Friday, March 25, 2011

Fly Fishing And A Need For The Connection

For me, the moment of connection has all the magic I need.  If you were to go through an entire day on your favorite water there hopefully will be a total of two or three seconds that give that ultimate angling high.
Every aspect of our preparation and execution is based on achieving those few seconds.  Many years ago, growing up in a Northern New Jersey town, I was active in the local fishing Club.  Even as a teenager my dues gave me a part ownership in a cabin with land that lie a very short distance from the finest Catskill trout waters possible.  I saw my first Aurora Borealis  from our front porch.  An amazing movement of greens, reds and purple.  I can close my eyes and still see that mind expanding glow, the river from the porch, the smell of the fire and a feeling of joy from fifty years past.  My point is a bit vague, but real none the less.  

Those moments.  Those moments that time stands still and we are pinned to the memory of our Fathers, and there is no way you can lose it's grip.  No way.  No way.... 
So, during your next day of angling, as time moves between moments, and moments to possible connections, this is the time we must pro actively direct our mind to do what that moment is demanding.   The Northern Lights demanded I stand and watch in amazement.  The river called upon me to stand in it's waters.  The choices made at that moment determines what doesn't happen by chance. 

If one of the many things in your checklist is not perfect then make it so.  Never leave a wind knot in the middle of your leader.  Change the fly, lengthen the leader, change the weight or the line or whatever your mind commands it will take.  Allow yourself to be the master of the level you have achieved.  You have studied and learned and this precious day in your life just might be the one you were waiting for.  The one where your skill moves from luck to ability.  No matter what your, or my, ability there is always, till the day of days, more to absorb.

Tomorrow, I will cast my line with a heightened sense of purpose, as the waters of my youth demanded, and I will hope to capture but a few of those special seconds.

Tight lines......


Fly Tying Tip #110

Having bead heads to weight flies creates a front loaded and diving presentation.  Having weight distributed under the tying of a pattern can offer an even presentation or back weighted possibilities, especially on streamers.  Color coding with subtle differences in thread for the head of the fly offers the ability to tell heavy weighted flies from lightly weighted.  Create your code and just stay within a patterns range.  Red head left, Orange head right Aleene's Fusion Grubs.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Salmon River & New York Creek Steelhead In March

(Addendum)  March 20, 2011
When I wrote this post below, earlier this week March 16, it just was not making any sense to the reality of what was happening in New York.  I thought the snow pack and the warm days were changing what I knew from history.  

I wake up this morning checking reports and gauges and exactly what I know to be true is happening.  For safety sake I checked myself and held the post till today.  

During March, as we have seen over the last week or so, the steelhead rivers of New York State often swell with a pre-spring increase in flow.  Most anglers shy away from the big rivers and stay home.

This is a big mistake.  Now before you say how hard it is to fish on the Salmon River with flows in Pineville at 2000cfs and above, please consider the following.

The SR has so many places where islands and sharp turns create back eddies, slow deep holes and moderate flow locations close to the shore.  I emphasize "Close To Shore"  as the Salmon River is a dangerous place and has taken more than one life.  It is not a place to wade or cross in high water. When the multitude of anglers are enjoying a warm fire, and a wee dram, the steelhead are in mass moving to these easy to reach locations.  As soon as you get a falling river you seek out and fish these places. You will be doing a bit of walking and it might not be easy depending on the snow pack.  The trails should be well worn making some places easier than others.   I would not recommend this if it were in the fall.  The reason is simple.  The maximum number of Steelhead that the river will hold, for the entire season, builds during the month of March.  The fish are gathering to spawn and will need to find quite water close to the areas that are best to build their redds.  Bright ones are also coming every day as the river drops.

As soon as the river goes back to 1500cfs at Pineville, and the crowds start to return, you run as fast as you can to the creeks.  The high water creates March Madness in these places and will fish very well so long as additional melt doesn't cause the river to run cloudy.  The run is guaranteed and the pressure is light.  You will see other anglers and a few drift boats, but nothing like the crowds on the big river.  The biggest problem is the possibility of slush ice in the morning should the weather turn cold.  Hit the upper Salmon early if the night has been very cold and then make the drive after 10am.

Creek Steel in March is upon us now.  Don't spend a lot of time in one place and take advantage of this wonderful spate fishery.  You will be back on the SR and the crowds soon enough during early April for drop back season.


Sunday, March 13, 2011

Fly Tying Tip #109

When I tie dry flies the last step is to soak them in a dry fly solution and hang to dry completely.  I string them on fine wire.  A good one is made by Loon and is called Hydrostop.

The advantage is that each fly is given the time to dry thus eliminating the need to slop on chemical stream side.  My fly change is faster because there is no application of floatant, no rapid waving line to dry the fly spooking fish and no tell tail oil stain around the fly on landing.

Big Atlantic Salmon dries float like corks!!!!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Restigouche River Life Experience

The Restigouche River between Junction Pool(Kedgwick River)and the mouth of the Upsaquitch is one of the deepest secrets in the world of Salar. All private, very exclusive and for the most part extremely unavailable. Today however, there are a few camps that accept paying sports. Mostly these available times are shoulder dates, but if you try hard you can get some good quality time be it at a fairly substantial price.

Large, and I mean very large bright white salmon start to run the river in middle May. Many of these fish are headed straight to the headwaters. They are a special family of fish that are in every way as perfect as those of the Matapedia’s main tributary called Causapscal. Even some members of ‘The Club’ are now braving the elements at a time that was accustom to seeing only those hearty souls who fish the Kelts. This feast or famine early period is followed by a bit of a pause and then an increasing quantity of fish of all sizes will run from mid June through the weeks of July. So that forty pound white hot beauty is full well possible from mid May through the end of June.

I always believed the secrecy of the Restigouche was that the fishing was so prolific the rich and famous just didn't want to let us know about the rivers bounty. Maybe for fear the public will put extreme pressure on the great province of New Brunswick to open more of the water. Maybe because they just have no need to talk about it. In any case I played in the garden and fell in love.

Starting this past June 19, I had the great privilege to spend six days in "the zone". Our group of three released salmon every day. We were told the numbers of fish were way down and all the usual suspects were to blame. In the face of high water, a late season, nets and cool temperatures, we had some fair to good sport. They came in waves through out the day opening a window of anticipation that could last as little as ten minutes. We found takers in pods that we could get ahead of before they went by. The fish were on the move and were not resting for long periods of time. It reminded me of an October many years ago on the Nashawak River just on the edge of Fredericton, New Brunswick. We fished from the east bank of the Pig Farm Pool. This pool has a sharp bend that flows into a very long glide. Under the right conditions you could sit on the shore looking down river and when you saw them coming you made your casts. When they were past, you took a seat. And it was just that way fishing through the days of the Summer Solstice on the mystical Restigouche. We fished and watched the full moon rise over the waters and the feeling was that our time was passing far too quickly. This the longest lit day of 05’ was the turning point in a thirty six year life with Salar.

It took me until that moment in the week to realize that the true secret of this river of fingers is not only the magnificent fish. For sure pools like The Junction, Patamajaw, Pine Island and Home are some of the best fly water in North America. Put that together with all the splendor of some of the largest fish in North America and the package might seem complete. Yet there is something else that this mighty river offers. Something that relatively few anglers have felt. It is a higher power than mere fishing that the water, hills and sky whispers. Fishing is only one part of The Restigouche Life Experience. Without hesitation, I can tell you that this valley is one of the finest examples of river scenery and abundant wildlife I have ever seen. My experience is based on visits to public and private waters of over fifty rivers worldwide and includes some of the best pools on earth. I am certain the inner peace of this valley is what club membershave been so silent about. It is something more valuable than fish. It is serenity that I paid for.

A growing problem to a very private life.

The Restigouche Life Experience until recently was a very secluded and private adventure. The designation as a Canadian Heritage River seems to have opened the door of availability to many non fishing visitors. Although holding great similarities in the love of sky and water, this has become a substantial issue from the salmon anglers point of view. Over the last ten years, angling in seclusion is no longer a weekend sport. With no restriction of access, canoeing, kayaking and camping takes center stage each weekend, and encroaches increasingly throughout the week as the weather improves in July and August. The general public runs the river with as many as 300 boats that will pass through the hallowed pools on a Saturday or Sunday. The travelers we did see while fishing Sunday night through Friday, were courteous and respectful passing on the directed side. There was none of the excessive noise, oar banging or splashing that we feared. The jet boats and motor traffic is a far greater annoyance. Remember this was early season and the armada had not set sail. This inevitable future will change the angling environment forever. As more and more people realize the splendor of the Restigouche, and outfitting companies make access easier, the result will be less and less private time with the salmon.

If you are looking to catch fish alone, then the lower and upper Matapedia or Bonaventure in public sectors can be just as productive as the majority of the available water on the Restigouche. These and a number of other Canadian rivers in public, private and ZEC waters can offer you that 30 pound bullet you dream about. No need to spend such great sums for mere fishing. There are pools on other rivers that are just as wonderful and available through the November lotteries.

Then again, if your desire is to immerse yourself as I do in a magical playground, and you don’t mind sharing, then The Restigouche Life Experience might just be what you need. You will not be disappointed.

Looking forward, I hope my life will honor me with another trip to the River of White Light. A river that has taken hold of me and I pray will never let go.

Ask about the Restigouche River at