Archive for planning

Looking ahead to 2017…

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

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.


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.”




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.



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



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 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.


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…