Hello, 2023! Don’t forget your CT license, and there are some new regs.

2023 is spread out before us, an immense blank canvas upon which we may paint glorious fishing pictures. Yeah, OK, there will be some blanks and some crappy conditions and days where it just doesn’t go our way. Whatever. It all beats the crap out of sitting at a desk.

To start: don’t forget to get a 2023 Connecticut license. (I only mention this because someone who looks a lot like me did.)

There are some new inland sport fishing regs for CT, too. You can get all the fishing regs from the CT DEEP website, but the one that is most meaningful to all of us is that there is now no closed season for fishing on all lakes, ponds, rivers, and streams. That means if you want to fish for trout on an off-the-books thin blue line in March, have at it. A great change and a long time coming.

Catch ’em up!

Here’s to doing what the can says.

Currentseams Best of 2022: #4-#2

#4: Getting Published for the First Time in a Real Book, Surfcasting Around The Block II. Although I was late to it in terms of its bookshelf life, I’m a big fan of Dennis Zambrotta’s Surfcasting Around the Block. So you can imagine my delight when, a couple of years ago, Dennis asked if I wanted to write a couple of chapters for the followup. Like filmmaking, writing a book isn’t an instantaneous proposition. In fact, the journey from idea to manuscript to holding bound paper and glossy cover in your hands can be glacial. (Maybe these days that’s not such a good analogy. But I digress.) Published in the fall of 2022, Surfcasting Around the Block II is a must-read for any fan of this fishery. Modesty prevents me from listing my favorite chapters, but suffice to say there are many pearls within the entire book to be harvested by the keen student.

From the original book. (The text, not the fly.)

#3: A Striper That Could be Measured in Pounds Instead of Inches. It’s been a few years since I caught a striper on the fly this big, and man, I don’t have to tell you how good this one felt. After putting in my time at this general mark over several years, what a gas to finally connect with a good fish. And I did it on a fly with which I’ve never had any success, the RLS Sure Thing. So summon your best General Patton voice and shout along with me, “Ken Abrames, you magnificent bastard, I read your book!” Photo by striper master Toby Lapinski. Read more.

#2: Two Glorious Days in Cheesman Canyon. Good lord, what have I been missing all these years?!? I continue to kick myself for never having experienced fly fishing for trout out west before this year. The river was the South Platte; the beats, sections of Cheesman Canyon; the guide, Chris Steinbeck from Pat Dorsey’s Blue Quill Angler. I spent two days in a state of trout nirvana, one with my son Cam and the other solo. Maybe I simply hit it right. Maybe I was spot-on my game. But I know this for sure: an hour on this tailwater has the potential to beat the tar out of a week on the Farmington in terms of nymphing action and robust, belligerent, hefty wild trout. Wow! (It just occurred to me that I never finished my triptych. So I shall endeavor to give you the last part in early January.) Read the first two installments here, and here.

Ironically, my first fish of the trip was by far the smallest. Still, a powerful fighter.

Coming soon…the #1 event of 2022!

Currentseams Best of 2022: #7-#5

Three down, seven to go. Without further ado…

#7: The Return of the Slot Bass. For me, 2021 was a bad year for bigger bass. Now, to be fair, I didn’t go balls-to-the-wall in my search for larger linesiders. But I did get out enough times to enough big bass marks to warrant at least a few courtesy slot fish. I don’t think I caught a striper over 28″ in 2021. 2022 was a different story. Again, I didn’t put in the time that I did 10 years ago, but I had enough slot fish (28″-35″) throughout the year to keep me happy. I won’t list them all, but here is one report; and here’s another.

#6: Tying, Teaching, and Presenting at my First International Fly Tying Symposium. When Chuck Furimsky called me in late August to ask me if I’d be a featured player at the IFT, I was totally stoked. I’d always wanted to do the show, but my annual father-son steelhead trip with Cam got in the way. This year, it was a different weekend, and I immediately said yes. Being a featured presenter/teacher/tyer is a lot of work, but I had way more fun than I could have imagined. As expected, it was a very well-run show, with lots of talented people, and I made many new friends. If you took my class or saw me present or stopped by to say hello, thank you again! Read more.

One of the two new presentations (the other is Beyond Cast & Strip: Presentation Flies for Striped Bass) that debuted at the 2022 IFTS. You can see both of them next month at the Fly Fishing Shows in Marlborough and Edison.

#5: Spectacular Late April Hendrickson Action. Now, don’t get me wrong. I love when the surface of the water is littered with Hendrickson duns and the trout are so gleefully snapping them up that you can see the whites of their mouths. But for me, the wet fly action is what I treasure about this hatch. There may be nothing visibly going on, yet there I am, pounding up trout after trout with my team of three. Or, the surface may be simmering; the dry fly anglers are presenting on the surface to no avail, and there I am, swinging wets, rod bent, with a “Sorry!” grin on my face. When you hit it just right, the Hendrickson hatch and a team of wet flies is pure magic. Read more.

Currentseams Best of 2022: #10 – #8

Gather round, currentseamsers, as we kick off our traditional best-of-year-in-review! These are what I consider to be my most notable moments of 2022. Some of them are about fishing trips; others, my writing; maybe it’s an appearance I made or some kind of recognition. Whatever the reason, it’s a chance for me to take stock of the year and celebrate the good times. And we could all use some extra good times, yes? I’ve linked the original reports if you want to read more. So let’s make our first cast…

#10: The Summer Blizzard in August. This was a monumentally disappointing year for smallmouth bass. The numbers and size just weren’t there, and the drop has been so precipitous, I remain alarmed. But there were a few bright moments, and I can tell you this: the white fly population is in tremendous shape. White flies are a remarkable hatch, as it really doesn’t get going until you can no longer see your fly. But fishing under the hatch at dusk can mean the bass-o-matic, and once night falls, seeing your fly becomes irrelevant. Be advised: white flies will find every opening on your face, so keep your mouth closed. White flies taste really, really bad. Read more.

#9: The World Premier of the Film “Summer on the Farmington.” After many months of shooting and editing — these things take time (and we had a Covid spike that forced a postponement) — what a midwinter treat to gather at Brewery Legitimus in New Hartford to view director Matthew Vinick’s homage to the West Branch. I was delighted with my bits, and as a whole I thought Matthew did an excellent job covering the subject in an informative and entertaining way. Read more.

#8. Currentseams Makes “40 Best Fly Tying Blogs and Websites” List. Sometimes I wonder if all the work is worth it. Are people actually reading — and, most of all, enjoying — what I’m doing here? Certainly it’s a labor of love (I don’t get paid for any of this), and while I do occasionally get positive feedback from you, it’s nice to be recognized by an outside source. I’ll try to get even more quality fly tying stuff out for you in 2023. Read more.

Currentseams.com Makes “40 Best Fly Tying Blogs and Websites” List!

I’m pleased to say that Currentseams was just named to FeedSpot’s 40 Best Fly Tying Blogs and Websites list. We came in at a cool #11! The company is good, with sites like AvidMax, Fly Tyer, Tactical Fly Fisher, and Orvis in the mix. If you have some free time over the holiday break, I highly recommend you peruse the list. It includes both vendors and information-based sites. Woo-hoo!

Sweetwater, saltwater…we do it all on Currentseams, #11 on the 2022 FeedSpot 40 Best Fly Tying Blogs and Websites list!

Tell the ASMFC “No!” to Striped Bass Commercial Quota Transfers

Once again the ASMFC can’t get out of its own way. Their latest hijinks involves allowing states to transfer unused commercial quotas — in other words, killing more striped bass. Sounds like a terrific way to conserve the stocks, yes?

You can get a more in-depth look at this madness on the American Saltwater Guides Association website. Or, here’s a brief synopsis from our friend George Baldwin from his Facebook page: “The receiving state that this mostly refers to is Delaware, who believes they have gotten shorthanded when the quotas were last assigned. The states that haven’t filled their quotas were unable to find enough striped bass to do so. This, in addition to the fact that we’re trying to rebuild striped bass populations by 2029, does not indicate a healthy enough striped bass population. Doing anything that has a good chance of increasing striper harvest while we’re trying to rebuild diminished stocks that were determined to have been overfished does not seem like a great idea. Especially after poor spawning success in the past few years. We’ve got to lower the mortality rates that got us into this position, not raise them.”

Here’s where you come in. The ASMFC is taking public comments on this proposal. It takes about five minutes and the stripers really need your help. Again, this comes from George Baldwin (thank you, George, for being such a strong advocate for striped bass!):

You can help by writing a short letter or email to ASMFC stating your name and state of residency, that you are a recreational fisherman, and that you prefer the commission adopt Option A for Striped Bass Draft Addendum 1, which is to keep the status quo (no commercial quota transfers).

Public comment will be accepted until 11:59 PM (EST) on January 13, 2023 and should be sent to Emilie Franke, FMP Coordinator, at 1050 N. Highland St., Suite 200 A-N, Arlington, Virginia 22201; or at comments@asmfc.org (Subject line: Striped Bass Draft Addendum I).

Your letter doesn’t have to be anything elaborate. It can be as simple as something like the following (feel free to use this as a template for your own email):

To the Striped Bass Management Board, To: comments@asmfc.orgSubject: Striped Bass Draft Addendum I

I am a recreational angler from the state of <INSERT STATE HERE>. I’m writing to express my preference for the options being proposed in Draft Addendum I to the Striped Bass Fishery Management Plan. I prefer option A – status quo, no commercial transfers. Any of the other options are likely to increase mortality at a time when the stock is rebuilding. Thank you.

Sincerely,

<INSERT NAME>

<your email address>

There is great power in conservation, preservation, and proper catch-and-release. Please go send that email!

Fly Fishing Gift Ideas for the 2022 Holiday Season

If you’re looking for a gift for the fly fisher in your life — even if that’s you! — look no further. Whether you’re buying for yourself (or showing this post to your significant other — hint hint) I got you covered.

A Half-Day Guide Trip/Lesson with Steve Culton. If you’re planning on heading out with me next year, this locks you in at the 2022 rate. I highly recommend the four-hour slot. To purchase, please call 860-918-0228 or email me at swculton@yahoo.com.

My client Jake with a lovely wild Farmington River brown from last April.

Classes with the Experts at the January 2023 Marlborough Fly Fishing Show. There are two options. The first is Saturday, January 21 8:30am-11am, Tying and Fishing Wet Flies with Steve Culton. This is mostly a tying class, but we will also cover some fishing aspects. You must pre-register with the Fly Fishing Show. Here’s the link. The second is Sunday, January 22, 8:30am-11am, Presentation Flies For Striped Bass with Steve Culton. This is mostly a tying class, but we will also cover some fishing aspects. You must pre-register with the Fly Fishing Show. Here’s the link. The cost is $90 per session.

Or, for a great stocking stuffer, you can buy Marlborough show tickets in advance direct from the show. Here’s that link. Note that I will also be appearing in Edison, NJ, the last weekend in January on Friday and Saturday, but I do not yet have my schedule.

Happy gift giving, and have a safe and wonderful holiday season.

A belated Happy Thanksgiving, and getting back in the Currentseams groove

Thank you everyone for being so patient with me during a very busy time. My readers and followers — that’s you! — are something for which I am truly thankful.

I’m looking forward to getting back to giving you the kind of content you’re used to seeing here. And I’ve got a lot to write about: the International Fly Tying Symposium, my recent steelheading trip, some new materials I’m using for fly tying…just to name a few. Speaking of steelheading, it seems like every time I go, come what may, it only serves to fuel the addiction. I’ve been falling asleep visualizing strike indicators dipping below the surface. Really. Sweet dreams, indeed.

Neither Kansas nor Connecticut, but rather a little Salmon River sunshine of a wakeup call.

Back from IFTS, but on a brief hiatus

I’m back from the International Fly Tying Symposium, where I had a fantastic time. Normally, I’d be writing about that today. But sadly, my wife’s sister passed away unexpectedly over the weekend, and right now I need to focus on family rather than fishing.

It’s always my goal every week to try to give you 2-3 bits of meaningful new content on Currentseams. I appreciate your loyalty and your readership. Please bear with me and we’ll get back on track soon. Lots to talk about! In the meantime, tight lines, good tides, perfect flows, lots of bait, and abundant hatches to all. Thank you.

The burning question of the day is: If using a floating line in chop/surf is causing me to lose contact with my fly…

…then how am I catching all those stripers?

The answer should be self-evident.

I wanted to briefly make another point about using floating lines for stripers. If I could change minds on one aspect of using a floating line for stripers from the shore, it might be the notion that one must have weight (fast sink tips, etc.) incorporated into the system — and/or that you’ve somehow got to get the fly down into some imaginary strike zone. Certainly, there are times when stripers are grubbing. But bass are usually looking straight ahead or up. I rarely use sink tips or weighted flies with the floater. That 20-pounder from last month came on a totally floating line setup, and the take came where a wadeable reef drops off into substantially deeper (overhead) water. Not surprisingly, the bass found my fly near the surface.

An oldie but goody from Block Island. I’m standing in thigh-deep water, but I was casting into water that was probably over my head. The bass are usually looking up. Using a Rio Outbound 9-weight floating line with a 7 1/2 foot leader.