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Posts Tagged ‘Rods’

New Toys!

Fall is basically Christmas in the fly fishing industry – all the new goodies announced at the show start showing up at our doorstep, and Remy, our UPS guy is the best surrogate Santa ever. Today the Sage Train came for a visit! We received our first TXL-F (F for Four Piece) ultralight rods, two VXPs (a 5- and 8-weight), and the new 5-weight Xi3.

From the left: TXL-F in 00-, 2-, and 3-weights, VXP in 5- and 8-weight, and my favorite: a 8'9" 5-wt Xi3. Photo by: Bart Larmouth

We also now have two of the DXL line of luggage – the large waist pack with a TRUE waterproof zipper, and the DXL Boat Bag – one of the newest and freshest ideas in tackle storage. Oh yeah, and that’s waterproof too. C’mon down and take a look at them all!

Sage Typhoon DXL Large waistpack and boat bag. Photo by: Bart Larmouth

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Apologies on the length between posts folks – we have been ripping and tearing, rending and pulling, stripping and setting to bring you the new and improved: www.tailwatersflyfishing.com – head on over and check it out! Also, Tex Moore and I just had the pleasure of casting the new (and unbelievably hyped-up) Loomis NRX rods.

Tailwaters' new baby. Say hello.

After some reel-seat snafus, Shimano (Loomis’ parent company) is finally shipping these things. We currently have a 10 and 11-weight in stock, with a 5 and 8 to follow. So Tex and I took our new, stylish sunglasses and headed across the street to see exactly how overhyped these rods are.

Not the prettiest things in the world. Photo from G. Loomis

Well, I stand corrected. I took the first spin with the 11, which is generally just like casting a 12 – unpleasant, with a bit of concentration on form to keep from smacking your head. Well, not with this rod. It is a bit hard to articulate, but aside from ginormous amounts of power (and spell check actually accepts “ginormous” as a word now without me adding it – awesome), I felt like I was casting a 6-wt, at least technique-wise. The rod loads and unloads with ease – no need to put a ton of muscle to it, but it still had plenty energy and strength to yield screen-door loops with just a typical cast.

Specifically, the rod loads ‘normally,’ meaning more like a 6 or an 8 – you feel it bend, you begin the forward cast. Basically, no extra amount of thinking, concentration, or power needed. Tex picked up on this instantly, it took my brain a second to clue in, which I’m sure has nothing to do with the inordinate amount of girls in skirts and cowboy boots parading around for UT/OU weekend. I really can’t wait to see what the other weights have to offer!

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Friend of the shop and carp-guru Joel Hays had a nice review of the new TFO Clouser rod series on his blog this week – click HERE to check it out!

The New TFO Clouser Series on Display at Tailwaters. Photo by: Shannon Drawe

The New TFO Clouser Series on Display at Tailwaters. Photo by: Shannon Drawe

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Ron Foster and I just returned from an incredible trip to Unalakleet River Lodge in Unalakleet, Alaska.  Unalakleet is a small Eskimo Village located on Hudson Sound 400 miles Northwest of Anchorage.  We were invited by lodge owners Jeff and Sally Appel to visit the lodge to have a better understanding of their operation.  After a week of wonderful food, hospitality and of course great fishing, I can excitedly say we will be honored to be associated with the Unalakleet River Lodge.  The lodge sits on the bank of the Unalakleet River approximately 10 miles upstream from Unalakleet.  The river is home to one of the most prolific Silver Salmon runs in all of Alaska.  In addition to the tremendous Silver Salmon, anglers will also catch pink, chum and king salmon as well as dolly varden and world class grayling.  Stay tuned for an exclusive page on our website www.tailwatersflyfishing.com with more info on Unalakleet River Lodge.

Unalakleet River Lodge photo by. Brent Boone
Unalakleet River Lodge. Photo by: Brent Boone

Enough with the promotion!!!  Ron and I departed Dallas early Saturday morning July 18, short stop in Denver and on to Anchorage.  We rented a car in Anchorage and spent that evening and the next morning exploring.  I’ve heard tale of “Combat Fishing” during salmon season but have never had the opportunity to experience it.  See the picture below……no explanation necessary.

Combat Fishing. Photo by: Brent Boone
Combat Fishing. Photo by: Brent Boone

After our morning exploration, we were off to the airport to catch our flight to Unalakleet.  Although close to the arctic circle, the trip to Unalakleet River Lodge is actually quite easy.  There is a daily 1 and a half hour flight on Pen Air into Unalakleet.  Our flight was a little delayed due to weather but we made it safe and sound.

Once in Unalakleet, we were whisked off to the river for the 15 minute boat ride to the lodge.  As you get closer to the lodge, the surrounding area becomes increasingly more beautiful and as you round a bend, the lodge sits high on a hillside surrounded by trees.  Very majestic.  As I travel more and more, I’m continually amazed at how remote lodges are able to offer the quality of amenities they do.  The main lodge is built with huge timbers that were brought in by boat.  The kitchen is fully stocked, huge commercial stove, refrigerator, freezer etc…..every thing has been brought in by boat.  The logistics of running a remote lodge are mind blowing. 

After hors-d’oeuvres and dinner, its time to rest up for tomorrow’s fishing.  Being this far north, it never really gets dark so your internal clock is a little confused.  The long day has caught up with us and going to sleep is no problem and as the week progresses, the long fishing days with 100 fish days….very easy to sleep.

Ron  and I both are early risers in Texas so when we awake at our normal time it’s about 3 a.m. Alaska.  We manage to stay in bed until 5:30 but it’s time to get up.  Coffee, breakfast and off to the river by 7:30.  Our guide for the week is our good friend and Tailwaters employee Matt Jones.  This is Matt’s 3rd season and Ron and I could not be more exited to spend the next 6 days fishing with our buddy.  See Matt’s Alaska Journal on this blog (See tab at top of page).

I won’t bore you with a daily recap of the fishing….each day is very typical….60 pinks, 10 chum,  5 dollies, 5 grayling and 3-5 silvers.  We are a week early for the silvers this season but typically a day during silver season would look like this 100 silvers,  60 pinks, 10 chum,  5 dollies and 5 grayling.  The pinks are very fun to catch but after 30 or so, you are happy to land a hard fighting chum or a beautiful grayling.  The grayling in this part of of Alaska are world class….many in the 17 inch range and a few up to 20 inches.  (Check out some images from our trip below)

I forgot to mention, in addition to Tailwaters employee and Alaska fishing guide, Matt is a professional photographer.  Check out all the underwater shots below!!!!  www.mcjphotography.com

Here’s what we were ‘packing’ for all these different species: Sage Z-Axis 7136-4 Spey Rod w/ Hatch 9 Plus reel, Rio 550 grain Skagit. Sage Z-Axis 6126-4 Spey Rod w/Able Super 9 reel, Rio 450 grain Skagit Sage Z-Axis 6110-4 Switch Rod, Rio 400 grain ABS Outbound.  Sage TCX 10 Wt. w/Able Super 10, Teeny T-450 sinking line. Sage Z-Axis 691-4 w/Tibor Freestone reel, Scientific Anglers Sharkskin.   Simms Waders, Simms Guide Boot, Simms G4 Boots, Simms G4 Jacket, Simms Guide Jacket,  various layers made by Simms and Patagonia.  (Now that I write this down, we must have looked like walking billboards!!!)

After 6 days of fishing, it’s time to go home…..we are very disappointed about our return to Texas but I can honestly say I’ve never had some much fun at a lodge.  The host’s, guides and staff at Unalakleet River Lodge are second to none.  Everyone is so happy, friendly and accommodating.  I’m truly excited about the budding relationship between Tailwaters Fly Fishing Company and Unalakleet River Lodge.

Main Lodge. Photo by: Brent Boone
Main Lodge. Photo by: Brent Boone
Happy Moose. Photo by: Brent Boone
Happy Moose. Photo by: Brent Boone
stokes in the Kitchen. Photo by. Brent Boone
Stokes in the Kitchen. Photo by. Brent Boone
First Morning Run. Photo by. Brent Boone
First Morning Run. Photo by. Brent Boone

 

Underwater Photos. Photo by. Brent Boone

Underwater Photos. Photo by. Brent Boone

Beautiful Dolly with Pink Streamer. Photo by: Matt Jones

Beautiful Dolly with Pink Streamer. Photo by: Matt Jones

Grayling Underwater. Photo by: Matt Jones

Grayling Underwater. Photo by: Matt Jones

Hatch Advertisement. Photo by: Matt Jones

Hatch Advertisement. Photo by: Matt Jones

Big Grayling! Photo by: Matt Jones

Big Grayling! Photo by: Matt Jones

Guide Matt Jones. Photo by: Brent Boone

Guide Matt Jones. Photo by: Brent Boone

Pretty Pink. Photo by: Matt Jones

Pretty Pink. Photo by: Matt Jones

One Spey, One Overhand! Photo by: Matt Jones

One Spey, One Overhand! Photo by: Matt Jones

Ron with nice Chum. Photo by: Matt Jones

Ron with nice Chum. Photo by: Matt Jones

It makes me dizzy! Photo by: Matt Jones

It makes me dizzy! Photo by: Matt Jones

Ron with nice Humpy. Photo by: Matt Jones

Ron with nice Humpy. Photo by: Matt Jones

Underwater Silver. Photo by: Matt Jones

Underwater Silver. Photo by: Matt Jones

Big Silver. Photo by Matt Jones

Big Silver. Photo by Matt Jones

Nice Chum. Photo by: Matt Jones

Nice Chum. Photo by: Matt Jones

Chum up close. Photo by: Matt Jones

Chum up close. Photo by: Matt Jones

See the bear tracks in the foreground?  Photo by: Brent Boone

See the bear tracks in the foreground? Photo by: Brent Boone

View from the Lodge. Photo by: Brent Boone

View from the Lodge. Photo by: Brent Boone

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Sorry for the delay in this post, but things have been hectic here in Dallas, including the temperatures!

I was fortunate enough, the first week of June to head up to Black Canyon Anglers in Austin, Colorado for a much needed trout trip on the Gunnison River. A two-nighter on the river turned out to be absolutely spectacular! The Black Canyon was made famous by the movie, “The Hatch,” about the INSANE stonefly hatch on the river. I was (knowingly) about 2 weeks early for the prime-time hatching of all the big players (pternoarcys californica, or Salmonfly), but knew the streamer action was going to be absolutely intense!!

After looking at flights, I opted to drive up to BCA, and after driving through the high desert, came down into the valley oasis (Gunnison River Farms) that BCA bases its operations out of.

The Lonely Drive in. Photo by: Bart Larmouth

The Lonely Drive in. Photo by: Bart Larmouth

The Patio at Black Canyon Anglers, complete with firepit. Photo by: Bart Larmouth

The beautiful Patio at Black Canyon Anglers, complete with fire pit. Photo by: Bart Larmouth

After meeting Ben Olsen, the assistant manager (and my guide for the weekend), I quickly put my gear up in cabin, located on site. The lower cabins are old mining shacks that the owners had brought in from Telluride, and updated on the inside – great little places to spend the night!

The outside of my cabin. Photo by: Bart Larmouth

The outside of my cabin. Photo by: Bart Larmouth

After a great dinner, I turned in early, as the 5:30 AM wake up call would soon follow. After a quick breakfast, we were on the “road” (i.e. four-wheel-drive only two-track across/into the desert) to the launch at the bottom of Chukar Trail – a 1.6-mile decent into the Black Canyon. Horses carry all the big gear in the night before, meaning boats, oars, food, coolers, etc., were waiting for us at the bottom, while we just brought our rods and dry bags in on our backs. A great (and pretty painless) endeavor.

Getting the gear ready at the top of Chukar Trail. Photo by: Bart Larmouth

Getting the gear ready at the top of Chukar Trail. Photo by: Bart Larmouth

Once we hit the bottom, Ben began to blow up and rig the raft for our trip, and I decided to throw a streamer or two in the pool above the first chute we would go through. On my second cast two rainbows chased my fly, right to my feet, just like a couple of pike. Speaking of pike, the first rainbow was just about the size of a northern – seriously (no guide lies here) in the 28″ range, and girthy to boot. The one trailing it was definitely over 24″, and my  blood was racing.

As soon as the raft and gear were set, Ben shoved us off, and we went through our first small bit of whitewater, a small class II riffle. I proceeded to start pounding the banks, which got a few decent follows. We stopped about 1/2 a mile down river to fish a nice ‘rainbow riffle’ as Ben called it, where he promptly hooked a nice little brown on a tandem nymph rig. My personal motto being “Death before nymphs!,” I was obliged to throw the streamer a bit more. We broke for lunch in a cave (so damn cool), then moved on down the river. Prior to lunch I hooked and landed my first Gunnison fish – an nice 17-18 inch brown.

The first fish of the trip! Nice 17-18 inch Brownie. Photo by: Ben Olsen

The first fish of the trip! Nice 17-18 inch Brownie. Photo by: Ben Olsen

This would be the typical story for the rest of the trip – tons of follows, and more cookie-cutter 16 to 18-inch brown trout than I could count! Absolutely awesome! The majority were on a tandem streamer rig comprised of a top-secret white fly a friend ties, and a black stonefly-looking bugger with legs. If they took the white lead fly, the hookup was guaranteed, as they just LEVELED it. I missed plenty on the back fly, with the fish short-striking pretty regularly.

We set up camp the first night in Ute Park, at a fantastic campsite, with Filet Mignon for dinner, and tons of birds and blue-tailed Skinks to keep us company.

The not-so-elusive Blue Tailed Skink. Cool. Photo by: Bart Larmouth

The not-so-elusive Blue Tailed Skink. Cool. Photo by: Bart Larmouth

Breakfast was equally impressive, with the best AM spread I’ve ever had on a river.

A great way to rise and shine. Photo by: Bart Larmouth

A great way to rise and shine. Photo by: Bart Larmouth

Day two saw more of the same action, and some fantastic scenery to boot – Ben didn’t lie when he said it would only get better. He actually was the first (again) to stick fish this day, and caught a brown with some real cool coloration – very German-looking:

Ben Olsen holds his first fish of the day. Photo by: Bart Larmouth

Ben Olsen holds his first fish of the day. Photo by: Bart Larmouth

Ben's fish, up close and personal. Photo by: Bart Larmouth

Ben's fish, up close and personal. Photo by: Bart Larmouth

Although it does sound like a typical fisherman’s lie, I truly lost count of how many fish we hooked, moved, and/or landed that day. Any trip when you say, “eh. We have enough photos of 18″ fish” is absolutely incredible! My favorite type of streamer fishing is putting a fly in a pocket about the size of a bucket, and having a big boy come up and smack it. Typically, if you miss a shot, you get ticked, b/c there are only so many ‘good’ little pockets like that on most rivers. Not on the Gunny – pocket, after pocket, after pocket, after rock, etc. Unbelieveable. When a streamer fisherman dies and goes to heaven, this would be it.

I also had my ‘fish of the trip’ on day two – a 24″ brown that assassinated my white fly off a sheer cliff wall that I rapped it off of. What impressed me more than his size was the take and the fight – one of the best I’ve ever gotten out of old Brownie McGurk.

My biggest - a 24" (measured) brown trout, with a real mean streak. Photo by: Ben Olsen

My biggest - a 24" (measured) brown trout, with a real mean streak. Photo by: Ben Olsen

Is it just me, or do both the trout and I have the exact same expression in this one? Photo by: Ben Olsen

Is it just me, or do both the trout and I have the exact same expression in this one? Photo by: Ben Olsen

The second night we camped out at the location known as “T-dyke” campground, so named for the huge granite inclusions on the cliff walls forming the letter “T.” This was without question one of the most beautiful spots I have ever camped in my life. Sheer walls rising all around, with the water crashing over some good sized rapids below. Absolutely breathtaking. I could have filled about 7 SD cards with photos and still not captured all the beauty this place has.

The view from my tent at T-Dykes. Photo by: Bart Larmouth

The view from my tent at T-Dykes. Photo by: Bart Larmouth

Another view from camp. Photo by: Bart Larmouth

Another view from camp. Photo by: Bart Larmouth

Day three saw us hitting the most rapids in succession over the course of the trip. We hit three class IIIs, and a class IV all right together. Definitely a good time, and a great way to cool off! I managed (as BCA owner Rick put it) a “rodeo fish” at the top of one rapid – I threw into the pocket about 6′ above where the whitewater started, hooked up, and ‘relocated’ the fish all the way through two rapids downstream. Definitely one of the more memorable fish I have ever caught, and even though he wasn’t a big guy, he had a pretty cool adipose fin, and I couldn’t resist snapping a shot:

After a wild ride, we got this cool pic of my "Rodeo Fish." Photo by: Ben Olsen

After a wild ride, we got this cool pic of my "Rodeo Fish." Photo by: Ben Olsen

After the last run, we were in fairly quiet water for the rest of the trip, and I took a turn at the oars to let Ben toss some streamers for awhile, sticking quite a few nice fish on his black string leech. We took our time heading out to Pleasure Park take out, making sure to have a hike up the canyon where the Smith Fork comes into the Gunnison – there were some great swimming holes, but it was still a little high to take a dip, but what a beautiful trek up and in!

Overall this was a fantastic trip, and I cannot say enough good things about Black Canyon Anglers, Rick and Ben in particular. A third fishing, a third camping, and a third whitewater rafting make this a tremendous experience, and I truly look forward to working (and fishing!)with them going forward! Anyone interested in fishing the Black Canyon, feel free to get a hold of me at the shop! Tight lines!

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Dennis in his Theodore Gordon best. Photo by: John Middleton

Dennis in his Theodore Gordon best. Photo by: John Middleton

We are back! After a week in the Catskill Region of New York state, our distinguished group of fisherman have returned! The group comprised of Dennis Burns (of Redfish fame), Phil Napolitan from Spring Valley Anglers, John Middleton from Duke, Randy Imel from Five Oaks Lodge in Tulsa, and yours truly as their host. With perfect conditions (those being overcast, cool and rainy at times) on the Upper Delaware River and Beaverkill, we were able to see some amazing hatches, beautiful scenery, and most importantly, land big fish – ALL ON DRY FLIES. No nymphing here. Big fish all on top – is there anything better?

Here’s how it went:

May 2 – Arrival in Rochester for Phil, Randy and me.

After a bit of a flight snafu (Phil’s early AM flight to Chicago being canceled), the three of us were able to mass at my parent’s home in Dundee, NY for dinner and a quick night’s sleep prior to our departure for the Delaware. A great meal of Dinosaur BBQ (best outside of Texas) greeted us, along with a peaceful night out in the farmlands of western New York.

Glenora on the Lake, Dundee, NY. Photo by: Bart Larmouth

Glenora on the Lake, Dundee, NY. Photo by: Bart Larmouth

Bailey, our 14-year old German Shorthair greeted us with a crazy run all around the house and property, and saw us off in the same manner the following morning.

May 3 (Day One) – Float with Phil, Randy and me on the Main Stem

After borrowing the family truck for the week, we headed down the 2 hour drive to Starlight, PA and the Delaware River Club (the DRC) to begin our trip.

The front of the Delaware River Club. Photo by: Bart Larmouth

The front of the Delaware River Club. Photo by: Bart Larmouth

Upon check in, we quickly ditched our bags in our recently-remodeled rooms, and hooked up a Clakacraft so generously loaned to us by my friend and DRC guide, Wylie Paul. After arranging a shuttle with one of my best friends, Jeff White, and artist extraordinaire Flick Ford (illustrator of Fish, and Big), we were on our float of the Delaware.

Clacka on a Chevy. Photo by: Bart Larmouth

Clacka on a Chevy, with Randy grinning ear to ear. Photo by: Bart Larmouth

The only unforeseen “issue” that we experienced on the trip was the lack of water. To be brief, the Delaware system is a non-power generating tailwater, with the water stored in the reservoirs used as drinking water for New York City, who through a convoluted process determines how much water to release into the rivers. There are two branches fed by these reservoirs – the West Branch of the Delaware (on which the DRC is situated), and the East Branch. They meet in Hancock, NY forming the Delaware River proper, or as we refer to it – the Main stem. For the past week, the release of 165 CFS from Cannonsville Reservoir left the only float fishing available for drift boats in the Main Stem. So, we launched at Fireman’s Park in Hancock, NY, and floated to Buckingham takeout downriver in PA – about 8 miles of river or so. This low water also allows wade fishermen unusual access to the river, so dodging the pylons that the waders presented made for an interesting day of rowing for yours truly!! The day was marked by spotty rises, and sporadic fish, but the bugs were there, and the guys got a good view of what the river is like, and some good tales (I hope) from my guiding days there.

Phil also brought his new ‘toy’ – an Abel Super 5N with a custom artistic graphic – see below. Phil played pro ball, and the reel was a birthday gift from a generous benefactor. Pretty damn cool, and it makes my ULA seem pretty dorky.

One Philthy reel. Photo by: Bart Larmouth

One Philthy reel. Photo by: Bart Larmouth

At the end, by the area known as The Wall, we had some sippers right at dark. I was able to land a BIG brown on a small Hendrickson (Ephemerella Subvaria for you fellow bug nerds) CDC emerger.

Big Brown on the Main Stem. Photo by: Phil Napolitan

Big Brown on the Main Stem. Photo by: Phil Napolitan

This is the way to break in a new rod! I had purchased a Sage’s brand new “big gun,” the TCX in 9′, 5-wt. (pic) What an awesome big water rod – I couldn’t be happier with it!!

My Sage 590 TCX wtih a Waterworks ULA 3. Photo by: Bart Larmouth

My Sage 590 TCX wtih a Waterworks ULA 3. Photo by: Bart Larmouth

As the night closed in, Randy and Phil each had takes as we slid into the dark, but the wily trout managed to avoid their hook sets. As the light faded, we hooked up the boat, headed back to the lodge, and then went on to have dinner at Lydia’s Crosstown Tavern, the big fisherman’s bar, where we met up with Dennis and John, and a gaggle of my old fishing buddies and fellow guides, including my former mentor at the DRC, Al Caucci, co-author of the definitive book on mayflies: Hatches. After the meet & greet, Dennis informed me that he had hooked a fish out front of the lodge shortly after he arrived, which promptly took him to his backing on a screaming downstream run, and gave him his fly back shortly thereafter. This brought a smile to my face as he now knew the caliber of fish we would be tossing to over the next week.


May 4 (Day Two) – Dennis and John float with Bruce, Phil and Randy with Joe wading, Bart with Jeff, Flick, Brad, Kenny, and Alan on the East Branch.

Our first “official” day began with a hot breakfast at the club, followed by introductions for the boys and their guides. Bruce Miller, a great guide and a great guy with decades of experience on the river would be taking Dennis and John out on the same float Phil, Randy and I had completed the day before. Joey Marinzel, one of the best fishermen, guides, guitar players and flint knappers I have ever met (and also someone who had help train me on the Delaware’s intricacies) took Randy and Phil wading on the West Branch. I floated the East Branch in Wylie’s (muchas gracias again!) raft with Jeff White and Flick Ford. One of my other great buds, Ken Grescek floated with us as well, accompanied by Trout on the Fly guide service owner Brad Yoder (another good fishing buddy), and his friend Alan.

Kenny with with his (in)famous Fred Baer hat with Brad Yoder. Photo by: Bart Larmouth

Kenny with with his (in)famous Fred Bear hat with Brad Yoder. Photo by: Bart Larmouth

Dennis and John had good luck with bugs, and much less crowded water than the boys and I had the day before. John was the big fish man for the day with an awesome Main Stem brown. I should also pause to say that catching ANYTHING on this river is a big deal. “Technical” just scratches the surface when it comes to describing how tough these fish can be, as everyone quickly discovered! (john fish pic) Dennis hooked up several times, and as these fish are wont to do, broke him off yet again!

John Middleton with a nice brown - Bruce Miller crept into this one. Photo by: Dennis Burns

John Middleton with a nice brown - Bruce Miller crept into this one. Photo by: Dennis Burns

Phil and Randy had a fantastic day with Joe (who is also an MMA fighter, FYI), wading the West Branch in various spots. The fish were a bit tougher going, but the bugs did not fail to impress either of them with their sheer numbers and sizes as they covered the river. Randy was the ‘winner’ with several fish landed….

Joe Marinzel closely observes Randy's hold. Photo by: Phil Napolitan

Joe Marinzel closely observes Randy's hold. Photo by: Phil Napolitan

The East Branch is a fickle lady, and today was no different for us. Giant Chubs inhabited some of the best trout lies, tricking us with regularity. After seeing a HUGE explosion of a rise in one hole, I quickly threw a big cast over to the fish, only to have it miss my size 12 March Brown (Stenonema Vicarium) on another vicious take. One more toss to it, and BAM! A football of a brown with a big body, and the strangest little head of all time. What a good fight!!

Is that a brown trout or a Humpy? Photo by: Jeff H. White

Is that a brown trout or a Humpy? Photo by: Jeff H. White

Flick also had some great shots – check out this video on YouTube of an awesome cast, drift, and set. Be sure to watch the whole thing, as there is a good surprise at the end!

Later in the afternoon, we found some rainbows slashing in heavy riffles near the highway, which we set up on for about 2 hours. The fish were moving around a good amount, which made timing the biggest factor in hooking the buggers. Each of us had a few misses, and I finally got one to eat, landing a nice 19+ incher after a few screaming runs.

A healthy bow from the East Branch - look for the blue stripe. Photo by: Jeff H. White

A healthy bow from the East Branch. Photo by: Jeff H. White

As we were sitting in the riffles, we kept noticing “rises” and rings below us in the slack water / tailout of the run. What we found out later was that Kenny and Brad had purchased a wrist rocket sling shot, and were hurling rocks up at us to make us think fish were coming up. Revenge has not been dealt out yet, but don’t worry – victory will be ours!!

Dirty Dirty Bastards. THAT'S using your dipstick Jimmy!

Dirty Dirty Bastards. THAT'S using your dipstick Jimmy!

We had a great southwestern style dinner at the club, and after another late night of BS and laughter (some generated by John acting as our waiter for the evening) hit the hay.

"...do you find the wine to your liking sir?" Photo by: Bart Larmouth

"...do you find the wine to your liking sir?" Photo by: Bart Larmouth

May 5 (Day 3) – Dennis and John with Joe on a Wade, Phil and Randy with Bruce. Bart with Jeff -wading at the campground.

Dennis and John hit the stream with Joe today, and we rewarded with several fish, with the most notable being a 24” MONSTER that Dennis landed at Hale Eddy on an Hendrickson comparadun that he had tied specifically for the trip. Here are some photos:

Dennis' fish in Joe Marinzel's capable hands. Photo by: Dennis Burns

Dennis' fish in Joe Marinzel's capable hands. Photo by: Dennis Burns

Not spawning time, but a nice, scarred-up kipe on this big male. Photo by: Dennis Burns

Not spawning time, but a nice, scarred-up kipe on this big male. Photo by: Dennis Burns

Phil and Randy headed out on the river with someone in good rowing shape for a change, and had another good day with reasonable targets, and a few smaller fish. Randy broke off a few bigger ones, which is actually the norm, as everyone quickly discovered!

I waded the Campground with Flick and Jeff, which also constituted some palaver with former DRC owner (and one of my former bosses) Jerry Wolland. With spotty fish and few decent shots, Flick managed one of the only big fish of the night, whacking a BIG colored-up German Brown. Don’t be surprised if this one ends up as a painting.

Flick needs a bigger net. Photo by: Bart Larmouth

Flick needs a bigger net. Photo by: Bart Larmouth

The colored-up tail of Flick's Fish. One of my favorite pictures from the trip. Photo by: Bart Larmouth

The colored-up tail of Flick's Fish. One of my favorite pictures from the trip. Photo by: Bart Larmouth

I managed a “small” 18″ brown, but have no photo evidence to back up this claim aside from a lame “in the net” shot that I won’t bore you with.

Another piece of gear that I acquired prior to this trip was a pair of Simms Guide Boots with the new Streamtread Vibram sole, and I was able to put them to work today. They are definitely comfortable from an ankle support and squishiness point of view, but how do they perform in the water? Supposedly they are stickier than felt, and will not carry/transmit waterbourne scourges such as didymo. Well, I told Corey before I left exactly HOW I would know if they were as legit as everyone said: if I wore and did not think about or even realize that I had them on, they are winners.

My new favorite boots. Simply Awesome. Photo by: Bart Larmouth

My new favorite boots. Simply Awesome. Photo by: Bart Larmouth

That is the way it worked out, and then some. I DID notice that I had them on, but in a great way – I have never had so much control when wading, and will never wear felt again. The grip you get with those things is absolutely spectacular. On flat slippery rocks, Jeff was slipping in his new felt, and I was rock solid. Even more so, when walking on loose gravel (freestones, if you will), I had tons more feel for the bottom, without that slippage you feel with felt. The pattern of the Streamtread lets you grip around small rocks, just like a good hiking sole. Also on dry land (and sand) you actually have grip. In case you can’t tell, I’m in love with these things.

Dinner at the lodge consisted of BBQ ribs – a big chance taken by chef Chris with the crowd we had, but a home run for sure! The guys also got to experience a very OLD Pennsyltucky tradition – Yuengling (prounounced Ying-Ling) beer. The oldest brewery in the US. Needless to say, they were happy campers.

Phil's new best friend. Photo by: Bart Larmouth

Phil's new best friend. Photo by: Bart Larmouth

May 6 (day 4) – Everyone to the Beaverkill. I fish Stockport with Jeff, and have dinner at Fabio’s.

Today was the “heritage” part of the tour – fishing on the Beaverkill River, one of the birthplaces of American Fly fishing. This day was interesting, with fish being on far banks, and uncharacteristically deep water, forcing the boys (all of them) to wade deeper and deeper. Three swims ensued, but paid off with good fish, and Phil landing an excellent 20-incher.

Phil's really nice Beaverkill brown. Photo by: Randy Imel

Phil's really nice Beaverkill brown. Photo by: Randy Imel

It is with great humility and in the interest of full disclosure that I mention some poor advice that Dr. Dennis Burns received from his trip host regarding this water. Dennis, I publicly apologize for sending you to the Beaverkill with a 4-wt. I see large amounts of Single Malt Scotch in your future as a mea culpa for my misdirection.

Jeff and I met the boys in Roscoe to discuss their trip, and then headed over to the Main Stem for some scouting, eventually fishing the Stockport area of the river. Of course, the only consistent fish were on the far bank, unreachable by wading or casting. That being said, Jeff set the hook on what he perceived to be a dink, but after a few HUGE bump-bump-bumps, realized he had erred, and was promptly broken off. I found a fish rising enough to target, and was rewarded with the biggest brown I have ever caught on a dry, and the largest I’ve ever caught (size-wise, not length) on the Delaware.

The kipe is big, but check out those HUGE pectoral fins! Photo by: Jeff H. White

The kipe is big, but check out those HUGE pectoral fins! Photo by: Jeff H. White

And I didn't even need to extend the arms and make it bigger. Photo by: Jeff H. White

And I didn't even need to extend the arms and make it bigger. Photo by: Jeff H. White

Letting the big boy go. Photo by: Jeff H. White

Letting the big boy go. Photo by: Jeff H. White

For dinner, I arranged for a “family-style” meal at Palmi in Equinunk, PA. The restaurant is owned and operated by Fabio Chindamo, from Lake Como, Italy. I know Fabio from my days at th DRC, where he was responsible for the 10 extra pounds I packed on every school season. An amazing chef, and a definite “character,” we were able to meet him late after our day on the river for an amazing feast, where we were joined by Al, Jerry and Jeff. The food was amazing, blowing everyone away, and the floor show did not disappoint – Fabio and Al are ALWAYS entertaining when they get together!

From the left, going clockwise: Al Caucci, Steve Schwartz (hidden), Randy Imel, Phil Napolitan, John Middleton, Dennis Burns, Jeff White, and Jerry Wolland. Photo by: Bart Larmouth

From the left, going clockwise: Al Caucci, Steve Schwartz (hidden), Randy Imel, Phil Napolitan, John Middleton, Dennis Burns, Jeff White, and Jerry Wolland. Photo by: Bart Larmouth

We retired to John and Dennis’ room for some commiseration and Scotch (my first mea culpa), which ended up lasting until 2:30 AM – well worth the pain the following morning when 7:30 rolled around!!

Oban at the end of the day. Lovely. Photo by: Bart Larmouth

Oban at the end of the day. Lovely. Photo by: Bart Larmouth

May 7 (day 5) – Dennis and John wade with Stevie Shen, Randy and Phil float the main with Kevin.Bruce and I float the lower Main Stem.

Dennis and John had the opportunity to fish with Stevie Shen, one of the club’s younger guides, and also one of the sharpest and passionate on the river. While at the PA State Gamelands, Dennis had multiple shots (and hook ups!) but none made it to the net, in typical Delaware fashion. Afterwords a trip to Home Pool (in front of the DRC) yielded great hatching, and a great leaper for Dr. Burns. Although not the most productive day, perhaps the most memorable!

Stevie Shen guides Dennis Burns. All those spots on the water? BUGS!!!! Photo by: John Middleton

Stevie Shen guides Dennis Burns. All those spots on the water? BUGS!!!! Photo by: John Middleton

Slippery little bastards, aren't they John? Photo by: Dennis Burns

Slippery little bastards, aren't they John? Photo by: Dennis Burns

Phil and Randy floated with Kevin, another younger guide, and also one of the most patient- if he sees fish, he will put a stalk on like nobody’s business. They floated the Main Stem, and stuck a few fish, but saw plenty of bugs and rises throughout the day. Phil had a nice one take right before evening.

Phil and Kevin pose with a nice Main Stem brown. Photo by: Randy Imel

Phil and Kevin pose with a nice Main Stem brown. Photo by: Randy Imel

I floated the lower Main Stem with Bruce, heading farther south than I had ever been. After some SERIOUS takes and follows on streamers, the day slowed down a little bit for us. Brucie managed to hook an awesome rainbow, and a decent brown by the time the day was over – not bad for his birthday, huh? I would have included the photo of the brown, but Brucie’s “moose knuckle” isn’t an image I thought I should share.

Bruce Miller with a great rainbow caught on his birthday. Photo by: Bart Larmouth

Bruce Miller with a great rainbow caught on his birthday. Photo by: Bart Larmouth

I managed to set new tippet class world records for River Chubs, one of which was sexually assaulted by several male American Shad as I brought it in – very strange behavior, and one that neither of us had witnessed before. Pretty dang cool, and an amazingly beautiful float.

King Chub!! Photo by: Bart Larmouth

King Chub!! Photo by: Bart Larmouth

May 8 (day 6) – Museum tour where we meet Joan Wulff, Randy and Phil leave, John, Dennis and I fish the campground with Big Al.

Today was the day we went to the Catskill Fly Fishing Center and Museum, also the home of the Fly Fishing Hall of Fame. Prior to our arrival there, we took the time to drive down the winding forest road to Delaware Delicacies, a local (and very famous) smokehouse situated on the East Branch. Ray, the owner, catches Freshwater Eel in the the only licensed and operational eel weir left in the United States. An eel weir is basically a funnel in the river made of rocks, that sends the majority of the current into a central chute, where a wooden slat-trap allows water to get through, but not the eels. Trout are supposedly strong enough swimmers to get out if they find themselves in the trap. Ray then smokes the eels with applewood, creating a very unique, and desired product. Just about every Asian tour bus that comes to the area makes a stop there! Randy got some good pointers on smoking salmon, and after helping capitalism along, we headed over to Livingston Manor and the museum.

The crew outside of Delaware Delicacies. Photo by: Some dude passing through.

The crew outside of Delaware Delicacies. Photo by: Some dude passing through.

As we drove in to the Catskill Center, we saw a slight, white-haired woman walking up to the gift shop at the museum. Dennis and I quickly realized who it was, and he exclaimed, “Holy shit, that’s Joan Wulff!!” We quickly headed into the shop, and after introductions, were able to get some photos with the First Lady of Fly Fishing. She is incredibly sweet, and was very accommodating to a bunch of hooligan fly fishermen looking for a picture!!

If she doesn't seem to feel uncomfortable, she should. Photo by: Museum Staff Member

If she doesn't seem to feel uncomfortable, she should. Photo by: Museum Staff Member

After a nice slow tour of the museum (where we saw a fly tied by Theodore Gordon, and one of the first fishing vests ever (invented by one Lee Wulff), we parted ways with Phil and Randy, who had to drive to Syracuse to catch flights back to the central time zone.

John, Dennis and I headed back to the DRC, where we went to the campground to fish for the evening. Al was fishing there, and after kick-seining some bugs, and an informal entomology class with the master, we focused on the river.

Al and I have a 'debate' as John looks on. Photo by: Dennis Burns

Al and I have a 'debate' as John looks on. Photo by: Dennis Burns

Stenonema Vicarium: March Brown. Photo by: Bart Larmouth

Stenonema Vicarium: March Brown. Photo by: Bart Larmouth

Fish were few and far between, but I was lucky enough to hook a fish, at which point my rod tip broke, and the fish threw. Awesome. I assure you no cursing was involved. Kinda. After switching back to my new TCX, and about 30 minutes later, the fish came up again. At least I hope it was the same fish – it was in the exact same lie, and just as big. After all, I had a score to settle. A big toss later, a slight little rise (the big guys rarely make much noise), and a rod lift, and it was game on, with another awesome West Branch Brown. I need to buy a bigger net.

Big. Fat. Revenge. Photo by: John Middleton

Big. Fat. Revenge. Photo by: John Middleton

A final dinner at the lodge was quite nice, although we missed Randy and Phil’s always amusing input. I said farewell to John, as he was leaving at the crack of dawn, and hopefully I will have the opportunity to fish with him again in the near future.

May 9 (day 7) – Departure day.

Dennis and I said our goodbyes (not for too long, as I am sure I’ll see him in the shop on Monday for his daily “decompression”), and I headed out to fish with Brucie and friend, Bernie. We decided to fish just downstream of the lodge, to avoid the wade crowds that a Saturday can bring. As we walked down to the river, we came to the edge of an island, where I saw a brown that had to be close to 26” in a lie that I would NEVER have expected. I could see all his color, hook jaw and all. He just moseyed away as we approached – no chance of catching that one.

After not seeing many rises, Bernie went up into a riffle, and promptly hooked his first fish for the year – a big, fat brown. Not a sucky way to start a season, that’s for sure! Nearby was a nice, flat rock, not unlike a drift boat in size. We all took advantage of it to sit and watch the water (while we BSed), and as we sat there, Bernie and I saw a rise about 20ft off of our perch. I got up to cast, and Bruce said,”Where was he?” I replied, “Right there.” His response: “was he over there by that rock?” To which Bern and I replied pretty much in unison, “NO! RIGHT THERE!!”

I threw two casts over where it had risen, and on the second shot, we saw the fish move from about 6 feet away from my fly, come up and take it. I have no idea how the hell I kept my nerve and didn’t just rip the thing away from the fish. That usually happens when you see the sucker coming a mile away. It was a beautiful fish, smaller than Bernie’s, but still another fat, West Branch brown.

Hunchbacks of the Delaware. Photo by: Bart Larmouth

Hunchbacks of the Delaware. Photo by: Bart Larmouth

After a bit more watching and waiting, I had to call it a trip, and headed back to the Finger Lakes, and eventually Dallas.The trip was a tremendous amount of fun, and definitely a humbling experience for everyone – basically a typical Delaware scenario! Good fish, good food, good friends, some celebrities and a little bit of history – what more could you ask for?

Randy Imel sent me his thoughts on the trip, and I thought I would share them in closing. I think he truly ‘got’ what the Delaware is all about:

Embrace It

“I cast my first fly line only four years ago, but I read almost daily about the sport. Three months ago I was reading an interview with Nick Lyons, author, publisher and lifelong angler. He commented that at this stage of his fishing career, the thing that excited him most was not the big numbers, but difficult fish that challenged him as an angler.

I simply love to catch any trout and spend time in their environment, difficult, easy or just plain luck. The “tug is the drug” for me and I am not ashamed to admit it.

Going ‘back east,’ where American fly-fishing was born, was a trip I had eagerly anticipated for about two months. The hatches (March Brown) can be epic on the Delaware, and if you are fortunate to be there, 30-fish days are common that include monster Browns.

I traveled there to throw dry flies (Hendrickson Caddis and March Brown) to rising fish. My biggest fish was a fat 18 inches, while Phil, Dennis and Bart had a 20  and 22 inchers respectively; and Bart’s personal best, a 24. We earned every fish we caught.

The highlight of the trip, other than getting into my backing twice, was  a private dinner with fly-fishing legend Al Caucci. With the restaurant door locked and the room to ourselves, eight anglers had an Italian feast by Chef Fabio, half Robin Williams, half Mario Batali. The only way to duplicate the event would be to charter a jet, fly everyone to Tuscany and hopefully have some connections with a top Italian chef. The food, wine and camaraderie with AL combined to be one of the top five dining experiences of my life.

When asked about the demanding nature of the fishery, Joey a local guide, said you just have to “embrace it.” His words were so correct and my mantra for the rest of the trip. When you fish the Delaware, it reminds of the line in the Frank Sinatra song, “New York, New York“ — If you can make it there, you can make it anywhere.”

If asked, ”Would you go back?”, my answer would be yes with the following conditions:

I’m a better caster.

  1. I’m a better mender
  2. I’m a better “big guy”
  3. I’m ready to throw at some of the most challenging trout in America.

Bart, thank you and Tailwaters for including em in this memorable trip. I’m not quite at the same stage as Nick Lyons and the Delaware trout are safe for now.”

Randy Imel, humbled angler

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That acronym is the mantra of anyone attempting to become a Certified Casting Instructor (CCI) with the Federation of Fly Fishers. It relates to the path of the tip of the rod during the casting stroke – no SLP, no tight loops.

This past weekend, Tex Moore and I headed to the Hawk Ridge Fly Casting School for a weekend clinic to prep us for our CCI test in May. Al Crise (FFF Master Casting Instructor) put together a school that included one day of instruction (where we were the instructors along with full CCIs Bill Hoot & Diane Blair), and one day of test prep.

One of our goals for the weekend (aside from prepping for our test) was to standardize our teaching techniques and terminologies. This will ensure  every Tailwaters student taking a lesson or going through our schools leaves with the same knowledge and skill set, regardless of instructor – be it one of us, or any of our future instructors.

Saturday, we had over 20 students and had to teach them in 30 – 40 MPH winds, with gusts over 60. Absolutely crazy – and did I mention it never got above 50 degrees? We were able to slightly shelter the beginners near a grove of trees, but it was still brutality for them. Tex and I worked with the larger group of intermediate casters, who were not so lucky. The silver lining is that they all are now ready to fish on the Jetties on the coast with NO problems at all! They are certainly proficient at casting into a headwind. Tex and I (along with the other CCI candidates) were packing 7-wt rods (he a Winston BIImX, myself a Sage Xi2), which let us punch through the wind a bit. One of the biggest debates among CCI candidates is what rod/line combo should you use. The rules state that you can use any rod up to 9′ long and 7-wt or under. As such, we’re using the big guns. Part of the weekend for us was testing which lines we will be using. I opted to test the Royal Wulff Triangle 7-wt, while Tex prefers the WF7F Expert Distance (the old XXD) line from Sci Anglers. Some of the students only had 5-wts, and amazingly were able to get some great casts into the wind. They were serious troopers, and never let the conditions get them down.That night we visited the Loco Coyote in Glen Rose for a group dinner. Let’s just say this place has character, and you definitely get what you pay for. Their “regular”burger covers an entire dinner plate. Overall, a fun evening with most everyone from the day!

My kind of place - sawdust on the floor!!

My kind of place - sawdust on the floor!! Photo by: Bart Larmouth

Yes folks - that is a 'plate' of ribs - or, two plates if you count the second one that all the sides come on. One word: Awesomeness.

Yes folks - that is a 'plate' of ribs - or, two plates if you count the second one that all the sides come on. One word: Awesomeness. Photo by: Tex Moore

Sunday, we moved on to the preparation portion of the weekend, and with a great amount of class time, along with a full run-through of the practical portion of our test. Even though the wind had dropped (to 20MPH gusts), the temperature barely went above 40 throughout the day. Ouch. At every turn we were reminded of all the various vocabulary that the FFF uses in its education programs, along with the proper ways to approach your students with information. I can honestly say that this was a fantastic learning experience for me, and I came away not only with great little tidbits of information and great little techniques that will make me a better instructor, but also a much better ‘feel’ for what the CCI test will entail.

Rex Walker demonstrates to the CCI candidates. Photo by: Bart Larmouth

Rex Walker demonstrates to the CCI candidates. Photo by: Bart Larmouth

Both Tex and I talked over the school on the drive home, and agreed that not only was it a great experience with the folks we met and the new things that we have learned, but our level of confidence regarding the test had been seriously bolstered. Speaking for myself, this was a much needed shot in the arm, and I look forward to not only the test itself, but all the training to come! I feel very lucky to have such a fine compatriot and resource in Tex, and also feel that we have a great advantage in being able to prepare together for our test. Only 74 days left to train! I’d better get rolling…..

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