Archive for the Writing Category

The week ahead in fly fishing: February 13, 2107

Posted in Fishing Conditions, Fishing Reports, Flies - Local Favorites, Trout Fishing, Uncategorized, Writing with tags , , on February 12, 2017 by stflyfisher

February has proven to be an interesting month thus far with ups and downs in temperatures, snow, and rain. The good thing is that we’ve had a good amount of precipitation which is very much needed after a long summer drought. And while the weather might be a little sloppy, there’s a lot to do in terms of local activities to keep the blood pumping for spring fly fishing.

Fly shop talk: I’ve mentioned the book “Younger Next Year” in my blog before. For those who have not read it, it’s a fantastic read and one that could make a huge difference in your life on many fronts. The book stresses seven factors that can lead to a great life in “the third chapter” of life, including physical fitness and proper diet, but one of the most important of all of those is “connection” or social interaction. Studies have shown that remaining connected in the later years of life is important to longevity. And this came to mind as I sat at my “bench” and enjoyed the fellowship of anglers, young and old, while fly tying at the BC Flyfisher’s recent fly tying class. We are, after all, social animals. And while I do enjoy being out on a river on my own, rubbing elbows with other like-minded fly anglers can promote a deep sense of connection and also, of course, improve one as an angler. This is a great reason to join a local fly fishing organization and get out and stay connected.

Here’s the fly fishing report for the week ahead:

Great Lakes / Finger Lakes tributaries: The Douglaston Salmon Run has been reporting “so – so” results most recently. Weather has certainly been a factor limiting the number of anglers but reports from the anglers who have fished have been mixed, but more on the “zero” side. Flows have recently increased to levels that will challenge wading anglers. Whitaker’s Sports Store and Motel is reporting some success for the upper end of the river for anglers bottom bouncing flies.

pineville-usgs

Lakes: John Gaulke of Finger Lakes Angling Zone is recommending that Finger Lakes anglers sign up to become a DEC Diary Keeper. The DEC is always looking for participants for Region 7 (Cayuga/Owasco/Otisco/Skaneateles) or for neighboring Region 8 (Seneca/Canandaigua/Keuka/Canadice/Hemlock).  It’s easy to participate and your information (length of trip, number of anglers fishing, fish caught et.al.) will help DEC with management decisions.  Even if you only fish a few days a season, your info can help.  Click here: http://www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/9218.html  and scroll to the bottom for more info.

Here’s the lake – by – lake report from John:

  • Cayuga Lake:  Fishing has been productive for landlocked salmon and brown trout along with occasional rainbows and lakers.  Both fly and gear fishing is working. The water level is low here and launching and retrieving boats could be a hassle for some.
  • Seneca Lake:  Fishing is currently fair to good for landlocked salmon and brown trout.  Perch and pike fishing should be good.
  • Keuka Lake:  Lake trout fishing should still be good here.
  • Owasco Lake:  Lake trout and northern pike fishing should be good here.
  • Skaneateles Lake:  Rainbow trout, landlocked salmon and yellow perch fishing should be good here.

Fly fishing events: Here’s a summary of upcoming events:

  • The BC Flyfishers chapter of IFFF will be holding its monthly chapter meeting on Thursday, February 22nd at 7 pm at the Endicott Public Library. An informal fly tying demonstration at 6:30 pm will precede the main meeting. The presentation topic is HUNT MONSTER BROWN TROUT in NEW ZEALAND. Frank Cole and his companion, Steve Pettit, will talk about their journey in 2011 to beautiful New Zealand to catch trophy Brown Trout. They trek the lower third of the South Island over several rivers and lakes with Simon, their demanding NZ guide, through “chubby rain”, cold and heat. Perhaps, the most beautiful place to fish for trout in the world, the scenery is stunning and the trout are amazing!
  • The BC Flyfishers chapter of IFFF held the first of a series of four fly tying classes  on Saturday, February 11. The class will focus on tying guide flies – flies known for their simplicity and high effectiveness in fooling fish. Some very skilled and experienced fly tyers will be leading the remaining three classes. While the class is closed to new participants, the public is welcome to come, observe, and learn more about fly tying, fly fishing, and the BC Flyfishers chapter of IFFF. If interested, read more here. The next class will be held on Saturday, February 25 at 9 am in the basement meeting room of the Endicott Public Library.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

John Trainor’s “Frenchie” nymph can be seen in his vise in this picture taken at the first of four “guide fly” fly tying classes held this past Saturday, February 11th.

  • The Fly Fishing Show is in town. For those who missed the Somerset NJ show, the final “reasonably local” opportunity to attend will be the Lancaster, PA show which will be held Saturday, March 4th through Sunday, March 5th. Exhibitor booths will include non-stop casting demonstrations, seminars, fly-tying, a Women’s Fly Fishing Showcase, Fly Fishing Film Festival, book signings and the newest fly fishing tackle and gear. Fly Fishing Show admission is $15 for one day and $25 for both days. Children under age 5 are free as are Scouts under 16 in uniform. Active military with an ID are $10. Hours are: Sat. – 9 am-5:30 pm; Sun. – 9 am-4:30 pm.

lancaster-ffs-web-banner-2017

  • The Eastern Waters Council of IFFF, parent organization of the BC Flyfishers and Twin Tiers Five Rivers chapter, is having a contest to bring in new members, called “Giving the Gift Of Membership”. The contest is to encourage current members to buy an IFFF membership as a gift to a fly fishing friend, fishing buddy, or family member. You will be entered in a raffle for a new Sage Rod and Reel. To enter the contest, call Kat Mulqueen (406-222-9369 X106) at IFFF headquarters, tell her you are from the BCFF chapter or TTFR chapter, Eastern Waters Council and that you want to participate in the Giving the Gift of Membership. You will need to provide the giftee name, address and email and pay for their membership. There is also a prize for the club that brings in the most new members. You will be helping your buddy, your Club and the IFFF, and you will be eligible to win an awesome new rod and reel! The contest ends May 1st.

The week ahead weather: WBNG’s week-ahead weather forecast is as follows:

A WINTER STORM WARNING is in effect from 7am Sunday to 1pm Monday for our area for a wintry mix that will begin early Sunday morning, then rain, sleet, freezing rain, and snow will continue through Sunday night, with snow continuing Monday.

Look for a wintry mix of sleet and snow on Sunday with 1-4″ of sleet and snow possible during the day in Broome and Tioga counties, while 3-7″ of sleet and snow may fall during the day in Chenango, Otsego, and Delaware counties. On Sunday night this wintry mix will be transitioning to all snow with a total snowfall of 2-6″ possible for Broome and Tioga counties and 6-10″ with isolated areas of 12″ possible for Chenango, Otsego, and Delaware counties come lunch time Monday.

 

Our next storm system looks to affect the Southern Tier on Wednesday, with the chance for some snow showers. We’ll then keep a slight chance of showers in the forecast each day as we wrap up the work week.

wbng7day

 

 

 

 

 

 

Looking ahead to 2017…

Posted in Uncategorized, Writing with tags , , , on February 8, 2017 by stflyfisher

“Hope
Smiles from the threshold of the year to come,
Whispering ‘it will be happier’…”
― Alfred Tennyson

Anglers are a hopeful bunch, and perhaps the hope curve is highest this time of the year, when angling is still months away for us in the Southern Tier. Snow, ice, and arctic air might contain us, but within us our imaginations run like roaring rivers about what might be in 2017. We are hopeful in the pause of winter. We look back on the year, re-live the great moments on the water and learn from the not-so-great and then turn our gaze forward. We turn to tying flies, building rods, cleaning equipment, spooling lines, patching waders, and studding boots. And we dream and plan…

I set goals in most areas of my life, including fly fishing. I think the act of goal-setting is important in becoming a better angler. Goals stir us to action and hopefully, force us out of our comfort zone. It’s rare when I achieve everything I set out to do; in fact, if I hit 70 – 80% of my targets, I consider it a very good year, indeed.

All in all, 2016 was a decent year. A few factors and events influenced my results both negatively and positively. Because of the extreme drought, for example, I was much less of a trout fisherman this year and much more of a river rat, so that had an impact on some of my goals. The purchase of investment property in Florida also added a dimension to my fly fishing that was not in the plans back in January, 2016.

quote-dwight-d-eisenhower-in-preparing-for-battle-i-have-always-47920

So it is with planning and goals. General Dwight D. Eisenhower, architect of the D-Day Invasion, once said that plans are useless but planning is necessary. My take on his quote goes along the lines of another version of it – that no plan ever survives “first contact with the enemy.” The crux and irony of planning is that one needs to do it to preclude failure but since so many factors change the course of events and impact plans, one must not be rigid to a plan and should only use it as a guideline. One must be committed to the goal or objective, but remain fluid with respect to the plan to achieve it.

So looking forward, I hope to set goals that help me achieve a higher level of effectiveness as a fly fisherman but not keep me from pursuing opportunities as they arise…

Here’s how I did in 2016:

  1. Learn more about nymph fishing – I read a little of Joe Humphreys and George Daniel’s works but as mentioned previously, a lack of trout fishing kept me from doing much in this area. Call this 10% complete.
  2. Learn to fly fish for musky. Per my 2016 plan, I purchased a new musky fly rod – a beautiful Scott Tidal “MP” 9′ 10 weight, and a Lamson Liquid Reel Pack to go with it (1 reel with two additional spare spools). I still need to purchase fly lines and then tie flies, study, and lastly, intentionally fish for these apex predators. Call this 20% complete.
  3. Saltwater flyfish in Destin, FL. – As mentioned in my Looking Back on 2016 post, I was able to wet a line a few times in Destin and had some fly fishing success as a newbie. 100% COMPLETE.
  4. Continue fly tying – learn to tie 5 more patterns. Thanks to last year’s BCFF Fly Tying Class, this is 100% COMPLETE.
  5. Donate a box of my flies to the TU banquet. The Al Hazzard TU banquet, a ritual of Spring was not held in 2016. Initially, it was rescheduled to late 2016, but it never actually happened. I’ll remove this goal for 2017 unless I see the event scheduled.
  6. Float-fish the Susquehanna (4X) – I did only one float of the Susquehanna this year, mainly because Mollie, my prized all weather fly fishing vehicle, was given away early in 2016, her rusted frame not able to pass another NY state inspection. I did not see a way to transport my small kayak to the river, as my wife’s SUV did not have a roof rack, but come fall, my interior design wife – the ultimate packer – showed how I could fit my kayak inside our SUV. So 1X could have been 4X after all. Call this 25% complete.
  7. Make perfect fly casting practice a habit. 100% COMPLETE.
  8. Fish with friends, including at least 3 trips with new friends. I fished with 11 different friends in 2017. 100% COMPLETE.
  9. Fly fish and/or attend fly fishing events 100 times this year. I also accomplished my goal of fishing / attending fly fishing events 100 times. This was a stretch goal but well worth it. 100% COMPLETE.
  10. Learn to tie 3 new fishing knots. 0% COMPLETE.
  11. Fish the Salmon River – Spring, Fall, Winter. I fished for steelhead in the spring and got out once for the fall Salmon run. 66% COMPLETE.
  12. Night fish for trout. 0% COMPLETE.
  13. Fish marginal waters. 0% COMPLETE.
  14. Build my own fly rod. As profiled here in early 2016, I built my first fly rod courtesy of the BC Flyfishers and expert rod maker, Joe Swam. 100% COMPLETE.

Putting a final measure on my results, I’d say I was a little over 50% effective in achieving my 2016 goals.

As most who have read previous “looking ahead” posts know, my process for goal setting starts with a look back and recounting of the year past, usually in December. Once that is done, I begin to plan for the year ahead in early January, mull my draft goals over through the rest of January and early February, and post them – a formal commitment – before my birthday in early March. This year I’m ahead of schedule…

My fly fishing goals for 2017:

  1. Learn more about nymph fishing – study Joe Humphreys’ “Trout Tactics”
  2. Learn to fly fish for muskie.
    1. Purchase line and leader
    2. Tie flies
    3. Study muskie fly fishing
    4. Fish for them
  3. Saltwater flyfish in Destin, FL.
    1. Fish the bay for redfish & trout.
    2. Fish the inlet / surf.
  4. Continue fly tying – learn to tie 5 more patterns.
  5. Float-fish the local warmwater rivers (4X)
  6. Fly fish, practice casting, or attend fly fishing events 125 times this year.
  7. Learn to build leaders. for a
    1. Buy kit
    2. Buy micrometer
    3. Fish my leaders
  8. Night fish for trout.
  9. Fish marginal waters.
  10. Build more fly rods / advance my rod building skills:
    1. Fly rod for my brother-in-law for his 60th birthday
    2. “River Rat” prototype.
    3. “Bay Rat” prototype.
  11. Search for the ideal river boat.

So here’s to achieving fly fishing goals in 2017! In the words of Saint Gerome (340 – 420), father of the Latin church: “Good, better, best, never let it rest. ‘Til your good is better and your better is best.”

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

Looking back on 2016…

Posted in Carp, Fishing Conditions, Fishing Reports, Rod Building, Saltwater, Smallmouth Bass Fishing, Trout Fishing, Uncategorized, Writing with tags , , , , on January 17, 2017 by stflyfisher

“To be able to look back upon one’s life in satisfaction, is to live twice”

Kahlil Gibran

The book on 2016 is now officially closed and as most who peruse my blog know, I like to take a look back on each year fly fishing the Southern Tier before looking forward to the year ahead.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The beautiful West Branch of the Delaware – a classic Upstate New York trout fishery that will hopefully continue to provide great fly fishing in 2017…

2016 was an interesting mix of fly fishing highs and lows for the Southern Tier and for me in particular. I’ll summarize those points with commentary in this post. Look for a “year ahead” post in the coming weeks as well as a review of my performance to last year’s fly fishing goals and a list of what I want to accomplish in 2017.

Weather / Climate Summary – The top story of the year is the drought that started slowly, but hung on through summer and early fall to the point where many small creeks and streams were dangerously low, if not outright dried-up. Owego Creek, for example, was dry in sections, something I’ve never seen in the 24 years I’ve lived in the Southern Tier. What’s often not so good for some fishing, however, can be good for others. The warmwater rivers of our area were low enough for good wading access as early as April and even the mighty Susquehanna was low by late June.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

A large fallfish nest lies exposed on the Susquehanna River. This might be expected in a dry year in August, but to see this in late June is a testament to the severity of the 2016 drought.

By July, one could wade across the Susquehanna in many places! River flows hit a low of 500 CFS in mid-September – making fishing from a boat difficult in some areas later in summer. Note the USGS chart below…

susquehanna-2016-trend

As can be seen in the next chart, temperatures were on the warm side in February and March, precipitating early snow-melt, but then tracked in a fairly tight range for the remainder of the year. Precipitation, or lack thereof, was the bigger issue. The chart below shows a growing deficit that widened significantly into the early fall.

2016-temp-precip

BC Flyfisher’s 1st fly rod building class – The BC Flyfishers chapter of IFFF kicked off 2016 with a rod building class taught by expert rod maker, Joe Swam. The class was outstanding – the group small enough to allow personalized teaching from Joe. It was so good I’m enrolled in the second annual rod building class as I write this. The best thing about the class was the knowledged gained on not only “how”, but “why” fly rods are built as they are. As an example, I never understood why the female end of each rod section is wrapped much like a guide. Now I know, thanks to the class, that the ferrule is very weak and the wrap serves to re-enforce the rod. Obviously too, rod building opens endless opportunity to build a rod that is totally your creation, and perfectly suited to your fly fishing needs. I’ll never buy another. Thanks, Joe!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Rod wrapping with Hemingway.

Visit to Destin – I visited Destin, Florida, and my son Chris, on my way to a business trip destination at the end of January. I’d never been to the “Emerald Coast” of the panhandle of Florida. I brought my 9 weight saltwater fly fishing outfit with me but without much local guidance, I was unable to stir up a bite. Nonetheless, in talking with a few locals, I was immediately impressed with the fly fishing potential, especially when one older angler answered my query on the fishing by saying, ‘the fishing is not good, it is excellent, most excellent…’

April Steelhead – I made it out for steelhead on a very cold and wet, early April day. I once again was able to fish with friend Bob Card and guide Tony Gulisano. Tony is a great guide and is adept in angling for steelhead and salmon in all ways – spinning, centerpin, and fly fishing. Although I did raise one fish, I skunked out while Bob hooked into a number of steelhead and lost a few more. The only bad side to the trip were the repeated disappointing statements from Tony on what he was seeing as we drifted the river. The numbers of steelhead were low according to him – in some places he saw only a few fish where he’d normally see 20, 30, or more. Tony’s observations are based on years guiding the river. What he saw in early 2016 more or less predicted less than a great run of steelhead in the fall.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Bob Card with a nice spring steelhead…

Owego Creek – I was able to get out on the “lower” Owego Creek with Rick Searles. Owego Creek is homewater to Rick – he knows it well and has caught some true trophy browns from the Owego. Rick showed me some areas to fish but was pretty up front about expectations. The lower Owego Creek is not loaded with trout but when one does find them they can be very high quality fish, including some big holdovers and wild browns as well. While I did not do so well the couple of times I fished it, I’m a believer in this small creek’s potential. Rick and I fished it in the spring but as mentioned above, by June the creek was extremely low. I stayed away from ALL creeks for the remainder of the year. I figured wild and holdover browns had enough to contend with from Mother Nature.

April Visit to Destin – I managed to visit Destin, Florida again in April along with my wife. We flew down to see our son, Chris, but in the process, decided to see what real estate was like. One thing led to another and before long we were hooked on buying. I never pictured my later life as involving the “snowbird migration”, but suddenly the thought of living part of the year in a warm climate where the fishing is both good and different and then returning north for late spring through fall seemed to appeal to me. On top of that, Destin has a strong vacation rental market and buying a property would allow us to own an investment that we could use a bit, letting rental income defray at least some of the cost before retirement. We ended up buying a townhouse on a stocked lake just minutes from the beach and 5 minutes by golf cart to Cowahatchee Bay…

ellen-288

Early Season Bronze – The pre-spawn smallmouth bass bite turned out to be excellent. With water levels at spring lows, it didn’t take long to break out my smallmouth gear and look for some early season bronze. I had some excellent fishing starting with the smaller warmwater rivers like the Tioughnioga, but eventually even the big Susquehanna dropped to levels that offered exceptional fly fishing. This early season bite is always there, of course, but only when winters are mild and the rivers are relatively tame does it open up for the wading fly angler. I fished the smaller rivers early on and found some “football” smallies and equally stout fallfish in the river braids and shallow eddies…

Later in the spring, the big Susquehanna also dropped to wadeable levels, and the fishing opened up there too. I did my best to get out when the getting was good, and scored some nice bass in the process. I even got a chance to break in my newly made fly rod, dubbed “The Golden Bear” because of its Vestal High School colors of green and gold…

 

Trout & Memorial Day – I didn’t fly fish for trout as much as I’ve done in past years. Blame the low warmwater river levels and my obsession with smallmouth bass and other warmwater river species. I did make it down to my favorite place on the West Branch of the Delaware River a few times, the most memorable and personally rewarding being Memorial Day. A former sailor, Dan, contacted me out of the blue. He had read my Memorial Day blog posts and told me he had worked for Bob Shippee, one of the 37 on board who had died when the Stark was attacked in 1987. The more I read of Bob Shippee and the more I corresponded with the man who first wrote me about him, the more I wanted to write a tribute to Shippee.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Memorial Day brown – and evidence that Bob Shippe was listening…

Carp – I ran into a few carp this year and fished for them intentionally a few more times. My first encounter was while fishing for early season bass with “The Golden Bear” – a good test of any rod and one that made me smile all the more.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Big river carp are a great way to test out a newly built fly rod…

I caught another dandy on the Tioughnioga with Singer’s Crayfish in a size 6 – a great little pattern that’s equally good on smallmouth. In this specific case, I sawa at least a dozen carp moving and feeding in a deep hole. A few drifts with my crayfish pattern and I was hit solidly. What a great fight these fish can put on! My other attempts resulted in a few missed hook-ups but these scouting trips proved fruitful in uncovering a number of areas to fish in 2017.

Father’s Day – I spent a very special Father’s Day with a long distance fly fishing friend, Joe Laney. Originally from the northwest, Joe currently lives and works in Manhattan with his wife and daughter, but has connections in the Southern Tier through his wife’s family. He happened to read some of my posts way back when and eventually we met up to fish our local waters. Since then, we usually get out when he’s up our way. Joe’s a very good fly angler. On this past Father’s Day we explored the Otselic River and enjoyed catching some nice smallmouth bass, fallfish, and even a few rock bass. It’s always a joy to fish new water, especially with a good friend…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Joe releases a nice fallfish on the beautiful Otselic River…

Catfish – I’ve been running into Mr. Whiskers for a number of years, but it seems like my encounters have increased most recently, prompting me to fish intentionally for them while out hunting bass. Counter to general opinion, the channel catfish that populate our warmwater rivers will aggressively hit a fly, especially large buggy streamers and nymphs. Once hooked, hang on for a deep and dirty fight, even on an 8 weight rod. The state record was a 32 lb fish caught in Brant Lake, but I’d bet river cats are tougher, pound for pound, than their laker kin due to river conditioning. I caught a half dozen up to 32″ with just as many missed in 2016 and repeated an early fall pattern where they were feeding on large emerging mayflies! Go figure…

The Fall Float – I’ve made it out on my small and humble kayak every fall for the last few years and these solo floats always prove very productive. The Susquehanna was very low when I launched downstream this year, making for some even skinnier paddling in places. I fished mainly buggers and the bass were hot to play, including several very nice ones. I did not get a shot at musky or pike, but saw a “fingerling” musky – maybe 12″ long holding near some weeds in about a foot of water. That was most encouraging. Also in the mix was a very nice channel cat and countless fallfish, probably one of the most under-rated beginner “fly fisher fish”, but a species that always fights with bravado and readily and heartily takes a fly…

Blues – The fishing for bluefish was pretty damn good this year. That’s something I truly missed the last several years. Fishing seemed to change off Barnegat Light / Long Beach Island ever since Hurricane Sandy decimated the Jersey shore and that change to the fishing (along with regulation changes) took its toll on the party boats. Whereas two boats – Doris Mae and Miss Barnegat Light – ALWAYS ran for blues from spring through fall, day and night, fishing deteriorated so badly that these boats began to cut back on their trips. Sadly, Doris Mae eventually sold out. Theories abound on specifically why the fishing has changed for Barnegat Light – some indicate bottom changes due to the storm – others point to changes in seasonal currents. Whatever the cause, the trip (think fuel expense and time to fish) to reach blues from Barnegat Light did not make business sense. So after reading some glowing reports this past fall, I looked about 40 minutes north to the boats out of Belmar and I was not disappointed. I took a trip aboard The Golden Eagle with my cousin, Mark, and we had a great day. The only disappointment was that the fish mainly wanted bait in the chum slick. I prefer to jig for them, but it was so good to feel their brute power…

Destin – My wife and I returned to Destin in early November to spend a week at our place there. I finally got a chance to meet Ed Greene, a local fisherman and neighbor to our realtor. He was gracious enough to take me out to the expansive Cowahatchee Bay on his center console 23 foot fishing boat. We fished primarily for “trout” as they are referred to in the south. The bay holds a wide range of gamefish, including summer flounder, ladyfish, bluefish, redfish, trout, jacks, spanish mackerel, and even cobia and tarpon. Once I got a handle on the fishing, thanks to Ed’s sage advice, I ventured out on my own, wading the bayside shallows and tidal creeks. I fished a 9 foot 8 weight rod, an intermediate line, a 6 foot leader, and a number of streamers / shrimp patterns, but the best producer was a chartreuse and white clouser minnow. My efforts were rewarded with a number of small trout, a redfish, many lizardfish, and a summer flounder – a great intro to fly fishing, Emerald Coast style, and to think it was only a 5 minute ride in a golf cart to miles of bay fly fishing…

Ed also was kind enough to take me out wreck fishing offshore in a friend’s 27 foot center console boat. Our target species was red snapper. We first jigged up live bait in the East Pass inlet using light spinning gear and tiny sabiki rigs. This was fun stuff in itself. Proper technique could end up with 3, 4, or even 5 feisty baitfish on the multiple hook rigs. After we had a good supply of live bait, we cranked up and headed offshore to wrecks that Ed had in his GPS unit. We fished in water 50 to 90’+ and used pretty stout boat rods with 60lb mono. The rig was classic bluefish stuff – egg sinker (in this case 8 ounces!), swivel, leader, and snelled circle hook. I’d never fished a circle hook and it does take some getting used to. The idea is to just let the fish take the bait and simply tighten up to it without lifting the rod. The circle hook then rotates in the fish’s mouth, rolls, and hooks the fish in the corner of the mouth. I quickly got the hang of it, and in combination with the 3 other gulf-fishing veterans, it wasn’ long before we each had our 2 fish limit in the cooler. These were beautiful red snappers, hard fighting and even better tasting…

Salmon – Another first for me was a trip to fish the salmon run in the Salmon River. I made it up to the Upper Fly Zone – an area I had never fished before but one about which I’d heard good comments. I fished it with angler friend Bob Card on a rainy day. For those unacquainted, the Upper Fly Zone is beautiful water and well worth a full day or days of fishing. I hooked up as did Bob but we did not land one of thee black beasts, primarily due to our position on the river. If nothing else, it was a great recon trip. I’ll certainly be back up there again in 2017.

The Magic of 100 – I’ll finish up this post with a comment on achieving a goal I set at the start of 2016 to “fish and/or engage in fly fishing events and activities 100 times”. Look for a future post on this idea of “100”in the near future, but setting that goal was largely responsible for most of the 2016 memories that I’ve posted here.

And so, I’ll close out 2016 with a wish that 2017 is even better for Southern Tier long rodders…!

 

 

The week ahead in fly fishing: January 9, 2017

Posted in Fishing Conditions, Fishing Reports, Rod Building, Trout Fishing, Uncategorized, Writing with tags , , on January 8, 2017 by stflyfisher

Happy New Year! Another year gone by – another year to come. It’s been a while since the last weekly fishing report so here’s the first of 2017. In general, fishing has slowed with the cold weather, but there is still some decent fly fishing to be had for the winter-hardened anglers out there. I’ll cover the areas with updates where fly fishing is possible. Small stillwaters such as ponds and the smaller creeks and streams and the warmwater rivers are pretty much out now due to the presence of ice.

Fly shop talk: A recent ad from Simms that found its way into my email carried the subject line: “2017 Resolution: Go Fishing.” As simple as it is, and an obvious lead-in to what new products Simms has in store for 2017 that will help you go fishing, anglers should read and heed and definitely carry this mantra forward in 2017. After all, nothing beats hitting the water for anglers wanting to improve their skills and as Harry Murray, famed smallmouth fly angler says, a day you don’t go fishing is a day you never will. Second to going fishing is to desk-top fish in some way, by reading a book, tying flies, working on gear, or even building a new fly rod. I’m convinced ANY type of fly fishing activity makes a better angler in the long run…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Any fly fishing activity can make for a better angler in the long run…

Here’s the fly fishing report for the week ahead:

Great Lakes / Finger Lakes tributaries: The Douglaston Salmon Run is reporting that some steelhead are being caught but conditions are less than favorable at the moment with a lot of lake effect snow, very cold water, and marginally high flows for wading. The USGS gauge at Pineville is currently around 900 CFS. Whitakers Sport’s Store and Motel reports that the upper end of the river is producing some action for anglers able to brave the cold. Anglers fishing the Altmar to Pineville section of the river are hooking up with steelhead. One local angler reported landing one smaller size steelhead (5 lbs) and seeing a few others caught – generally the same size. The Finger Lakes tribs are also producing browns, rainbows and landlocked salmon for those willing to fight the cold.

Suggested Patterns:

  • Sucker spawn in white, cream, peach, blue. size 8
  • Estaz eggs in chart, pink, white, blue. size 10
  • Glo-Bugs in pink, chart, orange. size 8
  • Steelie omelet in chart, peach. size 8
  • Steelhead stone in red, purple, orange. size 6
  • Steelhead bugger in size 6.
  • Black / purple egg sucking leech in size 6.

Lakes: John Gaulke of Finger Lakes Angling Zone is reporting the Finger Lakes to be heading for a deep freeze that’s expected to last at least a week. But now’s a great time to plan for spring fishing. Following is his lake-by-lake report:

  • Cayuga Lake:  Shorefishing has been productive for landlocked salmon, brown trout, rainbows and lakers.  Both fly-and gear fishing is working.
  • Seneca Lake:  Last I’d heard, perch fishing was good here.  I’d expect a few salmon and trout to be around, as well as some pike for the boaters as well as anglers in good shore areas.
  • Keuka Lake:  Lake trout fishing is still very good here.  Also expect good perch/bass/pickerel and fair salmon/trout fishing.
  • Owasco Lake:  Lake trout and northern pike fishing should be good here.
  • Skaneateles Lake:  Rainbow trout, landlocked salmon and yellow perch fishing should be good here along with some bonus lake trout and smallmouth bass.

 

Fly fishing events: Here’s a summary of what’s in store for the week:

  • The BC Flyfishers chapter of IFFF is auctioning their prized 100th Anniversary Cortland Fly Rod. Read more about this unique and valuable fly rod, here. The auction will be held at their next monthly chapter meeting, on Thursday, January 19th.
  • The BC Flyfishers chapter of IFFF is holding its next monthly chapter meeting on Thursday, January 19 at 7:00 pm, with a fly tying demo at 6:30 pm. The presentation topic isFishing for Silvers in (rainy) Cordova, Alaska” with speaker and chapter member, Dan Leonard. Come out to watch another one of Dan’s entertaining videos of his fishing trip to Cordova, Alaska for silvers (Coho Salmon).  This trip took place in September of 2008 with Mark Heath from Chenango Forks and old friend and guide, Ed Trainer from British Columbia.  In September, Cordova has the most precipitation of the year at an average of 22 inches with an average of 21 rain days of the month.  The public is invited and there is no charge for the presentation.
  • The BC Flyfishers chapter of IFFF is also conducting a fly rod building class. The first class was held this past Saturday. While the class is closed to new registrants, the classes are open to the public to attend and watch. Here’s a link from last year’s very successful class. There are two sessions left – Saturday, January 14, 2017 @ 9:00 am and Saturday ,January 21, 2017 @ 12:30 pm. The class is being held at the Endicott Public Library in the downstairs meeting room.
15895130_10154829227562416_2415792941532730368_n

Joe Swam, expert rod maker, teaches a student in the fine art of fly rod building at the BC Flyfishers second annual fly rod building class. Picture courtesy of the BC Flyfishers.

  • The Leon Chandler Chapter of Trout Unlimited and Tompkins County Cooperative Extension 4-H Program will be offering an Introduction to Fly Tying workshop, featuring nine two-hour sessions with several different instructors teaching the basics of tying the dry fly, wet fly, nymph and streamer patterns that are the most effective in the Southern Tier and Finger Lakes area. All classes will be from 6:00-8:00 pm on Saturdays, January 14 – March 11, 2017 at the Tompkins County Cooperative Extension Education Center, 615 Willow Avenue Ithaca, NY. In addition to the 9 weeks of instruction, tuition includes complete tying kits (vises, scissors and related tools); all tying materials (feathers, dubbing, hooks and related materials); as well as a comprehensive introductory text on fly tying. Fees are $140 for adults (19 and up), $110 for children (between the ages of 13 and 18) and $215 for a child and adult combination. There are a limited number of partial scholarships available for children between the ages of 13 and 18. A 50% tuition deposit must accompany your application. To register contact Athena Steinkraus at:
    Winter Fly Tying Workshop
    c/o Tompkins County CCE
    615 Willow Avenue
    Ithaca, NY 14850
    MORE INFO:  607-272-2292 (ext. 139)
    ahs38@cornell.edu

The week ahead weather: WBNG’s week-ahead weather forecast is as follows:

According to WBNG’s Nathaniel Hopper, windy and cold conditions will prevail for all of us for the rest of the weekend, while some localized areas will see lake-effect snowfall. Strong northwest winds will be bringing snow off Lake Ontario, as we could see gusts up to 30mph. Wind chills in the negative teens to negative single digits cannot be ruled out. The best chance for snow looks to stay north and east of Binghamton, while a few waves of snow may wobble across Broome/Tioga County throughout the day. Some localized areas north and east of Binghamton may see more than 3″ of snowfall in more persistent bands, though 0 to 2″ is expected for a majority of the area as snow showers end late Sunday. Temperatures then dip into the single digits Sunday night, with some spots possibly seeing negative single digits. Temperatures then look to warm through the first of next week, winding up in the low-40s by mid-week, which is well above average. As things warm up, rain and a wintry mix will be more likely than snow. A cold front then looks to bulldoze through the Twin Tiers next weekend, dropping temperatures back to seasonable with a wintry mix possible as the front passes.

wbng7day

 

 

 

The week ahead in fly fishing: September 26th

Posted in Carp, Fishing Conditions, Fishing Reports, Smallmouth Bass Fishing, Trout Fishing, Uncategorized, Writing with tags , , , , , , on September 26, 2016 by stflyfisher

Fall is here and the hillsides are starting to show it. Although we still have about two weeks to go for peak colors, some trees are starting to lighten up. Leaves are even falling, no doubt due to the drought that has a lock on the Southern Tier. Nights are getting cooler and cooler days look to follow. This is one of the best times of the year to get out and fly fish. Besides the spectacular scenery and wildlife, many local fish species are starting to prepare for winter in two ways – feeding up and/or heeding mother nature’s call to spawn. In both cases, these fish are either feeding to put on weight before the long winter or are biting out of aggression and competition.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Most people think of fall in hues of scarlet, orange, and yellow. Fly fishers tend to think of fall in hues of olive and black…

Fly shop talk: The New York State DEC held a public hearing on September 14th. Concerned area residents and i-3 Electronics representatives met at Union-Endicott High School for a public information / public comment session on a draft permit for wastewater discharge for i3, formerly EIT. While some have expressed concerns that the permit allows toxic waste to be dumped into the Susquehanna River, members of the DEC say that part of the reason they hosted the information session was to alert the public that the permit works to protect the Susquehanna. I’ve not thoroughly investigated whether the leachate waste that’s being treated is harmful to our beautiful Susquehanna River, nor have I seen outward signs of damage to fish or other river life. But I am scratching my head over how a state that bans fracking can turn around and allow the transportation and treatment of fracking waste and the subsequent discharge of the treated waste into the Susquehanna. I plan on submitting my concerns to the DEC. While the public comment meeting has passed, any interested person may submit comments in writing to the DEC. According to the DEC, all comments will be considered in making the final decision about issuance of this permit. Written comments about the permit modification and renewal must be RECEIVED BY September 30, 2016 to be considered and should be sent to:

Teresa Diehsner
NYSDEC Headquarters
625 Broadway
Albany, NY 12233
(518)402-9167
DEPPermitting@dec.ny.gov

Here’s the fly fishing report for the week ahead:

Great Lakes / Finger Lakes tributaries: The Douglaston Salmon Run is reporting that the movement of salmon up the run has slowed recently. There are fish staging in the estuary. Water temp is around 65 degrees and flows are a steady 400 CFS. Fish are being caught but not so much as during last week. Streamers, buggers, and egg patterns will work on salmon.

Catskill rivers: The West Branch Angler reports that the release from the West Branch has been lowered once again with current flows in the mid 600’s and temps averaging in the mid 50’s. The water still has a pretty good stain going on with several feet of visibility. The water does clear as you head down the West Branch and onto the mainstem which is just under 1,000 cfs with a temp around 60 degrees. There have been a few Blue Winged Olives in the afternoon hours in size 18-24 throughout the system as well as a few 14-16 Cahills.  There are also still a few tricos around in the mornings. Streamers are still a good bet on the West. The Delaware River Club reports that the cool nights have helped dropped the water temperatures, even on the low water of the East Branch. Olives and Isos have been working well, but make sure your box has flying ants and small dark Caddis. Lower water should make nymphing productive, even with the sun.

Here’s what’s hatching:

  • Slate Drake – 12-2xl- 14- Isonychia bicolor
    Sulphur – #16-20 – E dorothea
    Light Cahill – #14 – 16 –
    Tiny Blue Winged Olive – #22 – 26 – Psuedocloeon spp.
    Blue Winged Olive – #18 – 20 – E. lata
    Light Blue Winged Olive – #16 – 20 E. attenuatta
    Tan Caddis – #16 – 20 – Hydropsyche spp.
    Dark Brachycentrus sp. – #14 – 18 – Dark Grannom
    Little Black Caddis #18 – 20 – Chimarra sp.
    Blue Winged Olives #16 – 18 – Baetis vagans (updated name: Baetis tricaudatus)

Local streams and creeks: Creeks picked up a little water with recent rains but not much. Cooler nights are helping the warm water but it’s still best to give the creek trout a break for now.

Lakes: John Gaulke of Finger Lakes Angling Zone gives the following lake-by-lake report:

  • Cayuga Lake:  Fishing continues to be good to very good for lake trout.  Bonus salmonoids are occasionally in the mix. I would expect good largemouth bass fishing here as well as perch action.
  • Owasco Lake:  Expect fair to good trout action here with shots at bonus rainbows, browns and smallmouths. Smallmouth bass fishing should be good and pike fishing should be picking up.
  • Seneca Lake:  Expect poor to fair lake trout action and fair to good action on the other salmonids.  I expect pike fishing to pick up as the lake cools.
  • Skaneateles Lake:  Smallmouth bass fishing is very good to excellent.  Bonus perch are around as well as the usual rockbass.
  • Otisco Lake: Bass fishing has reportedly been good with some Tiger Muskies in the mix.

Ponds: As we move into cooler weather, fishing will be best in the late afternoon and early evening. Bass and sunfish will remain active and willing partners to fly fishermen under current conditions. Topwater is a good choice and don’t forget the damselfly, grasshopper, cricket, and beetle patterns. Poppers will work well along weed edges, structure, and lilly pads.

Warmwater rivers: The warmwater rivers continue to drop, making for easy wading and great fly fishing. The Susquehanna is back to crashing lows for the year and at current levels can be forded in many locations. There are a lot of normally out-of-reach pools, runs, and riffles that can be accessed safely.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Looking upriver on the Susquehanna River

The smallmouth bite is very good to excellent thanks to cooling water temps which seem to be strengthening the fall bite. I’m currently measuring water temps as low as the mid 60’s on the Tioughnioga, but in general, water temps will range from the low 60’s to mid 70’s depending on the river and location.

The rivers are loaded with bait and that bait is getting bigger as fall progresses. Water clarity is excellent. Early morning and late afternoon to sun-down are the best times to hit the rivers. Focus on the pool tailouts where smallmouth often set up to chase bait in the shallower water. Key in on structure and in particular, rocks, downfalls, and weedbeds. Streamers are the best bet, however, poppers can also be good, particularly in pools, slower water, and eddies. And remember on bluebird sky days where the sun is really bright, look for shady areas to fish as bass are light-shy.

In addition to smallmouth bass, be prepared to encounter a variety of other warmwater species. Fishing streamers and large nymphs in the deeper pools and around structure can often times drum up a good mix of river species. Channel catfish, walleye, northern pike, carp, fallfish, and musky can all be caught on any given day on the warmwater rivers.

Fly fishing events: Here’s a summary of what’s in store for the week:

  • The BC Flyfishers chapter of IFFF is auctioning their prized 100th Anniversary Cortland Fly Rod. Read more about this unique and valuable fly rod, here.
  • The Twin Tier Five Rivers chapter of IFFF will hold its next general meeting on October 3rd. Former Cornell professor Dr. Tony Ingraffrea will be visiting to talk about fishing Alaska. While some know Dr. Ingraffrea from his talks about fracking and the Marcellus Shale, he also has had the pleasure of fishing in Alaska many times, and on Oct. 3rd he plans to discuss those many trips, along with tips for making your own trip of a lifetime to the last frontier the best it can be.

The week ahead weather: WBNG’s week-ahead weather forecast is as follows:

According to WBNG’s Brian Schroeder, a cool body of Canadian high pressure moving through Ontario and Quebec will keep temperatures in the upper 50s to low 60s, with frost possible. A low will move across the Great Lakes early in the week. We’ll start Monday with sunshine, but the clouds will be increasing. There will be a slight chance for some showers late Monday night. The clouds and the chance of showers will continue Tuesday and Tuesday night, but will wind down for Wednesday. High pressure moves in later in the week giving us partly cloudy skies on Friday and mostly sunny skies on Saturday. Temperatures will rebound into the upper 60s and low 70s by Saturday.

 

The week ahead in fly fishing: September 19th

Posted in Carp, Smallmouth Bass Fishing, Uncategorized, Writing with tags , , , , , on September 18, 2016 by stflyfisher

This week marks the official start of fall, September 22nd to be exact. And Mother Nature seems to recognize it. Trees are starting to take on hues of fall – the hillsides are dotted by a few maples that are beginning to show their scarlet colors. Goldenrod in the fields is in full bloom and oaks are starting to drop their acorns. The other day I made my way down to a river, strolling through an adjacent field. I kicked up grasshoppers, enjoying the afternoon warmth, with every stride.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Looking downriver at dusk on the beautiful Tioughnioga

Fly shop talk: Here’s a little bit more about the autumnal equinox, courtesy of The Weather Channel:

During the autumnal equinox, day and night are balanced to about 12 hours each all over the world. Instead of the Earth tilting away from or toward the sun, its axis of rotation becomes perpendicular to the line connecting the centers of the Earth and the sun.

“This change in the tilt causes the change in seasons with the northern hemisphere moving from the warmth of summer to the chill of winter,” said weather.com digital meteorologist Linda Lam. “This process includes a shift in the overall location of the jet stream which plays an important role in weather conditions.”

From that point on, daylight in the Northern Hemisphere gradually becomes shorter up until the winter solstice. This is the opposite of what occurs in the Southern Hemisphere, where daylight won’t grow any longer.

Here’s the fly fishing report for the week ahead:

Great Lakes / Finger Lakes tributaries: It’s time to add this fishing category to my report. Right now the Douglaston Salmon Run is reporting movement of small pods of salmon up the run. These fish are staging in the estuary and are either moving up the river or even turning around, most likely due to the warmer water. River flows are around 400 CFS with a temp in the mid 60’s.

Catskill rivers: 

The West Branch Angler reports that all of the fishermen who haven’t been able to wade the West Branch of the Delaware River will be happy with the new flow. The Cannonsville Reservoir release was cut over the weekend and flows have dropped from well over 1,000 CFS to 500 CFS. We will still have the same bugs and the fish will be a more likely to come to the surface with the lower water. The flying ants in size 18-24 will be around for a while as well as a few Isonychia and Cahills. The Delaware River Club reports recent rains have not done much for river flows. Most people seemed to be throwing streamers over the weekend but there has been a decent mix of olives, cahills, and some isonychias hatching.

 

Here’s what’s hatching:

  • Slate Drake – 12-2xl- 14- Isonychia bicolor
    Sulphur – #16-20 – E dorothea
    Light Cahill – #14 – 16 –
    Tiny Blue Winged Olive – #22 – 26 – Psuedocloeon spp.
    Blue Winged Olive – #18 – 20 – E. lata
    Light Blue Winged Olive – #16 – 20 E. attenuatta
    Tan Caddis – #16 – 20 – Hydropsyche spp.
    Dark Brachycentrus sp. – #14 – 18 – Dark Grannom
    Little Black Caddis #18 – 20 – Chimarra sp.
    Blue Winged Olives #16 – 18 – Baetis vagans (updated name: Baetis tricaudatus)

Local streams and creeks: Nothing new here. The low, warm water warns, “stay away.” Give the creek trout a break for now.

Lakes: John Gaulke of Finger Lakes Angling Zone gives the following lake-by-lake report:

  • Cayuga Lake:  Fishing continues to be good to very good for lake trout.  Bonus salmonoids are occasionally in the mix. I would expect good largemouth bass fishing here as well as perch action.
  • Owasco Lake:  Expect fair to good trout action here with shots at bonus rainbows, browns and smallmouths. Smallmouth bass fishing should be good and pike fishing should be picking up.
  • Seneca Lake:  Expect poor to fair lake trout action and fair to good action on the other salmonids.  I expect pike fishing to pick up as the lake cools.
  • Skaneateles Lake:  Smallmouth bass fishing is very good to excellent.  Bonus perch are around as well as the usual rockbass.
  • Otisco Lake: Bass fishing has reportedly been good with some Tiger Muskies in the mix.

Ponds: Still not much new to report here as long as warm days and cool nights continue in the forecast. Fishing will be best in the late afternoon and early evening. Bass and sunfish remain active and willing partners to fly fishermen under current conditions. Topwater is a good choice and don’t forget the damselfly, grasshopper, cricket, and beetle patterns. Poppers will work well along weed edges, structure, and lilly pads.

Warmwater rivers: The warmwater rivers continue to drop, making for easy wading and great fly fishing. At current levels, even the Susquehanna can be forded in many locations and a lot of out-of-the-way pools, runs, and riffles can be accessed safely.

susky-low

The Susquehanna River hit a new low for the year – 500 CFS…

The smallmouth bite remains very good thanks to cooling water temps which seem to be strengthening the fall bite. I recently recorded temps as low as the upper 60’s on the Tioughnioga, but in general, water temps will range form the upper 60’s to mid 70’s.

The rivers are loaded with bait and water clarity remains excellent. Early morning and late afternoon to sun-down are the best times to hit the rivers. Focus on the pool tailouts where smallmouth often set up to chase bait in the shallower water. Key in on structure and in particular, rocks, downfalls, and weedbeds. Streamers are the best bet, however, poppers can also be good, particularly in pools, slower water, and eddies.

And while fishing for smallmouth bass, be prepared to encounter other warmwater species…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Channel catfish, like this nice specimen, will aggressively take a fly…

Fishing streamers and large nymphs in the deeper pools and around structure can often times drum up a good mix of river species. Channel catfish, walleye, northern pike, carp, fallfish, and musky can all be in the mix on any given day on the warmwater rivers.

The rivers can still be wet waded comfortably, but be aware that wet wading in sandy or muddy river bottom areas can expose one to leeches. I was recently reminded of this, finding a rather large one attached to my lower leg! Leeches are generally not harmful – clean the bite area thoroughly with soap and water and hydrogen peroxide and don’t be surprised if the wound bleeds for a while. Leeches will actually secrete an anticoagulant enzyme when they bite. And while getting bitten is not a great thing, the fact that leeches are around should serve as a reminder that the use of a leech pattern fly can be deadly for most warmwater river species. Walleyes, in particular, can’t resist leechy-looking flies in olive, brown, and black.

Fly fishing events: After a summer break, area fly fishing clubs and chapters are getting back to business. Here’s a summary of what’s in store for the week:

  • The Al Hazzard chapter of TU will hold their first monthly meeting of the fall on Tuesday, September 20th at 7 pm at the Vestal Library. Speaker, to be announced.
  • The BC Flyfishers chapter of IFFF will hold their first monthly meeting after the summer break on Thursday, September 22 at 7 pm, with a fly tying demonstration at 6:30 pm. The meeting will be held at the Endicott Library. The guest speaker will be Bill Kessler, a devoted Atlantic Salmon fisherman who has fished from a couple hundred miles north of the Arctic Circle in Russia, to Scotland, Ireland, and his “local” fisheries on the Gaspé Peninsula in Quebec and in New Brunswick.  Bill will describe the Atlantic’s life cycle, habitat, and will describe various methods of fishing for salmon, using both wet and dry flies.  He will discuss the equipment — flies, lines, rods and reels as well as describe both single and double hand casting techniques and when to use them. Bill will bring samples of the equipment and flies and will regale us with stories of his most memorable experiences. As usual, the meeting is open to the general public at no fee.
  • The BC Flyfishers will be auctioning their prized 100th Anniversary Cortland Fly Rod, starting with the September 22nd general meeting. Read more about this unique and valuable fly rod, here.
  • The Twin Tier Five Rivers chapter of IFFF will hold its next general meeting on October 3rd. Former Cornell professor Dr. Tony Ingraffrea will be visiting to talk about fishing Alaska. While some know Dr. Ingraffrea from his talks about fracking and the Marcellus Shale, he also has had the pleasure of fishing in Alaska many times, and on Oct. 3rd he plans to discuss those many trips, along with tips for making your own trip of a lifetime to the last frontier the best it can be.

The week ahead weather: WBNG’s week-ahead weather forecast is as follows:

According to WBNG’s Nathan Hopper, there’s another cold front currently situated in the Upper Midwest and is separate from the front that rolled through over the weekend. After the cold front pushes through, the chance for showers will stick with us on Monday, though things will progressively dry out through Monday. Tuesday looks to be more seasonable with the sun out and the humidity to a more comfortable level. High pressure then takes over and the sun will remain with us through the end of the week, as mostly clear conditions prevail. Temperatures will hang out just above average for the week, with highs in the low- to mid-70s.

Looking out a little longer term, forecasters are saying that cold fronts will be more common across the Northeast through the rest of September. This roller coaster-type weather pattern is typical for autumn months and will only increase in frequency and magnitude through November. However, one can expect warmer temperatures to win out over the cooler temperatures through the rest of the month.

How to own a piece of fly fishing history

Posted in Gear, Uncategorized, Writing with tags , on September 10, 2016 by stflyfisher

“Ever since I started making fly rods, I wanted to make the finest rods available – not just good rods, but the absolute finest rods available. I truly believe that these are the finest graphite and fiberglass fly rods currently in production, and others are starting to agree. I have put all of my creative talents into designing and building these rods, and I think that my efforts are apparent not just in how they perform, but in how they make you feel. Much like holding a rare cane rod or a fine side by side shotgun, a McFarland fly rod possesses that same magic and resulting feel of wonder and amazement. It is just one of those things that you can’t quite explain; that unmistakable ambiance that surrounds only the very finest objects. When you have one in your hands there is no doubt that you are holding something special.”

Mike McFarland – Owner and Rod Designer, McFarland Rods

Fly fishers looking to own a bit of history, beauty, and excellence need not look any further for the opportunity than an upcoming auction to be held by the BC Flyfishers chapter of IFFF. On the auction block is a custom fly rod specifically built to honor Cortland Line Company’s 100th anniversary in business. The BC Flyfishers chapter of IFFF was fortunate to receive fly rod #5 of 100 from the Cortland Line Company and will auction it off to some very lucky angler. The auction starts with the chapter’s September 22 general meeting

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

BC Flyfishers IFFF chapter President, Nick DiNunzio, receives the 100th Anniversary fly rod from Brooks Robinson of the Cortland Line Company.

The 100th Anniversary rod is the quintessential trout rod as you’d expect any fly rod representing a company that’s an innovator in fly lines to be. It measures out at the standard 9 foot in a 4 piece configuration and it’s rated for a 5 weight line – standard trout fare. Best of all, it’s completely handmade, including the graphite blank, by the McFarland Rod Company located in Bellwood, Pennsylvania.

Mike McFarland, McFarland Rod Company’s founder, likes to feature premium components on his handmade fly rods. The handles on all of his rods are turned from the finest quality cork and the guides are hand wrapped and expertly finished. In the case of the Cortland 100th Anniversary rod, the reel seat is a true nickel silver seat by REC. The wood is California buckeye burl with the Cortland logo engraved in it. While Cortland picked the reel seat, McFarland picked the rod wrap color, using gold to give the rod a bit of a nostalgic look…

cortland-rod2

The finishes on the 100th Anniversary Cortland Line Company fly rod really stand out…

 

Every rod is hand signed with the marking of the 100th anniversary and serialized…

cort3

Note the nickel silver winding check and hook keeper…

cort1

There are only 100 of these very special rods in the whole wide world…

McFarland designed the Cortland 100th Anniversary Fly Rod to embrace the old and new in fly fishing. While it’s built with modern-day graphite, it has a traditional fly rod feel in terms of its medium action. The rod blank was rolled using a unique composite of varying carbon fibers and features a special ferrule design that not only adds strength but also provides a seamless transition of power from butt to tip. Says McFarland; “The taper design of these rods combines a refined progressive taper and classic action with updated materials and resin system.  The result is an extremely smooth casting rod with great line feel and perfect performance with just a few feet of line out the tips as well as at longer distances.” Indeed, at its very heart, this is a trout rod that does its best work at casting distances in the 15′ to 50′ range. It will make a perfect dry fly rod but will also serve the trout angler well fishing nymphs, wet flies, and streamers.

cort4x

Mike McFarland began building fly rods in 1991 as a hobby while he was in high school. He continued building rods while in college, selling them for “beer money” as he explained to me while I interviewed him over the phone. After college, Mike started to build the business and as anglers purchased and used his hand-built rods, word got around and the business grew.

mcfar-graph

McFarland’s work in graphite – beauty and performance…

He has made a name for himself in that he not only finishes rods, but also manufactures the blanks. In fact, the bigger part of his business is selling blanks to other rod makers. He produces blanks and finished rods in both fiberglass and graphite.

mcfar-glass

A McFarland “butterstick” that surely casts as smooth as glass…

So how would a small rod maker afford the high caliber equipment needed to produce top-notch blanks? The answer circles us back to the very fly rod that’s up for auction.

It turns out Cortland Line Company once purchased the Diamondback Rod Company, based in Vermont, but eventually ended up closing the factory and moving fly rod production offshore. In March 2015, Cortland Line Company President Randy Brown announced that they commissioned McFarland to design and build a special, limited edition fly rod to celebrate Cortland’s 100th anniversary. McFarland had struck up a deal with Cortland to build the 100th anniversary rods in exchange for the Diamondback Fly Rod Company’s rod building equipment, a savvy move and a win-win for Cortland, McFarland, and the very lucky angler who will one day grace the water with a rod as beautiful as the very trout it was designed to catch.