Tuesday, June 28, 2011

"A river without friends is doomed to oblivion."

Lee Wulff was quoted as saying that........

I understand that anywhere you go or anything you do, especially on the intertubes, you may find some detractors and those who may dislike your methods, etc., etc., etc.  The “spot burn” issue has taken root in many of the various fishing forums most everyplace you turn, but it seems more intense when you get to more populous areas like New Jersey, New York, & Pennsylvania.  There may be those who find my wee posts on the Loyalsock Creek (and certain tribs) fine and there may those who get bent that I even dare mentioned the stream at all. 
You can't please everyone, but someone suggested that I have been "spot burning" the Loyalsock Creek in my posts on it.  If you think talking about a section of river from Lycoming County to well above World’s End State Park, which covers a 30+ mile swath, is a spot "burn", then I will always guilty of it.  There is a line between sharing some very general information of a notably stocked stream and spoon feeding spots via GPS coordinates or on a Google Maps site and broadcasting it out there to everyone.  Plus, I’m sure there are quite a few websites out there that will take you directly to the honey hole of those beloved wild trout streams right down to the very boulder you should hide behind to make your presentation.
I think a lot of people get a little bit too caught up in the Gierach Zen in this neck of the woods (East Coast)………“The idea is to fish obscure headwater creeks in hopes of eventually sniffing out an underappreciated little trout creek down an un-marked dirt road.  Why is another question?  I suppose it’s partly for the fishing itself and partly to satisfy your curiosity, but mostly to sustain the belief that such things are still out there to find for those willing to look.” All very true and well put, but the reality of the matter here is that Gierach is talking about backpacking the wild cutthroat streams in the isolation of the CO wilderness while we’re pulling off the highway or county road to fish widely known NJ/PA streams.  Others yet, do venture further into the woods to fish for those very pretty native brookies. 
Photo courtesy of JTD.
The prevailing fear is that my postings and praisings of the Loyalsock Creek will turn it into a destination.   “I have no problem with you guys loving the place - just don't turn it into Penn's or the Salmon River, please”.  If the Sock becomes the Salmon River (Pulaski, NY – I gather) then I want my cut of the $$$$ for promotion.  If it were the case towns like Hillsgrove would be doing a lot better than they are, the Hillsgrove Country Store would be able to advertise in the Mid Atlantic Fly Fishing Guide, again, and their fly bins would be hard to keep full because every Orvis & Simms Cowboy from a 200 mile radius would be flocking to it to get the latest localized patterns.  
Photo credit:  Tim Geist

Instead, the bins are skinny because no one is stopping by to buy flies.  In fact, it's quite hard to keep the place open.  It is a true piece of Americana that has been lost elsewhere.  It truly is THE GENERAL STORE that we've all read about and not the Sandwich & Coffee spots that reside underneath "General Store" signs nowadays.  Bacon (fresh off the hog), Butter, Eggs, Milk, Candy, Shotguns, Knives, Crossbows, Bait, Fishing Gear, Gas, & the Post Office are contained within. 

Photo credit: Tim Geist
If the Sock were a Penns/Salmon River, then the Hillsgrove Hotel may very well just have to dust off those pillows and actually function as a “Hotel” rather than just a local watering hole that sells $1.25 mugs of Lager and the Yuengling banner that hangs out front, that says “Welcome Fishermen” can stay out for a few weeks longer rather than right around opening day only to be replaced by "Welcome Hunters" for the rest of the year.  The talk around the bar may get back to the hatches and the day’s catches rather than a town being split into two camps of pro-gas and non-fracking.  Maybe the bar pies can come back.  I may be able to re-up on my tshirt collection.  After eight years, the Hillsgrove Hotel shirt is getting a little tired. Maybe the hotel will have finally changed owners after being on the market for 3-4 years, handicap access could be put in, the outside gets a proper facelift, and brand new sign put out front. 
Photo credit: Tim Geist
At any rate, my question here is where is the fine line between the "spot burn" and highlighting the real threat to the whole region???  What's worse?? 

A few extra likeminded fishermen on the stream??  


The recently approved draw of 750,000 gallons per day from the Loyalsock for hydrofracking purposes?? 

One may say, “I don't quite get how two wrongs make a right here (fracking and spot burning)”.  Yes, my dinky little blog here will not stem the tide of the fracking hordes descending upon the area like  ravenous locusts, and it has been said that, “I don't see the reason to single out one river in the region as an example, no matter how enthusiastic you are about the place - all the anglers you can find will not have more input than the local residents and landowners and the drilling companies have that scene well sorted long ago”.   Why mention it??  Anyone reading this in PA (Hey New Yorkers!! You're in the crosshairs bigtime.) can insert their own favorite “River X” here and a similar threat applies.  Penns, Little Fishing Creek, Little J, Yellow Breeches, the Wanna, the Waxen, the Tulp, and every mile of the 10,000 or so of trout waters in PA (5,000 miles of which are trout production waters) is facing Death in a chess match like Max Van Sydow in the Ingmar Bergman classic, The Seventh Seal , trying to buy time, which is fading into memory. 

Conversely, isn’t it just as wrong to say……well, in the future don’t even mention the stream anywhere.  What’s out there already is out there and let it settle to the bottom like silt, because it “protects the resource”.   Leave it be so I can fish it in peace until it can’t be fished anymore because the drilling companies have had the fate of the region “well sorted long ago”??

This can go back and forth for days, I gather, but at the end of the day, I’m passionate about the Sock as anyone else that has taken a bit of the Sock home in their boots.  I’ve never described how great or not the fishing may be.  I never suggest flies or even fishing methods, for that matter.  The vids, pics, and blogging are just documentation on how much a 30+ mile stretch of river has an impact on me.  Everyone else, I would think, has their own special stretch of river that is similar.  You may say tomato and I tomato.  I can show everyone a mere snippet of a 30 mile stretch in vid, pic, and/or text form. 

The rest is up to you. 

This is how I roll. 

If there are folks who don’t like it, and think I have Gilmore/Landis/Meck-ed the Sock, well I will just have to respectfully disagree and leave it at that. 

Photo credit: Tim Geist
Cheers & tight lines. 

The 2011 Bug Week Video from Rise Form Studios.

No dilly-dallying from Rise Form Studios here, cats & kittens.  It's only been a few weeks and the BUG WEEK video is already up on the RFS site.  In true Michael McAwful fashion he side kicks us Bruce Lee style right in the grill piece with some great footage of a great week at Camp Kavanaugh.  The browns seemed to want nothing to do with the Green Drakes.  So in response to all the gals getting their hair weaved with hackle, "World Class Dude" John Kavanaugh takes it one step further. 

It's great to see my friends all get in to some fish.  Even legendary Catskills Tyer, Dave Brandt gets in on the act.  I will have to make it next year and join in the shennanigans. 

Enough banter here.......

Click here for the video. 


Monday, June 13, 2011

June lull.

Things have been a wee bit quiet on the Double Haul front, as of late.  Sure, there's been fishing, but a lack of filming has taken hold.  I really think the blown out Loyalsock had a lot to do with it.  Pennsylvania, this year, has been a rough one for me.  Between the freeze, the rains, and then the heat, it has been a really slow start.  This year seems to be a New Jersey year for me, when in the past, it wasn't so.  Maybe I am getting better with my New Jersey game after all.  In the past few years, I've had some really good teachers, so maybe it's working for me. 

Behind the works there are some cool little developments going on, that Double Haul will be a part of, indirectly.  There's a quite a bit of swag out there and it's being repped pretty well by you out there and I thank you for it.  We still have a bit of long sleeves to contend with, but you learn as you go, right?  The one thing that keeps it honest is that we're not "world beaters" and don't really intend to be.  It's just a dinky blog from New Jersey, after all.  We're certainly not telling anyone how to fish or the gear to use.  Heck, it's wet wading season, so wear what you will.  Also, it very important to keep a cooler in the ol' trunk.  Nothing says friend more than having an ice cold barley pop for the fishing victory........well, of course, if you have room for it, some bottled water isn't such a bad idea.  Remember:  This is only if you can fit it in.

It doesn't make you a bad person, if you can't.

Along the way, it's really about helping our buds out, whether they're home grown in NJ, Kenosha, Lehighton, Brooklyn, Boise, Colorado Springs, Long Island, or where have you.  It is about new fishing spots, at the end of the day.  Over the cold barley pop (or water) is where the next adventures are discussed.  This is also another reason why we did a shirt and sticker run right off the bat.  You folks are taking us places where we have yet to be, if at all.  This does keep things at a purely underground level.  Yes, the Internet is of great help and gets things out to a wider group of folks, but it seems that the ones who "get it" have enthusiastically jumped in full tilt.  That's very humbling and I owe you all a barley pop at some point.  

Thanks for tuning in.


Thursday, May 19, 2011

Fly Tying Video to check out and try it for yourself. JC's Electric Caddis (The Redux).

Good friend, great fishermen, & intense fly tyer John Collins has teamed up with Mike McAuliffe of Rise Form Studio to redux one of my favorite, not to mention that of many trout, steelhead, & salmon.....JC's Electric Caddis.

If you don't know it or have seen this for the 1st time.....TRY IT!!  The beauty of this fly is in the versatility of being able to changing up the colors to give it a different look.  With the availability of different wire & tube colors, nowadays, you can come up with some very nifty variations on the theme, like all the hot Steelhead Candy colors you can think of(hint-hint). 

So, please take some time and check out this fly tyed by the man himself......or else the "Jungle Cat" will pounce on you, fool!!

Allow my to introduce to you.............JC's Electric Caddis in HD

If you are interested in any other flies John Collins ties and want to give them a whirl on your local streams, he has an array of flies available for purchase at MyFlies.com

You won't be disappointed. 


Tuesday, May 17, 2011

To photo, to phone, or to fish?

One of the cooler things about fly fishing, I think, are the photographers out there who document trips and such.  In this day and age of social networking, I think everyone has their own personal "fish porn" page.  Only within the past year or so, have I been comfy with bringing my non waterproof point and shoot Canon out on the streams.  The only device I leave behind is the digital leash of a cell phone.  As much as it would be neat to upload the latest rainbow trout I've caught in Musconetcong in real time, I'd rather not.  The closest I get to the water with a phone is usually post trip where I rile up my friend's thirst with a pic of myself, streamside, with an icy cold barley pop of some sorts.

Of course, some of us "have" to bring their digital leash into the stream because there may be lil' ones involved at the homefront and God forbid the little guy takes a handlebar to his grill piece because older sister wasn't paying attention while she was pedaling along with the latest Dora the Explorer song in her head and you, my friend, weren't there on the other end when it happened to get that MMS pic from wifey of your teary eyed toddler. 

On the other hand, that cellphone of yours may provide you some luck as it did to my friend John Parise.  In the middle of fishing the Big Flatbrook near Branchville, NJ he gets an MMS pic from his buddy who had just caught a huge ass striper a few moments before.  While that exchange goes on with his right hand, the left hand is just holding the rod while the caddis pattern drifts very slowly into some very trouty water and then.............WOOOOOOSH!!!!

To get back on topic, I really like photography and it does seem to go hand in hand with fly fishing. The subject matter is quite limitless, but I really would be torn as to what I want to do when out on the stream, especially one where I've never have been, like the Loyalsock.  Do I fish it hard??  Or do it photo it hard??  I find myself doing that on a much smaller scale doing things for this blog and taking pics for my album on Facebook.  So, I have to give a lot of credit to my photographer friends who also fly fish.  My head would explode at the decision of taking stellar pics of someone landing a brute brown during a hatch or jumping right into the hatch and possibly landing a similar brute of a brown.  

As mentioned before, it's good to have a few professional photographers as friends.  They not only make you look like you know what you're doing, the also can shed "new light" on things that you'd normally blow off or not notice at all.  So, to have Tim Geist, whose work has been featured in The Drake, along on the Loyalsock trip was a complete thrill. 
I could geek out and drool over every bit of camera gear he had  (he wasn't joking when he told me he was bring 500lbs of camera gear) and get tips on shooting with my Canon 40D, which I have to mess around with more, before being comfy enough to bring it on a stream, which means I probably won't be fishing.  The choices......arrrrgh!  Tim has managed to capture the essence of Uncle Vin's cabin in such a way that I haven't seen.  I knew he would have a field day taking photo of the contents within and out of the cabin, but the things he chose are very cool. 

He has started an album about the Loyalsock on his dot.com website at T.C. Geist Photography.   Please check it out. 

Monday, May 9, 2011

Sock it to 'em.

Lately, things have been been a bit askew a far as planning trips & getting some footage in on the streams.  April's theme was certainly the rain which put a damper.....no kidding on the "damp" part of it.....on things.  Even the Loyalsock Trout Jam was a wash. 

Tim Geist , Steve Fogel, Erik Schroeder, & Kyle Majikas were on hand for the weekend.  It had rained a bunch a day or two before we arrived, but we decided to take a chance and see if by Saturday (April 30th) it would calm down enough to see some action.  Most of the time beforehand was spent on the smaller tribs of the Loyalsock, such as the Hoagland Branch.  A normally more calmer stream was also ripping along pretty well. 
Photo: Tim Geist

Things did look promising on the tribs on Saturday afternoon after a morning spent cruising the state roads in the Loyalsock State Forest trying to get to another trib called Rock Run.  We never made it there because the road had washed away, so we doubled back to try the Hoagland Branch, yet again.  The warm springtime air above the stream was alive with small caddis, midges, olives, & the 1st signs of Hendricksons.  It brightened the day as well as giving us some hopes of seeing some fish look up as documented by Tim's photos.

Photos: Tim Geist
As the evening approached, we headed out to our home pool and the Hendricksons were out en masse.  The flow of the Loyalsock from Wednesday evening till the hatch had dropped from 6ft down to just below 4ft.  As we watched the hatch roll down the "Sock", it seems that we were the only ones watching it on the stream.  Not one trout was looking up.  No boils. No sips. Not a stir anywhere.  As the last of the hatch rose from the stream, we all looked at each other and I proclaimed that what we just saw was "Fly Fishing Blue Balls".  A beautiful thick hatch, great temps, clearing water, and one big fat Нет / Nyet like they would say in Russia. 

Photo: Tim Geist

With that observation we headed back to camp and proceeded to catch an epic barley pop hatch.