There’s cold in them thar hills

You get a day like today and it’s easy to think that finally, winter is over. But last week when Grady Allen — owner of UpCountry Sportfishing — and I ventured over the hills and far away, there were constant reminders that winter’s grip can be tenacious.

We fished River X in the Berkshires. I had never been before, and the first thing I noticed on the drive up was that there was still white stuff on the ground. The banks of the river were a patchwork of earth, snow, and ice. Frozen shelves still extended from the shore, and while clear, the water was high from runoff. Even more telling, its temperature was a bracing 34 degrees. In April. Not so good for the fishing. Grady took one lonely brookie on an ICU Sculpin, and your humble scribe wore the collar. Here are a few photos from our adventure.

“I’ll have a block of ice with my boulder, please.” Must have been some winter up here.

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Grady working an upstream seam. We only managed one cigar each this morning; we cut the trip short for lack of a bite. (I always like to fish with people I consider to be better anglers than me. That way, if we both blank, I don’t feel like such a loser.)

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Amidst the hoary streamscape, a green totem of spring.

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No. Not yet.

Just when Mother Nature gives you permission to believe the stripers might be there (peepers for several days now, first daffodil showing some yellow, temperatures actually in the low 60s) she slams the door with cruel finality. I mean, mean-like. See ya, sucker.

You know it’s bad when the all the spin guys leave before you do.

Here’s what I can tell you: bright, sunny day. Water with good visibility, albeit still well below normal (ten lashes for me for forgetting my thermometer) temperature. Wind honking in my face at 15 mph (with gusts up to 20) that made casting a large diameter floating line difficult. Not a touch for me or any of the other four guys who wisely packed it in before I did.

Everything is late this spring, and the stripers are no exception. April 10 is the farthest I’ve gone into April without a bass. But, there’s good news.  It’s got to start sometime.

It’s like the birds are saying, “Follow the arrows to find the stripers.” If it were only that easy.

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Thank you, CFFA

“How many flies did you actually tie?” It was Ben Bilello, salmon fly tyer extraordinaire, who was doing the asking. “Two-and-a-half,” I said. “I only did one,” countered Ben. That’s kind of how these things (Fly Tyers’ Roundtable) go: lots of talking, very little tying. But, as the Al Franken-voiced Stuart Smalley might say, that’s OK.

Many thanks for the CFFA for inviting me to tie. Just as many thanks for everyone who stopped by my table to talk fishing, tying, and especially those who indulged me with tales of fishing glory.

I switched it up last night and tied some striper flies. These are Crazy Menhaden flatwing/soft-hackle hybrids.

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Appearances, articles, and other nifty stuff

April is shaping up to be a busy month at currentseams. Fishing-wise, winter looks like it’s finally decided to vamoose, the stripers are on the move, and before long, we’ll be hearing rumors of sightings of those big mayflies with the three tails.

I have three more appearances scheduled this month:

Wednesday, April 9th, I will be tying at the CFFA Tying Roundtable. 7pm, Veterans Memorial Clubhouse, 100 Sunset Ridge,  East Hartford, CT.

Tuesday, April 15th, I will be presenting “Wet Flies 101” to the Thames Valley Chapter of TU. You can get details at thamesvalleytu.org.

Thursday, April 24th, I will again be presenting “Wet Flies 101,” this time to the CT/RI Coastal Fly Fishers. While the presentation is freshwater-centric, many of the rigging and presentations cross over nicely to striper fishing. connri-saltfly.com

Not yet. But soon.

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My Word-o-Matic article writing machine has been going full bore. Look for a piece on matching the hatch with wet flies in the next issue of American Angler, one on the Farmington River Survivor Strain in the spring issue of The Drake, and a small stream wet fly article in an upcoming Mid Atlantic Fly Fishing Guide.

Lastly, many thanks to those of you who have asked me to be your guide. With two jobs, two kids playing on a total of four travel sports teams, and a spouse who travels for business, my schedule is under constant attack by the time-space continuum. Thanks for your patience, and I’ll do what I can do to make things work.

Many thanks to the TU Naugatuck Pomperaug Chapter for hosting “Wet Flies 101”

I learned two things tonight. One, it’s hard to find pizza by the slice in Naugatuck. And two, the guys of TU Chapter 281 are perfectly willing to share a couple slices of their own.

A fed guest speaker is a happy guest speaker, and thus fortified I presented “Wet Flies 101.” Another receptive, friendly group, armed with lots of good questions. I am truly fortunate to be able to do what I do. Thanks again!

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In other news, I have some more videos in the works, and a currentseams exclusive interview with striper legend Ken Abrames. Stay tuned.