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
What a fish