Best of 2018 #7: Every small stream outing

I’m a count-your-blessings kind of guy, and to be able to fish for wild native char on a secluded woodland stream is certainly at the top of the tally sheet. There’s something both poetic and romantic about catching a fish whose direct ancestors lived in the same waters for tens of thousands of years.

Even in winter. A dark horse from February.

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200 years ago this was a farmer’s property line.

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Biggest small stream brookie of the year, taken on a micro bugger in deep plunge pool. An old fish who made it through flood, drought, and bitter cold, I didn’t even take him out of the net for a beauty shot.

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Best of 2018 #8: Guiding

“Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life,” goes the old saw. Nice try, but guiding is hard work. Still, it’s a labor of love, and I’m fortunate enough to be a teaching guide on a beautiful river. I get all kinds of clients, from beginner to intermediate to tourists and beyond, but they have one thing in common: they’ve chosen me to improve their fishing experience. I’ve once again been fortunate to have been hired by a long string of pleasant, kind people who were eager to learn and a pleasure to fish with. Thanks to everyone who made my job easier in 2018.

My April UpCountry wet flies class ran into a strong Hendrickson hatch. We like when that happens. 

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Guiding the next generation of fly anglers.

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Big Farmy browns to net always make a guide look good. I’ll take all the help I can get.

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One of my favorite guiding stories from 2018: I was shivering in my boots on a July evening, and I had to run back to the truck for my jacket. I told Mark I wanted to see his rod bent when I returned. As I came through the woods, this was the scene:

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Best of 2018 #9: Speaking, meeting, and greeting

For me, the next best thing to actual fly fishing is talking about it. That might sound scandalous coming from a writer, but I do love my speaking engagements. I did more gigs in 2018 than any other year, logging thousands of miles in the process. Print and the web are great for reaching a global audience, but there’s something far more satisfying about being able to hear people laugh at your jokes or see the ah-hah! light go off. I have several new presentations in the works for 2019: Wet Flies 2.0 (a deeper dive into the ancient and mystical art of wet fly fishing), Targeting Big Stripers From The Shore (’nuff said), and Lost Secrets of Legendary Anglers. Oh! How could I forget? Another, as yet untitled, about tying and fishing flatwings. Fishing club social committees, you know where to find me.

A reminder that I kick off the 2019 speaking season at the Fly Fishing Show in Marlborough, MA, January 18, 19 & 20, 2019.

Revealing the black arts of wet fly fishing to the next generation of anglers.

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Tell the NOAA no fishing in the Block Island Transit Zone

This is important, folks. The NOAA is considering a rule that would allow recreational striped bass fishing in the Block Island Transit Zone, a part of the EEZ. The BITZ is an important refuge for striped bass, especially breeding age females which sometimes spend the entire summer there. If approved, charter boats will come and wantonly kill the future of this glorious species. Please visit the link below, hit “comment now!” and provide your opinion.

Click here to comment.

She needs your help!

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Billy Mitchell podcast: Steve Culton talks fly fishing

For your listening pleasure, a 50-minute podcast featuring yours truly. I haven’t heard it yet, but I am boldly going forward and posting the link. Here’s what Mr. Mitchell had to say about it: “We talk (the sometimes technical) trout fishing on the Farmington, catching stripers on the fly year-round, and using THE FORCE to find fish.”

You can listen to it here.

He speaks!

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Many questions (rhetorical and otherwise)

I once read that a good way to learn things was to ask a lot of damn fool questions. I tend to do that in my fishing, whether I’m wondering to myself, trying something new, or picking the brain of someone who knows a lot more than me. Here are some recent points I’ve been pondering:

Is “pushing water” the most trite, overused, overhyped concept in streamer construction today?

How do all those stripers find my 1″ long sparse grass shrimp flies at night with no moon in water with visibility of under 2 feet?

Why don’t more striper anglers think in terms of matching the bait, and presenting the fly like the naturals are behaving?

When it comes to choosing lines and leaders, is there a more important question than: “What do you want the fly to do?”

If intermediate lines are the most versatile, why do the vast majority of striper anglers use only one presentation with them?

Is there a striped bass swimming today that cares if your fly turns over?

Last but not least: why the hell didn’t I get out and fish in the wake of last weekend’s storms?

If you want to consistently catch bigger bass on the fly from shore, fish how, where, and when most other people don’t.

Block Island All-Nighter first keeper