Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Naming of Things or the Psychology of the Tyer's Art

At some point in their lives, all men contemplate and fear death. Perhaps more to the point, we fear not being remembered after we die. In the male collective unconscious, a far worse scenario than the pain of our final moments, is dying without having made our mark, without leaving our legacy. Undoubtedly, this is why so many of us choose to name our sons after ourselves. From the moment of our birth we may be doomed, but some small part of us will live on in our boys, and then in their sons, and so on - ad infinitum. This gives us hope where there might otherwise be none. So it is with bug chuckers.

Consider the propensity of fly tyers for naming their creations after themselves. Most any man who ties with some frequency and perhaps just a hint of passion will eventually open the jaws of his vise, allow the fly he's painstakingly tied to drop into his waiting palm, carefully study its proportions and color, and in a fit of triumph declare it his minnow, his bugger, his caddis, his stonefly. We've all done it.

And yes, this phenomenon is limited - by and large - to men. 

Recognize the following flies?

It's a safe bet that these two patterns are found in every fly shop in the country, if not every fly shop on the globe. On the left we have Dave's Hopper, as tied by its progenitor, Dave Whitlock. On the right is the ubiquitous Clouser Minnow, first tied by none other than Bob Clouser. I'm sure my readers have at least a few of each fly in their boxes. With hooks, thread, and bits of hair, both Whitlock and Clouser made an indelible impression on our sport. Even when they're gone - and I hope they've both long and fruitful lives - they will live on through their contributions to the contemplative sport.

Now consider another fly.

Recognize the pattern and its originator? Sure you do. What self respecting bug chucker doesn't recognize the Gray Ghost? Once more, we know the ghost is a Carrie Stevens pattern as much for the particular style of tying as for the fly's recipe. What amazes me is that Stevens didn't attach her name to what is arguably her most famous creation. Why?

Again, I would argue that men feel required to attach their names to flies out of the need for a legacy. Men need recognition. Men need to hear they've done their jobs well. Men need a collective pat on the back. Ask any woman whose significant other thinks himself a sexual dynamo.

And while I don't pretend to understand women at all - not even my wife, to whom I've been attached for nearly twenty years - it seems to me that women haven't the same requirements as men. I think women enjoy recognition. I think women want to hear that they've done well. I just don't think that women need that pat on the back. Women are much more pragmatic. Carrie Stevens didn't care if people were buying her flies because those flies bore her name. She was just happy to sell her flies. 

Of course, some might argue that tyers name their creations after themselves for marketing purposes.

More on that soon ...

Saturday, December 25, 2010

The Drew Effect

Three or four years ago, I started fishing with a friend of a friend. At the time, Ben Jose was a die-hard spin junkie, but gradually he turned to the dark-side - or the light depending on your particular perspective.

In the thirty or so years I've been fly fishing, I've been fortunate to learn something from all my fishing partners, and from Ben I learned to better appreciate my time on the water. I started to shift my gaze from the river to the trees just a little bit more, sit down and take it all in just a little bit more, and ultimately to better enjoy my time on the water. Observing Ben forced me to re-examine my preconceived notions of the what, where, why and how of bug chucking. I suspect that he would tell you I've been more a tutor to him than he has to me, but I would disagree. I may have taught him how to double-haul, but he taught me much more important lessons.

I digress.

Several months ago, Ben introduced me - via Facebook - to Drew Price.

I've never met Drew face to face, never heard his voice, shaken his hand, or watched him cast, but I feel as if I've known him for a long while. Since our introduction, we've had any number of online conversations about fly fishing, tying, and guiding. Drew has eclectic tastes when it comes to the long rod. He chases species about which I've only ever read, and he is quite successful in those pursuits. He was the first Master Angler in Vermont's new Master Angler program. Drew Price is nothing if not original.

Like Ben - and all of my fishing partners, for that matter - Drew has had an interesting effect on the way I think about bug chucking. For example, I was sitting at my tying bench the other night, and as I often do I was browsing through my material in anticipation of tying some Hendrickson emergers. I discovered I was a little low on the the Patridge 15BN I use for the fly. In browsing the web to find a supplier, I discovered the 15BNX, a relatively new hook with a more severe bend than its predecessor.

Oddly enough, my first thought wasn't of Hendricksons or trout. Rather, I found myself day dreaming of fish rooting through the weeds of a nameless, muddy backwater. I found myself thinking that new hook would make for an awfully tasty piece of carp crack. I found myself thinking of oddball fish and oddball flies.

Oddball fish. Oddball flies. This is The Drew Effect, and this is in part, why I'm so looking forward to 2011.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas

The other day, one of my daughters told me that my steelhead box reminded her of a holiday. I thought leaving you with a photo of that particular box might be a good way to wish everyone a very merry Christmas. I sincerely hope you and yours enjoy the season, and that the new year fulfills all its promise.  Ho Ho Ho and screaming reels - TRS

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Let's Review

With only a few weeks left in the year, I find myself thinking back over the 2010 fishing season. It's been a hell of a time; we've caught a lot of fish, a few big fish, and we toasted our efforts with more than our share of craft brewed ale. Add to that a little Les Claypool on the bass, and you've the following video ....

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

That's a Decent Fish

Tuna record shattered

405-pounder could break 33-year-old IGFA all-tackle mark

By Joel Shangle

SAN DIEGO -- On April Fool's Day of 1977, Curt Wiesenhutter claimed the West Coast tuna Holy Grail with a 388.12-pound yellowfin, taken near San Benedicto Island, Mexico.

That fish -- which, quite honestly, was a fluke hookup that occurred at 10 p.m. while the long-range boat Royal Polaris was on anchor for the night in the now-closed Revillagigedo Island chain -- has stood for over 33 years as the benchmark for the San Diego fleet, one of the most sought-after saltwater records in the world.

If the numbers that rang up on the certified scale at Point Loma Sportfishing Dec. 2 are verified by the International Game Fish Association, Mike Livingston will be the new Grail holder: 405.2 pounds.
Livingston, a retired school administrator from Sunland, Calif., weighed in an 85 ½-inch yellowfin with a 61-inch girth six days after hooking and boating the beast on a 10-day run to Baja's Lower Banks aboard the 80-foot Vagabond. The giant fish, which now must endure the scrutiny of the IGFA and survive a 90-day waiting period before it's officially verified as the all-tackle record, is the first 400-plus-pound sport-caught yellowfin ever brought to the scales in the colorful history of the long-range fleet.

"I thought the fish was a big 390s, because I'd never seen a 400-pounder before," said Vagabond skipper/owner Mike Lackey. "I didn't know what a 400 looked like. I guess I know what one looks like now."

Livingston's fish, which was caught fly-lining a sardine on day four of the 10-day trip at a spot nicknamed "300 Bank" for the number of super-cow yellowfin caught there in recent years, had been through the rumor spin cycle for six days before it was officially weighed in front of a raucous crowd at the popular San Diego landing.

Lackey and the Vagabond crew had repeatedly and carefully measured and estimated the fish at just over 397 pounds while still at sea and sweated it out for six days while the fish lay in the boat's forward hold, meticulously wrapped in plastic to preserve its weight.

"(Lackey) taped it out, taped it out, and then taped it out again," said Livingston, whose previous biggest yellowfin was a 100-pounder. "He looked at me and said 'Mike, I've got it at 396 and some change. This is a big fish'."

igfa world record yellowfin tuna
The reality of the first-ever 400-pound yellowfin caused Lackey to err on the side of caution, as he quietly reported with a 13-word Tweet: "Slow start today except for Mike L.'s big boy measuring out at 390!"Within 24 hours, that Tweet had spun TMZ-style into chatter of two world-record-size tuna (a 390 and a 397) and had put the San Diego long-range industry into a slow boil as the Vagabond finished out its trip to "Cow Town" and made its way back to port.

Internet chat forums from Washington to Southern California blossomed with whispers of a possible record-breaker, but industry veterans took the news with a hearty grain of salt.

"I generally don't get too excited about these things until they're put on a scale that's not on the deck of a moving boat," said Bill Roecker, the author of "At The Rail" and longtime dock reporter for the San Diego Sportfishing Council. "I've seen too many of these 390-pounders turn into 360-pounders once they're on the scale. This one, though? It looked bigger (than 405)."

From hookup to record book

Livingston hooked the fish on a sardine that was pinned on an Owner 9/0 Mutu hook, and fought it for 2 hours, 40 minutes on a 5 ½-foot heavy stand-up rod with a Penn 30-wide two-speed reel spooled with 100-pound Soft Steel Ultra mainline and 100-pound Power Pro spectra backing.

The 100-minute fight was non-eventful as giant yellowfin go -- "We see 200-pounders that fight a helluva lot harder," Lackey said -- but that might make the difference between the IGFA certifying it as a record and losing the record to a technicality.

"The fish never left the stern," Livingston said. "It'd go from port to starboard, from starboard to port and back again, but it never left the front of the boat. These fish all have different personalities, but all I could think about this one when I first felt it was 'power'.

"When I threw the lever forward on the reel, it lifted me right onto my toes. I weigh 215 pounds, and that thing lifted me like I wasn't even there. It was an incredible fish."

The fish is now in the beginning stages of the IGFA certification process, which includes a 90-day waiting period because it was caught in international waters. The San Diego fleet has seen multiple massive yellowfin denied record status because of miniscule details that can occur fighting a 300-plus-pound fish on an 80- to -130-foot long-range platform.

"We always take a really hard look at big fish caught off of these long-range boats because there's a lot of room for things to go wrong and go against the rules," said IGFA world records coordinator Jack Vitek. "The line can get wrapped on the anchor or the fish can get foul-hooked on somebody else's line and require assistance to untangle it, which disqualifies it because somebody else touches the line. Whenever we see something come in off the long-range boats, we keep a really close eye on it."

The certification process requires for Livingston to submit the leader and roughly 50 feet of mainline, along with a notarized application with basic information (length, girth and weight of the fish, a description of the gear), photographs of him with the fish, the rod and reel, and the scale used to weigh the fish, and a handful of sworn testimonials from witnesses aboard the Vagabond.

"I think everything is going to qualify," Lackey said. "(Livingston) was in a harness when he caught it, nobody assisted him and he didn't have any line-tangle issues. Fortunately, the fish fought at the surface most of the time, and it was smooth from the time he hooked it until we got it on board."

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Please Help

We need your help. A vital and scenic watershed is facing a threat unlike anything it has previously encountered. The Hoosic River and its trout are in danger.

"Beaver Wood Energy, LLC, has proposed a massive 29.5 megawatt biomass incinerator for the former Green Mountain Race Track in Pownal, VT and are attempting to rush the permitting process in order to qualify for millions of dollars in federal taxpayer subsidies."

This incinerator will burn 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The plant's cooling towers will extract 500,000 gallons of water per day from the river. When the river experiences drought, the plant will draw from an on-site well that is fed by the same water table that feeds the river. What remains of this superheated water will then be returned to the Hoosic.

The Bennington-Berkshire Citizen's Coalition has come together to, "demand that we are given the respect we deserve as citizens and taxpayers to have a time to complete a full review of the proposal as serious concerns have arisen related to air pollution, water use, public health and safety, traffic, aesthetics, natural environment, and historic preservation as well as the direct impact on abutting residential homes and neighbors, real estate values, and the local agriculture/farming community."

Please help us fight this menace. Click on the link below to register as a concerned citizen. There is no cost. There is no obligation. There is only your concern for yet another coldwater fishery facing the threats of ignorance and greed.

Please help .... Please ....

Monday, December 6, 2010


Thinking back on November ... what a time we had ...

Saturday, December 4, 2010

That's What Friends Are For

Saw this video for the first time on Moldy Chum, and I just had to embed it here. Clever ...

Friday, December 3, 2010

Merry Christmas: Reign in Blood

From one old metal head to any others out there ... Merry Christmas ya'll. Totally unrelated to fishing ...

Monday, November 29, 2010

Deux Mains

I'm not a particularly religious man, but I do consider myself a person of faith who would never assume to know God's mind. I mean really, who - in the grand scheme - am I? Truth be told, I can barely get through a full work day without screwing the pooch at least once. The big guy upstairs creates the universe in seven days, and I might be able to mow my lawn, and pay someone to change the oil in my wife's car inside of that same week. Pathetic, I know.

In contemplating the divine, my own inadequacy, and bug chucking, I find myself wondering why if God decided to build a natural redundancy into human beings - two eyes, two legs, ten fingers, three testicles -why then is two handed casting not the norm? Why do fly flingers fling their flies with only one arm doing the lion's share of the work. It occurs to me that one-handed casting goes against nature, against divine design.

Here's the thing. On a recent steelhead trip - a four day bender on the Salmon River - I fished a two-handed rod exclusively. I didn't intend as much; I'm hardly a dedicated spey guy. It just sort of happened. I was there. The rod was there. I was a little drunk. Why not?

And I have to say ... I enjoyed it. I enjoyed it so much - in fact - that I'm considering a bamboo firesale to help finance an arsenal of two-handed sticks, and hundreds of yards of T-14. I'm sure I'll regret this later, but like the lives of so many other bug chuckers my life is a series of regrets strung loosely together, so why not?

Anyone interested in a 7' 4# quadrate that was built on a Payne 98 taper?

Friday, November 26, 2010

Asian carp create nagging fear in Lake Erie towns

WHEATLEY, Ontario – Well before dawn, Todd Loop takes his fishing tug onto Lake Erie in pursuit of yellow perch, walleye and other delicacies — a livelihood that has sustained his family for three generations but faces a future as murky as the freshwater sea on a moonless night.

Already ravaged by exotic species such as the sea lamprey and quagga mussel, the Great Lakes soon may be invaded by Asian carp, greedy giants that suck plankton from the water with the brutal efficiency of vacuum cleaners. Scientists are unsure how much damage they would do, but a worst-case scenario has them unraveling the aquatic food web by crowding out competitors and decimating a fishing industry valued at more than $7 billion.

Nowhere is the danger greater than in Lake Erie. Although the shallowest of the five lakes, its fish populations are by far the most abundant. That's why commercial fishing, which has faded elsewhere in much the Great Lakes region, is still alive in Canadian port towns scattered along the lake's northern shoreline.
But fishermen such as Loop, 48, wonder how long their cherished way of life will continue.

"We're just trying to survive and make a decent living," said Loop. "It's bad enough already, but if those carp get in here . it could be absolute devastation."

Commercial fishermen are already squeezed by the bad economy and regulations limiting the size of their catch. The number of fishing boats and employees has declined by about two-thirds in recent decades, and many of those who remain say they're barely hanging on.

The industry's downfall would be a crippling blow for places like Wheatley, where commercial fishing is not just a pillar of the local economy, but a cultural icon.

"It's absolutely vital that the commercial fishing industry remains strong here," said Barry Broadbent, owner of the Car Barn diner in Wheatley, where local perch is a menu staple. "It puts money in everybody else's pockets."

Lake Erie has relatively mild temperatures and plentiful supply of plankton, the foundation of the food chain, making it ideal fish habitat. In addition to perch and walleye, which the Canadians call pickerel, the lake teems with varieties prized by commercial and sport fishers alike: bass, trout, salmon, whitefish, smelt and more.
On July 31, boosters placed signs at the edge of Wheatley proclaiming it "the world's largest fresh water commercial fishing port." Ontario's oldest and largest fish processor, Great Lakes Fish Corp., shut down a month later in the town of 1,800 after operating just short of a century, idling 130 workers.

The closure was depressing for the tradition-minded community in which the industry provides spinoff jobs such as repairing nets and maintaining boats. Crews shop at local stores and eat at local restaurants.
Settlers established the first commercial fisheries on Erie's north coast in the mid-19th century. By the early 1980s, about 130 vessels operated across the region, employing some 3,000 workers. But the industry has declined across the Great Lakes as improvements in technology and equipment led to overfishing, invasive species took their toll and big operators bought up smaller ones.

To the Canadian fishers, a big foe is the system that sets annual quotas on the amount of walleye and perch that can be taken from Lake Erie to prevent excessive harvests and give both commercial operators and sport anglers a fair share. The limits are set by a committee with representatives from the province of Ontario and the states adjacent to the lake: Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York.

Walleye catch limits have fallen drastically in recent years — just 2.2 million fish this year, down from 9.9 million in 2006. Perch levels have fluctuated during the same period, but the committee warns of declines to come.

Some commercial operators insist there's fish aplenty and that the quotas, rising costs and the poor economy have pushed many to the brink. Those like Don Loewen, 69, wonder whether the fishing industry can even stay alive long enough for the invaders to make a difference.

"We will probably die before the carp get here," he said.

Bighead and silver carp, both Asian species, have migrated up the Mississippi River and its tributaries for decades. They're now on the Great Lakes' doorstep, threatening to enter Lake Michigan through Chicago-area canals and rivers.

Authorities are trying to repel them with electric barriers, poisons and nets. Five states are suing in federal court to close navigational locks that provide openings to the lake, a move ferry and barge companies fiercely resist.
If a breeding population takes hold in Lake Michigan, biologists say, they could find their way around the tip of Michigan's Lower Peninsula to Lake Huron, then south to Lake Erie. How long the journey of more than 700 miles would take is anyone's guess.

"They'll make it eventually. They're good swimmers," said Jeff Reuter, director of Ohio State University's Stone Laboratory.

This summer, the danger suddenly looked a lot closer. Biologists discovered Asian carp had advanced farther north than previously thought on the Wabash River in Indiana, which has a tributary that seeps into wetlands near Fort Wayne. They say the carp could slip across the marshes during floods and reach the nearby Maumee River. From there, it's a straight shot to Lake Erie.

"Of all the Great Lakes, Lake Erie would be the most feasible place for them to become established," said Roger Knight, a biologist with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. The characteristics that make the lake hospitable to perch and walleye would apply equally to the carp.

An Asian carp infestation wouldn't necessarily doom other species, said Duane Chapman, a U.S. Geological Survey biologist. Sport fishing is holding its own in some places where carp have gained a foothold — particularly the Missouri River, where anglers are still snagging catfish.

But experts agree it's likely that at least some species would suffer.

In Port Stanley, another Lake Erie fishing village, Larry Jackson's response to the Asian carp threat was a fatalistic shrug. At 73, he's seen lots of ups and downs in a lifetime of fishing. He was co-owner of the Wheatley processing plant that recently went bankrupt. A big financial hit, but he still has his lakefront fish shop and two tugs.

If the carp invade, Jackson said, he'll respond the only way he knows how: by catching them. Their flesh could be turned into patties and sold in Asia, where it's already popular, he said.

"If I'm given lemons, I'll make lemonade," he said. "If I'm given Asian carp, I'll make fish sticks."

Original Link

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A Public Service Announcement: Pulaski Palsy

Today smelled like steelhead.

It was warm, probably somewhere in the high 50s or low 60s, with heavy cloud cover, and a slight foggy haze enveloped everything.

Smelled like steelhead, indeed.

And while I could not make it to the river today, I know there were probably a few hundred bug chuckers who did. Some of those long rodders were running Estaz eggs off an indicator; others were swinging Akroyds on a 500 grain Skagit and six feet of T-14. Some were probably hooking up, especially early in the morning, and again in the afternoon. A select few were likely hooking up all day. Some of those fellas - the boys hooking fish throughout the day - are tormented by a disease euphemistically dubbed Pulaski Palsy.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual Volume IV classifies Pulaski Palsy as an offshoot of Tourette's Syndrome, although the research on a correlation is a little spotty. Pulaski Palsy - or PP as it's known amongst bug chuckers - is characterized by problems in communication between brain cells, a misfiring of the synapses that will usually manifest itself during the initial run of chinook salmon into Lake Ontario's tributaries.  The resultant symptoms rarely subsist until the last of the following year's summer run steelhead have dropped back into the lake.

The real danger of PP, the reason we desperately need to find a cure, is the tics often associated with the disease. Initially presenting as excessive, inane speech, these involuntary movements often progress to a violent flailing or jerking of the limbs.

The men and women featured in the following video clearly suffer from Pulaski Palsy, and seem to indicate the spread of the disease beyond the northeastern United States.    

As the video demonstrates, the earliest research into the affliction suggested that PP was limited to bait chucking fishermen and lead slinging snaggers. Later studies indicate, however, that Pulaski Palsy is not species-specific; an increasing number of cases amongst bug chuckers has been reported in the area in and around the Lower Fly Fishing Zone of New York's, Salmon River. Standing on the bridge in Altmar and looking upstream, one may see any number of fly fishermen - and the disease does seem to effect men more so than women - who set the hook with ever increasing frequency and rapidity. Every twitch of a bobber or stoppage of the line causes the victim's arms to jerk up and to the side, up and to the side, up and to the side.

Currently, there exists only one known treatment for Pulaski Palsy. This remedy demonstrates 100% efficacy, although multiple applications may be necessary.

Lara Croft

Thursday, November 18, 2010


Remember the original Star Wars films as they appeared on the big screen? Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Chewbacca, Princess Leia, and the ever imposing Darth Vader? Remember the Death Star, Tie-Fighters, and the Millennium Falcon? C3PO and R2D2?

Of course you do. Star Wars has become part and parcel of America, a slice of our collective unconscious. We've all dreamed of living in a galaxy far, far away. As such, I do not think it's entirely unreasonable to believe - or rather, hope - that you might remember one particular scene in the final installment of the trilogy, The Return of the Jedi. 

As the scene opens, Han Solo is frozen in carbonite, and has become the favorite wall decoration of interplanetary criminal kingpin, Jabba the Hutt. Intent on rescuing Han, his friends attempt an ill conceived prison break. Among his would be rescuers is one time romantic rival, Luke Skywalker.

Skywalker enters Jabba's desert fortress, and is soon accosted by a pair of guards. With a simple raise of his hand, the puzzled duo retreats into the shadows. Then Jabba's majordomo - Bib Fortuna - confronts the young Jedi. Skywalker is the first to speak.

"I must speak with Jabba now."

Fortuna answers in Huttese, clearly denying Skywalker's demand.

Skywalker raises his hand and insists, "You will take me to Jabba now!"

In subtitled Huttese, "I will take you to Jabba now."

"You serve your master well."

"I serve my master well."

Unfortunately, the Jedi mind trick doesn't work so well on Jabba, and the rescue attempt gets a little more complicated.

What has any of this to do with fly fishing? Truthfully, it has nothing to do with bug chucking, but I witnessed something earlier this month that made me think of that one particular scene in George Lucas' film.

The boys and I were on day three of a four day trip to New York's, Salmon River. Officially, we were chasing steelhead, but we were all happy to take whatever the river offered. And she gave us quite a mix. Sure, we caught steelies (some big boys too), but we also tied into kings, Atlantics, and browns. Some of the fish were small, but most were measured in pounds. I digress.

One of the fellas with whom we fished is something of a regular on the Salmon. Bert Turner has been running the river's holes, and drifting its runs for nearly 30 years. He knows every nuance of the place: every rock, every seam, every cut. He's been the tutor to some of the very best fishermen I know, and by the end of the trip I had nicknamed him Yoda - Master Yoda if you're nasty (yes, that's a loose allusion to Janet Jackson).

Do or do not ... there is no try!
Allow me a moment to explain precisely why Bert reminds me of the diminutive, grammatically challenged Jedi Master.

First, the guy can catch fish - a lot of fish. In simplest terms, I think Bert must have some sort of piscatorial ESP. He uses the force to see steelhead in their lies; he knows when they're moving, when they're holding, when they're likely to be caught, and when they have lockjaw. For two days, Bert was hooking fish with nothing past the rod tip but leader and fly ... in spots where the rest of us had been wading not 15 minutes prior. Twice Bert hooked large fish that I lost at the net. He simply shrugged and smiled a knowing smile. Never a harsh word or disapproving look. Master Yoda is a consummate teacher.

Second - and more to the point - Bert has mastered the Jedi mind trick.

As anyone who has fished the Salmon River and surrounding watersheds can tell you, the tributaries to Lake Ontario can be something of a circus. The river and its cousins are within a day's drive of several major metropolitan areas - New York City, Philadelphia, Syracuse, Buffalo, Boston - and on any given day the parking areas along the river might be packed with vehicles from four or more states. I would be willing to bet that the Salmon receives more fishing pressure than any other cold water fishery on the east coast. In order to stake claim to a particular hole or run, one had best plan on arriving early. By early, I mean one had best be rigged and to the river an hour or so before sun up. Unless, of course, one happens to be fishing alongside Bert Turner.

Size matters not. Look at me. Judge me by my size, do you? Hmm? Hmm. And well you should not. For my ally is the Force, and a powerful ally it is.

If you're fishing with Bert, you're guaranteed the opportunity to fish whatever piece of water you might like. For example, on day three of our trip Bert, Ben, and I had hoped to fish a section of river known as Paradise. Paradise is the perfect steelhead run. She glides about 150 feet from head to tail, and is two to six feet deep along her length (depending on water levels). If it isn't the most popular section of the river, then it's probably number two or three. We arrived at about ten o'clock to find ten or fifteen bug chuckers spread throughout its breadth. Ben and I settled for some of the marginal water that was available, while Master Yoda sauntered up to the fella' who was fishing the choicest spot at the head. The conversation went something like this ...

"Beautiful day. Any luck?"

"Kiss off!"

"I'd rather fish here."

"Kiss off!"

Bert slowly waved his hand in front of the angler's face.

"You want me to fish this water."

"Come to think of it, I want you to fish this water."

"You want me to smoke one of your cigarettes."

"Care for a smoke while you rig up?"

And just like that Bert, Ben and I found ourselves alternating through the head of Paradise. Ben hooked an enormous fish that fought the way you want a steelhead to fight, especially if it's going to come unglued before it comes to net. Bert hooked up several times, and even I managed a couple of smacks. Altogether it was an interesting and instructive day.

To close, I leave you with this. Should you ever find yourself on the Salmon River, and feeling a disturbance in the force, then you had best step out of the water. Chances are that the master has his eye on your end of the run. It's best if you just let it be.
Looks a little like Greedo, don't ya' think?

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Swinging for Steel

All that follows, currently appears on the Orvis News blog. The author, Shawn Brillon, is a friend, and he's given me permission to reprint the article on The Rusty Spinner. The events Shawn recounts happened on a recent trip we and some other friends took to New York's, Salmon River. Together, we hooked too many fish to count, including the beautiful buck steelhead pictured below, which Shawn took while swinging an Orange Heron.

Swinging for Steel

In all they years that I have been going to the New York's Salmon River, I always spend a day or two swinging big junk waiting for that magical tug. Well, last week I not only got that tug, but I brought the fish to hand—and to make the success ever so sweeter, it was done in the presence of my fishing buddies. Every fly fisherman has had those days: you hooked up and landed a beauty, only to share that epic moment with…uh, yourself. No pictures and no witnesses, so therefore it never happened in the eyes of your fishing buddies.

This time was different. One of the boys was skeptical about the swing, arguing that you catch way more fish running egg patterns under an indicator. I didn’t try to dispute that fact, but I knew that a really big fish coming to the swing was a great possibility. I also knew that if I were to hook up on a hog with 1X, I had a better chance of getting the fish to hand than my friend with his 3X. In fact, as we were discussing the merits of both styles of fishing, I hooked up on a fat brown of 10 pounds or more. After I released the gorgeous trout, my buddy commented , “Well, bro, you're off to a good start.”

It wasn’t more than 20 casts later when the big boy grabbed solid, and the game was on. This time, the whole crew was in attendance to share this epic moment of nailing a hog on the ultimate way to catch a steelhead…on the swing.

In three days of hard fishing, I swung up four steelies and four browns over 10 pounds. To my friend's point, he caught more fish with the egg, but the BIG boys came to the swing.

Shawn Brillon resides in Vermont and is an Orvis Rod & Tackle Product Development Specialist

Friday, November 12, 2010

The Salmon: A Video Montage

A sampling of some of the better moments from two recent trips to New York's, Salmon River ...

Saturday, November 6, 2010


Have you ever met someone that you knew - absolutely and positively knew - shouldn't be allowed to swim in the deep end of the gene pool? We're talking about someone who lacks the gray matter to remember to hold his or her breath when bobbing for apples, let alone reasonably handle the responsibility of reproduction. Fortunately, I don't often meet people who are that far gone, but one recent encounter does stand out in my mind.

Last month, I floated the river with Shawn (no ... Shawn isn't the subject of this diatribe). The air was crisp, the sun was bright, and the water was just right for a float. We brought along a new boat, swung some new flies, and drank what I suppose was more than our share of pale ale. The river gods saw fit to grant us a few hook-ups, and even if nothing we caught was too terribly large, it was enough to be satisfied. By anyone's yardstick we had a fine day.

What made the trip especially gratifying was that river seemed to have recovered a little bit.

This year's trout season witnessed a brutal summer. The heat was absolutely relentless, and the effect of this heat on the river was exacerbated by the dryness of a Saharan July and August. The river was as low as I've ever seen it, and warm enough to effectively cook the few wild trout that inhabit its riffles and pools.

If you're an occasional reader of The Rusty Spinner then I'm sure you're capable of imagining the scenario. Browns and rainbows were packed like so many canned sardines into the river's springs. Big fish. Small fish. Even crayfish. Everything with an earnest desire to survive faced nose first into a handful of cold water seeps. Round about the second week of August, I received a phone call from a friend that lives on the banks of the river.

"Mike, you should come up for a visit, and be sure to bring a rod."

"Today Frank? Why? What's going on?"

"Not sure why, but there are ten or twelve browns - each well over twenty-inches - packed into the spring by the house."

Two things helped me to keep my composure, and refrain from giving Frank a tongue lashing. First, he's an older dude, somewhere in between 70 and 80. Older guys get a pass every once in a while; they've paid their dues after all. Second, he broke his neck last summer, but when he did he went right on tilling his garden. He's a tough old bird, and his 160 pound, wiry frame could probably do a fair job of kicking my ass.

"Frank, do you know why those fish are there?"

"No, do you?"

"Yes, Frank, I do. They're jammed up into that spring because it's providing them with the only cool water, and probably the only oxygen for half a mile. If those fish move out of that spring they'll likely die."


"Yeah, Frank ... oh. Do me a favor, and keep those browns between the two of us. I'll come up for a visit, but I won't be fishing."

"Great. I'll have Barb make us a few sandwiches."

And so it went for most of the summer. I avoided the river and its trout because I knew that not to do so could have serious implications for anything I hooked. Mind you, I'm not against killing a fish. Fishing - even the elevated, sometimes snooty sport of flyfishing -  is a blood sport. I mean, come on, the whole point of the game is to impale your quarry with a chemically sharpened piece of Japanese steel. In most parts of the world, that's not a very nice thing to do.

So, while I'm not against killing a fish or two, I am against killing anything - fish or otherwise - senselessly or needlessly. That's why I spent the hottest part of the summer chasing bass and carp. That's also why I wanted to murder the fella' Shawn and I met at the end of our recent float trip.

He was a young guy, maybe in his early to mid twenties, with a shock of red hair akin to Raggedy Andy. When he saw Shawn and I drift to the gravel bar and pull our boats ashore, he made a bee line for us. Without even taking a breath, he started in with the expected questions.

"How'd you boys make out?"

"Enough to keep us busy."

"Anything of any size?"

"Just a couple of dinks."

"Nothing rising?"


"Fish here often?"

Softly and to ourselves ... "You'll never know."

Shawn did most of the talking. After eight hours at the oars and more than my share of a twelve pack, I wasn't in the mood to make a new friend. Besides, it didn't take Big Red very long to spill his guts and start bragging. As a rule, I avoid braggarts as much as is possible.

"You boys shoulda' fished here over the summer. Woooo boy ... it was something. The water was real, real low, which was great. The fish were concentrated in every riffle. You could catch ten or twenty in a day. Some big ones too. When I tell people about this place, they just don't believe it, but I bet you guys do. Man, it was just an awesome summer."

I almost lost it. This guy should have known better. He was young, but he was hardly a kid. Taking as much pleasure from the river as he did, he clearly had a responsibility to exercise a little common sense. But that isn't the point of this missive.

The point is this ...

I had a responsibility to take advantage of a teaching moment, and offer something to that young man that he may not have received from anyone else. I couldn't be sure that he knew enough to stay off the water when the river was in such poor condition. I failed to live up to my responsibilities as an angler and a steward of the river. I failed because I was tired, and because I generally avoid speaking to other fishermen. I am secretive to the point of being antisocial, and this attitude does nothing to help the river.

So, from now on I won't be such a curmudgeon. I think the river is a special place, and I have to accept that other folks might think so too.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Boys' Day Out

There was a time when the father and son fishing trip was ubiquitous, a right of passage that every young boy looked forward to with hopeful anticipation and quiet speculation. How many of us remember that first serious trip; the first time Dad took us along not out of a sense of paternal obligation, but rather because we were the old-man's favorite fishing partner? I do, and I bet you do too.

And I remember my father's beaming smile as I played my first fly caught trout at least as vividly as I remember my own son's barbaric yawp when he hooked his very first fish, a six inch pumpkinseed.

Fishing - fly fishing in particular I think - is tailor made for fathers and their sons. There's a learning curve: different ways to cast, knots to tie, rivers to wade, currents to master. Fathers are the teachers, sons are the students, and the outdoors is their classroom.

And all of this is mentioned by way of introduction.

Two weeks ago, Shawn took his son RJ to the Salmon River in western New York. Along for the ride was Tim Daughton and his son Holden. Two fathers - both Orvis employees - and their adolescent sons sharing the water, sharing their passion. Good to see ... really good to see.

Wading into the river, Shawn asked his son if he felt ready to do battle. RJ's Reply ... I feel like a warrior. Warrior indeed ... that switch rod is nearly three times the size of the boy.
Tim and Holden bonding over a rapidly decomposing mud shark. Watching a hundred or so of those things beat the gravel with their tails, and get their collective groove on is something to see. Well done fellas ...

One of too many smallish browns. They caught a bunch of these things, a few five or six pound Atlantics, a couple kings, and hooked one monster brown and a couple other fish that were just too fast to identify - probably steelhead. Just the kind of fishing a young man needs: fast, furious, diverse and the potential for a hog.

Who is holding who? Looks like the fish is smiling, and RJ is just wishing the photographer would do his job already. Good stuff regardless.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Day Trip

Today, Ben and I made the run out to the Salmon River. The trip was a bit impromptu; about halfway through the 2.5 hour drive I began to wonder if we had made a bad decision. The kings and cohos are still working their way up the river after all, and with those fish come the crowds. And yes ... the river was crowded, ridiculously crowded actually. Still, we managed to find some water for ourselves. We kept it to ourselves throughout most of the day, and the river gods were kind.

Hard not to appreciate autumn's colors.
Ben was the first to hook up.
This fish took Bennie about 50 feet into his backing, and it jumped eight or nine times. Something to see indeed.
My fish couldn't make up its mind about what it wanted to do ... that is, until Ben suggested it fought like a brown. At that point she decided to show us who was boss.
This trail isn't nearly so nice when there's two feet of snow on the ground.
Sometimes it's easy to forget to look up.
I don't know who Dave was, but apparently he was a bit of a d-bag, and clearly he wanted the whole world to know it.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Season's Close

Well ... the general fishing season is about to come to a close here in New York. Aside from special regulation watersheds such as the Salmon River or the trophy section of the Battenkill, the rivers and lakes I frequent are about to begin six months of hibernation.

With that in mind, Shawn and I thought to hit the river just one more time before the government shuts us down for the year. We hoped to find a few autumn bruisers, but this was not to be. Instead, our efforts were rewarded by eight or ten smallish rainbows. They were fun to catch, but they weren't the grand send-off for which we were hoping.

Regardless, it was a good day to be on the water. The sky was blue, the sun was shining, and neither air nor water were uncomfortable.

All things considered, I guess the day was just about right.

I secretly chuckled at the blaze orange underwear until some duck hunters fired their twelve-gauge shotguns over our heads. The pellets sliced through nearby trees. I then realized that Shawn is at least as smart as I am dumb.

Remember that movie Tommy Boy? "Richard look ... Fat guy in a little boat ... Fat guy in a little boat." I really shouldn't give my man too much grief. I weigh 30 pounds more than Shawn, and my Waterskeeter cries for its mother whenever I come near.

As some of you know, Shawn is one of the fly fishing product developers for the Orvis company. The boat pictured here is likely going to be a new addition to their product line. It is simply incredible. Frameless ... lighter than my boat ... ridiculously maneuverable.

I've really no idea just what a GigBob is ... but I want one. Do you hear me Santa Claus?

I'm yet to meet a dead merganser that I do not like. This one was likely the victim of a local bald eagle, as the carcass was perched atop a stump in the middle of the river, could not have been reached by any land-based predator, and was picked clean of every bit of flesh. Raptors 1 - Fish Gobbling River Chickens 0.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

3M to Acquire Ross Reels

3M to Acquire Ross Reels

ST. PAUL, Minn. – September 30, 2010 – 3M announced today that it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Ross Reels, a Colorado-based manufacturer of fly fishing equipment and accessories. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Ross Reels is recognized as one of the top fly reel manufacturers in the United States. Its full line of products includes high quality fly rods, complete fly fishing outfits, reel outfits, rod cases, fishing pliers and other outdoor related products. 3M, through its Scientific Anglers brand, offers a wide variety of products and equipment for all fly fishing experiences, including fly lines, reels, rods, boxes and instructional DVDs.

“The addition of Ross Reels builds on 3M’s core fly fishing portfolio and further expands the business,” said Gabi Sabongi, vice president, New Business Ventures, 3M Consumer and Office Business. “The combination of the well-recognized Ross Reels brand products with 3M’s Scientific Anglers branded fly fishing lines, reels, rods and accessories will allow 3M to better serve consumers and retailers in North America.”

3M’s angling scientists and design team work in partnership with fly-fishing legends to develop cutting-edge technologies and ultimate fly line designs to modernize the sport. Throughout its 60 year history in this market, 3M has been inventing premier fly fishing products—from the contemporary floating fly line more than 50 years ago to the specialty core construction and patented Sharkskin technologies.

Ross Reels employs approximately 25 people at its operations in Montrose, Colorado. The transaction is expected to be completed in the fourth quarter.

About Ross Reels

Established in 1973, and based in Montrose, Colorado, Ross Reels employs a team of skilled professionals who are passionate about the outdoors and bring real world experience into every aspect of design and manufacturing. Ross Reels is committed to producing the finest outdoor recreation products.

About 3M

A recognized leader in research and development, 3M produces thousands of innovative products for dozens of diverse markets. 3M’s core strength is applying its more than 40 distinct technology platforms – often in combination – to a wide array of customer needs. With $23 billion in sales, 3M employs 75,000 people worldwide and has operations in more than 65 countries. For more information, visit or follow @3MNews on Twitter.

Scientific Anglers and Sharkskin are trademarks of 3M.

- "3M to Acquire Ross Reels." 30 September 2010. Angling Trade. 30 September 2010.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010


I've friends - fishing partners - men whom I trust with some of the most important things in life: accurate and timely river reports, glimpses into my fly box, photographing those fish I've caught that are worthy of a photograph. I love these guys like family, like brothers. Really, I do.

But I find myself sometimes thinking that they're all a little nearsighted.

Here's the thing. Each of the boys is a trout fisherman of the highest order. Each chases salmo trutta, salvelinus fontinalis, and oncorhynchus mykiss armed with long rods, leaky waders, and rarefied passion. Each is absolutely dedicated to the pursuit of his chosen quarry, usually to the exclusion of any other species. They're trout chasers who rarely walk the road less traveled. I guess what I'm saying is that these guys are trout fishermen before they're fly fishermen.

Don't misunderstand me. The fellas are dedicated fly flingers, but if they're not chasing trout then chances are that they just aren't fishing. Such has been especially evident this summer as we've had virtually no rain, water levels have been eerily low, and water temperatures have been dangerously high. Trout fishing has been out of the question. Consequently, the boys and I haven't spent nearly as much time stream side as we usually do.

As for me ... well ... I tend to think of myself as a bug chucker first, and a trout hound second. I love cold rivers, emerging mayflies, and top feeding trout, but just about any fish that will take a fly gives me essentially the same thrill as a spinner slurping brown. Trout, bass, bluegill, carp, pike, steelhead ... it makes no difference to me. I love a well executed double haul, the rush of the take, and the adrenaline pumping uncertainty of fighting a solid fish. I'd fish in a toilet if the alternative were not fishing at all.

I suppose I'm going to take some heat from the boys. They'll suggest that I'm being obtuse, that I'm being insulting, that I'm offering some sort of a commentary about their preferences or aptitude. This couldn't be further from the truth. Like I said, I love these guys. They're great friends, and fine fishermen. I learn something from each of them nearly every time we're on the water together.

It's just that ... well ... I get a little lonely out there (here comes the Oprah moment). Sure, I like fishing alone well enough. Fishing alone is fine when there isn't any other choice, but from top to bottom I thoroughly enjoy hitting the water with the boys. If given the opportunity to do one or the other, I will always choose to have the company. Something as special as fly fishing - and all that fly fishing entails - simply begs to be shared.

Even if that means it's carp instead of brookies or bass instead of browns.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Paying It Forward

When I'm not fishing, tying, blogging, or responding to the triplets' incessant cries of "Daddy, Daddy, Daddy" ... I am a teacher of composition, rhetoric, and literature (also known as 12th grade English). And while it may seem a stretch, teaching can be a tough job. Yes ... I am painfully aware of all the arguments that might suggest otherwise.

Teachers have an extended summer vacation. Teachers have all those days off around the holidays. Many teachers don't teach; they spend the work day reading the newspaper. Teachers take Caribbean vacations courtesy of the tax-payer. Ten months in a classroom hardly equates to ten months on a crab boat in the Bering Sea.

I'm not going to try to dispel those myths here, and they are myths - except for the crab boat thing. Instead, I ask only that you suspend your disbelief, and try to understand that working with kids is sometimes very difficult. Not only does the job try one's patience, but it also erodes one's resilience. The ubiquitous chatter, wise cracks, and spit balls aren't what makes for a difficult day. The real challenge is the heartbreak. Over and over again, I hear the stories.

Mary's father is a drunk. Steven's mother has been out of work for over a year, and Steven works nights at the local grocery to pay his family's rent. Emma's uncle has been arrested for raping Emma's sister, and he was probably raping Emma too. These nightmares - and myriad others just as terrible - are incredibly sad, and all too common.

Even more common is the story of the talented young person who is too apathetic, lazy, or short-sighted to care much about his or her education. It is this apathy - a complete and all consuming lack of ambition with which I am too often confronted - that most affects me. I don't expect my students to be passionate about the content of my class; I'd be a fool if I did. I only hope the young people in my charge are passionate about something. With ever increasing frequency, they are not.

That's why I did something the other day that I have not done in the ten years since I first took ownership of my classroom. I took a student - a former student actually - fly fishing. When he was under my tutelage, William would often speak of fishing with his grandfather, and when he did he invariably smiled. I don't recall him ever smiling outside of those conversations about his grandfather.

As you might expect, Will knew I was a bug chucker, and often asked if he might someday join me on the river. I'm ashamed to say that fears of liability and litigation kept me from ever making that trip. His disappointment at having been repeatedly denied was obvious that last day of class. I've thought about Will quite a bit since then, and when I was given a chance to redeem myself I jumped at the opportunity.

To make a long story just a little bit shorter, Will and I finally managed to share some water. We ran into each other near the end of the summer. I made sure to give him my number, and an open invitation for a day on the river. He called that same night.

The following morning, we strung up a pair of long rods, and flailed away at one of my favorite sections of smallmouth water. Will cast surprisingly well. His grandfather must have been quite a teacher. After a dozen or so bass we were sated. We parted ways with a firm handshake, and an awkward bro-hug.

Later in the week, I received a series of text messages from Will (seems like everyone his age would rather text than talk). He thanked me for taking him, expressed his happiness at having caught a few fish, and intimated that he might want to go again. He also shared a rather remarkable story.

Following our trip, he returned home, and flipped through his mother's photo albums. He explains that he felt nostalgic, and was looking for pictures of his grandpa. He found several, including a picture that was taken when Will was just a boy. The photograph might have depicted the first time Will fished with his grandfather as he didn't remember the day or the context in which the photo was taken.

What struck him most about the photo is that he and I had fished in exactly the same spot that he and his grandfather had fished some 15 years prior.

So ... what's the point?

I guess the point is this. Kids are surprising. They seem not to care. They seem apathetic, disaffected, and lazy. They're not. It's all a show. Kids are razor sharp, deeply emotional - virtual well springs of passion and fury. They need to know that someone cares enough to see the best in them, even when they bury that character under layers of ignorance and bravado. They want someone - anyone really - to care enough to share with them a few laughs and a day on the water.

That leaves me with only one more thing to say.

Thank you Will.

Thank you for taking time away from your friends to spend a day with me. Thank you helping me to take off my blinders. Thank you for refreshing - if not restoring - my waning faith in young people, and helping me to realize that people like you are almost always more than they seem to be. You're a good man, and I think I'm a better man for having known you. 

I can only hope that someday I'm given the opportunity to pay it all forward.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Interview with a Master Angler

Earlier this year, the Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife began what it calls the Master Angler Program. According to the promotional material on Fish and Wildlife's website, "the program is intended to recognize the achievements of anglers who catch exceptionally-sized fish from Vermont water ... [and] the fish's accomplishment in surviving and growing to such an admirable size." 

And why not? Don't we all like to be recognized when we do something well? Isn't this especially true of bug chuckers, who have matched or surpassed their own personal milestones. The simple truth is that as long as men have been baiting hooks with meat or adorning them with fur and feathers, they've been telling the tales of their catch and the stories of the ones that got away. For proof, one need only look at the recent explosion in fly fishing related media: magazines, e-zines, HD films, blogs.

Vermont has provided a forum by which we might all be recognized, and perhaps learn a little something along the way. One of the first anglers to embrace the program, and the first to receive recognition as a master angler is Drew Price, a guide working with Stream and Brook Fly Fishing of Middlebury, Vermont. 

The Rusty Spinner recently had the good fortune to interview Drew about fishing, guiding, and Vermont's exciting new program ...

TRS:      How did you come to fly fishing?

Drew Price:  I got my first fly rod outfit in December of 1993 as a graduation present when I completed my first degree at SUNY Plattsburgh. I had been spin fishing for a few years but I wanted to try fly fishing. It seemed more challenging and in some ways more substantial to me. So I practiced casting in the snow that winter, got a fly tying kit and started tying, and then didn’t catch a fish until the middle of May!

TRS:  To where have you traveled to fish?

Drew Price:  I have fished all over New York state for a variety of species from muskies to salmon and steelhead, been to Cape Cod for stripers and I have been twice to the Everglades in Flamingo, Florida for snook, baby tarpon, and anything else we could catch.

TRS:  Have you any one place you tend to think of as a favorite?

Drew Price:  Well I try to get to Oak Orchard Creek in NY at least once a year, usually twice. Huge browns get my attention for sure! I really want to get back to the ‘Glades now that I know what I am doing much better.

TRS:  What place haven't you visited that's on your bucket list?

Drew Price:  I am not sure that we have enough space for that! Here are a few:
- East Texas for alligator gar
- Midwest for buffalo (the fish not the mammal)
- Somewhere for bonefish and shark
- The Amazon for a wide variety of fishes
- Mongolia for taimen

I suspect you get the picture… A lot of what I am most interested in are non-traditional species. And fish that get big. But I will fish almost anywhere.

TRS:  What are your home waters?

Drew Price:  The Lake Champlain watershed is what I really consider my home waters. I fish primarily the Winooski and Otter Creek watersheds, but I have spent a great deal of time on other rivers (especially in New York) and a lot of time on the shallow bays of the lake.

TRS:  When did you begin guiding?

Drew Price:  That was about 3 years ago. Stream and Brook was looking for some extra help and I thought I could bring them something a bit different. Now the Big Game fishing that I brought to the guide service is almost a quarter of our business.

Longnose gar up close and personal (note the "hookless fly"- although to be legal in VT it has a hook point: a size 20 dry fly hook)

TRS:  What do you enjoy most about your work?

Drew Price:  I meet some really cool and interesting people! And the office environment doesn’t suck to be in either.

  You seem to have very eclectic tastes in terms of the fish you pursue. Have you a favorite species?

Drew Price:  No. I love to fish for almost anything. Except walleye. Totally overrated fish.

TRS:  Of the species you chase, which do you think is most under appreciated by fly fishermen?

Drew Price:  I think that many species are underrated by fly anglers. From sunfish to bowfin to carp and pike many species have a bad rap with a lot of folks. I find that a lot of the “next generation” of fly anglers has a greater appreciation for these fish rather than the old school mentality of trout and salmon only. I do find a big bias from the traditionalists. Kind of like this “why would you bother” attitude. I bother because it is fun. To borrow a line from Ben and Jerry, if it’s not fun, why do it?

Drew getting a kiss from one of his favorite targets. I think that's Drew on the right.

TRS:  Why should fly fishermen consider pursuing these fish?

Drew Price:  The challenge that they present. I started fishing for trout and salmon and still do.  But let’s face it, if you run into a situation on a trout stream you can probably find someone that has written about how to meet that challenge. There is a kind of constant with it, knowing when and where something will hatch, how to imitate that insect, etc… A lot of what I have found angling for alternative species is that I am learning a lot about what I am doing with it every time I go out. No one has written much about it. I have dialed it in pretty well so far, but it is always a learning experience.

Most of these fish are bigger than your typical freshwater fly rod target. They fight hard, can be tough to get to take, and are in places you don’t see many other fly anglers. A lot of these species are also safe to fish for when it is super hot out (usually the best time to target them) making them a great option during the heat of summer.

Personally, I really enjoy the variety of angling for so many species. I would get bored just chasing one kind of fish or group of fish.

TRS:  As best you can, please explain the Vermont Master Class program.

Drew Price:  I think the best thing here to take a look at the Vermont Fish and Wildlife website.

TRS:  What is the goal of the program?

Drew Price:  There really are three goals for the program: showcase the excellent fishing variety available in Vermont, acknowledge anglers that have made exceptional catches, and to collect valuable biological information from the anglers that have submitted their catches.

TRS:  How does an angler go about submitting his or her catch for recognition?

Drew Price:  Super simple! Just go to the aforementioned website, fill out a form and send in a picture with the online form. The important things to keep in mind are to know the minimum lengths for the species you are targeting, take a picture that can be used (best to take multiple pictures) and resize the photo before submitting it. Oh yea, and get out there to fish your butt off!

Shawn Good - Vermont state fisheries biologist and mastermind behind the VT Master Angler Program with a Master Class bowfin

TRS:  How many entries have you submitted

Drew Price:  So far, 27 entries with 10 different species. I am hoping to increase both of those numbers. And they are all on flies.

TRS:  Which entry did you find most notable?

Drew Price:  They are all notable! Seriously, they really are. All of them are large representatives of each species and were challenging to catch. A lot of homework went into figuring out when and where to target these fishes. Obviously it has paid off.

TRS:  Have you any plans to expand your list of Master Class fish?

Drew Price:  Well my original goal was to hit 10 species. Now, I will shoot for 15. I want to get as many as I can on a fly rod. I would say that I can get all but 4 or 5 of the 33 species on a fly, but then again, I have not targeted those few species yet. I have caught bullhead on flies before so I do think I could get one of those and probably a channel cat too…. I want as many as I can!

It all begins again starting January 1, 2011! The Master Angler Program resets at the beginning of each year. I am already plotting out my fishing for next season with the program in mind.