Sunday, November 24, 2013

Before they close

Before the season closed after the 31st, a friend and I took a trip out to some Otter Creek and Winooski tribs to explore, hoping to find some huge spawning browns.   The time of the year was right, but the flows were off.  Everything was super low, and fish weren't in the typical areas (around the redds) We suspect someone had fished the same areas we had just a day or two before us.  Our first stop was on an Otter trib, which was 20% water, 70% log jams, and 10% debris in the water.  Of course that made for tough sight fishing and it would have been even tougher to land.  We came across a fish slowly cruising upriver, and thought right away it was a massive 26-28" brown.  When we got closer, we realized by the shape of the head that it was a pike!  By then, he didn't want anything to do with us and went into hiding.

We walked until we hit an impassible waterfall for the fish, and had no such luck finding any big browns that should have been there.  We scratched our heads, headed to his jeep and moved on.

Next stop was another Otter trib, and this time we'd decided that we would fish the upper section, my old friends stomping grounds when he was younger.  We parked and walked to the water, which looked more like brookie water than water that would hold big browns.

Sure enough, about 4 drifts through the first nice looking run, a big brown in the 20" range came out from beside a boulder and chased my pink-headed stonefly I had on, but rejected it at the last minute.  I changed flies a few times, and managed to get him to come out once more before he hunkered in his spot and wouldn't budge.  We had to leave him and move on, so on we went.

Not to far upstream from that, while fishing our way up, I drifted quite a large bugger through any holding water I saw, until eventually a respectable 16-17" brown slammed while swinging it through a tiny little run I'd never to have thought had fish.  It took me by surprise, and because of that I only got a half-hearted hookset on him and he shook off.

By this time, it was starting to get dark, but we kept fishing in hopes of getting another big brownie to fly out from under a rock and grab a fly.  We had it happen too - just not the grabbing part.  Another big brown came out from hiding to chase a fly but wouldn't committ.  We were bummed, yet humbled.  The water we were fishing really was brookie stuff, so to see browns that big in the upper sections was just amazing (I still can't wrap my head around it)

So, the next day it was Winooski trib time.  It had rained a bit the night before and the flows had increased a little which was great.  We fished up from some good looking water I'd spotted last year and knew there had to be spawning activity there every Fall.  Sure enough, 15 minutes after setting foot near the water we came upon a fresh redd - but with no signs of a fish around.  Odd......usually the males will be hugging these for a while even if the hen is gone.  I knew we came up on it quietly, so it wasn't our fault there was no fish there.  Oh well, we moved up.  At the end of the day, we'd spotted 7-8 redds that looked relatively fresh, but had no fish on them.  The only explanation I can think of is someone had been there RIGHT before us, probably the day before!

Well, on to the next spot...we moved upriver a few miles and started over, this time finding BIG browns right off.  There were 4 browns, each one bigger than the other sharing the same huge pool.  The sun was right above us, making it easy to spot them.  We were careful to not spook them, and I snuck downriver, waded into the water and then got behind them while my friend watched from the bank.

I tied on a trusty size 8 coneheaded bugger and made a cast upstream and in the middle of all 4 fish.  Two seemed to be actively feeding, and the other two just cruising.  I was relying on my friend to tell me if they were following or about to hit my fly, but I didn'y relay that message to him for some reason.

I was stripping at a medium pace when my line came to a dead stop.  I let it sit there, thinking it was a snag and that I shouldn't set the hook because it may spook fish near it.  2 seconds after, my friend yells "He grabbed it!" ....!!!....what!?  That stop was a fish crushing my bugger, and I hadn't even realized it.  By the time I set the hook, he'd dropped it and took off, along with the other TWO fish that were chasing my bugger! My friend told me that out of the 4 browns in the pool, 3 of them chased my bugger down before one grabbed.  Of course he didn't know I was expecting him to tell me so I was kicking myself over it for a while.

All good though, at least I had a chance at some.  We decided to check out the next run above the big pool, and I'm glad we did.  I spotted two shapes that were moving in some skinnier water.  I knew right away they probably weren't browns, but feeding bows.  They were in faster water than you'd see browns in this time of the year, so I had Mike wade down behind the fish with a tandem rig of a small bh hares ear and something else (forgot what it was) and throw out a cast upriver from the fish.  I was watching closely to see one turn and open it's mouth for his fly but I was just barely too far away to tell.  His first cast was perfect, just far enough river to let his flies sink to where the fish were feeding, and directly in front them.  I watched his fly line instead, getting ready to tell him to set it when I saw it stop floating at the same pace as the river.  When I saw it stop, he set the hook before I could even say anything.  Right away we knew it was a rainbow by the sporadic head shakes and the silvery flashes during the fight.  It fought INCREDIBLY hard for its size, and after almost knocking him off during my netting, I got him in the net for Mike and we hooted and hollered!

This was the smaller of the two, and the bigger one spooked after landing this.  We sat and hoped it would come back but it never did.  Either way, a beautiful wild rainbow!

We called it shortly after that, and I think we were both pretty satisfied with how the weekend went.  If I can help someone get into a quality fish like that, I'll take none landed myself any day!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

salmon with a side of steel

The fishing continued to be quite steady on the Winooski for a little while longer, producing two more salmon over 24" and a small cookie-cutter steelie.  Had more shake off than I'd like to admit....

25" hen on the swing!

22" male who tried to take a bite out of me!

Fresh chrome!
One of my favorite pictures in one of my favorite spots.....I don't think I had a hookup on this day, but the scenery was well worth it!

Unfortunately, the lack of rain made the fishing slow right down.  The flows were at record lows, and the fish didn't seem to be in the usual spots.  I think they were in the deep rocky canals that were pretty much impossible to fish because of the turbine pumping out water so fast.

The Clyde

Chris and I headed over and fished the Clyde for the first time the weekend after my 10 lber.  We planned on a two-day trip, and stayed in a hotel Sat night.

The scenery on the way there was downright amazing.  It looked like the mountainside was on fire!

We got on the water just after sunrise on Sat morning.  The parking areas were already littered with cars from NH, NY, ME, MA and only a few Vermonters...oh boy....

The fishing was tough, and from what we could tell, it had drastically slowed just days prior to our arrival.  but I managed to go 2 for 5 on Saturday and Sun morning.  The crowds were thick, and I wasn't really loving the water that was open to fishing.  It was too fast and shallow for my liking, but since we apparently didn't get there an hour before sunrise we couldn't hold down a decent spot, so we were forced to keep moving and fishing the small pocket water in between the good holes.

My first fish came right after we just started fishing.  Someone was swinging through a decent looking pool and was leaving as we walked up.  I rigged up, drifted a chartreuse egg through the same run and got hit by this 18" male on the first drift!  Just goes to show that changing methods can pay off.

You could  tell this guy had previously been caught and released.  His lower jaw was deformed.  You can't tell by the picture, but his kype is pointing out to the right instead of straight up.
My second fish landed came later that night before dark, it that took right before we were about to call it quits!
Just like the first male, this hen had damage to her mouth as well.  Just goes to show how hard people fish this river for salmon.  I'm willing to bet nearly ever salmon that comes up will get hooked at least once, which is insane to think about.  I felt pretty bad for making them worse...makes me think about using barbless hooks if I decide to go back next year for sure.  I already went with pretty small hooks, but these wounds looked like they were from pretty big hooks.  
Unfortunately, Chris had no hookups until we had left the Clyde for an afternoon lunch break.  We hit a small little outlet of a Lake that was a bit of a drive but ALWAYS worth it.  His first rainbow, about 12" ended up being chased by an even bigger rainbow in the 18-20" range.  We knew he was still in the same hiding spot, so Chris kept casting to him until he took, and sure enough he got him!  A beautiful wild rainbow!
Sunday morning was terrible - I won't lie.  We got up EARLY and left REALLY EARLY to get on the river BEFORE it was even light out.  Apparently 10 other guys had the exact same idea.  When we pulled up to the parking areas in the pitch dark, cars had already filled it.  We couldn't even see our hands in front of our faces, yet there were about 6 cars already empty in the parking spots.  We still rigged up and hit the river, but once again didn't find any open decent water.  It was humind and raining - we had enough.  At that point, the fishing was so slow that it wasn't worth waiting 10 hours for two spots to open up in one decent run - we just left.
We took the scenic route home, right near Jay Peak.  We stopped every once in a while on some good looking water and fished.  I came up empty handed but Chris got into two small wild browns.
It was good to finally fish the Clyde, but boy was it crowded for only having a mile of fishable water...jeez.  I even witnessed 3 snaggers below the waterfall and had to yell at each of them, along with other anglers who were fishing in the area!  I hate to think of it this way, but it felt like a miniature Salmon River over there.  Nice water, nice fish, but I wonder if the crowds even make it worth it?  Maybe I'll try to time it better next year and have a double-digit fish weekend that will hopefully change my mind, ha!

Personal best landlocked!

I honestly never thought I'd ever be sitting on a Champlain trib, cradling a massive 10 lb salmon, but things just fell into place that fine September morning.

First, let's rewind back a few days.  I'd just landed my first landlocked of the year on the swing with a few other hookups.  I hit the water the day after - landing yet another big landlocked while losing a few more - all on the swing!

To keep the momentum going, I hit the river for a third day in a row after work, it was Friday, September 20th.

I'd just gotten a new net with a much larger basket and a long wooden handle that I wanted to get some slime on...I had no idea what I was going to hook into.

  I had been swinging a Mickey Finn without any interest.  A friend had sent me a picture of a decent sized male he'd taken on a marabou black ghost the previous morning, so I figured why not?  As i flipped open my box full of streamers, the memories followed will be forever burned into my memory.  The sun was bright, and a breeze hit me as I was glancing at my selection.  One of my smaller ghosts fluttered as to say, "pick me!"  I obliged, and plucked it from the box and then put Mr. Finn back in his home. 

A few short back-casts and a powerful forward cast later, about 60' of line was laying in front of me, attached to that my sinking poly, with about 3' of fluoro tippet, then my ghost.  As the line hit the water, I did a big mend, placing my line upriver for a slower swing.  I followed my fly line until I could see my fly line start to straighten.  The C shape in my line was slowly straightening.  Right as it completed straightening, I paused for a few seconds before retrieving my line - how did I know?

After a few second pause, a subtle tug came from the other end of my line.  I set the hook sideways quickly and held my rod high to determine where the fish was in the water.  Once I knew it was too close to the downstream rapids for comfort, I put the side pressure to it.  A few minutes after hooking up, I eagerly picked up my new net off the rocks below me, somehow thinking this behemoth of a fish may come in easily - I was dead wrong.  I was forced to drop the net and start zealously stripping fly line as this silver torpedo ran straight towards me.  Honestly I thought it was off with all the slack line it had caused.  I was pleasantly surprised to find out it was still attached when I got a tight line back.

At this point, I had no idea just how big the fish was.  I was thinking between the 4-5 lb range.  It wasn't until it was close that I saw just how big it was.  It was a massive hen, the fattest I'd ever seen.  After realizing how big she was, my heart nearly jumped out of my chest.  After her close-up, she took off downstream, ripping off line faster than I could say, "Oh S#%&".  She got right at the border of the calm water and the rapids downstream.  It was at this point that I had to grab my net and prepare myself for a chase downriver.  Thankfully I somehow turned her and she came back upstream.  After a few net attempts, I slid my net under my personal best salmon, a 29" 10 lb 5 oz hen.  I was overwhelmed with joy, and couldn't believe my eyes.  She didn't even fit in my net, which was MUCH bigger than my regular trout net that I'd been using for landlocks and steelhead without any issues.  She fell right out of the net, luckily I scooped her back up before she got her bearings....

After the celebrations ended, I just sat in thigh-high water on my knees, holding her under water in my net, hoping I wasn't about to wake from this dream.  I must have sat there and looked at her for 5 minutes.  It felt like she was staring into my soul - asking me for mercy.  Little did she know, she'd be out of my net and into the water shortly after.  A few pictures of her, a measurement and a few minutes of holding her in the water, she was back in the river for someone else to catch!  Coincidentally, so was my net - I had let it drift off downstream in the commotion and ended up losing it and not realizing until 20 minutes after.  That's alright though, she had ripped my net in two places when I first netted her, so the basket would have needed replacing anyway.

The pictures definitely do not do her justice whatsoever. She was beautiful, and I could not believe the tail on her(look at it compared to my hand!!).  I only wish someone had been around for a picture of me holding her....but I'll take what I can get.  She makes my new big net look like a little trout net...unreal!

After the release, she swam away and held behind a boulder right in front of me.  I stood in front of her, guarding her from the sun and other anglers who may come and see her in the water.  It wasn't until she left that I was ready to go home.  The great thing is - the Biologist running the fish ladder informed me he'd tagged her just a few days after I released her....he confirmed the 10 lb 5 oz!  Never thought I'd have landed the heaviest biggest salmon to ever be tagged or even caught in the Winooski River.  It's an awesome feeling, and I hope that big hen lives a long a healthy life...maybe we'll meet again when she's a State record.

Monday, October 21, 2013

First landlocked of the year

After checking water temps on my favorite river for landlocks, it finally dropped below 65 for a few nights, and after work I hit the water with a plan of attack - to swung up some landlocks!

Last year almost all of my salmon were taken on nymphs dead drifted and swung, but I've always been told fresh fish will take a streamer over a nymph, so since it was mid-September I was hoping there was a small population of fresh salmon in the area.  I was spot on with my hunch that fresh fish were roaming and within the first half-hour at the end of a picture-perfect swing through a tailout I felt a tug.  I set the hook and, "the leaper" turned into the rocket!  It flew out of the air and took off downstream with me in tow, trying to go from backing through my fingers back to fly line!  I chased him down and after an awesome tug-o-war he was in my net and posing for pictures.

I was a happy camper!  I wasn't expecting to hookup but this guy crushed my ghost.  I spent the next few hours before sunset fishing the same water he came from and within 20 minutes of releasing him I had a big hen chase my fly for 20 feet and then swipe at it right on the surface, making a huge boil!  Great thing to see, and I just love how aggressive these fish can be.  When the sun was behind the trees and I was walking to the car, I had one landed with two other hookups and shake-offs.  It was a great short tip for me, and I couldn't wait to get out of work the next day!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Back to the Mad

I had a free weekend, and invited my buddy Jerry to go check out some more water on the Mad with me - he found some time to sneak out for a Saturday and we arrived early in the morning. 

It was great exploring some water I didn't fish last time - and I wish we had more time to fish but we had limited time.  I managed to get yet another beastly bow within the first hour, I couldn't believe it!!  It had taken a hares ear dropper swung slowly through a deep tailout.

Trolling Lake O

My buddy Chris invited me to spend a few days with him in a cabin right on Lake Ontario going out on his friends boat to troll for staging kings at the end of August, so how could I say no?

The drive was long but scenic, but when we got to the cabin (trailer with a deck built on it that was bigger than the whole trailer itself, and about 25 feet from the lake...great location for sure) it was a great feeling to finally look at the great Lake Ontario.  It was an emerald green color and was beautiful!

Chris's friend, Fred was a great guy.  He'd been making trips every year to Lake O to troll for somewhere around 20 years if I remember right.  From the cabin to the boat was a 10 second walk, which made things easy as pie, especially since we were waking up around 4 A.M!  Freds boat was amazing, and looked brand new even though he'd had it for 20 or so years!

The weather turned out great, and so did the fishing!

In the 2 1/2 days we managed to boat something like 8 kings, the biggest being around 25 lbs!  My first king was crazy!  400 feet behind the boat, it was doing aerials and the drag was screaming.  Finally Fred netted it for me and I held up my FIRST king!

While I'm not one for harvesting fish, the ones we did boat were harvested, hence the way I'm holding it (it had taken a club to the head prior to the picture)

Chris and I took turns when the rods popped, taking turns landing fish.  The peacefulness of being out on the lake turned into chaos when we had doubles though, wow!  Reeling in other rods, moving around in the boat to avoid crossing lines...the fish I had shook off but Chris did get his to the boat. 

After the first day on the boat we had the afternoon to relax before going back out in the evening, so we opted to try the Salmon River to see how things were.  I had high hopes of hooking into some fresh kings in the river, but was quickly disgusted by what we ran into.  Right in town, 2 minutes after getting out of the car, a group of young teens were fishing a popular hole, just snagging salmon out in the open, ugh...

A friend of mine suggested we fish Black Hole, so we hopped in the car and headed over, geared up and walked toward the river.  The first decent water only had one guy fishing it - he wasn't doing much and it seemed the fish weren't holding in that area so we moved downriver a bit.  We ran into a crowd and boy was it a sight to see.  Two dozen people, lifting, snagging....

We were seeing fish regularly, but they'd been in the river for a while judging by their color.  We were just too far upriver to run into fresh kings and it was a bummer.  So we decided to just keep fishing some decent looking water while watching all the hacks in action.  The top of the DSR was being fished by half a dozen people without passes, who were snagging the salmon as they were moving up the rapids.  I was sick to my stomach, and felt so bad for the fish.  One French-Canadian guy went over to a spot between two big boulders in skinny water in the DSR, snagged a salmon and pulled it onto the bank within seconds, strung a stringer though its gils and then attached the stringer to his waist and kept fishing.

I've never felt so out of place in my life.  The entire crowd of people were lifting and snagging, and here I was...trying to actually get one to take.  I was regularly watching 20-30 lb kings swim right by my feet too.  To top it off, two young boys probably under the age of 10 were SWIMMING in the water that people were fishing!!!!  The water already wreaked of death, and dead salmon were already littering the bottom of the river, and these two kids were frolicking in the water like it was a swimming pool, what the hell?

Then, when they left, their role-model rather made them drag two salmon each (he had two salmon as well).  Now I wonder how two 10 year old boys ended up hooking and landing two 20 lb salmon when we didn't even see them touch a rod nor even have rods themselves.

Anyway, it was as I was leaving that hole that I decided I'll never fish that area of the Salmon River for salmon again....I'll be hitting the DSR if I ever decide to chase salmon, that's for sure.  Good news is, D.E.C was pulling up as we were heading to the car, I hope they served justice to every pathetic snagger there!

On a more positive note, my trip was awesome and unforgettable.  It was crazy fighting fish that were so powerful and huge, and our host Fred was an awesome guy that pretty much let us have all the fun when a rod popped!

On our way back, we took the scenic route through the Adirondaks and stopped to see the Ausable Chasm - how beautiful! I wished we could have made it down to the water to fish (I can't imagine there aren't some huge trout in those deep holes) but we snuck down under the waterfall below the reservoir and managed to find some willing smallies to smack swung flies.

I hope I get invited next year - but I'll definitely talk Chris into fishing the DSR for some fresh kings on flies!

Sunday, September 29, 2013

First time on the Mad

Over the last few years, I've had the great opportunity to make quite a few new fishing buddies.  My new friend Mike and I met via YouTube through our comments on eachothers videos, and PM's following them.  Turns out Mike is less than 10 minutes away, and was just getting into fly fishing.  He'd fished the Mad River before with decent luck and asked if I wanted to tag along.  I obliged, and before you know it we were on the water together!

It was a cool late-August morning, and the fog was thick!  It had an eerie, yet great feel.  It felt like we were in the middle of nowhere when we got to the water.  The first section of river we fished looked beautiful.  Miked opted to leave his gear in the jeep to see how I fished.  Late summer/early Fall is a great time for swinging and even stripping Iso's, so I opted for swinging a tandem nymph rig, with a big BH prince on top, and a smaller zug below it.  The water temp was a surprising sub-61 degrees.

I explained to Mike about how I swung flies and why, and how where you stand makes a difference in your presentation depending on where you cast.  I worked my way slowly up the run, and it didn't take long before I got hit mid-swing by a chunky 14" rainbow.  Shortly after, yet another one the same size from the same run!  After that, a weird sound - someone running upstream.  What?!

All of a sudden, a doe galloping alongside the river came running right towards us.  It took one look at us and then proceeded to jump right into the tail end of the run I was fishing, like it was no big deal.  It swam for a minute or two before getting out of the water on the other side of the river.  Well, that was a first for me, and definitely unforgettable!

After the second fish, Mike was eager to get back to the jeep for his gear.  I opted to wait by the river for him and soak up the scenery.  After a few minutes I moved about 10 feet upstream into the faster section of the run, and lazily made a cast to make time go by quicker.  Towards the end of my swing, right before the dangle, my line ripped out between my fingers.  I grabbed my line and set the hook, sending the fish into a rage.  It took off downstream without skipping a beat and took me into backing right away, holy smokes!

After gaining some line back, it started the aerials, and I got to see this beautiful wild bow.  I yelled to Mike but he was too far away at that point.  I had missed netting the fish once, and it took off again.  I thought it was game over when I bumped him with my net, but thank goodness I got another chance, and this time was perfect.  I slid the net under the fish, lifted it out of the water and my fly popped out.  All I could think of was WOW!  My first time on this river, and within 20 minutes of fishing I'd had this in my net.

I sat in the fast water with the fish in my net underwater until Mike came back a few minutes later.  He was just amazed as I, but was bummed he missed the fight.  He took some pictures for me and I sent this beauty on its way!

That fish set the tone for the day, and we had high hopes! We hopped in the Jeep and headed a mile or two to the next decent looking section.  I gave him some tips on casting and presentation and he picked it up immediately.  It wasn't long before Mike was fighting a rainbow from a nice run later on in the day.  We worked our way upriver for what seemed like forever, hoping to spot some big fish in skinny water, but couldn't make it happen.  We both got hit a few times, and landed a few, but nothing as big as the first. 

We hopped in the jeep again to travel a bit further upstream, and started working our way upstream again.  We ended up on a fast run leading into a big deep pool that was crystal clear.  I waded across the river, climbed up a hill and could see down into the water.  There was about 4 bows cruising around, the biggest looked to be about 18".  I guided Mike on where to cast for a few of them, but after a few missed hooksets I climbed down the hill to have a crack at the bigger cruising one.  It was out of Mikes reach so I took a whack at him.  I made a cast upstream of him and let my flies sink. When they were at his depth I started making little strips toward him, and my flies crossed him.  I kept stripping little by little and he turned quickly, followed my stripped flies and then grabbed my dropper!  I set the hook high and hard, but no dice!  I felt weight, but my hook slipped out, bah!!!  I blew it, and the fish took off into the depths and I never saw him come out again.  We headed upstream again and I ran a prince with a black stone dropper this time and got nailed swinging through some fast water that was fairly shallow, less than 2 ft.  It was a nice healthy rainbow in the 16" range!

We fished upriver even further, stopping at what looked to be a swimming area with nobody there.  It didn't take long before we spotted some black shapes at the bottom of this deep pool.  At first they were stationairy, like they were just sticks.  But before long, one of them moved and they were parallel to eachother!  They were definitely fish!  I was convinced they were trout, simply because we were so high upriver that suckers would have a hard time surviving.  Well, turns out I was was a half a dozen white suckers!

I couldn't beleive it, but after putting on a big white bunny leech and stripping it slowly in front of one, he grabbed it!!!  A 20" white sucker on a big bunny leech, how could I complain???  I still don't even understand how he got the leech in his mouth, but he did!  Seems like he was the only willing taker though, the others just hunkered down on bottom.  We moved again, working our way upstream.  Mike said he had a take from another big rainbow in the next run, but I didn't see the take or the fish.  After a long days fishing we decided to call it quits and start heading back to the jeep.  It was a great day, and it was even better fishing it with a new friend on some new water. 

Wednesday, August 28, 2013


I returned to the water I had struck out on(in terms of big fish) the weekend prior with a different friend this time, my buddy Chris.

We started off trying to fish the same area I'd spotted the big browns, but someone else had beaten us to it.  No biggie....we made our way much further downstream and fished some great looking water.  Only one decent take and I was just scratching my head, wondering what we were doing wrong.  Chris was using flies, but ended up throwing spinners on his spinning rod and still no luck.

Alright, let's move way down then!  We went down a ways until we saw some prime looking water, then began fishing again.  An hour or so passed by, along with some great looking water I was convinced we'd get fish in, but no luck!

Shortly after, it was like someone flipped a switch, Chris began catching decent sized rainbows back to back on his spinner, then I started getting my own swinging flies.  The further down we kept going, the better the fishing was getting.  Then we hit a stretch of water that seemed devoid of fish, bah!

We were getting discouraged since we hadn't landed a decent fish yet.  Just as we were contemplating calling it a day, feeling defeated, magic happened.  We happened upon an "ok" looking run of water.  It wasn't too deep, but deep enough to where we couldn't see bottom.  Chris ran a spinner through the small stretch of decent water, and he said he'd had a follow.  In the back of my mind I was thinking it was just a little guy checking it out.  But after he switched to a bigger spinner, his first cast and retrieve into the run yeilded a beautiful wild rainbow.  If I had to guess, it was 17"  It was a dark maroon color, which made me feel like it was Spring.  We snapped a few pics (which I can't find right now) and sent him on his way.  We were both excited, and our gas tanks filled back up after that one!  That one fish made my day, it was a great sized fish for a river that was barely over 90 cfs!

We worked out way downstream yet again, this time  hooking up into a few more smaller rainbows each, and then we stopped at a nice bend that dumped into a big pool with some overhanging trees.  I liked the way this looked.  Chris threw his spinner in and said he'd gotten a follow but didn't see the size.  I ran a streamer through and had a big rainbow follow it but not committ.  It was exciting to see these big rainbows chase something for so long!

After changing flies, the stars aligned and I was hooked up into a beautiful wild 16" rainbow.  Chris snapped a few pics for me with his camera (which I deleted on accident...I'll have to get them again) and we sent him on his way.

Chris departed from that spot shortly after I landed that one, but while I was fighting that 16" fish, an even bigger rainbow started chasing it!

I knew there was a bigger fish in there, so I decided to stick around and let the pool cool off.  Well, perseverance pays off!  Chris missed this guy.  Fish of the day, and one hell of a fight!!!

After landing this guy, I just sat in the cool water for about 10 minutes, gathering myself.  I had redeemed myself, and everything felt right in the world.

It was starting to get hot, and we both made the looooong walk back to the car with smiles on our was worth the heat exhaustion I had later that night, no doubt.

Traveling for wild rainbows

My buddy Mike and I decided to hit some wild trout water a little further from home, so we took 50 minute drive in the middle of the afternoon.  I hadn't made plans that weekend day yet, and his timing was great when he called to see if I wanted to fish.  I told him where I wanted to try, and he agreed.

We got there and noticed right away the water was low, but was still in the mid 60's.  We worked our way downstream (should have been upstream but I had a few spots I wanted to get to that were downstream)  The first big pool we fished, Mike waded out into the water  ways downstream from me, and motioned over to me after a few minutes...across the small river from him was a huge brown, sitting in shallow water.  By the time he'd noticed, the brown noticed him.  It took off into the deep water and that was that.  In the first 10 minutes, I had two pretty big fish follow my streamer on the trip in, but wouldn't commit.  After a few more minutes, I had a slam but couldn't connect with the fish, bah!!

Shortly after, I watched a rainbow feeding in the top half of the water column, right in front of me.  I couldn't move because he was a few feet downstream from me, so I just sat and watched him pick through bugs floating by him, it was great.

We worked our way downstream, and I finally hooked up and landed a few small rainbows, but had missed all other strikes.  I changed flies often, but couldn't get any love for a while.  The sun was right above us, and fishing low and clear water wasn't easy at all.  We headed to the car and drove a few miles downstream to scope out some new water.  We got out of the car and walked a few 100 yards to the river bank.

We pushed ourselves through the brush until we could see water, and in the exact spot we stopped to look at the water, directly below us, about 5 feet off the bank and 2-3 feet under the surface, sat a brown in the 20-22" range, just sitting there.  There was no way we could fish him from where we were, so we decided to try to make our way down there.  In retrospect, one of us should have stayed and kept an eye on the fish, but we were both eager to get down there and forgot to realize that. When we got down there, the water was DEEP and slipper.  My pant-high waders barely cut it, and I ended up getting wet just crossing the shallowest part.  We fished the run that the brown was in with no love.  I spotted a few little rainbows scurrying around near us, and fish rising downstream that we couldn't reach.  It was a pretty frustrating day, but humbling as well.  We got to see some seriously big fish for the size of the water that it was!

I was determined to return to that water and redeem myself.  That's all I could think about on the way home.

First bowfin on the fly

I got a call in the middle of the week, Mike had been out on the lake with his Nephew, and spotted a bunch of carp and bowfin near shore.  He asked if I wanted to try to get some hookups on flies and I obliged of course!  The weekend came quick, and before I knew it I was geared up, standing on shore of the Lake, scanning the water for any kind of action. 

Mike started off blind fishing some water he knew had bowfin hanging around in it, but I opted to just sit and watch for action.  It didn't take long before I noticed some surface action about 100 yards to my left, so I worked my way over, scanning near the shore as I went.  I spooked a cruising carp with my footsteps about 20 yards from the splash, bummer...

When I got to where the commotion was, I noticed something about 5 feet off shore, under a downed looked like it was sipping something off the surface, but way slower.  Odd behavior for fish, couldn't be carp could it?

I walked over slowly to find that a monster bowfin was just hovering below the surface of the water, looking right at me.  It felt like he was looking into my soul.  As I pulled my rod out slowly and maneuvered it under the downed tree, I grabbed my fly, pulled a bit of line out, then did the "bow and arrow" to make a short, 10 foot cast under this tree.  Once the fly landed, the bowfin didn't budge.  I pulled it so it dropped in front of his face, then twitched it.  Once he noticed it, he hovered over to it, snapped open his mouth, inhaled my fly and then darted off he'd just taken my wallet!

I set the hook hard and low to avoid the trees, and before I knew it...mike was netting this beast of a bowfin!

A Master Class bowfin coming in at 30".  Not bad for my first on the fly.

After I got a handle on myself, it didn't take long to spot another bowfin sitting near shore. A plop of the fly, a few twitches later and another bowfin in the net!

This time around 27"

After my fish, Mike had one of his own on, but it decided it wanted nothing to do with him.  I watched his fish take his fly, and I can't believe how aggressive it was.  It slowly approached the twitched fly, then snapped it in his mouth and bolted away 30 yards before we could even blink.  We ended the day short, both missing a few more strikes!

Beautiful scenery and fish with a beautiful girl

I talked Katlyn into fishing with me again, but just for a few hours.  It was a great few hours though, and I landed 4 nice sized browns for the size of the water I was fishing.  The first 3 fish were back to back after I'd let the hole cool for a few minutes, it was amazing!

It wasn't too early, or too late, but just right in the morning.  The sun was still behind the trees, and the wind was still chilly.  It was an awesome time to just be outdoors. 

First drift....something magical about watching your line tighten as it drifts over some great looking water.  This guy was tricked by a tiny little size 18 midge!  Love the color on this one

The next 3 fish were almost as big, but I was content with having a picture of the day was complete after landind him.  Katlyn snapped this one as I released (or tried landing?) one of them.

The day after, I headed out to fish some new water with my buddies Mike and Matt.  It was the Otter Creek, and the water looked great!  Only downsize was that the water was 70 degrees, so we didn't have much hope for trout, but river-locked pike did inhabit the waters we fished, along with a plethora of smallies we all got into!

I swung streamers and landed a dozen smallies, and one huge fallfish that I thought was a chunky brown the way it hugged bottom.  Definitely water I'll be fishing when the temps drop.

After we struck out there, we hit the New Haven, but it was very low and we didn't spend too much time on it.  Mike had a decent sized bow smack his streamer just minutes into fishing, but it popped off as quick as it struck.

I managed a few small trout, but lost what could have been a big one towards the end of the day.  I decided to swing a streamer behind a rock that had what looked to be a deep hole around it and WHAM!  A hard tug following by line slipping out from my hand....and then slack line.  Seems I got taken by surprise and forgot to set the hook on that one, hah!  Oh well, it was a humbling day, and exploring new water is always a treat!

Trout to MC perch!

I've not found the time to make any blog posts recently for various reasons, but as I finish up tying flies, and gathering gear for a weekend fishing in NY, I figure it's a good time to catch up on things!

After my last post, Jerry and I had opted to fish my favorite little trib on the Winooski early in the morning.  Things looked great, it had rained a bit the night before, and it was chilly.  I always take a minute to appreciate the outdoors whenever I get out of the car and the door shuts.  A stretch followed by a deep inhale through my nose to give me that nostalgic smell of the outdoors and I'm good to go. 

This trip was short, and very sweet.  We both landed quite a few wild fish.  Mine on brassies and princes, his on spinners and bait with pinched barbs and tiny hooks (I tried to get him on fish with the fly rod but they wouldn't cooperate)

Since we hadn't checked out the stocked waters yet, we took a trip over to check things out.  The dam was open, which was good for the fish, I think the river was in the high 60's.  Fish were jumping randomly, so we knew they were around.  It took less than 2 minutes for me to hook up into a cookie cutter stockie bow, about 18".  We had steady action through the day, and had half a dozen fish for the both of us.  I cut 3 snelled hook rigs with 15~ lb test and a size 2-4 hook, which was pretty sickening to see.  Probably why I don't really care for fishing stocked waters anymore.....

In any case, we were home by the afternoon and had another great day on the water together!  A few pics of the many fish beautiful!

A few days later, on a weekday, I took a drive up to Jerry's place in St. Albans after work and we both headed out to check out a spot he'd spotted quite a few carp in.  We got there to find a few people panfishing, but could see no signs of carp.  We fished it anyway, hoping they'd circle back in towards shore like they seem to do, but we had no such luck.  I ended the day with my Master Class white perch on the fly though!

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Seeking out colder tribs

It's been rough not being able to fish like I usually do (a few different rivers in the same day - a lot of walking from good water to the next)  I hadn't really planned on fishing last weekend but had a big urge to the night before.  I asked Katlyn if she wanted to go with me and she reluctantly agreed.

I rigged up my spinning gear for her to use if she wanted once we got there.  Our first stop (my fav little trout spot) was inaccessible.  The person who's yard I have to walk through (with his permission of course) looked like he was having a birthday party for someone.  We didn't want to be intrusive, so we were on to the next trib.

Good thing, because we had a quick downpour in the car on the way to the next spot.  I was excited though, it was good for bug activity.  There had been a small amount of rain a few days prior to Saturday, so the tribs were looking perfect.  They weren't low and clear like they usually are this time of the year.  They were up just enough and had just enough stain.  The next trib looked perfect...and I just had a feeling.

We parked the car and walked through the woods to the first decent run on the trib.  I got her set up first with my spinning rod and a pinched barb.  It didn't take her long at all to find fish!!  Within minutes she'd reeled in a beautiful wild brown, about 10".  Less than 3 drifts later, another beautiful wild brown, this time a healthy 14"with color you could spot from a mile away.  After a little while without a bite, she wasn't interested and it was my turn!!

I opted for a euro-style rig, and had 3 small flies (14 bh pheasant, 14 bh prince, 16 brassie)  Didn't take long at all for me to find a fish.  Another sweet-looking brown, and then a rainbow, and another brown!!  I couldn't believe how many fish we'd got into in just this one area.  The rain had really helped, I watched a few fish rise to emergers while tying one on.  To my left was a very deep swirl-hole that looked difficult to fish.  I knew there had to be fish against a rock wall that the current went by - and sure enough there was.  First drift produced this gorgeous wild rainbow with some pretty bad wounds on the other side of its back! (bird of prey?)

The fish was actually a much darker maroon color than in the picture, it was awesome!

I released him and waited a few minutes before I drifted the same water.  It didn't take long to hook up again, this time with a rainbow a little bit bigger.  Of course I'd left my net at home, so by the time I'd limped down the rocky bank to cradle the fish out of the water, he'd shaken off....ugh!

I stood in front of the first water we fished when we got there, tying on a different fly.  While wetting a knot in my mouth, I scoped out a patch of water that the sun was just starting to hit.  I could barely see the pebbly bottom.  All of a sudden, out of the clear green-tinted depths of the water....a huge rainbow (20+")came up from the bottom to grab an emerger.  It stopped me in my tracks, and I finishing tying my fly quickly and started drifting through the same area I just saw him.  Of course this guy would be hard to catch, but I was determined to get him on the end of my line.....

The sun had made it's way above the tree that was giving us shade, and it was getting hot!  Katlyn opted to take off to the car for the AC while she waited for me.  I fished the same stretch of water I spotted the big bow hard, but had no love at all.  I decided to fish the deep swirl again before I took off, and quickly hooked up and landed another colored up brown.  Not too long after, I hooked into yet another big rainbow!  I landed him after a fierce, aerial filled fight on my 3 wt but had no camera on me! (Katlyn took my phone to the car...bummer)  It wasn't the 20"er I spotted, but another big bow compared to the size of the water I was fishing.  Awesome fight on a 6'6" 3 wt for sure!!  I couldn't believe how many fish I'd hooked into in just that one spot on the river.  It really was a bummer I wasn't able to walk any further to fish more water on this trib...but I took what I could get, and it was an awesome day.  Catching wild fish in a beautiful setting with the girl of your dreams.  You couldn't ask for any better.

Ditch Pickle Classic

Well, I had the opportunity to fish the Ditch Pickle Classic this year(  It's a fly-fishing only tournament mainly aimed at bass, but had other categories such as exotic species and even pike.  There was about 50 teams of two (or three in some cases I think) and we all met on the morning of the tournament to get a grab bag of goodies and to sign in.  It was nice to see some familiar faces there, but for the most part everything was new to me. 

I've never been one for competitive fishing.  I guess I lack the confidence needed since I still consider myself a beginner at fly-fishing.  I got a text a week prior from my friend Mike, asking if I wanted to join him for it.  I really couldn't say no, I knew it would be fun even if we didn't win.  Mike is very knowledgeable and I always have a good time fishing with him.  The tournament didn't start until late afternoon on a Saturday, so I had time to relax and get geared up in the morning.  After check-in, we headed from the Missiquoi Wildlife Refuge to the closest launch.  Some guys took a long drive to some other water, but we figured we'd stay local and poke around.  I kind of wished the rivers weren't so blown or we'd head back and fish the Winooski.  I knew they were still in there deep, and have quite a few areas to fish for them.  Couldn't change the weather or water height, so we changed the game plan accordingly. 

We launched and headed towards a huge flock of seagulls on the water.  Where there's birds there's fish right?  We immediately ran into wasteland of hex carcasses.  There was a huge hatch going on!  We were in about 10 feet of water, and could see bottom for the most part.  We geared up, Mike with full-sinking line, and myself with about 15' of sink-tip.  We thought for sure we'd get fish right off, but for whatever reason, they weren't keyed in on the hatch that was going on, or we couldn't find them at least.  We didn't manage to see any follows, or any surface action either.  There was thousands of bugs still buzzing on the water, and not one strike?  Bummer.....we motoroed half a mile to a cove that looked promising, but nada once again.  We fished in 4-20 ft of water with clousers, buggers, zonkers, marabou streamers....even this guy had no love

  We tried near the surface, hitting bottom, but just couldn't make anything happen.  After a few hours we switched the game plan up.  We headed over to some wooden pylons we passed by that I thought right away looked good and knew would hold fish.  Approaching shore in about 10 ft of water, we had our first decent sized bass (we picked up a few rock bass prior to moving from the previous area)

We spent quite a while poking around the area, and then we started to see some fish cruising near the surface.  I immedately thought they were carp because of the color, shape and size of them.  The behavior was a little off because they weren't roaming in groups, and were in about 10 ft of water.  We also spotted some that were suspended stationary.  We tried casting to a few, but just like carp they didn't like the splash.  We weren't seeing them regularly,  and ones we did see were close to the pylons, so we had no way of casting beyond them and then stripping to them and letting it fall (carp style) so we brushed them off for a while.  After a few hours of catching small bass, we headed to the same area we first spotted them. We started seeing a few, and had some good fly placements right on their nose, but they'd look at it and refuse it (I had some nice buggy carp flies too).  I knew something was off about them, so I tied on a great crayfish pattern I whipped up the night before.

I let my fly sink to bottom, and started a slow retrieve to the surface while the boat was almost motionless.  A big snag turned out to be a big fish - yeah baby!

A very snag-like take from this guy....he must've grabbed it on the run.  The first run it took immediately sent backing through my guides, I thought for sure it was a carp.  Mike had to turn the boat and chase the fish.  My 9 wt with 12 lb tippet was being laughed at.  I was pumped, and it was great knowing I'd have a chance at winning the exotic category!

Once I got the fish close enough to the boat to get a good look - it was a sheepshead! (freshwater drum)  I was so surprised, and honestly never thought I'd ever get a sheepshead on a fly.  Turns out he liked how my crayfish pattern looked and gulped it in.

I was happy and told Mike we should just keep fishing for them.  He still wanted to try to find some big bass to try to win the prize for biggest bass (the prize was a nice lump of cash, I don't blame him) so we ended up ignoring all of the sheepshead around us unfortunately.  I really wanted to get a few more, or at least a bigger one.  I was seeing fish approaching 40" regularly, and my 28" was quite small.  I wanted to lock in the exotic category, but Mike had other plans.  We fished a different area just before the tournament ended for the day at dark, and found a TON of smallies around structure.

We had 3 doubles in less than 20 minutes, and almost a dozen fish on for each of us.  We lost quite a few of the bigger ones (17"+) but managed to boat about 6 of them that were qualifying size.  I also hooked up with a little pike (24") that I thought was our biggest bass winner for a few minutes until we got it close.

The tournament ended at 9, so our lines were in and we were headed back to the boat launch right at 9.  We ended the day on a great note.  Found a ton of fish and got some points on the board.  After check-in everyone quickly learned that one team had an utterly fantastic day in terms of bass points.  They had something like 50 points, which would be like catching 20 smallies over 16".  Some teams didn't put any points on the board, and we pretty much knew we couldn't win for points, and had to go for the biggest the next day.  After the drive home, I got less than 4 hours of sleep before I was in Mike's car with the boat in tow.  Our plan of attack was to fish the same area we found fish the night before.  We found out pretty quick that they had gone elsewhere, so we decided to try a few areas Mike thought would be good.  We picked up a few here or there, nothing too great.  With only a few hours left before the DPC ended, we decided to try to lock in the exotic category with some bigger sheepshead (it was on our way back to the launch anyway) but just like the bass, they were pretty much gone.  In the last hour or so I tied on a few big pike flies to see if I could get any toothy love but had no such luck...the day wasn't as good as we'd hoped it would be, but that's fishing isn't it?

I think we did pretty well for not even knowing the area!  I've rarely fished from a boat, and it was pretty much my first time fly-fishing from one.  I had a great time, even though my 28" sheepshead got beat out by a 32" pike/pickerel hybrid (awesome fish!)

Mike and I stayed at the check-in spot for quite a while, chatting with some people, finding out what the scoop was.  Looks like the highest point earners on day 1 kept their momentum into day 2 and had another epic day!

It was great to see so many fly fishermen in one spot..I enjoyed it and hopefully Mike and I will be back next year with a vengeance!

Friday, July 12, 2013

Brookie fever

It's been longer than I'd like between posts, but I've been struggling with a fracture in my foot for the past months and just barely found out what it was last week - really annoying.  In short, I'm in a walking boot for the next 6 weeks, and I'm trying to figure out how I'm going to get a line wet for the next 6 weekends.

Rewind to Saturday, June 22nd.  Chris called me the night before with a game plan to chase some more brookies.  We made plans to fish some water that was stocked with brookies, but also had wild brookies, browns and bows in it's system.  This water was closer to the roads, so less walking for me which was good for my sore foot.  We headed out, made a pitstop at a store and filled out packs and bags with drinks and a few snacks then hit the water and the fun began.

Within 15 minutes of us fishing, I took a nice spill and got myself soaked (wet wading has its disadvantages, but that day was a hot and humid one) Shortly after my swim, Chris (who was fishing 100 yards upstream of me) came walking down towards me in a panic - he'd just lost a HUGE brown for the size of the water we were fishing.  His estimate was a solid 18" brown, which would be just awesome in brookie water!  He wasn't prepared for such a big fish, and it broke him off after showing himself.  He set the tone for the day, and we were psyched!!

Unfortunately, we only managed to pick up a few small brookies in about a mile from out starting point.  We were scratching our heads.  Chris had always caught fish in this system in late Spring and Summer, so what was different?  I think the water we were fishing were home to a few peoples "favorite" spots, judging by the traffic through the woods leading to the good looking spots.  We happened upon a few fantastic looking holes, at least 5 feet deep, but they just didn't produce.  Seemed like all of our fish were in the shallow faster-moving water, so we changed tactics and headed upstream even further.  The results were the same - only a few small ones.  Our last spot was the deepest spot we'd fished.  A whopping 8'ish feet deep, it was a narrow, carved out run that looked very promising.  The type of water that you just knew a huge brown was hiding in the undercut.  We both landed a few small brookies each, but the rain started and we had a long walk back to the car.  We left this section of river and headed back to the car, getting pretty wet on the walk back.  We got to the car and it started to really come down, and I mean REALLY.  We ended up sitting in the car for probably 45 minutes to an hour until it settled, and we headed a few miles downstream to some better looking, more gradient water.

This is when things started to really heat up.  We parked the car, Chris went upstream and I, down.  I immediately got into brookies, the first being a beautiful wild 10".  I was standing knee deep in water, so taking a picture with my phone wasn't much of an option.  I found some awesome pocket water less than half a mile away from the car, and within an hour had landed a dozen brookies with one wild brown about 10"....The further down I went, the better the water looked.

I fished from pocket to pocket meticulously.  Fish weren't taking any dry fly offerings surprisingly, but then again I didn't see much of a hatch for the day.  I was mostly swinging wets and streamers.

A few hours after we split up, I was kind of worried Chris was back at the car waiting for me (we had no service to call eachother)  so I stopped at one of the deeper pools I saw on the stretch, which was just beautiful...the water was clear, yet had color to it.  While playing a brookie, I watched something well over 15" follow the fish to the surface, and swim away back into his hiding spot - maybe another big brown?!  I put on a bigger streamer and tried enticing the brown to come out to play but he wasn't having it.  He spotted me and knew what was going on.  Of course he didn't get that big in such small water for being stupid!  I was happy with my mixed bag of stockies and wild brookies.  My last fish was this average sized stockie(clipped pelvic fin) which had more color than other stockies so it deserved a pic!

Feeling satisfied, I started my trek back to the car to see if Chris was waiting.  He wasn't, so I decided to wait thinking he was coming back at the same time.  Turns out he wasn't!  I waited almost an hour before I decided to go track him down and find out he was hammering fish, and 10" brookies regularly.  We walked to the area he was getting them all, and it was some of the best water I'd seen on the whole stream.
Chris fly-fishing the pretty spot where he'd landed half a dozen brookies an hour prior - no takes though!

Long-exposure shot that Chris took of some great ladder-type water.  I missed the same brookie about 3 times in the bottom right hole which was very deep.


More awesome long-exposure shots of some of the water we fished.

While I'm C&R, Chris had a great dinner catch piled up by the end of the day.

We spent almost the entire day on the water, and it started getting dark along with rain we called it a day when we were soaking wet and I couldn't even tie on a fly because it was so dark.

Another day of great memories and beautiful fish!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Surprise brookies

This past weekend Jerry wanted to get out on some water - and so did I.  It's the middle of June but the streams and brooks are still running cold.  Even the Winooski is ranging from 56-61!  Good for the fish for sure. 

We decided to take my car since his jeep was having troubles and didn't end up leaving my house until 9:30 ish...oh well.  I knew the spot I wanted to fish wouldn't be bothered by any other angler - I've never seen anyone fish it.  It's come to be my favorite little trout hole.  Jerry and I have both caught quite the amount of fish from the stream in the past, and that day was no different.

Jerry started things off with a bang by landing this brookie!

After that, it was my turn!  I drifted a black stone with a hares ear dropper through the same pool and had a tight line pretty quick.

Ugh, so pretty!

These fish were an awesome surprise since we almost always only get bows and browns in this water.  The first time we fished a few years back it was the best - we both landed a collective 20-ish trout...from just two big plunge pools!  Only one was a brookie.  This time was the opposite, all of our fish seemed to be brookies.  No complaning from me though, it was awesome. 

The fishing slowed down in the afternoon, and we opted to go and fish some little Winooski tribs in search of more brookies with hopes of some pretty big bows and browns that are known to reside in those waters. 

Upon leaving, Jerry ended up stepping on a board with a bunch of nails sticking out of it!!  Went through his boot, wader, and into his foot!  Ugh, it sucked!!!  Our options were limited in terms of water, but he was a champ and still wanted to fish even though he had a hole in his foot from a rusty nail.  Lucky he's up to date on his tetanus shot and I had a first aid kid in the trunk of my car!  We went to the same trib I had landed a big wild brown in last year but it was loaded with people swimming - ugh.  We opted to fish upstream but things didn't look too great.  We hiked for a while but didn't feel any tugs or even spook any in the crystal clear water.  We left that area and hit a different trib, but this time Jerry was at his limit.  We only fished a bit upstream of this trib.  The water was crystal clear which made things tough.  It didn't seem like it held many fish(at least in the lower part, I'd have loved to see what it was like upstream!), we ended up only spooking one which was probably the only one in that section of water.  We ended the day early and came back home.  The morning was just awesome, and I'm glad we both got some quality brookies from one of my favorite spots to fish!!

Hiking for Salvelinus fontinalis

Chris and I made plans again last weekend to target brookies, this time in a bit of a different area in a brook he's fished in the past and caught brookies again.  Again, it had rained prior to our trip so we had our fingers crossed that the water wasn't blown out.

We got to the closest parking area to the brook, geared up and were on our way.  We hiked for at least 30 minutes before taking a turn into the woods and heading for the brook.   Once we got there, it was beautiful and looked like text-book brookie water, awesome!!  It was still early in the morning, pretty cloudy and it had just rained a few hours before we had got there.  Still, the water wasn't too bad and there were plenty of pocket water to fish!

We both worked our way up the brook, slowly fishing our way to the upper stretches.  It didn't take long before Chris was landing brookie after brookie!  They're such beautiful fish!  Every once in a while, Chris or I would get into a nice rainbow like this one!

Finally, I started getting my own fish.  The brook wasn't big enough to fish together, so we started taking turns at different holes - it seemed like we got fish from every hole on this brook, wow!

 One of the many bows landed

 High-sticking a dry in the faster stuff - I ended up getting whacked by a bow at the end of that run....saw him chase it and commit!
 This waterfall was a little tributary of the brook that Chris went to check out.

It was such a great day of fishing I'll let the pictures do the talking.  The water we fished was so beautiful, I couldn't believe it.  We had hiked for hours, and it seemed like we ended up walking over 5 miles into the woods to chase these brookies.

I had done something I'd always wanted to do, get brookies on dries!  I tied on a size 12 Royal Wulf once the sun had hit the water, and right away got smacked by a brookie.  It seems like we had landed dozens of brookies with bows mixed in, and I got quite a few of mine on dries, how much better could it get?!

We ended up having to stop since the walk back to the car was a good 2 hours and it was getting dark soon.  The last hole we stopped at was probably the best one we'd fished.  I had landed about 5 brookies and 1 bow from the one hole and had many more slashes at my dry.
At the top of the pic was one of the best holes we'd least 5 feet deep and held plenty of wild brookies!

The only thing I regret that day was that my camera didn't take any good footage.  I had some of condensation on my lens - and all my video taken for the day was was heartbreaking to watch the video when I got home.  I had captured so many brookies slamming a dry (even on some pretty far casts of 50+ ft on this brook just to have a gorgeous brookie slam the dry off the surface.  It would have made for some awesome footage....)  I couldn't believe how many fish were in this brook.  It was so ridiculously gradient I just couldn't fathom fish making it up some of the obstacles we had crossed.  You could tell the average size of the brookies were smaller which I think is because of Irene.  We saw quite a bit of what Irene did to the brook in terms of habitat - really bad!  It seemed like they were making a great comeback, and I can't thank Chris enough for showing me this gem of a brook. 

A great day of fishing(pretty much my first time fishing for and catching brookies, and on dries at that!), a long much needed hike for myself, and fishing with a great friend.  Another great memory made.  I now know why the Salvelinus fontinalis is the states cold-water fish.

Not only are the fish beautiful themselves, but the scenic wilderness they are found in is just unforgettable.