The Virginia Tribute Video: Virginia is for Fly Fishers

Four years. 
Four years was all I had to fish the heck out of the great state of Virginia. From the mountains to the coast. I paddled, hiked, drove, waded, climbed, crawled, camped, froze and sweat for these fish. I made lifelong friends, ate way too much BBQ Exchange in Gordonsville and indulged in my fair share of Virginia ales. 
It may be true that Virginia is for Lovers… But you know what? It is also for hard core fly fishers with opportunities to scratch any fly fishing itch. 
I didn’t’ even come close to exploring all the Virginia fishery has to offer. Muskies, tarpon, carp, CCBT drum and winter stripers, bass, gar, shad and on, and on, and on… I guess I’ll just have to make an annual pilgrimage. 
Here’s to you, Virginia. 
Music: Josh Ritter “Getting Ready to Get Down”

New Video: The Bountiful Piankatank

My Saltwater Fly Fishing Journey began a little over two years ago on the Chesapeake Bay with Capt. Chris Newsome. Late September 2013, I rejoined Capt. Chris in search of Striped Bass, Speckled Trout, and Red Drum on the Piankatank River, a tributary of the Chesapeake. The River was generous and Murphy’s Law held true with a dead camera battery prior to netting the last and biggest fish of the day. Still photos got the job done, however.
Music: Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, “Om Nisha Me”
Filmed with iphone 4s and GoPro HD

Fly Night

Last night, we explored. We searched for the wind protected spots. Beneath bridges. In Marinas. At the yacht club. Looking for light lines where stripped bass would be waiting in the shadows. Waiting to ambush bait fish with poor attentions spans. The minute the bait fish lets itself get too close to the dark water… BAM! It exists no longer. It is now a part of the rock fish.

I had to retie some tippet before we left. As a refresher, I searched for some diagrams on the nail-less nail knot and perfection loop. I came across these helpful diagrams over at Jason Borger’s place, Fish, Flies and Water. (He drew them himself).

Step 1. Make a loop in the leader material, then wind the short end of the leader around the fly line and through the loop. Wind the short end up the fly line. Drawing by Jason Borger

Steps 2 & 3. Simultaneously pull and twist ONLY the short end of the leader to spin the knot over. Don’t over tighten. Slide the mono coils down toward the end of the line, push them together while gently drawing out the extra mono, then tighten firmly (really firmly) and clip off the ends. Drawing by Jason Borger

If you want to avoid having the butt end of you fly line catch on the guides, there is this option. I didn’t do this, but it is a cool idea.

Step 1. Insert a needle into the end of the fly line about 1/8 to 3/16 of an inch, and then out the side. Allow the needle to remain in place for a couple of minutes so the plastic of the line will stretch a bit. Drawing by Jason Borger
Step 2. Trim the end of the mono to a point, pull the needle out, and thread the mono in the end of the fly line and out the side. Now tie a Nailess Nail Knot. Notice that the leader now comes right out of the center of the fly line. This connection will flow through the guides very smoothly. Drawing by Jason Borger
Perfection Loop.

So after all that preparation, we struggled to find the fish. We had to stay away from the CBBT because of the wind. It turned out to be our last effort where we found the busting fish. Many were out of reach, but Kevin was able to hook up and solidify this as my new “go to” spot at night.

Blurry Kevin. Blurry Fish. Crystal Clear Memory.

The Blitz: Fly Fishing the Atlantic Migration

What makes a good coffee table book? Is it the diversity of content? The beautiful photographs? The witty quips? To answer this question, I always defer to Kramer.

That being said, I personally am a sucker for big photographs of wildlife, musicians, or fishing. For example, I love a candid black and white of Lennon and McCartney backstage or a grazing moose in Denali.

While fishing last week with Brad, a buddy of mine from Virginia, he lazily spoke in between backcasts about a new book he got from his cousin.  Not only was it a coffee table book, but it was also about fishing. He had my attention.

The book is a photo journal of sorts from two guys who spent an entire year fly fishing the coast from Maine down through the Carolinas.

Since flipping through the first few pages, I can’t get The Blitz out of my mind.

Author Pete McDonald and Photographer Tosh Brown spent a year writing, photographing, filming and fly fishing the great Atlantic migration of several saltwater species. Along their way, the met up with guides, local clubs, and fly fanatics who showed them the ins and outs of their passion for saltwater fly fishing.

The book is just over 200 pages and probably 4/5ths of that is photography. The rest is a casual narrative reflecting on the people, places, and amazing resources dispersed along the Eastern Seaboard. The discussions cover a wide range of topics including local food hot spots, difficult barriers to meaningful conservation, history, ecology, and of course, fly fishing. There are Bonito, Bluefish, False Albies, Striped Bass, Red Drum and Tuna. Additionally, in the ever expanding online community, even a newbie to the coast and saltwater fly fishing discovers that several of the key players in The Blitz are familiar.

When McDonald and Tosh make their way down to NYC and connect with the Salty Flyrodders, one of the locals they meet up with is Mister Nick Murray.  Wait a minute… Mister Murray? The Man in the Striped Pajamas? Well, now the dots are connecting. Brad, the guy I was fishing with (who gave me this book), is the cousin of Nick Murray. So that’s how he got his hands on a The Blitz after it had only been in print for less than a month.

Later on, the two head to the Tidewater area of the Chesapeake and run into fly fishing guide Capt. Chris Newsome. Do you remember him? He was the guide who taught Sara and I how to make Stripers fall like Dominos.

If you have been fishing the coast for any substantial amount of time, I’m sure the names of people highlighted will be familiar to you. And that just makes this book all the more enjoyable.

As they state in the beginning, this isn’t a where-to-go, how-to-catch fishing book. In fact, this book reminded me a lot more of Blue Highways by William Least Heat Moon. In that book, Heat Moon traveled the US Highway system capturing in time the small towns and interesting people he met along the way. (This was when the Interstate system was being put into place).

The Blitz captures in time the locals who live for the months when the stripers flood or the bluefish start busting the surface. I think this book will too last as a snapshot of what costal fly fishing was like in 2010 as they name drop contemporary trends and topics like “The Situation” from Jersey Shore, President Obama and family vacationing in Martha’s Vineyard and snapshots of weather maps on iPhones. These details make the book specific to the now.

For a video chronicling the trip, watch below, but rest assured, it doesn’t even come close to comparing to the awesomeness of the hardback. The book is a wonderfully put together photographic editorial that deserves to be in any saltwater (or freshwater) fly fisherman’s book case.  Or, maybe more appropriately, it deserves a spot on their coffee table serving as a reminder to why we fish.

Stripers Like Dominoes

Sara and I went out with Capt. Chris Newsome of Bay Fly Fishing to catch striped bass on the Chesapeake Bay. It was an awesome day. Sara’s first time fly fishing, and she caught the first 4 stripers.

Capt. Chris is not only a great guy, excellent teacher, and wonderful guide, but also extremely knowledgeable about The Bay ecosystem. He is a great advocate of the conservation of America’s largest estuary and this makes him a valuable asset to the area. I couldn’t think of a better way to get introduced to the bay’s fly fishing potential.

We had an amazing time!  Enjoy the video! It is shaky in a few parts, but overall it turned out well. Unfortunately, it seems to have lost some quality while uploading. I’ll have to look into that.

Stripers Like Dominoes from My Leaky Waders on Vimeo.