Saturday, December 31, 2011

Looking Ahead

So of course, I owe you guys a typical new year post.

I don't (or I try not to) do the 'resolution' thing.  For me, its too confining, too all-or-nothing...which makes it somewhat counterproductive, as the whole point is to better yourself.  When you set a resolution, it's usually either too harsh (tomorrow, I'm done smoking!) or too soft (over the next year I'm going to try to cut back slightly on junk food).  In the first situation, the moment you break it, you're done.  And in the second, it's so lax that there's really no self-betterment.

No, for my new year, I just try to set a few well-defined goals that will require effort to accomplish, yet are realistically within my reach.

For this year, I have five goals for myself as far as my recreational activities go:

  • For my fly fishing, like last year (and the year before), I want to catch at least one new species on the fly.  I don't care about how it was accomplished, only that I got a fish to take a fly.  Last year, by dumb luck, I caught a chain pickerel.  In 2010, I added a flounder, my first saltwater catch on any tackle.  This year, I'm hoping to add one or more of pike, carp, gar, catfish, or, if I make it back to the salt, another species from the ocean.  One of my best friends lives minutes from the Chesapeake bay, so we're hoping to get together to fish some of the estuaries from kayaks.
  • For my tying, I'd like to explore one specific area that I've been avoiding ever since my first attempt at it: spinning and stacking hair.  I tried to tie a few muddlers when I first started tying a few years ago, and they simply looked horrible.  This year I'd like to improve on that, and get some nice flies tied with spun or stacked hair.  This will coincide nicely with my goal of catching a pike on the fly.
  • In October, a friend of mine invited me to do some waterfowl hunting, and I loved it.  To that end, I've been making a good effort at finding some good hunting around here, but so far, I've been unsuccessful.  While I did manage to take one bird on that first outing with my friend, I'd really like to get a few 'on my own' in 2012.
  • For my photography, I'd like to continue to learn, specifically in terms of landscape shooting, as well as macro work.  Of course, there's a wishlist of lenses, gadgets, and other good stuff I'd like to get, but the main thing for me is to make time to get out there, and to push myself.  Sure, this one is fairly nebulous, but it's probably the one that will mean the most to me on December 31st, 2012.
  • Finally, and most difficult, I want to get my work out there.  Ideally, I'd get published by a magazine or some other publication, but I don't want to limit my options.  While this will take some work (and I may be kidding myself with optimism at this point), I believe this is a goal that I might be able to achieve in the next year.  Hopefully, with the right combination of hard work, inspiration, and luck, I'll be able to see my name, words, or photos in print.
Well, that about sums it up for me.  What are some of your goals for the new year?

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

International Fly Tying Symposium 2011

This year, just like in 2010, I attended the International Fly Tying Symposium in Somerset, NJ in mid-November.  This trip meant a little more to me than the trip last year because I had planned on going since mid-summer, but then I lost my job in September, and I really couldn't justify the expenses of a hotel room, food, and gas at a time where I really had to stretch my limited funds to make ends meet.

Then, at the very end of October, just a few weeks before the show, I got a new job.

As it turned out, I got my first paycheck from my new job they day before the Symposium.  I could justify the expense again, and it seems like a bit of a karmic reward.

The show was fairly similar to last years show, and while I'd highly recommend that any fly tyer go at least once, there wasn't enough different to make me immediately say that I want to go again next year.  For the cost of the trip, I could easily add a rod, reel, or new piece of photo equipment to my arsenal, and now that I've seen what there is to see, I'll likely go that route instead.

That being said, I did have a great time at the show, and had a lot of fun in New Brunswick Saturday night.

I'm not sure how much I talked about it here last year, but when I went in 2010, I had only just bought my SLR, and at that point, I had no lens to use on it, which limited me to taking my compact camera to the symposium.  This year I got to take my SLR and get some pretty decent shots.  Hopefully you'll enjoy these images as much as I enjoyed taking the shots.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

My Fall (Part 2)

Aside from my now job, there were a few other really notable positives in the fall, the most relevant one to my readers is that I caught my largest trout to this point.

I didn't have a tape at the time, but comparing it to the rod beside it, I estimate it to be a 22-24" tiger trout.  This is my third tiger, and it was an intense fight on my 4wt!

As usual, I took a break from the small streams and wild brookies when they decided it was time to spawn...

As I said, I made it to Erie to do some steelhead fishing...

And for the first time in my life, I went duck hunting.  A friend of mine invited me to do a few days of hunting with him, and now I'm hooked, and on a mission to get a few ducks around here on my own.  My first duck hunting trip was successful...

But subsequent trips have been a bit less so.  In any event, it's a new venture for me, and just like fly fishing, I don't expect lots of early success.  I'll be out again early tomorrow morning to try to get a few, but even if I don't get any, every trip out is one closer to the trip where it all finally clicks.  For now, I'm just enjoying learning something new.

A few weeks after my first duck hunting outing, I started my new job, and focused on adjusting to it for a few weeks after that.  Still, it couldn't have come at a better time, as it meant I could afford the gas and hotel room to make the drive up to Somerset, NJ for the 2011 International Fly Tying Symposium.  While I was there, I made sure to take plenty of photos...

...which you will all get to see in my next update!

That's all for now.  Merry Christmas to all my readers, and when I post again after the holiday, you'll have lots of fly pictures!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

It's Been One Heck of a Fall

Hello again to all of my readers.

No, I'm not gone for good, but I had a lot of changes in my life over the past few months, and while I wasn't busy the entire time, usually when I had the time to post, I just wasn't inspired to do so.  While I'm not exactly inspired now, I wanted to pop in to let everyone know what's up.  My readers have been great ever since I got Dharma of the Drift started, so I wanted to let you know where I've been as well as where I intend to be in the future, with regard to the blog here.

When I last posted, it was early September.  summer fishing was winding to a close and my thoughts were rapidly turning north with thoughts of Lake Erie steelhead.  Then the unexpected happened, and I lost my job.

In retrospect, getting laid off hit me much harder than I ever thought it might.  Sure, there's the financial hardship, and the daunting task of finding a new job in this economy, but the hardest thing for me was the blow to my self-confidence.  It wasn't that I'd failed to perform or done anything wrong at work...just that, even after holding my position for four years, I was still low man on the totem pole in my department.  Business had been slow for a long time, everyone knew this, and my employers had done what they could to avoid layoffs, but as time went on and prospects remained bleak, they were forced to make difficult decisions, and while I wasn't pleased with the outcome, I don't take it personally.

Like I said, the biggest impact, for me, was the blow to my confidence.  While a part of me knew it had nothing to do with me as a person or a worker, it's hard to avoid the nagging feeling that somehow you didn't measure up or you weren't good enough.  I'm sure anyone who's been laid off before can understand.

While I immediately got to work getting my resumee into shape, I wasn't really optimistic about hunting for a job, interviewing, or even doing the things I enjoyed, like fishing, tying, and taking pictures.  My family was really great at that time, keeping me moving and encouraging me, while at the same time giving me the space I needed to sort things out on my own.

Over the next several weeks, I got my resumee up to date and submitted it to at least a dozen places, in person, online, you name it.  Eventually, keeping myself busy with the job hunt got me thinking about fishing again, and I realized, finally, that without a job, I was uniquely available for making a trip or two to Erie to fish during the less crowded weekdays in the early season.  This also got me back to tying, and before long I had dozens of eggs and buggers in boxes, and was driving north on I-79.  Through late September and early October, I managed to spend 7-8 days steelhead fishing, having some of my best days since starting to fish for steelhead.  Through this same time, I started to get a few calls about my resumees.  Finally, in early October, I got my first interview.

Things went well and through a bit of fate or karma or divine providence, the job I applied for (which wasn't in my field) was already filled, buuuuuuut they were considering adding a position that was exactly in my field.  At this point, a lot of my optimism and confidence returned, even though I still didn't have a job.  I think it was just the idea that yes, my skills were still useful, and yes, I had a chance at what seemed like a nice job.  I think my confidence must have shown through a bit, and they said they'd be in touch to schedule another interview.

Turns out that they called while I was up in Erie, fishing for steelhead.  After my trip, I returned, and did another interview, and a few days later, I got the call: I'd gotten the job.

I started my new job on Halloween, and while I do understand that I was fortunate, and very much in the right place at the right time, it gives me a little hope for our ailing economy.  I don't wish to use the site here as some sort of soapbox for my political views, but suffice to say that while there are certainly people that are in the position I was in for two months that abuse the system and don't try, I like to believe that there are lots more good, honest people that are trying, and that their right place and right time just haven't come yet.

In any event, that covers my life in September and October. I'm getting tired, and I have a cold, so I'm going to stop here for now, and finish bringing everyone up to speed in another post.  That'll likely be tomorrow.

Hopefully, my return finds my readers in good health and high spirits!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Introducing: Iso Hatch Exposures

No big, meaty blog post today, just a question and an announcement for my readers.

First the question:

About a year ago, I wrote the five part Erie steelhead guide that has become, easily, the most viewed, linked to, talked about, and shared pages that I've ever produced.  It's clear that this is something that people really enjoyed, whether you (the readers) were the novice steelheaders that the articles were aimed toward, experienced steelhead anglers that were nonetheless interested, or even folks with no interest or inclination to go steelhead fishing that simply wanted to see what it was all about.

This year, I got started in my steelhead season preparation a bit later, having a trip to upstate New York to prepare for (and go on, naturally) at the beginning of August.  From the day I got back, however, to the present, it's been Operation: Steelhead at my vise.

That said, I'd like to write another piece on some aspect of the Erie steelhead experience, and I'm hoping my readers will let me know what they want.

I've been leaning toward a multi-piece article focusing on the tying aspect of things, covering everything from hooks and materials to tutorials and applications for all of the popular steelhead flies, from eggs and nymphs to buggers, hairwings, and specialty flies such as modern spey and intruders.

If this is something that my readers would be interested in, the comments section is the place to let me know.  If you have a different idea, that's the place to sound off as well.

Second, the announcement:

Over the weekend, I took advantage of some free time to finally launch a second Blogger site, focusing on my photography.  Over the past two or three years, photography, for me, has grown from taking a few pictures a month with a ten year old basic Kodak digital, to a hobby that occupies nearly as much of my time and energies as my fly fishing and tying.  While you've seen a significant portion of that work here, there's plenty of other pictures that never make it to the blog, simply because there's no reason for these photos to show up in a blog about fly fishing and tying.  Additionally, I tend to feel bad, like I've somehow 'cheaped out' if I post pictures with little or no text.  This sometimes keeps me from posting when I otherwise might.

I wanted to share these photos and avoid that stigma by starting a dedicated photoblog where I could post photos of anything and everything, without much text at all to distract from the images.

This desire helped bring about my new photoblog, and although it's in its very early stages and still undergoing many tweaks and adjustments, I'm eager to share it with my readers here.

Please take a look at it and let me know what you think, as well as any suggestions either here OR there...

Saturday, September 3, 2011

A Good Day

I had a good day on the water.  Seems like the first in a long, long time.

Granted, I haven't been making it easy on myself, using most of my fishing time to scout streams that may or may not hold wild trout, and once I find them, finding access, parking, and a lack of "No Trespassing" signs.  It's a thankless endavour, but finding just one or two streams on your own in a season is extremely rewarding.  This year, so far, I've found one, which I wrote about in a previous entry, but since then, I've encountered nothing but dried up streambeds, slow streams of water over 3 feet of mud, frogwater that conatined nothing but 2" bluegill, sewage drainage, and my personal favorite, the cruel tease of a beautiful little mountain stream, chock full of crawfish and huge cased caddis...but for some fish.  No trout, no minnows, no nothing.  I suspect it's because the streambed occasionally gets extremely low mid-summer, but it's a horrible thing to do to a blue-liner.

Today, I took the dSLR out to photograph a very specific location, with the intent of fishing a well-known stream after I was done.  I got some good shots (not as many as I'd have liked, but the location was secured better than I was led to believe), then headed for the stream.

As I geared up, I grabbed my photo backpack, intending to log my fishing in photos.  Usually, I take my compact, but I figured since I have my SLR with me, why not bring it.  As I assembled my rod, I wondered if taking along my camera might be bad luck...a sort of arrogant confidence in my producing something worthy of a picture...

I always used to leave the camera in the car when visiting a place for the first time, considering that first trip to be just between me and the stream...and that photographing it was sort of like kissing and telling.  After that first trip, photograph whatever you like, but leave that first one just for your memory.

Obviously from the content here, I'd gotten over that superstition some time ago, but something in the back of my mind said to stick to my hunch, and leave it in the car.  As a typical superstitious angler, I put the camera backpack back in the trunk of my car, and even removed my waterproof compact from it's pocket in my fishing pack.

As I walked to the water, I briefly considered going back for it, but I never did.  Instead, I tied on a streamer and headed for a promising riffle.

Three casts into things, I landed a fat wild brown trout...about 14" long, on my 000wt.

Three casts after that, I landed a wild rainbow of similar proportions.

And this is why anglers remain a superstitious lot.

Over the remainder of the afternoon, I only took one more trout, another rainbow, but this one slightly larger and up top on a stimulator.  I missed two more in that manner, but it was my fault for allowing too much slack line.

Also, I got bombed.  No, for real.  I was fishing under a few trees and heard something crashing through the branches overhead. Moments later, just upstream there was a big splash in some shallow water.  After I calmed down, I walked out from under the trees and looked up.  High in the sky, a huge bald eagle soared overhead, circling.  A beautiful sight.  Putting two and two together, I walked back over to where the splash was and saw a big rainbow trout, very dead, with three big talon wounds in its side.

Well, dead was dead, I decided, and there was no point in the fish going to waste, so I picked it up and placed it on the shore out in the open, where (hopefully) the eagle would see it and come retrieve his dinner. If not, at least it would be accessible for a raccoon or some other animal, rather than rotting on the stream bottom.

All in all, it was a great trip.  No photos, though. The sights I saw today were just for me.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Fly Shop Ethics (or When Is It Okay To Not Support Your Local Fly Shop)

Hi everyone.

It's been a while since I've made regular posts, but that's to be expected of any self-respecting fisherman in the warm months.  As the kids head back to their desks, and mother nature starts to think better of broiling us alive, though, I should be back here more often, taking up your free time with more nonsense.

On that note, I'd like to pose a bit of a moral dilemma to my readers.  It's not the typical 'Should I continue to buy at my FLFS (friendly local fly shop) when I can get it cheaper online?' dilemma...but in fact, maybe the opposite...

You see, I'm blessed with no fewer than five fly shops within a reasonable drive.  One is an 'Orvis approved corner' consisting of bits of dead animal seemingly added as an afterthought in a store clearly wanting to sell you only high-ticket items at ridiculous prices.  I don't like this shop much, but their sales are worth checking out from time to time.  The other four shops, however, are all much better than that.

One shop in particular, though, is the subject of this post.

See...this shop...a small affair, run by a couple (which constitutes the entire staff), out of the finished garage and basement of their home, prides itself on providing that brick and mortar X-factor in droves.  The 'remember your name' familiarity, the local knowledge, the unbiased personal opinions...and that last bit has become the fly in the ointment for this customer.

So the fly shop (for the owners) is a labor of love.  They aren't in it to get rich (wisely), and they enjoy the freedom of being able to run their business however they like.  That's great.  I applaud that.  I've been to their shop many times and never had a bad experience.  Never bought any high-end items (rods, reels, vises, etc.) but plenty of hooks, materials, fly boxes, etc. Over the past year or two since a friend and fishing buddy suggested their shop.  Being on their mailing list is a mixed blessing, as you get a healthy dose of political rhetoric with every product release announcement or shop gear review, but I've always been one to say of the music industry "If you don't like what you're hearing, change the channel!", so I feel that it's up to me to unsubscribe if the rhetoric ever outweighs the positives of the mailing list.  To this point, I'm still getting their emails.

One of those emails, however, is what has put me in my dilemma.  You see, this fly shop posted a review of something...a rod or reel, on their site, and made a facebook post to announce it's presence to their fans.  I saw  the post, but i'm not in the market for a big purchase right now, so I didn't really give it much thought in my internet travels.

A few days later, I received a short, tersely worded e-mail, to the effect of: "A few days ago we posted a review.  Since none of you could be bothered to share it with your friends, we went ahead and posted the story to all of your walls.  Heaven forbid you'd try to help us out."

My first reaction was confusion.  Maybe I'd received this by mistake?  But no.  I checked with the aforementioned fishing buddy and he confirmed that he'd received the same email, along with everyone on the mailing list, most likely.  So at that point I was pretty ticked off, and removed the story from my wall and ceased following their page.  After that, I decided to give myself some time to mull things over before doing anything rash...and now, a few weeks later, I'm still not completely sure where I stand.  (Which is part of the reason I'm sharing this with you.)

Make no mistake, I'm completely disgusted by that kind of guilting/shaming/badgering of one's customer base.  So you're running your business as you like?  Fine, that's your prerogative, but don't expect me to tolerate that kind of abuse and still hand you my money.  In this time of e-commerce, big box, and direct to consumer sales, I'd think that the mom and pop shops would be bending over backward to maintain (let alone expand) their customer base.  As much as it's a bad time to be a small local shop, it's a great time to be a buyer, with e-commerce and the economic quagmire putting the squeeze on retailers, the fly angler with a bit of disposable cash has no shortage of options when it comes to parting with it.

While I think that sure, it's a kind gesture to help the little guy promote their business, I also feel it's more than a little rude to expect your customers to provide you with free advertising. Especially (in this case) to expect me to implicitly vouch for a product I've not seen or handled personally.  The way I see it, the customer's continued business is, ultimately, what fair prices and good service is rewarded by, with any recommendations or testimonials serving as icing on the cake for a truly outstanding experience that exceeds expectations.  If you want the free advertising, that's fine, but let em do it on my terms, and at the very least ask, don't force.

Now, as we progress toward steelhead season, I find myself in the market for a few specific items that I'll be needing soon...that I know this shop carries, and sells at the going rate.  So it's kind of the reversed situation of the classic 'online or brick and mortar' debate: it's faster and (considering shipping) cheaper for me to buy locally...but after this experience, I sort of feel like I'm selling out by doing business with them, and I'm seriously considering buying online.  It's not any huge order...tying materials for steelhead, some leaders and tippet, maybe as big as a pair of wading boots...but it's business.  And in my mind, I'd rather give that business to someone that, while they may not have done anything to earn that business, they've also not done anything to lose it either.

Your thoughts, readers?

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Summer Rainbows

Last Saturday, I managed to free up an entire afternoon for some trout scouting.  I keep a Google map of locations for fishing as a sort of 'To Do" list, with little markers in green identifying places that have been good fishing spots in the past.  Yellow markers indicate places that I've heard about or had recommended to me, or simply found on the map and thought that it might hold wild trout.  These markers are usually accompanied by short notes such as, 'Look for parking and access.' or , 'Low water mid-summer, check back in spring and fall.'

Usually, I don't have the luxury of time to plan out a scouting trip to check out these places, but when I do, it's always a learning experience.  Saturday was one of those days.

I had made plans to attend a picnic later in the evening in a somewhat remote area.  Lucky for me, that remote area was host to several yellow markers on my map.  I picked out four markers and planned out a rough route in my head connecting them.  I wanted to hit the most promising ones first, even though that often means I won't get to the entire list.

When I got to the first location, there were big yellow posted signs every ten feet, making it abundantly clear that visitors were not welcome.  Some guys will track down the landowner to get permission, but I take the signs to mean that they really don't want people in there.

The second area simply had no convenient location to pull off the road.  A steep drop-off to the stream would have been a challenge to navigate, but there were no spots where I'd feel comfortable pulling off the road and trusting that nobody would slam into my parked car.  A bit frustrated, I went to the third spot.

The route to this spot took me on a bridge over my 'backup option': a large, rocky creek that has managed to humble and stymie me repeatedly.  I know there's big trout in it.  Hell, I've seen the big trout...but with just one notable exception (a chunky brown), this creek has limited me to nothing but smallish 6-7" fish.  For a small stream, that isn't bad, but when I know that an 18" trout isn't terribly rare on a given stream, six or seven inches of trout isn't much of an accomplishment.

The third spot looked like a good spot on the map, but in person, it was little more than a few damp rocks in a ditch.  In fact, the bridge over it was the only place that it wasn't completely covered by weeds and saplings.  There might have been a trout in there, but even dapping was impossible with the thick vegetation.

Finally, the fourth spot seemed worthy of a try. Actually the same stream as the backup option, this was simply a point much farther upstream than I'd ever fished, where the waterway was much smaller.  There was a handy pull-off just before the bridge and I quickly got out and walked down to the water.

While it was obviously low, the creek looked fishable, and I returned to my car to gear up.  A few minutes later and I finally got to my first cast of the day, hours after I left home.

This was the second outing for my new ultralight rod (which I'll discuss more fully in a later post), and I was still having trouble adjusting to the fast action in such a light stick.  Still, I managed a few decent casts and drifts...but failed to persuade any fish.  Twice, I was rewarded by quick, splashy rises, but I suspected they were minnows, not trout.

As I worked my way upstream, I was disappointed again, as I happened upon a deep, wide, slow section, too deep to wade and to steep and muddy to go around...just a few yards from where I entered.  Disappointed once again, I headed back for the car, and from there, my backup option.

Blue-lining, or searching the map for possible wild trouting locations, then following up with visits, is a venture often met with heaps of disappointment, but it usually pays off just enough to keep a few of us coming back for more.

Well, eventually, I got back to my backup creek, got my pack, and headed for the water.  Just as I entered, though, I heard a noise and looked up to see a guy and his young boy fishing and playing in the next pool up.  Had it been a lone fisherman, I might have been annoyed, but I was glad to see the young kid out with his dad.  Still, I had to make yet another decision.  To fish the lower reaches meant walking downstream then fishing my way back up.  Upstream would mean getting out and skipping over where the guy and his boy were, but would take me to water I'd only ever fished once before, so I decided to go that route.

As I walked along the train tracks that paralleled the stream, I noticed a small feeder creek that I'd only ever seen at the mouth where it emptied into the main waterway.  At this point, the light bulb came on and I decided to fish the feeder instead.  Dropping down from the railroad tracks, I started drifting the tricky currents in the rocky streambed, methodically covering every drift in a pool or riffle before moving up to the next.  Although I didn't realize it until later, I must have started to really get the feel for my new fly rod, because I noticed myself getting the drift I wanted more and more often, without the exasperating misses and splashdowns.  Another quick way to improve your casting is to fish any small stream.  You'll either improve, or lose every fly you carried in to trees, roots, branches, and shrubs.  Speaking of shrubs, the wild rhododendron was in full bloom...

As I went up, I started getting a few rises, and as I got used to the rod, rises turned into fish landed...and jus tlike that...I'd discovered a new stream for wild rainbows...

First trout on the new rod.  Not a bad way to break it in.

I love the fins of the wild bows...maybe even more than those of the wild browns and brookies.

Love the pink stripe that looks like someone painted it on there...

As always, the surroundings are beautiful...

A little farther up, I came to a bend in the stream.  At this bend, there was an extremely large, deep pool for a stream of this size in this rocky terrain.  It also had a unique feature: a rock island out in the middle of the pool.

Almost no spots on this one.  More than the browns and brookies, I think wild bows display the most variance in appearance from fish to fish in the same stream.

Terrible photo, beautiful fin.

This may be a personal best wild bow...not sure.  He was pushing 8".  Not sure what happened to his gill, though.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Personal Best Wild Trout

Short post today, but it's one I'm proud of.  I got out to chase wild trout over the weekend, and decided to revisit a small but nice stream I hadn't fished since the pre-runoff conditions.  I really like the lower sections of this stream because it has all the challenging characteristics of a typical small stream, with one major difference: as it enters the lower section, the stream widens and passes through some mature forest, meaning there's plenty of room for casting.  This is a luxury that a small stream fisherman doesn't often enjoy.

Still, that isn't to say that the stream is easy, by any means.  A good one to take a beginner to?  Sure.  There's no shortage of textbook riffles and pools.  But between the obvious spots lie some tricky undercuts with low-hanging branches, hard-to-reach seams, and those drifts that would be easy, except you can't position yourself in the logical place because you've got to be stealthy.

I was working my way up to a pool that had a pool that was long enough to create one of those stealth-related difficulties.  The head of the pool has a few boulders scattered through it, making for great fish-holding water, but while it'd be easy to cover that water from up close, you'd spook every fish to get there.  So the alternative is fishing from the bottom of the pool and making 35-45 foot casts (do-able, but a tricky proposition with a short 1wt nonetheless) up into the boulders, making 2-3 foot drifts, and casting again.  Making things even more interesting, most of your drifts here are only visible for a foot or two before the current takes your fly to the opposite side of a rock from where you're standing.

It was on one such drift, toward the outside of the pool, that my fly drifted to the opposite side of a moss covered boulder.  Just as I was about to lift my line for another cast, I noticed a few drops of water and ripples coming from behind the rock, so I set the hook with a quick snap and my hunch was proven by the resulting head shake.

The head shake assured me of something else, too: this was not another 5" native, which usually come splashing across the surface.  No, this fish immediately pulled me the the bottom of the pool and stayed there, the green blank of my 1wt flexing deeper than it has in months.

After a spirited battle, I pulled the fish up to a partially submerged rock for a few quick photos...

And soon after, his release...

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Want Wild Trout, Will Travel

As promised, here's some photos from recent outings with my buddy Sam, in search of wild trout.  While some like to add narrative, often, I find that the photos speak for themselves.  So without further ado, here are the goods:

In this hole, Sam found a stocked brown that had wandered up from the creek that this blue line emptied into.  We were there primarily for wild trout, but who could resist the opportunity to take a larger fish on a light line?  Sam managed to turn the fish, but never did bring him to hand.  There's always next time, I suppose.

This is what we were after...check out that yellow spot at the corner of the mouth.  That's on the fish, not a trick of the camera.  Not sure what's going on there, as I didn't notice it until I uploaded the photos from my camera.  I took several shots of this fish, though, and the spot is consistent throughout.

Brook trout are way prettier than strictly necessary.

This was as far upstream as we went on this particular stream.  That hole is surprisingly deep, considering the typical nature of the streams in the area.  We'd have gone farther, but there were some posted signs about (even though according to sources, it should be public land...and anyone renting has no authority to prevent passage...still have to look into that one...)

A few days later, Sam and I met up again to further explore some water we'd only briefly visited in our last adventure.  I had to take care of some errands at home first, but Sam got a good early start, so I found myself hiking to the water to find some indication of whether he was up or downstream from the access.  Along the way, I found some interesting fauna...

I think this guy is a millipede as opposed to a centipede, but being unsure, I wasn't about to risk a painful sting by disturbing him.  I saw a few more like this later in the day too.  Pretty exotic-looking for southwestern Pennsylvania.

Far less exotic, this is still the biggest snail I've ever seen in the woods.

Cahills were hatching sporadically, which is perfect for a small stream, as the naturals are big enough to get the trout looking up for food, but not so heavy a hatch that they really key on anything specific.

Not sure what left this shuck, though I suspect it's a dragonfly, from the shape of the head.

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