I have long envied fly fishers who have the luxury of flexibility….. meaning they can leave at the drop of a hat to fish when conditions are prime. They often have the best probability of epic days that become stories of legend. Insert guide speak……. “you should have been here last week”. Most of us, me included, were not born under such a lucky star. I have a real job, real bills, and four very real kids that require me to be a very real dad.
Once a year CW and I head up to Presque Isle Bay for a weekend of warm water fun. The beauty of the fishery is that it has such versatility that regardless of what is going on there are always fish to be had if you are willing to be flexible. It is not uncommon to have caught over 10 species of fish in a weekend of fly fishing…. No joke. We have had to work around early spawn schedules, late spawn schedules, shad kills, rain, wind, oppressive heat, back problems, leaky waders, marital issues, even gastro-intestinal issues…. All to chase fish.
This past weekend I think we finally hit the one variable that we had never had to deal with. Upon arriving at the bay it blew our mind to see the water levels to be over 5′ higher than normal. There was literally water creeping up into parking areas. Now if you are a fly fisher in a boat, no biggie. If you are a wading angler this is a major issue. Roughly 75% of the places we would ordinarily wade to get to fish were now off limits. Throw in a nasty algae bloom, some storm fronts, and a cottonwood fluff hatch that looked like a snow storm and it made for some crazy conditions.
I have long stood by the philosophy that what separates really good fly fishers from others is the ability to problem solve and persevere through less than ideal situations. I wish I could tell you that we overcame and kicked ass… Or that we caught that one fish of a lifetime and made it all worthwhile…. We didn’t. What we did do was got wet as water slipped over the tops of our waders, cast our arms off for 3 days, laughed at each other, drank beer, and oh yeah…. managed to scare up a few fish.
The largemouth were gone. The carp were nowhere to be seen (see tear rolling down my cheek). We didn’t even see more than a gar or two which is highly unusual.
Far from the bonanza that we had imagined in our heads. No worries. Sign me up…. I’m ready to do it all over again! See you on the water.
Tight Lines and Loose Morals,
So building a boat is not as hard as it looks….. However, building a boat is more time consuming that it looks! I thought for sure I could get her done 3 weeks ago. Ummmmm… NO. I still have a good two weeks of solid work to go and that is being optimistic. I have also spent about twice what I originally thought I would. Some of this can be chalked up to total rookie status mistakes. Some of it is allowing myself to stray from my budget for things that I really wanted (maybe not needed) to have in the boat. The rest of it is truly a story of how a bunch of little things can add up to a lot.
So, do you have any regrets you ask? Heck No! I could not be any more pumped about how she is turning out. My only real regret is waiting this long to do this. The really fantastic part of the experience that CW and I have shared so far is truly crafting her to be exactly what we wanted her to be and nothing that we didn’t. That is hard to get from a stock boat off the lot. The pride of craftsmanship is much the same as catching a fish on a fly you tied or designed but in a much larger scale. If you have ever thought about building a canoe, jon boat, drift boat, skiff, etc…. The only thing I can tell you is GO DO IT!
I will keep you all posted as things move along. We will be flipping her this week so things should start to look pretty different.
Tight Lines and Loose Pants,
So when I started this project I purchased an old Evinrude and a trailer from my neighbor that had been rotting away in their back yard. The trailer is for a small boat or PWC and has wheels just about the size of the ones on my kids Matchbox car. I stopped in at a local boat yard and they had a set of used 12″ wheels in decent condition for $40…… SOLD! One can of white spray paint later and we have new wheels!
As this build moves along it is amazing the lessons that you learn… some cheap, some expensive. For example, last night I learned that you can’t let epoxy cure when the temperature in your garage drops down to freezing over night…. Looks like I have some sanding work to do.
Tonight we will be finishing the hull pieces and hopefully be starting to stitch by the weekend!
Hey fellow brown liners! I made the finals for the Orvis best in show carp photo contest. Please cast a vote my way so I don’t have to starve my four kids to get the H2! I am the handsome fella with the fly rod in his mouth! Thank you all for your help. 🙂
The last few weeks in the mid-atlantic have been pretty darn cold but I did manage to hit the early part of the shad run. Beautiful evening on the Rap but unfortunately not too many fish with willing mouths. We did have lucky customer number one so I guess I can notch shad on my belt! On the swing no less!
Attempted some striper fishing as well but no luck to be had. Hopefully the action will heat up as things warm up.
I hope everyone is enjoying their Thanksgiving Holiday today. Despite the difficult times we find our country and our world in, we all have much to be thankful for. I for one am thankful for my wife, my children, my health, my friends, and my job.
When it comes to fly fishing, however, there are a whole different set of things I find myself to be thankful for. Here are just a few….
Solitude on the water, road trips with good friends, amazing takes, the sun glistening off of the flank of a fish that just gave away it’s position, fish that tickle the imagination because we felt them and never saw them, perfect casts that are in perfect timing, not so perfect casts that took fish anyhow, home tied fly patterns that don’t have a name, local fly shops in small towns, the anticipation of exploring new water, meeting total strangers that become friends, seeing someone catch the fish of a lifetime and not being sure if you are jealous, proud, or both, fishing well into the dark and hoping you remember how to get back to your car, and most of all I am thankful for the smile on my face every time the hatch of my car shuts and I stride towards the water wondering what might be in store today.
Tight Lines, Good Health, and a Very Happy Thanksgiving
So last night we had the pleasure of the rather infamous April Vokey (www.flygal.ca) to present a class in tying intruder style flies at International Angler in Pittsburgh. Unless you live under a fly fishing rock, you have undoubtedly seen her face gracing the cover of just about any magazine you might pick up, caught her on TV, or engaged in some salacious conversation about her “rod handling skills” with your buddies…. (or is that just me?)
Well after spending about 4 or 5 hours in close proximity, allow me to set the record straight. Yes, April is a fine looking woman by just about anyone’s standards…. and yes, her lips are real. She even managed to completely wreck my concentration a few times with a well timed, good natured poke at us guys and a sly grin as she kept it G rated (but I am guessing would have probably preferred otherwise). The funny thing is that I completely forgot all of this and found myself completely taken in by how passionate she is about her fishing, her rivers, and her Steelhead.
Within 5 minutes she knew all 13 of us by name and did not forget a single person throughout the entire class. (No name tags needed!) Her teaching style was warm, engaging, and informative. Some of us had been tying for years and others were total noobs and everyone walked out of the class with a great experience that they could build upon. After the class CW asked me what she was like and the best way I could describe it to him was that she is the type of person that you would love to share a road trip, a river, and a beer with. (and I don’t say that about many people)
So April, if you happen to read this, keep up the fantastic work and thanks for a great class. If you have yet to have the pleasure, spend some time and get to know April Vokey. I promise you won’t be disappointed and if you can check your giant male ego at the door you might actually learn a few things! I know I did.
I’ll take “Three Things I Can Never Get Enough of” for $500 Alex.
Yes, last night was the Fly Fishing Film Festival in Pittsburgh sponsored by my good friends at International Angler. As most of you know, I have been in a state of cryogenic suspension for roughly six long months. As much as I am itching to be on the water, I am not itching for a second divorce so for now I will just have to settle for a night out to watch other people fish. (which does fall under the category of “fishsturbation” in the truest sense of the word) I have been trying to work with the twins on their casting mechanics, but at six months old they are having a fairly tough time with the pause on their back cast….. things we will have to work on.
So how was the film fest you ask? I enjoyed it thoroughly. Then again that is like asking a starving man lost in the desert how he enjoyed the luke warm tap water and stale Twinkie you just gave to him. The productions were for the most part entertaining and of really good quality.
I always find it very interesting to see the reactions of the crowd to different genres. For example, the opening film was a salt water production on tarpon with some amazing footage including a dog that jumps off the skiff to chase poon. The hardcore trout guys in the audience didn’t have much of a reaction, but the salt water anglers were totally oohing and ahhhing. Conversely the production on traditional English chalk streams kinda lost many of us that are more about chasing larger fish.
The best part of the night for me (aside from the box of Raisinets) was hanging with my boy CW and talking about…..
- Trips we have in the works
- Trips we wish we had in the works but are not that big of a stretch
- Trips that there is no way in hell will ever happen but it never hurts to pretend
For those of us that live and breathe this stuff, fly fishing is not just a hobby. It is an obsession, a passion, and part of the fabric of what makes us who we are. Sitting in a theater full of junkies last night was a pretty cool feeling. Regardless whether you were fantasizing about a trico hatch, worm hatch, or toilet paper hatch the vibe was there. Getting to drop a warm hello to fishing friends or friends I have yet to actually fish with just put a smile on my face that let me forget how long it has been since my waders have seen water.
Hopefully the water and I will become re-acquainted soon but for one evening it was nice to see some great takes, amazing fights, and some pretty cool fish porn.
See you on the water! (hopefully)
Good Luck and Tight Lines,