I've said it before and I'll say it agian, every year I do this striped bass, fly fishing only, no boats allowed tournament down on the Cape with my high school buddy, and every year it's a 10 out of 10. Debauchery, sun up to sun down fishing. Somehow every year it's always 75 and sunny and last year, we had a 120 fish day on tournament day. This year, there will be at least 2 BFC teams, but I'd like to see more..... Mark your calendars for May 20th and register now as space is running out!!!
I'm using 99designs to create a logo for High Alpine Anglers. It will be for hats, tshirts, boat and vehicle decals, business cards, and the website. Please go to the link and vote on your favorite, it would be a huge help. Also, keep in mind, the logos aren't finalized yet. For example, if I go with the fish jumping out of the water with the rods on either side, the fish would be changed to a trout and the rods turned into fly rods:
Part I: Optimism The drought that dominated the upper east coast during the
latter part of the Summer of 2016 didn't cease with the first few good fall
rains - no, this monster lingered - unveiling an even uglier face in poor fish
returns on many of our beloved waterways. The king salmon ran in Pulaski in
quality numbers for three weeks in October, despite the pathetic 185 cfs flow. For
those unfamiliar with the Salmon River, flows north of 500cfs and up to 1200cfs
are considered prime and are the norm for fall steelhead season. Much
to our delight, a torrential rain storm pushed through the region in the end of
October – depositing nearly 5 inches of rain in watershed. While I dawned my
Walking Dead costume and headed into the warm Halloween night to collect my yearly
supply of Kit Kats and mini Snickers bars, the Salmon swelled. With flows exceeding 2000 cfs, I couldn’t
help but imagine the river teeming with silver bullets for our first steelhead
trip slated for mid November.
During the 10 days leading up to the trip, the pre-steelhead trip protocol was followed to a tea:
arrive at work, check the water, get coffee, check the reports, grind till lunch, check the reports, check midday report and
of course a pre-dinner and post-dinner river report as well. Something
was happening (or rather not happening) and it was not encouraging... Douglaston Salmon Run Nov 2 Evening Fishing Report Fishing was very slow today, anglers reporting at most 2 hook-ups, mostly steelhead. No end of the run seemed to be doing particularly better than the other.
Next week the fish will be in... Douglaston Salmon Run Nov 7 Fishing Report Still not seeing the numbers of steelhead we are used to for this time of year. Some anglers are able to get into a fish or two, but that's for a good hard day of fishing; covering lots of water.
Part II: Reality
With our sights set, Steelie Zan and I packed the Steele Train
with our fishing totes and rode west to meet a man who knows a thing or two about
meat - "The Steele Creel" - Gavin. The three of us rigged our gear over a dozen Utica Clubs and
engaged in a “Let’s show these folks how to catch steelhead tomorrow boys” powwow
before we turned in.
Gavin grilling some "soggies" while enjoying some scotch.
Like harden steelheaders we charged onto that
river only to find that the fish didn’t really show up. Two
steelhead (2lb, 4lb) and 4 brown trout (~10 inches) for over 80 hours on the water pretty
well sums up the weekend. To provide context, the Salmon unusually produces
5-15 hookups per angler per day in November, with days of 30 hookups not out of the
question. Plain and simple - it sucked. On our last afternoon, we shot over to the North Sandy Creek
where Steelie Zan salvaged the trip with a beautiful fall male brown. That fish took
the sting out of the punch, but the NY tribs had hit us hard and there would be bruising. On the plus side,
Gavin had made arrangements for us to purchase a quarter cow from a beef maestro
in Ithaca, things were looking up.
Part III: New Water, New Opportunities Steelie Zan and I began to plan out our return for 2 weeks later. This
time 4 days, 2 on the Salmon on and 2 on a the tributaries west of Rochester on waterways we were far less familiar. Day 1 back on the Salmon –
20 hours on the water, 0 fished landed, 0 fish hooked, 1 fished seen. At days end, we both knew it, we had enough of the Salmon River. Plan B was in full effect, with Pulaski in the rear view, our sights lay on Brockport.
This turned out to be a very fortuitous move, as the 65 degree day we enjoyed on the
Salmon on Saturday, gave way to 2 feet of snow on Sunday and another foot on Monday.
If Pulaski is the former high school prom queen 10 years past her prime, addicted to meth, living in Myrtle Beach pursuing a prostitution
career, then Brockport is her younger kin – wise from watching her sister's
mistakes, settled on the Erie canal, married with 2 kids, helps run the Country
Max feed store with her husband while picking up extra hours at the front desk
of Hampton Inn and waitressing at the Golden Eagle dinner. Life isn’t glamorous
but it’s one hell of an improvement.
Sunday was cold and windy. We saw one brown and we were
lucky to get an eat. We also had a nice chat with DEC while exiting the river in near total darkness while enduring 30 mph cross winds and snow. From what I have heard, and experienced,
this was quite a treat. In my 8 years fishing in upstate NY I have seen a DEC officer once. A guide friend of mine, who guides the Sandy, the very river we were on,
has never seen one. The experience was pleasant aside from a beer can falling
out of one of our pockets while trying to produce a NY fishing license and the
younger DEC officer examining it with his Maglite while we stood in awkward conversation. The next 2 days proved more enjoyable, both in weather and in angling. We found a few willing fish on the Sandy creek and then when things slowed there, we worked our way over to the Oak Orchard. It was from the Oak, where we tasted our first and only steele of the trip, a healthy buck.
With a handful of rainbows and browns added to the mix, we started to settle into this fishery.
Part IV: A New Found Friend - Sandy Creek Another 2 weeks back at the grind and we found ourselves in mid-December - again the fishing itch returned and with a favorable forecast,
we conspired once again. This time, we were driving right past the Salmon.
Steelie Zan battling the slush just moments before taking a nice fish on the streamer.
Over those 4 days, we log our time on the Sandy. Life was like a fine buffet, we would angle a section for a while, have our fill and
try something new, finding ourselves returning for seconds and even thirds. The
Oak was the dish was not worth sampling. On our brief trip
to the Oak during day 3, a gentleman of 25 years’ experience, told us that he
had hooked “nothing”, although the day before had been “OK, with 3 fish landed”.
We settled in next to a group of guys who remarked “the fishing has sucked”. We
decided to take lunch, breaking out the single burner grill, cooking up some
hot dogs, drinking a beer and enjoying just sitting on the river. After an hour
of fishing with little encouraging sign, we decided
to head back to the peaceful banks of the Sandy. There, the pressure was low
and there were fish to be had.
We rounded out the weekend with 15+ browns and a handful of rainbows to the bank on streamers and egg patters. While the Salmon considerably closer, it was quite nice to get out an explore some new water on some
tributaries where I have had limited exposure. It is safe to say that
if the Salmon were fishing well, then we wouldn’t have spent 7 days on Oak and the Sandy in the fall of 2016 - an experience, I very much enjoyed. So next time your favorite waterway fishes poorly, peer into your fly box, look for that silver lining and imagine the possibility on a waterway near you.
Last Tuesday night, to my surprise, I learned that my company
was shipping me out to Seattle for a 3 day networking stint. When scrambling to
get my shit together later that night, it dawned on me that a BFC diehard
currently lives out there…one who I had never met before. Jesse Robbins.
After a long flight out there and all of the work stuff had
reached its much desired end – I hopped on the ferry over to the beautiful,
Jesse picked me up in his white four-door Toyota Tacoma at
the ferry (I distinctly remember his truck because I had approached a different
white four-door vehicle in the parking lot, which was owned by a guy named James. Irrelevant, but kind of funny). Thankfully, Jesse and I finally located one another, hopped aboard his fishing machine of a vehicle
and the exchange of BFC stories ensued shortly thereafter.
Once we stepped foot into the factory, it was clear to me
that Jesse was completely in his element.
I noticed right away the high ceilings
throughout the office to hold everything from 9' to 14' spey rods,
which was awesome. He walked me through the process, from start to finish, of
how their brand makes such a high quality fly fishing rod. Insanely cool. No pictures of the
manufacturing process, though – let your mind run wild.
We got beers and pizza at a local pub in Bainbridge (the
name of the place is escaping me). Good to see that the bartender knew Jesse by
Jesse pulled out an old Salmon River video that was
hilarious to watch and put in perspective what the BFC was like in the 2000s. The
movie looked like absolute chaos; someone was dying someone
else’s hair? Keith was wearing vibrant red colors on the river, Wilkie was
hoisting hog steelhead up to camera with an evil grin. That video is gold.
When I took the ferry back to Seattle that night, there was a local harvest of squid right off the dock. It was a scene...hilarious banter coming out of that crowd. Wish I had a chair and a PBR because it was quality entertainment.
Some more pictures of Seattle:
Cloudburst Brewery...and I definitely can't pull off that hat.
I had Friday to myself in the city and Jesse recommended I check out a fly shop called Emerald Waters in West Seattle. One of the guides lent me his 6 wt. and pointed me in the direction of a local park for sea run cutthroat. A few porpoised in the distance and one jumped right in front of me, but no dice.
Great to meet you Jesse and thanks for the hospitality out
there – can't wait to get out on the river next time!
During my semester abroad in New Zealand I was lucky enough to become good buddies with a up and coming fishing guide. He took a few days off from guiding after the opener and we explored some new waters. Here's some highlights from the trip :
I can't be sure but Jesse's last post got me thinking that, back in July, I may have guided Ken Bone, one of the "undecided" voters from last Sunday night's presidential debate and subsequent internet star / Jimmy Kimmel Live show guest. In addition to being an internet star, he's also a fish flop star.
Better pictures of the 2016 fishing season to come...