Download your application for the EN238—the Fly Fishing Jan Plan—here:
The Vimeo of the 2014 trip can be seen here:
Download your application for the EN238—the Fly Fishing Jan Plan—here:
The Vimeo of the 2014 trip can be seen here:
The fall arrived with teaching, and getting the next Great Owens Valley Adventure in order. Days on the river became extra-enjoyable, however, as the Non-Tweeded One indulged a long-suppressed wish—he became a Pseudo-Guide. In September, he took Mrs. P and their dear friends Duckster and Dr. Duck (Dr. D for short) along as newbies. They had taken the LL Bean course and heard tales, studied books, and now were ready—and began, appropriately enough, in the O-Dark Thirty of mid Maine:
Mrs. P was tough and experienced; Duckster sandbagged, as it is known in the fishing game, inflating his imagined catch so excessively that he secretly guaranteed protection against the skunk, should it occur. Dr. D. was the voice of realism, which the lodgings, in a not excessively developed part of Maine (to understate the case) exceeded. Instructions were given over beers on the log-hewn coffee table in the a-frame the night before, and you can see this team had fire in their eyes. Continue reading
In June professorial thoughts turn to the Sierra Nevada mountains and their hidden treasures. A few days before Mrs. P’s arrival sent me in quest of the fabled Golden Trout. Arriving at Saddlebag Lake just outside the eastern border of Yosemite, I discovered the lake to be frozen—not a terrific surprise, since the Saddlebag sits at 10,000 feet and so does the road. In seven more days the Lake looked like this:
So I turned to the Dana Fork of the Tuolumne River instead. Some small native brookies too slippery to get photographed by myself were fun to catch. It was less fun getting lost in the woods, despite the obvious water path to follow. Professors just think differently—until I reached Bishop and the Big Reedy the next day.
Thanks to Dave D’Beaupre’s flies and a nice chat with The Sierra Trout Magnet himself:
the higher flows from January with the Ofishal Colby Hookers were no problem. Dave said that the dry fly hatch was in the morning. His advice was that a well-placed hairy-assed stimulator—my professorial description—would still get action in the heat of the day. Dave was right. His calculation failed to account for the Professor’s slow on the draw style of responding to hits. So when I got on the river at four pm or so, it turned out that bright green and flashy emerger flies,
fished as droppers were the way to go, as several browns were willing to attest.
The next day sent me up Bishop’s Pass in search of some fish and hikes to be pursued when Mrs. P and the wise old hiker named Seed Thrower and his bride Jorunn—which means “smart fish” in both Norwegian and North Dakotan—were to arrive. The view toward’s Bishop’s pass looked like this:
Luckily, I ran into a hiker on her way with two dogs —who happens to be the proprietor of Parcher’s Resort. This beautiful establishment is worth a stay, or a try of the pie. High up in the canyon along Bishop Creek, the cabins look beautiful and great trips are nearby:
Judy told me which hikes would be good for Seed Thrower, Mrs. P and Jorunn—and better yet, where a fly rod would come in handy farther down. A terrifically smart woman, I’d say, because it was a terrific amount of fun to cast to rising fish all morning and to catch a few good ones:
There’s many great hikes in this area. Just take Highway 168 right out of downtown Bishop, head 45 minutes up in the hills and you’ll be in a different world with many different day hikes to take, longer backpacking trips to schedule. Thanks to the Water Lords of Los Angeles, South Lake was largely empty thanks to the vampire lawns (see the movie Chinatown) of the San Fernando Valley. But the other lakes had water fish, and even the Golden Trout that eluded me this time. Check out this sight for some fly fishing wheres and hows:
Afterwards, Connecting up with the Jorunn and her forester consort was more than fun—though first, Mrs. P and I had to explore the lake above Saddlebag:
I stalked the small streams above 10,000 feet here, and then I watched a very friendly worm dunker land and kill this beautiful rainbow from the larger lake. My attempt to avoid imposing my own catch and release values was only partially successful—overcome by my dunker envy. This was truly a beautiful high country California rainbow:
The Fishing Professor produced a number of stocked rainbows from the lake, and pursued treasures higher above that shall remain nameless and netless:
A few days later we drove up to the Paiute Pass/North Lake trailhead. Jorunn felt the altitude at around 9500 feet and took a break. Your Professor stopped at Loch Leven and discovered that rumors that it is now fish-less are false:
Then the famous afternoon thundershowers started. Mrs. Fishing P and Seed Thrower, Man of Jorunn, never reached 11,000 and the top of the pass. We started double-timing it when the puffy Sierra clouds darkened.
When the lightning started to hit not that far away, the Prof thought it was time to start running. This turned out to be a bad idea:
Well, maybe not that bad. The fall I took could have been serious. But the deft professor-trick of the rolling fall landed me on my back, with the beautiful Maine made Stevens (Starks, Maine) hand-made fishing net breaking my fall. I took a few bruises. But once saved by Dave D’Beaupre himself, this net looks forward to Gorilla Glue and more fish in the future:
As did the Fishing Prof on the trip’s last day. A trip to an under-fished stream on the way home was on order. A rising fish of indeterminate type gave away position. I fished the rise for an hour with every hatch-matching fly I had, until the vanilla parachute adams, drifted correctly—probably the whole deal—produced a sharp-finned brown who jumped four times:
Mrs. P was across the stream and reached for her cell phone:
And while the picture was nice, the shadows across the water meant that it was already time to start heading back to the Bay Area for pleasures more vinous and civilized. And though the friends were terrific—the Jorrun and consort, and a larger, less fishy group—there was a picture of the Eastern Sierra that could seen, at least by me, at the bottom of every glass of pinot and chardonnay. They looked a bit like this:
Though in my memory, the land of the Eastern Sierra always appears as a bright sky, a deep, granite-blue and green lake, and promises of hikes and fish yet to come:
“Maybe he’ll ride on again,” as Willie Nelson sings. Hopefully near the Little Kern.
This year’s great landlocked salmon quest was special: we were joined by the Smiler, an expert fly guy and keeper of the secrets of the mysterious Rangeley streams. And we were locked and loaded with some of Mac’s greatest and newest creations:
The fishing gods were not kind, however, to our offerings, as we had not yet poured the proper Scotch ablutions. Others said our new lodgings were to blame.
The first two days were skunk for the Fishing P and Wild Bill, and the Wiz, Obi Wan and Mac did only a little better. The fault was not in us, but in the high waters, of course. We had fished high waters at the Great northern salmon stream before, however; the cold winter left the water at 44 degrees, things were chilly in the overcast and the hoped-for red quill pre-hatch was nowhere we could find it.
Mac, however, was not to be restrained, and he quickly fooled a silver one wearing golden spring colors:
Our luck was about to change just before day three: we ran into the greatest of the emigré Maine fishermen—Mac and I call him Picasso now, because he can take the shapes of flies, river colors, the hatch and the hint of light through the pines, and turn them into the most beautiful flies in the world. He also catches fish like no one’s business, even though he now lives closer to greater lakes. One we chatted with him on day two, we knew juju was waving our way:
Like Moses, we decided to move from fishless slavery to the promised land of epic netted redemption. We found a crossing where none could be found and escaped the Chariots of Skunk at the spot known to many in the North as Manna from Heaven. Mac and the Prof got there first, and it wasn’t long before scenes like this were common:
Rat-a-tat, non-stop fish-catching followed, fish on fish. We were joined by two well-known pros of the Maine north woods. Dead Eye and the Salter knew what they were doing—they joined right in the rotation and we shared flies and tons of fish:
Here’s the Salter with a fish much smaller than his usual, and this one taped out at 20.5 inches. Dead Eye, his partner in crime, was no slouch either. He landed a good number of fish and helped the Fishing Professor get untangled from that overhanging tree, and the buried one at the lower end of the drift a number of times. Someone said we were like an LL Bean ad live and in color in the northern woods, and they were probably right. He was dialed in—and though he said he hadn’t fished this stream for a whole, we had our doubts:
At the same time the action was fast and furious along the drift. Fish were stacked here because of the high flow—waiting for a drop in the CFS before making it beyond this particular choke point to infiltrate the rest of the stream, and, as the natural byproduct many were seeking, making many a fly fisher’s dream come true:
If you want to get a sense of how the action went, click on this vimeo link, and watch part of the team in action as a salmon is hooked, landed and about to be released by this team:
This action took place on the last day of our adventure. The gentleman fly fisher upstream had arrived just before us. And as a true sportsman of the north woods, he shared the drift with us as we had the day before.
You can can see an underwater release of one of our team-caught fish here—a brief vignette of our own transition from skunk slavery to fish freedom:
Meanwhile Across the River, The Smiler had set up. And while Obi Wan had departed downstream to work his wiles, the Prince of Rangeley was doing fine:
Mac had style, success and a lot of great fish:
And the Wiz led the way on the final day:
Suddenly a flash blinded us—Obi Wan had disappeared into the mists of the forest. The rest of the team understood the meaning of such signs and wonders, packed up and headed south:
A long year awaits our return to those sacred norther waters. But then, perhaps the dream team will ride again!
Winter hit haahd—as the Mainers say—this year; the pond at Colby was frozen solid until well into spring. Waters were high and cold, and the Fishing Professor had little luck tromping through some snow. Sanity was preserved by remembering his Ofishal Colby Hookers trip to the Owens Valley, California in January—see and hear the adventures:
Those memories of California streams and hills kept me going:
But didn’t hold me back from colder Maine waters in March and April:
There were times exploring new water with Ya’akov the Yank, without fish to hand or even a bite:
And even this beautiful run remained fish and almost bug-less:
So there was only one thing left to do: go back to a spot already fished with the dynamic duo at higher water and try again. When I got to the spot, flows were down considerably. It was easier to get across to the spot I needed to fish. Some exploratory streamer casts rose no fish. Then I saw it–huge rises. Large fish–pink bellies. Like the bricks of brookies I had scored here in previous spring. I was started to feel better about coming here three weeks earlier with several feet of snow on the ground. Repeated changing of dry flies, fished wet, produced nothing.The soft hackles I tried to fish in the surface were like prayers to an absent deity. I was right on the spots. It was getting dark. So I took out the mysterious “White Ranger” fly I had acquired from the Yank in a parking-lot trade that looked like a drug deal gone right. On the third drift, the strike indicator jiggled and the hook was set. After a fight with three runs, a nice wild brook trout was in the net. I hope there are more to come:
The temperatures have dropped at night and flows are reasonable. Time is short, however, so I could make only a quick jaunt to nearby waters:
You can see the soft water to the right; not visible from the photo is the strong rapid to the left. Perfect holding water for brown trout sitting at the seam of the side eddy and the main flow. Several casts with a Woods Special streamer, dead drifted from middle of the rapid to the right—this was the method. I experimented with different speeds on the retrieve. One one retrieve, I felt as if I had dragged the streamer over a flat rock near the surface—except there were no rocks. I took this to be a gentle hit or bump. So I decided to retrieve more aggressively on the next cast. Fish in the fall seem more aggressive both to hand and in the water, and whether they are spawning or not, they are fattening up for the cold to come. You can sometimes startle them into an aggressive strike. After a strong retrieve and dead spot before the next one, BAM. This brown trout went airborne twice:
There’s only one moral to this story—get out and fish no matter what. After that one, I spent the rest of the day exploring new spots on this stretch, and I was confirmed in my suspicions by discovering another fly fisherman in the spot I had coveted. He was friendly, and had done well there—nada for me toward dark, when I had to leave.
Let’s hope Mr. Jumping Brown above was not my last fish in Maine for 2013!
Our niece from Italy and her Princess Mother and Contessa Sister (as we call them). Amberini was fresh from a trip to Pinecrest Lake in California, where she caught this beauty:
You can tell she was ready to go rafting in Maine with the family:
There was a stop along the way:
Then there was the real purpose of the trip—caught at 5:30 am by your cameraman before the river heated up:
Thanks Oh Wise One for Taking Us on a Great Day!
Because she felt I just didn’t fish enough on our Owens Valley Adventure in January, Becca, Will and the Maine Guide father Barry invited me for a day of fishing in the Rangeley area. We started at some ponds near their beautiful, far flung camp near some isolated ponds:
We got a number of small native brookies all day long—nothing of great size but some beautiful colors. Here’s an especially ambitious little fella:
Barry trains Maine guides—knows how to fish and build replacement parts for his truck from bailing wire, two-stroke oil and the prize from a crackerjack box. Here he is with the the rest of his expert crew after he carved a turkey sculpture with his chain saw out of a tree stop that jumped out in front of our truck. We were only hung up for a while Barry practiced his black magic—and here he is with his able assistants who are interviewing for positions in his firm:
Will and Becca got onto it deep here and got some fish:
This Backwoods Clan really sends the right messages in their attire:
The stream of life forks for us all, but I know we will meet up and fish again around the bend someday soon. Thanks Will, Barry, and Becca for an unforgettable day on the waters….
This season had an unlikely beginning. Low flows thanks to little rain in April made the first Maine outings sparse. I did manage to get out with some of the Original 395 Gang who were Jones-ing the worst. They could be found false casting in the Colby quad, or staring at Cabella’s catalogs not very well hidden behind their books in the library. When they dragged me kicking and and screaming to a stream, I had to go. There were no great hook ups, however, until this salmon got taken one morning in a stocked area—a refugee fish from a nearby lake, who devoted himself to making me feel better after my skimpy early season:
A friendly Bates prof fishing the area helped me land him and get the picture! Whew!
Soon it was time for the annual Grand Lake Stream adventure: this year, including our new member, the Wizard of Windham, aka “Wiz” or the Normerator, because there’s nothing normal about his heart of Gold. Here he is with his first Grand Lake Stream landlocked salmon, caught on a dry, I believe. The action photo shows this Houdini fish leaping from the certain grasp of the Wiz:
Our Buddy Wild Bill was in rare form—famous for fishing into the freezing night with the Fishing Prof, pulling the latter from the frigid waters, pouring the water out of my waders, slapping me four times across each cheek, and then joining me to fish for another hour. He’s also known for his wildlife photography, with some of his studies of pop tart crumbs on the freestone section of the river now in the Smithsonian. Here’s the Wild One with a fish he pulled out of an area of the river we call Bedrock:
And of course Mac was along and in the finest form. Who could forget this reincarnation of Macgyver, well versed in the dark arts of nymphing, and gifted with the ability to tie a fly with his teeth in 40 degree water while landing a salmon with his other hand. The Macster amazed us with his skills throughout the trip. His waffles weren’t bad either:
Mac and I had one magic morning—we’d determined through advanced research that a fly discovered by the Professor, and tied by Mac, would deliver in this waters, in a stretch known to us German-speakers as “Die reiche Mauer,” famous to the rest of the world as the “Don’t Touch My Secret Schnitzel” stretch of the river. We got there at 5:30 am. The sun had not yet hit the water. We knew we’d gotten lucky when Mac stepped in the river, his “Ace Hardware” fly floating to the side aimlessly—or so we thought, when a salmon flashed at it before he’d done anything. This was an epic morning, and the Renzetti Rangers down the river could only gaze on in amazement from afar as they saw us hook up again and again:
It was fast and furious action for 20 minutes until the sun hit the water; huge fish and constant hits, landings and action. Here’s my best:
Then there was the Nobster himself—the Master of All Things Penobscot, also known to his friends as the Master of the Baxter: State Park, that is. After getting bored with the easy fishing, Bax-Man went upstream and pulled fish after fish out of an area known as “Ace Alley,” where huge salmon sit in hidden buckets of water in fast current, and only the coolest hands pull them out. Here the Nobster himself—who downed a few glasses that night in celebration—with that blasé look that comes after catching too many fish:
In the background, with fish passing through his net like the wind across the Aolean Harp, just around every bend could be found the Fishing Magic of Obi Wan Kanobe himself. Obi would disappear for long hours, then reappear with tales of massive trout, secret flies, and guys who tied on inferior vices like the Regal—Obi owns the top-flight tying vice company HMH Vices—who tried to kidnap him, chain him a tree, torture him with bait fishing tips, all just to get him to reveal his secret spots. The Wise One sent them to Monkey Pond, and could be photographed only in poses like this one:
By the time we got back to Freeport, we’d had so many glasses of Nob Creek the night before, courtesy of the Wiz, that only three of us were still standing:
There are rumors of a West Branch adventure later in the summer, with the Wiz cooking all the meals. Stay tuned!