Archive for binghamton fly fishing examiner

2013, going, going, gone…

Posted in Uncategorized, Writing with tags , , , , , on January 3, 2014 by stflyfisher

When it is obvious that the goals cannot be reached, don’t adjust the goals, adjust the action steps.

Confucius

Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/c/confucius140548.html#2tXJx80siqreKagy.99

When it is obvious that the goals cannot be reached, don’t adjust the goals, adjust the action steps.

Confucius

Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/c/confucius140548.html#2tXJx80siqreKagy.99

Last year was not a great writing year, and for that I truly apologize. As we all often do, I started the year with good intentions, but putting pen to internet paper was a struggle in 2013, partly due to another posting obligation on my Examiner.com site, partly due to fishing, and partly due to the added time of my long distance work commute (no, I don’t write for a living just yet…). I promise, with hand placed on the good book, that you’ll see many more posts on my beloved blog in 2014 – certainly more than the woeful eight that I sent out to the blogosphere in 2013.

While my blogging was pretty pathetic, my completion of 2013 goals was at least somewhat better. Most of my followers know I try to start the year setting some fly fishing goals and then end the year with a look back on how well I did. I’m a big believer in goals, not so much to be able to tout achievements, but to make me think about how to improve as a fly fisherman, along the lines of the late President & General Eisenhower, who once said:

In preparing for battle, I have always found that plans are useless but planning is indispensable.

Brad_Ike_Patton

Goal-setting, after all, requires planning, and the act of planning, in turn, makes one think about what, where, and how to improve. Having said that, it’s still nice to look back and see if one did improve the way they planned and hoped.

For 2013, I’ll rate myself a 4.5 out of 10 for completion on the goals I posted. Here’s the detail on my accounting:

1) Catch a lake trout on the fly – lake run or from the lake. Never happened.

2) Catch one of the following saltwater game-fish on the fly: a bluefish, striped bass, or weakfish. I did catch blues and stripers, including a few dandies, but not on a fly.

3) Begin fly tying – focus on perfecting three patterns, with a goal to catch fish with these patterns. Here’s a goal I did achieve. I began fly tying in earnest and tied the following patterns:

a) Wooly Bugger – I caught quite a few largemouth bass and smallmouth bass on the bugger patterns I tied. I experimented quite a bit with color and added features such as weight, flash, and even rubber legs.

b) Picket Pin – My first fish of the season, and the first on a fly tied with my own hands, was a fat brown from Cayuga Creek that slammed the fly as it drifted through a nice run. I caught a lot of trout on my own version of this venerable pattern.

c) Maribou Streamer – I LDR’d a nice brown with this classic pattern. I’m feeling generous to myself (shouldn’t we all be, after all?) so I’ll count that as “catching” a fish on the fly…

4) Float fish the Susquehanna; Campville to Owego. I did not float the Susky once, and probably fished it only a half dozen times, at most, due to very high water over much of the summer. I’ll keep this one on the list for 2014.

5) Practice and improve my casting distance and accuracy.  Learn to single haul and double haul. Here’s another goal I achieved. I learned to single and double haul and I’m a better caster overall (sounds like a Dr. Suess rhyme!), but still retain some bad habits. I’ll keep a casting improvement goal on 2014’s goal list.

6) Fish with friends – enjoy their company and learn new skills and places to fish. I’m proud to say I did well with this goal, managing to dedicate 8 outings with friends & family. I also enjoyed meeting and fishing with a few good fishermen while on the water.

7) Learn to tie one new fishing knot. I perfected the non-slip mono knot and came up with a variation of it that works quite well in my opinion.

8) Fish for steelhead. I’ll take 50% credit for trying on this goal. I intended to venture forth twice for steelhead with my good friend Dan, but both times the weather canned the trip. I’ll keep this goal for 2014.

9) Fish Handsome Brook. Nope – this one got away on me…

10) Night fish for trout. Didn’t happen but I’ll keep this for 2014.

I projected last year that if I could accomplish 6 to 7 of these 10 goals, it would be a good year. Accomplishing 4.5 would therefore make it a marginally OK year, but again, it’s not so much about the goals, but the act of becoming a better fisherman in all ways.

I’ll soon be revising my 2014 goals based on the above and possibly add some new areas for growth as a fly fisherman. Stay tuned for that post as well as one on 2013, where I’ll make a ‘year in review’ post…

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Shoals so dense as to slow the passage of ships…

Posted in Uncategorized, Writing with tags , , , , on April 30, 2011 by stflyfisher

Such was North America at the time is was “discovered”; fish so abundant, according to Christopher Columbus, that they swam thick as shoals, and slowed the passage of his ships. Not long after, the explorer John Cabot returned from the waters around what is now Newfoundland and reported that codfish could be caught by merely hanging wicker baskets over a ship’s side. Some, to this day, are incredulous at these and similar claims: codfish as big as men, oysters as large as shoes, 20 lb lobsters, 8 to 12 foot sturgeon, Atlantic Salmon runs that choked tributaries…

A good haul of cod in 1921 before the entire Grand Banks fishery collapsed...

It’s not like early explorers were Nat Geo-accurate. But later reports, by Lewis and Clark, seem to echo what Christopher Columbus and John Cabot saw in the new land. Consider that the Lewis and Clark expedition was stopped on the Missouri River by a buffalo herd crossing and had to wait “several hours” before the river was clear of buffalo. Indeed, the herd to the west of the Mississippi at its peak was estimated to be comprised of 30 to 75 million individuals. That’s a lot of bison burgers…

Imagine the herd all of these bison skulls belonged to... (Picture circa 1870)

Progress and the environment have been at odds almost to the day America started. The enormous cod fishery of the Grand Banks is gone. Buffalo live in herds that are a shadow of their former glory. Atlantic salmon were once native to almost every U.S. river north of the Hudson River; remnant wild populations are now known in only 11 rivers.

But Mother Nature will work with us. Give her a little break and she takes hold. A town park left alone, for example, can harbor native brook trout. Other encouraging stories abound: the re-establishment of shad runs, sturgeon, and striped bass.

The environment is cleaner these days across much of the nation and certainly in the Southern Tier. Wildlife such as eagles and osprey, once a rarity on local rivers, are now commonly seen. Fish the Chenango River as far down as downtown Binghamton, and you’re likely to see snowy white egrets also fishing the river…

Looking upstream on the Chenango River where egrets find the fishing to be just fine...

But there’s a potentially dark storm cloud looming just to our south…

A natural gas drilling rig stands amidst the autumn beauty of the Pennsylvania countryside...

Pennsylvania is sprouting up rigs like dandelions these days. The drillers have come to harvest natural gas from the Marcellus Shale, a huge formation of marine sedimentary rock underlying parts of New York, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, Virginia, and Maryland, and named for a distinctive outcrop near, of all places, the village of Marcellus, New York.

An outcrop of Marcellus Shale

The shale contains untapped natural gas reserves that were thought to be inaccessible until technological advances in horizontal drilling referred to as hydraulic fracturing or “fracking”, came about. But the process of fracking as it stands now has its drawbacks, as recently explained in a presentation made by a Trout Unlimited representative at one of our monthly TU chapter meetings.

Drilling is a potential economic boom for the northern Appalachian region, a region that is not exactly prospering economically. Ironically, this same area, particularly West Virginia and Pennsylvania, is still reeling from century-old impacts of the energy industry, including acid mine drainage from coal mines and the devastating ecological impacts of mountain top removal practices. So just as the environment has a chance to recover with the help of conservation-minded sportsmen, it seems to be under siege again.

The drilling issue is divisive, even among sportsmen. NY currently has a moratorium on drilling as it rushes to better understand what’s at stake, but there are many who want action now. I know of hunters who own land currently under lease (at a good price, I might add) and who salivate at the thought of gas royalties. I also know other sportsmen who have told me, unabashedly, that if they did own land they’d “drill, baby, drill”, collect, and leave…

Most recently, another of a series of gas drilling incidents in Pennsylvania serves as a reminder that there’s a price to pay for “progress”. Personally, I can’t but help to look at our scenic creeks, streams, and rivers and wonder what their future may be…

The West Branch of the Delaware could some day serve up its water for drilling

If only those gripped by the potential for monetary gain could spend a day with ole’ Christopher Columbus or John Cabot, to see how far we’ve come…

Tight lines…