Thursday, July 30, 2009

Summer Vistas

I have actually taken a few weeks of downtime with the business to kind of decompress and get my head right. I've spent most of that time golfing, and yes, fishing.

The fly fishing around these parts has been good as of late. Without the usual scorchers that we have this time of year, the streams have stayed at good levels and the fish have been active.

I never have the opportunity to get to the streams near the time of the hatches so dry flying is out of the question for me. But I love to nymph fish and usually throw some 16-18 stone flies or copper heads on, and drift them for hours. This seems to usually net me a couple of fish for the time I spend on the stream and leave satisfied. If it gets to be a little rough where the fish are just ignoring everything, I will resort to some San Juan worms. These little boogers catch anything, any time, and make a dull day an exciting day. For the San Juan doesn't just catch fish. It puts them in a fury in these parts. For whatever reason, the trout seem to just go crazy over them. They strike harder and faster than anything else. I find that they are best in fast water, and the strikes are almost immediate.

Sure, it's a little like cheating, but when the going gets tough...

I'm heading to CT this weekend for a wedding and doubt I will have any chance to hit a stream. I've fished that region plenty of times and absolutely love it. I will have plenty of opportunity to get back up there, so if I do miss this time around, it certainly won't be the greatest tragedy.

I love fishing in PA. The views are spectacular. Given the right stream, they can rival any Montana summit or Canadian range. That's a bold statement and probably biased. But I have witnessed both, and I love the PA landscape. I'm probably comparing apples to oranges but there's something to be said about PA and the fly fishing it provides, along with the climate, the landscapes, and the views.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Humble Beginnings

It wasn't until I was in my twenties before I picked up a fly rod. My soon to be brother in law and myself had decided to take a trip with "Mr. C" up to his cabin in the Poconos. Two ponds and 40 acres with a cabin I helped built. Pure therapy.

On that pond the next day after some retarded drinking the night before, Mr. C handed me a fly rod. I believe it was an orvis 7' 3 weight rod with the battenkill reel. We tied little poppers on that thing and floated them on top of the pond for sunny's.

Those 3 hours on that pond hooked me. I was/am a gadget guy. The skill of casting intrigued me. The look of the reel excited me. The technique of working the fly on top of the water stimulated me. I know, this sounds gay, but there is no other way to explain it. I was hooked. I had no idea, and I was hooked.

The equipment alone was amazing. The utility of it. The sleekness. That reel was an engineering miracle to me. First words out of my mouth on the way back were "I have to get me one of those monkeys".

It was then I embarked on a life long journey. Mr. C was responsible for this addiction. So who better than he to learn me on the subject?

That first experience was in June. I had gotten my own rod and reel by July 4th weekend. A fenwick 7 1/2 foot 4 weight rod with an Orvis Battenkill 3/4 reel. I loved that reel. Still do. And still fish with it 18 years later. The rod as well (which I have had to replace the reel seat twice).

I dicked around on little streams around SE PA and some ponds just trying to learn a servicable casting form while trying to catch whatever I could. I did most of this on my own which was fine by me. I liked being alone and it was hard for me to learn via books and video. I didn't have the money or desire to pay someone to teach me casting and Mr. C wasn't retired just yet.

By October, I was on a trip to Oak Orchard, in NY with Mr. C and his buddies. By this time Mr. C was nearing retirement and he had been on this trip for a good 6 years running. First heading up to the Salmon river, but telling me that Oak Orchard was the place now because everyone and their brother was hitting the Salmon at that time of year.

My first trip with them was incredible and really solidified my future in the sport. On that trip I met some of the best fishermen I will have ever met. Probably 200 years of experience between them (6 of them, all lifelong fishermen and all retired). I was taught on that trip how to "nymph" fish. I caught a ton of fish, and learned terms like "drag free" and "float".

I caught all sorts of fish from 11-pound brown hens to a 6 pound steelie.

I was hooked. We fished from 5am til dusk, ate, drank and I learned fly tying at night. One of those guys on that trip was Walter Mueller. He is a life long friend of Mr. C. Walter took to me and learned me the sport with the best of his ability. He is a dynamic guy and knew his stuff. He made the comment at one point that it was my first trip and I was into more fish, and the type of fish that took them years to even fathom. I liked that. A good first start.

Over the next several years I went on that trip with those guys. It was something I looked forward to every year. Walter taught me how to tie flies that first year. By the end of that first trip I was tying close to 50 flies a week. I perfected my technique on Pheasant tails and stone flies. I learned about different materials and eventually took a class from AK Best at one of the fly fishing shows.

Below is a video of Walter who developed his own special fly, Otter's Milking egg. Walters nickname was the Otter and he developed that fly on one of those trips. There is so much more to talk about regarding my experiences on those trips. I'll have them in later posts. Until then, enjoy the video.

The Purity of Fly fishing

I'm not sure I am going to keep this the name of the blog. Purist is a term that usually leads people to believe that the user is nothing more than a pompous ass, and unwilling to try a "lesser" technique. Which couldn't be farther from the truth in my case. I also love to throw around the lead every so often when fishing for other species, and I've never been opposed to chicken livers when hunting cat fish at 11pm at night on the Schuylkill River.

But when I am fishing for trout, or steel head, or Salmon, Fly fishing in moving waters is the only way I go.

I like Fly fishing for what it is. That is the best possible way to catch a trout. The nomenclature of fly fishing is such that it provides the best arsenal to catch salmonids. The particular feeding and hunting patterns make it mandatory to offer the most realistic presentation which fly fishing allows you to do.

I'm not talking stocked fish either. I'm talking wild populations in streams, rivers, creeks, and brooks that are dug into the deepest parts of rural America.

My purpose in this blog will be a bevy of posts focusing on learning different fly fishing techniques, tying, trip reports, stories, and folks I've learned from and their experiences as well.

I will also focus on equipment and styles. I think the biggest mistake people make is outfitting themselves with the wrong equipment when they first get into the sport. That's a pretty bold statement considering that a good 8 1/2 ft., 5/6 weight rod will pretty much serve most or all of your fly fishing needs. But I also think that it will take away from your enjoyment depending on where you are fishing, and what you are fishing for.

Over the next couple of posts I will put up some pictures and redesign the blog for no other reason than pure visual pleasure.

I hope I can stick with this blog as fly fishing is a true passion for me, and writing about it will only serve to strengthen that passion.

~ tight lines

* ok, I've already changed the name of the blog to Riggs on Fly fishing. Fly Fishing Purist just seemed too noble. For lack of a better word :)