Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Bring Out the Bikinis!

It turns out Josée and I each wrote about our weekend in Montauk. You can first read Josée's short and sweet French-Canadian (cliff notes) version, then my "mini novella" that follows for more juicy details. (I seriously need an editor : ) Enjoy!

J: Well, to start with, it did not rain! They (experts), were saying 80% chance of rain and we did not get one single drop. What do ya know? Hyun was getting annoyed with the weather reports but as we were driving/flying to Montauk the skies were far from menacing! So, all was dandy.

Flygirl Josée at East Hampton beach, NY
Life's a beach when you're
swimsuit model/flygirl, Josée .
We got to Montauk about 10ish on Saturday morning and decided to take a walk on the beach since our fishing expedition -guided by Bryan Goulart- was not before 2pm. The place was lovely and deserted of NY tourists :) I guess the "flock of seagulls" were detoured by the supposedly abysmal weather condition. Brief, we had the beach to ourselves.

Had lunch at a four star dive named The Dock in Montauk Harbor. Not bad. The beer was excellent!

Flygirl Hyun Kounne, Montauk NY
Heading out to the East End, Montauk, NY
2 o'clock came and we met Bryan. Got on his boat and drove to the light house. We were joined by another "flock of seagulls" and those were real. They were more or less indicating to us anglers the location of the poissons-- in this case,  false albacore. It was rather crazy hectic and really overwhelming.

The moment we arrived we had a 4 1/2 minute crash course on how to false-cast an 9 weight rod-- we are used to 5 weight-, two hand fast strip, while not falling over board because to add to the madness the waves were rather high. Lord have mercy! The fish were everywhere and so were the boats. There must of been 25 boats around us. It was CRAZY but fun. We did not catch an albacore and after 4 hours or so we switched to spin rods and Hyun caught our din din, a big fat blue fish. I felt a little seasick and we were so cold, so we returned to the harbor.

For dinner --because we were starving--, Bryan prepared for us a delicious ceviche with Hyun's poisson. Mama mia, we had wine, steak, ceviche, greens and great company. We could not have asked for more, it was a perfect weekend without rain. : )

- - - - - -
Elusive Albies, Wardrobe Changes, and Ceviche!

H: 80% chance of showers...that's better than 100%. I was trying to be optimistic before our trip. But I was prepared for the worst--fishing in a monsoon on a roller coaster ocean. Yeah, that's right, we're tough fly chicks--that's 2 Flygirls with a Capital "F".

With both raingear and bikini packed, I met Josée at the train station a little before 8am on Saturday. She was pulling her 28-inch rolling suitcase down the platform. "What the hell do you have in there?" I asked her. "We're only going away for 1 1/2 days." Apparently she had packed for every possible contingency from string bikini to mutton fleece. I bet she even had an evening gown in there, in case we got invited to a fancy Hamptons party.

It was cloudy and muggy, but by some miracle, no rain. We even saw slivers of blue sky on the drive out. With zero traffic, we arrived in East Hampton in 2 hours (yes, Evil Kenevil was behind the wheel). We stopped briefly at Bryan's house to drop off my bag (a small duffle) before heading to the beach. Josée decides to leave her ginormous suitcase in the back of the car, just in case ; )

On the rocks.
Main beach was nearly deserted and shrouded in fog, lending it a beautiful, otherworldly quality. Josée made her 1st wardrobe change of the day (skillfully donning bikini in the back seat). We spent a good hour walking along the beach, playing in the waves, and taking pictures. We then drove to Montauk for a quick lunch before meeting up with our guide, Bryan Goulart, at the Star Island Marina.

It's 2pm, hot and muggy. We can't wait to get out on the water. I'd forgotten how laid back and chill Bryan is (he was our guide the 1st time we attempted saltwater fly fishing). He instantly put both of us at ease as we headed out of the harbor in search of our quarry: false albacore. I thought we'd be fishing for striped bass and bluefish but Bryan says that the albies are running.

Bryan Goulart, our guide, Montauk, NY
Our captain, guide, chef, and host: Bryan Goulart
Bryan seemed to know all the other boat captains and guides on the water. A women's voice came over on the radio. She joked about wanting to see Bryan in a speedo. Bryan tells us it's Amanda, a guide friend of his and also his neighbor. Josée and I are both thinking: cool, a female fly fishing guide and she has a sense of humor--definitely someone we'd like to meet. It's not till after we meet her that we figure out she's one of the flyfishergirls of flyfishergirl.com (a great women's fly fishing website/online community that we joined shortly after starting 2flygirls.com). Amanda (Switzer) and her husband Steve recently started Rise Fishing Co, an innovative new rod company. In fact, we used their rods that day.

Bryan stops the boat so we can practice casting the 9 wts he has set up with clouser minnows. I guess the 30+ push-ups every other day has paid off because the 9 wt feels rather light in my hand. And since Josée has been religiously doing her ups every day, she's casting that baby like it's a 7 wt. Bryan laid down the game plan: once we locate the albies, he will get us close and cut the engine so we drift towards them; with albies, it's critical to get your line out as fast as possible and a hand-over-hand strip is better than a single-hand strip; plus we should strip set the line when we get a hit. We practiced for a few minutes before circling birds, broken water, and albies are spotted in the distance.

It was a mad race to reach them first. It seemed all the boats in Montauk had converged into one small space for an impromptu oceanside rave. Bryan got us close and told us to cast. It was a frenzy of boats, feverishly casting anglers, diving birds, boiling water... You couldn't help but get caught up in the excitement. All that was lacking was a good DJ and soundtrack. At one point, I found myself hynotized by the action--I watched as several albies zoomed by, so close I could make out the details of their muscular torpedo-shaped bodies for a split second before they disappeared like a mirage. I've caught a schoolie yellowfin tuna once before on conventional tackle. I remember my hands being numb and shoulders and arms aching from the battle. I can't imagine what the fight would be like on a fly rod. By the end of the afternoon, the elusive albies teased us twice more--surfacing for what seemed like seconds before vanishing into the depths.

Despite our lack of success with the albies, we had fun. It was Bryan who starting joking about Josée's multitude of wardrobe changes, 7 in all: stripping down to her bikini and then adding layers as the day progressed, from her coverup shirt, to wet wading pants, long-sleeve t-shirt, fleece, rainjacket... The conversation drifted to the 1st time we fished together. Our friend Jon Fisher had caught a bluefish which Josée took home and made into ceviche, using Bryan's recipe.

At the mention of ceviche, we decided to try and catch something for dinner. Bryan had some spin rods on board so we all started fishing. Bryan missed a fish (too busy talking : ) while Josée got all quiet on us--she was feeling seasick. I continued to cast out my green gummy minnow and reel it in, when suddenly, a flash of silver/white appeared as my lure came near the surface. I cast once more, this time reeling my line in with more energy. Fish on! It was a nice bluefish. Ceviche was on the menu tonight--yum! Josée started looking a bit green like my minnow so we headed back to the marina where Bryan fileted our catch. Right next to him, another captain/guide was about to disembowel a huge striped bass, the size of my 4-year-old niece.

Bryan said he was going to pickup groceries and that we should meet back at the house. We got slightly lost on the drive back and when we arrived, Bryan was putting the finishing touches on his bluefish ceviche. Not only is he a terrific guide but a gourmet chef. Thanks Bryan for a great day, for the most amazing ceviche, a delicious dinner, and most importantly for your generous hospitality. You are now officially among our very exclusive list of favorite guides ; )

Sunday turned out to be a beautiful sunny day...

Main beach, East Hampton, NY
P.S. Sorry for the lack of pictures of us fishing on the boat. I know, there are only so many bikini shots we can post. We were caught up in the pursuit of those damn elusive albies...

Friday, September 23, 2011

WNPR: Where We Live - Gone Fly Fishin

The 2 flygirls were guests today on WNPR's Where We Live segment on fly fishing and the Farmington River. You can listen to the podcast at:

http://www.yourpublicmedia.org/content/wnpy/where-we-live-gone-fly-fishin 

Flygirl Josée at the Radio Foundation Studio, NY for the WNPR: Gone Fly Fishing show
Josée looking very relaxed before the show, Radio Foundation Studio, NYC

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Montauk...

Going on a little fishing trip to Montauk this weekend with our guide Bryan Goulart!
                                                      Xciting : )

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Beauty of the Switch Rod

H: This past weekend, I attended a free switch rod class offered by my local Orvis store in NYC. I was very happy to hear that the class was being taught by Craig Buckbee, one of our favorite fly fishing instructors, a serious casting geek, and a really cool guy. We met at the 106th Street entrance to Central Park by the Harlem Meer. There was a good turnout of 7 anglers, several of whom brought along their switch rods.

The Harlem Meer:
Where else can
you fish for bass, carp, pickerel, and sunfish in Manhattan.
For a trout girl, who's been exclusively casting her 5 weight rod with floating line for the past 2 years, it was an eye-opening experience. Casting heavier, longer switch rods with shooting head lines is a completely different animal, all together. Heavy? Unfortunately, yes. Extremely powerful and versatile? Yes, yes, yes!!

When Craig had mentioned Spey Nation earlier this summer, I thought: wait till you became a more experienced angler before attempting to learn a whole new casting genre. Boy, do I regret that decision now. Lesson learned in hindsight: you need to continually push yourself if you're going to become a better angler. Fishing the same rivers with the same outfit will only get you so far (not that there isn't a thousand things still left to learn there). But trying out new techniques, new equipment, in different environments, and going after different quarry is what's going to take you to the next level.

Craig Buckbee, Harlem Meer, NY
Craig started off by reviewing the basic roll cast. I got to use his 11-ft, 6 weight Sage Z-Axis switch rod. It was remarkable! With a switch rod and a shooting compact Scandi head, making long distance roll casts was truly effortless. And I never even thought of hauling with a roll cast, which Craig demonstrated. I've only just started trying to haul in my regular cast. I briefly tried out another classmate's 7 weight switch rod. His was loaded with a regular floating line—what a difference—it's all about the line! Craig directed us to the Rio website which has some great information on how to choose the right line for your switch or spey rod: http://www.rioproducts.com/spey-lines.html

We then moved on to a Circle spey, Snap C/T. I couldn't make the crisp tight loops that Craig demonstrated and my anchor didn't always end up where I wanted, but I know I'll get the hang of it with more practice. I can't wait to try it out on an actual river.

Craig Buckbee teaching casting, Harlem Meer, NY
Craig demonstrating the Snap C. Photo courtesy of R. Ceccarini, Orvis, NYC
As for casting overhead with a switch rod, Craig demonstrated a roll cast pickup: a high roll cast (above the water) into a traditional back cast followed by a forward cast, shooting line. I've only cast a rod heavier than a 5-wt once before, the one time Josée and I attempted striper/bluefish fishing. Jon Fisher of Urban Angler had invited us out to Jamaica Bay. Boy, were we out of our element—2 novice flygirls, still wet behind the ears, attempting to cast 9- and 10-wt rods with large saltwater streamers into a stiff wind. We could barely get a 30 ft cast off after numerous false casts. Looking back, it was a miracle nobody lost an eye or got hooked ; )

Needless to say, my first attempt at overhead casting a switch rod was less than spectacular. I was afraid I'd overuse my bottom hand and end up swinging my rod like a baseball bat. I think that's exactly what I ended up doing, since I put an unintentional curve into my line on the forward cast, using both arms as a lever but not in a good (straight line path) way. But I was able to cast about 50 ft of line with just one back cast.

I need to seriously hit the gym and pump up my casting muscles ; ). I consider myself to be fairly athletic but I know I won't able to overhead cast an 8-wt switch rod with a heavy shooting line all day long, even 2-handed. However, I will definitely be able to spey cast one for most of the day. I guess that's the beauty of the switch rod.

Note: Attempting to take their game to the next level, the 2 flygirls will be going striper fishing out in Montauk in a couple of weeks. And maybe even try salmon fishing up in Pulaski for the first time, later this fall. Wish us luck!
___________________

H: Since I wrote this post last year, I've been working hard to improve my two-hand spey casting. During this time, I've come to realize a few things. I believe it's easier to learn to spey cast with a real (12 ft+) spey rod. You have a better feel for the moves with a longer rod and heavier or longer belly line (I'd recommend a mid-belly). With a shorter, lighter switch rod, you're more likely to blow your anchor if you overpower the cast and you're much more prone to overusing your top hand. With a bigger heavier spey rod, you really need to power your forward cast with the lower hand or your line just won't go very far. You'll also quickly realize the importance of getting your core muscles involved during the cast, not just your shoulder and arm (otherwise, keep that bottle of Advil handy :).

Friday, September 9, 2011

Wishing the Juliana's Anglers lots of luck this weekend on the Farmington!

H: Josée is off to a wedding in Philly and I have friends/family in from out of town. I will however, be checking out a free Orvis switch rod class in Central Park at the Harlem Meer. First time trying out a switch rod--looking forward to it.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Fishing After Irene's Fury


J: What do 2 girls do on a Labor Day weekend? They leave town to go fishing and that's exactly what Hyun and I did!

We went to New Hartford to fish once more the Farmington River. We left early on Saturday am as Hyun is an early bird! 7 in the morning we were on the road armed with our usual 2 dunkin donuts cafés. I guess we tend to boycott Starbucks : )

Got to N.H. by 9. Since Evil Kenevil was driving we made it there in no time and experienced a few G-force along the way and some G-negatives as well. My friends, one has not lived until one drives with Hyun!

Evil Kenevil
Our first stop was the Upcountry store. Now, that the parking lot was utterly empty gave us a sign of the state of the river as there is always a few cars parked while their owners shop for something: un-needed flies or un-needed anything but buy anyway because, well, why not? Anyway that's the way we do it. This time was no different, we both bought what looked like a wet canard (no kidding). Unneeded and un-useful. But we tried it anyway since we were told by Grady that it was what the poissons wanted in a time of despair. I'll be wearing it as a hair piece from now on as there is no way I'm putting this chicken looking fly in my already too full of a box!! Hyun will probably make an earring out of it, I'm sure : ).

Ah, the life of a millionaire without the millions!
So, after dropping some pesos on un-necessary stuff we drove to the river. Again, no cars in the parking lot. Hmmm, we uttered. NOT good! Where are the usual suspects, we asked? Where are the regulars? The gents who know the river by rocks and by tree trunks and by the poissons individually? If the fish had names they would know their names, I swear!

They we not there. We were on our own with a river that wanted to spit you out if you were bold enough to get in.

But, we were bold enough! We got in and stayed very, very close to shore.
Oh la la! The life of a billionaire with the billions!

The water was fast and furious and reddish dark; trees were uprooted; the path was under water; small islands were created with a river on each side. Things had change incredibly. But by some miracle after a few hours of hopeless casting, Hyun caught a fish. We were very happy.

Hyun's poisson caught on a magic streamer.
We also tested Ovation. We had to change location as we were getting frustrated. There, we met Davi, a pitbull mix, a teddy bear of a dog. He was there with his master. He would sit by the shore while the man (master) caught a fish a minute. He was using live worms... Not cool but he was a lovely man. We liked him and more so his dog! We did not catch anything. But we both sunbathed on the polished rock bed. It was very hot and humid on Saturday. The cool water was rather refreshing and relaxing.

The magic streamer!

11,623

H: So, what do you do when you're a fly fishing guide and hurricane Irene sweeps in and wrecks havoc on your hood, leaving you without power for 3 days, and obviously no guiding trips on the raging rivers nearby? Well, if you're Antoine Bissieux, you organize and count your flies: 11,623!

Approximately:
7,000 dry flies
3,000 nymphs
1,000 streamers
300 wet flies
300 salt water flies

You can also create a small mice (and bunny) regiment for future nocturnal fishing maneuvers.
Antoine's mice battalion--ready for action.

Well, I was inspired to find out how many flies I have. It took all of 2 minutes to count them. Turns out I have 195 flies: 105 dry flies, 58 nymphs, 20 streamers, 4 poppers (which I have yet to use), 8 wet flies.

The 2 flygirls were on the Farmington river this past weekend. Irene has clearly left her mark--the river is dramatically changed. Full report to come from my French-Canadian half.