Archive for success

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.”




2014 Goals

Posted in Uncategorized, Writing with tags , , , , , , on January 11, 2014 by stflyfisher

“A goal properly set is halfway reached”

Zig Ziglar

I never met Zig Ziglar during his lifetime on this good earth. Known best for his southern charm, zany quotes, and unending enthusiasm, he became successful as a salesman and then took off on his own as a motivational speaker, spreading the good word of “Zig”. I came to know of him courtesy of a co-worker named Lee back in the days when I worked for Texas Instruments. Lee introduced me to one of Zig’s foundation books, “See You at the Top”, and would often preach Zig’s message on success by quoting him throughout the work day. His sayings sometimes seemed corny, indeed, but they stuck to the point where I can still recite the likes of: “Don’t become a wandering generality, be a meaningful specific”, “You can have anything in your life, if you help others get what they want”, and “Your attitude, not your aptitude, will determine you altitude”.


It took a while for me to buy the message, to be honest. I was a little on guard – some of it seemed almost too ‘over the top’ and even Ned Flanderesque, but after reading the book and digesting it gradually, I began to like what I read and found that much of it rang true. These days I’m more a student of Dr. Stephen Covey, but Zig still occupies my heart and soul for his good hearted fire. It’s sad to say, but both Zig Ziglar and Dr. Stephen Covey passed away in 2012. They each left indelibly good marks on the world.

Dr. Covey and Zig Ziglar both believed in goals. And I obviously do too. In my last post, I promised the unveiling of my 2014 goals. I finished 2013 on an OK note in terms of goal completion, but vowing, I’ll do better…

And here they are:

1) Become a better nymph fisherman. Study the works of Dave Hughes (author of “Wet Flies”), Sylvester Nemes (author of “Soft Hackled Fly”), and George Daniel (author of “Dynamic Nymphing”). Buy better nymphing tackle.

2) Catch one of the following saltwater game-fish on the fly: a bluefish, striped bass, or weakfish.

3) Improve my fly tying. Focus on perfecting three patterns, with a goal to catch fish with these patterns:

a) Sulphur Soft Hackle

b) Caddis Sparkle Pupa

c) Murray’s Nymph

4) Donate a box of my own tied flies to the Annual Al Hazzard TU Banquet.

5) Float fish the Susquehanna; Campville to Owego.

6) Practice and improve my casting distance and accuracy.  Make perfect casting practice a habit.

7) Fish with friends – enjoy their company and learn new skills and places to fish. 

8) Learn to tie one new fishing knot. 

9) Fish the tributaries.

10) Night fish for trout. 

Absent from the list this year is ‘Catch a Lake Trout on a fly’. I pulled this one off the list as it is a hit or miss goal – a hard one to achieve. Instead, I added ‘Fish the tributaries’, which could result in catching a laker, brown, steelhead, or landlocked salmon. If I do better at fishing the tribs more often, I’m sure to meet Mr. Laker one of these days. I also added “to become a better nymph fisherman” as it is something I love to do, and I met some good success in 2013 focusing on it.

I’ll close by wishing everyone a successful fly fishing year in 2014, however they may define it, and leave with the following ‘Ziggish’ quote of LCDR Harry G Ulrich, III, Executive Officer of my beloved USS Stark (FFG-31), who often exhorted his junior officers with the following:

“Good, better, best, never let it rest, until your good is better and your better is best”