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Is That a Maggot in Your Pocket or Are You Just Happy to See Me?

So yesterday Bob and I woke up at the ass crack of Jack to head out for a day of winter trout. The weather report had indicated that we should be in the 40’s…. yeah… I wish I had a job where I could be wrong 85% of the time and still get paid! Luckily there was almost no wind because when you hit the stream at first light it is COLD! I think the fish thought so too because they were far from awake early.

As they day wore on, I thought we would get warmer…. maybe a little but not really. Luckily however, the fish did and we managed a pretty good day of winter nymphing bringing 11 fish to hand between the two of us. At one point, Bob stepped out of the water to warm his feet and do some bank side spotting for me. He managed to put me on a nice Brown. He struck up a conversation with a few other “fly fisherman” while he was there. They were within ear shot so I could hear most of the conversation.

“Oh yeah, we had a 50 fish day a few months ago fishing upstream……. (with spin gear)”
“On our last trip to Alaska the indicators we used were sub-surface”
“So what is he doing down there flipping his line upstream after he casts?”

No mind you these dudes were decked out head to toe with $90 Tilley’s on their heads. I looked over to the next stretch of water and they were standing there with fly rods in the air, line stretched taught downstream…. not casting, just standing. I was intrigued to say the least. One guy lifted his rod and cast it. It looked like he was fishing with an oversized sucker spawn. Bob came back down to the stream and I asked him what they were doing. Apparently they were skewering 6 maggots onto a size 2 hook and waiting.

I couldn’t help but start to laugh. OK…. so you want to be in the club…I get it, so did I! But here’s the deal, if you want in the club you have to pay the entrance fee. Take the $10 you spent on bait and buy a damn book! Hell, get on the world wide web and read for free! But take the time to learn your craft.

We have all been new at one point or another. It is a question of how you embrace your “newbieness” that defines you! Put the Tilley in the closet until you learn how to cast, mend, set, fight, and land…. Then bust out the Tilley and you will look stylish and competent at the same time! Until then it makes you look like a poser and the maggots on your oversized hook make you look worse! Nobody wants to be regaled by tales of fishing prowess in Alaska by a dude who is standing in a stream with a taught fly line with six maggots on a bass hook. If you are just learning, great! Do so… ask, listen, learn, don’t posture. We were all given two ears and one mouth and from what I understand they should be used accordingly!

And by the way, same goes for you “experienced” anglers. Rarely does a day go by that I don’t learn something new if I ask a few questions, pay attention to others around me, and most importantly, LISTEN to what the river has to tell you. It can be the best teacher around if you are receptive to its lessons. The guy across the river got skunked yesterday but he was nice enough and polite and asked what we were doing to get on fish. I met him mid current and handed him a hand full of the flies that were working well and told him how we were managing our presentation. I hope next time I am on the skunk someone will extend the same consideration in my direction!

Yeah, I know some of you probably roll your eyes at me as I stand on my soap box but hey, It’s MY BLOG! So I have that luxury. If this is you, take my advice…. Do not pass go, do not collect $200…. make your way to your local fly shop, get a free casting lesson, buy a good book, sit down and read it. Come to the stream with a smile! Don’t get frustrated if you don’t catch fish in the first ten minutes and make an investment in learning something new! Most of all…. LEAVE THE MAGGOTS AT HOME!!!!!!

Good luck and Tight lines.



What Can Brown Do For You?

So I met my friend John at the river today for a bit of winter trout action. It had finally warmed up to the point where the mucus did not instantly freeze on inhale but still cold enough that the feeling in my feet did not return till half way home. The water was low and clear today and the fishing was a bit tough so we had to work for our fish today. Yes… yes…. I know… I have been a bit spoiled lately.

Today however was not without some adventure. To begin with, I decided to make a river crossing through a riffle that didn’t look all that fast or deep…. I think I miscalculated a bit because I was a half step away from being swept down a very cold river. (not my finest moment today). One of the things I love about fly fishing are the moments you get to laugh out loud at yourself… your miscues, flubs, near misses, and near victories. I hooked into a beautiful rainbow today and lost it mid-battle. I saw it and estimated it at 18″. I let out an expletive that was so loud I could hear 3 other anglers laughing at me down stream. I must admit… I laughed too.

On a high note today, I landed my largest trout to date, a beautiful 20.5″ brown with a nice fat belly. I had to try to net him 3 times before I could get the 20 plus inches of trout to fit into the 24″ net! He ran me across the river… down the river and then finally back to my net. At the end of the battle, my adrenaline was spiked so high that my hands were shaking and had trouble taking a decent photo…. or maybe that was the cold? 😉


Where Do You Shop?

So this is an issue that is near and dear to my heart and one that I most definitely have a hard and fast opinion about. Before anyone gets up in arms and starts throwing 3/0 Clouser’s at my head I do understand that not everyone has a local fly shop. I get that!

Now for the rest of you!!!! STOP BUYING SHIT AT “INSERT NATIONAL RETAILER” TO SAVE $1.35!!!!!!! Have I purchased an item or two? YES. Have I once in a blue neap tide moon dropped a few dollars on ebay? YES. But as a matter of course I am completely and totally dedicated to supporting the local fly shop. Why you ask? Please enlighten us Mr. Brownliner since you seem to know so much!!!!

OK… maybe I don’t know so much but I do know this. If you don’t support your local shop, you will not have a local shop to support at some point. Now I do realize that not all shops are created equal. I happen to be one of the lucky ones. I reside in Pittsburgh and live under ten minutes from International Angler which happens to be a top shelf fly shop in every sense of the word. From selection, to expertise, to service…. TOP SHELF! I don’t mind paying a few dollars more for this or that because the advice, education, service, selection and general sense of welcome are worth far more to me. This past Saturday I attended a free fly tying seminar. In an hour I learned some really cool stuff and am grateful that I had the opportunity to go.

Whenever I am in another city, I make it a point to stop in at the local shop… buy a thing or two even if it is a small purchase, ask for some good local advice and hopefully learn something before I walk out the door. I don’t have a problem with Bass Pro Shops, Cabela’s, etc…. by the general nature of the store and they are great for certain things, but when it comes to fly fishing… Different story. A few months ago I went up to my fly shop and was interested in purchasing a new trout rod. I had one in mind and it was not a cheap rod. I explained to the owner what I thought I wanted. He said, why don’t we take a few rods out into the lot and cast them so you can decide what makes the most sense. He watched me cast, made a few suggestions and I ended up realizing that the rod that felt the best to me was roughly half the price of what I thought I wanted. That is the kind of thing you can’t get at “insert large retailer name”.

So…. what am I saying? If you need something, give your local shop a call! More often than not, they are eager to help, know more than you do, and are motivated to find a way to turn you into a life time customer! If it doesn’t work out….. then hit the web and do what you gotta do.

What is the absolute worst thing you can do? Don’t you dare go to your local shop, use them for their advice and expertise and then march your happy ass to Cabela’s to save $5!!! BAD FORM… VERY BAD FORM!

And that is how I see it… In my humble opinion 🙂