Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Miramichi | Chasing the Silver Ghost

The thunder started and I looked behind me to my guide, Lanny, to see if I should continue stepping down or head back to shore. "It's still far away," Lanny yelled, "keep on going." I was in a nice rhythm: double spey, let my fly swing all the way through, take a step down, and repeat. I was focused and at some point the casting felt natural and uninterrupted. That is the goal, well at least mine, with spey casting. I was covering a nice stretch of the home pool with my 14' spey rod and was pleased at my casting improvement and fly placement. On every swing there was a glimmer of hope that an Atlantic Salmon would come up and grab my size 6 Same Thing Murray. I was waiting for my Hardy Bougle reel to sing, there is nothing like the sound of a Hardy drag.
The home pool after the rain
As I reached the tailout of the pool, I became even more focused as this is the area where salmon hold. Thunder could still be heard in the distance. I made a cast close to 90 degrees as I was told the salmon prefer a very fast swung fly in the warmer waters of the summer. As my fly swung through the sweet spot, the water exploded beneath as a large salmon came up and rolled on my fly. My heart beated quickly. I turned around,"Lanny did you see that?" I yelled. "I sure did." Lanny quickly walked over to where I was wading and instructed me to take a step back and make the same cast. I did as I was told and after a few casts, my guide Lanny quickly changed my fly to a Green Machine. No dice. Lanny thought the fish had continued to move up river. "They usually will take the fly if they are there, the fish are fresh in from the ocean," Lanny said. I continued down the rest of the run and missed a fish on the dangle and it was soon time to walk across the river back to Doctor's Island where I was staying. Dinner was going to be served soon and I was looking forward to relaxing and having a nice glass of bourbon on the porch. 
Watching the dogs play while sitting outside on the porch
Cloudy morning, perfect salmon conditions
I was fortunate enough to meet some members of a private club on the Miramichi River and was invited to come up and stay at their camp to fish. It was my second time chasing the ever elusive Atlantic Salmon. The only other time that I've fished for Atlantic Salmon was in Norway on the Laerdal. The camp is situated on an island in the middle of the Miramichi River in the town of Blackville. A quick flight to Bangor, Maine and then a 4.5 hour drive north to New Brunswick Canada gets you to the camp. 
Camp on the island
The camp is perfect and is a beautiful place. The only way to get on the island is by a small boat. I was joined by another member of the camp who was my host for the 6 days while I was there. The camp has a lot of history and has been around since the 1940's. All the meals are prepared by a great staff and we ate and drank well every day. I really enjoyed sitting on the back porch with my host watching the sunset and seeing the wakes of salmon as they continued their journey upriver.
The main club house
Salmon fishing isn't for everyone, the fish are hard to come by. And still its uncertain why they are willing to take a fly. Its the unknown that makes it attractive to me and the methodic rhythm of casting and covering water. It's also very much the all around experience of being at camp, waking up in the morning having breakfast, spending time fishing with others and returning for lunch, dinner and drinks. Salmon fishing also takes one to some of the most pristine and beautiful places in the world. The Miramichi being one of them.
My cabin during my week at the end of the island
Another cabin
Back of my blue cabin
I love the look of salmon flies and the equipment we use. Long spey rods and classic reels are just beautiful. 
Plenty of flies at Curtis' fly shop
Salmon flies tied by one of our guides
My hardy bougle reel
Same Thing Murray just finished on the vise by one of our guides
A Bogdan reel, doesn't get more classic than that
There is a lot of tradition when it comes to fishing for salmon and a lot of history. This log book of the camp dated back to 1972. I was hoping to make an entry in the log book with one of my catches, but alas I did not land any salmon except for a few small salmon par. Still, very much a good sign for the future of salmon on the Miramichi.
The log book
Heading back to camp after a day of fishing
The club where I stayed also had a handful of private pools which we fished. They were all unique. One of my favorite pools was Vickers. Here we saw plenty of salmon rolling and jumping. Unfortunately,  none were willing to take our swung flies. 
Watching others swing through the Vickers pool
Catching up on news of the salmon in the river
Covering the pool
A beautiful way to start the morning on the Vickers pool
Although no fish were caught during my week, it was a fantastic all around experience and I spent a fun handful of days fishing with my host. I've been invited back to fish in the fall and I look forward to returning then. Hopefully I'll get an Atlantic Salmon on the next trip, but if not i'm okay with that. 
Doesn't get much better than that 
Home for the week
A foggy morning on my last day of fishing
Salmon par, a good sign for the future 
Great book, which I studied when I wasn't fishing 
Heading back to camp on the island
The Gray Rapids pool

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The Keys | In Search of Permit

It was a quick trip. I flew out to California on Thursday night had a one hour meeting on Friday and was back at LAX on a redeye to Miami. Once I landed, I made my way to meet my wife who was already at Cheeca Lodge. I spent Saturday and Sunday attempting to catch the elusive permit on the fly with guide, Derek Rust (http://rustyflycharters.com/, who is based out of the Hawks Cay Marina about 30 minutes south of Cheeca Lodge. I had fished with Derek last fall when I stayed at Hawks Cay Resort and had a great time.

We searched various flats, had plenty of shots, but the fish were picky. This was my first time fly fishing for permit and I can understand the obsession that many people who pursue them have. They are smart and finicky. Quick and accurate casts are a must, I enjoyed all of it. We made casts to singles and pairs. I thought I would have some beginners luck when one followed my fly for a bit. Alas it turned at the last moment. 

We broke the skunk on Sunday morning with a few baby tarpon on topwater, which were tons of fun. I'll be back. And hopefully at some point I'll be able to fool a permit on the fly. 

Early morning start
In search of permit
Caught a few baby tarpon on gurglers 
Last flat of the day, plenty of shots,  the light was perfect and we could see forever with our polarized glasses
Entrance to Cheeca Lodge
Hanging out at the beach at Cheeca

Monday, June 8, 2015

Tarpon | Staring through the Glare

Large clouds drifted over us blocking the needed sun. Rain fell in the distance. Light was key and without it we stood there staring into the darkened water. Looking up to the sky, we searched for a chance. We didn't ask for much, just a brief moment of sun is all we needed. With it we would have a shot of seeing tarpon.

Finally the sun peaked out beyond the clouds and the water in front of us lit up. We stood at the ready looking for dark shadows approaching us. Even with the sun, the cloud surrounding us created a bright glare on the water. What looked like tarpon wasn't and what looked like tarpon rolling were just cresting waves.

Suddenly a line of dark shadows appeared. There was no mistaking it, it was a line of tarpon. "There they are," I yelled and our guide, Colby Hane, quickly poled me into position as I stood balancing on a small platform, 12 weight in hand. I had one shot and maybe two at best. The lead fished approached and I did my best to remain calm. Colby coached from his platform and instructed me to cast the fly on the left side of the lead the fish. I began casting and when the fish approached I dropped my fly a few feet in front. I made one quick strip to place the fly in front of the lead tarpon. I could see the dark rabbit strip fly clearly dancing gently in front of the fish. Small short strips pulled the fly slightly further away from the fish and it followed. "He's going to eat it," yelled Colby. Suddenly the big fish turned and seemingly in slow motion right in front of us, lunged for the fly. Its mouth opened wide, its silver head shimmered in the light. "Set!" Colby screamed. And then nothing. I missed. I dropped to my knees in disbelief. I couldn't believe what had happened. The fish was gone and I missed my chance. 
Evaluating what just happened and dealing with disappointment
My second trip to the Sarasota area to fly fish for tarpon was difficult. We had plenty of shots. Our guide Colby Hane was fantastic and hard working. He loves fly fishing for tarpon and wanted us to succeed. He poled and positioned us to give us as many shots as he could. And we had them. There were plenty of opportunities. Another fish was missed the day before and some casts just weren't perfect. Its challenging fishing and one has to have plenty of patience. I loved it all. Perfection is key: the right cast, we had to be on the right line, and we had to strip correctly. I have one more chance late June to get my first tarpon on the fly. Tarpon on the fly still have eluded me thus far. I hope to change that at some point. 
Anchored up
Waiting and watching
Storm approaching
Taking a break from the heat
Live music
A little too much beer and tequila Friday night 
Oysters at Owens Fish Camp
Crawfish and Grouper bites, life is good

Waiting for light

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Patagonia Memories

My trip to Patagonia hosted by Urban Angler in late February was a memorable one. We stayed at a lodge run by Patagonia River Guides and it was a perfect week of fly fishing spring creeks and rivers with a great group of people. The water was gin clear, the fish were hungry, and we had excellent sight casting both dry flies and nymphs. Hope to return soon. 
Nicest lunch i've had while out fly fishing
View from the lodge
Everyone getting ready for a day out
Spring creek
Desert landscape on our way to fish a spring creek
Waiting and watching
By catch
A rhea was in front of us. these ostrich looking birds can run incredibly fast.  
A beautiful creek 
Plenty of rainbows
Another spring creek 
Rio Corcovado 
All of our gear laid out  by our guides so we could get suited up
Taking a break from drifting 
Paella cooked river side for us
Lots of browns caught
Beautiful rainbows
Box of flies, lots of worms and terrestrial patterns 
Fished a lot of worms
Quite the scenery 
Silvery rainbow
Browns galore
Another nice rainbow 
Afternoon drifting
Fly fishing only
Bridge over a river
Lake flowing into a river
Mountains and a beautiful river, can't beat it
Having a great day
Beautiful brookie
Our guide getting rowed
Sun behind mountains

Gaucho outfits were bought and worn 

Crystal clear water
River flowing into the lake
We put on a guide casting competition with prize money
Guides participating in the casting competition