Monday, September 5, 2011

The Blizzard Hatch of 2011

I know, I know - where the hell have I been? I realize all two or three of you that might actually check this blog are wondering if I sold my gear. This past year has been an adjustment trying to balance a new work schedule and increased responsibilities but I assure you, I have been out fishing a few times. Last Wednesday was one of those times and I must share our experience.

Okay, I've heard the term "blizzard hatch" before, and I figured it was just someone getting excited over their first significant hatch. I mean, I've seen a "blanket hatch" before, with so many mayflies coming off the water that they blanket the water's surface. I've been in a caddis hatch where I thought I was covered in caddis. I do say "thought", because nothing would prepare me for what Bob and I experienced on the 30th.

We fished Newport the week before, hitting a lackluster white fly hatch that didn't develop into much at all (Newport has been our go-to spot for white fly hatches since having one of our best evenings about 5-6 years ago). Bob went out the following Thursday with little luck as well. Then Irene hit Sunday and Monday, causing some light flooding on TWCC, but nothing like spring runoff levels. By Wednesday, we weren't sure how far the hatch had worked up the river, but something told us to head to the run below the first rt. 28 bridge (from what I've read, a.k.a. "the lake"). The hatch started slow, but early. A few white flies popped out around 7:30pm and the fish started rising sporadically. With a surprising amount of daylight left the hatch really started picking up around 8:00pm. Bob and I cought a couple of fish, but as usual there were too many flies available to get the fish to pay much attention to our offerings. Then, it got thick. I mean, really thick. It was too dark to get a decent pic of the scene, but let me describe it to you. Imagine a mayfly every 3-4 inches on the surface of the water. Imagine looking down on your vest and seeing easily 2 -3 dozen flies at a quick glance. Adult shucks littering the flaps covering your pockets. Reeling in your fly to find 3 white flies stuck to the hook. Fluttering around your ears. Trying to suppress your laughter at the spectacle in front of you because you're breathing in mayflies. We had to take cover in the woods because we were actually worried about choking on the bugs. I had to be careful when turning on my headlamp because it attracted so many more bugs at my face that I couldn't breathe. No lie. It was that thick.

Bob managed to get a pic as the hatch started to warm up - this was not at its peak, mind you:

We worked our way down to the bridge, and headed back to the water. No fish were rising but there were bugs everywhere. Bob put two and two together - the fish were actually... full. I pulled my quick seine over my net and started scooping at the surface. There were thousands of shucks, everywhere. And then, we looked up at the light on the bridge and were blown away. It really, honestly, unbelievably, looked like a heavy snow was falling. The mating swarm was thick up beyond the street lamp. It looked like a blizzard.

For those of you looking to fish the white fly hatch, good luck. It is a hatch that continues to excite and haunt me and I seem to learn something new about it every year. This year, I got a really good look at the nymphal shucks - something I think will be the key to the hatch in the future for me. They were a medium gray with a heavy dark rib and medium tan gills. I'm thinking a proper nymph design will help the fishing up to the hatch, and a cripple/emerger pattern along with a soft hackle might do the trick during the hatch. I'm sure spinners would work too, but by the time the spinners hit the water there are way too many naturals to compete with. Oh, and it's so dark that it's pure luck seeing or feeling a take. Not discouraged yet? Good. The white fly hatch lasts for a few weeks from the end of August to the middle of September on TWCC. It starts downstream and works its way up the river each day. As of the 30th, it was just below Cincinnati Creek, so take that into account when you plan your next fishing night. If you happen to miss it this year, I'll see you on "The Creek" next August.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

4/1/10: the opener

What a rotten day. Bright, sunny skies, warm air temps, slightly higher water level than the previous Sunday, and water temp of 42 degrees. Fortunately, I didn't catch a thing. Wouldn't want to anger the fish gods and have a bad season, now, would I?

More to come...

Monday, March 29, 2010

3/28/10: pre-season scrimmage at Limestone

So, Bob and I got out yesterday to stretch our lines and work out the kinks. The old dam on Limestone behind the town offices in Fayetteville had been breached by the town. I had never fished Limestone downstream beyond that point, and Bob mentioned that he too had never really looked at that stretch before. we parked down the road to towline path and walked all the way to where Limestone joins with the Erie Canal. Wow. What great water. There is some beautiful pools and runs all the way back to the town offices. The brush cover was pretty thick in spots, and we spent ample amount of time "in total harmony with our environment" - which to the untrained eye could simply look like we were frequently tangled up in scrub and thorn bushes, spouting obscenities and flailing about. Despite the higher, colder water, Bob managed to allegedly catch 3 nice browns - mind you, I only saw one. The catch was quite suspect, since he offered me the pool afterward and I caught nothing. I know! As if he would catch fish when I didn't. See what I mean? Very suspicious, if you ask me.

It was a nice morning, a coopers hawk, a few mallards including one I spooked out of her nest (see photo) but no fish for me, thank God. I mean, why would I want to anger the fish gods by catching anything before the opener? I did feel bad for Bob, for if he did catch those three fish, then he might have angered the fish gods.

We grabbed some lunch and headed to my old stomping grounds. It was strange walking and fishing behind our old townhouses - it seemed like a lifetime away, and yet the stream had changed very little. I was joined my some kids from the other side of the fence. They were quite helpful and offered to stay and talk to me to keep me company. Gee....... thanks. Maybe you all should go down stream and check out that other guy - he might actually catch a fish for you.

Fishing some familiar water, I did hook up on a small brown when I wasn't paying attention. Air temp was around 47F, water temp 40F. A few gray midges and couple of #12 gray/black stoneflies in the air. I did have a hitchhiking scud on my wading boot at the end. not bad for early spring. Looks like i know where I'm going for the opener :)

Saturday, March 20, 2010

A Spring fishing sonnet to ring in the new season...

Just to show you all how bad I got it for this year's fishing season, I jotted down this little ditty today:

With the robin home and the snow receding,
the old man's grip on our disposition, loosed.
There's an arid warmth of Spring's breath - still fleeting,
carried back to us on the wings of a goose.
Under liquid mirrors a trout is feeding,
as a steelhead fans her spawning bed.
The earthen incense fills my nares,
a siren's call reverbs in my head.
For it's the time of year I'm filled with yearning,
it's the time my ailment is most prevalent.
A trout fever illness some just call fishing,
but for me and obsession and time well spent.
So, please fear not my friends of my distant eyes,
in my mind I've already taken up rod, reel, and fly...

Happy spring and tight lines for 2010!!


Sunday, November 8, 2009

11/7/09: A steely persuit, with ice in our veins...

Bob and I hit the Salmon river for our annual November steelhead "morning". It was cold. Not ice-in-the-guides cold, but cold enough to get me thinking my clothing choices were kinda stupid. It was great to meet up with Bob again - it had been a couple of months since we fished the white fly hatch on WCC.

We decided to try out the compactor pool per the suggestion of one of Bob's TU buddies. We headed upstream along the south bank to fine nice run after nice run. I have to say, there is too much nice water to fish on this river. As usual, the fishing was slow and I was the only fish catcher today. A nice fish if we were trout fishing, but as a steelhead it was small - around 16-18 inches. The clouds opened up as we moved down to a different section of the compactor pool area. Moving downstream from the bridge revealed some really nice water, tainted by an inconsiderate guide in his boat, and later a selfish pr*ck who felt the river belonged to him. Oh well. It's the Salmon River...the fleas come with the dog.

Always enjoyable to get out fishing with Bob. Maybe someday we'll get enough time on that river to amp up our success rate during the Fall runs.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

10/10/09: Dial, Nippletop, Colvin hike

view hike pics at:

So, one last fall hike in until I start some winter peak bagging. I was really itching to test my hiking speed and do a little recon for next year's hikes with Deb, Paul, and the boys. Knowing Matt is always game for a hike and wanting to keep it simple, I recruited mister "dooit" to help pull my ass up the trails. The plan was to bag Dial and Nippletop in the morning, Colvin and Blake in the afternoon, and finish out with a nice picture opportunity at Indian Head on the way out. Like I said, that was the plan.

Here's what I wrote up for ADKHighPeaks forum:

Let's Sum it up:

St. Huberts parking area... headlamps... Lake Road... Leach Trail... mud... rain... mud.
.. no view on Bear Den... mud... more rain... mud... no view on Dial... mud... snow... mud... sleet.... mud... no view from Nippletop.... mud... Elk Pass trail... mud... clouds lift... great range... wow... mud... Elk Pass... mud... mud... Colvin trail... why not?... mud... this is a trail?... rock... mud... you've got to be kidding me... mud... rock... I'm too old for this crap... mud... rock... thank God... views... wow... nice pair of backpackers... more wow... college kids... ugh... if he throws that Frisbee, I'll have to make what I do to him look like an accident... let's get out of here... mud... rock... rock... mud... on the home stretch... mud... mud... Lake Road... headlamps... St. Huberts Parking area.

A couple of personal observations:

First, I was curious as to why such a small, unassuming peak would be named for one of the Adirondack's first hardcore, bad*ss hikers like Verplanck Colvin. Having finally hiked that trail, I now know why. I could hear Verplanck saying "quit whining and get your *ss up there!" as I slogged to the summit.

Second, with the advancement of headlamp technology the trails are a very popular place no matter what time of day...or night. There was a time when being out at night in the w
oods caused most people to hunker down in camp. Now, I seem to run into almost as many hikers at night as I do during the day. Really cool!

So, we ended up skipping Blake and Indian Head mainly because we were losing daylight...and I was totally exhausted. We will split them up for next year, even if we do them on longer days. Still, a great day and that gets me down to the 30 peak mark!

9/25/09: Street and Nye hike

view Street and Nye pics at:

Deb’s triumphant return to the high peaks! We headed up to the ADK Loj with high expectations. The tree colors were beautiful, yet still not peak. Lots of reds, more than I remember from previous years. We hit the trail by 9AM, which would prove to be a little late based on how the day would play out. The trail was well worn, but unfortunately covered in fallen leaves. This made it pretty tough to follow since it looked like the rest of the forest floor around it. We spooked a ruffed grouse – a new bird for both of us. The crossing at Indian Pass brook was successful, in that neither of us got wet. Then a slow, steady climb. I almost packed out the trash from the old logging camp site until I realized that the glass was part of the history of that spot. Deb was doing nicely, but started to get a little tired. We would come to realize afterward that will all the dieting we had been doing and her being at her lowest weight since starting the diet that she got depleted really quickly. It wasn’t a grueling trail, per se, but challenging enough for someone with little carb reserves, no real carbs to replace, and also being her first high peaks hike in over a decade. We truly believe whoever wrote the estimated distances for the hike was sippin’ the single malt that day.

It was cool to finally see the junction tree with the “N” and “S” – something I’ve seen in pictures a number of times. Deb insisted on doing Street first, which was probably the smartest decision of the day. It seemed to take forever. As we were walking over the summit rock I looked up and saw the sign. I stopped Deb in her tracks to let her know we were there and the look on her face was priceless! We rested a little, ate a little, and checked out the views of the McEntyre range and MacNaughton to the south. The trail back down and then over to Nye was pretty nice, actually. There’s no way Nye is 0.4 miles from the junction compared to Street’s 0.6 miles. We were there in 10 to 15 minutes. And no, like everyone said, there are no views on Nye – although just back down the trail were some nice lookout areas. I thought we were making good time until then. I started to realize we had been moving slower than I expected, and as the clock winded down I started to think about hiking out in the dark. Not a frightening concept usually, but remembering how difficult the trail was to follow in the daylight got me a little anxious. By the time we were 2 miles from the end, we stopped to take a break. Deb was getting weaker and weaker, and I was kicking myself for not packing the right food. We made it to Indian Pass Brook before we lost daylight, thank God, and I was feeling a little more confident. I still worried about getting out, but at least knew we were past some of the more confusing and difficult trail to cover. The Headlamps came out soon after. It was quite peaceful, although I think Deb was feeling pretty awful by then. When we saw the Mount Jo/Old Nye Ski Trail sign, I knew I could breathe again.

This wasn’t the return to the high peaks that Deb had wanted, but there were definitely some factors I hadn’t thought about. Not the right food – that was one. Not being able to navigate in the dark was another. We agreed that no matter what diet we were on, that a hike day would be a carb cheat day. At the very least, I would carry power bars just in case. Also, I took a serious look into a new GPS unit that would be reliable in the mountains. Being able to set way points on the way up would’ve helped us keep on the trail on the way back. We most certainly lived and learned on this one. For Deb 10 down and 36 to go. For me, 13 down…