Category Archives: Freshwater

Postcards of the Hanging

The sun came out and the shallows warmed and  fish moved into them. Others held fast in the current rips, poised for ambush, and still others patrolled the drop-offs or took cover in the newly thickening weeds. The fish hit the flies of those who were there and the pics are for those who could not be.

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Fight Like Meat

There is no known reason for a trout to be in this pond. It is a warm water pond of municipal park vintage with no appreciable depth, a small battery of largemouth and one billion bluegill.

The bluegill hit flies when the sun is out and are at the ready when a lunchtime bend is needed. The bass have seen too many lures to let their guard down often, but when they do the results ripple through the entire containment.

In October a truck shows up full of trout and people line the banks and fill buckets. They are typically cleaned out within days, their long term prospects on par with the tank lobsters at the diner.

Honestly, from my vantage point I thought it was a bass. I had on a bluegill popper but cast it over and watched the fish turn and slash.

I waited for the jump but the fish rolled on its side like an omega dog and let me pull it to the bank.

Somehow it survived the winter I guess but I still don’t like its prospects.

20130409-190507.jpg

Near Misses

I don’t forget them, ever. I have a catalogue of almosts running through my subconscious, flickering like the 8mm nature films from 8th grade science class.

Damn you snook for following my fly out of the mangroves, eating it and jumping off it before I even had a say in things.

Damn you tarpon for peeling away at the last second.

Damn you striper for refusing to wait until I worked the line kink clear of the guides.

Damn you bluegill for smacking that popper you can’t even fit. Don’t think your size makes you immune because you falsely raised my expectations.

Own it Tiny, you’re on the list.

'Gill Raid

brook trout spring 08

The Connetquot River Is Coming Back

Early on in my fly fishing pursuits I found myself releasing my 14th trout in two hours of fishing the Connetquot River. I felt good about this until a man walked by claiming to have caught 50. He’d grown bored, he said, and was going home early. Adding insult, he scooped a dip from his lower lip and flicked it into the water, where a trout rose to meet it.

The Connetquot River has been described as Long Island’s blue ribbon trout stream, a once private fishing club turned into a pristine State Park with an on-site hatchery that stocked it with kamloops rainbows, brooks and browns. Some of the fish held over and reproduced, creating a small wild population, and some below the dam attained sea run status, heading out beyond where the river dumps into the Great South Bay.

brook trout spring 08

It worked via a beat system–a valid NY fishing license and $20 reserved the opportunity to fish an assigned stretch of river (choice of spots given by the order of sign in) for a four hour segment.

Fishing there always made you feel like a better fly angler than you really were; the deck was stacked in your favor like Kim Jong Il on the golf course. It fished that way until 2008, when an outbreak of Infectious Pancreatic Necrosis forced the State to shut down the hatchery.

The park opened early in the winter of 2009 and started a cull-fest, encouraging anglers to keep every fish they caught in order to rid the river of contaminated fish. I went one day; most stretches of water had been picked clean but I witnessed one young angler konk an old kyped brown trout and stuff it in a plastic bag.

In its heyday the park always had detractors for obvious reasons, and I’ve felt conflicted about it, but mostly enjoyed my times there. My friends and I learned a lot about fly fishing making pre-dawn pilgrimages from Hoboken and New York City.  The fish were stocked, but some of them held over and the browns in particular could prove as challenging and rewarding as any fish anywhere.

Winter Brown

Fishing at the park itself was steeped in ethics. It was one of the first places to ban felt sole, making rubber-soled hip waders mandatory in all wading spots. (One justification for the hip-waders–you couldn’t wade out too far and degrade the river bed with your footwork.) Barbless hooks were mandatory, egg patterns were banned, and general assholery not tolerated. Gil the riverkeeper walked the trails along the banks making sure your gear was copacetic, that you were respecting others’ space or to gently explain how your clumsy wading was ruining it for every angler downstream. Violations resulted in banishment.

Trout Unlimited and the Boy Scouts and other local conservation groups kept the waters and trails clean and practiced stream restoration.

These types of things carry over.

So I was thrilled this week to read in Newsday that the Friends of the Connetquot organization raised the necessary funding to get the hatchery back on track. The river is an amazing resource and, according to the article, the fly fishing brings in $300,000 of much-needed revenue annually to the park.

Thanks to Friends of the Connetquot for making this happen.

REVIEW: Where The Yellowstone Goes

Where the Yellowstone Goes starts not with trout but with chickens and irony. Then it jumps right into its premise–a 30 day float trip along the length of the Yellowstone, from the edge of the park to the Missouri River. The people are introduced and the reasons laid out, much like the nut graf in a magazine article, and then the focus shifts entirely onto the extended float down probably the most famous river in fly fishing.

For the viewer it’s an enjoyable low-key ride filled with breathtaking landscape and, as the opening blip foreshadows, understated quirkiness.

Yellowstone-Poster

The movie is full of interesting people and you’re invited into their conversations in a way that seems like eavesdropping. Or, it’s akin to stepping up to a bar and joining a discussion that’s already been started. The discourse reminds me of my favorite fly fishing movie, Tarpon, in the best way.

My favorite scene involves the crew inviting Margot Aserlind, the widow of a fly fishing guide, for a day on the river near Livingston. It’s her first time on the water in years, and it becomes this tender moment recording the interplay between the river and the people who love it.

The movie takes a dark turn when the crew comes across the site of the Exxon oil pipeline that breached in July of 2011, dumping 63,000 gallons of crude into the river. This event serves as the gateway for the movie to deliver a strong conservation message.

I love the movie’s languid pace. The soundtrack is fantastic if mellow but it reminds that for many practitioners fly fishing is a contemplative–not extreme–sport. The fly fishing scenes are realistic rather than heroic as the protagonist–the director Hunter Weeks–is a neophyte and just learning. This seems appropriate, how many people have been introduced to the sport during family vacations to Yellowstone? (There is one pretty awesome fly scene where Robert Hawkins, the fly fishing guide on the trip, duels a carp.)

Overall, Where the Yellowstone Goes is an atypical but enjoyable fly fishing movie (and the only one with a sheep rescue). Then again, it’s not really a fly fishing movie. But if you love this river or find meaning in any body of water, you will enjoy this story.

For more information, go to Where The Yellowstone Goes.

How Far Is 1000 Miles?

Half the Mississippi River.

Almost as long as the Snake River.

Longer than the St. Lawrence River, the Ohio, the Green, and the White.

Maybe in more relatable terms, it’s farther than a plane flight from LA to Denver.

This is the scope  of the initiative being undertaken by Trout Unlimited and Orvis, who are joining forces to open up 1,000 miles of fishable habitat across the US.

The 1000 Miles Project is one that is easy to rally behind. Too many fights in the environmental realm seem to succeed in making people angry but fail in channelling emotion into action. This campaign is all about action, with an identifiable target and attainable goals.

The target? Culverts. As stated on the TU Blog: “Culverts–those big pipes that carry entire waterways under roads and trails–are stream-stealing culprits. If they’re old, or poorly designed, they can be barriers to upstream migration of trout and salmon. By simply removing or repairing culverts at stream crossings, we can open significant chunks of habitat for fish … and fishing.”

Together Orvis and TU have targeted streams and waterways around the country where removing or restoring faulty culverts will benefit trout and salmon habitat. (For a list of waters, click on the TU and Orvis links below.)

It’s a simple, beautiful plan that all anglers can endorse, regardless of geographic location or political affiliation.

1000 miles raises the possibility of this exponentially

Should you choose to donate money to Trout Unlimited for this cause, Orvis will match your donation–promising $90,000 in matching funds.

The simple math is: 1,000 more miles of fishable habitat will multiply the number of fishable fish exponentially, and everybody wins.

For more information, and more detail on how culverts affect fish habitat, go to:

Trout Unlimited

and

Orvis.com

Florida, Press Repeat

Bass in Florida are like Led Zeppelin on the radio: Always on somewhere.

I’ve said that before* (in one of my infrequent posts on Buster Wants to Fish.) But I am saying it again because the words and the actions behind them are repeatable.

Sometimes I wonder if it seems like a broken record with me, and maybe it does, but we all need sporting traditions.

One of my main riffs goes like this: Fly down, rent car, criss-cross the State on back roads and wait for the rain to break. Drive past a body of water, look for access, cast.

The coasts and the Keys are incongruous with the interior, the land of Marjory Stoneman Douglas and Marjory Kinnan Rawlings. All the way up to Shingle Creek (documented by a green highway sign on S.R. 528 as the Headwaters of the Everglades) the fresh water that flows South through Okeechobee and the big swamp is dyked, funneled, redirected, canal-ized and otherwise manipulated so that the River of Grass and Florida Bay do not get their full eventual dose.

The roads cut through cattle ranches and orange groves and migrant farms and small town main streets that maintain an Eisenhower ambience despite the scarcity of Buick Roadmasters.

The water is a distraction. It’s always sitting just off the main road or down obscure side streets, where it would remain undiscovered if not for the invasiveness of Google Maps. Whether it should rightfully be swampland or something other than a containment born of front-end loaders is past the point of consideration.

It could contain bass, and is impossible to pass by.

*(Self plagiary.)