Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Spey Day on the B-Kill

H: May 22, 2012: Fellow Juliana's Angler, Shannon Brightman and I were up on the Beaverkill this Sunday for a spey casting class with Andrew Moy of Tight Lines Fly Fishing. He had generously offered to give the Julianas a spey demo class. But several interested members either had scheduling conflicts or had recently taken private lessons. So, that left just me and Shannon. We were both very excited for our spey day on the B-kill and the timing couldn't have been more perfect. I recently committed to my first ever steelhead trip on the Deschutes river in Oregon in August. I can't wait!

All week, I had played the role of water flow monitor, anxiously watching as the Beaverkill dropped from a raging 15,000 cfs!!! Tuesday night to 890 cfs Sunday morning. We met up just after 10 am by the iron bridge in Horton. Andrew set up 2 very different outfits for us to use: an 11' 9", 7-weight, Sage TCX with a 390 grain Airflo Scandi Compact line; and a 13', 8/9-weight G Loomis NRX with a 510 grain Rio Steelhead Scandi line. This was Shannon's first experience with spey casting. I had learned some spey moves at the end of last year on my 11', 8-weight switch rod (The Beauty of the Switch Rod). I was curious how different it would feel to cast a true spey rod.

Andrew Moy and Shannon Brightman spey casting on the Beaverkill river, NY
Shannon executing a snap T with Andrew Moy on the Beaver Kill.
We started with a review of the roll cast, the foundation of spey casting. We practiced roll casting until we felt comfortable with our rods. Andrew discussed the concepts of the anchor and D-loop before introducing (reviewing, for me) our first waterborne anchor cast, the Snap T. From there we moved on to a reverse double spey. This was completely new for me. I had learned the double spey last year, but reversing the move and casting over my opposite shoulder felt strange, challenging, yet oddly gratifying those few times I managed to halfway execute it properly. I also managed to knock my cap off my head, with the assistance of a good gust of wind, on one particular bad cast. I made plenty of bloody Ls and several loud cracks with my whip line ; ). It was my usual MO: overthinking all the steps hence lacking enough energy to make a good cast. Eventually, with Andrew's patience and encouragement, it all came together. I shortened my D-loop stroke, added more acceleration, and it finally felt right.

Andrew Moy and Flygirl Hyun Kounne spey casting on the Beaverkill river, NY
Hyun setting the anchor.
Periodically, I looked over at Shannon practicing with Andrew upstream from me and was impressed at how quickly she picked up the casts. After about 2 hours of snap T and reverse double spey, we moved on to the single spey, an aerialized spey cast. To me, this is the grace and magic of spey casting–watching your line dance on the surface of the water, just kissing it. After 2.5 hours, Shannon decided she was done. Andrew and I briefly worked on the snake roll before I too called it a day. It was after 1 pm, the sun was brutally beating down on us, and I was completely and embarrassingly drenched in sweat. I had hoped to touch upon applying these casts to actual scenarios and strategies for fishing different types of water for steelhead and salmon. I guess a few several more lessons will be necessary. It should come as no surprise to anyone: I am now on the fast track to beginning a spey addict, and I believe Shannon is right there with me : ).

When we got back to the car, I realized just how thirsty and hungry I was. Shannon had gone through 3 bottles of water and was still feeling dehydrated. We chatted a bit with Andrew and Nancy, wished them luck with their day's fishing, and parted ways. Craig had text me earlier, asking if we wanted to join him and Richard on the East Branch. Initially, I declined since Richard and Craig have not fished together for some time (the Master Caster has been MIA in upstate New York, enamoured with a local river there and busy interviewing its denizens). I thought they might need some "guy time." Also, Shannon had mentioned getting in touch with another Juliana who lived nearby. I checked with Shannon to see what she wanted to do. She said she'd be happy doing whatever I wanted. So, I changed my mind. We grabbed a burger at the aptly named Circle C diner then headed over to Richard's cabin.

Flygirl Hyun Kounne with Craig Buckbee and Richard Ross on East branch, Delaware river, NY
Hanging with the boys.
The boys had recently returned from wet wading the East Branch. Wet wading–ahhh!–that sounded so refreshing. They said it had been slow but they had caught some fish earlier. Every time I come back to this pristine and quiet stretch of water, I'm struck by its tranquil beauty and the graciousness of Richard "the rock" Ross : ). The fishing was very slow that afternoon—sporadic rises, few and far between. Clearly the denizens of the East Branch were dining subsurface but I didn't want to nymph nor did anyone else. I had 1 hit all afternoon. It was on a dropper pheasant tail on the swing of my dry fly drift. I would gladly have fished till dark, but fortunately, Shannon has a life (outside of fishing), so we left the river at 7 pm. As we drove back to the city, we both agreed, it had been a wonderful day.

Shannon Brightman on the East branch, Delaware river, NY
The very serene Shannon Brightman on the East Branch.
Shannon: Thanks for the pictures. Looking forward to fishing with you again and good luck Friday on the Ken Lockwood gorge. I hope we'll both have some good fish tales to swap at the next Juliana's Anglers' meeting.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

I'm Back!

J: Well, it all began this season with a trip organized by Rob at Orvis NYC.
We left Saturday am to meet the rest of the group at the local fly fishing shop -Border Water Outfitters- in Hancock.
Men, what a swinging town Hancock is!
We were briefly introduced to the group of anglers who signed up and to our guide "du jour" Ray and off we went.

We drove to Balls Eddy and got the boat in the water. It wasn't so busy and sure was a beautiful day! Hyun and I had been there the year before but storms had practically made it impossible for us to fish from the shore. This time we were doing a floating trip.

So, off on the west branch we were. We began to float and cast our lines. To my surprise I feel pretty good and wasn't casting so badly. It had been after all 6 months since my last cast! After floating maybe a few hundred feet, Ray started to row up the river to go back to our starting point, which I thought a bit strange, and then we did it again. Once we floated a couple of hundred feet, Ray started to row back up river. At this point Hyun and I were reading each others minds...What on earth is Ray doing?? When we were about to go up river to our starting point for a 3rd time, Hyun asked Ray why we were going back for a 3rd time? I must admit I was going to ask him myself, since there wasn't anything spectacular to look at, no fish seemed interested in our fly, and oh yes my friends we were nymphing, so double bummer! Anyway Ray explained to us that he had chosen the shortest part of the river and if we did not make enough stops we would be at our finish line in no time! Well, we did not care to go back up for a 3rd time so we told Ray to let us float down the river, not up, from now on!

The day did not spoil us with a multitude of fish. I caught a sardine sized brown that "snooty" Hyun frowned upon (if it is not over 20 inches Hyun doesn't bother counting them as a good catch or a catch at all : )) I, on the other hand was ecstatic!

Around mid-day, we thought our luck had changed when Hyun hooked what seemed like a small shark, it was seriously big and feisty and oh yeah it was a beautiful rainbow. He got away (we were still nymphing). We could not believe it, we were so bummed. It was huge and all of a sudden the creature itself jumped out of the water entirely, I'm assuming to show us who had won the wrestling match!
Well, it was he who had won. It was 22+ in size, magnificent fish he was.
Oh well. C'est la vie! It was sure thrilling for a minute or 2.

Towards the end of the day, Ray anchored us down to where he thought we would experience spectacular rises. Indeed, there was some action but the real action came from behind our boat where a couple of very angry and territorial beavers were trying, with success, to distract and to exasperate us with their tail flapping. They were not happy campers! We finally left them in peace to enjoy their beach front property alone, family style.
The rest of the evening went by and by and we went back to the hotel.

End of first day.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

West and East on the Delaware

H: May 9, 2012: Here are some pictures from our float trip on the West Branch of the Delaware this past Saturday. Full report to come from Josée.

Josee and Ray, floating the west branch, delaware river, NY
Josée and Ray, our guide, floating the West Branch.
West branch of the delaware river
An idyllic late afternoon on the West Branch.
Flygirl Josee on West Branch, Delaware river, NY
Flygirl Josée. Photo courtesy of R. Ottulich
Flygirl Hyun Kounne on West Branch, Delaware river, NY
Flygirl Hyun. Photo courtesy of R. Ottulich


Josée and Richard on the East Branch of the Delaware on Sunday. Thank you Richard, for a wonderful day!

Richard Ross and Josee on the East branch, Delaware river, NY
Looking for rises on the East Branch.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Flygirl Reunion

H: May 3, 2012: After a long hiatus, looks like flygirl #2, the one-and-only Josée, will finally be coming out of semi retirement, shaking the dust off her waders, and hitting the rivers once more. Woo hoo! Yeah! (Crowd goes wild...)

The 2 flygirls will be floating the Delaware this Saturday. And what a busy fly fishing weekend it will be, too—the Juliana's Anglers are holding their annual school on the Connetquot river; the New England Spey Clave takes place on the Farmington; Makes me wish I could be in more than one place at one time. But fishing with my flygirl takes priority.

Yes, the dynamic flygirl duo are back. Like Jordan and Pippen, Montana and Rice, Gretzky and Kurri (hockey reference is for my Canadian flygirl's benefit. I'm not a hockey fan ; )

Reunited and it feels so good....  – Peaches & Herb

Wish us luck!