Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Love it or Hate it

H: November 3, 2015: Ahhh, the Salmon river.... You either love it or hate it. No tepid, in between, feelings for this river. The past two years, I made one or two trips all season and usually later on when the salmon crowds have thinned. But so far, I've made two trips in the last three weeks.

The first trip was a quickie. I met Sam and Demetre in the DSR on a Friday thinking the crowds might not be too bad. Wrong! Every inch of good water held fishermen stacked side by side, maybe 20 feet apart. Chad texts me asking about the crowds. My response: “I can’t believe how crowded it is. I hate it!" It took some hiking upriver but we finally found a small stretch where the three of us could rotate in and swing. From there we slowly walked down to the meadow, stopping at a couple of spots along the way but with no luck.

Sam Decker casting her Seele rod in the Douglaston Salmon Run, Pulaski, NY
Sam Decker casting her Seele rod in the Douglaston Salmon Run, Pulaski, NY
Demetre and Sam walking to the Meadow, Douglaston Salmon Run, Pulaski, NY
Demetre and Sam walking to the meadow, Douglaston Salmon Run, Pulaski, NY
At the meadow, we met up with Chad and Adelcio. Chad was already halfway down the run. Adelcio was fishing in front of us. As we settled into the picnic table, Sam, Demetre, and I watched Adelcio cast: simple—fluid—effortless—beautiful. Chad texts to say he’s working his way down to the lower clay so I decide to join him.

There are only 3 anglers there, nymphing. We step in below them and start to fish. It wasn’t long before one of them hooked and landed a nice steelhead. He decides to call it a day so Chad and I rotate in above and below the other two anglers. Shortly after, I hook a fish. It's not a steelhead but a big beautiful brown. Then Chad hooks up with a large hot steelhead. He puts the screws to it with his 10 weight Carron and 25 lb Maxima. I can tell he thinks he has it, but it makes one last run towards a submerged log jam and comes unbuttoned. Everyone is excited. The two Canadian anglers we were fishing with asked what flies we were using. I told them I had caught my brown on an atlantic salmon fly and Chad had hooked his steelhead on a streamer. They were surprised, opened up their fly boxes, and decided to switch from their egg patterns.

My beautiful brown trout, Douglaston Salmon Run, Pulaski, NY
Chad tailing my beautiful brown. Douglaston Salmon Run, Pulaski, NY
We continued fishing as silver torpedos darted by in shin to ankle deep water, some just a few feet away. Chad hooks another steelhead and this time lands it.

Chad's second steelhead of the day. Douglaston Salmon Run, Pulaski, NY

The second trip was one of perseverance. After two tough days of fishing, battling strong winds and endless leaves, I was pretty tired. I wasn't sure how long I would fish that third day. Chad and I jokingly bet that if we both caught a steelhead, I would stay another day. He lands one later that morning. Now, it's up to me....

Honestly, it wouldn't have mattered if I had caught one. So, it’s blowing 25 mph and you’ve reached the point where you doubt that tug on your line is a fish but rather one of hundreds of leaves you've bumped or hooked.... It's a gorgeous fall day. I'm outside fishing and my partner is someone who actually enjoys fishing even more than me, someone who loves this crazy Salmon river.

Our efforts were rewarded that third day with some beautiful fresh chrome. It was one of the best days I've had on this river and certainly one of the most fun! Between us we were 6 for 10. We shared the run with 3 center pinners below us and 2 nymphers above us, swinging our atlantic salmon flies. Who says we can't all get along?

As the light of day started to dim, we looked out towards the estuary. The surface rippled with life as 30? 50? 100? steelhead pulsed underwater, getting ready to make their push. The anticipation was electric. Once again, chrome torpedos shot upriver. It was such an incredible sight! Everyone hooked up and so many beautiful steelhead were landed!

One of 3 beautiful steelhead I caught that day, Douglaston Salmon Run, Pulaski, NY
One of 3 beautiful steelhead I landed that day. Douglaston Salmon Run, Pulaski, NY
The last fish I caught that day is one I won't soon forget. It took off upriver as soon as it felt the hook and looked like it would take me into my backing. As I chased it upstream, it suddenly changed it's mind, turned around, and came racing back towards me. I reeled in line as fast as I could and I truly thought I'd lost it.... But it was literally right back in front of me :). As I reeled in more line, it took off again, this time towards the estuary. I followed in pursuit and finally brought it to net.

Beautiful steelhead, Douglaston Salmon Run, Pulaski, NY
Gorgeous fresh chrome. Douglaston Salmon Run, Pulaski, NY
It’s funny how quickly the tides can change, how things can turn on a dime—from hate to love, frustration to exhilaration, calm to sheer joy. I guess that’s why I love this sport.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

34 for 25

H: October 7, 2015: I never did get around to posting the first part below. Better late than never.


H: September 24, 2015: Can't believe I'm headed back to Gaspé for my second atlantic salmon trip! My first trip was only 3 months ago. Guess I'm hooked. What else is new ;).

Not expecting to catch any salmon this time around. Apparently it's been crazy slow these past couple of weeks. There just hasn't been any rain up there (not to mention the curse of the Spey Nation reel hanging over me).

Anyway, it doesn't matter. I'll get to try dry fly fishing for these amazing fish. It would be cool just to see one come up and look at my fly! My fly boxes are full—unfortunately with mostly big early season flies. But I do have some bombers and bugs which I have yet to fish, and I finally get to use Adelcio's beautiful handcrafted leather fly box!

Bomber fly box handmade by Adelcio Chavez
My gorgeous bomber fly box handmade by Adelcio Chavez.


Well, I had a great trip despite forgetting my passport, driving an extra 8 hours, and losing a day of fishing. I stayed at a charming camp on the Petite Cascapedia and fished the Bonaventure for 2 and a half days. 34 hours of driving for about 25 hours of fishing. Crazy, huh?

Camp Melancon on the Petite Cascapedia
Camp on the Petite Cascapedia.
It was a whirlwind adventure: Drove 13 hours straight each way (a new record); Took the Subaru seriously off-road to explore places I never thought I'd be able to get to (some I probably shouldn't have gone to ;). Met some great fellow anglers, mostly locals, who like me, wanted one more shot at these magnificent fish before the season closed.

Alain Laprade walking down to Grand Black on the Bonaventure River
Heading down to Grand Black, Bonaventure River.
Grand Black, Bonaventure River
Grand Black, Bonaventure River.
J-P Tessier and the Hooké guys at work, Deuxieme Est, Bonaventure River
Just another day at the office for J-P and the Hooké guys. Deuxieme Est, Bonaventure River.
Despite not catching a salmon, I have no regrets. I had one take a dry fly, one take a stripped fly, and I moved a couple with a bomber on my last day. I got to tail my first salmon, Alain's 14 pounder. I fished so many beautiful spots, saw so many beautiful salmon, and witnessed their impressive acrobatics, that I was in awe.

Salmon Hole, Bonaventure River.
Alain's lovely salmon, wearing her wedding colors as Alain would say. Bonaventure River.
Thanks to Alain for a great day of fishing. Thanks to Claude for kindly sharing river intel (I wasn't able to get to Horse Landing from the top of Sector C but it was an adventure trying :). And thanks to all the kind anglers and new friends I met on the river.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

the small things

H: October 5, 2015: What to do when fishing with your geeky fly fishing friends and there are no bugs hatching and no fish rising? (No, not nymphing. Have a bee photo contest :).

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Closing Time on the Delaware

H: August 19, 2015: Joined some friends on the West Branch this past weekend for the last 2 hours of fishing. Fishing was slow but the scenery wasn't too shabby, or the company ;).

Fishing the West Branch of Delaware River at sunset in the mist/fog
Jessie, Chad, and Edith fishing the West Branch of the Delaware.


H: August 18, 2015: A few weeks ago, I fished a spot on the East Branch for the first time and caught a couple of nice browns. The one below took me about an hour to catch in a very slow tailout with numerous tricky microcurrents, multiple hatches going on and very little room for a back cast. Not the best pic but I did manage to capture what they were eating in the shot, too!

East Branch brown trout and blue wing olive, Delaware river
East Branch Brown with bwo.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Paradise Found

June 25, 2015: H: To fully write about my recent experiences in the Gaspésie would take days and fill a notebook. It was an unforgettable trip filled with long, hard days swinging flies in breathtakingly beautiful surroundings and sharing the warm, generous comaraderie of fellow flyfishermen and friends: Jessie, Chad, Jack, Jere, Murray, Ken, Sung, Ramsay, Stefan, Allen and the ladies at the Zec, Ann, Paul, Hazel, Jeff, Claude and Louise...

So many adventures and memories made: catching my first salmon on the York; driving with Jess down that hellish road to fishing paradise on the St. Jean; delicious, messy 10 pm lobster suppers with plenty of truffle butter; Jessie's uncanny ability to multi-task behind the wheel; Murray's seafood pie to die for; anticipation of blue charm time; moose patrol at dusk; seeing and tasting my first moose; giving new meaning to an open floor plan (our Bonaventure loft); the crystal clear emerald waters of the Bonnie; the exhilarating ride up her rapids in Claude's canoe; learning a thing or two from the wise Claude Bernard...

They say a picture is worth a thousand words... Here are some from our trip.

Driftwood sculpture, Sainte-Anne-des Monts, Gaspé, Quebec
Cool driftwood sculpture spotted along the drive to Gaspé.
Fete du bois flotté 2011. Theme: le conte Fleur de Mai, Le Griffon de Sainte-Anne-des Monts, Jacques Vallée & Johanne Cappucilli Estrie,Gaspé, Quebec
Fete du bois flotté 2011. Theme: le conte Fleur de Mai, Le Griffon de Sainte-Anne-des Monts, Jacques Vallée & Johanne Cappucilli Estrie
Hyun at Spruin Rock, York river, Gaspé
Scouting the river on our arrival. Spruin Rock, York River, Gaspé. Photo by J. Lettich
Gorge pool, York river, Gaspé
Gorge pool, York River, Gaspé
Hyun's first salmon, tailed by Jessie, York river, Gaspé
The Catch: my first salmon, tailed by my fishing partner, J. Lettich, York River, Gaspé
Hyun releasing her first salmon, York river, Gaspé
The Release: au revoir ma belle! York River, Gaspé. Photo by J. Lettich
Jessie throwing sweep loops at Lady Gray, St. Jean river, Gaspé
Sweet loops thrown by Jess at Lady Gray, St. Jean river,  Gaspé
Hyun exploring a tributary of the St. Jean river, Gaspé
Exploring a tributary of the St. Jean river, Gaspé. Photo by J. Lettich
Hyun fighting a salmon at Lady Gray, St. Jean river, Gaspé
Hyun's salmon from Lady Gray, St. Jean river, Gaspé
Another beauty from the St. Jean river, Gaspé. Photos by J. Lettich
lobter dinners and lunch, Gaspé
Lobsters... anytime, anywhere ;). Gaspé.
Jessie stepping down through the pool at Cuve, York river, Gaspé
Jess at Cuve, York River, Gaspé
Path to Alfred, York river, Gaspé
Path to Alfred, York River, Gaspé
Jessie hoofing it out of Cuve, York river, Gaspé
Who needs a stairmaster? York River, Gaspé
Chad and Hyun fishing Snake on the Dartmouth river, Gaspé
Fishing Snake on the Dartmouth river, Gaspé
Baillargeon Bridge, York River, Gaspé
Baillargeon Bridge, York River, Gaspé
Hyun and Chad at Guard rail. York River, Gaspé
Guard rail(???). York River, Gaspé. Photo by J. Lettich
Chad's perfect D-loop at Gorge. York River, Gaspé
Perfect D-loops and laser beams at Gorge. York River, Gaspé
Guard rail. York River, Gaspé
Paul Leblanc fishing a stonefly at la chute, York River, Gaspé
Paul Leblanc skittering a stonefly at la Chute, York River, Gaspé.
Chad, Jessie, and local guide, Fred Matt, la chute, York River, Gaspé
Chad, Jessie, and local guide, Fred Matte. Observation deck of the aquarium (aka la Chute), York River, Gaspé
Bonaventure selfie: Jessie, Hyun, and Claude Bernard. Bonaventure river, Gaspé. Photo by J. Lettich
Jessie casting at Grassy. Bonaventure river, Gaspé
Tight loops at Grassy. Bonaventure river, Gaspé
Claude Bernard's canoe on the Bonaventure river, Gaspé
Outhouse at Trois Freres, Bonaventure river, Gaspé
Serious contender for outhouse with best view (see view below). Bonaventure river, Gaspé
View from Outhouse: Jessie and Claude Bernard, Trois Freres. Bonaventure river, Gaspé
The View: Jessie and Claude at Trois Freres. Bonaventure river, Gaspé
The crystal clear, emerald waters of the beautiful Bonnie. Bonaventure river, Gaspé
Claude Bernard's shed, Bonaventure, Gaspé
Claude's shed: each cutout was made from an actual saumon or truite. Bonaventure, Gaspé

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Ready for Gaspé

May 31, 2015: On a different note, it's hard to believe it's now just 1 week till my first atlantic salmon trip!

Wishful thinking began over 2 years ago. Actual planning started 7 months ago when I put in for the November draw on several rivers of the Gaspésie. 

I had tried planning a trip with some Julianas, but no one was willing to commit to a trip that far in advance. Then I met Jessie on the West Branch of the Delaware river. She had just returned from her first salmon trip up there. Before I knew it, we were making plans to go there the following summer...

Gaspé plat du jour: (left to right) picasse, magog smelt, undertaker, roger's fancy, black bear green butt... just a few of the flies needed for Gaspé.

I've only just started tying flies so I'm not particularly confident about how well these guys will swim. A few are missing eyes, throats, collars (creative license ;). I will definitely be picking up backups on route. But it was a lot of fun and a great learning experience tying them with friends.

A huge thanks to Jessie for tying with me, letting me learn as I watched her tie and tied alongside her. (most of the flies above are hers—the good looking ones :)

Getting super excited... Not sure what to expect... Trying not to expect anything... 

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Please Fish Responsibly!

May 30, 2015: Yes, I know. It's been a looooooong time since I've posted anything. But, right now I'm pissed off and need to vent. Maybe not the best time to write...

The unseasonably hot weather we've had, combined with low water levels, has significantly impacted the Delaware river system and the trout fishing season thus far. Seems we barely had a taste of spring before rushing headlong into summer.

I came up to the shack today, not expecting to fish my home water. I had checked the USGS site before I left and water temps were already 71 degrees near me. Around 5pm, I noticed 2 anglers fishing out front. I recognized one of them—Ralph from New Jersey. He's been fishing the Delaware for over 20 years and his favorite spot seems to be right in front of the shack.

I checked the USGS web site again. At 5:30pm the water temperature upriver of me was just over 74 degrees. So, I decided to walk down to the river to pay Ralph and his buddy a visit.

They were in the middle of the river and as I got close, Ralph looked over his shoulder, saw me, and waved. I yelled across that the river was too warm to fish responsibly and that it probably wouldn't drop below 70 degrees (if at all) till early in the morning.

He asked nonchalantly, "What temperature is it?" I told him the gauge upriver read 74 degrees. It had to be at least 75 where he stood. He just shrugged. I couldn't hear what he said to his buddy but they stayed put and continued to fish. Maybe if I was 6' 4", built like a linebacker, and carrying my shotgun, they would have taken me more seriously. Anyway, there was really nothing else I could do...

I don't get it. What's the point of practicing catch and release when the trout you catch in 75 degree water has a significantly greater chance of dying after its release? It makes me angry! As they continued to fish and I started writing this post, I wished for a violent rain storm with thunder and lightening. Retribution from the trout gods! Well, I got part of my wish. It began to seriously downpour. Being clueless and irresponsible fly fishermen, I hoped they had forgotten to pack their rain gear ;).

I don't expect every fly fisherman to carry a thermometer but in this age of cellphones and connectivity, it takes a split second to check the water temperature on the website of the closest USGS gauge. It's something every conscionable (heck, just plain smart) fly fisherman should do.

Please, fish responsibly! Check the water temps before you fish. If it's 70+, fish elsewhere.