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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Best of 2018 #10: Topwater smallmouth before the floods

A look back at some of my favorite fly fishing moments from 2018.

I’d been licking my chops all year, waiting for the Housy smallmouth season. And why not? The fish are plentiful, the anglers scarce, the water’s pleasantly warm, and there’s something magical about the feeding frenzy that occurs during the change of light on a hot summer evening. I went to the Hous earlier in July than usual with the thought that I was going to find some new honey holes. I had to do a bit of walking — a mile hike in waders in 90% humidity will get you lathered up proper — but man, did my efforts pay off.

Little did I know that these July outings would be the crescendo. August brought rain, and more rain, and then it rained again and again and there went the summer smallmouth season. High and stained, with flows in the thousands, was the new August normal.

This night in particular remains fresh in my memory. Dozens of quality bass bull-rushed my Gurgler as late afternoon transitioned into evening. Then at dusk, I tied on a Countermeasures and tossed it into the shallows…

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A handsome fish, this one. I got into more larger smallies this year than ever before.

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Dusk can be a magic time. This guy was sipping on emergers in about a foot of water. Based on the titanic hit he laid on the Countermeasures, I can only guess that if he were a football player, he’d be a linebacker. 

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Striper Report: A slow start to December

The month is off to a lackluster start. I fished a proven late fall bass producer on Monday, and it was a blank for me and the other half dozen souls who braved high, stained water and biting winds. Went back to the same well on Tuesday, and although I had the place to myself and the conditions were far nicer, the bite — or lack thereof — was the same. Off to spot B, where I knew bass had been caught 24 hours earlier, but no. Not for me, dagnabbit.

I don’t like the short term weather forecast, so perhaps I’ll need to rethink time and tide. Catching a striper on the fly from the shore for 12 consecutive months may sound like a simple proposition, but this first week of the last month shows how difficult it can be. While I am bloodied, I remain unbowed.

What my fingertips felt like by the end of Tuesday’s session.

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The Official Steve Culton Fly Fishing Show Marlborough schedule

It’s show time! I’ll be presenting all three days at the Fly Fishing Show in Marlborough, MA, January 18, 19 & 20, 2019. Three brand new programs, each making their debut.

First up is a seminar, Wet Flies 2.0. A deeper dive into the ancient and mystical art of wet fly fishing. This will be almost all new material, and a natural extension of the very popular “Wet Flies 101.” Friday, January 18, 2:30pm in the Catch Room.

On Saturday, January 19, 10am in Room A of the Destination Theater, I’ll be presenting Targeting Big Stripers From The Shore. Catching bigger bass on the fly while wading is always challenging, even more so in these tough striper times. Come find out some of my secrets.

Speaking of secrets, we wrap things up Sunday, January 20 10am in Room B of the Destination Theater with Lost Secrets of Legendary Anglers. How do iconic fly anglers consistently manage to catch all those fish? Shhh…it’s a secret.

I don’t have my Edison, NJ show schedule yet, but when I do you can be sure that I’ll post it here.

Mark it down on your calendar. Be there or be square. And as always, be sure to come say hello.

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“Wet Flies 2.0” in the works

“Wet Flies 2.0” is the followup to the highly popular “Wet Flies 101” presentation. 2.0 will take a deeper dive into wet fly tactics and techniques — a more advanced course in how-to, where-to, when-to. I began working on it yesterday, and I’m at it again today. “Wet Flies 2.0” will make its debut at the 2019 Fly Fishing Show. I’m excited. I hope you are, too.

The Magic Fly, AKA Pale Watery Wingless wet variant. You betcha I’ll be talking about this one in Wet Flies 2.0.

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