Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Flood Watch

If you're lucky enough to be heading out to the river tomorrow morning, please take care once you hit the water. Good luck everybody.

From the WRGB, Channel 6 website out of Schenectady, New York:


A FLOOD WATCH remains in effect through this afternoon for the Catskills and mid Hudson valley as well as Montgomery, Washington, Rensselaer, Bennington, Berkshire and Litchfield counties.

A storm forming tonight along the mid Atlantic coast will strengthen and track north to a position south of New York City today. This system will tap into an existing area of deep sub-tropical moisture looming along the coast to produce locally moderate to heavy rain across eastern New York and western New England on Tuesday. Rainfall amounts of 1"-2" on average are likely from the Capital Region on east into Berkshire County and on south into the Catskills and mid Hudson valley. Locally higher amounts of rain are possible especially in the eastern Catskills, Berkshires, and Litchfield hills where terrain enhances the rainfall. This amount of rain on top of saturated ground conditions and ambient high water levels will be enough to trigger additional river, stream, and creek flooding through tonight.

If you live in a flood prone zone in the watch area, now is the time to prepare for the potential of flooding. Have a plan in place now should flooding materialize at your location later.

Lighter rainfall amounts of 1/2" to 1" are likely north and west of the Capital Region through the Adirondacks where flooding is much less likely. There is, however, a potential that enough cooling will develop with this storm that some wet snow or mixed snow and sleet could develop over the highest elevations of the Adirondacks and Catskills later today and tonight. At this time, any snow and sleet should be confined to elevations of 2000'and higher if it materializes at all.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The First

Here in New York, the first of April is a special day; for the bug chucker, it is the unofficial beginning of spring. It is a day full of hope and anticipation; a day when everything is possible, and dreams can come true. Here in in New York, April 1st is the opening day of trout season. I haven't missed wetting a line on the opener in over 15 years.

Until this year. Work. Students. Contracts. Children and other familial obligations. Everything in my world has conspired to ensure that April 1st, 2010 is - for me at least - wholly uninspiring and devoid of running water or spotted fins. Naturally, the weather promises to be exceptional, and the water levels are just where I'd want them to be. In the words of Kurt Vonnegut, "Poo-tee-weet? So it goes." I'll spend the day sitting behind my desk, and from time to time I'll look longingly and forlornly out the window. I'll sip at a stale cup of coffee, assign vocabulary drills to the few students foolish enough to show up for class, and obsess about how Adam, Ben and Shawn are doing.

Of course, Adam will hit all the usual spots. He'll certainly fish the pine tree pool and the falls. He might even make it over to the confluence of those two little streams we both love so very much. Adam and I have been fishing opening day together for nearly twenty years, and that we usually hit a few on the first day out is not so much a testament to our skills, but rather to the miles under our boots. Ben will be in Minnesota fishing the south shore of Lake Superior for steelhead. Shawn will be dapping water in Wyoming, on the company's dime no less.  

So it goes. Right? It was only a matter of time I suppose. I had to miss one sooner or later, and I guess it's better that I get it out of the way now, when I still feel like I've a few opening days left in me. And I suppose I could be paying my karmic dues. Maybe the second day of April will be something special.

Maybe, but probably not.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Fishing My Way Through The Blogosphere

Being a bug chucker seems sometimes at odds with being a blogger. The point of blogging - insofar as I see it anyway - is to tell a story. While many anglers are natural story-tellers, they are also particularly careful about choosing an audience of listeners. Flyfishermen abhor crowds, and good stories often make for a crowd.

This sort of selectivity is a luxury the blogger does not have. Once one posts some tidbit of information - or misinformation - to the internet, then one must assume it is there forever and for all to see. A blog is not the place for confession or the whispering of secrets. A blog is not the place to give away tickets to the inner sanctum.

This is why bloggers who write of fishing and their fishing exploits, often write in vague ambiguities.

"Today, I fished the river."

What river? Where?

"Tomorrow, I'm fishing Vermont."

Vermont, huh? Thanks for pointing me in the right direction.

"I caught them all on emergers."

Well, that limits me to only a few hundred choices from the Umpqua fly catalogue.

The blogging angler - if he or she is an angler first and a writer second - reveals just enough information to tell the story, and not a shade more.

If you're reading this, then you likely understand why. Our resources are limited, and while fly flingers are generally cut from the cloth of generosity, they certainly aren't stupid. They've usually sense enough to keep their secrets, and to close their collective mouth. This raises a question.

Why read a bug chucker's blog, be it The Rusty Spinner or otherwise? The answer - I suppose - is a matter of one's expectations.

The stories that are told by the blogger of fly fishing may be real or imagined, but ultimately, the reality of each story is of little consequence. It's the truth of the story that matters, truth the reader should expect, and sometimes that truth might be at odds with reality. To my way of thinking, truth must be felt, and to make a reader feel the truth, authors must sometimes embellish, exaggerate, or lie.

And this is why I maintain this blog. Blogging provides me with an opportunity I might not otherwise have. Here, I may speak of fishing for as long as I like. I can write and spin the truth, and - perhaps more to the point - I am able to share that experience with anyone willing to give me a few moments of his or her time.

Some of my readers have been gifting me their time for about a year now. I started The Rusty Spinner just prior to the April 1st opening of the 2009 trout season. So, to my readers - however few you may be - I offer my most genuine thanks.

You've given me at least as much as I've given you.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

What Makes a Fly Pattern "New"

All that follows was originally posted over at Midcurrent.com. I've been given permission to reprint the piece here - most generously I might add - by Marshall Cutchin. Thank you Marshall. In the article, author Phil Monahan interviews the Orvis Fly and Fly Tying Product Developer, Shawn Brillon. Shawn is a talented bug chucker in every way that matters. I'm proud to call him a friend. Together, Phil and Shawn offer us an industry insider's view of fly-tying innovation.  

MidCurrent Fly Fishing

What Makes a Fly Pattern "New?"
Have a question you want answered? Email it to us at ask@midcurrent.com.

Question: A lot of fly patterns that are touted as —new” look like mere tweaks of established patterns. How do fly companies determine what's actually worthy of being called a “new” pattern?

C. Moran, Morristown, NJ
New Fishing Flies

Answer: I’ve often wondered about this myself, so I contacted my friend Shawn Brillon, Product Development Specialist in charge of flies at Orvis, to see what he had to say. Here’s his bracingly honest response:

Typically, determining if a pattern is worthy of being called ‘new’ requires a ton of research, looking at past patterns to compare similarities or differences to the pattern in question. Lets be honest, here. Very few patterns are truly new, by which I mean they are not modifications or versions of a previous pattern. I would consider the Gummy Minnow totally new to the fly market when it hit the scene, although a die-hard striper angler might argue that it is nothing more than a fly-rod-size Slug-Go.  The Crease Fly would be another example of something innovative and new at its time.
Lets be honest, here. Very few patterns are truly new, by which I mean they are not modifications or versions of a previous pattern.”

I look for innovation—in tying techniques, new materials, new hook shapes, and the like—as my guide to determining whether something can be called ‘new.’ There are no hard-and-fast rules that I use to make my selection other than to search for proven patterns, looking mostly at flies developed by our vast  Orvis-endorsed-guide base. We look for patterns that have proven themselves on the water.

But companies that sell flies are also looking for patterns that will do just that—sell. When we pull together an assortment offering for the year, I’m not necessarily on a quest to find a patterns that are new to the world, as much as I’m trying to find flies that are new to Orvis, to address a market need.

So, I agree with the statement that many patterns are twists on something old or tweaks on proven patterns. Our market depends on new, exciting, innovative fly patterns to keep things interesting. Otherwise, we would all have a box full of Pheasant Tails, Woolly Buggers, and Parachute Adamses... and we would all be bored out of our minds.”

Monday, March 1, 2010

Remember Caesar, Thou Art Mortal

Last week was glorious. Yes, the weather was miserable. Yes, the kids were a little crazy. But wonder of wonders, mercy of mercies, the water was just right on the one day the boss granted me to fish. Unlike the weather and the kids, the river was perfect, and the company was affable. The steelhead were relatively cooperative with two fish hooked and one landed. All things considered, this isn't a bad tally for a day trip, especially in February.

Yesterday, we paid the price for last week's success. Ben and I made the two hour drive to the Salmon River, and we arrived just in time to make the acquaintance of the several hundred other fishermen who had similar plans. After quite a bit of driving - and just a little less trudging through snowy tundra - we managed to find some water that was a reasonable distance from our nearest neighbor.

The problem - as one might expect - was that the fish weren't particularly cooperative. We tried everything a Great Lakes steelheader might be expected to do. We drifted various glo bugs, estaz eggs, and stoneflies. We lined up with caddis, and swung brightly colored streamers. Ultimately, there just wasn't much we could do. The water was low, the sun was bright, and the fish were lock-jawed and skittish. At the close of the day we had little choice but to tuck our manhood in between our legs, and admit that we were soundly beaten.

And we needed to be beaten. We needed a reminder of just how little we know about the rivers we fish and the fish we chase. Sure, I enjoy having a good day. I think it must go without saying that I enjoy a tightened line and shrieking drag as much as any bug chucker. I imagine, however, that it must be difficult to understand the enormity of one's success if one has never failed. Yesterday's failure made last week's success all the sweeter.

I suppose this might sound a little odd, but I don't make my way back to the river to catch fish. If I did, I suspect I would often leave dejected and disappointed. No, it's the hoping that stays with me. Day after day and year after year I return to the Salmon, Battenkill, Madison, and all their sister flows armed not with expectation, but solely with the hope of catching fish.

Hope is enough.

Success is counted sweetest
By those who ne'er succeed.
To comprehend a nectar
Requires sorest need.

Not one of all the purple host
Who took the flag to-day
Can tell the definition,
So clear, of victory!

As he, defeated, dying,
On whose forbidden ear
The distant strains of triumph
Burst agonized and clear!

- Emily Dickinson