Friday, May 20, 2016

Forum Spey Sherbrooke

H: Knowing I'll be missing Spey Nation this year, I decided somewhat last minute to head north of the border to see how our neighbors in Quebec put on a spey clave. With atlantic salmon season just around the corner (I can't wait! :), it seemed like a good idea.

I almost didn't go. I was recovering from a cold/flu, had a ton of work on my plate, and it was Friday the 13th (yikes!). As I left the city, it started to downpour and traffic became a nightmare as accidents popped up everywhere. I thought it might be a sign for me to turn around, and I might have, if the traffic heading back wasn't just as bad. A 6 hour drive turned into 8, but I was rewarded with a spectacular evening sky towards the end.

A beautiful sunset and near empty highways in Vermont
Enjoying a glorious evening sky driving through the green mountain state.

Forum Spey Sherbrooke turned out to be an intimate clave. I'm guessing it's what Spey Nation used to be in its infancy. There were reps for: Hardy/Fenwick, Airflo, Guideline, Sage, Rio, GLoomis, Orvis, St. Croix, plus Gaspé Fly, but the selection of equipment was rather limited (except for Hardy, Gaspé Fly, and Guideline) and Loop was surprisingly absent. They also had representatives from the Museé de la Peche a la Mouche and Projet des Eaux Curative.

Apparently in past years, the presentations had been bilingual. This year, that wasn't the case. Hence, while I had looked forward to presentations given by fellow salmon spey fishermen, I could barely understand any of it. If I'm going to continue fly fishing in Quebec, I really need to work on my French! Je dois travailler mon français (?).

The demo beach at Parc Lucien-Blanchard, Sherbrooke, Quebec.
The demo beach at Parc Lucien-Blanchard, Sherbrooke, Quebec.
Good selection of Hardy/Fenwick doublehand spey rods at Forum Spey Sherbrooke
A great selection of Hardy/Fenwick rods. I think I cast ALL of the doublehanders.
Some pretty Hardy reels, Forum Spey Sherbrooke, Quebec
Hardy reels: pretty, noisy....
Mallais Alex at the Guideline Canada Booth, Forum Spey Sherbrooke, Quebec
Fellow salmon fly fisherman Mallais Alex at the Guideline Canada booth.

Probably the best thing about the clave was the people. Everyone was so friendly! Local fly tyer, Daniel Bolduc, was super nice. I purchased some of his lovely flies for the Bonnie. I had the pleasure of catching up with Paul Leblanc and Hazel Maltais, Claude Bernard, Mallais Alex, J-P Tessier, Neil Houlding and meeting Brian, David and Dylan Bishop, Pascal, Sabrina and so many others.... Forum Spey Sherbrooke had a definite family vibe to it. I saw parents casting with their children, many couples casting together, and it was great to see so many women attend this event!

Daniel Bolduc's lovely salmon flies, Forum Spey Sherbrooke, Quebec
Some of Daniel Bolduc's lovely salmon flies.
Claude Bernard looking serious at the Musee de la Peche a la Mouche table, Forum Spey Sherbrooke, Quebec
Claude Bernard at the Museé de la Peche a la Mouche table.
While talking to Claude, I mentioned that last year, I had done A LOT of fishing, around 190 days. Not exactly sure where I got 190? An estimate shows it was more like 160 days. But after that, Claude started introducing me to his fly fishing friends as the girl from New York who fishes 190 days a year. Lol. He mentioned he's working on a history of Canadian fly fishing book through the Museé. I bet it would be a fascinating read, full of entertaining anecdotes. I definitely hope to see Claude on the Bonaventure later in June.

Needless to say, I cast a bunch of rods :). My favorites were the Hardy Zephrus 13'6" 8-weight and 12'6" 7 weight—both paired with Airflo scandi lines. I also had a chance to cast J-P's Loop 13'2" 8-weight Cross (SX?) paired with the GDC line and really enjoyed casting that as well. David Bishop, J-P Tessier, and Alain Laprade, all shared some good casting tips with me and I made a concerted effort to work on my casting technique while testing out the different rods.

J-P Tessier demonstrating the very cool S cast, Forum Spey Sherbrooke, Quebec
J-P Tessier demonstrating the very cool S cast, Forum Spey Sherbrooke, Quebec
J-P Tessier showing me the very cool S cast—an aerialized snap T.
Saturday: Shirtless beach volleyball weather. Forum Spey Sherbrooke, Quebec
Saturday: Shirtless beach volleyball weather. Looks like fun! Parc Lucien-Blanchard, Sherbrooke, Quebec
The ladies only class taught by Sabrina Barnes, Forum Spey Sherbrooke, Quebec
Sunday: down jacket weather. Sabrina Barnes teaching the ladies class which had a great turnout.
The rest of the time I hung out with the fly casting geek squad: Craig, Dave, JF, Alain, and Louis :). An hour+ talking about casting techniques and semantics over a nice dinner. What more can a flygirl ask for? ;) Sustained or waterbourne (anchor)? Qu'est-ce que vous préférez?

I hope to be back next year. Next time, I'll definitely bring my trout gear and check out the local fishing.

Friday, May 6, 2016

The Next Generation of Flygirls?

H: How cool is this...

My nieces and nephew recently came to visit me at the cabin. Monday afternoon, after taking a hike, we decided to walk down to the river. I quickly stopped at the cabin to change into waders and get my fly rod, just in case :). Earlier, I had shown them a hendrickson spinner hanging out on my porch screen door, explained the mayfly life cycle and how they were the trout's favorite food.

We’re on the river bank for maybe 15 minutes when I spot a couple of rising fish—one at the far bank and one close by. I cast out my hendrickson from the previous day's fishing and in the second cast, I hook a brown trout to the very excited cheers of my nieces and nephew. They've seen me practicing my casting in their backyard, but this is the first trout they’ve seen me catch and the first they've seen "live."

Hyun with a brown trout from the Delaware river, caught in front of her nieces and nephew.
Right on cue... Hoping this brown piques my nieces' and nephew's interest in fly fishing. Photo: Ally
Right after we release it, both of my nieces want me to teach them how to cast my fly rod :). Unfortunately we didn't see any more risers nearby. Maybe because my nephew stoned the pool Lol. Thanks, Ally, for the photo. Hoping this piques your interest....

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

The Right Place at the Right Time

H: When it comes to dry fly fishing (and wading) on the Delaware, it's all about being at the right place at the right time.

Saturday: Jessie and I drove to a favorite spot on the Upper East to fish. Jess had heard reports of good hendrickson hatches the last couple of days. Well, there was a strong blue quill hatch from 1–3 pm, but we didn't spot a single head. We spent 3 hours on the river admiring the views and watching countless blue quills go by untouched by the resident trout. They must have been stuffed to the gills or just dining below. We were in the right place, just at the wrong time.

Beautiful braids on the Upper East branch of the Delaware river.
Hello! Anybody home? Beautiful braids on the Upper East branch of the Delaware River.
Sunday: Jess says to me, "Today, you pick where we're fishing." I suggest we go West. We spent an hour driving around, scouting a couple of places, before returning to the spot we originally intended to fish. As we're gearing up, three anglers return to the lot. We asked if they'd had any luck and if they'd seen any bugs. They replied, "No luck.... Lots of caddis out earlier but we did see a few hendricksons coming off as we left."

When we get down to the river, there are quite a few hendricksons on the water and we soon spot several risers. We instantly get to work. Several casts later, a beautiful fat slob of a brown made its way into my net. I yelled excitedly up to Jessie, "I need a bigger net!" :) It just barely fit inside.

Big, beautiful, buttery brown trout caught on an hendrickson dry fly. Delaware River
Big, beautiful, buttery, brown trout caught on an hendrickson dry. Delaware River. Photo: J. Lettich.
It isn't long before hendricksons blanket the river and fish start rising pretty much all around us. A dry fly fisherman's dream come true! Jessie is working on some fish upstream. I'm casting to a consistent riser about 40 feet directly across from me which is eating every hendrickson that floats over but mine. When it finally decides to take mine, I miss it!

By now, we are no longer alone on this stretch of river. A drift boat angler has anchored by the far bank and two wade fishermen step in just below me. One guy quickly hooks and lands a fish. One of them is perhaps just 30 feet away but I don't mind. There are plenty of fish to go around.

Jess hooks up with a nice fish so I wade over in case she wants my photographic services. After a quick photo shoot of her pretty brown, I walk back down river and notice the same fish I missed earlier back in action. At least I thought it was the same fish. I decide to just wait and watch. Then I see him/her swimming in the clear water, cruising around, rising here then rising there. I waited till it rose again, about 25 feet upstream of me, and then cast. It had to be spot on... not too far above... just right...

Well, as luck would have it, it took my fly on the very first cast. As soon as it was hooked, it took off for Hancock and almost took me into my backing. Another big, beautiful, buttery, brown trout! Needless to say, I was a very happy flygirl :).

Struck gold twice! Another beautiful buttery brown that almost took me into my backing. Delaware River
Struck gold twice! Another beautiful brown that almost took me into my backing. Delaware River. Photo: J. Lettich
There were still fish rising near me but it was now around 4:30 pm. My family had come up earlier that afternoon and were waiting for me at the cabin so I decided to say goodbye to the hendricksons and the rising fish and to Jessie. I yelled over to Jess that I had to go meet my family. She looked at me like I was crazy and shouted back, "What! You can't leave now!" The two anglers next to me probably thought the same thing. What fly fisherman in her right mind leaves rising fish in the middle of a heavy hendrickson hatch on the D?

But I left perfectly content with my two perfectly beautiful trout, the result of being at the right place at the right time for a couple of hours.