The Rats Nest

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Housatonic Gold

Why I Like The Housatonic

There's not a day that goes by that I don't think about the holdover brown trout of the Housatonic River.  For quite some time now I have had a thing for the elusive brown trout that inhabit that watershed.  I can remember some of my first experiences there over a decade ago when I moved from north of the state border to the Nutmeg State, and the plump wily brown trout that seemed at the time to be much more bountiful than they are now. 

Maybe it's fact or fiction, but many things seem to be a shade of what "they used to be".  As I get a little older(probably not much wiser), I find myself less intrigued by the easy catch, more bountiful fisheries that are measured by thousands of trout per mile, and more intrigued by the fishery that may not have the numbers of fish, but will cough up a quality fish for those who will put in the time.  With those locales is another constant that goes hand in hand; more anglers.  It's a simple equation really, good fishing with large numbers of fish = more anglers.  No offense guys, I understand more anglers is a double edged sword; I agree it is great for the sport yada yada yada, but when a guy just needs to get away, it's just not what he wants to be a part of.  To be blunt, I have been driving by my local fishery this spring en-route to other water because I just don't wanna take part in the madness.  

I haven't even taken part in any form of dry fly fishing yet this year, not sure I will for a while yet either.  When the phrase, "The streamer bite isn't good till the caddis start" gets thrown at you, the challenge is ripe for the taking. The need to disprove this statement echoes in my head daily, and I took the challenge head on.  Now mind you, remember what fishery I am referring to here, the "Housy" can be an ornery old girl who will give you a taste of what she has to offer one day only to rip the rug right out from under your feet the next.  Big water, marginal fish numbers (trout that is) and weather related conditions make her this way, and she kindly (or not so kindly) reminds us of this regularly. 

Several More Of These Guys In The Mix Today Too
If you remember last weeks post, it was laden with smallmouth bass,  with no trout in the mix.  Look, I'm not one to turn up my nose at these wonderful creatures, and I truly enjoy them as a sport fish.  I never could quite understand some of my clients over the years who would snub these feisty fish, and complain when they caught them.  I call them bonus fish, as they always seem to fill the gaps between the trout that we would catch, and over the years I have grown to appreciate the fact that the Housatonic truly is a first rate smallmouth fishery, and arguably one of the best in the Northeast.  But, when you're trying to find those holdover butter bellies that are the true gems of the Housy, it can be a bit frustrating as for every trout you may catch, tens of bass will be in between or maybe hundreds in my case, well at least that has been what it seems. 

As you've heard me say before, when you throw big and you commit to it whole hearted, you want to tip the scales in your favor, so an early alarm, foggy eyes and not enough coffee greeted morning me with a 5 AM departure to the green hued waters of the Housy.  After several smallmouth and a few rainbows, I managed to stick the wonderful specimen pictured above.  My heart again raced, and I was swept back in time to those memories of yesteryear. 

Think I Have A New Favorite Streamer Stick...
If you haven't noticed yet, 2013 for me is going to be a year of going back, hitting some new challenges head on and not going for the easy route.  Good chance you'll find me on less fished waters in search of not only the elusive Housy holdover brown, but some other species as well.  Gotta wonder what next week will bring, and hopefully this brown is the first of many on this particular fishery.

So now that the season is in full swing, the fly store is down until further notice and I get the remainder of my orders completed, it's time to fish on a regular basis, I'm sorry fellas but I need it.  The store is going off line for a very good reason, and I will elaborate upon that next week, and it will be a short lived shut down so don't fret, I promise, but in the meantime here is to blazing your own path and to a season of challenges, oh, I almost forgot, did I mention I tested a new fly out yesterday too?  It looks like she's gonna make the rotation folks, and she will fill the void for a specific area that I have been tinkering with for quite some time.  Let's just say she will bridge the gap between cold water fish and warm water if that gives you a clue. 

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Islamorada Vacation

When Meg first informed me that her work team won a trip to the Cheeca Lodge in Islamorada Florida, I kinda chuckled; ya sure Meg nice early April fools joke. After some convincing that this wasn't a joke the reality settled in and excitement ensued.

Either of us had never been to the Florida Keys before, and I had vividly remembered seeing a fly fishing show with Flip Pallot a few years back where he had done a promo on the lodge we were fortunate enough to be staying at, and the angling opportunities.  To say I was a little star struck at where we were headed. Although many of my fishing friends had given me loads of input on who to fish with and where to go, which was much appreciated, time out on the water was going to be secondary to the jam packed agenda we had on our plate.

A 3:30 AM alarm after maybe 2 hours of sleep  Thursday morning came all too soon, and before we could fully awake it seemed we had landed in Miami and were on our way south to the lodge. We rolled into the lodge around 10:30 AM and we kicked it off right with a healthy round of tropical drinks.
The View From Our Bungalow

The weekend as a whole was a blur, team events, planned dining, mixed with some rest and relaxation, oh and a trip to a local marine park called Theater Of The Sea to swim with Dolphins, a first for both Meg and I. Aside from that awesome experience, we managed to see all kinds of other cool stuff; sea lion show, various birds and fish including all sorts of sea turtles and other neat marine life. Heck, I even learned that the park is the second oldest in the world. Enough of the small talk here are a few pictures.

Sunday arrived and most of Meg's company was heading home, not us however as we still had till Monday afternoon, and today was a chance to get out on a flat with Shafter Johnston of Blue Moon Expeditions in his backyard in hopes of chasing some Tarpon or anything else for that matter. 

Shafter spends a great deal of his season on the "Mother Ship", a large houseboat that he has docked deep in the Everglades.  I got lucky when I spoke with him over the winter as he said he would be around his home which just so happens to be about a 5 minute drive from the lodge, and readily invited me and Meg to spend a few hours on the water that is literally in his back yard. 

Just to set the stage, I am a realist, I fish in the salt very little and I understand that the time of day and everything else in the world was working against me that day, but getting out there and actually experiencing 100 plus pound tarpon in super clear water swimming by was as cool as it gets.  To be honest, I was pretty amazed at how spooky these fish were, far more than any of the Stripers on the flats of the Cape that I have experienced.   I laid out several money casts with plenty of lead and these guys were just not having it, veering away within 5-6 feet of the fly.  I could totally see how people would get frustrated by the game, but I loved every minute of it.  I will absolutely try and get back out there again with Shafter in the future if our paths cross again, hopefully in the Everglades where the stakes and scenarios are much different. 

Rare Glassy Conditions
Due to some ensuing nasty weather pouring in, we came in after a 3 hour stint on some of the coolest water I have ever had the chance to experience.  I will say this, Shafter is a first rate guy, extremely professional, personable and knowledgeable of his local fare.  I would recommend his services to anyone and I hope that I can spend some time with him again as we had a great time out there.   You can check out more at his website  My wife Meg even had a great time, and I owe her a huge thanks for allowing me to take part in this, shes a great sport.

A Grande Poon In That Shadow
So now I am back to normal and the  vise will again be on fire.  I have a mountain of customer orders to complete, a bunch of shop stuff and an announcement of sorts in the ensuing weeks.  So with further adieu, I'm climbing back into my cave to spin some creativity and fill all those orders for you patient and awesome supporters out there.  
Shafter Pushing Us Around With The Storm On The Horizon

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Boat's Maiden Voyage

I'll keep it short and sweet, I finally got some oar time today on the new boat.  Took a good friend and co-worker with me on the water today and we had a blast.  Matt had never floated in a drift boat so that made it even better.  I'll let the pictures do the talking. 
The Famous Covered Bridge

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Now I'm on vacation for a few so I'll catch you all sometime next week.......

Monday, April 15, 2013

A Good Cause

I just wanted to take the time to fill you all in on whats been keeping me rather quiet this past week.  I am sure some of you were wondering why I was a no show at the Westbranch Angler this weekend, and why I haven't been as timely on emails either. 

Last week my cousin and her husband were struck with some rather unfortunate news that has really hit home.   A severe bout of unending headaches resulted in the following.

The family and friends of Adam Luippold are uniting to raise money to help with his battle against cancer. Please show your support!

Adam Luippold is the 33 year old incredibly loving husband of wife, Alissa and the insanely proud, brand new daddy to 6 week old Evelyn. A hard working, fun loving, wonderful man that we have been blessed to be able to call friend. After operating to remove a mass found Tuesday morning, doctors discovered that our friend, Adam, has stage 4 brain cancer. We want to help him and his wife along with their sweet baby girl in every way we can. We have asked everyone we know to join us in praying for strength, healing and peace for this amazing family. Now we are asking that each person donate to help them with the medical expenses as well as other costs to help alleviate any unnecessary stress and allow them to focus on healing and each other. Any donation, no matter how small as well as your prayers will help them and will be forever appreciated. Please continue to pray for them in your daily life as they begin to fight this battle.

If you would like to help support their fight you can do so by clicking the link:


Monday, April 8, 2013

Weekly Update

Ever feel like life is going by like a blur?  That pretty much sums up how things are going over here lately.  Two weeks ago I was in Pennsylvania at Penn State University, giving my Streamer Presentation to the Penn State Fly Fishing Club.  This past week I was in Worcester Massachusetts doing the same for the Central Mass Chapter of Trout Unlimited.  Both groups were gracious hosts and I had a wonderful time talking about a subject I enjoy quite a bit. 
Custom Hog Snare With CCG Molded Eyes. 

Last week you probably remember the kitchen table shot of all those flies headed to the Westbranch Angler, this weekend I managed to complete 12 dozen of the 41 dozen on the menu for the Toadfly in Arkansas.  Plans are to get another 12 dozen in the mail for next week, maybe more.  I still will not be fulfilling any of the new orders till after April 15, more like the 20th upon my return from Islamorada. 

Ice Pick Party All Weekend
Paul Beel over at Frankenfly dropped me a line a few weeks back and inquired about doing an interview.  Paul's blog is rolling nicely and I really enjoy his content, so doing this one was a no brainer.  You can check the interview out here:  FRANKENFLY INTERVIEW.   I will warn you though, its a lengthy one. 

The Flyfishing Film Tour is coming this week, and a really cool raffle is in place that sends the proceeds to a good cause.  The beauty of this raffle is it allows those of you who cannot attend to lend a hand and possibly win something to boot.  You can check out the raffle details here:   FILM TOUR RAFFLE. 

Lastly, looks like I will finally get the new boat in the drink this coming weekend.  I know, all of you feel my pain, poor Rich, tying flies like a caffeine crazed lunatic, not even able to wet a line or throw meat,  poor guy has got to be chomping at the bit (just kidding).  In all seriousness, it will be nice to spend some time on one of my favorite rivers this coming weekend with some good friends.  The fishing will be secondary, time on the oars taking it all in will be great, I can't wait.  I'll also be tying and giving my streamer presentation at the Westbranch Angler's  Hell or High Water event on Saturday.  If you are up, come check it out or stop by to say hey and BS.  

Who knows, maybe we will even boat a few of these..

Monday, April 1, 2013

This Ain't No April Fools Joke.....

Good Times
Hope this picture explains why the blog has been pretty darn quiet.  This was my largest order to date, and one that was being chipped away at for the last 8 weeks.  There are 36 dozen streamers there, 15 dozen are single hook streamers, 21 dozen are articulated.   So if you break it down, there are actually 57 dozen hooks tied on in this picture if that sheds some light on things.  Blogs gonna get  real quiet again I'm afraid, got another order similar in magnitude on the blocks now... 

This pile is headed to the Westbranch Angler in hopes of terrorizing some of those wild browns.  Hope to get many pictures back of Toads these flies helped cross their eyes and gave anglers smiles. 

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