December 2018

Remix

Fishing Alone

on
December 14, 2018
I swear I fish best when I’m alone. I can’t prove it without a witness, of course, but I guess I don’t care to verify it anyway . . . and that’s the point.

In what seems like another lifetime ago, I fished the mountain streams alone and often, and I miss it now. In daydreams, I sift through memories of small water, the infinite brown-green variations of spruce and ferns, moss and bedrock. I see the variance of shadows oscillating in the wind among tree branches and impeding the passage of sunlight, from the deepest blacks to the hazy flickering shade marbling a maple leaf canvas on the forest floor, with its fresh but dying colors of fall. I miss the brookie streams.

Fishing mountain water is how I first defined my fishing self, and I long for that adventure and discovery again. I guess I stopped fishing the mountain water once my life became more about other people and less about me: marriage, a real job, kids. I had more time before all that, more days for dedicating to the miles and efforts it takes to reach lonesome places, to fish a while and then just walk back out . . .

Gear Reviews Stories Tips/Tactics

A Fly Fisher’s Gift Guide — Troutbitten’s Favorite Books

on
December 12, 2018
I still get excited about a new fishing book. And I trust that will never change. After all these years, I still look forward to shedding the dust cover, stressing the binding and digging in. Whether it’s tactics or stories doesn’t matter. If it’s a book about a life on the water, I’ll give it a look.

My uncle taught me to fish, to read water and find trout, to explore — to get away — and to enjoy fishing for more than just catching a trout. We fished bait. Mostly fathead minnows. And what I absorbed in those young years were the largest building blocks for any angler. I learned to love the river and feel at home there. And without that, the books that I later picked up would have felt like a foreign thing, like fiction, a tall tale, or like some branch of mysterious and inaccessible science.

Years later, my early tutelage into fly fishing came not through a personal mentor, but through two key books. (I’ll list them below.) And it was the enlightenment of those works that served as the gateway into so much of what has shaped my life to this day.

The words in a good book — the shared ideas — can change lives. And I’ve always wanted to be part of that, to pass on what I too have discovered, both technically and in experiential form . . .

Tips/Tactics

How to pee with your waders on

on
December 9, 2018
That extra morning coffee you drank on the way to the river, the auxiliary ounces you used to fight off the sleepyhead before dawn, it now settles into your bladder and brings on the urge about fifteen minutes after you finally wade into the water and start fishing.

The thing is, how to take a leak streamside isn’t real obvious to most anglers. It’s the waders. No, actually it’s the suspenders. That’s where the trouble starts. But here's a trick . . .

Remix

What happened to Laurel Run? The story of a stocked trout stream and a fisherman

on
December 7, 2018
. . . Laurel Run was heavily stocked with trout in those days. The arrival of the big white trucks was an event in itself, and each year we volunteered to float-stock the forested section between road crossings. If it wasn’t float-stocked, all the hatchery plants sent by the state to Laurel Run ended up at the bridges, making an artificial situation seem even more counterfeit.

I didn’t think of it as fake or artificial back then. It was just trout fishing. It was part of my Pennsylvania surroundings, and a place where the water remained cool enough for trout all summer long. But the raised PH level from acid mine drainage made the cool water insignificant for the reproduction of wild trout.

So we float-stocked it, and through the middle of May, the fishing was always good. A couple weekends into trout season, most fishermen accepted the deadbeat line that Laurel Run was “fished out.” But that’s just when the fishing got interesting . . .

Streamers Tips/Tactics

Streamer Presentations — The Head Flip

on
December 4, 2018
. . . At close range, Bill flipped the streamer’s head by lifting the rod tip and dramatically changing the angle — so the streamer head followed. At long range, Bill mended the line to force the head flip. And that day, his head flip drew one strike after another. It’s like the trout were just waiting for it.

When a streamer changes positions in the water, it draws attention. In fact, the head flip is the most reliable trigger in my arsenal of streamer tricks . . .