Tag Archives: fly fishing

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!


Gear Review: Simms Rivertek Boa Boot

The new Simms Rivertek Boa Boots

I’m that guy. With the Simms gear from head to toe, even I would think I look like a dick. But their gear has proven to me to be one of the best product lines in fly fishing. I have had everything from hats to waders and have never been disappointed.

I bought my last pair of Simms boots a few years ago with felt, and after a couple of years, and countless days on the water, they were starting to wear down. When the new Boa lace system was coming out, I decided it would be between Simms and Korkers. I’m that guy, so I  went with Simms.

The boots have a great fit, and the Boa lacing system really is awesome.  You hate to think yourself so lazy that you can’t tie your laces, but it is so simple and easy.  On cold days with gloves on, or just after a tiring day hiking and bushwacking through the brush, popping these off by just pulling the tab up is extremely nice.  The boot is very light and so far I have not had any comfort problems at all.

The Vibram rubber is another situation all together.  I have never been without felt, and the first trip with these I went sans studs.  Bad idea.  I fell down a lot, and got wet a lot.  Luckily I didn’t hurt myself, but the rubber alone in the Smokies is not a great idea.  The studs were promptly put in, and I still fall. Just not as much.  I’m not sure if this is a byproduct of all rubber soled boots, but I certainly miss the felt on slick rocks.

This is also my second pair of Rivertek’s.  The first pair came up north for a trip to Maine for their inaugural big trip run.  During that trip, I noticed that the Vibram rubber soles had begun to separate at the toe.  Rocks were getting lodged in the gap and you could immediately tell it was a defect.  Needless to say I was a little disappointed in my new fancy boots.  I opened up a warranty complaint with Simms and the entire process was easy and pain free.  Two weeks later I had a brand new pair, and no problems since.  As usual, great customer service from the folks in Montana.

Overall I am very satisfied with the new Rivertek boots, despite of the defect first pair.  I walk a little more carefully and haven’t had any big falls with the studs drilled into the soles.  It’s nice to not have the laces come undone, and get snagged.  I think these are going to turn out to be another great buy!

Thanks for reading!


When in doubt, whip the thunderhead out

Fall if officially here, with summer ending on Friday. Almost as literal as the date, the weather has cooled, some rain has moved in, and hopefully the fishing starts picking up with some fall spawning preparation. You have to love fall fishing coming out of the dog days of August and early September. The last time I fished, I saw barren stream beds and very spooky fish.

With some other things swirling around in life, I hit a familiar stream to get out of my own head and relax. I wasn’t looking for numbers, but for a large brown. I read a lot of blogs and see some very big pigs, but can’t seem to find a 20 incher for myself.  I know they’re out there and I’ve set a personal goal to snag one!

Hitting the stream early I started with a small orange stimulator and got a few hits. Not much after that, so I put on a large orange fly similar to a royal wulff. This got the fish moving, but couldn’t keep many on the line! Was able to land one small fellow that prevented the skunking.  Also, had one very big fish (maybe my fish) follow it, but left it alone.  Pulled out the 4wt with a big streamer on it, but he wouldn’t come back out to play.   After that, nothing.

This little guy prevented the dreaded skunking

Moved up river and still nothing moving much. Looked in the box and found an old friend. Thunderhead. Put her on and finally started catching a few trout. Not many, but a few small browns to get the fall started.  Fish or no fish, the fall weather and falling leaves make for a great experience. Time is running out for fishing, and soon the cold weather will be here, maybe even more cold weather for me than anyone even knows.

Video of that day’s fishing

Thanks for reading!


Low flow fo sho

I don’t listen well. I also have a terrible short term memory. That may help explain why I heeded no warnings of low water that I had read everyday for the last week. So I went to a spot Saturday morning that was smack dab in the middle of this low water talk. The water wasn’t just low, it was gone. I tweeted a pic I took when I got out of the car in Tennessee. Bad. Real bad. So after passing a black bear chewing on a bag of concrete (weird I know)where they are doing construction on 441, I turned tail and headed back to the Carolina side.

low, clear water in the Smokies

The water was a little better, but not much. Fished a section of water I always don’t like and picked up one little rainbow. Decided to move on and the water was still the lowest I’ve seen in years and super clear.

A bad day fishing is still better than a good day working, so I found a small stretch of river I really like and tried not to spook the fish. I ended up missing a few fish on an emerged and left two fish with the emerger pattern stuck in their lips. Picked up a few fish and even got my first fish strike and land on video. Not that good, but still having fun with the GoPro.

Here’s the video of the small rainbow taking the fly

Thanks for reading!


A Taste of Fall

It’s amazing how fast the fall always seems to creep up on us here in the highlands of North Carolina.  I think it’s because it’s not as hot and humid as the other parts of the state, where the summer seems to linger longer, and just feel hot.  I’ve been fighting a little insomnia lately and wavered about going fishing Saturday, but decided to go out as the mornings have been cooler and a little more pleasant.  I went to a spot that to me is one of the closer locations of The Smoky Mountains National Park, and usually takes less than an hour to get there.  I was up early, and on the stream around 7am.

first fish of the day

This portion of the park has a major stream running with two main tributaries.  I usually always fish one of the tribs, as I always assume there is less pressure.  Lately I never see anyone on the main stretch, and I think that people assume the lower sections get a lot of pressure.  Sometimes this is true and sometimes I think that everyone starts walking up stream and it creates less pressure on these lower sections.

I put in at an easy spot and started to get hits right away.  Started with a beetle but quickly moved to a yellow elk hair caddis.  This started to move more fish and got a rainbow at the first hole.  I stayed on the main stretch and hit the main longer runs, as I was looking to try and pick up a larger brown.  I started picking up fish pretty consistently and they were mostly bows.

Came around a bend and there was a nice pool with a large tree down.  There was no hatch, but two or three fish actually rising!  It seems so rare after spring to see fish rising, or maybe I’ve been unlucky.  It was exciting and I love trying to catch a rising trout!

Put a perfect cast after a rise and a nice brook trout slammed the fly.  Looks like the brookies are getting ready for the fall, as his color was starting to get very bright.  Picked up a brown trout at the end of the pool and completed the Smokies Slam!

Brookie to help make the Slam

Got to another larger pool and got a couple of nice browns and another beautiful brook trout.  Ended the day with 30 or more fish and lost a couple of nice ones.  The stream really surprised me today.  It’s great when you don’t expect the fishing to be that productive and you pick up a lot of fish.  There were thunderstorms the night before and the weather has been cooling, and that probably had a lot to do with the good fishing.  I also did not run into a single person fishing this stretch, so that was an added solitude bonus, and I slept like a rock at night.

Thanks for reading and here are a few more pics:


‘Ol Faithful

Butterfly on the stream

After experiencing the Tennessee side for a few weekends in a row, decided it was time to go visit an old friend of a stream on the NC side of the Park.  When I moved back to NC and started exploring around the smokies, it took a little while to start making some connections and putting the things back together on how to fish these streams.  I first read about the Davidson, Mills River, etc, but soon found I didn’t care as much about the “blue ribbon” streams as I did for the wild fish of the park.  It also became apparent there was still quite a difference in the quality and configurations of some streams in the park, how they should be fished, the pressure on some.  After visiting one of the local fly shops that is always very, very gracious and accommodating, and spending most friday lunch hours shooting the bull, I got a really good tip on this stream.  I’m always thankful and that shop has my business for life, especially after a 50 fish day one spring.

First fish of the day

Another rainbow or the same one?

Although a little further out than most, it is worth the extra gas and early start time.  It was a little cooler than it has been and the stream stays shaded most of the time.  It’s broken up pretty similar to many other streams; Bigger pools and bigger fish at the bottom, more action and smaller runs in the middle, and headwaters with brook trout at the top.  After clammering around boulders and crawling under tree limbs the last few weekends, I started fishing the bottom to actually get some casts out there.  Started with a Yellow Parachute Adams and got a small rainbow in one of the first pools.  The water is very clear and a little low, putting me down to 6X tippet.  Caught another rainbow, and I swear that it was the exact same one I just caught.  It had a scar behind its head that made me think it was the same.  It really liked the Adams I guess, or was a little slow.  I then raised, briefly hooked, and lost a nice brown that slowly raised out of the pool and took in the fly.  Would have easily been the best fish of the day, but couldn’t keep him on the line.  I’m missing big fish lately, which is starting to get a little annoying.

One of three browns from one run

Brown taken on Tan Caddis

Caught a few more fish and then the fishing turned off.  Went up to the middle portion of the stream and started picking up fish again, but a Tan Cinnamon Caddis was the fly for this section.  Caught 3 really nice brown trout out of one pool.  Picked up a lot of fish in the choppier runs, and I figure they must be looking for more oxygen and cooler water?  Or feeding in the middle, not sure which, but that’s where the majority of the fish I caught were.  I quit fishing around noon as the temps started to rise and a storm was blowing in, and maybe that’s why the fishing was picking up a little bit.

Another of the browns from one pool

This stream produces more than it disappoints.  It’s comforting, and easy to navigate, making it one of my favorites.  Like an old friend, you know most of their secrets, but they are always hiding a few gems here and there.  It’s not a secret stream, I see many other anglers, but it’s not as well known as some others.  With summer turning to fall sooner than we all realize, I hope to be able to fish it a few more times before winter.

I’m also still fumbling with recording videos and was hoping to maybe catch a strike and land a fish.  Like a watched pot boiling, this didn’t happen.  I did get a nice three minutes of the stream, and at the 2:28ish mark, a little left of center of the stream, you can see the fish strike the caddis, but a missed hookup.  Hey, you gotta crawl before you can walk.

Video of me missing a fish

Thanks for reading!


It’s too damn hot for a penguin…

I don’t care what your political views are, the globe has to be warming for every day for the last untold days to be this hot.  I got up at 5:00 am to go fishing and it was already 80 degrees (I’m not 100% sure but it definitely felt like it).  I had the opportunity to get out, but knew that I would have to get up high to find some shade and cool water if I was even going to have a small chance of catching fish.  I like how even when you know the odds are slim that you can catch fish, just getting out and fishing can be rewarding enough.  You can’t catch anything without a hook in the water right?

Pretty TN creek on a hot day

So as the huge street festival of Bele Chere was going on downtown, I got over 5,000 feet and tried to fool some brook trout.  I was so impressed with the water and eager fish on my last trip to Tennessee, that I decided to do it again.  The water was still cool, but not as cool as before.  I put in and started with a small yellow elk hair caddis.  I missed a couple, and then caught a very small brook trout.  The rest of the day turned into a very frustrating ordeal. With the warm weather, the trout appeared to be very lethargic, and were making very lazy strikes, if they got to the fly at all.  I missed fish all over the place, and moved to a smaller fly.  Still got misses.  I hooked a good sized fish, which may have been a rainbow, and had him for a second and lost him.  This continued for hours.

Little under water action with the crystal clear water

At a large hole that had “Fish Here!” written all over it, I was patient and even saw a small black stonefly.  Changed to a black parachute with no luck.  Put on  #16 black elk hair caddis.  Hooked and lost a fish (big surprise).  Reloaded and put a nice drift through the pool, when a very large brook trout followed the fly for what seemed like forever.  It was 11 or 12″ if it was an inch.  The water was clear and I could see him plain as day.  I knew the fly was going to drag in a cross current, and I was lifting line off the water.  He followed it until the fly began to drag, and lazily went back down.  I tried a larger black caddis thinking that may entice this big guy, but all I could do was get him to roll.  Tried a few more flies, big and small, with no luck.  It would have been a trophy brookie from the smokies for sure.  Oh well, I’ll come back for him.

There's a sulphur in there

Ended up picking up a few fish on Yellow Sallies and a Yellow Adams.  Couldn’t get any pics as every time I got one to hand, they got off before I could get the camera.  By noon the water was warm and the weather was getting really hot, even up high.  I decided to not pressure the fish and would join the revelers at Bele Chere for a little bit downtown.  This weather has go to break for the sake of the fish, and for the fisherman.

Thanks for reading!


Tennesseing is Tennebelieving

A new stream in Tennessee

The temperature dropping by close to 20 degrees is almost like a snowfall around the mountains of North Carolina.  I saw jackets and puzzled faces downtown from tourists and locals alike.  It started getting my mind thinking about the water temperatures and what was happening with the trout.  I was out of town this past week and didn’t think I’d get a chance to fish this weekend and thought it would be too hot anyways.  Was I ever surprised!

I wanted to fish my favorite stream and figured with not a lot of rain that everything would be fine.  When I got there a little after seven, the stream had other ideas.  It was very high, very muddy, and obviously a big storm or flash flood had come through in the last few days.  I got out and poked around the stream and realized that fishing here was not in the cards.

I decided to head back to another stream in the Park, and wasn’t too excited.  This stream “hides in plain site”, and every book says it’s full of fish and excellent fishing.  I never have any luck on it, but it always seems like a challenge.  I hooked and lost a fish in a nice pool and run down low, and then nothing for an hour or so.  Then hooked a couple of very small browns.  River wins again.

Little brown trout made the am unpromising

So I did something I’ve never actually done.  I got in the car and decided to go through the fog, and drove over the top to the Tennessee side.  I always like exploring new fishing, but that sometimes means no fish caught.  When I got to the other side, I found a nice stream and just put in.  I had been using a yellow Elk Hair Caddis and it had been working, so I left it on.  I cast a few times and really nice sized fish missed my fly.  This was a tiny stream and this fish was big!

Bow from the TN side

I kept moving up pools and started really catching some fish.  A few beauty brookies that looked really healthy.  Saw a couple of sulphurs coming off, but no hatch, so I left the EHC on and it kept working.  Got a really nice rainbow and lost a good sized brookie that wrapped my leader around a down branch.

Get skinny!

The weather was very cool and a light rain was keeping me slightly cold, but well worth it.  Ended the day with 8 or 9 from this stream and it was a great spot that I definitely want to explore some more.

Gorgeous TN brookie

Great Smoky Mountains National Park consistently amazes me with how good the fishing can be when you hit it just right.  I obviously need to keep trying new spots when the old haunts are blown out or not producing.  There are enough fish to go around for sure.

Thanks for reading!


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