Archive for June, 2010

Thanks, Dad…

Posted in Uncategorized, Writing with tags , , , on June 21, 2010 by stflyfisher

“A father is a man who expects his son to be as good a man as he meant to be”.
-Frank A. Clark

In a touching scene from my favorite movie Forrest Gump, Forrest learns that his mother is sick and in characteristic fashion, runs home from his work as a shrimp fisherman to be with her. Sitting bedside, his mother tells him that she is dying. When Forrest asks why, she reassures the simple-minded Gump that death is just a part of life, something we are all destined to do. At the end of the scene, she poignantly adds, “I didn’t know it Forrest, but I was destined to be your Mama. I did the best I could…”

And so it is with fathers. Flawed as they often are, fathers show up to work, bring home the bacon, and love in their own quiet way. Fathers are that stern voice that makes children take notice, the very bedrock on which order in the family rests. They are like a feather of destiny, floating on a breeze, just doing the best job possible to land softly on a few great moments in life.

Summer fishing with Dad...

For me, those greatest of moments were when my Dad spent time with me and took me fishing, a sport in which he never participated on his own, but nonetheless made the time for because he loved me. He bought me gifts for fishing, took me on fishing trips, and most of all, gave me life and tucked into it a marvelous little gene that has always drawn me to water…

Me and Pop...

Fathers of yore often take a bad wrap for old-fashioned values, but I grow more fearful with every Father’s Day that these same values are being lost to us and have been diluted to the point that Father’s Day itself is on its own bad course with destiny.

Just trying to be like my Dad...

I look at my own two sons, standing so close to the line that separates man and boy and hope I have given them what my Dad gave me;  that sense that being a father is doing the best you can do with what you have, and hoping they can be as good a man as you meant to be…

Thanks, Dad…

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Memorial Day Weekend Report

Posted in Fishing Reports, Smallmouth Bass Fishing, Trout Fishing, Uncategorized with tags , , on June 12, 2010 by stflyfisher

The holiday weekend provided ample time for two major outdoor activities; landscaping, which consisted of laying down 2 big truckloads of mulch, planting numerous shrubs, trees, and flowers, and, fly fishing. I’ll skip the report on shoveling the equivalent of 2 truckloads of mulch and get to the good stuff, for the local fishing scene is really coming into its own…

Depending first on snowpack and then rain levels, fishing the bigger warmwater rivers can be an iffy thing this part of the year if you wade and fly fish. Last year, for example, I did not get out onto the Susquehanna until September. The bigger the river, the greater the watershed, and the big rivers just take time to settle down when the weather is persistently wet. This year is quite different so far, with “the big 4”, the Tioughnioga, the Chenango, the Chemung, and the Susquehanna, all flowing at wade-able levels (the Susky is a little full yet, but fishable). I fished the Tioughnioga, the lower Susquehanna (Vestal), and the West Branch of the Delaware and found all to be in good to great shape.

Looking upstream on the Tioughnioga...

The Tioughnioga had nice flows and water temps in the low-to-mid 70’s. Clarity was excellent and I was just amazed, while wading, at the sheer number of crayfish the scooted from rock to rock. Some of these crustaceans were small, but there was a good mix of 3″ to 4″ crayfish that were present as well. I fished the Schoolhouse Pool first, swinging a Murray’s #6 Half-breed Marauder down the pool. I worked the far shore down into the deep water and while casting, saw what looked like a plume of mud directly downstream of me. I cast that way, and while stripping my fly back, had a solid thump and raised the rod on a throbbing mass of power that soon took off downstream. This was no bass, though I sensed some head shakes, but there was no jump in this fish’s fight. I tightened my drag down and the fish then ran across the pool and up the other side. Close to the backing, I started regaining line, but then the hook pulled. This was no doubt a big hungry carp. I’ve had a number of hookups with these big brawlers, but have only actually ever landed one, a 15 lber, upstream on this very same river.

I then worked upstream and picked up a small bass, returned back to the schoolhouse pool as the sun set and switched flies to a #6 Murray’s Brown Marauder. I worked downstream swinging my fly on a sink-tip line and soon picked up 2 more small but chunky bass. Then further down the pool I finally hit pay dirt as I swam my fly around a large (pool table-sized) boulder. I picked up 2 very nice bass around the rock and both fought with typical smallmouth bravado.

On Sunday afternoon, I decided to give the lower Susquehanna a try. The river was flowing just slightly on the high side, but clarity was good. Wading downstream, I saw evidence of many bass beds as well as quite a few fallfish nests.

A fallfish spawning bed...

Fallfish scoop out the bottom much like most fish do to make their spawning bed, but after spawning, cover and protect the eggs with a large pile of stones. Their unique spawning beds can be extreme in size – as wide as 3 – 4 feet, and as in the case of the one in the pic above, a foot or more in height above the river bottom.

I worked a #6 Brown Murray’s Marauder once again as my fly of choice on a sink tip line and picked up a fallfish and then a walleye.

Walleyes will eat a fly fished deep...

As I left that evening I did notice smallmouth bass chasing bait in the very shallow area of pool I was fishing and I also kicked a few up from the shallow edges of the river on the trek back to the access.

On Monday, Memorial Day, I visited the West Branch of the Delaware, for a change of venue. The West was flowing on the low side at roughly 300 cfs and had a water temp of 59 degrees. There was some algae in the water which made cleaning flies essential on every other cast.

Balls Eddy

I nymphed the run below the pool and had my best success with a #18 beadhead sulphur nymph and a #16 sulphur emerger as the trailing fly. Hatch activity was as sporadic as the fishing but I did manage to first lose a very nice rainbow, catch two small rainbows, roll a nice brown, and finally land a rainbow towards the early afternoon.

West Branch Rainbow

To summarize the weekend’s fishing, I’d have to say the smallmouth bass post-spawn funk is over and fishing should be good from here on as long as the rivers behave themselves. Crayfish and minnow imitations always work well in the early in the morning or late in the evening. Nymphing with large dark nymphs such as a Murray’s #6 Hellgrammite is also a good way to go once the sun is up and full.

If trout fishing the bigger Catskill waters is your thing, sulphurs are in full swing but do not forget the large slate drake, also known as Isonychia. BWO’s (Blue Wing Olives) are another good choice, particularly if it is overcast or rainy. Last but not least, the ubiquitous caddis is always a good choice. These guys haunt the local streams all year long.

Tight lines…

In Memoriam…

Posted in Uncategorized, Writing with tags , , , on June 9, 2010 by stflyfisher

On Memorial Day, I drove down to Balls Eddy to fish the West Branch of the Delaware. The fishing access, a broad parking area with a boat launch on the “eddy”, or pool, is adjacent to a cemetery. As I pulled in to the access, I was greeted by the sight of at least 20 cars and my initial reaction was; “it sure is going to be crowded on the river today”, but very quickly after that selfish thought, I realized what was about to take place there.

I parked and donned my waders, got my gear in order, set up my rod, and watched a small gathering of people on the other side of the stone wall that surrounds the cemetery. A color guard assembled and at 8:30 and began its solemn march into the cemetery. The colors waved in the light morning air and I could hear the cadence call of the honor guard leader. Soon the color guard was positioned in front of the onlookers and some prayers were said along with a tribute to the fallen. A salute was fired; several volleys cracked the cool morning air and echoed off the hills, and then what followed was the mournful cry of a bugle singing Taps…

Final resting place for the fallen...

I left the car afterward, and headed downriver to the run I love to nymph. I fished all morning, lost a few good fish, caught a few smaller ones, and finally, in the early afternoon with the sun pouring down from bluebird skies, landed a beautiful rainbow.

Returning back to the parking access, my mind once again drifted off to the Memorial Day services I had witnessed as I dressed to fish. What came to mind was my father’s own service in Korea, and that of other relatives; my brother-in-law (Navy), my father-in-law (Army), my mother’s father (Navy) and that of even more distant relatives. And I thought of my own service in the Navy and then names I would never forget. These were the fallen of the USS Stark, FFG-31, a ship I helped commission as a young Ensign and one on which I served proudly the first six years of her service in the Fleet.

The USS Stark (FFG-31) on sea trials...

Roughly a year after I left the Navy, I watched in horror on the evening news, as this same ship – my ship – was listing sharply to port, smoke belching out of her, somewhere in that vast hot expanse that is the Persian Gulf. I was horrified, dumbstruck, and speechless that evening…

USS Stark after the attack - she was saved and later returned to service...

37 crewmen were killed in the attack on the Stark. The ones I remember clearly were Foster, a senior chief quartermaster, who left 8 children behind; DeAngelis, a smart young kid with the kind of wit and humor that made the crew roar – the kid from Dumont, NJ – one who grew up not far from my own home; and Kiser, another senior chief petty officer – tall and lanky as Ichabod Crane – and a pillar of wisdom for the engineering crew.

USS Stark memorial in Mayport, Florida

So I left Balls Eddy and drove up the dusty river road, with all of that going through my head. As I drove, the river ran below me, cool and lovely green. I crossed the Hale Eddy bridge where a broad, fast riffle spills into a long and deep pool and where a few fisherman stood, some casting, and some looking for risers. I watched them there, enjoying the peace that is fly fishing, and I wondered if they too had remembered…

In Flanders Field

By: Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD (1872 – 1918)

In Flanders Fields the poppies blow

Between the crosses row on row

That mark our place; and in the sky

The larks, still bravely singing, fly

Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago

We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow

Loved and were loved, and now we lie

In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:

To you from failing hands we throw

The torch; be yours to hold it high.

If ye break faith with us who die

We shall not sleep, though poppies grow

In Flanders fields.