Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Hope for the coming winter blues

Iron Blue Dun Sakasa Kebari

The smell of crisp autumn air and chilly nights are beginning to be felt more and more here on Long Island the last couple of weeks.  This is by far my favorite time of year.  It's hard to beat the sights and sounds of brightly colored leaves, pumpkin picking with the wife and kids, and other signs of the changing seasons such as migrating animals.  But I find this time to also brings a little of that "bummed out" feeling because I realize there are fewer days of good fishing in front of me than behind me for this fishing season.  Sure, around here, the NYS DEC has stocked a few ponds and tidal streams with trout to help ease some  who need their "fix" through the colder months, but many of the open seasons for sweet water fish will be ending soon.  I'll do my best to get out their as much as I can, much to the dismay of my wife, but the days are growing fewer.  However, there is a bright spot to all of this.  With less time spent outside that can only mean more time inside and that means FLY TYING! (again to the dismay of my wife).  I became "hooked" (lousy pun intended) on tying flies even before I purchased my tenkara rod this past march.  I was hoping to use some with a spin bubble on my ultralight spin outfit.  By the way,  who ever came up with that method of fly fishing certainly did not have the concept of delicate casting in mind.  I digress,  fly tying has become more than a way to save a few bucks on lost or overly used flies.  The history, stories, and intended use of many of the thousands of pattens is utterly fascinating.  I think I spend just as much time reading about flies as I do tying and creating them.  Learning about just a few patterns has led me to understand the beginnings and evolution of the sport and even a little about the history of the places where they were created along the way.  For example some of my favorite types of flies to tie are the north country flies of Scotland and England, the sakasa kebari of Japan, and flies tied by the late Fran Betters in the Adirondacks of my home state of New York.  There is literally a lifetime's worth information on fly tying and experimentation that could be done. So on those long dark nights in winter with no fishing to be had I probably won't even miss being outdoors in the pursuit of a brookie or largemouth........Yeah right! Who am I kidding I'll probably be going nuts and taking Claudia there with me.  But at least there will be something to help pass the time.

Monday, October 25, 2010


Bella and her prized 10" bluegill

Recently I was reading another blog that I have come to enjoy, "The Average Joe Fisherman."  One post I was reading was about words of wisdom from a father to his son and this got me thinking about a recent fishing trip I had with my father this past summer.  We spent the day fishing a reservoir where he first taught my brother, sister, and I how to fish when I was young.  There were countless summer evenings when he would come home from work and we would all quickly finish dinner head out to get some worms then on to the lake to fish until the sun went down. He spent many hours helping all of us to bait our hooks, take fish off the lines or help my brother untangle his lines from the surrounding trees. It's a wonder my Dad ever had time to get his line wet before it was time to go.  But in the moments in between he always was there to give advice and little pearls of wisdom on subjects beyond fishing.  When I look back at those long ago summer evenings I find they are some of my fondest memories.  When we went fishing on that same lake this past August we talked about those memories and what my family was up to lately.  Even today, at my age, he still has  advice that I could profit from.  When I got back home I felt a little sad knowing that I can't fish with him as often as I used to but I now have the opportunity to make those memories with my kids.  Bella is only 4 1/2 and her attention span to fish with daddy is limited (notice the bike helmet in the picture above) but I'm laying the foundation for what I hope will be fond memories for her someday.  As she gets older I hope that I can give to her and her sister what my dad gave to his children, not just a pastime and ability to fish, but good memories and strong family connections that will last a lifetime for them as well as me and Claudia.  By the way she was using daddy's tenkara rod and a #8 black wooly bugger.  Wouldn't you know, that bluegill was larger than any I caught in that pond this year.  Maybe she can give me some advice!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Moose on the loose!

Bull moose near Beacon, NY-Photo from City of Beacon PD

I'm always interested in whats going on "back home." One of the ways I keep abreast of things is by reading the Hudson River Almanac.  I have subscribed to the electronic version for more years than I can remember.  But after posting about one of my favorite animals yesterday (the Brook Trout)  I find that one of my other favorites has made an appearance in the town directly across the Hudson from where I grew up. Though New York (specifically the Adirondacks) has a small population of moose, they are a very rare sight in the lower Hudson Valley.  I, for one, am very glad to see the young bull make a cameo.  A few hundred years ago they used to more common.  There even used to be elk there too (one of the last was shot around 1801 near New Paltz).  Even though there are still a few large animals that call the valley home, such as black bear and whitetail deer, The moose's appearance is a cause for celebration.  I know that some people see this as a cause for concern and that moose and people need to be protected from one another but I think he should be left alone.  He'll make his way to where ever it is that he needs to go in what ever time it takes him.  In the meantime, I think everyone should take the time to admire such a great animal from a safe distance.  How often will you get the opportunity?  What the moose represents is far more than just some large lumbering animal that's out of place (at least by our standards).  It represents a part of the wild that is no longer available to many of us outside of Maine, Alaska, or Canada.  The moose is an animal that prefers to lead a solitary life in the beautiful setting of the great northern woods, it has incredible strength, and when push comes to shove is not an animal to be trifled with.  It should be admired and not looked at as a convict on the loose. 

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Brook Trout

Did I ever mention that I like to fish?  The answer to that would probably be.....Yeah, only a 100 times.  Claudia will tell you that it's more like an obsession (nature observation and fly tying being the others).  However, if there is one fish I love to fish for more than the rest it would have to be Salvelinus fontalis.  Also known as the Brook Trout.  The brook trout is not really a trout at all but a member of the char family.  It has lived in the northeastern US since at least the end of the last ice age.  I admire it for its hardiness to make a living in such a harsh environnment such as a small mountain stream.  It can endure the coldest winters and the toughest summer droughts.  About the only thing it has a hard time dealing with is pollution, rising water temperatures, and invasive species (all of those are our fault).  I also love it for its incredible beauty.  The colors and patterns are quite striking.  If it were placed in a tropical river or ocean coral reef I don't think anyone would think it was out of place.  The small streams that they can be found in can be equally beautiful.  There are many times I find myself just sitting beside  just such a stream watching the world go by.  The web of life that can be found in and around any mountain stream is facinating.  Eventhough I live on Long Island I manage a few times a year to go upstate and do some hiking and fishing in such places.  My latest addition to my list of addictions would be Tenkara fly fishing.  It is perfect for this type of pursuit.  I will probably talk about Tenkara in a later post but a good website to go to to learn more about it would be TenkaraUSA or TenkaraBum.  All the brookies I caught this year were released safely back into thier watery worlds.  For a moment though, each one was like holding a small jewel in my hand.

Many of these small guys were caught on flies that I tied. My two favorite flies to use on small streams are a royal sakasa kebari and an orange and herl sakasa kebari.  I'll give my recipes for them in a later post.

Royal Sakasa Kebari

Orange and Herl Sakasa Kebari

Friday, October 15, 2010

A nice weekend

Bella and Alina enjoying an apple at the orchard

 It the simple things that make life sweet.  I spent a weekend at my parents house (Newburgh) with my wife and the kids.  It was our anual trip to papa and nana's house to do some pumpkin picking and get some cider and apples.  This is always my favorite time of year.  I was a little disappointed with the falls colors.  Perhaps it was the long dry summer or that were are just a little too early.  It doesn't matter its always nice to be here.  The weather was outstanding with clear skies and highs in the low 60's and lows in the low 30's....Perfect!  The night skies were gorgeous.  The milky way stretched from horizon to horizon.  and the Andromeda was plain as plain can be right overhead.  I miss such unobstructed views at night (without so much light pollution).  I even managed to get some hiking and fishing in.  The girls and I also made it up to Awosting falls for a nice morning stroll.

Bell along the Peterskill above Awosting Falls

On Friday evening before the weekend started I took a quick run down to the mill pond in Setauket for a quick 1/2 hour of Tenkara fly fishing.  Most of the time was spent catching and releasing bluegills.  I was using one of my Hotspot (charteuse) sakasa kebari.  Before leaving I hooked one more bluegill that could not have been more than 4" long. As I was pulling him in a large dark shape darted from the overhanging branches of the pond and inhaled the poor little fellow. In a split second the bluegill passed my #12 sakasa kebari from his lip to that of a 16" heavy largemouth bass. I don't know what happened to the little guy but I didn't care because I now had a real fighter on my hands.  After 5 heart pounding minutes I slowly brought him up to the bridge for a quick look and let him go.  My Yamame held up well and it was quite a challenge.  A nice way to start the weekend.

HotSpot Sakasa Kebari

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


Awosting Falls - Minnewaska State Park Preserve

The first step into any new venture always seems to be the hardest.  Trying to find the right words, the right pictures to include in this blog has had me thinking for quite some time.  Then I remembered why I wanted to do this in the first place.  I wanted to write this blog mostly for myself as a way to organize my thoughts and keep an electronic journal of my observations of nature and fishing experiences, things I have been writing by hand for some time now.  If along the way my family, friends or anyone else read and enjoyed it or made them think a little more about the world around them, then all the better.  Like many other things in life,  it will probably not be perfect from the start.  It may have to be reworked or corrected at times but that's OK.  The ultimate goal is to learn from, appreciate, and enjoy the journey.  It is said that every journey begins with the first step and this is mine......

The Trapps - Mohonk Preserve