|-- First fish of 2016 --|
I use the phrase "occasional blogger" in my Instagram profile for a reason. It's hard to provide relevant content to the blog on a regular basis. It's been 11 months since the last post and I hope you'll enjoy this one.
I'm blessed to have several salt and fresh water opportunities within a 2 hour drive from home. Trout, bass, gills, stripers and many more are available if you can put in the time. With the mild winter there were several November & December days that provided productive outings on the water.
Some fly fishing highlights of 2015 include four new species, my largest fish and multiple salt water boat trips with friends.
In reverse order, here are the top twelve fly fishing days on the water for me in 2015.
Number 12 - Local Warmwater Trifecta and First Crappie - August
Matt, Val & I took the canoe to a local pond on a warm August afternoon. It's a great little pond that always produces some fish. While not large, I was happy to land my first crappie on a black ghost style streamer. A small largemouth and bluegill completed the trifecta.
|Crappie, Largemouth and Bluegill Trifecta|
My striper mentor and fishing bud, Mark, took me out on a pre-dawn south Cape trip in search of Albies. We went to a spot with recent reports of albie activity and saw several shore anglers landing them. Neither of us hooked up, but I did get a short strike which was like a shot of adrenaline (I'll probably have a heart attack when I hook my first). The wind pushed us back to the boat launch before noon and we explored a protected beach on foot to save the day. We chased some busting bait and I eventually landed a small Jack (another first).
|Pre-dawn Hunt for Albies|
My first outing on Mark's boat was earlier in September on the outer Cape. We were on the hunt for stripers again leaving pre-dawn and getting back to the dock late in the afternoon. The weather was glorious and we saw several humpback whales including a full breach on our way in. We chased birds and bait all day and even with one solid hookup (and a failed knot) we only brought some small mackerels (bait) to the boat.
|The Bane of the Striper - 100's of Harbor Seals|
My daughter (@merrbear1026) and I took a 4th of July road trip to the Adirondacks to visit Matt who was guiding for Wiley's Flies for the summer. We brought the canoe since the warm summer was not a good time to be targeting trout and planned to hunt some ADK pike. We fished a couple different ponds and found perch, bass and pike. I hooked into a couple of pike but could not bring them to the boat. Matt landed his first and second pike. A great way to celebrate the 4th of July with "The Kids".
|One of Many Yellow Perch|
|Largemouth Chomping a Double Bunny|
|Rock Bass on a Rubber Bugger|
|Matt's (@troutdoors) First Pike|
This was my first trip to a bayside Cape flat. Wading out 1/4 mile on the flat while the stars turned to a faint glow in the eastern sky was a surreal event. My first cast was rewarded with a decent striper. I landed five that morning. One of my best saltwater outings of the year.
|Mark Changing Flies - First Light on the Flats|
|First & Second Pre-Dawn Stripers|
|Something had their Breakfast Sushi with this Striper|
|I think my Fly was Deep Enough|
The Cheeky Schoolie Tourney on the Cape is becoming a tradition to kick-off striper season in New England. This was my second time fishing the tournament. My partner, Jeff, grew up fishing on the Cape and his knowledge and experience helped us place in the top ten with only 4 fish (winner is the total length of 4 shore caught & released fish). While we had a blast fishing in the tourney, my best catch and experience that weekend came the evening after the tourney. Jeff and I went to a Cape river and I experienced my first worm hatch. The stripers were rising to the worms like trout to dry flies. While I didn't have any worm flies, I was able to slap a flash dancer (muddler style fly) against the bank of the river where they were rising and hooked some decent fish.
|2015 Cheeky Schoolie Tourney|
|Team 42 was looking for the Answer to the Meaning of Life, the Universe, and Everything|
|A break with Mark (@nauset_dog), Nate (@wicked_fly) and Jeff|
|Jeff Slinging the Two-Hander|
|A Couple of Beauties during the Evening Worm Hatch|
This was my second trip to a bayside Cape flat, and while not as productive as the first, we found some fish and I hooked my first flounder on the fly. When the tide came in, we moved to a second spot and found a few more fish. This was the last successful salt trip of the year.
|First Light on a Cape Flat|
|First Striper of the Day|
|Low Tide on the Flat|
|First Flounder on the Fly|
|My Last Striper of 2015|
|Mark Best and Largest Striper of the Day|
We had a unseasonably warm December and with Matt home for Christmas break, we took advantage and traveled to one of Massachusetts' few tailwater fisheries. I've fished this stream 1/2 dozen times prior and while seeing lots of fish, had yet to net one. My luck turned on this day and we both caught several brookies and rainbows.
|Matt Changing Flies|
|Skunk Buster on this Central Massachusetts Stream|
I joined the FlyFishingNewEngland.net board a couple years ago and have made several friends and fishing buddies. We've met at the board's fly swaps and regional fly fishing shows. Jeff & I have fished together several times, including as my partner during the Cheeky Schoolie Tourney. Chris invited me out on his boat this summer and we had a fantastic day along the North Shore of Massachusetts. A still and foggy morning was unproductive, so we made a run north to the mouth of a river and were rewarded with a couple hours of busting fish.
|Chris with the First Fish of the Day|
|One of Several Stripers Boated - This One on a Yellow Betsy|
|Hooked Up Again|
Birds, Busting Bait and Hungry Stripers (NSFW)
Mark and his family own a Cape house that they rent during the summer months. Before the summer season, he invites friends down for a fishing weekend. We spent most of our time on the water visiting multiple spots on the Cape looking for early season stripers. We landed lots of fish and enjoyed some fine scotch. I landed my largest striper, just an inch shy of a keeper, in a strong rip off a jetty. I had to chase it down, hopping rocks on the jetty, to get to a safe place to land it. Mark, Stan, George, Jeff and myself had a blast that weekend.
|Short Beach Walk to the Sweet Spot|
|Cape Beach Picnic Basket|
|One of Mark's Stipers|
|My Largest Striper|
|The Blue Deceiver was the Ticket for the Weekend|
|George's (@gampfer) catch was fresh with Sea Lice|
|Mark's Evening catch with a large Herring Fly|
|Show me the Flies|
|Evening on a Cape River|
Matt is graduating in one month from Paul Smith's College of the Adirondacks. His 4 years in the heart of the ADK has been tough for him at times, but gives Val & I some opportunities to fish the rich variety of waters throughout the region while visiting on long weekends. Last summer Matt started working and guiding for Vince Wilcox, owner of Wiley's Flies in Ray Brook, NY. Vince grew up in the ADK and has helped Matt become a better guide, fly tier and angler. During a late fall visit, we ventured into the back woods in search of brookies. Matt had a bear encounter on this stream in the spring but we felt comfortable exploring this small stream together with him. It was one of those days where every other cast by each of us, all using dries, produced a fish. While small, the brookies showed the true diversity of nature with all the variations of colors found in this remote stream. We also explored other waters that fall weekend, but the brookie day was special. Truly a memorable weekend on the water with the family.
|Wiley's Flies in Ray Brook, NY|
|Matt showing Mom (@valwormell) how to Read Water|
|Family Fishing in the ADK|
Mark and I booked an early season trip with Harrison Anglers while at the Marlboro Fly Fishing Show in January. The last post provides all the details of this great day, but to sum up, Dan Harrison kept us both on fish the entire day landing more that we could count, all on streamers. My most productive fishing day floating a beautiful Western Massachusetts tailwater.
|Dan (@harrisonanglers) & Mark enjoying the Sun|
|Mark with one of many Rainbows|
|Me with a Smile and a Bow|
Here's to a successful 2016 on the water and with all of your endeavours. The Red Sox opener in Cleveburg is on April 4th! Go Sox!!