Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Busy at the Vise

Since I got home from school last Friday, I have been busy with working in the shop, the hectic mess that is Christmas time, but mostly with tying flies.  I picked up a new Cliff's Bugger Beast the other day and I have been tying like a mad man to fill it.  As of now, I'm at a little over 60 new articulated streamers (some with multiple articulation points) and I'm still working hard to get it filled.  There's something great about looking down into a jam packed streamer box full of big, gnarly flies ready to feed to some even bigger, gnarlier browns.  I'm trying to get out to Western PA with the boat this weekend and float a new river that supposedly holds some really, really large browns and a whole bunch of muskies in the same stretch of water... Sounds like paradise to me!  With a little luck, I might even be able to do one my favorite things ever: Strip huge streamers from a boat on big water in a snow storm.  (Yeah, it has to be that specific!) Here is a little sneak peek of what I've been tying.  Hopefully, I'll have some cool pictures from the float to post if I can make it work and get out there.  Hope everyone had a great holiday with family and friends and remember, it's never to cold to go fishing, so get out there and catch some fish!

For some perspective, the top left fly is about 6.5" long. 

The greatest articulated streamer hook ever designed.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Low and Slow Day on Penns

This past Saturday, my buddy Justin and I headed over to Penns creek to take advantage of the improving conditions after the small rain storm that passed through State College.  While we still had below average flows, we did receive some water and we decided to give it a go.  We fished for most of the day, and while the fishing was FAR from great, we still each managed to land a couple fish and just enjoy being out on the water.  Here are just a few pictures from the trip.

First fish of the day... and it was HARD earned

Nice view of Penns

Another stream shot

Another nice Penns fish

As much as it pained me to do it, the egg was killing them

Justin wayyyy up there working a nice riffle

Monday, November 5, 2012

High Water Float Trip

With the East Coast being pounded by Hurricane Sandy last week, every creek in the State College area was blown out.  Yesterday, however, Penns Creek dropped to around 700 CFS, so myself and my two new buddies from school, Stephen and Justin, decided to take our boats out and do a little high water streamer fishing on Penns and I'm certainly glad we did.  We had very consistent action all day long as we moved quite a few fish with streamers in the slower water and did very well with nymphs in almost every riffle we stopped at.  Overall it was a great day and I'm looking forward to doing it again.

Stephen unhooking a fish 5 minutes into the float

Justin floating down to catch up with us

Stephen stripping a streamer

One of the many beautiful Penns Creek trout Stephen landed yesterday

Friday, October 5, 2012

Back in the Swing of Things

Well after a hectic first month of school and promising to get some new stuff up here, I finally got around to going fishing!  I got out of class around 10:30 this morning and headed over to Spring Creek for the afternoon.  Fall is here and the streamer bite is on.  While it was not quite as good as I was hoping, the browns of Spring Creek did not disappoint.  Enjoy.  

Breaking out the S4 for the first time in too long


Gorgeous Fall day

The walk to solitude

Best fish of the day... Smacked a white streamer swung through a deep run

Not a person in sight

Autumn Colors

Last Saturday was also the opening day of archery season here in PA.  I left State College and made the trek back East to hunt with my good friend Tom at his place in Northeast Pennsylvania.  The morning was pretty slow, but the evening was great.  I saw a ton of deer, but nothing that I was quite comfortable shooting.  I'm hoping to get back out there next week and hopefully put some meat in the freezer.  

The Bowtech ready to eat

My view in the afternoon to my right

And the view to the left

Monday, September 10, 2012

Weather Troubles

Well last Saturday I was planning to float the J with Harry, but I awoke to crazy winds, thunder and lightening and a heavy downpour.  We decided that it would probably be best to not float down the river with 9 foot long lightening rods, so sadly, we never made it out.  I did, however, break the bow out again for some practice up here in State College in preparation for our September 29th opener here in PA.  Don't worry people... I promise I'll get some new fishing content up soon!

My Bowtech Destroyer 340 during last year's late Archery season

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Still Alive

I'm still here!  I apologize for the lack of content recently, but I've been super busy with school over the last two weeks.  I knew college would be different from high school, but man it is REALLY different.  I'm planning to float the Juniata again this Saturday with Harry so be sure to check back soon for another float trip recap.  Also, Fall is almost here and I'm beginning to really focus on bow hunting a lot as well, so keep an eye out for some cool pictures and stories once I start getting up in the trees in a few weeks.  Peace and love my friends.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The Land of Giant Smallies

Well today was un-freakin-believable!  I met Harry around 9:30 this morning and after a brief discussion and looking at a few maps we headed to the river.  Neither of us had ever floated the Juniata before, but we had high hopes for the day.  When we got to the water it was definitely up and off color, but we said why not and got the boat in the water.  We started the float at the confluence of the main stem of the Juniata and the Raystown Branch.  The Raystown Branch was low and crystal clear while the J was super high and dirty.  The two currents combined to create a healthy flow with a good amount of color to the water.  Within the first 100 yards of the float we saw at least 10 smallmouth over 16" on the clear side of the river... a good sign for sure, but we only had one average bass eat.  As we got further downstream, however, the magic green color that I love to see was formed when the two flows mixed and then it was game on.  Within a few yards downstream of a large set of riffles that mixed the water I was into a good fish.  Two casts later I caught an even bigger fish and the rest is rock and roll history.  We had good action all day long with Harry and I each catching a bunch of fish and losing a good number as well.  Overall, it was an outstanding day on some new water with a good buddy.  Can't wait to do it again Harry!  I leave for PSU next Saturday, so I'll be floating the J a bunch trying to learn the water as well as I can when I get to school.  If the fishing is as good as it was today on a regular basis I might even end up guiding out there.  Stay tuned for more!

And now for the good stuff... THE PICTURES!

Harry workin his magic


Scenery along the bank

Average bass

Gettin' bigger

He crushed it

Super spunky fish


SOO WEE! What a piggy

Harry on the sticks for the first time

Beautiful fish

This guy was pissed and super strong

The toothy critters didn't come out to play today, but fear not... I'm not giving up and the day will come yet again!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

State College Smallmouth

In just a few hours, I'll be on the road headed to State College, PA to do a little smallmouth fishing with a good friend of mine, Harry Tomlin.  For any of you that frequent TCO State College, you know exactly who I'm talking about.  Harry is a crazy dude and can always make me laugh whenever I talk to him, so needless to say, I'm pretty stoked about it.  We will be floating the big Juniata in search of fat bronzebacks and as always, I'll be on the lookout for the big nasty toothy critters known as muskellunge.  Hopefully I will have a great story and some awesome pictures to post, so stay tuned for more.  Peace and love. 

Smallmouth goodness ready for tomorrow

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Countdown to the End

I'm still hitting the bass hard this summer before I leave for State College and while I'm excited for college, I know I won't be able to fish like I can now, so I'm putting in as much time on the water as possible.  Two weekends ago, my uncle and I took my pontoon boat onto a small lake in South Jersey right by his house.  My uncle is a great fisherman and a great dude.  Over the years he has taught me a ton about fishing and about life in general.  Whenever we get together and hit the water, I know it's gonna be a good time.  It was hot and we could only fish during the middle of the day, but we got it done with quite a few largemouths that were still willing to play.  My uncle, affectionately known to everyone as "Bub," cleaned up with texas and carolina rigged rubber worms on a light spinning outfit and I picked up a few bass casting large streamers to structure and weed beds. We had a blast and I can't wait to do it again!

Uncle Bubba with his first of the day

A little bit better bass

Last Sunday, I was going to float the lower Schuylkill river a little bit closer to home with a buddy I went to high school with, but when he called and couldn't make it, I called up a customer turned friend, Josh, to see if he was game.  Turns out he was free, so we met in Phoenixville and then shuttled the cars and my boat up to Limerick.  I had never floated this stretch of the Skuk, but we figured the bass fishing would still be decent.  Well it turns out we figured wrong.  The stretch we floated was shallow, slow and pretty much structureless.  We saw a few nice bass, but nothing crazy and those that we saw were super spooky and didn't want to eat.  We did, however, see a number of GIANT carp, so I might be back to do a little sight fishing on those big sandy flats in that stretch of water.  I pretty much just rowed and coached Josh through his first time fishing streamers for bass off of a drift boat.  Josh was great on the boat and fished the whole time, never complaining about the lack of action.  His persistence payed off with a solid smallmouth that gave us an awesome acrobatic aerial show right before last light.  Even tough the fishing was definitely far from great, I still had an awesome time and I hope Josh did too.  We'll get 'em next time man.  Remember, when the weather gets hot and the trout fishing gets slow, grab a bigger rod and chase smallmouth... They are a ton of fun on the fly rod and can really turn a hot summer day into an awesome day of fly fishing!

Josh with a great Schulykill River Smallmouth


Sunday, July 29, 2012


Ok, so I feel like I need to preface this story with the statement that this has been one of the best weeks of my life.  And now that that's done...

Last weekend was our 2012 TCO Team Meeting on the West Branch of the Delaware.  The meeting didn't officially begin until Sunday morning, but I decided to head up on Saturday and get a jump start on the fishing.  I got to the water by about 3 in the afternoon and was greeted with quite a few guys and not a whole lot of bugs.  The fish were up and eating, however, so I tried my damnedest to catch one.  Unfortunately that just didn't happen.  That afternoon in the No Kill section of the Delaware river was probably the most challenging, technical and frustrating few hours of fishing I have ever faced and I just couldn't buy an eat.  Hey that's fishing, right?  Joey, however, did manage to land a super nice fish just a few hundred yards upstream from me.  Nice work man.  I met up with Jake and Joe at the parking lot and we all headed to Lydia's for dinner with George and Paul from TCO State College.  After dinner, we all made our way back to the West Branch Angler and headed to bed.

Sunday morning was our official team meeting and after breakfast we jumped right into the swing of things.  When our meeting wrapped up that afternoon, we all immediately got wadered up and headed for the water.  George and I were the first two down there and we picked our way down the long pool each catching quite a few fish.  Mr. Daniel caught a dandy of a brown trout about halfway down the pool and after a brief, but chaotic fight, we had a piggy in the net.  Great job George!

George with a great Delaware River brown

By that point nearly every TCO employee was standing waist deep in the West Branch and casting to rising fish.  I worked my way up and down stream catching a few smaller fish, but nothing to write home about.  Eventually as I was walking upstream I saw a super small, super sippy rise on the opposite bank.  I waded out as deep as I could and made a few casts.  The fish kept eating, but was ignoring my fly, so I changed patterns and tried again.  On the second drift with the new emerger, I literally just watched a little dimple on the water make my fly disappear.  I set the hook and was rewarded with some weight, but again, nothing crazy.  The fish felt good, but he wasn't running hard or even dogging me that badly.  He was kinda just swimming around.  I was fighting the fish just like any other until he got close enough and I could see him.  I literally yelled "Oh my god, this fish is huge!" as I watched the largest trout of my life just glide past me.  After a few more incredibly tense and nerve racking moments, I slipped the fish into the net.  Jake had waded upstream and we snapped a few pictures and let the fish swim away.  Talk about awesome, just simply awesome.  Thanks for being cameraman buddy.  

We all caught some really nice fish and just had a great time hanging out together, something that we don't all get to do that often.  We headed back to the cabins and started a nice big fire and told stories, made jokes (many of which were at my expense of course) and just hung out.  That is until the CRAZY thunderstorm that rolled through put out the fire and forced us under the roof on the deck.  After a long day and a long night, we finally headed to bed.  The next morning we saw all the new Simms product for this Fall and next Spring and there is some super cool stuff on the horizon so make sure you check it out.  After we finished up with TCO business, we all headed back out to the water.  This time, Jake, Joe, Henry, Kyle (all from TCO Reading) and myself decided to float.  Henry, Jake and Joe on Joe's Hyde and Kyle and myself on my pontoon.  We got all set up and headed down and launched the boats in high sun and clear skies.  We made it literally a hundred yards downstream from the boat launch and those clear skies became black and we were pounded with a heavy thunderstorm that also dumped a good amount of hail on us.  Luckily we were close enough that we ran back to the cars to wait it out.  Once it cleared (relatively) we were back on the water and floating.  The fishing started off slow, but it eventually picked up and turned into one of the best days of fishing I have ever had on the Delaware. We all caught plenty of fish and some big ones at that.  It was an awesome day.  My cell phone died about half way through the float, so I only have a few pictures of our float, but Jake, Joe and Henry got some really cool shots.  So, overall the weekend was a huge success with lots of fish and some great times had by all.  I can't wait for next year's meeting!  Here are a bunch of pictures from the weekend so enjoy. 

Now for the other awesome part of my week.  Anyone that knows me, knows I have an obsession with Muskies.  A musky has been number one on my species hit list for quite some time now, but I just couldn't get it done.  I fished and fished, but I could not get an eat.  I had follows, swipes at the flies, but no solid eats or hookups.  That all changed yesterday.  I woke up at 4:30 AM, packed the car and headed out to Reading.  I met Jake at the shop right before 6.  We hooked up the boat trailer and we were off.  We were floating the lower "Musky Float" where we have seen quite a few fish and where Jake caught his musky last year.  We met up with Gavin, a guide from the Reading store and just an all around cool dude at the take out and then drove up river about 2 miles and put the boat in the water.  We had only been fishing for about half an hour when I had a super short follow and a fish try to grab the fly right as I lifted it from the water to cast again.  I immediately began to fire casts right back in there, but the fish never moved again.  It was frustrating, but incredibly exciting at the same time.  We worked our way down river each taking turns fishing and rowing.  As we got close to the take out, I was on the oars, Gav was in the front of the boat and Jake was at the back.  All of a sudden Gav just goes, "Yo check this out." in an extremely casual manner.  Jake and I look over to see a 36" plus musky following Gavin's fly about two feet away from the boat!  The fish dropped off and Gav made another cast which resulted in another quick follow, but no eat.  We arrived at the boat launch fishless and feeling like we got kicked in the nuts yet again.  Jake had to be at work in about half an hour, but Gav and I were free for the rest of the day, so Jake offered to let us use his boat and just float again.  After getting multiple follows in less than 2 miles of water (which is quite good in the musky world) we decided why not and after dropping Jake off at work, we were back out for an even longer float.  

We had been fishing for quite some time with no action when it happened.  I was on the oars and Gav was up front casting.  He made a cast into some real fishy looking water and after two or three strips, a musky came out and completely blindsided his fly, completely engulfing a 7" long streamer with ease.  As Gavin set the hook, however, the loop on the end of his fly line broke! He was left with no leader and no fish.  We saw the fly slowly begin to float to the surface so we figured the fish never felt steel.  I quickly stood up and offered my rod to Gavin, but he told me to cast.  (Stand up guy)  I made a cast near where the fish ate, but nothing happened.  I then dropped the fly in the same spot that Gav did and I shit you not, I made two strips and was greeted with the most violent and powerful eat I have ever felt in freshwater fishing.  I set the hook and immediately had a musky jump 4 or 5 feet out of the water only a few feet in front of Gav's face.  The fish was shaking it's head so violently the water looked like it was boiling all around us.  The fish fought hard and went deep under the boat, but after some serious pulling, the fish was boatside and Gavin was clipping his Boga grip onto the musky's jaw.  I was shaking and screaming and laughing and just going insane.  I couldn't believe I just caught a musky.  It had been such a long time coming that it almost didn't seem real.  I was full of so many different emotions, but mainly I was just STOKED.  I finally did it.  We rowed over to shore and Gavin took some awesome pictures.  After just admiring the fish and letting it all soak in, I let him swim away and watched the coolest and most badass fish of my life disappear back into the deep water.  Special thanks to Gavin and to Jake for everything you guys did to make that happen.  I won't ever forget it.  And now for the pictures!!!

Soaking it all in

The black hole where little fish go to die

Tiger Musky

What a fish