not to be. I asked the guys coming out as we went in how it was and they said “Slow.” I hoped it wasn't the stream but their skill, but it was slow. I asked Clarence if they recently stocked but as usual he would not answer. “You fish it and tell me.” his reply.
We went over where the fish would usually be and how to get the streamer there, weighted and unweighted. He picked it up quickly and by 1 I turned him loose to fish on his own, I hit one and netted another but that was it. I even got to fish beat 7 as the fellow who had it came up on 6 and we swapped. Nothing. Unheard of.
Once home I took Otto to the beach and saw that both Ken and Mike put their boats in. Time to get out to the salt.
May 6 – Made presentation on “More Things to do in the Woods” for the ADK-LI. About 50 people were there and they seemed to enjoy it and asked a bunch of questions afterwards. Sold some books after the meeting.
May 7 – 10 – Went to Alexandria PA with Jim to fish the Little Juniata and Spruce Creek. It is a 300 mile drive and with a few stops including one at the TCO fly shop in State College. We stopped in at the Spruce Creek Outfitters before going to the river for a few more essentials and the fellow was very helpful and accommodating. They don’t have much of a Hendrickson hatch here and their sulfurs come early, an orange colored version of what we see in the Catskills in June. I asked about public water on Spruce and he gave us directions. Most of the Creek is private with a few “fish for a fee” places that also drop in some big boys to keep the customers happy. We had the public water to ourselves and Jim went downstream with his 10 foot Grey - 3-4 nymphs on his leader. I went up and put on a caddis emerger in a size 16 or so – small. I immediately had hits and follows with two fish released by the time I saw Jim again who also had a few. Many more came to the fly and refused it. I changed a few times and the same thing occurred – one catch to every ten refusals. With 6 – 7 in the net in a few hours I wasn't complaining but was curious about how to fix it. We finished up and headed for the Inn for dinner and early to bed after a long day that began before 4 AM.
May 8 – Thursday – We thought about going back to Spruce Creek after breakfast in the 22 Diner which was very good and reasonably priced. We stopped in the fly shop again and I asked about the refusals. He asked what size tippet. I said 5x. He said go to 6. The fish are young but wild and often leader shy, especially on a small fly.
We decided to check out the Quarry and fished the same spot we had such good luck at last year. Nothing was happening for us or the folks up and down stream of us. We broke for lunch and Jim picked up the Spruce Creek Inn Coffee mugs he has been waiting a year to get. Great chili there by the way – and homemade pie not to mention their famous French fries – but get the small order. They come by the mountain!
Afterwards Jim wanted to show me a stretch I did not fish before which is upstream of the Yellow House Pool. You have to cross a small diversion stream which is muddy, and yes, I slipped on the bank, but the main river is beautiful, split by an island with a long deep pool on the far side. We set up with me upstream and watched for rises determined to fish dry. Jim was trying his new 4 wt. rod which he was very happy with. There were a few, very few, rises so I added an emerger behind my dry (sulfur). Then I added a nymph (GRHE) and then another (Pheasant Tail) resulting in a four fly rig – something I have not done before, as far as I can recall. It resulted in a fish on the bottom fly after working it for a good long while. Then I went back to a single dry. I moved up by the island and had to do some parachute casting to get any reasonable drift in the eddy across from the fast water. That is casting up in the air and letting the leader fall in a pile. I got him to chase the fly once doing this and that was it. I moved down as Jim moved up and tried for a sporadic riser near the bank, losing a few flies in the process. He looked once but was not fooled. I worked the middle of the pool to give him a rest and unknowingly was skittering the dry back to me when a mouth emerged from the depths and tried to gulp my fly as I pulled it out of his range. Damn. I recalled skittering caddis on the West Branch with success and just never thought of doing it here. I gave it a try but the day was about over. We packed it in and headed for dinner.
May 9 – It was hard to select a place to fish with so much river and most of it was available with the crowds less than last year. We both wanted to give Spruce Creek another try. I rigged with 6x and a single unweighted Pheasant Tail and met with immediate results. Again small, natural browns but lots of fun. They say you can be surprised on this water by a 5 pound trout suddenly appearing on a day when 6 – 8 inch fish are the norm. I worked my way as high as I could go. There were a couple of guys above what I will call the railroad tie pool, a long, curved, deep section with a namesake tie on the near bank. I had a few hits in there on my nymph and then switched to dry. I had a few more on the way down but the action seemed to slow. We decided to meet at 1:00 and move to the Yellow House Pool. Last year I fished it from the other side. I decided to not go across and settled in above the two large back eddies, watching the water for a while. I dapped a sulfur emerger in the NY tie – that is more yellow than the orange of the local version. A nice 12 incher took it. I moved further down to cast in the swirling eddy of foam and mini whirlpools. The drop off is quick so I was perched on the rock edge and casting carefully so not to topple over. I switched to a sulfur parachute in a 14 and again a yellow body. Jim decided to switch from his 10 foot nymph rig to a dry fly rod and went to the car. As soon as he left a good 15 inch fish took my fly out of the bubbles. When he returned I gave him the particulars – long leader (12 foot), 6x tippet, dead drift, no drag. Patience. Wait until it sinks and then wait some more. Bam! It is not easy to see your fly among the foam and bubbles but after keying your eyes on them for a few days it is amazing how you adjust and can see it even 60 feet away. I watched as it drifted back toward me in the reverse flow of the eddy, remembering to take in line without disturbing the fly so I’d be able to strike when he bit – and he did. I had three more good ones on and then the thunder came. We packed it in.
The trip was not nearly as productive as last year’s but then we came a week or so later in 2013 and the winter was not as long. I am sure as I am writing this the sulfurs are popping and the big boys are rising – such is the Little Juniata in May.
May 21 – First day of Catskill trip. Kevin will join me tomorrow after some morning business. I was planning to come home Friday but will extend to Saturday due to Memorial Day weekend traffic on Friday. Sue is, as usual, very generous of her support of my fishing as Lucy has not been well and the inevitable is near. Sue’s comment was ‘We can’t put life on hold waiting for this, go and enjoy yourself.”
Upstate had a massive rain last week causing floods. The reservoirs are full and over flowing. I was checking the stream flow charts and all rivers in the area were above fishable levels and the Delaware waters were in flood – 5000+ cfs on the West Branch and 3500+ on the East. Beaverkill at Cooks Falls was 1300 -. 500 would have been normal. I cautioned Kevin that we may have to cancel and continued to watch. Chuck Neuner was up for the weekend and said the Beaverkill was off color and high but fishable. It gave me hope. On Tuesday it had dropped to 1000 cfs and I decided to go but gave Kevin the opportunity to back out not wanting him to waste his time on water too tough to fish. He said he was looking forward to just being away and would be fine with whatever the conditions are.
I left about 6 and was up there by nine thirty, traffic being light. I had some breakfast but was undecided on where and what to fish. The streams (Beaverkill and Willow) were clear and seemed normal height. I am bringing Manny up in June, and wanted Kevin to have a positive but safe experience as well, so I was thinking of easy access spots that hold catchable fish. I stopped in town and picked up some March Browns hoping they would start showing up and headed for the Willow near DeBruce. Rain was predicted for everyday along with thunder storms. I put my rain jacket in the back of my waders as the sky was partially cloudy with the sun popping out. I expected to need it before the day was over. As it turned out I didn't need it for the whole trip. A few sprinkles caught me, but no rain.
I had the river to myself and decided to work my way downstream by crossing at the parking area. The better warn path and easier fishing access points are on the other side but I always liked the woodsy walk this side affords you. I could also look down into the deep pools along this edge and see what was going on, dapping my fly to elicit a response. The problem is there is little casting room, no fighting room and when you lift your rod to strike chances are you will be fouled in a tree. None the less I enjoy the view.
I came upon a fallen birch tree a few feet off the bank with a few branches on it. While looking it over a fish rose. Not just a simple rise but a smash and swirl. It was right under the troublesome branch where no fly on a leader would survive passage. I watched some more and he came up again a few feet out from the branch. I started with a small caddis emerger as there was a blizzard hatch going on, although the fish did not seem to be focusing on them. I had a hard time seeing it in the glare. I put on a 12 Adams I had tied and I made a few feeble flips with mostly leader and sure enough he came up to it, took a look and sauntered back to his cover. A few more minutes and he rose upstream of the last spot. This guy was a traveler. I flipped him again and then moved on downstream marking the spot for my return.
I fished the “Wall” as Tom Lo calls it and came up with a few brookies on a Dark Hendrickson. Moved down to the confluence where one more came my way and then started working my way back upstream. I looked at the Mansion Pool and hit it with a few casts but was anxious to get back to the birch tree. I sat and tied on some new 6x and that lucky Adams. Down from the birch tree is an upended set of tree roots making a swirling pool.
I took a few shots into the area and had one land and drift (with a few choice mends) perfectly into the heart of the roots. I figured I might lose the fly but instead I got a wallop of a hit and a big boy was on. I pulled him out of the roots and into the flow trying not to over stress the 6x. He was a fighter and gave me a few good reel turning runs. Then he seemed to be coming in. I took in some line and went to get the net as he blasted off, spitting the hook. Expletive!
I composed myself and apologized for the harsh language after having such an awesome moment. I blew on the fly, added a little silicone and worked the birch tree. A fish came up and splashed at it, and then another. I changed to a March Brown. It’s a little early but the fish are looking forward to them arriving as much as we are. A few more casts and another good one was on. Same scenario with a good fight followed by a spit hook. Joe O. had mentioned that he must be losing his touch on a recent trip as he hooked 5 or so, landing only 1. I was beginning to feel the same. I changed flies again and as I went to crush the barb had this thought that maybe just this once I’d leave it in place, but I didn’t. No more hits and I headed for the car.
Spaghetti at Raimundo’s and then I drove to the campsite. I was exhausted and the thunder was rumbling in the distance so I just watched a few guys try to fool the PhDs in the Covered Bridge Pool.
May 22 - Kevin was driving up after a morning appointment. I had until about 2 PM to myself. He is not new to fly fishing but hasn’t been in a long while. I wanted to scout a few spots for him as well as for Manny who will coming up with us in June. Looking for easy access and fish. I went to Ferdon’s and it did not disappoint. Then to Upper Pig Pen (whose little arrow shaped sign has been removed, by the way). The walk in is a bit more challenging especially with the jungle of knotweed already dominating the bank. The water was beautiful and I was sure I would bring up a few fish but none materialized. It was just about 1 PM so I packed it in to meet up with my guest.
He was just up for the overnight and wanted to be reoriented to the area so we checked him in at the Riverside and drove old 17 to Roscoe, pointing out the pools – Acid Factory, Cemetery, Painters Bend, Mountain, and so on until we pulled into Ferdon’s. The top of the eddy was open although there were people up and down from us, most standing on the fish while casting to the far bank. We discussed what method of fishing he would prefer, given the short time he had. I explained that nymphs and streamers may be more productive but if he wanted to learn how to dry fly, it would be best to just focus on that, even if it meant fewer fish. He agreed. I rigged him up with a fresh tippet and a fly he could see – large Adams; asked that he keep the line on the reel and just have maybe 10-15 feet of line out. Showed him how to flip it upstream and watch it until it dragged, then flip it again. He was a fast learner. I suggested he fish close to him and in the shallow water, moving up and down a few feet after every 10 casts of so. “Watch the Fly” I said and you will see fish come up and check out the fly. Let me know when you see one. It takes a while to really understand this part of fly fishing and one’s eyes have to be attuned to it as well as one’s attention span. I moved down from him and soon had a small one on which I brought up to show him. I added a small nymph to his rig behind the Adams and he continued to cover the water, getting increasingly competent with the technique.
Dark thunder clouds came up behind us, a few rain drops fell and the clap of thunder cleared the stream of our companions. We looked and each other and signaled that we should pack it in. We both were fishing our way to the car when the sky cleared some. The storm had moved further west so we went back to our spots and fished some more. Eventually more rain came and we decided it was time to move anyway. I gave him the rest of the old 17 tour – Junction Pool, Cottage Street, Hazel Bridge (which was closed), Power Lines and the Museum – and then we headed for Lew Beach. Pointed out Kuttner’s Shop and told him of the good old days when we fished the Beaverkill Valley Inn waters all the way to the Falls. As the rain fell I gave him that part of the tour. By the time we passed Joan Wulff’s place the rain had stopped. Next stop was the Covered Bridge Pool.
The water was clear and the fish were rising. A few guys were already in position. I suggested we fish the fast water below the pool and when he looked at it his only comment was “You’re kidding, right?” I showed him how to work it and we moved a fish in one of the pockets although he didn’t take. He was going to work his way up while I went to the top, connecting with a fish on the way. I was doing well in the upper water and lost track of him for a while. When he came nearer I asked how he was doing. “Nothing.” was the reply. I told him to come up to the beginning of the riffle and put on a March Brown. “Flip it into that glassy water and watch it.” He did and soon had on a fish. It was near 8 PM and we were hungry so we headed to Riverside for one of Tammy’s delicious dinners.
May 23 - Friday morning was a tour of Sunoco Pool followed by breakfast at the Roscoe Diner, then into to town to introduce him to the Little Store, Catskill Flies and the Beaverkill Angler. I told him about Dette’s and then took him to Rhododendron Pool off the Quickway and on to Fur Fin and Feather as I knew he would enjoy the guns that they have as well as the country atmosphere of the place. I was asking the guy if he had any Remington Wingmaster 16 gauges come through and he said sometimes. I told him that I was hoping to find one to duplicate my father’s. He said he would keep an eye out. Then he pointed out a Winchester Model 12 in a 16 gauge and I told him I have one – built in 1928. He mentioned that they only fit the old style ammo – 2.5 inch paper shells. I told him I just used my last box and was upset that the gun can’t use the newer ammo. He surprised me when he said he had some. I lit up as I have been worrying for years what I would do once the last box of old shells was gone. He carries a lot of old ammo since he sells old guns. I bought 3 boxes and immediately texted my brother that I am ready for our next skeet shooting trip and hopefully some pheasants.
We went to the parking area below DeBruce and I explained the choices we had in terms of fishing and walking. We decided to go to the birch tree and try our luck. As we were setting up the big boy rose and let us know he was still there. I took a few shots at him and Kevin worked the water above me. Then we crossed the riffle and went down to the big willow. It was time for him to get on the road so we said our goodbyes. I stayed the rest of the day working that fish and hooking him once on a March Brown, once on an emerging caddis and the last time (over the course of 5 hours with lots of rest in between) on a 16 parachute Adams – with barb. I named him “Old Slip Jaw” after he managed to spit even my barbed offering.
May 24 - I woke Saturday planning to fish half a day and leave for home. I stopped in town to pick up a few essentials including some Little Store fudge for my granddaughter. As I went to get in the car my phone rang. It was Sue. She was gone. Lucy had passed that night. She said no need to hurry home but I wanted to be with her. It was expected and a blessing for all involved, including Lucy given the state she was in, but it is still a loss. I made it to Northport in 3 hours without pushing since the traffic was light.
May 25 - Sunday – Weston CT. We went up to be with Carol and Tom. To talk about Lucy. To do what people do when they lose their mother. Tom had cut out an article in the local paper on fly fishing the Saugatuck River which is nearby. They wanted to show it to me and we drove by on the way to dinner. Sure enough there were some fisherman, one landing a nice fish. While there I gave Granger a book on outdoor crafts and skills. He seemed to really appreciate it. I reminded him of our planned August camping trip (and ask Jennifer if she would join us).
May 27 – Tuesday – I checked in with Manny today at Sue’s urging to see if he was ready for our trip and if he wanted to get together before then to “tune up” at bit. He said he was and he would. I will try to get a spot on the Nissequogue for Friday and get back to him.
Then I headed out for the boat. First time since I put it in and I was anxious to see if the netting kept the birds away. It did. Now I needed to see how to take the net down and stow it in a way that would make it easy to put back up. I worked from starboard side and aft, gathering the net and semi coiling it into a spackle can. Then I climbed aboard and un-did the port side followed by taking the cross bar by the helm down. Went pretty smoothly. I put the can in the dinghy and went out to see if any bass were in the usual spots. It was just past high tide. Some bunker were around but no hits on the fly. It felt good just getting out there and working the rod. A fish came up and it reminded me that I need to set up a second rod with a floating line and surface popper. I needed to be home for homework so I packed it in and was happy that the net went up easily as well. Boat seemed to be running well and American Marine serviced the fresh water system adding some cleanser to it which saved me from having to drain and fill the system myself.
May 30 – Friday – Met Manny at the park at 10:30 so we could go over his gear. He forgot his fishing license but the guy didn’t ask for it. An old fellow named Bernie was there and planning to fish beat 4 from the platform. He mentioned that Bill left the park after so many years. He went out to Orient. I thought he was waiting for Clarence to retire but I guess he got tired of waiting. The guy told us to fish from 5 through 6 to 7 since no one was on 6 so Manny and I walked up to the top of 5 and we worked the first “boardwalks” on the left with streamers. Manny was getting the hang of it but nobody was home. We moved on down working the right and then the left. I flipped a dry fly ahead of our walking in case there might be an interested taker. Manny hit one in the middle of 5 but I was surprised at the lack of fish. Maybe we need to do the early morning session. It was a beautiful day but disappointing. We packed it in and headed for the car. Bernie had already left. Manny’s waders leaked so we went over what he needed. He’ll pick up a pair before we head upstate next week.
I am noticing something about myself as I go fishing with my friends – I tend to want to help them enjoy the experience and do what I can to put them on fish but when all is said and done one has to put in the time, a lot of time, to become proficient at this sport – and even then there are fishless days.
June 1 – Joe called to fill me in on his Ausable trip. He said it was the best yet. Lots of fish and one spectacular one, and caught on a fly he tied. What could be better? We are set to meet at the Rock Hill Diner between 8:30 and 9 on Friday morning. Should be a good trip.
Worked on my flies. Reorganized the boxes by type figuring I can then pick what I need and put them in a day box – or wear my vest and bring the boxes I need. This is what Jerry did, at least the last time he organized – put them by major type – caddis, BWO, Iso’s, nymphs, etc. I remember him re doing them each year, going through the same indecision as I am as to how to keep them so that I can find what I need when I need it. Over the years I have assembled a lot a flies and most fit into some reasonable category but then there are the odd balls that I picked up on some trip which were to be THE fly for the day. I sometimes think I should just throw them out and just keep the collection to the basic categories. So much fun.
June 6 – I met Manny at 5:50 AM at Tom’s, I drove and Joe was taking his own car just in case I had to cut the trip short. I had hurt my knee on Monday, it blew up on Tuesday, couldn’t walk on it Wednesday – Iced it, Thursday too. Okay by afternoon and was fine for the trip with some icing along the way. Also I wasn’t sure Manny would make the 4 days. Joe was already generous in agreeing to take Manny along and I didn’t want him to have to leave early if something happened. As it turned out we could have all come together.
Rock Hill Diner was our rendezvous. Breakfast and on to the Neversink.
Greys Bridge had one car but the upstream pool was empty. Joe went up and got into fish, Manny worked the lower part by the bridge as I went just upstream of him. He was working on his cast and drift and getting proficient. I stayed close and fished intermittently. We had some risers and followers, even a splash but no hook ups. Got to be 2 so we moved to the Big Rock. As it turned out we should have stayed.
Big Rock Pool had one guy in it spinning with worms and trying to keep the trout alive on a stringer so he could transplant them to somewhere. Nice guy who yielded the main pool to us for a while. Joe had a nice one on but all in all it was slow. We headed to Riverside for an early check in.
The guys were there and it was good to see everyone. A fellow came up and gave me a big hello – and I think was looking to hook up with us to fish the weekend. With Manny along I did not want to commit to that. Also I fished with him the last two years offering to show him spots and assist in tactics. I thought he was a nice guy but it was time for him to help someone else with what he had been given. He later went to Joe and asked to come along and Joe nicely told him no, without me having said anything to him about it. Those of us who are more experienced are not there to be personal guides. People have to take the initiative to learn and practice this sport. Sounds harsh but you can't show up once a year to fish and expect a partner out of the deal. I just don’t think that is how it should be. I felt awkward about it but did make sure to continue to greet him and ask how he was doing.
After the BBQ the three of us slipped off to go to one of Jeff's secret spots. We were able to climb in and had the place practically to ourselves. Nothing really happened until after 8 PM but then a few fish were caught with Joe getting I nice one I ran down to photograph for him.
Joe just started tying and his first fly was the Fran Better’s Haystack. He went to Paul McCain’s place to get his vice and tools as well as the materials for this fly. He used it successfully on the Ausable the week before and now here on the Beaverkill. He was happy.
He had given each of us a couple as well. I had a few small fish on and was enjoying working the top of the pool as the others went down. It was getting dark and we decided to leave at 9, in about 5 minutes. I tied on the “Jo-stack” and went back to a fish that had been splashing me all night. He was tucked in tight to where the riffle came into the pool. The take was hard and fast and the reel was singing – he ripped line off and headed downstream. Joe was there and had the video on his phone going. This guy was not coming in. He was fighting like a steelhead. Joe calls out “3 minutes into the fight…” and still he was pulling. I tried to bring him in to the shallows and at first he agreed, but the gravel was not to his liking and he headed out again. I had on 6x tippet so I had to be careful. Also I had two knots in the leader from tying the 6x to 5 and the 5 to 4, hoping the knots would hold given the strength of this fish. I gave him lots of side pressure and then back to the beach “5 minutes and counting.” says Joe. I stepped up on the bank and walked backward like we do on the Salmon. He did come this time and he was beautiful. A big rainbow, long and strong. What a fighter. I got the fly out and went for the photo. Next thing he is back in the water and shoots out like a torpedo – no revival needed after that long fight – what a fish.
On the porch back at the ranch we all swapped stories and the boys got into the moonshine. Manny and I turned in, two tired dudes.
June 7 - French toast was made with homemade bread. Delicious. Lots of food as usual and all good. Very good. Tom Lo called to see how the French toast was and to say hello to everyone as he had a wedding and could not make the trip. I let everyone know. After breakfast we had a ceremony for Bob Maass, a long time, very active LITU guy who passed a few years ago, at CFFCM. Peter Dubno was trying to get a memorial bench at Barnhart’s pool approved by DEC but the bureaucrats made it just too hard. He settled for a plaque in the fly tier classroom in the new building at the CFFCM. I showed Manny the rod making machinery and then took him over to the museum to see Jerry’s plaque and the museum. He was fascinated that there was such a place dedicated to our sport and its history.
Next stop was town and visits to the fly shops and the little store. I wanted to try on waders as mine are nearing the end of their expected life. Joe loves his Simms so I have been looking at them. My problem is a size 13 foot and a 29 inch inseam. I always end up with baggy legs. They will make a custom pair for me – just $75 added to the already healthy price of $350 – $500 when Hodgeman’s are under $200. The catch is that Simms will fix the waders the first time for free and after that for a small fee. All other waders are thrown away once they start to leak. Decided to hold off until I need them. I hope I don’t regret that decision.
Mike who hooked up with us earlier on the Esopus trip asked to fish with us for the day. Joe agreed and we decided to go to Rhododendron to beat the crowds that were sure to be plugging up every pull off on the rivers this prime weekend of the season. We lucked out as we had the place to ourselves after two guys who were there all morning left shortly after our arrival. Lots of fish were upstream of the swimming hole which is where Manny and I fished as Joe and Mike went down. It was a multi fish day for me – all small until I hit a nice (16”) brown in the riffle at the top with a just tied on tan drake dun. Manny had a hit but no fish on. I called him up to work the riffle and then we worked our way down to meet the guys in time to get back for dinner. Joe had 3 on and Mike a few, so the good old Rhododendron did not disappoint. How many hours did Jerry and I spend here? Lots. One of the most beautiful pools in the Catskills, in my opinion.
Dinner was good and the LITU raffle was generous, as always, with almost everyone winning something. I helped Joe sell tickets as did Manny since Tom Lo wasn’t there. I was surprised how many guys bought none. A few I know have economic issues but others just choose not to donate. I know my charitable bone is bigger than most but I don’t get coming to a weekend like this and not supporting the organization.
I talked to Joe about where to fish that night and at first he was against going to Ferdon’s Eddy but then remembered that I need an easy in, easy out place with catchable fish for Manny. So we went, hoping the place had room. There was only one guy there but he was on the premier point with a spinning rod and worms, working the majority of the top of the pool. Oh well. Joe and Mike went up above him, Manny and I stayed below. He was there first. However as the night wore on he was casting his worms in front of me while I was trying to be respectful of his space by not casting in front of him. After a while I moved out into the current, something I would not do here preferring to cast into this section of the river, with his worms in my path. He got the idea.
Jay and Ron joined us and Jay slipped in between Manny and I. He had a few and then one nice one across the stream near the bank – nice cast. Not sure how Mike did as he walked up to Junction Pool. Joe and I switched places after I had a few and Manny had one as well.
We headed back to the Riverside for the traditional campfire. The Rangers were playing. Manny and I watched the third period – it went to overtime so we joined the fire. We came back an hour later and they were playing the second overtime – LA won.
To see photos of some of the fish and friends mentioned go to Fish & Friends.
(The 2014 Fishing Journal continues in the next column.)
If you are enjoying my journal you may also like my books: please go to Tom's Books and pick up a copy. Thanks.
June - August
June 8 - I walked over for coffee and met Rick. I complimented him on how he has learned this sport and become one of the best fishermen in the group in a few short years. Pancakes were phenomenal, as always. Turns out it was Tammy’s Dad’s secret recipe.
Joe P. was staying at the Roscoe Motel but joining us for meals. We asked him to join us for the day since he was staying over Sunday night as we were. Mansion Pool was on the agenda. Manny wanted to see Fur Fin and Feather as I told him of their guns. He is looking for an air gun. I also wanted to check on the books I left last time I was up. The other guys met us there and we headed for the river. As we pulled in, a camper and two cars were already in the lot. Joe pulled in and I had to wind around the other guy’s car to fit in. Something about the camper struck me and then I heard one guy call the camper Terry. Spontaneously I said “Is that Terry Schultz?” Terry writes for the CFFCM newsletter and is apparently close to Jim Krul, the Director. I have followed his travels in reading his articles. I shook his hand, told him I followed his travels and gave him a copy of my book. I then chatted with the other guys; one older gentleman had a Sherlock Holmes hat on and an old fly rod and reel. Nice fellow. The third guy was from NYCTU which is also up here on an outing along with us and Art Flick TU.
Joe and Joe went downstream and Mike went along with them. Manny and I fished just below the parking area where there are a number of nice pools that most people walk by heading for the down river sections. This is where “Old Slip Jaw” lives and I wanted another shot at him. The sun was bright and it was early so the activity was minimal although I did get a hit. Manny also had a rise or two. We then moved further upstream and Joe O. and Mike filled in below us. Next thing we hear is a shout from Joe – into a big fish. Could it be Old Slip Jaw? Well he landed him and had to take some flies out of him including one with tippet wrapped around his tail. Hmmm. I shouted down that he was my fish, that I was just resting the pool. We all laughed.
Joe came up and we talked as Mike left for home. While Joe and I were chatting, Manny says to us “Do you want to take a picture?” We looked up and he is standing by the Big Tree Hole with a fish in his net and smiling.
Joe P. came up and joined us. We talked of a late lunch/early dinner at Raimundos. Joe went to the car and called the other guys to see if they would join us. It was a go for 4 O’clock.
Joe and Joe then fished the upper river working the island just below the parking lot. As Manny and I were walking up he hit a big fish in the back eddy at the tip of the island. I have the video. Very beefy guy.
When we arrived at the restaurant the other guys were already ordering. Afterwards the group headed for Hendrickson’s and Elk Brook. Manny and I went up to the campsite. It was good to be one on one with him for a while and away from all the hustle and bustle.
I showed him the upstream fishing from the wall and we gave it a try. The rocky, highly pitched terrain was a bit much for him but he made some casts and I had a few follow and splash. It was not as productive as I had hoped so we moved back to the pool below the bridge.
I put on my waders and he chose to fish from the rock and beach. I went down the riffle and back up by 8 PM with a lot of small fish hitting most anything I threw, but none of the bigger boys were interested. Back at the top I sat down to tie on some new tippet and a new fly. When I looked up from that task the water was blistering with rising fish and the air was a blizzard of caddis. I had on an Adams and Manny had on a spinner. I had more access to the risers being in my waders than he did and I was concerned he would not hook up but he did. It got to be 9 and I was taking a few last casts to the still rising fish, trying to locate a larger one. As I turned I somehow lost my footing and ended up sitting down in the middle of the pool, water just above my wader tops. Woosh. In came the cold. It was a strange and comfortable feeling to be suspended in this stream I swam in as a boy. It was almost comfortable until I stood up and walked to shore.
We agreed to meet for ice cream at the gas station at 9:30. I don’t remember the last time I fell in while wading (I do remember diving out of the canoe with Shane to retrieve my rod) and cannot recall ever getting this wet. I can honestly say it was a fluke not caused by any of the usual factors – clumsy, tired, heavy current or rushing. I put on a dry shirt and off we went. Gased up the car and Manny bought the ice cream. When the other guys arrived we excused ourselves and headed for the ranch, seat heater on high.
We visited with the guys on the porch after getting dry. Swapping fish stories and talking of the club and upcoming elections. Peter D. and John F. are once again running for President and Vice President. This is not a good sign. It means that there is no one willing to step up to these leadership positions; it may a sign of a club in trouble, in my opinion. Time will tell. I had volunteered to become the Awards Chair and will be working with the board to respond to the State Council and National on what the chapter should apply for and who in the chapter deserves to be recognized.
June 9 -Joe met me in the parking lot and said he was not going to fish today. He was tired and his back was shot. Manny and I agreed. We had a great few days and it would be good to miss the evening traffic. We were going to Hancock to the Circle E for Sportsman’s Breakfast with blueberry pancakes and then to Ray’s Delaware Delicacies for eels. At least Manny was buying eels. Joe had never been there and I invited the other guys. Sol and John got interested but then decided to just head for home. The 8 of us did breakfast and then Joe, Manny and I went to Ray’s.
We get there, which is a long drive down a dirt road, and the sign says “Closed.” Manny knocks on the house door and he comes out, coffee cup in hand. He opens the shop but says no live eels and no smoked eels. When we said why not he says “The sign said closed, didn’t it?” Ray is now famous as he has been featured in the New York Times and on a National Geographic TV show a few times. He says his business has picked up but he is retired. I asked if he had a internet business. He said the only way to buy his stuff is to stand in his shop. He works a bit and smokes a few eels but not too many – because he doesn’t have to.
Manny asks for live eels and Ray says “No one gets live eels – just smoked eels.” Manny says he bought them here before - why not and Ray says "A change in policy." Manny says "What policy?" and Ray says "My policy." Turns out that live eels are primarily caught in September and then he freezes them, thawing a block every now and then for smoking. I asked if we could call before coming all this way. He says "I don’t answer the phone and what do you mean by all this way?" insulted that the drive into his place would be thought of as an inconvenience. What a character.
We bought some maple syrup and listened to some more chatter about local suppliers and how good Thomas’ maple butter is although he won’t sell it to us. Then he put a jar on the counter. We left smiling and headed back to Riverside to pack up and hit the road. A good trip. A very good trip.
June 16 – Happy Birthday to me. Finally got out on the boat and spent a nice day on the water. Took a few drifts off Winkle Point with the Sage 9 wt. I picked up on eBay. Works fine. Then ran the boat to recharge the battery which I had left on last time I was out. I figured it would be okay since nothing electronic was on. It was dead. Afterwards for some reason I checked the radio and it was on. I thought it was broken but the extended power from the battery must have fixed it. I went outside and drifted quietly through a bunch of bunker pools. Lots of them but no one was home. Had my lunch and caught some sun, covered in sun screen of course. Then I headed for the Huntington Light and mouth of Lloyd Harbor. Wind was out of the east so couldn’t drift the spot I like. Inside I had a few flashes and finally boated small but spunky striper. As I was heading home the engine conked out. A Parker with three guys on it pulled up and offered to help. I pumped the gas bulb but it kept sputtering. I dropped anchor and fiddled with it. I was going to call SeaTow when it occurred to me that I probably ran the gas tank dry. Sure enough I switched to the auxiliary and it kicked over. I motored out of the harbor and then opened it up. All is well – and the radio works!
June 18 – Happy Birthday Jason. Took Kevin out fly fishing from the boat. He picked up a nice 9 wt. Orvis Clearwater and it handled very well. We went to the Coast Guard and dropped anchor to practice casting while we waited for the tide to come in. Then we worked Lloyd Light rocks but the wind was 18 mph NWN so I stayed at the wheel. Next the honey hole inside the channel then we headed for Coonies since Kevin had to be home by 2:30. I picked one up and handed the rod to him. A nice 20 inch fish. Beautiful day.
June 20 – Happy Birthday Otto. He is 6. Went out mid-day and fished the rising tide off Centerport beach for fluke. About 5 short fluke and as many feisty sea robins came to the boat. It was a beautiful day. Came in by 5 to see Sarah off to her 5th grade Dance. She looked beautiful.
June 21 – Joe Odierna on the boat. 6 AM at the dock. We headed for the docks on the east side of the harbor and tried his casting. He is a greet caster but this was heavy sinking tip line so some practice was in order. No hits but the tide was at its peak and nothing was moving. We headed over to Huntington by Coonie’s and worked it well. I got one on, a small one and Joe pulled him in. Now he had the feel. I got another and after a good while we changed some tippet and moved to Frank Murphy’s old house – the Gate pool. No one home in the grass but as we rounded the point heading west with the tide, Joe hooked up with a nice 20 inch striper – his first. Photos were taken and smiles were had. Then we went to the honey hole inside the entrance where Joe hooked up again. Still no monster but nice to know someone was home. It was Joe’s first trip on the Reel McCoy and hopefully not his last.
June 23 – Took Marc out after work. We fished the rising tide in Huntington Harbor and hit 5 - 6 school size stripers and missed a few. We tried Duck Island on the way back in (about 8:45 pm and almost peak tide) but no one was home. Good time and beautiful day, even if the wind was blowing 15 mph SSW.
June 26 – Went out myself just as the tide began to run and met the owner of the small sailboat which is moored next to me. Too close if you ask me. She says hello from her dink and startles me. I am already in a dark mood for domestic reasons and I guess I snarled a hello. She asked if that was my boat as I pulled up to it (Duh!) and I acknowledged. Before I could think of what to say she says that the other one is her’s and they seem to be swinging okay. I read that statement as: she also thinks they are too close. I grumble something and board as she rows for the beach.
It occurred to me that she was not familiar nor was her dinghy. I look up from my work to see her approaching my spot on the rack. I whistle to no avail. I shout “Hey” and she looks up. I say the spot is taken and she says she wasn’t going to put it there – as she lays it on the beach in front of the rack – her new spot. I say “When you are new to the rack you go to the back.” She says something. I say that it is just inappropriate to leave it there. I motor away rather than continue the exchange. I growl as I pull out, feeling double bad now – first for not being settled at home and now this. I call Sue and apologize. I need to try again – to be a good partner. I feel some relief.
I try Winkle Point but no one is home on three drifts. Tide is still high so I go over to Sand City and fish the beach from the last mooring ball to the point. I get a few flashes at the point and do it again. I hook a nice – something. It runs hard and spins the reel. I try to get control of the line and he goes under the boat, soon to fowl on the engine if I can’t pull him out. I try and he is off. My guess is it was a nice bass. No tooth marks on the leader that a blue would leave. I work it a few more times but no more hits. No more flashes.
I wanted to do some chunking for bass by buoy 15 but needed some bunker. I moved to mid-harbor where there have been schools and they were there but they were small and skittish. The sound of the snagger hitting the water scattered them. I took a bunch of shots but no hook up. Need the school to be bigger or they need to be distracted by attacking blues to snag them like the old days. I give up and motor out to just south of 13. I rig a fluke rod with pink flies and green rubber worms. Looked ugly. I hit a few sea robins and had a lot of short hits – porgies? In deep water I finally picked up a nice 15 inch sea bass. Pretty fish. A few more sea robins and I headed in before the tide was fully out.
June 30 – Sarah and I went out around noon as the tide was leveling off. It was high at 2. We motored out to my porgy spot east of the lighthouse and dropped anchor. Clam was cut up and chummed and we baited the light weight rods. Before long she had a nice one on, hooked and landed all by herself. We moved around a few times trying to locate the school but didn’t. Then we ran back into the harbor and fluked a bit but the tide was now full so we headed in. Her first trip of the year and a successful one.
July 1 – Hunter and I went out at 9 AM from the dock in town. We looked for bunker off the NYC (Northport YC) and there were a few flipping but no schools to snag. Suddenly there was a loud shriek – an alarm. It took me a few moments to figure out what it was – engine overheating. We anchored where we were and called American Marine. Keith went over what it may be, had me look to see if intakes were blocked by a plastic bag or weed. They were clear. Suggested I run the engine as it can only cool itself when running. There was a weak stream of water coming out. Eventually the alarm went off. I remembered running into some sand a few days ago and feared it may be the problem. Keith said he can pick it up and have it back by Thursday. It may have been alright to run it as is but I didn’t want to risk ruining the engine.
Hunter and I went slowly to the Centerport channel and fluked hitting about 5 fish with Hunter’s 17 incher the largest – legal is 18. No dinner. We tried a little porgy fishing but hung up on a bunker net with the anchor which we figured out. I noticed the anchor rode was unraveling at the chain and the winch (windless) would not allow it to pass. More trouble. In the midst of all this we forgot to take a picture of Hunt with his fish – as we hoped there would be more – but there weren’t. It was great being out with him and we called it a day around 1. Keith picked up the boat at 2:30. Hopefully it won’t be too expensive or involved.
July 10 – Hurricane Arthur came by on July 4th and the wind and water have been messy since. The boat was fixed and returned on the 3rd. Mud on the thermometers, sand in the impeller. Also needed a new anchor rode as well as a 360 light. Have not received the bill yet. I have been thinking about going out each day but just too lazy or rationalizing that the tide is not right, or the wind, or the weather.
Sue and I went to Robert Moses yesterday, field 5 as always. The ocean still looked angry from the storm, riled up, disorganized and opaque. The cool breeze and high clouds made it comfortable for sitting without the need for an umbrella but the water seemed to be in the low 60’s. I had asked Kevin to go out the other day but he was under the weather. Also asked Peter D. but he is busy. I am scheduled to go out with Shane and Hunter Friday and then Gary on Saturday. Maybe I will get out a bit this afternoon. We will see.
July 11– Met Shane and Hunter at the dock – they brought egg sandwiches and coffee! We hit bunker in the moorings and boated 5 with Hunter getting the first, then headed outside for some fluking. Tried the OB buoy but it was rough and fishless. Then moved to the east side of the triangle. Nothing again. Hunter asked to go try for bass off the power plant so we rigged with plugs and spoons and gave it a try. Next we went off the golf course and fished the line off the sand cliffs. As we crossed the line Shane brought in a 20 inch beauty.
Glad to say he choose to release it without any coaching from me. He got another and I hit an 18 incher before the tide shifted and drift ended. We fired up the boat to head inside for more but were met with another shrieking alarm. This time it was the oil gauge. I had a gallon and put it in but there seemed to be plenty in the tank. At a slow cruise it was fine but as we sped up it went off. I called American and apparently there is a filter clog or pump problem that allows it to transfer from the holding tank to the engine at low speeds but cannot keep up with the flow at higher speeds. We rode in under 2000 rpm - about 7 mph.
The boys drove and listened to the radio as I cleaned up the bait, washed down the deck and stowed the rods. When we arrived at the mooring there were bunker and blues all over the place. Hunter and I went after them with plugs and spoons but there was just too much natural bait for them to care. It was an amazing sight, this huge school of bunker with their backs out of the water. Sue picked the boys up at the beach and I waited for American Marine. Hopefully it will be just a clogged filter and be back in the water tomorrow. The boat is in its 15th season - I guess this is to be expected. I text Gary to tell him Saturday AM fishing is off.
July 12 – Boat was fixed and back by 9:30. Oil filter clogged and lines and tank cleaned. Hopefully that is it for this season. I spoke to them about what to expect from this engine and when to consider replacing it. Consensus is to keep running it until it blows up, which is not likely to happen if I keep servicing it. On the other hand the new 4 strokes are supposed to be much better engines – at $20k they should be. I could sell the boat for say $25k and plus the $20 k for an engine gives me 45k to spend on a new boat. They said “Sure but you won’t get a boat like this for $45k – more like $100 – 120k these days.” So I will wait.
I went out with the fly rod in the bay and hit 4 nice schoolies off Winkle Point. Turned the east side of Hobart and the mouth of Lloyd but nothing. Went to Duck Island point and no again. Returned to Winkle but realized I was tired and headed in.
Gary and I are back on for next Friday evening.
I will be going to the Housatonic with the LI Fly Rodders August 1-3 for small mouth bass since the river is too warm for trout now. Hoping to hit the white fly hatch which drives the bass nuts. It will be my first trip with them after 3 years of membership.
Trips are the main reason for belonging to this group so it is overdue. Most of them are campers and so I will need to bring the tent. I have been considering buying a modern lightweight, easy to set up tent for the last few years but then realize that I just don’t go that often and that I love my old tent – bought around 1975, it is a canvas wall tent from Morsan’s (long out of business), listed as 8x10 but now 8x9 for some reason. It is not rain resistant so I need to cover it with a blue tarp which is a bit of a pain, but again, how often do I go?
I set it up in advance of the trip and was able to do it by myself, with some difficulty. I snapped a tip off one pole but it is still serviceable. Since it was up, I asked Sarah to camp out with me. She was at first hesitant but then got into it. We went out around 10 pm and looked for fire flies and then turned in, both reading with our head lamps.
So many memories in that tent. I told her that her dad slept in it with me when he was about 4 or 5. I took it down this morning and am ready for the trip.
July 13 – We have had more wind then I can remember for July. It started before the 4th with hurricane Arthur stirring things up and it has continued. Maybe 2 days of normal 4-6 mph and the rest 12 – 20. Today called for light winds and it was roaring out of the south west which really riles up the mooring area. I decided to go out regardless.
I figured I would do some fishing that can use the wind rather than letting it beat me up on anchor or drive me nuts trying to fly fish the points. So I packed the fluke bait and headed out. My hope was to go outside to try the golf course again where Shane caught his 20 incher but it was blowing pretty good.
I got a full workout in just rowing the dinghy out. I headed to Centerport Channel where I hoped to be in the lee of the land but it was not to be. The tide was full high and the wind created the drift so I wasn’t complaining. Sea robins and short fluke so I tired over by Hobart on the west side. More sea robins. I always have a difficult time getting them off the curved fluke hooks while trying not to grab them due to their spikes and sharp gill plates. I caught enough of them to give it some thought.
My usual drill is to grab the hook shank with the pliers and twist and shake but they seldom come off clean, even though the hook doesn’t seem to be imbedded. For some reason this time I grabbed his jaw with the pliers and just took the hook out with my hand. Simple. I solved a long standing problem just by having time to think about it. More sea robins as I passed the buoy at the Coast Guard and more past there as well.
I had one double header with a sea robin and a small fluke on one take. That was a first. Sue text that she was home and I did want to see the World Cup final – Argentina and Germany – so I headed in. The winds were even stronger and the approach to the mooring was a manly one with me grabbing the lines and holding the boat as she swung into position. Invigorating to use my muscles. Germany won.
July 17 – Yesterday I had to go to Riverhead for an business meeting so I called Tim Otero, a high school friend who just relocated to Hampton Bays, to see if he was going to be around. Got to his place around 1 and we toured the area including the surfing beaches we both went to when we were young. He still goes although he admits it is tough to paddle even though he is a pretty good swimmer still.
It was great revisiting the "Three’s" on the west side of Shinnecock Inlet which used to be pier pilings with a wave break, now the waves break on a jetty, so no more surfing there. Then we drove around to the "Flies," the east side of the inlet. It is now a county park which allows campers and you can drive on the beach if you have the proper vehicle. Tim is thinking about getting a jeep so he can.
All the rich and famous houses are there for us to drive by and ogle. He is in the process of building a rowing skiff so we compared notes as I showed him photos of my canoe. He also had a fly rod in his garage. He said that his brother who passed, Kipp, was the fisherman but that he would go with him. I said we need to meet on the Carman’s River one day. We ate at a marina on the canal and had a great time reminiscing and getting reacquainted.
Today is a Robert Moses State Park day with the grand kids. First day of sun this week. Should be a good time. How lucky we are.
July 18 – Gary arrived about 3:30 and we were underway by 4. Bunker were in the moorings and he snagged a few to add to our frozen bait. High tide was around 5 so we fly fished Winkle Point and the east side of Hobart landing one fluke. Then we tried the Lloyd Harbor rocks where the drift was awkward but another fluke came in, both were about 16”. Also a small blue fish – the first of the year.
Gary notice some oil in the water as we drifted. I took a look but could not figure it out – yet. Around 5:30 we headed out to the Triangle to set up for some bunker chunking and hopefully some bass or blues. There were a few boats out but not as many as you would expect on a beautiful evening. We set up on Buoy 15 and worked it for an hour and a half with nothing. We had one bait on the bottom and two drifting at different levels. Then we moved over to 13.
Boats were on the eastern seam of the Triangle between the two buoys but didn’t seem to be catching. We set up south of 13 and realized the current was very strong which is probably why the others were north of this spot. We had to put on 20 oz. to hold bottom which resulted in one sand shark. We packed it in about 9 after a reel mishap on Gary’s rig. It was a beautiful night. At the mooring I went to tilt up the engine which is when I discovered what that oil was from. Looks like another trip to the mechanic.
July 21 – Picked up Shane and Hunter at the dock at 9. Gassed up and headed out. We decided to focus on fluking so we passed by the bunker schools in the harbor. Before we headed out we hit Winkle Point and Hobart with spoons and the fly rod hoping for some bass. Nothing. Went to the Coast Guard and set up the fluke rigs. Next the east side of the triangle, then the golf course and then the hot water. Nothing. Not a sea robin.
Went back to the east side of the triangle and finally hit some sea robins and a few nice black sea bass – Shane catching his first of this breed. Things were still slow, so we switched to porgies from the anchor with a couple small ones coming to the boat. Then we drifted the north south line with the porgy rigs and found more porgies and black sea bass. About 6 of the first and 4 of the second. Made for a nice morning. Danielle was going to pick them up at the dock at 2:15 so we headed in stopping to look at some stirred up bunker, but no blues to be seen.
July 22 – They picked the boat up at 10. No diagnosis yet.
July 28 – Tilt and trim repaired. Picked the boys up at 8:30 and we went outside figuring on fluking and porgie-ing while looking for blues. There were bunker in the harbor but we passed them by hoping to find some with blues under them. We all caught fish – Porgies, sea robins, fluke and a black sea bass. We worked from the Lighthouse to the golf course to the stacks and back to Lloyd Harbor and Centerport channel. One keeper fluke that I filleted for them for dinner. A little rain, some threatening clouds, but a great day!
July 29 - Heading to CT with Joe O. and Paul McCain. Housatonic or Farmington? Turned out the Hous was running at 500 cfs so we went to the Farmington. We left around 8:30 figuring on fishing until 8 PM and not wanting to get up there too early. Traffic was an issue and we arrived around noon. We visited the local fly shop – Upcountry Sport Fishing. Nice well equipped shop – Paul spoke with Grady, the owner for a long time while Mike, Joe Odierna and I looked at the flies, buying a few light Cahills. Lunch of brisket just out of the smoker next door and then to the river. We went to the camp ground pool based on the fly shops recommendation. There is so much Farmington to fish, it will take a life time to explore it all.
Paul explained that the river has long pools with fast water on each end. It was flowing strong and clear. Rocks were slippery and the surface was glassy. To fish the smooth water fine tippet was needed and it had to be free of kinks and curls. I worked on changing tippets a lot.
As we suited up in the parking area just outside the campground, Paul said turn off your phones – of leave them in the car. A good idea since there is no signal but Joe wanted his to take photos and put it in his pocket.
The river was cool and before I stepped into the river, Joe commented what a fishy spot it was where I was going in. I dropped the parachute Adams in first and pulled out a little brookie. A good sign. Joe and I worked this water while Paul and Mike went up stream. Then Joe went down toward Hemlock Pool and I caught another brookie and an Atlantic Salmon of about 12 inches. They stock them up here hoping for a migration to take hold. Joe came back a little damp and fishless although he had a good one break off. Mike came down to join him and went up to join Paul.
I stepped into a stream side divot where the kids surely spin from and put on a Iso emerger. First drift I saw one fish come up and look and then another who looked, thought about it and took it. A 12 inch brown in the net. Next to me was a father son worming and the kid hooked up immediately after I did. He said “Thanks for bringing us luck!” I went up but met no more fish.
Paul came down and reported his catch including a 16 inch brown up above in the fast water. We sat and chatted watching fish rise on the far side. I tried to reach him and Paul went down. After a while I joined him having to get a leader from the car and some tippet. I went to rebuild my leader from tippets but I had no 4x and my 5x was empty.
When I came back Paul was having luck with #20 BWO. I tied on some 6 x and a 20 BWO and shortly had another brookie. They were rising all around us and we had a few misses. Paul went up and I stayed and worked hard for the next fish. Many casts and tippet changes finally netted me a 14 inch brown. I wrecked my tippet again, as the fly was causing it to twist. I rebuilt in in the fading light and picked up one more brookie when Joe showed up – really wet this time.
I had told him before we came that I had heard of a lot of guys slipping in this river and getting wet so to be sure to bring extra clothes. Good thing. He had snapped off a fly and turned to try and save it and in he went. Phone and all. Siri got wet.
We had dinner at the Log Cabin Restaurant and headed for home. A good three hour drive but the traffic was light. I go home at 12:30. A great intro to a great river. I have to go back. My custom is to collect a rock from every new river I fish and although I thought about it several times during the day, forgot to get one. Maybe I'll bring the tent next time – and a change of clothes.
Joe’s Email: Well, after several hours of sitting in a rice bath, it looks like Siri is barely alive. I was able to receive calls this morning, but only through the cars' Bluetooth. The screen on the phone is currently dead so I can't see where the buttons are to answer, nor do I hear it ring, but I could answer when I was in the car. Now that seems to not be working so well. A slow and painful death will be completed and a new birth will occur in the near future. The boss laughed at me. He said that the next time he hits his phone with his golf club, he would tell our boss that he needs a new phone.
Well any way, remember how I was looking at my vest thinking I had lost my flies from my patch? I figured why I was looking there. SUNGLASSES! Yep, when you go back this weekend, catch the brookie sporting the new Hobie shades. I can't wait to read your article on this one in the Newsletter!
At least we had a nice day fishing! $22 Connecticut Fishing License; $15 in tolls; $50 gas; $15 dinner; $20 lunch; $70 sunglasses; $549 iPhone...and $2.50 light Cahill fly which I was trying to fetch out of the water after it snapped off my line on a bad cast - then falling into the Farmington River - PRICELESS!
August 1 – I was supposed to go on my first LI Flyrodders fishing trip to the Housatonic for a three day, two night camping trip. The weatherman is calling for rain on Friday and Saturday and I was bringing the tent. I well recall the damp life of the tent’er in rain and decided it was not worth it. I emailed Richie, the trip leader and he implored me to come but it is just too risky healthwise. I have had pneumonia several times and seem prone to it so I decided to let it go.
Instead I will go to the Carmen’s with Chuck Neuner who just gave me back my Wright McGill spinning rod completely refinished. It is beautiful. It cost $11.95 when new in 1958 according to a catalog I have. I bought it at the Alley Sport Shop in Westbury (on Post Avenue) around 1960-1 and thought I paid $15. It was a special order and very exciting for me at the time.
I went to the Carman’s at 3 arriving after the booth closed. I knocked on the window and a girl responded saying they were closed and the system shut down. I asked if it was okay to go fishing and she said sure. I suited up on A and walked up to the dam to begin. I remember Chuck telling me how to fish the swirling water exiting the dam. I tried and had no response. I tried a few more tricks to no avail.
I worked my way down to Gate A and fished all the way through with no response to my beetle or cricket. I took a break and ate while waiting for Chuck to arrive. He was in the city today and was running a little late. We had a companion show up who was a very talkative fellow who was new to fly fishing. He had met Chuck on the river before and was asking about a bamboo rod. Chuck was very patient with him although I found him a little intrusive. That’s just me.
We went up to beat 11 and walked the river hoping to see some brookies but it is August. No bugs were out and the fish follow the bugs. We headed back to the dam and this time we put on Grey Fox Variants and skittered them. Chuck hooked up and had a few misses. I could not see the fly in the quickly falling dark.
We went back to A where my car was parked and worked the downstream banks in the dark. Our new friend was there and said there were a few rises. We witnessed one, but no takers. I fished with my 7 foot Neuner 5 wt. and was very pleased with how it cast. I forgot how good a rod this is and thanked Chuck again for it. He offered to make a rod for the LITU banquet and asked me to communicate it to the board. Generous. We left the park about 9 and headed home.
August 6 – Last night I was at the Flyrodders meeting and the presentation on bone fishing by Joe and Mary reminded me of the good times Sue and I had bone fishing in Florida.
Today I picked Kevin up at 7:30 for a morning of fly fishing for stripers or whatever we could catch. I hit the top spots inside Huntington Harbor but no one was home. We did have a lot of bunker and snappers around but no hook ups. Outside by Lloyd Harbor there were blues attacking bunker and we worked them with spoons, poppers and flies. No hook ups but it was great to see those blues smashing through the schools. I should have snagged a bunker and drifted a chunk under them but I didn’t want to deal with the mess.
It was a beautiful day and I dropped Kevin off in town at low tide. Hope to take Sue out tomorrow.
August 13 – I was walking Otto after 6 PM and noticed the blues were chasing bunker in Prices Bend right near the boat ramp. I text the neighbors and headed for home. Ken passed me with his rod on the roof before I passed Tudor and Walter was right behind. I called Sue, as it started to rain heavy, and she picked us up before the deluge. Ken hooked a few bunker and then a small blue on a tin before he remembered that he left his sun roof open.
Once the rain stopped I headed down with my surf rod. I started with a popping plug and went through a few lures before darkness came and the action subsided. No hook ups but plenty of fish within range. The next day they were there again but in smaller numbers.
August 15 – I ran some errands and got home in time to get out before the tide peaked, about 3 PM. I headed to Winkle Point and had a small bass on the second cast. I had hopes for a good afternoon – but that proved to be the only bass. I moved to Duck Island and picked up a healthy porgy, then to the condo wall – nothing. Last, the inside of Hobart out by the tip. Nada. One more shot at Winkle Point where there was some action near the grass but did not convert. Still a good afternoon.
August 19 – I wanted to go camping. I wanted to go trout fishing. I would have enjoyed some company but the family is not a camping one and my buddies were otherwise engaged. So I checked with Sue about the dates and made a reservation at the Hawes Camp Ground in the American Legion Forest in Pleasant Valley CT.
I had promised Granger to take him camping and was hoping he could join me for a few days but he had to go check out some schools. Maybe we can go later in the year. Manny also wanted to go fishing again but I am not that familiar with the Farmington River and not sure camping is the best way to house him, a newly minted octogenarian. So I headed up alone – not feeling badly about it.
In fact I enjoy being alone and doing my own thing. There is something to be said for making all your own decisions and not having to worry about anyone else for a few days. Move at your own pace and not worry about the needs and desires of a buddy. Selfish? Perhaps. But a nice respite.
I drove through the city and the bridges were both jammed. It took about 4 hours to get there with a few short stops. I checked in and set up camp. I have set this tent up a few times in the almost 40 years I have owned it, but it has always been a struggle. This time I figured it out. I guy-lined the sides before trying to raise the center pole and nudged the angle poles a bit at a time before trying to insert them in the rings. It was a beautiful thing to still learn something new at 67.
Done in about an hour and a half moving at a slow, non-sweat producing pace. Home Sweet Home. I set up the camp fire, splitting some logs so I would not have to do it in the dark. The camp wood was very hard but dry – no crackling at all. A few logs, once lit, burned a long time. I decided to fish the water near the campsite for the afternoon and save my exploring for the new day. I cut through site 5 which was empty, but also has a small trail to use if it wasn’t. I came into the river upstream of where I had fished a few weeks ago. The flow was still strong but not as high as it was. The rocks are like walking on cannon balls covered in grease. I took the wading staff out of its holster and kept it out the entire trip. A first for me.
Fish were rising near and far. I worked the 4 wt. Loomis but was not pleased with my casting. The fish came to look at the various terrestrials I put on but didn’t care for them. I tried a small BWO but my casting was so sloppy. I figured I must be tired or working the 9 wt. on the salt has ruined my trout casting skills. I was happy to catch one nice brown and headed back to camp before dusk. I drove up to town and looked at some of the spots I wanted to try tomorrow before settling in for the night. While sitting it came to me that the line on the rod didn’t feel right. I took the spool off to check the line weight – it was a 5. Hence my uncomfortable casting. I switched to the 4 and the rod preformed beautifully.
Dinner was hamburgers and beans – my specialty done in the black iron skillet. First the burgers and then the beans dumped in after, swirled a few times with the fork and dumped on the plate. Delicious. My menu was to be two nights of burgers and one of hot dogs. I brought some Progresso soup and always PBJ in case I got into a jam. Breakfasts were 2 pancakes and bacon and one bacon and eggs.
The fire lit with one match, as always. I sat and watched it, sipping a coffee, and thinking about absolutely nothing. They say men can do that but I never could. My mind would race and my list of things I had to do was endless. I can remember many years ago sitting by a fire like this and raging at the world. Of course there was a little Jack Daniels involved back then. But even in more recent times, when employed, I would be constantly thinking of this or that, recalculating decisions, reviewing relationships. Always something. Now, in retirement, peace. Or serenity I guess is the more appropriate term. I slept soundly until 8:30.
To see photos of some of the fish and friends mentioned go to Fish & Friends.
(2014 Fishing Journal continues in the next column.)
If you are enjoying my Journal you may also like my books: please go to Tom's Books and pick up a copy. Thanks.
August - December
August 20 - My first full day on the Farmington River was fortified by a good breakfast so I could skip lunch. I decided to drive up to the top by the dam to start. I put the keys in and turned the ignition. Nothing. I had left the switch on to charge my cell phone which was not getting any service but kept searching for it, running so far down that even the time didn’t appear. Oh well. I knew the car would recharge itself in a few hours and took it as a sign to fish the camp waters today.
I headed to the riffle upstream which had two guys working it. I went in above them and started with terrestrials. A few bumps and refusals so I put on an iris caddis and trailed an ant. They liked both but I caught the first fish on the ant. This fish took as I fished down to him. This turned out to be the most effective presentation for the week.
I moved up into Hawes Pool and worked the ant, a caddis, a cricket and more with no fish to the net. I kept moving up, a bit at a time, covering the water from the near shore. I saw no need to wade across, as there were fish all over. I was across from the big rock when three folks came in below me, and a little close.
A guide coaching a woman and a fellow fishing with them. She was showing her how to nymph and avoiding eye contact. A friendly hello would have been nice at these close quarters – especially when there was so much open water. I tried the iris caddis again and got a few looks so switched to a small tan caddis, sparsely dressed. I fished down to the last rise and had a nice 12 inch brown on. The trio didn’t look up. I re-dressed the fly, now even more sparsely dressed, and fed it down the same seam. Bang! A big boy. Beautiful 15+ brown in the net. Still no nod from my neighbors. Oh well.
I fished the area a little more and moved up and out of sight. Got out and walked a bit as the wading was getting deep and I was getting tired. It was close to 3 PM. I continued up a full ½ mile from the camp ground but saw no more fish. The terrain was alternately flat pools and shallow riffles and then became a bit serpentine. I tried a few more flies – Iso emerger, spinner and dun as well as the cricket again. No takers – and no risers. At 5 I looked for a path to the road to walk back.
August 21 - Day 3 began with good coffee – fine ground Colombian made with a paper filter and hot water. The best. I forgot how good it is to have real coffee having given in to the K-cup legions a while ago. Bacon and eggs on a fresh potato roll and a Sunny D to wash it down. (It’s all I had in the house and didn’t want to stop for OJ.) The car started (I shut the phone off to save the battery) and I went to the Beaver Pool up Hogs Back Rd. A beautiful site with a nice combination of pool and falls – a rapid really.
I worked the whole thing including doing some nymphing which is not my favorite, but the water called for it. But not a splash, no tug, nothing – not even a flash. Seemed sterile of fish and of bugs. The guide book did say this area has fewer insects. Downstream where the Still River comes in, with its sewage plant enriched water, there is more life. One of life's many paradoxes. After a while I went up even higher – I don’t know why as it will just be more of the same, but it was a nice expanse of mixed water and a few rises. I teased up one fellow 4 times with a BWO but he was too smart to take it. I finally caught a small 8 incher.
I wanted to check out the East River Road spots – Pipeline and Whittemores, so packed it in. I stopped at the General Store in town which is great. I got some Cherry Vanilla ice cream and some fresh blueberries to put in my morning pancakes. This part of the river is characterized by long, very slow pools bookended with fast runs. I worked the very end of the flat water and the run at the end of pipeline.
There were some fish showing themselves and I did raise a few and hooked one on my BWO #20, but this was tough fishing. In the riffles I used a cricket with a deer hair back so I could see it and did not get a single chaser in the 50 yards of water I fished it. At the bottom, the story was the same. Up by the camp ground there were so many fish but so far these upper areas seemed devoid of hungry hunters. It was getting dark so I decided to try something outrageous. I put on a giant Montana foam thing with long spidery legs and tossed it into the tail of the riffle. I did get a rise but the fish probably didn’t have a big enough mouth.
I walked out at Whittemores and back to the car and tried the top of the riffle again, then headed back to the Beaver Pool to see if dusk would bring out the fish that were surely there. The road was wet from a shower that had missed me and the spots along Hog Back were all empty but one. Beaver Pool was empty as well. I stood looking at the water as darkness fell – nothing showing.
That night I had fire wood from a road side stand outside of camp. It was lighter pine, split easily and burned fast and hot. One match, of course. Still at peace and wondering when my mind was going to turn on again. Decided to just enjoy empty-headed glaring into the fire.
August 22 - I had considered staying another night. I had enough food and the weather had been very kind – especially considering the McCoy Curse my Father carried – it rained every time he camped. Not just rained, poured. It got to be that friends and relatives would ask when he was going camping and then plan their trips on other weeks. True story.
If the fishing had been more aggressive, I may have, but I was tired and had had a great stay. I didn’t want to push my luck. The blueberries were amazing. I poured in the batter and then dumped the berries on top – the heat brought out the flavor and aroma. They were the best I have ever had – even better than those Huckleberry cakes in Montana in 2010.
I took my time packing up, enjoying working at my own pace without any help. Proud of the method I have practiced and perfected over all these years. I left at 11 and headed for Route 8 South. I called Sue to tell her I was on my way and said I might take the Bridgeport Ferry. She encouraged it given Friday traffic heading to the Hamptons. I called and the later ferries were sold out but there was room on the 12:30. The GPS on my phone said I was 1 hour and 14 minutes from the depot. I decided to do it and if traffic or a wrong turn made me miss the boat I would just wait the hour for the next one. Things all worked out and I was home walking Otto by 2:30. It is 90 miles even, door to door when using the ferry. A much better way to travel.
I debate with myself all the time about camping and RVs. I think I can end the debate. I think I will stay with my trusty tent. Maybe I will go again before the season ends. We’ll see.
August 25 – Sue and I spent a beautiful day on the boat. We headed to Cold Spring Harbor and then back into Huntington. We didn’t fish – or see any for that matter – but it was a great time.
August 28 – Today I am going out with Dick, a neighbor. Ken mentioned that he wanted to try fly fishing and I told him to give Dick my number. We talked Monday and set this up. I met him at the dinghy rack and we got underway. It was a beautiful day, warm and breezy, bright sun. I went over the basics of fly fishing – fishing really as he is not much of a fisherman – more horses and sailing and all kinds of other adventures. He has been fishing and is thinking, as he moves away from the physical challenges of horsemanship, he might like to take it up more. Maybe even get a flats boat for his time in Florida.
We chatted and shared about ourselves and then I took him by Winkle Point. Blues were breaking there as they were in the mooring area. I gave him a spinning rod with a popper and set the fly rod aside. They were moving fast and we went back to the fly rod. I cast and told him to bring it in so he could get a feel for it. It was a bit awkward in his hands as I would expect. We moved over to Duck Island and even though he is a long time Northport resident and boater, he was in awe of how beautiful the water on these points was. That’s the best part of fly fishing, the intimacy with the boat, the water, the land and the fish. He seemed genuinely moved by the experience.
I hooked a blue from a passing school of bunker and he pulled him in. A little guy who gave a big fight. We then motored over to see his Bertram which is on a mooring off the NYC. His son has a Mako center console nearby as well. The tide was high and the action had stopped so we headed for Lloyd Harbor and worked the jetty then into the harbor. I showed him a few spots and called it a day. Nice fellow.
August 30 – Granger and I went fishing in the Saugatuck River and Reservoir as well as in the ponds of Collis Huntington State Park in Redding, CT. We took a look at his tackle, I opened my box and filled in a few necessary lures – Dare Devils, Mepps Spinners, Rapalas, Crank Baits, Bombers, Hula Popper, Spinner Bait, the basics. His snelled hooks were tangled so I gave him some Wright McGills. Now he is ready for most anything. I went over the names and where each should be used and he quickly memorized them. I showed him how I crush the barbs so we don’t hurt the fish – or ourselves, should either get hooked. I gave him a forceps to crush the rest.
The first water was below the dam, off the road just downstream of the bridge, a spot Jeff Yates told me about. Parking is difficult as is traversing the stream-side rocks and dodging the poison ivy. I had the l Loomis 9 foot 4 weight and put a Parachute Adams on. Granger had a small gold Phoebe. The water looked trouty but we didn’t raise any. Hopefully we can come back in the spring.
Next stop was just up the road which brought us to a path and easy walk to the shore line of the reservoir. A few men were bait fishing, maybe for carp, but no action to be seen. Granger put on a Mepps Spinner and then a Dare Devil. I showed him how to count it down – once the lure hits the water, count to 5 and then retrieve. Next time count to 10. I tried the Bomber with the perch pattern. Nothing but weeds.
We worked it a while and headed for the State Park. Following the GPS on my phone we learned that Newtown Road only connects to Black Rock Turnpike via a one way road – going the wrong way. We asked a lady on a bike for help but she wasn’t any. We found our way and were soon fishing for sunnies in the first pond where people launch their kayaks.
We only had some old Power Bait that was yellow and dried out. We did get a few pickers but none on the hook. We hiked to the next pond but realized it was just a cove of the same one. Across the water we could see a bridge that led to the next pond. We bushwhacked up over a rise and found it. The second bridge looked like a good place to try and a young fellow came over saying he just caught 9 fish there and had a worm on his hook to catch his 10th, which he did, right in front of us. Then he had to go but not before telling us where the good spots were.
Granger had a piece of plastic worm on his hook and quickly caught one. After that they seemed to refuse the plastic so we went to the next spot. I dug up a few worms and Granger wanted to bring them back to the bridge. We did and he proceeded to catch not 1, or 2 or 3 but 11 sunnies. It was great. We had to go worm hunting a few times in the leaves, under rocks and by the time number 11 came in, the day was about done. We packed it in and headed for home, promising each other to come back next time I come up to visit and when he gets back from Colorado.
I told him how I love Colorado, its mountains and streams, and that I have been there about 20 times. He should think about learning how to fly fish. He said he read my book and when we got home I let him cast the fly rod a little to get the feel for it.
When I arrived home, Sue asked how it went. I said we had a great time. I just treated Granger, who is 12, like I would any other fishing buddy and everything took care of itself. Can’t wait to do it again.
September 2 - Long Island Flyrodders Meeting - presentation:
"New Water – Fishing Northwest Montana was presented by LIFR’er Tom McCoy. In 2012 he travelled with friend Tony Jones to Missoula and fished 5 rivers he had not fished before. They home based at the Rock Creek Mercantile fishing Rock Creek several times. Tom had first visited the Creek around 1992 and it has been one of his favorites since, but this trip was to discover new water. “ It is nice to return to water you know but always include some new water when travelling – you won’t be sorry.” said Tom. The Thompson River by Thompson Falls was first followed by the Kootnai and Yaak up by Libby. Next was the upper Thompson by Thompson Lakes followed by the Flathead river out of Whitefish. Two more make 5 – The Clearwater near Norm McClane’s home on Seeley Lake and the North Fork of the Blackfoot – the highlight of the trip, although the Yaak was a close second. Anyone wanting information on the trip can email him."
It was great to be able to make a presentation to the club and I really worked at preparing the slide show with music and the power point with video. I rehearsed it 10 times, at least. But Murphy’s Rule prevailed. The guy bringing the projector was not coming until 8. When he arrived we discovered that my new laptop does not have a port for the projector. I had to run to Best Buy and get a converter to HDMI. That done we set it up but could not get the sound to come on. I just played the clips and presented as best I could. Everyone was tolerant and even kind. They said it was fine. Next time I will bring a backup on a flash drive.
September 4 – Mike came out on the boat to try saltwater fly fishing. We had the high tide at its peak as we started. I brought him to the docks past the NYC and he flipped the spinning rod as a warm up. We went around the corner to the condos and set up the fly rod. He took some casts with the weighted line and then the intermediate. He like that better. We worked the wall and then Duck Island where we hit some snappers and a small blue. Winkle Point was next with more small blues. Hobart and Lloyd Harbor stiffed us so we headed outside to look for birds. None appeared so we found some fish in 70 feet and put on the diamond jigs. Nada. It was a beautiful day and the tide was done so we headed in.
September 8 – I had promised Dick to take him out again. He was in Florida on Monday and called to confirm. When I got up this morning and took Otto to the beach, the wind was 15 to 20 out of the northeast – snotty. I called Dick to give him a chance to back out. He didn’t. We met at the dinghy at 10 and rowed out.
The bunker were all around us and fish were hitting them, we assumed blues. I set up spinning rods with light spoons and had Sarah’s snapper pole with me. I put the fly rod on the deck just in case. The action moved south, just out of the moorings and we flipped at them varying the speed of retrieve.
I snagged a few bunker and thought about live lining them, but wanted a direct hookup. The fish were so thick I had to let the spoon settle below them before retrieving. I was keeping the tip high and fluttering it down followed by a few turns of the reel, then down again. I felt the hit but didn’t know if it was bunker or blue. Then I felt him. He quickly launched into a full body jump so I could see his size but still could not discern blue or bass. The drag on the Penn Slammer was tight. Very tight. I turned it a few times and still could not pull line off the reel. Meanwhile he ran across the bow and the line was under the boat.
Dick was trying to untangle the net when I pulled him to my side of the boat. He was big. As Dick dipped the net in I pulled the leader and he came over the side. Heavy. Fat. 34 plus inches. What a bass.
We followed them out to Winkle Point but we were not able to connect again. It was almost full tide and the action slowed as it always seems to do. We motored over to Duck Island and then into Duck Harbor. Dick’s son has a house with a new dock so we went over to take a look. Plenty of water now but at low tide it is unapproachable. Nice set up. Back to Winkle Point where a few splashes teased us but the action was over. I think we are done said Dick and we headed in.
September 11 – Kevin and I went out after he attended mass for those who died on this day in 2001. We had high hopes for a bass like the one above. We fished the top of the tide in the back bay of Northport Harbor – south of Bird Island. Met Lenny there who also was optimistic but none of us had a hit. Kevin and I worked our way up past the Centerport Yacht Club who didn’t have their flag at half-mast. We called to remind them what day it was.
We worked the shoreline of the Vanderbilt and had only a few snappers to show for it. Went over to the Northport YC and then around to the condo wall. Nothing. Did I mention that the wind was blowing 15-20 out of the south west? Outside the bay had whitecaps so it was difficult to see any bunker or feeding fish – even if they were there.
We hit Duck Island and Winkle Point as well as the moorings in Prices Bend. Not a flip or a flop of a bunker. Another snapper wound up the day. A nice time was had by all and no fish were disturbed, on this sad day of remembrance. Perhaps we should have stayed home and reflected instead.
When back at the mooring, I sat for a good long while doing just that. I looked up to see what appeared to be a turtlehead peeping out of the water. Can’t be. I stood and whatever it was dove. Then there was a flip-flop of bunker off the bow. I went up and sat to watch. A few more and then some more but nothing materialized. I headed in.
September 12 – Otto and I saw them jumping in the bend so I hurried home and got the surf rod. When I arrived it was quiet except for a few flips. I waited them out, took a few casts, moved to the point. Home for dinner, fishless.
September 13 – Gary and I were scheduled to go out this morning but the wind was blowing 15-20 out of the ENE at 6:30 so I text him to see if he wanted to change for tomorrow. He agreed but I could tell he was all keyed up to go. Had to settle for some YouTube videos and a trip to the tackle shop.
I went out around 1 to get the boat gassed up. Honestly, that is all I was going to do. While in Huntington Harbor I figured I would drift over by Frank’s old house and thought maybe I’d toss a fly, even though the bass seem to have moved out of the inner harbor. So I hook up on the second drift with this nice little guy and I decide to take a few more drifts, 10, maybe 20.
A fellow comes over in a kayak and ties up to the bank getting out to fish. Spinning rod with what looked like a chicken scratcher. We exchange pleasantries. Nice fellow. He is leaving to go trout fishing in Ireland this week. He used to belong to the Flyrodders 20 years ago. I had a few bumps but no more action although he brought in a little one. I said good bye and headed to the honey hole. The wind was blowing me into the wall so I had to keep adjusting the boat. Plus the sail boats are always there and can be a hazard for both the boat and the cast. I hooked up a nice one and quickly boated him to avoid any collisions.
The drifts were not too bad as the wind seemed to be slowing a bit. I hooked a nice one – maybe a keeper - and he was running line off as I played him and guided the boat. I was getting close to the wall and started the engine to pull out a bit. He was on another minute and then I lost him. Nice fish. One more in the boat and I headed home... well to Winkle Point really.
It had started to rain and it was coming down heavy. It was beautiful, high tide. Calm water by the point and the pitter patter of rain. I snagged a bunker by the yellow house and then headed for the mooring. A few more casts and the day was done. Nice trip to the gas station. I sent Sue a photo of the first fish, no time to take photos of the others in those tight quarters. I told her to make sure not to tell Gary.
September 14 – Gary came out to the house about 7 AM and a few boats were already fishing the moorings with some bunker splashing. No fish on board that we could see. We took our place, snagged a few bunker and while Gary flipped a spoon, I live lined one. Nothing.
We drifted out and then over, ate the egg sandwiches Gary made and decided to take a ride, since no fish were busting the surface. I headed over to Cold Spring Harbor. We set up with chunks and a diamond jig just outside. Tide was dead low. No one was catching. Took a ride into the harbor and then over to Bayville. Some bunker but no fish on them. Could the tide still be too low? It seemed strange.
Back out off Caumsett where birds are sitting in the water and fish are showing on the screen. More jigging. No fish. Went in and set up by Lloyd Neck and the mouth of the harbor. Worked the rocks with spoons and poppers. Nada. I told Gary about the fly rod inside yesterday and had hope of at least getting a small bass. I worked the fly while he maneuvered the boat in the Honey Hole. Then he took the spinner to the bow and we both worked it when a huge slash happened behind me by the small moored boat. Blue for sure – but only once.
We went over and worked the bunker, unintentionally snagged a few only to release them, we were done with chunking. But no blues. No bass. We worked it until full high tide at 4 and then headed for Winkle Point figuring we would do some snapper fishing so we could at least feel like we caught one fish that we targeted, other than the odd sea robin. We rigged the light rods and worked under the yellow house. I was sure we'd hook up. We had a few follows but not even a snapper to heal our bruised fisherman’s egos.
Well that was it – 7 AM to 4 PM and nothing to brag about other than two old friends who love the water having a nice time together – sans fish.
September 19 – Scheduled to go to the Delaware with Tom Lo for the day. The guide Joe Demalderis called to say he was sick with a virus so we rescheduled for October 3rd. Good thing as it turned out because I had been doing some heavy gardening for the two days before and slept 10 hours. Getting up at 5 would have been tough.
September 21 – Cow Harbor Day. Last day of summer, first of autumn. Hot and muggy, showers. Sue and Sarah went to the parade. I put away my camping gear and went to the boat, mainly to wash down the rigs from last week that I put away in haste.
It was calm and high tide so I took out the spinning rod in case of a bunker school and the fly rod to use. Worked the usual spots – Winkle Point, Hobart, Lloyd and the honey hole. Nothing but a small strange fish I did not recognize. Long like a pike and brown with spots like a fluke. I also tried Frank’s point inside the harbor but the tide was pretty low by then. It was a nice day to be out and I enjoyed the fresh air and peace. Headed in to watch the NY Giants win.
September 23 – Beautiful fall day with bright sunshine and cool breeze. Went out at 10:30 AM and there were some bunker in the moorings but no fish chasing them. Went to Winkle Point and then Headed outside. Birds were sitting on the water all over Lighthouse Point. I drifted there a while but nothing was going on. I went to Heather’s Wall and used the fly rod. Good drift, no action. Then over to Smithtown Bay past Makama. Drifted clam baits for about an hour with not even a crab. Out to 11B, more of the same. Beautiful day but it is sad how there are no fish to be seen.
September 26 – Jewish Holidays, kids off from school. I took the boys to the ToBay Boat Show. We had a good time.
September 29 – Manny and I went up to Hancock to fish the main Stem of the Delaware with guide Joe Demalderis. We met him at 11 at the fly shop in town and headed for Buckingham to put in. I had never fished below Buckingham so I was excited to see some new water.
The river is slow and large as it moves further down so I didn’t know what to expect. Turned out fine. There were enough riffles and pools to hold trout in between the Chubb flats. And we caught some Chubbs – Fallfish really, a member of the minnow family, some as large as 12 inches. There were also plenty of rising and cruising trout, rainbows and browns.
Isonychias were the fly of choice, duns, spinners and nymphs. I was fortunate to hit a number of them, several of good size and I missed as many or more than I caught. Manny struggled with the casting. At one point we got out and waded just so Joe could work with him, but it just wasn't clicking for some reason. He did get a fish and had a bite or two – he also said he had a great time, which is what really matters.
When we got in we had some dinner at Lydia’s on the PA side of 191 and hit the hay. Tuesday we looked at Bard Parker Pool, fished Fireman’s Pool which had rising fish when we stopped on the way to breakfast, and then headed to the East Branch for Long Flats. Nothing was moving there so we went to Rhododendron Pool as a last resort. It had plenty of water considering the Beaverkill was flowing at about 50 cfs but no fish.
What did happen, which really made my day, is that Manny grasped the concept of the cast and was laying out nice clean lines and getting good floats. Too bad no fish were around to see this accomplishment. We headed for home and made great time.
October 3 – Tom Lo and I headed for Hancock. This is the culmination of the trout season for me, at least floating the Delaware, which I love to do. Tom and I bid on a float trip with Joe Demalderis at the spring LITU banquet and this is the trip, originally scheduled for September 19th.
We arrived early with no traffic to speak of, perhaps due to Yom Kippur. Joe met us at the motel. He had been out the day before and informed us that fishing had dropped off since we were together on Monday. Cold front came in and now a storm from the south was arriving. Messes with the fish somehow. Expectations set, I asked where we were putting in. Upper River he said. I thought Stilesville but he meant upper part of the main stem. We put in at Shehawken. The end of the West Branch, just above the junction.
Isonychias were the fly of the day. He suggested a dry and a dropper since the water was off color. A copper john was added to my parachute Iso. Once out of sight of the boat ramp (which had 5 guys wading around it) we pulled to the left bank and were drifting flies close to the bank. The dropper became an issue for me as it would disrupt my ability to put a fly within inches of the bank. I took it off. The first big brown of the day came up and ate the fly, I struck and he was on.
We had more as we worked our way down to the islands near the eagle’s nest where we anchored and waded. Rising fish all over the riffle but very picky. Neither Tom nor I were able to hook one although Tom came close and I had one, and only one, come up to take a look.
After a good hour of more refusals or, more accurately, being ignored, we moved downstream. There were more long pools (Lake Lorraine) and a big rainbow in mid-stream. We saw and worked for many more between here and the takeout but no more in the boat. Tough day. But any day with two 19+ inch fish can’t be all bad.
Dinner at the pizza place and the great company that Tom provides made it another great trip.
October 10 – Connetquot – I received a notice that the Friends of Connetquot were having a fishing day at the park. All day fishing and a catered lunch by the Snapper Inn. I called Kevin but he could not make it. I called Chuck and he could. We met at 7:30 at the barns and introduced ourselves to the 16 others. We are new to this group. Some said they knew me and some knew Chuck. Joe Mikulas, who was running the outing, said he met me on the Delaware 20 years ago. Could be. He is a nice guy.
A new fisherman came and Joe tried to pair us up so we could help him. In speaking to him, he remembered me from the LITU casting clinic in March. I asked if he had fished since then and he said no. To my way of thinking, I don’t need to spend a day I have to fish with a friend to teach some guy who doesn't have enough interest to even try it since March, so I explained to Joe that Chuck and I were fishing the deep water below the dam and the new guy would be better upstream with him. It all worked out.
The water seemed deeper than it used to be below the dam, since the huge rain we had last summer. Flushed it all out, I guess. We tried to cast from the foot of the mill as we used to but it was tough. I went up on the bridge and managed a smallmouth bass of good size on a wooley bugger. With the 7 and a half foot bamboo I was concerned that if I hooked a good sized fish, the rod would be in jeopardy pulling it up over the dam.
I recall a fellow in the late 70’s fishing from the dam, when the park first opened, with a antique rod of his passed father’s. He hoisted a fish up and broke the tip, and was not upset because he said it came with two tips. Even back then I knew that was wrong. When the bass came to the wall I grabbed the leader and pulled it up setting the rod aside. He released himself on the way up. I also noticed, that as I was fishing with the rod pointed down at the water below me, my grip was barely securing it from leaving my hand. The fingers of my right hand do not close all the way. Usually the rod grips are big enough that it doesn’t matter but this rod has a fine grip that almost was slipping through. Time for a surgical consult.
Then we went up to the gauging station by Rattlesnake Creek. I fished the out flow by the horse trail, which was blown out by that rain and looked like a sink hole in Florida, and Chuck went up to the culvert. I had a little brown that I pulled up on to the sandy path as you are not allowed to go in the river with waders here. (??!!)
Chuck had some hits but no hook up. We went up to the handicapped area and fished with our shoes on for the rest of the morning. It was a nice experience unburdened with vests, waders and boots. There were fish. I know because I spooked them all as I approached the stream.
Chuck managed to get a small brown down by the hatchery which is de-commissioned for now. We went to lunch in the club house catered nicely by Snapper Inn. Seafood salad and butternut squash soup – a meal the original residents of this place would have respected. We met some of the other guys and had a good time before heading back up to fish another hour or two before I had to leave. I had a good tug below the hatchery and chuck persisted in casting to a riser below Rainbow Bridge, finally hooking him. That was it. Had to get home.
It was a nice day and it is always good to meet new guys. I told them to put me on their mailing list.
October 21, 2014 – It has been stormy out lately. Seems like for weeks. Too nasty to want to go outside and blackfish, not that I am a big blackfish'er anyway. So the boat has sat. The Delaware kept me busy as did publishing Letters to Mack.
I pushed the "publish" button today.
I have been meaning to get out to the boat to at least run the engine and maybe top off the tanks for the winter. So today I went out. It was reasonably calm. I went over to Huntington to gas up, filled the oil tank and headed over to the point to try for a bass with the fly rod. It has gotten so that I can’t do anything else, even though I know the odds are against me.
I drifted the point a few times and went to the Honey Hole. Nice slow drift – nothing. Then to Lloyd Neck rocks. More of the same. It was raining a little and I was thinking of going outside but I had other things I need to do, and was going out this evening, so I just went in. Nice time on the water with the boat skimming along on the smooth water. Good stuff.
November 4, Election Day. First day in a while that the wind laid down and I had time to go out. I have been meaning to at least go out and start the engine and maybe look in the clear water of fall for the mooring that I lost a few years ago. I know about where it is. Not sure what to do once I find it, but I prepared a marked buoy to tie to the chain.
Truth is I have not been very motivated to get out and have been considering calling the guy to pull the boat and put the season to bed. The guys have been up steelheading the last two weekends and I passed on that as well. I have been busy with the new book but I think I just need a break. That is what winter is for, right?
Also I have been wanting to ask the boys to come out but they are busy with school, sports and life. Chevy the lab has not been well and on Monday Tom had to make the decision to put him down. We were upset for the family and the dog. Sue and I went over but that kind of grief takes a long time.
Blackfishing is the name of the game, although there are still blues and bass around, as well as porgies and sea bass. I had some clams which were beginning to show freezer burn and took some left over squid. I never opened the squid. I set up just north of my favorite spot because another guy was on it. He seemed to be doing well.
I made some rigs since I didn’t have any store bought. I like the rigs with the weight on the bottom and 2 hooks up from the weight. I considered building one and then just went with a single hook with a sinker on a 3-way. My first attempt had the sinker line too long and twisted bait and sinker lines resulted. But I caught fish. Under-sized blackfish and then one large black sea bass – maybe 14-15 inches. I had one big fish on that tested my line and bent the rod but he was off before I could see what he was. I suspect a big blackfish, but who knows. I was happy to be catching on this old bait and marginal rigs.
It was calm with a light wind out of the west, tide was running full (half way out) and about 45 minutes before the turn, the fish stopped biting. As I headed in, the wind changed from the south and picked up a bit, confirming the weatherman’s prediction that it was not going to be so nice tomorrow.
I looked briefly for the lost mooring but the water was cloudy with the wind, and the sun was not overhead making it had to see. Next time. I brought in the boys' fishing rods and my Sage 9 wt. which I use as an alternate. I was going to break down the 9 wt. Orvis T-3 Rod as well but hope springs eternal.
November 10 – I usually go out on Veterans Day but tomorrow I have a doctor appointment and the oil burner man is coming. I hope to get out Wednesday. That will be the end of the season, as I will call to have the boat pulled after that. But today was gorgeous! 55 degrees, no wind, bright sun. I was on my spot and had fresh clams.
I rigged three poles and had a spinner ready in case anything exploded on the surface. The tide was rising with high at 1 or so. I hit a few blackfish right way. Another boat came by and I apparently was in his spot. He jockeyed around a while trying to set up nearby and finally settled down. I didn’t see them with any fish. I had 2 that were 15 inches or so. 16 is legal. I probably had about 10 for the day, but none as the tide maxed out and then turned. Two guys in a little Starcraft open boat were nearby and seemed like nice folks, so I didn’t feel alone out there. This blackfish stuff is okay when the weather works out.
Today was very nice and I stayed longer than I planned, peaceful. Maybe Wednesday.
November 13 – The weather has turned cold. The weatherman says we won’t be seeing the 60 degree temperatures we had yesterday for a long time. My plan was to go out fishing yesterday knowing of this change in advance, but when I walked Otto the fog was so thick on the bay I could not chance running the boat out in it. The fog was still on the water at noon.
Today it was cool but the wind was easy. Otto’s walk motivated me to spend the day outdoors so I dressed in layers and headed out. I have been working 11B the last few times out and wanted to try another spot, as I had yet to land a keeper – not that I was going to keep it. I tried buoy 15 off Lloyd Neck where I have had luck before. I set the anchor and nothing. Two more times I reset it and nothing. Not a crab!
As I am out here and enjoying the time and space as well as the fishing, I think of partners. People who I have enjoyed spending time with. Not trout guys but saltwater guys, bait fishers even. Several come to mind, new and old. The one who seems to dominate the group is Lloyd. We had several years fishing the Northport bays together. After a time he was in pain or too busy, or just lost interest. Too bad as he was one of my favorite fishing buddies. Today he is not well, immobile. I wrote and told him I was praying for him and asked how the kids were. I hope he is alright.
I moved toward Caumsett and buoy 4 and thought I saw fish on the screen but nothing. Then I drifted a bit with bait down, not usually an effective strategy for blackfish but something had to give. I looked at the clock and knew I had to be in by 3:30. It was not yet 2. Plenty of time to run over to 11B, so I did.
There were a few boats out, most lined up east of my usual position. I don’t know why I don’t try over there but I have been catching here – even if they are shorts. I set up and put out three rods. One with three hooks, one with a single and another with a large circle hook in the hope of attracting a wayward bass or blue. The single kept twisting itself up and I finally just took it in. The circle hook rod was in the holster and I held the other. Holding is really the only way to do this type of fishing. I could feel them picking at the bait and it gave me a chance to strike. After not too long a 12 inch black came in and I was happy. A fish. Shortly after a 16 incher came over the side – my first keeper of the season; he was only 16 by the hair on his chin.
After that I noticed the other boats pulling anchor and heading in, one after the other. The bite apparently done – and it was. I stayed a while longer but my only visitor was a loon who came by. I was hoping he didn’t dive for my bait. I was in by 3:30 and had a great day. I called to arrange to have the boat pulled but they can’t come until the 26th so maybe I will go get some more clams.
November 26 – They picked up the boat for winter storage today. A cold rainy day. I had to row the dink back to the rack and by the time I got there my hands were frozen. It was a good season and I was glad to get her out before the weather got any worse. Three repairs – oil filter, tilt and trim and thermostats. 66.2 engine hours and 436 gallons of gas – 6.5 gallons per hour. Not too bad.
December 1 – Went out to put the winter stick on the mooring. The lines were Volpe’s and he had a large stainless clamp on whose screw I could not budge. I went back in an got a larger wrench and a iron pipe Jeffrey had given me to use for leverage. With a little more effort and some silicon spray, she opened up and all went well. Now I just have to wait until the spring!
To see photos of some of the fish and friends mentioned go to Fish & Friends.
This is the end of my 2014 Fishing Journal. In 2015 the format will change to blog posts with more pictures. Thanks for coming by and please take a look at 2015 Fishing Journal.
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