Thursday, August 12, 2021

A little high strung, and I'm not talking about the line lb. test.

Had an interesting fishing experience up at Lake George. It was my first time up there, and a family trip where I couldn't disappear fishing every day, so I left my boat and yak at home, and booked a short morning trip for Danny, my brother Doug and I. It was definitely one of the more "interesting" trips I've booked (and I've fished with tons of captains and guides). A week and a half before the trip, at the height of the tourist season, you kinda get who you can get, and most everyone seems to run the same trips anyway. I'd had a recommendation from a friend, but of course he was booked through September. I spoke with our guide whom I found on Google, letting him know that we didn't mind trolling downriggers for a while early, but if it was slow, would much rather just switch over to targeting smallmouth. The day arrives and my son Dan and I meet my brother Doug around 6:30ish at the dock. The 7:00am departure times arrives, and our guy is not there. That's pretty damned annoying to say the least. I could see at his 7:05 arrival that the "plan" was a non-starter, as the only rods he had were trolling setups, and a look at his chart plotter on the way out confirmed he hadn't altered his routine in God knows how long. Run to one spot, troll, run back. A little chatter on the way out was not in his wheelhouse, but we were fishing soon enough, and he did know what he was doing. Pretty soon a rod went off, and so did the captain. Not sure if he was over caffeinated or just naturally high strung, but I about jumped out of my skin as he let out a high pitched, "fish on!" From the reaction, one might think that a school of yellowfin had hit every rod in our spread. He coached Danny who landed the first lake trout of the day, and the process repeated itself often enough to keep us busy. I let Danny and Doug take most of the fish, as frankly I was more entertained by the manic scenes than catching 20" lake trout. I even watched a few rod tips go and just sat, waiting to see how long it would take for the others to notice and the hilarity to ensue. In the end, I couldn't really complain as we all caught some fish, had a decent time, and a really good laugh about the entire experience over a late breakfast when we returned.

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

My Choice for the Trenches? .303 Lee-Enfield

What would you carry into the trenches of WWI? A look at my choice, the British .303 Lee-Enfield. Think you'd go with something else? Springfield M1903, Mosin-Nagant 91/30, or the Gewehr M98? Make your case!

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Reflections on a surreal few weeks and a look ahead.

What a surreal few weeks! Today we began on-line classes for all of my high school students, and my guess is that this will be the new norm for quite some time. There's still no sign of any toilet paper arriving in stores around here. Ironically, the were no runs on bullets and booze until just this past weekend. I'm OK with the social distancing, and perhaps it will keep back those annoying guys who want to fish right next to you as soon as they see you hook something. The Gemma Rose II just returned from Suburban Marine, so I plan on doing a lot more social distancing over the next couple of weeks. The lure of $50 round trip flights to Florida is pretty tempting as well, but do I want to be that selfish guy? I feel a bit like Pinto in Animal House. (My wife pointed out that a week at the Fontainebleau Miami Beach is only $300!) These are pretty uncertain and terrifying times for many people, fearing the Covid-19 virus and/or the impact it's having on our economy and so many peoples' livelihoods. While I certainly plan to do a lot of fishing, maybe a few trips to the range and some hiking while riding this thing out, I am also very much aware that to pull through this, we're going to have to reach out a hand (at least metaphorically) to our friends and neighbors in the community. It's time to pull together while keeping our 6' safe distance. If that means ordering some takeouts from local restaurants, or booking a charter to make sure a buddy has an income, great. There are also a hundred others ways that just about anyone who is healthy can help someone out at this time. If each of us find just a few of these around our communities, we'll pull this this Corona Spring OK. Stay healthy and positive!



Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Recruiting a New Generation

I posted this on another site, but thought I'd throw it up here as well. The environment in CT is a LOT different than back down south. I spent yesterday evening at my monthly rod and gun club meeting with Tom Donlon from the CT DEEP discussing hunter recruitment. The overall numbers lost each year are more than sobering. At the rate of decline, there will be nobody left to fight for rights in another decade. Despite comments I read about cuts to programs, the CT DEEP DOES have federal funding and NRA support for hunter recruitment programs, BUT they need every hunter to get out there and recruit at least one new person this coming year, and not someone who has family or other connections to hunting already. Clubs and hunters need to recruit outside of their traditional membership base. CONVINCE YOUR HIPPY NEIGHBOR WHO BUYS $25 FREE RANGE CHICKENS THAT HUNTING IS REALLY THE MOST ETHICAL AND HUMANE WAY TO HARVEST MEAT, AND GET HIM OR HER OUT IN THE WOODS. DON'T START HUMMING DUELING BANJOS EITHER!!!! WE WANT TO ENCOURAGE THEM, NOT SEND THEM SCREAMING BACK TO STARBUCKS. Letters to reps are great and need to keep coming, but either recruitment happens, or you can count on more and more legislation to eventually cut hunters out of all public lands here in CT.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Bucket list fishing destination - Virginia? You bet!

Virginia is a beautiful state to which tourist flock year round for it's history, scenery, beaches and mountain resorts, but would you put it on your bucket list as a top fishing destination? I may be a little biased, but for my money, Virginia has one of the most diversified and exceptional fisheries anywhere in the nation, and I've fished just about everything from east coast to west, north and south. You can fish pristine mountain headwaters for wild brook trout, a world class largemouth bass fishery at Smith Mountain Lake or the Chickahominy River, trophy catfish on the James and Potomac, 50+lb. rockfish/stripers in the Chesapeake Bay, or venture out into the blue water for sails, marlin, wahoo and more. My only dilemma is choosing what to fish whenever I head back down to visit family. I just haven't found any other place that offers such a broad range of exceptional fisheries. I often write about blue lining up in Jefferson National Forest or chasing big blue cats on the James, but these just scratch the surface.

One could easily plan a week long, source to sea fishing trip on a very modest budget. Nonresident licensing fees are pretty reasonable, and permits to fish the federal lands are free. There's ample camping throughout the state in the numerous state and national parks.

You'll find headwaters of the James River and Shenandoah Rivers in the western mountains, with cool spring fed streams and tributaries that fish well year round for trout, while the main rivers also hold smallies, largemouth, muskies and more. I take my 2wt glass rod and run the fire roads up into locations where you can fish all day and never see another human being, or drop my yak into the South Fork of the Shenandoah to chase smallmouth and the elusive muskies. My favorite shop in the Valley is Mossy Creek FlyFishing, and their site provides a wealth of information.

If trophy largemouth is your thing, plan a day on either Smith Mountain Lake (frequent stop on the pro tours) or Lake Anna. Both have the added bonus of landlocked stripers as well. To the far south, you have the Roanoke River/Kerr Reservoir and Lake Gaston. All of these are large bodies of water for which a boat or kayak would be needed, and there are plenty of rentals available if you don't bring your own, as well a fishing guides who will provide everything you need, most importantly their knowledge of the local waters, for your outing.

As you head down into the tidal regions, particularly the lower James below Richmond, trophy blue cats await pretty much year round. Did I mention that there are bass in the high single to double digits on the Chickahominy River? Though I grew up on the Rappahannock River, I've still got to give the nod to the mighty James. While you're in the area, spend some time in Richmond itself. The Civil War history, brew pubs, and restaurants in the old tobacco warehouse district shouldn't be missed.

Finish your trip off in the salt, either in the Chesapeake Bay or booking a trip out of the VA Beach area for some screaming drags on big pelagic beasts. The early spring and late fall to winter provide shore and kayak anglers shots at rockfish/stripers into the 50+lb. range, and summertime brings flounder, croaker, spot, specs and increasingly reds and cobia. There's a little bit of everything. Again, you can shorten the learning curve by booking a guide.   

The Department of Game and Inland Fisheries is a great place to go for both ideas and all the information on licensing, etc. I'm more than happy to point people in the direction of some of my favorite shops, guides and locations.   

Again, I've only just put a dent in what's available to fish in Virginia. I always look forward to getting back down and packing as much as I can into every free minute, and never have close to enough time. What are you waiting for? Load up the truck, the camper or whatever, throw the yaks on top, and head to Virginia for a week of fishing!

Friday, July 5, 2019

FlipRocks - A new option when wet wading, chillin' on the boat, or just around town.

I recently came across a post on The Fly Fishing Community about wet wading in neoprenes, socks or some combination there of. Well, this season I've been wearing FlipRocks much of the time, so dilemna solved. The guys behind FlipRocks have taken our favorite summer footwear, flip flops or sandals, and added a removable base with rubber, felt, micro-studded and cleated options. You can even do a Rock Treads bottom! I was surprised at how grippy the changeable soles are. You really have to tug to get them off, so there is no worry about an inadvertent loss of a sole. The FlipRock model shown are super comfortable, have a toe protector and a back heal strap which I love. I've been wading, kayaking boating and just running around town in them all summer. My wading boots have largely sat in the back of my truck. They make a sandal model as well. If you looking for a do-it-all summer footwear, give FlipRocks a go!

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Virginia Joins North Carolina in taking Unilateral Action

Virginia has joined North Carolina in taking unilateral action to partially close down rockfish/striper fishing. Several other North East states are exploring additional options. all of the data indicates we are approaching a critical point near the edge of that same cliff we went over in the 1980s. Have we learned anything since then? I certainly hope so.

(ARLINGTON, VA)—The Virginia Marine Resources Commission voted today to close the trophy striped bass fishing season this spring following concerns about the striped bass population. Virginia's fall striped bass season remains unchanged. Next week the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission will consider a striped bass stock assessment that is expected to show that strong action is needed to conserve the fishery.

Maryland Says', "F*ck Everyone Else."

Maryland has a terrible record when it comes to protecting resources such as the rockfish/striper fishery, and while other states are beginning to take unilateral action, Maryland is foot dragging as usual.

The following link is to a recent op-ed in the Baltimore Sun by Mark Eustis who has for years been advocating for better policies to ensure the sustainability of our fisheries.

Maryland overfishing imperils rockfish population

American Saltwater Guides Association - Check It Out

For some of the most important and insightful, up to date information on the state of our striper fishery, I follow American Saltwater Guides Association. We're at another really pivotal point in the future sustainability of these fish, and I'd like to leave a thriving, healthy population for future anglers.

Parts One and Two of a 3 part series:
Part 1 - How Did We End Up Here?
Part 2 - Moving Forward...

Tight Lines,