Sunday, November 9, 2014

A Fly 20,000 Years in the Making

Royal Sakasa Kebari using mammoth ivory hook

Before carbon fiber and bamboo rods there were simple sticks and branches.  Before braided nylon coated with PVC and monofilaments there was horse hair. Even before chemically sharpened hooks and bent needles there was bone and ivory hooks. Materials such as bone, antler and ivory were used
thousands of years before our modern metal hooks came into existence.  I enjoy tying my own flies and making my own equipment such as horsehair lines and line holders from moose antler.  One can derive extra satisfaction from knowing that a trout was brought to hand with things made by one's own hand and not in some far off distant factory. So for fun I decided to use some left over Woolly Mammoth Ivory I had from several years back when I used to practice scrimshaw (entirely another post would be need to explain this).  Mammoth ivory is a beautiful material that is fairly easy to carve and is pretty strong.  Since mammoths departed this world at the end of the last ice 10,000 to 20,000 years ago their ivory, found in tusks, have been found throughout Siberia and Alaska.  Man has used this material for artistic creations as well as functional items such as fish hooks. The hook I fashioned is roughly equivalent to size 6 Mustad scud hook with an extra long shank.  I still need to drill a small hole in the end where the eye should be.  I'm confident that I could land fish with this hook but I don't think I would try it till I have made several more (I'm afraid to loose one to a "rock fish" or tree).
I think the next few I try will be with moose antler because it's not as expensive to obtain.  Ultimately, I think I will have to try a fly fishing trip using only a primitive hook, horsehair line and a stick and see how I compare to our distant ancestors.

Top view of bare hook
Bare Woolly Mammoth Ivory Hook

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

The Fall Run

The Montauk Lighthouse
Though fly fishing tenkara-style is my favorite way to fish there is one type of fishing trip I have always wanted to the fall run of striped bass from a private charter off Montauk Point. When that opportunity presented itself I jumped at the chance. Last Sunday I joined some coworkers and their family on the Breakaway out of Montauk.

The day's haul of striped bass
Though the day started a little slow with only a few bluefish here and there the bite really picked up late in the afternoon with the outgoing tide. The largest striped of the day was landed by my friends uncle at 35 lb and it was a heck of a fight. Though I didn't land the largest or most bass on this trip it was a blast. My recommendation to anyone contemplating such a trip.......just do it, you won't be sorry.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Summer Wrap Up

Well another summer has come and gone. It started as usual with kids throwing the book bags down for the last time for the school year and heading out to Pennsylvania for a family vacation. The last few weeks seemed to have been a blur and even though I didn't post very much I did get to spend time with the family and there were hiking and fishing trips. Trips to the beach and the pool. The summer was very mild here in the northeast which made it that much more enjoyable. Now with school just a couple of days away I though I would post a few highlights of a summer that's all but in the books.

One of the many striped bass I managed to land

Trout fishing on a small mountain stream.....what could be better?

Bella doing some snapper fishing....old school style

A nice "thin blue line" beauty

Hiking at Split Rock, Mohonk Preserve

August blooming cardinal flower

Hike around Lake Minnewaska, Minnewaska State Park

One of the first of many Long Island snappers

Golden of the first signs that the big wheel of seasons is about to turn again

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Snap, Crackle and Pop

Not having much to do following a long day of work and knowing that my girls would be out for the evening I decided to treat myself to trip down to the beach to catch some snappers. Besides a multitude of snappers caught with my tenkara rod and some flies I was treated to the quickest thunderstorm ever followed by an equally quick rainbow. Other than not being with my girls I couldn't ask for a more perfect evening.

Friday, June 6, 2014

The Three Stages of Fishing With My Kids

Stage 1- Excitement
Recently I had the opportunity to take my girls on a little fishing trip. The stars only seem to line up once in a while for such a trip but I really wanted to make it happen. Going at noon time on a bright sunny day was not ideal but that was the time available. I figured at least a few bluegills would be willing to bite down on a nice fat nightcrawler.

The target
After collecting the gear,  camping chairs, and snacks we failed to obtain the most important thing.....the fish. While waiting I realized that we have gone through this particular series of stages before (my Dad would probably agree he went through the same thing when we were kids). The first stage is excitement. My kids practically explode from the car when we arrive at the pond.

Stage 2 - the wait
The second stage is "the wait". This stage is mainly composed of constantly asking..."Where are all the fish?" "Can we have a snack?" "I have to go to the bathroom!" And the most commonly uttered phrase..."I'm bored!!!"

Stage 3 - Are we done yet?
Then comes the last stage. "I want to go home!" With no fish in sight and narry a nibble the look on Alina's face says it all.....its time to pack up and do something fun like get some ice cream. Would I trade this experience for anything?........absolutely not. Fish brought to hand is not the ultimate goal. The time outside with my girls is the treasure. I am looking forward to our next trip. By the way.....did I mention this trip lasted about 15 minutes?

Wishful thinking on this trip

Monday, May 19, 2014

Spring Down By The Pond

You know spring has arrived when the orioles are whistling from the tree tops and the dogwoods are in bloom.  The sights, smells and sounds The signs of spring are there for all to see...catbirds are "mewing" from the under story and the red wing blackbirds are chattering incessantly from the reeds to the north of the pond . Rhododendron and other plants are in bloom. All signs help to erase the memories of a long and drawn out winter and point to more favorable times ahead. With warming temperatures, I look around and see that it must be time to stop by the pond and try my hand at some bluegills. This morning was the perfect time to do such a thing.  With just my Yamame and some size 10 Killer Bugs in hand I did just that.  The weather and morning could not have been better. The fishing was a little slow...but that didn't really matter. this morning was more about "living in the moment".  I was not targeting bass (the season for largemouths doesn't start on LI till the first Sat. in June) but that is exactly what I brought to hand.

Beside this guy, I did manage to land a few bluegill too.  Fishing was a little slower than I expected but it was fun all the same.  Every trip to the pond brings something new as the seasons progress. I am always amazed at how much life can be found in and around this particular pond.  I look forward to the days ahead and the memories that await to be made.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Alina's Kebari

It's nice when your kids take an interest in the things that you do. So a couple of weeks ago my youngest, Alina, asked if she could help me tie some flies. It reminded me of the time a few years back when Isabella asked me the same question. I gave Alina the same answer....that she was still just a bit too young to handle sharp hooks and scissors. However, I didn't want to dampen her enthusiasm so I asked her to help me design a fly. I laid out a selection of materials and told her to pick the ones she wanted on the fly. The fly pictured above was the result. I have to admit I really like the look of it and think it could do very well on the water. Of course it would not be Alina's without some pink in it. I'm happy to see Alina's interest in Daddy's hobbies growing. I think any connections you make with your children no matter how small can lead to a lifetime of wonderful memories. Alina has already asked about tying the next fly and I look forward making new memories.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Beginning of the Rainbow

Beat #7 Nisseqogue River

Well after a very long winter and a serious bout of the flu I recently (and finally) had a chance to start trout season off in a positive way. I chose to fish my favorite beat (# 7 at the dam) on the Nisseqogue River in Caleb Smith State Park. If this trip was any indication of how the season will go, I can't wait to see what the rest of the year brings. After only a couple of hours using the same exact fly, a size 12 Killer Kebari, I landed at least a dozen very respectable rainbow trout and one plump brookie. I had even more hook ups and long distance releases. Later on just to make it interesting I switched to a Royal Sakasa Kebari and came up with similar results. Just getting out on the water is sometimes all I need but add the ability to catch trout as easy as bluegill and you really can't ask for more.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

The Preseason & Giant Bugs

With baseball season nearly upon us I thought this posts title would be fitting. Trout season officially begins April 1st across New York State but here on Long Island it never really closes.  Many places are open year round, however, spring stocking usually occurs just prior to the season opener. Today was my first fishing trip since last October and I spent a couple of hours at Randall Pond looking for some stocked rainbows and browns....what I would consider preseason. I started the day fishing night crawlers, wax worms and spinners....nothing crazy. I brought a tenkara rod and flies as an afterthought. Things were going well and I landed a few fish here and there so just for the heck of it I decided to use my tenkara rod for the last half hour. The only flies I had were size 6 Killer Bugs (which I had originally planned to use for bass later this year). I thought that these giant killer bugs (I usually use size 12) might be s bit much but in the end I landed just as many rainbows as I had with my spin rod. Overall it was a nice day to just get out and "warm up" for the upcoming season. It also seems that I have a new fly to add to my fly box for the year.

Thursday, March 6, 2014



Serene, I fold my hands and wait,
Nor care for wind, nor tide, nor sea;
I rave no more 'gainst time or fate,
For lo! my own shall come to me.

I stay my haste, I make delays,
For what avails this eager pace?
I stand amid the eternal ways,
And what is mine shall know my face.

Asleep, awake, by night or day,
The friends I seek are seeking me;
No wind can drive my bark astray,
Nor change the tide of destiny.

What matter if I stand alone?
I wait with joy the coming years;
My heart shall reap where it hath sown,
And garner up its fruit of tears.

The waters know their own and draw
The brook that springs in yonder height;
So flows the good with equal law
Unto the soul of pure delight.

The stars come nightly to the sky;
The tidal wave unto the sea;
Nor time, nor space, nor deep, nor high,
Can keep my own away from me.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Tenkara flies in 2014

Takayama Sakasa Kebari
It's been a little while since my last post. I chalk it up to a busy work schedule, holidays, illness in other There has also been a lack of fishing related items of interest.  I purchased a new HMH Spartan vice at the Fly Fishing Show in Somerset, which was exciting to me at least (thankfully I no longer have to tie flies with my $30 vice from Cabella's that has been with me since the beginning). However, I would like to share one item of note. Dave Dirks (Author of Tenkara Fly Fishing: Insights and Strategies) has invited several other tenkara fly tiers and myself to contribute to a new book he plans to release later this spring.  This time Dave's book will focus Tenkara flies, traditional as well as non-traditional patterns. Below are a couple of patterns I have tied for the book.  Hope you enjoy them and be sure to check out Dave's book when it comes out.

Kurobe Kebari

Hida Shokawa Kebari
Okushinano Zakogawa Kebari
Okushinano Uonogawa Kebari
Okushinano Akiyamago Kebari
My own variation of the kebari pictured above...The Barkeater