Tag Archives: fishing

When Catching Fish Doesn’t Matter

The mighty Mirimichi

The mighty Mirimichi

My grandfather taught me how to fish and taught me how to fish for Atlantic Salmon.  It was a special time growing up and flyfishing for Salmo salar, a fish of a thousand casts.  What I didn’t realize then was that I was doing something that many people pay very good money to try and do.  For me, it was another summer fishing with my grandad in the big canoe and hoping (praying) that one of those mighty fish would tug on the line.  When fishing was slow for salmon, we would fish for trout and a fly fishing nut was born.

After moving away and fishing for trout in the south and turning into a real fish bum in the Smokies, then moving to the Northeast, I was drawn back like one of those salmon.  My grandfather called and said he would like to catch one more salmon, and he’d like to do it with me.  A trip was born and the challenge became for my grandad to hook one more salmon.

With him still living in New Brunswick, we decided to fish the Mirimichi in July, and the challenge of putting us on the fish fell to Dan Bullock, his wonderful mother Renate and a great guide Vince, at Bullocks Lodge.  A great spot on the river with nice cabins, it was a perfect spot.

The rods ready for use

The rods ready for use

With low water and only a few days, it was a herculean task.  With my grandad pushing 90, the guides took extra precautions and he was in the boat, while I waded.  The fishing was slow, and even though we were there for my grandfather, I wasn’t going to squander a chance at another salmon.  I fished every opportunity I had, and Dan was patient with me as I fished until my hands bled and in a driving storm.  The most excitement for me was a salmon boiling over my fly and the occasional flash of silver.  I was quickly becoming the expensive fishing trip with no fish statistic.

Sunset on the mighty river

Sunset on the mighty river

On the second morning my grandfather was in the boat when Dan suddenly hollered up the river to me.  I couldn’t make it out the first time so I held my hand to my ear…”He’s got a fish on!”.  I ran like hell.

With fish on!

With fish on!

An undertaker was the fly the salmon had hit on.  When I got to the boat the rod was bent and the fish was already in the backing.  “Do you want to land him?” my grandfather asked?  When I was little my grandfather would hook the fish and boat him back to the front of his camp, where I would land it.  He liked the take and the initial run, and I think he liked watching me try to land the fish even more.  “Not this time” was my reply.  The fish was well into the backing when he jumped.  And then he was off.  It was all he wanted was the take, and that’s what he got.

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Top rod for the day with head guide Dan Bullock

My grandfather was happy and so was I.  There were three other groups at the camps the same time as us.  No one else hooked a fish, including yours truly.  I fished my guts out the rest of the trip and did everything I could.  Another boil over the fly was all I got, but this trip wasn’t the time for me catching a fish.  We had a wonderful time and I heard a lot of stories, and history, and watch people twice my age drink me under the table.

There’s still the matter of me catching another salmon.  I told Dan when we left that I would be back someday and I meant it.  I may be another statistic of a sport without a fish.  But I’ll be back.  And that river owes me a god damned fish.

Thanks for reading!  And thanks again to the wonderful group at Bullock’s Lodge http://www.bullockslodge.com in New Brunswick.  You took great care of my grandad and I and it will be remembered forever.

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My kind of guided fishing trip with TU

Basecamp for TU trip

I’ve never been on a guided fishing trip before, and this, I was assured, was not a “guided” trip.  More of a directional “there are fish here” and “we’ll take care of you” kind of deal.  My father in-law, brother in-law, and good fishing friend went to the Vermont TU banquet dinner in the winter for a silent auction and regular auction put on by the great group there in Chittenden County.  What I found out though, is that you’re more likely to bid on things after drinking whiskey and talking about fishing.  So after losing in the silent auction, the bidding began.  My father in-law and I ended up splitting a trip to a remote pond in southern Vermont by the end of the night, and he somehow ended up with a new Ross reel.  I was excited the next morning when told that we had won some sort of trip in the spring!

The two TU members putting the trip together, Peter and Paul, had put the details together with my father in-law as I was in the process of moving to Boston, and we met in a small town in VT in the spring.  After a short drive we hauled our canoes in and set up camp to fish the evening.  I was amazed at the amount of gear that Peter and Paul had brought across the pond, wondering what the hell was in a 50 lbs blue tub?  A full size grill?  Generator and TV?  These guys were prepared, and after setting up our tents, the food starting coming out.  They cooked huge meals of salmon, hash, I’m full just thinking about all the food.  For an “unguided” trip, I ate better then any other trip I’ve ever taken.  These guys were awesome and for our TU donation, we’d already gotten everything we could imagine.

Now the fishing!   The pond was a phenomenal location.  Gorgeous and the first night had glassy waters, and a fish rising right in front of the campsite.  Peter told me to go after him, so I threw an emerger out there and, BAM!  Hooked him!  But then it spit the hook.  Our hopes were high now and if the food hadn’t been so damn good, we would have pushed out!

We set out for the evening hatch, and there were a few fish rising.  I threw out a #14 yellow Caddis, and after drowning it and stripping it back, I hooked a couple of nice brook trout.  We thought that the night would be explosive and the water would be boiling.  But that was pretty much it.  I hooked another fish on a cinnamon ant, and my father in-law caught one in the same spot.  The night was beautiful though, and there were no other fisherman around.  Fish or no fish, the experience that night was great.  I’ve never fished ponds and lakes for trout much, but it’s my new favorite to try and target rising fish or just cruising looking for them.

Beauty brookie from the pond

The second morning, after a gigantic breakfast and never ending coffee, we unsuccessfully fished the pond.  After few fish for all four of us, Peter and Paul suggested fishing a stream at lunch where the road was closed after Hurricane Irene.  We saw some extensive Irene damage on the way up, and we didn’t know how this stream would fish, but nature is a resilient and ever surprising mystery.  The stream was full of very willing 6-10″ brookies, and one #16 yellow caddis was all that was needed.  After meeting up by the cars, every one of us had pulled in 30 or more brookies.  The day was hot, the water was cool, and there was good cover making for a great day of small stream fishing.

Small stream near camp FULL of brook trout

That night, the water was like a piece of glass, and we thought that it would begin to boil with fish rising, but nothing was really moving.  We chased rings in the water, missing a few fish here and there and changing many flies and adding much tippet.  Near the end of the night, my father in-law started skating one of his favorite flies under the water, and caught the best fish of the weekend (as he usually does).  A great dark brookie just as the light was fading.  With cool nights, and no bugs, it was a great night of fish stories and enough fish to keep us happy.

The f.i.l with the best fish of the weekend on the last night

That last morning, after another gigantic breakfast and coffee, it was a longer breakdown as you have to canoe over and hike your gear in and out.  With enough time, we decided to hit the small stream again and pull out some more brook trout, and they were willing to participate.  A great trip for a great cause to donate some funds to Trout Unlimited in Vermont.  Our two un-guides Peter and Paul were gracious and took better care of us more then you would ever believe for such a pittance.

Thanks for reading!

The last fish


Is the juice worth the squeeze?

I’ve only been fishing in Maine a few times, but so far I have not been disappointed.  It intoxicates me to a degree that almost perplexes me, and I hope to spend as much time there as I can.

My Father-in-Law (the fil) was gracious enough to take me back and fish with me.  I left work early on Friday to take the beautiful drive through southern Maine and was able to make the evening hatch on a stretch of one of the  rivers.  The hatch was there with hundreds of Caddis’ coming off the water, but not a single fish rising.  I tried it all; Green Caddis dry on top, nymph on the bottom, and streamers all over the place.  No luck.  The evening was gorgeous, the fish just weren’t biting.

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Evening hatch with no fish

After a star filled night, we were up to fish a favorite pond near camp.  After seeing a lot of fisherman, we were surprised to find no one at this spot.  We began fishing and started suspecting why.  Hot sun and no rising fish.  The skunk was staying on me.  The fil caught a nice brookie on a streamer, but we were striking out and decided to swing by a popular spot.

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The Pond that hates me

Our next spot is a favorite of mine.  There a very popular hole under the bridge and nymphing is the key there, but it is always full.  Up river though, is a spot that I caught some very large brook trout last year, and the run is my FAVORITE kind of spot to fish.  Long run, water running at a constant speed, large boulders.  I feel like I can cover a lot of water and get a really good drag free presentation.  After seeing some hatches all day, I hit it right with a #12 Quill Gordon and started catching some fish.  Picked up a nice 14″ salmon, a smaller salmon, and a nice 12″ brookie.  Success!  The fil was worried about putting me on fish, but I love that spot so much, that just fishing it is fun (minus the fast water and hitting my head).  On the way out we picked up a tip from a nice man named Dave, more on that to come.

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Landlocked Salmon on a Quill Gordon

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Smaller salmon

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The fil landing a fish across my favorite run

So the tip we got from Dave, we decided to check out.  Now, every other person we’ve ever talked to has said zilch about where to fish.  And I’m not the first to divulge a bunch of fishing spots either, but this area is especially tight lipped.  A grandmother earlier in the day told us about a huge brookie she caught, but that was it.  The road to get there had a horrible stretch and we were bottoming it out hard, so we put it off.  We went up the road and finished the night at a great spot.

Huge hatches were coming off and we fished the pre-hatch, the hatch, and the spinners, catching fish the whole time.  I must have caught 20 brook trout in all stages.  No big ones, but lots of fun!

The next morning we took the other vehicle and made our way to where Dave gave us a tip.  We got to the bottom of the road and there was no river as promised.  What we did find was a secluded, abandoned beaver pond…with a rising fish right off the bat.

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What I thought didn’t exist. A secluded beaver pond.

Although hot with no clouds in sight, the fish were more than willing.  They rose all morning and we stayed for hours.  We must have pulled 40 trout or more out of this pond. It was phenomenal, and we never saw a sole.  it was the perfect spot to end our trip.

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We caught a lot of brookies just like this guy

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A very pretty and very green trout caught by fil

Getting to this pond was no joke.  The road required a high clearance 4X4 and it scratched the hell out of it to boot.  Was the juice worth the squeeze?  Without a doubt.  Fishing that beaver pond was like a Geirach short story.  The crusty New Englander with the cryptic tip, the non-existent river, but the surprise pond and the never ending rising brook trout.  The juice was worth the squeeze.

Thanks for reading!

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My first Massachusetts Fly Fishing Trip…For Trout

It’s obvious that I’ve been neglecting the blog a little.  Ok a lot.  But cut me some slack. I lived in a hotel room for three months, and am just now in the process of getting settled into our house and getting the internet.  Plus we live in a new city, with new things to explore, a new job.  Lots of changes.  Have I been fishing as much as I would like?  No.  I got a couple of rain soaked hours on my father in laws home stream and picked up a little wild Vermont brown.

One sunny Saturday I did pick a river at random and hit the road in MA.  I was going to fish another spot, but I didn’t feel right because @Deanwo and @AncientAngling were nice enough to invite me to this spot, and I didn’t want to be an internet troll and then fish there river.

I chose a branch of the Westfield river and drove, and drove, and drove until I was basically in the Berkshires.  It’s also the first time I’ve ever paid a toll to go fishing.  Another new experience.

I got lost and started on a small stream that was some other river, and i didn’t see any movement.  Got the DeLorme and found the right spot.  With not a lot of cover the river was very exposed and I was stripping streamers and nymphing trying to see any fish.  After an hour I came upon a pool of rising trout.

Now I usually like to spook the whole pool and blow the whole thing to hell.  But I took my time.  They looked like Quill Gordons so I tied one on.  I started at the back of the pool calmly.  3 casts later I had my first trout.

My first MA Trout

This fish tore through the pool and I thought for sure it would put the fish down.  But they kept rising.  I kept fishing.  I picked one after another out of the rising fish with a #14 Quill Gordon.  Each fish jumped and pulled line out, but the other fish kept rising with the small hatch.

Another nice 'bow

After 10 or so fish, and as with most hatches, the rising was over.  I considered myself lucky and moved on.  After no more fish I came to a bridge in late afternoon and found another pod of rising fish.  Same verse same as the first.  Identical hatch, same fly, and another 10 or so fish.

All the fish looked the same and fought well.  Not sure if they were holdovers or newly stocked, but no matter.  I had a really good day and it was great to get out.  Hopefully the blog is back when I can squeeze it in.  Next up, Maine.

Thanks for reading!


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