Thursday, January 17, 2019

Rippin Lips in Wyoming

Greetings from Wyoming! I put together some fish porn from last season for your viewing pleasure. The first 20 seconds is pretty awesome. On a trip last Spring, we hiked into a remote little cutthroat river and spotted some fish rolling on the surface from the cliff above. There were stoneflies all over the bank so we tried a few big dirty nymphs and dries to start out. One BIG ol cutty came up to look at a few offerings but never really committed. After many more casts and no takers, we hung out for a while then ran another drift through the pool. Again he rolled up, looked closely, and refused to eat. After that we basically committed to ignoring him for the better part of an hour and poked around elsewhere. On a last ditch effort before heading home, we stepped back into the run with a fresh ugly hunk of leggy foam and the fish absolutely annihilated it. It was so memorable because the 3 of us knew exactly where he was sitting and he had jerked us around for so long and refused so many offerings so it was a bit of a shock when he ate.

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Fishing and Hot Dogs

Hello folks! It's been a while since I've posted on the old Solid Hookups. I guess I have no one to blame but myself for that... Actually, that's a lie. It's more my family's fault. Don't get me wrong, they're the best, but family limits the fishing and limited fishing leads to limited posting. But I did fish over the holiday weekend with Clark. And it was a lot of fun.

Our office was open during the week between Christmas and New Year's Day. None of my employees were in, but I was, and that gave some time to organize the office, and of course search the internet for native trout spots. I've recently become a little bit obsessed with miniature brook trout. I don't know why. I guess I just think that they're pretty cool looking and I know that they are hard to come by in the greater Boston area. There are very few streams that hold wild brookies in the eastern half of the state and those that know about these streams are fairly tight lipped about their existence, and rightfully so. With so few healthy cold water trout streams close to Boston, the last thing you want is a secret to spread and guys to come through and clean the fish out on trout worms. But I've been working a desk job for 15 years, and I can google search with the best of em. So with Google Earth open on one of my external monitors and the search engine open on other, I got after it hard, fingers blazing, because everyone knows the best way to find a wild brook trout is using your computer.

My goal was to find a wild trout stream that I could fish without traveling far from home, minimizing time away from my family. This meant I needed not only to find the fish, but also to make sure the drive to the river or creek was less than a half hour from my house. Unfortunately typing "native brook trout" into the google search box wasn't getting it done. When these traditional search efforts failed to yield the results I desired, I had to think outside of the box. The most encouraging candidate locations came from student PhD reports, town meeting archives, and trout unlimited fund raiser pages from years past. I reviewed summertime water temperature assessments, proposals for culvert and dam removals, and, when really lucky, elctro-shocking reports from the Mass DFW. In the end, I identified 5 spots, all with public access, all within a half hour drive from my house, and all, theoretically, harboring native brook trout. I wrote down addresses associated with access points and made plans with Clark. Meet at Location Number 1. We'll try that, and if it doesn't work out, we will try a different spot.

On Saturday morning, I met Clark at Location Number 1. Located in a public forest, we had about a half mile hike in before we reached any fishable water. I was fishing a bead head nymph with a small streamer trailing. Clark was fishing a bugger. the water was small and casting was pretty challenging due to tree cover. It looked fishy though, with a number of nice bends and pools that looked like they would hold. We worked our way up the creek fishing every tempting spot, but after an hour and a half, we had little to show for our efforts. We had a quick discussion, and we elected to take a look at a different spot. On our hike out we crossed paths with a guy walking his dog. "There are trout in there?" he asked when seeing us with rods and waders. "Not today there aren't," I shot back with a smile. But I was, of course, lying. I had read on the internet a student report looking at the genetic variation of the brook trout in Location Number 1 compared to brook trout from western mass, so I knew that there were indeed trout in there. And if Dog Guy had done his research, he would have known that too, but I wasn't going to give him any freebies...

We arrived at Location Number 2 after a brief drive west. This spot was quite close to my house in Stow, maybe 15 minutes away, so I had high hopes that it might produce. It was located relatively close to a major road and there was a hot dog stand in the parking lot of the town park that we would use to access the creek. I wasn't sure if this was a good sign or not. This location had previously been a pond that was created through the damming of a cold water stream. The dam had been removed three years ago, after standing for over 100 years, to restore habitat and allow the stream to flow freely down to the Nashua River. Clark and I were fishing the area where the pond used to be, which had now become a field with a small meandering stream and some very deep cut banks. There was a little more water here than at the first location and it was a bit easier to fish. The stream itself looked very fishy, but I tempered my expectations given that this was the middle of the winter, after all. Native trout are rare around these parts and who knows if they are hungry end of December. Clark suggested a hot dog fly, given the hot dog stand nearby. I when with a white wooly bugger, and Clark an olive one. We worked our way up the stream, fishing it with the buggers similar to how I fish the trout streams on cape cod, sending the streamer way downstream than slowly bringing it back. Many productive spots were tested with no luck. After about an hour of fruitless effort, Clark got a bite. the fish struck short, but came back on the next cast, and Clark made him pay.
A wild brook trout, savagely impaled in the back, by a savage angler. We had successfully found an eastern mass trout stream! Clark would get several other short strikes out of his honey hole before the bite shut down. I would ply the waters without success, but nonetheless pleased with what we had encountered. 

As our time grew shorter, we worked our way down stream back towards the parking lot. I noticed out of the corner of my eye, an off white object partially obscured by mud. Closer inspection revealed a dead snapping turtle. I quickly beckoned Clark. Flipping over the carapace revealed a relatively well preserved shell without much stink or rot. I mentioned during Clark's wedding that he is a collector of artifacts, and while he was initially reluctant to take this shell, the fact that he already had a snapping turtle skull preserved at home made this potential acquisition too desirable to pass up. The shell was collected and brought to his vehicle for a trip back the the Newton processing facility. We shed our waders and did the only thing that seemed appropriate at that point. We hit up the hot dog stand. The proprietor asked us how we made out with the fishing. I told him Clark got one and missed a few others. He seemed surprised that we only caught one fish and suggested that next time we work downstream rather than upstream. Duly noted, sir. I quietly thought to myself, "Sometimes the internet can get you 95% of the way to where you want to go, but it takes a local hot dog vendor to fill in the missing pieces..." 

I plan to go back to this Location Number 2 creek soon, but I have 3 other spots to try first. The search for wild brookies continues... Meanwhile, Clark is creating his art. I look forward to seeing the final product!

Monday, June 26, 2017

The Plover

Last fall I was in the bookstore on Bainbridge Island when I saw a poster advertising upcoming author events.  I was beyond excited when I read that David James Duncan, author of The River Why and The Brothers K, among others, would be visiting the store.  Joining him was author Brian Doyle, who I hadn't heard of. 

The event was held days after the Presidential election; the room was charged.  Brian addressed the elephant in the room as soon as the event started.  I immediately liked him - he was loud, energetic, sincere, hilarious, and didn't mind cursing.  The readings that Doyle and Duncan gave that evening were as good as any I can remember, and afterward I got a chance to meet the authors and chat.  Per encouragement from friends, I even wore sandals to show Duncan my River Why tattoo.  Duncan laughed and considered drawing a foot around the hook on the inside of the book.  I bought a hard-to-find Duncan book and one of Doyle's, Mink River.  He signed it, "Blessings and laughter."

A few weeks later, on my way back to the island from Thanksgiving in Maine, I started Mink River.  And ate it up.  When I landed in SeaTac, I checked my email and was shocked to see an email entitled "Brian Doyle" from a coworker who had also attended the readings.  The note shared the news that Brian had been diagnosed with a brain tumor shortly after the event at the bookstore.  The email was eerily coincidental.

Brian Doyle passed on 5/27/2017, a few days after I started reading his novel The Plover.  In his words, "Of course you do your absolute best to find and hone and wield your divine gifts against the dark. You do your best to reach out tenderly to touch and elevate as many people as you can reach. You bring your naked love and defiant courage and salty grace to bear as much as you can, with all the attentiveness and humor you can muster; this is, after all, a miracle in which we live, and we ought to pay ferocious attention every moment, if possible."

The Plover is a sea story that follows the vessel of the same name and her crew.  It's a wonderful read, and I recommend it to everyone. 


Last weekend I traveled South to Idaho to fish and to pick up my own vessel. This ship needed a captain.  I will be it.  I will call her the Plover, in honor of Brian Doyle.  Now accepting crew applications.

"Why did I name the Plover the Plover, you ask? says Declan to the gull, who had not asked. I’ll tell you. Listen close now, because I have not explained this before and will not again. Far too much repetition in life altogether. We should say things once and let them just shimmer there in the air and fade away or not, as the case may be. The golden plover of the Pacific, the Pacific Golden Plover, is a serious traveler. It wanders, it wends where it will.  It is a slight thing, easily overlooked, but it is a heroic migrant, sailing annually from the top of Pacifica to the bottom. It forages, it eats what it can find. It talks while it travels and those who have heard it say it has a mournful yet eager sound. This seems exactly right to me, mournful yet eager. We regret, yet we push on. We chew the past but we hunger for the future. So I developed an affection and respect for the plover. It’s a little thing the size of your fist, other than those long pencilly legs for sprinting after grasshoppers and crabs and such, but it can fly ten thousand miles across an ocean itching to eat plovers and reaching for plovers with storms and winds and jaegers and such. You have to admire the pluck of the plover. It doesn’t show off and it isn’t pretty and you hardly even notice it, but it’s a tough little bird doing amazing things. Also it really likes berries, which appeals to me. Most of them fly from Siberia or Alaska to Australia and New Guinea and Borneo and such but some of them camp out awhile in Hawaii and just cruise around in the long grass in the sun eating and dozing. This appeals to me. So when it came time to name a little drab boat that wasn’t dashing and didn’t weigh much and no one notices much, but that gets a lot of work done quietly and could if it wanted to sail off and go as far as it wanted way farther than anyone could ever imagine such a little drab thing could do, that might pause here and there at an island so as to allow a guy to eat and doze in the grass, well, that’s why we are the Plover. So now you know. Don’t keep badgering me with questions."


Friday, June 9, 2017

Monday, February 13, 2017

Can't catch no steelhead on the bank. 
Didn't catch no steelhead in the water.

Name the bar.
And I'll buy you a drink there.

The road goes on forever.
And the party never ends.

Is it rising or setting?
Can't remember.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Cheeky Schoolie Tournament 2017

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!!!