“Running The Coast” film benefit event (bonus: it’s at Stony Creek Brewery) November 29 & 30

As the proud father of a veteran (my oldest son Bill, USMC, two tours in Iraq) I’m delighted to share this with you. I’ll be speaking before the film on night two, November 30th. Hope to see you at the Stony Creek Brewery.

You can get all the details here.

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Salmon River steelhead report: a little boating, a little hiking, and (finally) some catching

Tuesday: The Salmon can be tough on the fly at 1,650cfs. Then again, I’ve had some of my best days in four-digit flows. With all that water, the fish would have been on the move, then doing their best sardine impression once they reached their wintering destinations in the pools above Pineville. What’s more, a drift boat would give me access to places no fly rod could reach.

You can maintain a positive outlook, plan for the best — or if you’re superstitious, make burnt offerings to the steelhead gods. But in the end, they are in control. And today their answer was no. We saw five steelhead hooked all day from Altmar to Pineville. Four of them came in a 15 minute window, and three of them on plugs. My day’s excitement came when I fouled one below Ellis Cove. I don’t think that fish stopped until it reached Port Ontario.

I fished hard and I fished well, which is all any angler can do. But the best thing I can say about the day was that I got to sleep in. Getting up at 4am for the skunk would have been mortally depressing.

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Wednesday: A-creeking I did go. I was on the water by 7am, my optimism unswayed by two discouraged anglers heading to their truck. They had been there since first light without a touch. I blanked as well, and then for good measure hiked a quarter mile downstream to blank again. I drove to Creek B and never got close to the water. A guide was making his way across a field with two weary clients in tow. The walk of shame is highly distinguishable from the march of victory, and I knew what their answer was before I asked the question. In fact, the guide reported, there were pinners using egg sacks who blanked. With a sigh I headed back to the Salmon.

This was supposed to be a picture of a steelhead. But since there were no willing subjects, I had to settle for an early morning still life.

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I gave two runs in the middle river an hour. It was still morning, so I headed for the LFZ lot in Altmar. I had enough wanderlust left in me to make the ridiculous decision to walk to the UFZ. It’s a proper haul by itself, never mind in 5mm boot foots. I hadn’t fished the top end of the UFZ in years, and while it was pleasant enough getting reacquainted, it was far too much work for the consolation prize of a single YOY steelhead.

I made it back to the truck by 4pm. I’d always avoided the LFZ — crowds are generally not my thing — but with the specter of another lousy trip ominously stalking me, I headed in. And that simple choice made all the difference.

Starting the transition from chrome to dark horse.

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Thursday: There are two things I’ll get up early for, and steelhead is one of them. I was awake without the alarm at 4:44am, first vehicle in the lot, and on the water before false dawn. I met up with UpCountry Sportfishing’s Torrey Collins and some of his friends, and everyone got into steelhead. Great bunch of guys to fish with. The sharing energy extended beyond hookups, from rotating the line to netting fish to passing out victory cigars.

My last fish of the day was a memorable one. I was telling Torrey about the fly I was using, the Salmon River Rajah, when I got snagged on the bottom. (I’d found the inspiration for it, The Rajah, in a book called Fly Patterns of Alaska. I didn’t like a lot of the materials the pattern called for, so I switched them out for ones that I thought moved and breathed and gave the fly an entirely different energy.) Two roll casts failed to free the fly, so I waded upstream and pulled until it came loose. As I was stripping the fly in to check the hook point, whack! Steelhead on. And soon, landed.

Grinning like a ‘possum eating a sweet potato. I caught my first steelhead in 2009, and while I don’t generally count fish, steelhead are different. I’ve been keeping track over the years, feast or famine, and this is the 75th steelhead I’ve landed.

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Steelhead can’t think, but if they could, that buck might have decided, “I want that!” Change bucktail to soft hackle fibers, tinsel to holographic braid, chenille to Estaz, and polar bear to Arctic fox, and you’ve got a Salmon River Rajah. More than once I’ve seen a steelhead go out of its way to eat this fly.

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The best flies for steelhead are…

…the ones you have the most confidence in.

Here’s a batch of such steelhead flies, along with a few new ones to place into the rotation. I love the ritual of fly box replenishment. So much potential glory stuck into wine corks.

All that’s needed now are some waiting and willing mouths.

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An enthusiastic thumbs up from — and for — Joan Wulff

Many thanks to the CFFCM for the speaking opportunity. As always, gatherings like Arts of the Angler are a wonderful way for those of us in the fly fishing community to reconnect — and make new acquaintances. I got to meet several currentseams.com members face-to-face — hello! Thanks also to everyone who came out to see me present. I appreciate you coming, and for asking so many good questions.

And now it’s bonus time. It’s not often that you get the opportunity to present to a legend. But there she was — Joan Wulff, sitting in on my “The Little Things” seminar. At the end, when I announce that it’s time for Q&A, she stands up and compliments me at length on my presentation.

That was so cool.

Steve C. That’s me.

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Farmington River Report 11/3/17: more anglers than fish

Holy crowds, Batman! But what else could you expect on a 70 degree mostly sunny November Friday? Water was 300cfs in the permanent TMA and probably high 40s/low50s. Leaves were a minor issue today. Hatch activity was virtually nil and I didn’t see any risers. I visited two spots in the PTMA and found fish in both, although the action was slow. I carpet bombed Spot A with nymphs for two hours and produced only two hookups. Indicator nymphing was the method, and both takes were very subtle twitches rather than total submergence. Spot B was a quick in-and-out, one fish in about 20 minutes. Thanks to every who shared water and took the time to say hello. (A reminder that if you see me on the water, you’re not bothering me with questions or hellos. I rather enjoy it!)

What the heck? This used to be a Snipe and Purple. I guess the bozo who tied it didn’t fully secure the silk. Out came the nippers and on went a Zebra Midge soft hackle.

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The ZMSH was a good choice. At least this lovely wild brown thought so.

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A batch o’ nymphs and wets for a client. I used a couple of these patterns today.

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New presentation added: “Trout Fishing for Striped Bass”

You can read all about it on my presentation menu link. This debuted last month at the Cape Cod Fly Rodders, and I’m hoping the Fly Fishing Show will pick it up, too.

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Don’t forget “The Little Things” at the Catskill Fly Fishing Center & Museum’s Arts of the Angler show, Ethan Allan Inn, Danbury, CT, Sunday, November 5 at 10:30. Bonus: it’s daylight savings so you get an extra hour of sleep!

 

Small stream father & son outing

Yesterday was a brilliant day for a walk in the woods. No school for Gordo, so we packed up the 6′ Fenwick glass rod, a couple energy bars and some water, and headed northwest. Our hike was about a mile into the woods, and our reward was a gorgeous thin blue line with a fresh influx of groundwater. Even days after the rains, the brook was tea stained and filled with leaves. The fish were hunkered down — all our takes came on tungsten beadhead flies (size 18 2x short Frenchie and ICU Sculpin), none on the dry. We pricked a bunch, and managed two beauties to net, one brown and one brookie.

Gordo dapping a dry/dropper in a boiling plunge pool. No customers here, but a few yards downstream…

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We tag-teamed this jewel of a wild brown. Dad made the cast, Gordo landed him. I want to find a better word than exquisite — how about ornamental?

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