Monday, March 26, 2012

From Penns Creek with Love

This weekend, I was in the happiest place on Earth, and no, I'm not talking about Disney World.  I'm talking about State College.  Known as the happiest of valleys, State is not only home to Pennsylvania State University, but it has some of the best fly fishing on the Eastern Seaboard.  After a long week of school, I was ready for a fun weekend come Friday afternoon.  As soon as the bell rang, I was on my way to my car and headed to State College.  After a looonnnngggg wait in traffic to get onto the PA Turnpike, I was on my way.  I pulled into State College around 7 o'clock and headed for my buddy's dorm.

After a good night, I awoke the next morning to pouring rain and rapidly rising water.  I headed to TCO State College to shoot the breeze and hang out until the rain slowed down.  Upon walking in to the store, however, there was a ton of unexplained water on the ground.  Turns out the hot water heater blew a leak and flooded the back room of the shop.  I ended up "working" for a couple of hours to help out with the clean up and with some customers.  It continued to rain on and off and the weather was not looking promising for the rest of the evening.  The rain slowed down though, and a couple hours later, I headed to Penns Creek for a few hours with Steve from TCO Bryn Mawr and TCO Bryn Mawr head guide Jim Lewis.  Both are outstanding anglers and real good dudes.  We all caught a few fish on Hendricksons as there were a few sporadic risers here and there, but nothing fantastic.

Steve with a beautiful Penns fish

My first fish of the trip 

And a dinker at the end on Saturday evening

Ah, Sunday.  Sunday was the best day of dry fly fishing I have ever experienced, and quite possibly the best day I have ever spent on the water.  This has been a great season so far, with a lot of really good days on Valley and now Sunday.  Steve and I headed back to Penns on Sunday and I am so glad we did.  We fished for quite some time with NOTHING happening.  Steve had seen a few super random and sporadic risers here and there and I had spent a ton of time nymphing some great looking water with nothing to show for our efforts.  Then around 1:30, it happened.  The few Hendricksons on the water became hundreds of thousands and Steve and I were all alone.  We had the entire stretch of creek to ourselves and a nearly unlimited number of rising fish.  We fished until dark catching an absurd number of fish, all of which ate a dry fly.  The fishing was fast and furious, but it all ended just as quickly as it had started.  From start to finish, it was unbelievable and I was so glad I got to share it with my good friend Steve.  The fish were fat and healthy, and I got pics of lots of them.  Check out my favorite pictures of the day below.

Fish number one for me

Steve with a slob 

Another healthy fish

 Cookie cutter 14" piggy

Another super fat fish

And another cookie cutter

Yet another cookie cutter

Steve with ANOTHER slammer Penns fish

By far my best of the day.  A chunky hog of a fish


Tuesday, March 20, 2012

5 for 5

As a second semester senior in high school, school is becoming less important and fishing has definitely been occupying much more of my time than usual.  On last Wednesday, I started my 5 day fishing marathon with an afternoon session on Valley.  I only fished for about an hour or two and caught quite a few fish on small emergers.  It was the beginning of a great couple of days of fishing.

Nice fish from Valley. 

Thursday evening was much like Wednesday and I caught a bunch of fish up top on tiny emergers.  I only fished for a little under and hour, so no pictures, but a great evening nonetheless.

Friday was my day.  I already made my blog post about that, so check it out.

Saturday I worked at TCO Reading all day.  After a good day in the shop, I made a quick run to the Tully and got in about an hour and a half or so of fishing.  There were a ton of midges on the water and a whole bunch of fish looking up.  I stung some fish, missed some fish and caught a couple too.  I snapped a few pictures of two of the prettier fish of the night.  It got dark and I headed to Chipotle to grab a bite to eat and headed home.  The fishing was actually pretty tough, which made it even more fun than usual.
Fish number one. 

A few fish later.  This bad boy was a real spunky fish.  He put up a great fight for a stocker.

Sunset on the Tulpehocken. 

Sunday found me back in TCO Bryn Mawr and eager to head over to Valley.  Jared met me just after 2:30, and we were on the road at 3.  We arrived to a TRILLION dudes up and down the creek.  I was almost tempted to just get back in the car and leave.  After watching a few fish rising in spite of the enormous number of people on the water, however, Jared and I decided to stick around and do some walking.  Shortly after, Steve, the other full time guy in Bryn Mawr, called me and let me know he was on his way over.  We met up with Steve and started wearing down some Vibram soles.  After walking from pool to pool, passing dude after dude, we found some open water and started to fish.  The fishing was really slow, but eventually Mr. Dry Fly himself, Steve, found a long glassy pool with a lot of rising fish and no one else fishing.  After forcing our way in to his water, Steve graciously allowed Jared and myself to fish.  We rotated in and out, each catching a bunch of fish.  By this point, light was fading fast and we just wanted to fish, so the cameras did not come out.  We each caught a number of fish on everything from midge patterns, to olive and even caddis emergers.  After a while, it got too dark to see and we hit the road.  It was a beautiful evening, on familiar water with some good friends and I had a blast.

Five days on the water and five days of great fishing.  I don't know what more I could ever want.  

Saturday, March 17, 2012

What a Day!

Today was arguably one of my best days on Valley creek, my local love.  I had originally planned to fish all day, but I had to get some school stuff done as our quarter ends this week.  Once I got everything taken care of, I hopped in the car and headed to the water.  I started low and worked my way upstream, catching fish after fish.  I lost count at 16 and I know I caught a bunch more.  Today was outstanding, but that wasn't simply because I was catching fish.  Obviously that never hurts, but it was a gorgeous day, I was fishing my favorite creek and I was just taking it all in.  I covered a lot of water, but I also made an effort to try to hit every little pocket and pool on my way upstream and it paid off.  I caught quite a few fish up top, but the vast majority of the fish ate a small nymph suspended below my dry fly.  The pattern didn't seem to matter too much, as fish were eating everything I threw at them.  The coolest part about today was that by really thoroughly fishing water I usually only cast at once or twice, I picked up a lot of fish I normally would not have caught.  I fished everything from big slow pools, to small little pockets behind a large rock, to nice long riffles and runs, and every type of water produced for me today.  It was an awesome day on my favorite creek with plenty of fish caught.  I can't think of a better way to spend a Spring afternoon.  I didn't take too many pictures as I was just wanted to keep covering water, but fish ranged from little 4" dinkers to some really healthy 11" or 12" fish.  Overall, I had a freaking blast.

I tried to take a quick video of me landing the fish, but I accidentally took a picture, so I figured I'd throw it up for you guys. 

 The above fish after I managed to grab him. 

I caught this fish on the next cast. After that, I sorta decided I'd keep the camera in my pack and just fish.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Another Cool Teaser

This is a very cool teaser for a film that is supposedly going to be released in a few months.  It looks freakin' awesome.  Steelhead, two handed rods and beautiful scenery on some of the most storied steelhead waters of the US... what more could a guy ask for?  Well, maybe waking up next to this every morning....

Hey, a kid can dream right!  In the time being, however, enjoy the video and be sure to try to pick one up if you like it.  One tip: make sure you watch it in HD and make sure that it's fully buffered.  If that means leaving it alone for a few minutes, do it.  The video quality is WELL worth the few extra minutes.  I'm out.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Great Afternoon

Jared and I hit the water this afternoon and we had a great time.  As soon as we walked to the bank, we were greeted with rising fish and a lot of bugs.  In the first pool, Jared soon caught a nice fish on a dry/dropper rig and I lost a dinker at my feet.  After a few more minutes, we worked our way upstream each missing some fish and just enjoying the incredible weather.  Shortly after, we decided to head back down stream and see if we could find some steadily rising fish.  We arrived at a popular pool and went to work.  We each caught a few fish on dry/dropper rigs fishing small pheasant tails and midge larvae and then switched up to tiny BWO emergers as the light began to fade and the fish began to rise.  We each caught a nice fish up top and called it a day as it was getting dark quickly.  We packed up the car and headed for a great after fishing meal at Chipotle.  All in all, it was a great afternoon of fishing in the gorgeous weather and I can't wait to do it again.

Midge Larva to the face

He wanted that BWO and I gave it to him

Saturday, March 10, 2012

The Other Alaska

I bet that many would argue there is no other place like Alaska.  Me, I'm not buying it.  Of course, Alaska is an incredibly unique and special place, but there is somewhere else like it.  Another area that some might even say is better than Alaska.  That place: Kamchatka.  For quite some time now, I've been utterly OBSESSED with Kamchatka.  For those of you who don't share this obsession, the Kamchatka Peninsula is an extremely remote region of Eastern Russia directly across the Bering Sea from Alaska.  To put it in the words of the popular fly fishing personality Frank Smethurst, "Kamchatka is like going back in time and seeing Alaska what it was like 200 years ago."  This area is home to some of the largest rainbow trout in the world and these fish eat mice like it's their job.  Ever since seeing the trailer for the film, Eastern Rises, (a fish porno which I've seen at least 20 times) I have wanted to go to Kamchatka and swing giant mice patterns until I'm too tired to cast and then swing some more.

Now even though I'm only in high school, I'll be out of college in 4 short years and I've decided that before I go onto dental or medical school, I'm going to spend a year or two or six guiding in Kamchatka.  It certainly won't be an easy job, but I've wanted to be a hardcore wilderness guide for quite some time and while Alaska was always my number one choice, learning about Kamchatka quickly changed my mind.  Anyone that knows me knows I'm a planner, and a lot of times, my grand plans don't work out, but this is one that I REALLY, REALLY want to work out.  So, if you're looking for a bangin' trip, check out Kamchatka.  Who knows, you might end up being stuck with me on the river in a few years.  

For the time being however, here's a teaser for Eastern Rises so you too can drool over the epic fishing found on the remote strip of land that is the Kamchatka Peninsula.  Good looks my friends, very good looks. 

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Picture of the Week

I'm still really new to all this blogging nonsense, but I figured I'd do a picture of the week kinda deal.  Once a week, I'll just throw up a random picture for your viewing pleasure.  This one is the view from my treestand this October.  It's a great spot during the rut and I was hoping to catch a pre-rut buck cruising and looking for a fight.  I hit the antlers together on and off all morning and had a few small bucks come in, but nothing mature.  Still a great day in the woods.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Jumpin' Jack Flash

Some call him Jake, others Jack, and to some, he is known as the Ginger Variant.  I'm talking about my great friend Jake Villwock.  Jake is a crazy dude and a really good guy.  We have spent a LOT of time fishing together all over the place.  From the many creeks and rivers of PA to the steelhead waters of Western NY, and nearly everything in between, we have probably done it.  Some of my favorite days on the water have been with this lunatic by my side.  One great trip that comes to mind was a blistery cold December day on the Salmon river in 2010.  I had been up quite a few times before in search of a big NY steelhead with no luck.  Jake has been obsessed with steelhead since his days as an Alaskan guide and while the fish of the Great Lakes region are not the big wild fish of Alaska, they are an outstanding fish nonetheless and Jake continues to pursue them with the same passion.  This passion was contagious and I began to make the 4 hour drive with Jake whenever I could.  After hours and hours on the water without success, it all came together in the snow, wind and freezing temperatures of a Great Lakes Winter storm.

 Jake and I on a June evening on the Tully

Jake had brought up two of his friends, Dyson and Lyon, from his hometown on the Eastern Shore of Maryland.  Both Lyon and Dyson were relatively new to fly fishing, so we each decided to fish with one of them and show them the ropes of how to cast, mend and set the hook.  Jake headed upstream with Lyon and I walked to the bank with Dyson.  After about half an hour of giving Dyson a refresher on nymph fishing, I made a few casts.  Within minutes, Dyson called me up to give him a hand as he had just got a little tangled.  I walked up and got him back in the water.  As I was giving Dyson a few more tips, I kind of just flipped my rig into the water to keep it from getting tangled.  Suddenly, I watched the indicator stall and dunk under the water out of the corner of my eye.  I set hard out of instinct and I was in.  As I fought the fish, I yelled to Dyson to see if he could find Jake and Lyon upstream and have them come down.  After a few minutes, I had the fish in hand, but Jake was no where to be found.  Dyson and I snapped a few pictures and I released the fish back into the slow deep water.  Even though Jake wasn't there to see me land the fish, it was still an awesome experience and I'm grateful to have been able to "share" it with my great friend Jake.  Thanks for everything you've shown me buddy.  Here's to many more great days on the water together. 

My first NY Steelhead. Fought and landed with a broken finger and all. 

Monday, March 5, 2012

Think Spring

I've been on the water quite a bit in the last two weeks and the fishing has been great.  Lots of bugs, rising fish and plenty of challenging situations.  That combination is really making me change gears and I'm thinking spring hardcore right now.  Last year, I had the opportunity to fish quite a few different pieces of water with lots of different people and it was awesome.  This year, I want to do even more new stuff and really try to get to know the places I was introduced to last year.  

Of all the new areas that I fished, the Upper Delaware system was by FAR my favorite.  Steve Spurgeon, the other full time guy in Bryn Mawr is a Delaware addict and one of the most experienced dry fly fisherman I know.  Since I first met him 5 or 6 years ago, Spurge has been singing the praises of this storied area and I must admit, I used to give him a lot of crap about it.  I mean how good can a river really be?  That question was answered in a big way on June 6th 2011 for me.  I had just finished school for the summer on Friday and I heard the TCO crew was headed north to the West Branch on Sunday.  Since I work in the shop on Sunday, I had to drive up by myself to meet them as soon as I closed the shop.  By the time I got up there, I was told to just hit Hale Eddy because it would be dark by the time I got up to the whole group.  I arrived to many dudes and many fish rising in the popular pool below the bridge. I fished for the 45 or so minutes I had until it was too dark to see and I packed it up to go meet the other guys.  I had missed one decent fish and hooked and lost a little guy.  Either way, this place was awesome.  

The next morning started with a quick stop to West Branch Angler to pick up a few flies (gotta help support the local economy) and then we were off.  On Monday, there was quite a big group with us including Jake, Joe, Henry, (all from TCO Reading) Steve, myself and Jason Taylor, a Bryn Mawr customer and friend.  Jake, Joe and myself walked upstream where we arrived just in time to see Henry Ramsay hook and land a big and beautiful brown trout.  Things were looking up as we had only just arrived and fish were eating.  We finally arrived at the big long run that we intended to fish throughout the day.  The three of us messed around with a few small rising fish with none hooked for about two hours.  Soon after, Steve, Jason and Henry came walking upstream.  We all sat down and ate lunch.  While we were eating, I noticed what looked like a large fish rising just upstream from us.  When Steve confirmed my suspicions, he instructed me to walk up and to fish for him.  With the whole group watching and coaching from the bank, I made a few casts with no luck.  Steve said I should give the fish a break for a minute or two and try again.  Same process, same results.  I made a quick fly change and waited for the fish to start rising steadily again.  As I was tying on the new fly, Steve noticed another fish rising about 40 yards downstream from me and the group drifted downriver to watch Steve.  As they moved away, my fish started rising again.  I made a cast, but I was a bit short.  I let the fly drift well away from the fish and picked it up to do it again.  This time, I was right on the money.  The fly drifted about 2 feet and I watched one the largest trout of my life slowly open his mouth and eat my size 18 Sulphur emerger.  Being the Delaware newbie that I was, I set too early and literally ripped the fly right out of the fish's mouth.  I was used to the quick smash and grab eats of small wild browns on my local creeks and not the slow and deliberate eats of a large Delaware fish.  As the fly came ripping back towards me, I let out a few expletives and watched the fish sink to the bottom and drift away from me.  The group all looked up and saw me with my head in my hands and immediately knew what had happened.  I sat down to catch my breath and try to relax.  Even though I never even touched that fish, I was hooked on this place.  The guys all came upstream and I explained everything.  After a few jokes (at my expense of course) and some consolation, we continued to search for other rising fish.  

The West Branch of the Delaware

The rest of the afternoon was sadly quite uneventful for me as I didn't get another eat for the next few hours.  The other guys had all at least hooked or landed a few fish, but I was still searching.  This place was addicting, yet incredibly frustrating at the same time.  In spite of my frustrations, I was loving every minute of it.  With less than an hour of light left, I was beginning to feel the skunk closing in on me.  Suddenly, a massive caddis hatch erupted and fish began to rise everywhere.  I fished and fished, missing two more and stinging another.  When the action in my area began to slow down, I waded across the river and upstream to see how Henry was doing.  Good ol' Ramstein was in front of a ton of rising fish and had caught a few of them.  Seeing my frustration and desire for that first Delaware fish, Henry did something incredibly unselfish.  Something that I will remember and be grateful of for the rest of my life.  He let me fish.  I eagerly moved up and began casting.  I tried my go to CDC caddis with nothing to show for it.  I then switched to an X-Caddis with the same results.  Light was fading fast and I was running out of option.  It was then that I remembered a pattern that Steve had talked about many, many times.  I reached into my box and pulled out a CDC and Elk caddis and began casting.  The fish I was casting at seemed to be the biggest of the small group rising against the bank.  This was a fish I believed to be maybe 13 or 14 inches at the most, but at this point, size was the last thing on my mind.  Okay, maybe not the last, but I really wanted to catch my first Delaware fish!  On my third drift with the CDC and Elk, the fish ate.  I slowed down my hook set and I was in.  At first, I was greeted with the familiar thumping on the rod as the fish began to shake his head.  Suddenly, those thumps turned into deep, heavy pulls and the fish exploded.  He headed downstream and I was on the reel in an instant.  This fish was taking drag and running like no other freshwater fish I had ever seen.  I don't remember this, but apparently I was yelling with excitement... like a lot.  Steve, who was a few hundred yards downstream from Henry and I heard the commotion and quickly hurried upstream.  I fought the fish for quite some time until Henry was able to ease him into the net.  The fish was by far the largest trout I had ever caught in my life and was incredibly beautiful.  He was a gorgeous olivey brown on his back and his stomach was one of the most beautiful shades of gold I had ever seen.  Steve arrived just in time for pictures and the three of us took plenty.  After the photos, I slipped the fish back into the water and watched him glide away into the darkness.  The image of that fish slowly swimming away is burned into my mind and remains one of my most cherished memories, fishing or otherwise.  Thanks again to Henry, Steve and all the whole TCO crew up there for everything you guys did that day.  It is greatly appreciated and will never be forgotten.  

The whole reason for this blog post was to not only share with you one of the greatest days of fishing I have ever had, but to remind you that Spring is right around the corner and to challenge you to look at fishing as an experience based not on how many fish you catch or how big the fish was, but to enjoy the little things and to appreciate time spent with good friends in cool places.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

The Flyin' Hawaiian

A few months ago, I met a crazy Hawaiian dude named Jared Ellis when TCO hired him as the new full time employee in the Bryn Mawr shop.  Over the last few months, Jared and I have become good friends and we love to fish together.  After closing the shop today at 3, Jared and I headed to the water.  It was rough going at first as we both missed a few fish on tiny dries, but we each proceeded to catch some fish with Jared landing his largest wild fish to date.  It was a great afternoon with a good friend.  The fish were looking up and the pressure was down as the weather suddenly got cooler and the wind picked up.  Can't wait to do it again buddy.  Again, my iPhone was the only camera along for the ride, so pardon the weak pictures.  Enjoy.

First fish of the afternoon

Jared's fish.  The picture just does not do it justice.  Way to go buddy!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Small Stream Love

After a rough morning, I decided I needed to relax.  I headed out to my favorite local creek for a little stress relief.  Upon arriving, I found twelve million dudes in the area I intended to fish, so I had to get creative.  I headed to a spot I hadn't fished in months and it paid off.  I had the stretch of creek to myself and fish rising to small olives and midges.  After a few drifts with no love shown, I made a quick pattern change and it was go time.  I managed to land quite a few decent fish with my last being one of, if not my largest fish ever from this creek.  A long leader, light tippet and small flies were the keys to success today.  I only had my iPhone with me, so pictures are far from perfect.  Enjoy.

First of the afternoon

One of my best fish ever from this creek.  That is a Brodin Gallatin net and that fish is over 14 inches long, a really good fish in this creek. 

All fish came on size 20-24 CDC olive emergers.

What's Cookin' Good Lookin'

Oh, why hello there.  My name is Len Gliwa.  I'm an 18 year old outdoor addict and I'm currently a senior at St. Joe's Prep in Philadelphia, PA.  I'll be headed out to Happy Valley to attend Penn State next year where I want to keep being addicted to the outdoors.  I work for TCO fly shop and I love the outdoors... like a lot.  Fly fishing and bow hunting are probably my two favorite activities in the world and I spend a lot of time doing both.  As for the blog, everyone that's anyone seems to have one, so I figured why not.  Hopefully someone enjoys my blog and uhh, yeah that's about it.  Stay tuned for lots of cool stuff to come.