Search Month: August 2019

It’s Wading, Not Walking

My ten-year-old son stumbled across the river. With each step he seemed on the brink of falling forward into the flow. Wide eyed and stiff-faced, Joey battled through the current, expecting all the while to fall in, but hoping and struggling against it. It seemed like he was trying to win a race, thinking he might outdistance the impending accident if he just moved fast enough . . .

Nothing in nature crosses the water like a fisherman in a hurry. We look so out of place, bumbling around in waders trying to find a foothold and fighting a battle with the river . . .

Dry Fly Fishing — The Crash Cast

Casting styles change with the water. The same stroke that lays a dry line with perfect s-curves in a soft flat is useless in pocket water. As the river picks up speed, so must our casting. Effective drifts are shorter, so we cast more. Mixed surface currents greedily pull our built-in slack over to the next seam. So our casting matches the currents. It’s more aggressive. Faster.

But fishing rough or mixed currents doesn’t mean we give up on a good dead drift. And the best stroke for the job is one that I call the Crash Cast . . .

Fishing With Kids — Connections

All my life, I’ve walked the woods and water and thought of trout. That’s what tied me to these wild rivers and to nature itself.

But I’ve learned something about Aiden this summer . . .

What draws him to nature and connects him is the identification of living things. He’s an explorer, digging with his small, dirty hands to catch a frog or build a rock dam. And he has the best pair of eyes I’ve ever been around. If you’re looking for something, tell Aiden. He’ll probably find it.

His attention to all of the living things that surround us out there is contagious. And that is the base of his connection to the woods and the water . . .

Why Wild Trout Matter

We believe wild trout populations should be protected, wherever they are found. That starts by eliminating the stocking of hatchery trout over good wild trout populations. It continues by finding struggling wild trout populations and helping them — strengthening their numbers by improving water quality and habitat.

Neither state nor private organizations should be permitted to stock over established wild trout populations. 

We believe that wild trout, wherever they are found, should be given a chance.

But Why?

I asked some of my fishing friends why wild trout matter, and I thought their answers would be similar. Surprisingly, they weren’t. Their reasons for loving and caring about wild trout vary significantly in message and tone.

In truth, there are hundreds of reasons why wild trout matter. And my friends gave me impassioned answers. Here are some of their words . . .

Dry Fly Fishing — The Crash Cast

Dry Fly Fishing — The Crash Cast

Casting styles change with the water. The same stroke that lays a dry line with perfect s-curves in a soft flat is useless in pocket water. As the river picks up speed, so must our casting. Effective drifts are shorter, so we cast more. Mixed surface currents greedily pull our built-in slack over to the next seam. So our casting matches the currents. It’s more aggressive. Faster.

But fishing rough or mixed currents doesn’t mean we give up on a good dead drift. And the best stroke for the job is one that I call the Crash Cast . . .

Fishing With Kids — Connections

Fishing With Kids — Connections

All my life, I’ve walked the woods and water and thought of trout. That’s what tied me to these wild rivers and to nature itself.

But I’ve learned something about Aiden this summer . . .

What draws him to nature and connects him is the identification of living things. He’s an explorer, digging with his small, dirty hands to catch a frog or build a rock dam. And he has the best pair of eyes I’ve ever been around. If you’re looking for something, tell Aiden. He’ll probably find it.

His attention to all of the living things that surround us out there is contagious. And that is the base of his connection to the woods and the water . . .

Why Wild Trout Matter

Why Wild Trout Matter

We believe wild trout populations should be protected, wherever they are found. That starts by eliminating the stocking of hatchery trout over good wild trout populations. It continues by finding struggling wild trout populations and helping them — strengthening their numbers by improving water quality and habitat.

Neither state nor private organizations should be permitted to stock over established wild trout populations. 

We believe that wild trout, wherever they are found, should be given a chance.

But Why?

I asked some of my fishing friends why wild trout matter, and I thought their answers would be similar. Surprisingly, they weren’t. Their reasons for loving and caring about wild trout vary significantly in message and tone.

In truth, there are hundreds of reasons why wild trout matter. And my friends gave me impassioned answers. Here are some of their words . . .

Play it as it lies

Play it as it lies

The shifts and evolutions that a river succumbs to is captivating to watch.

It’s a slow motion reel in your mind, spanning twenty years of fishing around the same small island. Until one day, after the flood waters recede, you walk down the trail to find the whole island gone.

I want an experience as close to what nature intended as possible on this twenty-first century planet. And messing with a river’s placement of things just isn’t for me.

It’s the river’s decision.

Keep it wild . . .

Things that are good: Simms Solarflex Shirts and Gaiters

Things that are good: Simms Solarflex Shirts and Gaiters

We were deep into summer, with high August heat, hot sun and heavy humidity. Sawyer and I walked past the switchback at the halfway mark. We were hiking two miles back to the truck, emerging from the canyon after a long and productive day of fooling fish.

This kind of summer heat drives most anglers away from their favorite trout streams. However, in the cold waters of this limestone region, our wild trout eat all year long.

. . . And I was miserable in the heat. Yes, we were wet wading, but the long walks in and out, the hiking and getting around out of the water was really uncomfortable. At least, it was for me . . .

Fly Fishing Strategies: Tangle-Free Tandem Rigs

Fly Fishing Strategies: Tangle-Free Tandem Rigs

Multi-fly rigs allow for more chances to screw things up, and that’s undeniable. In an early article, I brushed off the tangles problem like it’s not a big deal. With experience (and some resignation to the inevitable errors), it really isn’t a big deal. Here are some ideas to keep the tandem rig tangles to an acceptable minimum.

Keep in mind, that I’ve grown into these strategies. I’ve done a lot of fiddling and wiggling with rats’ nests out there. And remember, the thing they don’t tell you about trial and error is how much the errors suck the life out of your will to keep trying . . .

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Night Fishing for Trout: Know your water, and make a plan

Night Fishing for Trout: Know your water, and make a plan

You have no business night fishing an area that you can’t visualize.

Close your eyes. Now imagine the spot you plan to night fish. Think about the first cast. Where are the rocks, tree limbs and logs? How much of the gravel bar is exposed at this water level? How swift does the current break around the undercut bank? If you guessed at any of these things, if you were uncertain at any pass, then you will struggle at night.

Questions and uncertainties are amplified after dark. So I go into my night fishing hours with a plan — much more than any day trip. The program might change if the light, water or feeding conditions suggest a new strategy. But having an outline holds me together on a dark river . . .

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Surf and Salt —  LBI, Summer 2019

Surf and Salt — LBI, Summer 2019

Follow-ups are tough. That’s what I told the boys as we prepared for this year’s family beach vacation. The sequel to last summer, I assured them, would host its own wonders. Wishing too hard for a perfect repeat might get in the way of enjoying the new moments — the unexpected things. That’s a good lesson for young boys. It’s a good lesson for anyone.

This year, when we raised the garage door of our new beach home for the week, the boys flew up four flights of stairs. And it was immediately clear that this house, with a huge kitchen and bedrooms to spare, with its endless decks and terraces, would be the feature of the week.

Having that kind of space and such comforts changes things. I think we all sunk in and relaxed in a way that we hadn’t for a long time. No Little League games, no school, no work or business calls. We took a vacation the way it’s supposed to be. And I saw each of us unwind. We settled in easily. We rested.

The boys found their own avenues of enjoyment. They discovered routines that suited each of them. We walked a lot, road bikes, explored the island, spent loads of time on the beach . . . and we fished . . .

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Muddy Meathead

Muddy Meathead

. . . Things started to happen. I moved two really nice trout — the kind of fish that makes you yell four-letter words as the opportunity vanishes — and I picked up a couple average sized browns. I went over to visit with Dad, and I plopped a few casts next to the bank across from him. He was at the top of the river-left side of the island. I walked across to the far side and waded through the high water by myself, into position to fish a place that’s a little special to the Troutbitten guys. I moved a small fish, then chucked the next cast as close to the water-logged tree stump as I dared.  Strip … drift … strip, strip … drift … strip … BAM!

Momentum carried him to the top of the brown water, and I saw the fish I’ve been waiting for. He swam hard to the tree stump, but with strong 2X I changed his mind. These are the moments fishermen live for. It was the culmination of a new streamer pattern, a new rig that Burke showed me, and relentless hope against forceful, muddy water . . .

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Dry Fly Fishing — The Stop and Drop

Dry Fly Fishing — The Stop and Drop

A backcast loop unfolds, parallel to the rolling current. The tapered fly line straightens and joins the rod tip on its forward path. It punches through the wet air with a second loop — a horseshoe arc with all the power and energy needed to drive a bushy Royal Wulff to the target.

The rod tip stops above that target — in vertical alignment with the mark, but well above the water’s surface. Tip stops high. Leader shoots out and releases its power. Fly reaches the end of the line. Then the rod tip drops. The line recoils in s-curves as the dropping rod pushes more depth into those bends and arcs.

Fly lands and drifts. Fish eats. Perfection.

That’s the stop and drop. And this simple move is the key to good dead drifts with a dry fly. Let’s look at it closer . . .

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Fly Fishing Tips: Good drifts are about the leader — not the fly

Fly Fishing Tips: Good drifts are about the leader — not the fly

Flies unattached to anything make for a great lesson. Drop a dry fly into the current and watch the endless dead drift. With no leader to change its course, the dry might go on, drag free, for miles downstream. But weighted flies are a little different. Drop a tungsten beaded Walt’s in the river, and it’ll find the bottom in a few feet or less, even in heavy currents — same thing with split shot. For underwater presentations, then, the leader keeps a fly on its path.

The line and leader is in charge of the flies. And regardless of the fly type, tippet or presentation, good drifts are all about what an angler does with the leader. Wherever that last section of tippet goes, so does the fly.

Therefore, placing the leader in the right water is the key to getting good drifts.

Let’s do it . . .

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