Monday, December 22, 2014

Bitterroot River video

In August I traveled to Montana and Idaho on a fishing trip with Jim, Barb, and my brother Garry.  The first river we fished was the Bitterroot.  We also rented a house right on the Bitterroot.  Click the picture to view the video..

Friday, December 12, 2014

2014 Year-end wrapup

Rumors of my demise were greatly exaggerated!  It was such a busy year, that I relied on YouTube rather than the blog to get the word out.

Yes, the year 2014 will go down as one of my best fishing years.  In general, we had a cool, wet summer, which was good for the fish and good for fishing.
Our Northeast Fly Fishing School had a record number of students.  Most classes had good weather and good water conditions.  We added three sessions in Lincoln, NH at the foot of Loon Mountain.  That worked out really well; as the two July classes offered an evening on-the-water session and students caught brook trout on dry flies as the large hexagenia mayflies were hatching.  The good flow of water in the Pemigewasset gives us the opportunity to work on nymph and streamer fishing, as well as dry flies. I have posted the class dates on the website for 2015, in case anyone wants to pass it along to friends or relatives.  Also, there is an Intermediate fly fishing class scheduled for May 9.
Also this year, I did more guided trips than any time in the last 11 years.  Unfortunately, it was partly due to my partner Jim being laid-up with a bad back and a bum knee most of the spring and summer.  This year I applied for a special use permit for guiding in the White Mountain National Forest, which really came in handy for trips in July and August.  The water in the Mad River near Waterville Valley stayed cold throughout the summer, and the fishing held up well.  This was also true of the Pemigewasset River in Franklin, North Woodstock and Lincoln, as well as the Ellis River in Jackson. We had enough rain to keep water in the rivers and the fish responded well. 
The Androscoggin River fished well, too. In June the insects and the fish got more active as the trip went along.  The Alder fly hatch came out around June 21.  We had a couple rainy days that kept the hatch down, but overall the second week of the June trip was outstanding.  The hexagenia mayflies were out on the pond by the end of the trip, so a few folks had good fishing in the morning and late evening, as well.  The September trip was highlighted by the most dazzling display of foliage I can recall seeing.  Fishing was good on the river, as well as the fly fishing ponds.  The September trip was also an opportunity to work with my new housekeeper Patty, and Dave Masson, my drift boat guide associate in Errol.  Jim has mentored Dave on the Androscoggin and Connecticut Rivers, showing him all the good spots.  Dave is a retired med-vac helicopter pilot, is a real good guy and an excellent guide.  He will be working with me next season, as well.  Also, my brother Garry retired this summer and will also be helping me in Errol next June.  I have posted the dates and availability for the June and September package trips to the Androscoggin River on the website. 
In addition, to Dave Masson, I am mentoring a new associate, Dave Kolesar.  Dave is president of the United Fly Tyers, and an avid fly fisherman with many years of experience. Dave is studying for the NH guides’ licensing exam and will be my apprentice until he gets some guiding experience under his belt.  Dave helped out in Errol in September and will be a welcome addition to the NH Rivers Guide and Northeast Fly Fishing School team.
The first week in August my brother Garry, my partner Jim and his wife Barb and I saddled up and headed west for a 10-day trip to Montana and Idaho.  We had wonderful weather and terrific fishing.  Especially interesting and fun was our trip to the St. Joe River Lodge in the mountains of Idaho.  This is a wild river offering catch and release fishing for wild, native west slope cutthroat trout.  It is truly remote, as we went 80 miles beyond the last cell signal to the end of the road and then got on a horse and road another 6 miles to the lodge.  We had the entire river to ourselves. Amazing. Jim and Barb had been there before and it was even better than he had described to me. It was also great being able to share it with my brother and my best fishing buddy. Glad Jim was feeling better and able to enjoy a great trip.
As the season wound down, I made a few trips out to the Swift River in central MASS.  I guided there a few times this summer and fall, as well as fishing on my own.  It is always good for at least a couple slab rainbows in the two to three pound range, but also produced a lot of wild brookies this fall.  I think the trip I took last Thursday was the last one before I head for Florida after Christmas. I hope you were able to get out and enjoy the outdoors in 2014.  If not, grab your 2015 calendar and plan a trip or two now.  This time next year you will be glad you did!  Remember: God doesn’t count your days fishing against your allotted time on earth.  Enjoy it while you can!
I wish everyone a Merry Christmas, happy holidays and a very happy and healthy 

Here are a few links to get you up to date on what I have been up to:
My YouTube channel with 160+ videos:

Androscoggin River all-inclusive package trip calendar and availability:

Keep watching the YouTube channel for Florida fishing videos. 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Concord Outfitters Date Change

Just a quick heads up on our presentation.  It is moved out one week to Thursday April 24.  We'll do some fly tying starting at 6:00 PM and presentation at 7:00 PM, finishing up around 8:00PM.
The presentation is about Fly Fishing the Great North Woods of NH.  It will have pictures and videos of the Androscoggin River, including the famous Alder Fly hatch, ponds with the hexagenia hatch and some remote trout streams. Concord Outfitters is located a half mile from the Route 2 rotary. See Concord Outfitters website for directions.

See you there!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Good news from the Swift River

I opened my New England fishing season today on the Swift River.  I am happy to report that all indications point to a strong economy among a$$hole litterbugs.  As shown in the following picture, the lowlife creeps have upgraded their beverage selection.  It used to be that I only picked up Bud Light empties along with the ubiquitous worm containers, but apparently the creeps got a raise and moved up to Shock Top beer, Mikes Hard Lemonade and Vitamin water. I wish I knew what compels some people to crap all over our beautiful coldwater resources.
Today I was happy to be able to try out a new net.  For a few years I have very happily used a wooden net with a rubber bag made by Alan Stevens of the Stevens Net Company in Maine. He makes a beautiful net and I like the fact that it has a rubber net which keeps hooks from being caught.  The only downside is that the rubber net is pretty heavy and somewhat cumbersome to haul around on  your back all day. (They now offer a lighter rubber bag, but I have not seen it.)  Over the winter I learned of The Measure NetTM from JTA Products in Montana. It has an aluminum frame with a foam handle, both of which make for a lighter net, if not as elegantly styled as the wooden net from Stevens. The real unique feature is the zip-on light rubber bag that has a built-in measuring capability.  The combination of aluminum and light rubber mesh creates a noticeably lighter net.  The only downside is that it will be tougher to exaggerate the fish tales told over a round of adult beverages.  My first rainbow of the year taped-out at a smidgen over 13 inches - without The Measurenet I would have called it 12.  I give two "Thumbs Up" to The Measurenet and it is now an important piece of my fly fishing gear.
Swift River report: I stopped at the route 9 parking area and after counting all the cars, I continued down River Road to the Pipe area.  Nobody there.  Since the Catch and Release regs reverted to Hook and Cook downstream of Route 9 as of January 1, trout tend to be scarce as hen's teeth.  I did find a few. After surveying the water upstream of Route 9, there are even fewer fish there. I think another couple visits from the hatchery truck are needed to get things really rolling.  The water temp was 37F so in addition to being scarce, they were lethargic. It won't be long before all the rivers are down to good fishable levels and topped off with fresh hatchery stock. Tight lines!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

From the far north to the far south . . .

Last Friday the conditions were finally good, concerning water temps, tides, winds, etc. and I was able to get out on the water for a serious fishing trip.  Last fall I had been poking around trying to find a trustworthy guide to take me out for some SW Florida fly fishing.  Wouldn't you know it?  I found a renowned Maine guide guiding local Florida waters.  The deeper I dug, the more I like going with a known entity, rather than trusting online hype.  So I contacted Dan Legere, owner of The Maine Guide Fly Shop in Greenville, Maine.  I have been in the shop numerous times, but usually dealt with Penney, while Dan was out guiding the East Outlet or West Branch of the Penobscot.  I had booked trips through Dan's shop, but always was assigned one of his guiding associates.  So, when I saw that Dan had been guiding winters in Florida for a few years, I couldn't resist booking him for a day of back country fly fishing here in Florida.
Since I spend three months in Florida on winter vacation, there was not any sense of urgency in the timing.  I had told Dan to contact me when the conditions were good. We were going to go in January, but being at the tail end of weather systems generated by the "Polar Vortex" (sounds like a character in a kids' animated Christmas video) there was too much wind and cold weather for a good trip.  Then about 10 days ago I got an email from Dan announcing mid-day low tides and light winds in the upcoming week.  I picked a day and away we went.
When I met Dan in the big box store parking lot he gave me a choice of two fishing scenarios:  a shot at sight fishing to tailing redfish (a long drive and run to the spot with no guarantee of results) or a short drive and run to a mixed bag of fish, but unlikely to have sight fishing.  I chose the closer trip with more time on the water.  Turned out to be a good choice.
Within a half hour of meeting, we were motoring out on Rookery Bay, a huge mangrove preserve area dotted with islands and connecting creeks, located between Marco Island and Naples.  We saw a kayaker and a canoe at the launch, but for the next 8 hours, we didn't see another person or craft. We fished our way into the remote areas of the huge preserve, catching the occasional baby tarpon or jack around oyster bars or holes near points of islands.  Then we started to hit some holes where connecting creeks pinched between islands and began to get some snook.  Snook are kinda like bass on steroids.  They hit hard, do head-shaking jumps, try to wrap your line in deep cover and generally fight like hell.  Most of the snook were in the 12 to 16 inch range, but fought like much larger fish. We had been working our way deeper and deeper into the back country and at dead low tide we stopped for a sandwich.  Then we began to fish our way back as the tide was coming in.  You want to fish the back country at low tide, so the bait fish (and predators) cannot get back into the deep mangroves. At low tide, the bait and the bigger fish are forced into creeks, holes and channels where we can have a chance of fishing to them.
We had a great time catching snook in the creeks and channels and baby tarpon and jacks in the deep holes near oyster bars.  Then we made a short run to a narrow connecting creek and got a couple nicer snook.  As we moved deeper into a narrow pinched area a much larger fish sucked in my fly and all hell broke loose. Head-shaking jumps,deep runs, diving under the boat, and headlong dashes towards the cover of the mangrove roots.  This was the fish of the day - a 28+ inch snook.  We fished a couple more spots and got a couple more fish, but nothing approaching the excitement of "The Big One."
All-in-all it was a great day on the water.  Challenging fish, but catchable with the right approach; good company with terrific local knowledge and time away from my usual winter routine of golf, tennis, beach!  I'll post a link to the video, when i get it edited and uploaded.
I'll be back for another trip with Dan next winter.  In the meantime, here is a list of coming attractions:
March 1 & 2 Fly Fish NH Show in Pelham - my partner Jim is show chairman - stop by and tell him I sent you
Our  Northeast Fly fishing School Classes start in April and run weekends through July. Check here for dates and locations. In addition to classes in Greater Boston (Hollis, NH), we have locations in Henniker, NH and Lincoln, NH.  On April 24 (note the date change from April 17  ) at 7:00PM we'll be giving a presentation about fishing the Great North Woods of NH at Concord Outfitters Fly Shop in West Concord, MA. Stop in and say hi.
Tomorrow I am going fishing with a long-time friend and fishing buddy on Charlotte Harbor.  I don't expect any big snook, but watch for my report in a few days.

UPDATE:  I uploaded the video of the triop to my YouTube Channel:

The trip to Charlotte Harbor was a bust.  REAL windy and just about unfishable, although I discovered you can make a REALLY long roll cast downwind with a weighted fly in a 25MPH wind.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Good start to the year

Yesterday my Florida fishing buddies and I rented a pontoon boat for a few hours and cruised Matanzas Pass area and caught a few fish. A few days ago we got the tail end of the Polar Vortex, and suffered through a couple days in the upper 50s and low 60s.  The water in the gulf cooled quite a bit and we figured a few fish would be coming "inside" looking for warmer water.  We caught a few fish, so I guess we'll call it a success, although the operative word is "few."  Not exactly fast action, but fun.  We had a mixed bag of fishing techniques.  Some live shrimp, some plastic on jigs and of course, Stan and I flinging flies.  Getting room to cast was a challenge, and quite a few flies were sacrificed to the mangroves, but not too many tangles with spin fishing buddies.  In some ways, fishing the Swift River was good practice for contending with four guys fishing out of one boat!
A couple years ago I bought a cheap 9ft 8wt rod at Bass Proshop. Last year I slammed the tip in the door of the glove box. I didn't feel it was worth getting the tip repaired, so when Orvis had a big rod sale as part of their OrvisPro program, I snatched up a 10ft 8wt Helios2. Sweet rod. Should be a good salmon rod, as well as my goto rod in the salt. The first fish I caught with it was a nice snook, which put a nice bend in the new rod. 
My buddy Stan caught a nice jack. We thought it was a pompano, but later divined its true identity. In any case, it fought like a much bigger fish and was clearly the trophy of the trip.
Chuck, esteemed president of our fishing club, organized the trip and served as navigator.  As an old salt, his experience was invaluable in getting us to the launch point and finding the elusive secret spots where the big ones were holed-up.
My buddy George was our captain and brought along G, his grandson, who proceeded to catch snapper and snook like an old pro. It was fun sharing our day with an up-and-coming angler. Soon he'll be heading north to go back to school and an internship, but he'll have a few fish to dream of on those cold, snowy nights. In addition to the fishing fun, I think he learned that there is hope for fun in his elder years.