Capitol Times

Life is full of change, that’s what makes it so damn good and so damn hard. Its not often though that people get to choose the change they get. After several years living in New York City, I’m up and moving to Washington, DC to be closer to my family. I’ll also be working for a kick-ass ad agency that focuses on “positive change.” Now, DC can’t match Brooklyn for old-timey saloons, but its coming along nicely with plenty to offer and a more balanced cost of living I hear. I won’t miss the pace of life, high rents, tolls, and taxes, but I will miss the culture and of course, the proximity to the Catskills and Croton Watershed. I’ll also miss my fishing buddies and other good friends. I did a lot here, learned a lot here, but the future beckons like a spawning blue crab.

I’m looking forward to getting to know the Chesapeake watershed, I suppose I’ll be doing a lot more saltwater fly fishing. I suspect I’ll be after more bronzebacks, gar, shad and striper. AND I’ll also have access to some pretty great waters in VA, MD, even southern PA for trout. The area has 3 Orvis stores and several independent outfitters. I really want to catch a trophy snakehead on a fly.

Here’s DC angler Rob Snowhite with a snakehead he caught steps from the Washington Monument.

Here are the rivers I plan on getting to know. If any deadbait readers call these their homewaters or think I’ve missed one, please leave a comment and we’ll go fishing together this fall!

The “big 5”

  • Gunpowder
  • Patuxent
  • Savage River
  • North Branch of the Potomac
  • Casselman

Lower PA

  • The Yellow Breeches (very famous, can’t wait)
  • Letort Run
  • Big Spring
  • Clarks Creek

Virginia and Shenandoah

  • Moormans Run (TU area requires special permit)
  • Jackson River (having serious angler’s rights issues)
  • Upper James
  • Mossy Creek
  • Beaver Creek
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Brewster Brown

Many big rivers in the west have trout with names apparently, names like “Countyline” and “Fred.” Let me introduce you to “Brewster” from the very small East Branch of the Croton in the town of said name. Brewster was the result of carefully knocking on every door under every glide pool, plunge pool, and fallen log along a series of steep falls for the better part of two hours. I felt like a Jehovah’s witness. In the end, I finally made his acquaintance with a beadhead pheasant tail nymphed under a log at the beginning of a nice bridge pool. Because of the fast current and his steadfast resistance to shaking my hand, it took a while for us to get to know one another. I’ve never experienced a fella take me upstream and right up a 2′ foot fall before. That was something and forged an instantaneous respect for each other when I climbed up over the fall after him. I bet he thought the city-slicker wouldn’t come after him. Despite the mutual admiration, when I departed, and asked if I could visit with him again soon,  Brewster kindly asked me not to return until the Autumn.

Film CRAFT XI

ColsonKeane “Leather ages…it tells story.”

 

The Hill-Side & Co. X Owner Operator “Anorak”

 

American Mug & Stein  “America has lost making the product.”

 

Chef Jamie Bissonnette “I use a human bone saw that my sous chef bought for me off a human autopsy website.”

 

The Sulphur Emerger “The sulphurs are one of the most anticipating hatches of the year, and one of the most frustrating.”

 

Roy Denim  “Every roll in here has kind of a little story.”

Roy Slaper explains the quality that older machines provide, slower is better here.

 

Wabi Nabe “The form of the handles is based on charred wood I found while hiking.”

Bug’s Life

Yesterday I met a fellow brooklyner on the water, Eric, and together we fished the East Branch of the Croton for most of the day. Eric caught a handsome brown, a double-hander after going “ninja-style” in some tight corners. Later we found many small browns and rainbows in the riffles. It was a great day full of new people and other surprises. I spied a gorgeous mink hunting along the waters edge. In fact, I’ve written before about how many wild animals I’ve seen on the river during my fly fishing trips, but I’ve neglected to mention the bug life.

Eric’s East Branch Brown

Maybe its a life cycle thing, you know, the maturing fly angler first falls in love with the fish, then the stream, then the other wildlife, and then the bugs. Last night I was standing in the tailout of a beautiful long pool, with anglers every twenty feet or so casting micro-nymphs and emergers when the river came to life with a full-on Sulphur hatch. These beautiful pale yellow mayflies could easily be mistaken for fairies. The browns were lined up along the current seams chowing down. Other trout, rainbows I think, were rising, leaping out of the air to catch nymphs as they rose to the surface of the river and began to hatch into their adult stage.

I also noticed several larger mayflies, bicolor brown and cream with grey wings. Isonychia, the elusive and amazing “slate drake” or “mahogany dun” were popping off. Maybe a couple weeks early, the slates were vastly outnumbered by the sulphurs. Either way it was magical to stand in the middle of the swarm. There was no moon, but the mayflies actually seemed to glow. I guess I have taken for granted the bug life that makes my fishing all possible. Another thing came to mind, how lucky I was to even seen such varied insects. Mayflies are very fragile and their ecosystem require steady flows, and they won’t tolerate pollution. The Croton watershed, being the source of NYC’s water, is well-protected thanks to Riverkeeper, TU, caring locals, and yes, even the DEP. Would that every water was so blessed with guardians.

Causes I Can Get Behind

Fish On! The first is a documentary film being made by Boise-area fly fisher and filmmaker Travis Swartz. Swartz wants to film A Reel Recovery Retreat, three men who will come together as Cancer survivors and anglers, to celebrate life, support each other and recover their mind, body and soul on quiet waters. Swartz’s kickstarter campaign was inspired by his friendship with fellow angler Reese Ferguson and his own ongoing quest to understand why fly fishing can soothe men’s souls. The filmmaker himself suffers from anxiety and professes his time on the water helps him deal with what is a daily issue.

My own mother passed away from Cancer and I myself worry sometimes about the disease attacking me or my family members. Its good to know that for the men who suffer and survive and beat Cancer, that there is a program out there that will help them recover. Be Well and Fish On! You can learn more and support the campaign here or also on the Facebook page for the film. And I encourage you to support A Reel Recovery too.

 

 

A little lighter in tone is Trout Unlimited’s Spring/Summer membership drive. I’m seriously considering becoming a life-time member this year. In the meantime, even if you’re not ready to become a member, you can help support TU by participating in the Odell Unbottled Facebook drive by Boulder, Co-based brewery. Upload a photo or video about how you get “unbottled” and Odell will donate a $1 to the charity of your choice–TU is one of them! A great way to share your fishing pics for a great cause. And when you’re in Colorado, be sure to try Odell’s craft brews. Hmm, seeing how I’m stuck in Brooklyn this summer, maybe they’ll send me a case or let me know where I can get sum!

 

 

Billy Reid X Alabama Seafood

I love collabos that unite great brands and worthy causes. Billy Reid has just launched a partnership with the Alabama Gulf Seafood Commission and produced a line of quality gear to support AGS. This is one part of an excellent new marketing campaign by the AGS with exquisite typography, design and copy. Now I don’t mean to snicker at the millions BP has given to the gulf seafood and hospitality industry in the wake of the oil spill, but I much prefer these kinds of public-private relationships. They are more authentic, and meaningful when they come from native sons like Alabama-born Reid. I wish we could see more activity like this from the great brands that call the Gulf home.

Now if you’re in the big apple this weekend, DO come to the Big Apple BBQ on Madison Square and get u some. “On June 9-10, Alabama’s newly-crowned James Beard Award winner Chef Chris Hastings of Birmingham’s Hot and Hot Fish Club will be on hand to show more than 140,000 folks that there are endless possibilities for fresh seafood, and one taste is all that it’ll take to put our product on the map. On both days, Hastings will be demonstrating preparation techniques for a pair of Alabama favorites: Baked Alabama Oysters with jalapeño and lime, and BBQ Grilled Alabama Head On Shrimp with Hot and Hot Spice Rub, lemon zest and butter.”

I’ll be there Sunday with my bib on and wet wipes stuffed in my shorts.

Covet: Tokhito Yoshida X Barbour Beacon 2012

Ask anyone, I’m a bonafied Barbour fiend. So my heart skipped a beat or two when I saw the new Barbour Beacon Spey Jacket for the 2012 Spring Summer Collection by Japaneses designer Tokhito Yoshida. I want one so bad I’ve got the shakes. Barbour, can you help a loyal brother out?

“Spring Summer 2012 sets the bar high once again, with outerwear creating the main body of the collection. Key pieces from the Autumn Winter range have been developed, none more so than the Spey Fishing Jacket. Constructed from Gore WINDSTOPPER Active Shell – a completely windproof, highly functional and breathable lightweight material – it is jam-packed with pockets, a signature of Yoshida’s unnerving passion for technical outwear that finds the balance between form and function with apparent ease. This can also be seen in the Mount Shirt, a brand new piece in the SS12 collection. Available in three materials; Waxed, Herringbone and WINDSTOPPER; the simplistic, ergonomically sound design makes it one of our favourite pieces from the range.”

Private Waters in the Blue Ridge

I was fortunate to be invited to fish some private waters recently in the Blue Ridge mountains of Georgia. On Memorial day, I got up early and left the suburban sprawl of Atlanta behind and drove about two hours north into the Chattahoochee National Forest, up into the Blue Ridge mountains, across the Appalachian Trail and down into the valley of the creek.

After getting some careful guidance on property lines from some local neighbors, I took a deep breath of mountain air, suited up and crept into the quiet river. It became obvious I wouldn’t see anyone else for several hours and so I just let my thoughts drift off and drank in the solitude of the waters. The flow was pretty low as summer was in full swing in the mountains and there was no visible hatch so after doing a little prospecting with a royal wulff, I quickly turned to my copper john and started searching for structure, holes at the bottom of riffles and deep bends. I was rewarded with several bows, about two every hour as I inched my way upstream, about 200-300 yards in about four hours.

Under one fallen log that stretched across the river, I pulled three bows that must have been stacked up taking nymphs as they rolled underneath it. I also caught the biggest chub of my life, easily 8″ long. However, the trout got progressively larger until I had a 15″ wild ‘bow to hand who I had to chase a bit farther down the pool and turn to keep him from going over the lip and into a riffle.

Further upstream, past a long meadow pool with high sides and undercut banks, I could have sworn I’d find a big trout lurking, but alas, they were all underneath a small dam that created highly oxygenated water and cover from the baby blue skies. A double nymph rig with an unweighted pheasant tail and a beadhead hare’s ear pulled three more ‘bows from below the rapid.

Finally, I wrapped up the day with the desperate need to take a ‘bow on the fly. I walked the entire length again scanning under every shadow, overhang and in every pool…surely by late afternoon there would be a hatch and a trout hanging out in the open. Even as late as six, there was still no hatch as I reached the very top of where I was allowed to cast a line. Swimming, all by his lonesome, was a trout above the dam, lazily taking midges from the surface. Just below him, a couple of suckers seemed to be following in his wake. I tied on a cahill, figuring that in the crystal clear water and bright sky, a light fly might be seen almost as an apparition, a ghost, to fool the trout. My fist cast was all that was needed. Landing about two feet to the right of the bow in a pile cast, the trout wandered over, wandered away, and thinking the better of it, wandered back and ate my fly. I could see the tips of his fins, white lined, a wild trout.  Ah…private waters.