Thursday, March 31, 2016

2015 Top Twelve Days on the Water

-- First fish of 2016 --
I'll open this long overdue post with the first fish of 2016. A sweet native Massachusetts brookie from a stream with no name. We are now three months into 2016, but I'd like to look back on a personally successful 2015 fly fishing New England waters.

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
Number 11- Albie Tug and First Jack - September
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 
First Jack
Number 10 - Cape Boat Trip and First Mackerel - September
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
First Mackerel
Number 9 - ADK 4th with Family - July
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".
"The Kids"
One of Many Yellow Perch
Largemouth Chomping a Double Bunny
Rock Bass on a Rubber Bugger
Matt's (@troutdoors) First Pike
Number 8 - Cape Flats - August
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
Number 7 - Cheeky Tourney & Worm Hatch - May
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
Number 6 - Cape Flats First Flounder - October
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
Number 5 - Central MA River Skunk Buster - December
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
Number 4 - Boat Trip with Chris - July
I joined the 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 Launching
Chris with the First Fish of the Day
One of Several Stripers Boated - This One on a Yellow Betsy
Hooked Up Again
Another Striper

Birds, Busting Bait and Hungry Stripers (NSFW)

Number 3 - Spring Cape Weekend with Mark and Biggest Striper - May
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
Number 2 - Adirondack Brookies - October
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
Brookie Bonanza
Matt showing Mom (@valwormell) how to Read Water
Family Fishing in the ADK
Number 1 - Harrison Anglers Float - April
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.
Streamer City
Dan (@harrisonanglers) & Mark enjoying the Sun
Mark with one of many Rainbows
Me with a Smile and a Bow
Thanks for getting through this long post. Hell, it's only been 11 months so this is a year's worth of content, right? Seriously, follow my microblogs (@ginclear on Instagram, @deanwo on Twitter, Gin Clear on Tumblr or the Gin Clear Blog Page on the facebag) if you would like a steady flow of current fly fishing events in my corner of the world.

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!!

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