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

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Row, row, row your boat...

After floating the Lehigh with Shane on Saturday, my Dad and I hopped into the car on Sunday afternoon and headed for Reading where we meet up with Jake and Steve, the most badass mailman around.  Now my dad taught me much of what I know about fishing in general, but he is not a fly fisherman.  On this trip, however, he agreed to give it a go.  My only goal for the evening was to have my dad catch at least one smallmouth with a fly rod and thankfully it all worked out.  About half way through the float, after some coaching on casting, stripping the fly and just getting used to having a 9 foot rod in his hands, my dad landed his first ever fish on a fly rod, a spunky little Schuylkill River smallie!  Well done Pops.  In other news, between Jake and myself we saw 4 muskies and had two follows in the short float we did on Sunday afternoon.  Talk about exciting!  Seeing a big gnarly tooth filled face eyeing up your streamer boat side is a huge adrenaline rush, and the fish didn't even eat the fly!  I'll be back after those fish for sure.

My dad and I on the Skuk

The first of many on the fly rod

Monday morning found me on the road to meet up with Jake to float the Lehigh.  We decided to do a longer float than Shane and I did on Saturday, and it paid off with some solid fishing.  We arrived at Bowmanstown around 10:30 and put the boats in the water for a full day of fishing.  We each floated alone in our own boats so we could pick up some friends later on during the day.  The fishing was disappointingly slow again in the earlier part of the float just like it had been on Saturday with Shane, but we still had high hopes for the later part of the day.

Me hydrating in the brutal heat

A solid fish that was chasing bait on the bank and decided to rock my streamer

Close up

Jake pounding the water with some new streamer patterns

Jake was on a hot streak with these 3 nice fish in just about that many casts

The view downriver from my boat

It was a Litespeed and Scott rod party on my boat on Monday

Around 5 o'clock Jake and I rowed into Walnutport where we met up with my buddies Shane and Tom.  Shane hoped into Jake's boat and Tom jumped into mine and we headed for Tom's house right on the river about 3 miles below us.  The fishing was pretty good right off the bat with a bunch of smaller fish coming to hand right away, but the fishing was still far from great.

Tom working his magic

Shane and Jake floating along just downstream from us

Tom with his first respectable bass of the evening

Just upriver from Tom's house, it was like someone flipped a switch.  Within minutes, it went from a fish every few hundred yards between the two boats to a fish every few casts for every angler.  We had a blast and finally rowed into the takeout at Tom's in darkness.  Overall, it was an awesome three days of fishing with some of my closest friends and family.  Sometimes the fishing was good and sometimes it wasn't so good, but it was always fun.  My arms and shoulders sure are feeling it after three days of rowing the new boat.  I took a break today, so I might give it a go tomorrow.  We shall see.  Enjoy the pictures and get out there and fish!  Smallmouth fishing is an absolute blast and it is a great way to get out even in the heat of Summer!

Tom with a super solid fish that killed a swung zuddler

Becker with a great fish

Jake getting it done with a SLOB

Perfectly placed Impersonator 

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Lehigh Bassin'

Well today was the inaugural float of my new two man pontoon boat and it was a scorcher.  Temperatures were around 100 degrees for most of the day, but my buddy Shane and I decided the best way to cool off would be with some hot smallmouth action.  (See what I did there.)  Hot smallmouth action is not what we found, however, as the fishing was pretty terrible for most of the day.  I spent the majority of our trip behind the oars, but we stopped to fish a few times and I did make a few casts in some likely looking water with nothing to show for it.  Even though the Lehigh River bass were not cooperating, we had an absolute blast on the water today.  The one and only smallmouth landed today was Shane's first ever smallmouth caught on a fly rod.  A fat 17" fish is not a bad way to start a smallmouth career.  Again, awesome job man!  The fish fell to an olive Zuddler stripped behind a giant boulder in the middle of the river.  Well technically "off" of a giant boulder as Shane's cast was a bit too far and the fly landed right on top of it. The fish absolutely CRUSHED the fly as it dropped into the water and the fight was on.  Shane had a ton of fish follow and nose the fly, but very few committals.  Hey, that's fishing for you.  Overall, it was a great day on the water spent with a good friend and I have to say, I LOVE LOVE LOVE my new boat.  I'm floating the Skuk tomorrow with my dad, so we will see how that goes.  Now for some pictures!

Gearing up

Keep on pumpin!

Becker with a big silly grin on his face hooked up to a bronze and olive freight train

Fishy in the water

That bass gave that 6 wt just about all it could handle

And the pot of gold (or maybe bronze) at the end of the rainbow

Piggy wanted that Zuddler

Right before we sent the fish back to his rock

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Floatin' in Style

After years and years of dreaming about it, I finally purchased my first boat!  Well, maybe it's not quite a "boat," but it's still one of the coolest things I've ever bought before.  For a long time I thought about getting a canoe or a kayak, but then I wanted a one man pontoon boat that I could use to float down my favorite trout and smallmouth rivers.  A few days ago, however, through some magical twist of fate, I was given the opportunity to pick up a two man pontoon boat for a killer price, so I jumped on it.  It's an Outcast PAC 1200 inflatable pontoon boat that will be absolutely perfect for floating the Lehigh, Schuylkill, Delaware and Juniata rivers along with quite a few other rivers and even some ponds and lakes too.  I'm super excited about it and I can't wait to pick it up when I get home from the beach on Saturday morning.  I'm planning on heading straight to the water on Saturday afternoon for her maiden voyage (well at least with me behind the oars!) so stay tuned for some cool smallmouth (or maybe if I'm super, crazy, and unbelievably lucky even a musky) picture or two and a full report of how the first trip goes. Thanks again Steve!

I'll be floating in style in less than 48 hours