Saturday, May 28, 2011

A Perfect Evening in Central Park

Alex trying out Kat's spey rod in Central Park.

May 25, 2011. You couldn't have asked for a more perfect evening--casting with fellow Juliana's Anglers: Alex, Jen, Kat, Linda, Marcy, and Shannon, under a deep blue sky, surrounded by the green lushness of Central Park. (Well, perhaps casting with the Juliana's AND Brad Pitt/George Clooney).

Craig had us focus on shooting line. We spread out on the grass and preceded to warm up. Eventually, as I fell into the rhythm of my cast, the noise of the city and interested stares of passerbys faded away. Craig made the rounds: working with each us individually, assessing our casts and skill level, before having us participate in exercises designed to improve our technique.

2 young girls around 11 years old stopped by and asked Shannon what we were doing. Shannon responded then looked at me and smiled, both of us thinking: 2 future Juliana's anglers, perhaps? Kat had brought along 3 rods with her including a spey rod which she wielded like a ninja warrior. It was beautiful to watch--like tai chi with rod and floating gossamer line.

Craig ended the session by showing us the snap technique which I will attempt to use (hopefully without hooking myself) on the next fishing trip. Lucky Linda won the $100 gift certificate to Housatonic River Outfitters.

As the sun began to set in Central Park, with the Met as our backdrop, I thought just how fortunate I am to have found a hobby that allows me to enjoy both the beauty of the outdoors (even in NYC) and the camaraderie of such wonderful women.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Fishing the East Branch of the Delaware

Our cabin at the West Branch Angler Resort. Cute, no?

Monday, May 23, 2011

Hell or High Water

H: We drove up mid Friday afternoon--an ominous start--through pockets of heavy rain and lightning storms in the distance. We knew fishing was probably a wash but we had already postponed our trip to the West Branch once before. The West Branch Angler Resort was charming with prime river frontage and our cabin was very comfortable (if you don't mind trout bedspreads, trout towel racks, trout toilet paper holders...) After a well-cooked steak at the River Run restaurant, we turned in, praying to the rain goddess to show us mercy tomorrow.

Saturday, May 21, 2011: The weather cleared but the damage was done. Water levels on the West Branch were over 5,000 cfs. The boys in the shop pointed us to the Gamelands area near the resort as a possible area to wade. We found a spot, put on our brightest streamers, and stripped them in close to the bank. The water was like dark chocolate milk. It would be a miracle if the fish even saw our lures, let alone exert the energy needed to chase them in these fast waters. We tried a few other spots with no success. But come hell or high water (in this case, very high water), we were determined not to quit. We got in touch with our friend Craig who suggested we try the East Branch which was flowing lower at 2,500 cfs. After checking out several spots we finally found an area where we could wade safely.

The sun was shining and the air was thick with bugs, everywhere: caddis, sulphers, bwos, and a few majestic march brown spinners twirling like mini helicopters over the river. The water clarity was better. We watched and waited but no rises. We figured the fish were probably on the opposite shady bank. But how to reach them? We waded out to the very edge of the grassy bottom and noticed an underwater trail running parallel to the river. It was the normal trail that runs by the shore along the bank, but it was now submerged in thigh-deep water. With my poor sense of distance, I reckoned it was about 60 feet to the other side. A challenging cast, but not impossible.

Boats were drifting down, fishing the far bank. Several of them recognized us as the 2 (crazy) flygirls determined to wade fish. One boat stopped and anchored in front of us. We spoke with the guide who told us there were some fish on the opposite bank. I naively said we were going to try and cast to them from our current position. He looked at me in amazement and said he would bet me a thousand dollars if I could make that cast. He said it was well over a 100 feet across. He preceded to get his rod and start casting. Within minutes, he had all his line out to the backing and it fell well short of the far bank. He wished us luck and headed down the river.

After a few hours on the East Branch we headed back to the West Branch Angler. Discouraged but not defeated. Our last resort--the pond. We needed to feel the weight of a fish on our line whether it was on the river, on a pond, or in a freakin bathtub. We arrived to see fish rising, even jumping out of the water. We fished 30 minutes catching our fill and headed back.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Well, off we go rain OR more rain!!

West Branch Angler Resort, here we come! But for the Love of God make the rain stop!!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Oh la la! Where is ze sun?

J: Will this rain STOP already!!! Bloody Hell! Hyun and I are suppose to go fishing this coming weekend -- We got ourselves a cool cabin at the West Branch Angler Resort... Woo Hoo! Fancy! But men! It is just so annoying. Anyway, if this monsoon season does not come to an end we gonna have to get a new hobby like... white water rafting or something! For the Love of God, how are we gonna fish in torrential rain and a very angry river?? The cfs should be around 700, right? Well, the portion of West Branch that we want to fish will be at 4000 cfs if this situation continues. What's a woman to do?? I'm asking? : ) And, not to mention that I will have a seriously bad hair day with all this humidity!  Men, there better be some really, really hot guys sitting at the bar sipping beers and looking pretty... In a macho way, of course.   
Any thoughts peeps?

Like Bad Sex

May 7, 2011
H: The following morning Josee, Marcy, and I once again headed out to the Farmington. What a contrast from the previous day. It was Mothers Day so the river was near deserted. Things were very slow--no surface activity. I caught a small brown nymphing. Perhaps the trout had gorged themselves on an undisturbed smorgasbord of spinners the night before. We said goodbye to Marcy and waited for the afternoon duns. Unfortunately, the afternoon hatch was another disappointment. Like bad sex: the rises were minimal, at best, the fish were disappointing small, and it was all over in under 15 minutes. Hopefully we'll have better luck on the Delaware in 2 weeks.

Waiting for the Fall

May 6, 2011
H: Josee, Marcy (our favorite fly mama), Antoine, and I met up on the Farmington river in CT to fish the famed Hendrickson hatch--the first major hatch of the season.  We weren't the only ones. Parking areas by the river were packed with fellow anglers. Unfortunately Josee was feeling under the weather and decided to sit out the day : (

We hit the river by 11am. Shortly after our arrival, duns were hatching on the water and everyone got in on the action. We all caught fish. But nothing close to the 30 fish day Antoine had a couple of days before. Between hatches, Antoine was kind enough to tie his do-it-all Hendrickson dry fly for each of us. We hoped to fish it with tremendous success later that evening during the anticipated spinner fall.

We drove to a new spot to await the spinners. Well, we waited...and waited...and waited. To our delight, we observed dense, dark clouds of spinners above the tree line. It looked so promising. They came lower and lower. A few drops of rain fell. Then the sun came out. The spinners ascended once more continuing their dance without purpose. The females had long gone. We waited till dusk. Nothing. Today was truly a lesson in patience and acceptance of the unpredictability of nature.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Our next trip will be on the West Branch of the Delaware river in a couple of weeks, who's in?

Hunting Instincts

H: Last weekend, May 1st, we had a warm-up casting session on the Beaverkill with our friend, Craig. We met at the historic Roscoe diner for some breakfast before a quick (and I mean very quick) tour of downtown Roscoe a.k.a. Trout Town USA. Don't blink, you'll miss it...

This was our first time on the Beaverkill and our first outing of the 2011 season. It was a fine spring day after weeks of rain--full of possibilities. The Beaverkill itself was lovely. But for me, its natural beauty is marred by the omnipresent, towering, concrete overpasses of Route 17 that snakes over and alongside the river for miles and miles. Unfortunately, the water was quite high and insect life (except for the black flies) was minimal. Craig caught a couple of fish. Josee had a fish on. I missed a strike.

Before our session, Craig emailed us a list of items to bring. It contained the usual suspects: rod, reel, waders, rain gear, etc. What made me chuckle was the inclusion of "hunting instinct" on that list. I've been fly fishing for almost 2 years now in the company of both men and women. Even during this brief time, the difference between the fishing mentality of men and women is clearly discernable. For women, it's more of a social thing--a chance to get out in nature with friends, have a good time, and catch some fish along the way. Yes, there are moments, and a couple of women we know, who can be as singlemindedly determined as men to catch that steadily rising fish under the thicket of branches on the far undercut bank, 60 feet away. But it doesn't become our moby dick.

I remember the first time I went fishing with my friend Antoine. We hiked into a very beautiful and remote spot on the river. Antoine signals for me to slow down as we walk towards the bank to observe. He sits crouching, 3 minutes, not a word spoken. I look over at him--on his haunches like a predator, eyes/ears alert. Finally, he speaks, "There, over there... do you see him?" In my head somewhere, I hear Attenborough narrating a Nat Geo special: the predatory male lies silently in wait eyeing his prey... planning his attack... waiting to ambush...

I wonder, do I have have that hunting instinct lying latent inside of me? Being raised in New York, the only things I've seen women hunt for are husbands and the perfect pair of shoes. Why do I love fly fishing? If you ask Josee, she'll say she loves fly fishing because she loves nature. But isn't the hunting instinct the most primal part of nature, being one with it, respecting it, and understanding that we are all tied together as predators and prey.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Last year at the Juliana's Angler club. The very same place I meet my dear friend Hyun. It was a weekend school for anglers of all levels. And, of course we were in the novice section. It was much fun and we were hooked in more ways than one (fish-hooks stuck in our clothes and all) Funny!

Hyun, Yvon Chouinard (Mr. Patagonia) and moi...

2 Flygirls (Hyun Kounne and Josee) with Yvon Chouinard

J: I could of used a little more blush! What a great day it was to meet this man! There is more to this story coming soon...

H: Yes, definitely one of the highlights of our Montana trip was meeting Yvon Chouinard, our mentor (we wish : ) and favorite dirt bag—and we know a few. We were introduced by Craig Matthews of Blue Ribbon Flies in West Yellowstone. Josee was blushing like a school girl. She often works with celebrities in her line of work but Yvon Chouinard is our kind of celebrity. Forget movie or rock stars, we'll take smart, down-to-earth fly fishermen any day!

Mama mia! Dan, the man... Oh la la! With no others than Hyun, the other half of our team! Lucky girl, she's being watched over just in case she drops head first in this furious river. No worries, Dan will be there to rescue her : ) I'm telling you, Montana is da place!

Moi, Josée, half of the team. May I say that I am dressed in the latest Simms/ Patagonia/Sage fly-fishing Fall Collection! : ) Not the most flattering but definitely the most practical!. I do not look too certain about this gentle animal, I must say. We rented a farm house for a few days, and in the backward was this gentle horse (35 years old).

For the ladies... There are a lot of men in the fly-fishing world. Here is one of our guides, a true Daniel Boone! He could survive anywhere this one (Vince). I'm telling you...If you like your men weathered and rugged go to Montana!!!! H: Josee and I were apprehensive about the prospect of running into bears while fishing in Montana. We had no idea we'd meet Vince, a veritable teddy bear with enough body fur to keep you warm and toasty through the long, harsh winters of Montana.

The mean rooster that ATTACKED me while Hyun was taking her beauty nap! He had a name, funny, I can't remember it, must of blocked it out! That special looking creature was fierceless, men! He's lucky not to have been that evening's din-din. H: I remember his name, Nelson. R.I.P.

Madison River...so beautiful!

West Yellowstone...

Montana. Magnificent animals, aren't they? Huh!, I hope that's not the one we had for lunch the following day!!