Archive for December, 2009

Happy Holidays!

Posted in Fishing Conditions, Writing with tags , , on December 24, 2009 by stflyfisher

The holidays are upon us, and the fishing in our neck of the woods is slowing down.  The party boats out of Barnegat Light have called it quits for stripers.  The Doris Mae will soon be making deep winter 60 – 80 mile wreck trips for deep water, great-eating fish such as cod, sea bass, blackfish, hake, and haddock.  The tribs still hold some fish, but the pace will not be what it was a month or two ago.  For those still interested in wetting, or icing a line, remember the tribs are closed to fishing as of the end of the year.

That said, there’s still fly fishing to be had in the finger lakes themselves, a frontier of sorts for this fly fisherman.  From what I’ve read, brown trout, landlocked salmon, pike and lake trout are all possibilities for the finger lakes fly fisherman.

Wouldn't mind tying into a few of these this winter...

I’ll be delving into fly fishing the finger lakes in upcoming posts, and possibly put what I’ve learned into practice.

Also coming up around New Years is a post on goals for 2010.  I’m hoping that a softly burning fire in the fireplace, a good beer by my side, and pen and empty paper will all inspire me to conjure up some lofty fly fishing aspirations for 2010.  Stay tuned, and tight lines…

Happy Holidays!

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Spoonfed on Sutton Spoons

Posted in Writing with tags , , , , , on December 13, 2009 by stflyfisher

Up in the western Finger Lakes country lies Canandaigua Lake, a 15.5 mile long jewel and one of the eleven famed glacial lakes that look like fingers reaching southward on a map of New York state.  The lake’s name is derived from the Iroquios, “Kanandarque”, which means “chosen spot”, and a chosen spot it is.  At the south end of the lake is the town of Naples, former home to none other than our very own STFF staff member Kelly, the hero in an earlier post that detailed the account of how he singlehandedly negotiated the Class I rapids of the Susquehanna River, while yours truly slayed smallmouth bass at every likely riffle and pool (https://stflyfisher.wordpress.com/2009/09/22/kellys-excellent-canoe-adventure/).

Canandaigua Lake - home to grapes and trout...

While chatting the other day at work, Kelly revealed to me that besides being famous for its grape pies, Naples, NY, is also the clandestine global corporate headquarters for The Sutton Company.  I’d never heard of the company and revealing this to my boastful comrade, I’d soon learn, was a big mistake…

Currently listed on New York Stock Exchange, ticker "SUTN"...

What followed was a diatribe on the virtues of spoons that has never been heard by human ears.  Sutton, apparently, is a household name in Naples, but more so is a brand known ’round the world.

The place Sutton built, in downtown Naples...

And so this blogger decided to follow-up on the claims, and found, lo and behold, that sutton spoons are quite well-known.  Just google the name, and be ready for over 1,000,000 hits, ranging from a multitude of fishing forums and guide reports to a post suggesting sutton spoons make a great wedding gift…

In copper, how nice...

Most of the fishing forum posts hailed the fish-catching abilities of this simple lure, but one in particular gave some insight into the high technology utilized by the company in selling its mighty brand:

Sutton Spoons are made in a small shop in Naples, NY. Naples is about 50 miles southeast of Rochester on the south end of Canandaigua Lake. I doubt very much if they have a website as the last time I was there, the computer served as a paperweight. They are a super spoon and come in many different shapes and sizes. I find them in some of the smaller Mom and Pop stores in the Roch. area. Good luck.

Indeed, the Sutton company seems to pride itself on a number of counter-intuitive marketing principles that STFF staffer Kelly verified on a recent visit to their ivory corporate towers. For one, they do not have a website, apparently relying solely on brand loyalty, word-of-mouth, and the advertising made by other on-line retailers.  And two, they don’t exactly bend over backwards in the customer service department.  Kelly was kind enough to purchase a spoon for me, but in so doing, felt as if he was in line for soup in the famous Seinfeld “soup-nazi” episode.  Seeing a boatload of varieties of spoons on display, he asked to purchase one and made the mistake of asking, if this was, in fact, a sutton spoon.  The reply was borderline indignant, and Kelly took his purchase and quickly exited the store…

That's it - no more spoons for you!!!

There are a wide range of spoon types and sizes for a variety of trolling, casting, and jigging applications, most of them referred to by a number…

And you thought spoons were simple...

The old-timers who trolled the finger lakes for trout used a copper line on a large hand-held spool the size of a pie plate and referred to the technique as “pulling copper”.  The spoon would be run off the copper line with a leader and the idea was to troll slowly, letting the lure flutter off the bottom like a wounded sawbelly (alewife).  Modern down-rigger trolling systems and rod  set-ups have all but replaced “pulling copper”, but some fishermen apparently still use it, as seen in this video on youtube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a-4q8Pqi53I).

Lest the readership think I’ve totally reverted back to my bygone years of spinfishery, I hereby publish an idea that could bring the sutton spoon to the fly fishing masses, and catapult The Sutton Company into higher realms of global corporate domination. It seems that some redneck fly fishermen down Louisiana way have been fishing the shallow saltwater estuaries and backwaters with a whole different fly.  The fly (pronounced flaah), often called a spoon fly or wobbler, is a concoction of mylar and epoxy, but at least some variations have a feather tail for balance.

Looosiana flaah - dagummit....

Imagine a different version of this fly, designed for deep trolling, Maine-style, off a full sink line.  Such a fly would more than likely need to be weighted but also have a light enough body to flutter sufficiently much like the sutton spoon at the end of copper wire.  This one would need to be metallic in color – copper, silver, or gold – and very much unlike the southern versions that incorporate all types of shrimp and tidal baitfish colors – hues of pink, purple, and chartreuse.

The colors and finishes of the sutton spoon fly...

And as for names?  How about “canandaigua spoon candy”, “keuka killer”, or “finger lake fly spoon”?  Is anyone at The Sutton Company listening?  Any fly tyers looking for a challenge???

Tight lines…

Striper Lockjaw Off Barnegat Light

Posted in Fishing Conditions, Fishing Reports, Saltwater with tags , , on December 3, 2009 by stflyfisher

“No birds – not a good sign”, sighed an older gentleman standing next to me.  We were on board the Doris Mae, heading out of Barnegat Inlet, and the horizon was barren except for the silhouettes of small boats.  On top of that, the weather looked almost too perfect, with light westerly winds, clear blue skies, and a bright sun that was quickly killing the early morning chill.  Last year at this time, the fishing started with lots of bird-play and fish that were obviously on the feed.  That was not be the case this day.

I had arrived at my parent’s house in nearby West Creek, NJ, the previous evening.  After chowing down on one of my madre’s most special meals, I was ready to do battle the next day on the Doris Mae – one of three party boats sailing out of Barnegat Light.

Pot roast, mashed potatoes with dark gravy, and veggies - what every saltie should eat before venturing forth...

I was equipped with my ever-trusty Penn Slammer spinning rod and an arsenal of good fishing hardware including crippled herrings, AVA’s, and bucktails – trademark jigs of the fall striper fisherman.  As one man noted when he saw my gear; “that man’s ready to fish!”

The Crippled Herring - the striper's demise...

The Doris Mae left the docks on schedule at 7 am and 15 minutes later we arrived at an area just outside the inlet that was crowded with small boats.  It wasn’t long before I had a good thump on my jig on the drop after working it off the bottom.  The fish fought like a blue, but I was surprised to find I had the first striper of the day.  This fish ended up being a short – party boat parlance for a striper under the minimum 28″ length, so back it went to the sea…

Plenty of fishing company...

Unfortunately, that early morning fish was all she wrote for me, and for the other anglers on the boat it was much the same.  We fished from 7 am to 2:30 pm, and came up with a few blues and one additional short striper.  Our captain, one of the famous Eble (pronounced eb’lee) brothers, took us far and wide in search of feeding fish.  We drifted off Island Beach State Park, but the only action we saw was from the small boats trolling umbrella rigs, picking up a striper here and there.

Leaving the beach for deeper water...

The other Barnegat party boats found the same conditions and all reported that they were marking fish with a serious case of lockjaw.  While I did have the one striper, I’m more proud of the fact that I hung in there and fished hard the whole day.  I noticed as the day wore on, the rail thinned out quite a bit.

I’ll have more to report on party boat fishing in a future post, but for me, I’m most likely done with saltwater for the year.  For those of you still itching, the fishing can be quite good through December, so give it a shot.

Tight lines…