Tuesday, June 28, 2011

First Tournament...Only Female

What an incredible weekend, and now I am sick....That's what I get for going nonstop all weekend long.  Friday was my 30th Birthday and while there will always be those older saying "You have no idea how lucky you are" or to hear "30 is the new 20."  Trust me I get it.  Regardless it feels like horse pill to swallow without water...for a few reasons that I'm leaving out.   Yet, I had so much to look forward too this weekend.  A birthday dinner with those closest to my heart, a run down to the Wood River to try out 2 variations of Soft Hackle's, which landed a few gorgeous Rainbows.  A surprise birthday party  and then Sunday's Trout Unlimited: Narragansett Chapter's first One-Fly Tournament with a double header of softball at the end.

Waking up Sunday would of ordinarily been challenging, this morning Craig and I were up and out the door by 0630 and at the River for 0700.  I knew full well I'd be the only female but one of the youngest in the bunch, even after just gaining another year 48 hours earlier!  Initially I may seem quiet, taking the setting in, listening to those around me.  Especially this one person in particular, I liked him, everything out of his mouth was sarcastic.  Not only could he talk the talk, he walked it later too by taking the most fish.  It wasn't any sense of intimidation, more determination to show I can hang my own up with the rest.  Too many times I've come to this river and the men either will talk right over me directly to Craig, or will turn their heads the other way.  I've heard some comments before too on how I didn't belong there.  All your doing is looking like a jackass while I get better and show you up.  How can a competitive person, help but have that running through their veins.  Thankfully once in the water all is hushed.  Your listening, watching, observing the majority of the time.  The first comment was from a someone who asked if I was there to watch, once heard that I would be fishing they were thrilled.  I think to many times  there is this connotation that Fly Fishing is a "Man's Sport."   Here's  the deal though, the men who feel that way either don't have a spouse or significant other or if they do that person wants them out of the house for some peace and quiet.

Once my initial observations were soaked up and introductions were made it was now 0755...I asked Craig are we starting at 0800 or what?  He said we were suppose to...."Typical," I sarcastically laughed. Finally we got the go ahead to head on in...we chose to drive to the next lot down and park at the High Banks section.  This is a spot where time and time again Craig has hooked up cast after cast using the Soft Hackles...today Shhhhh all through...we walked far enough up to where we saw a few rising.  I told Craig, that in this section I will hook more trees than anything else...low canopy plus brush hanging into the river...I let him have a go.  I jumped out and walked up about 30' to try this pool from the opposite angle, more open from upstream.  There initially was a sense to hurry which I can't stand...  Kayakers were moving through...This first group was 9 of them or so and their etiquette was never formed.  Loud, splashing....etc... Do not say Sorry if your going to continue to act like a Baboon moving on through.  Next up, line stuck into the tree...I don't like snapping off lines if it can be avoided, but I really didn't want to snap this off because time I was using a fly I tied with just the guidance of my great tutor.  I didn't even photo it!...  Anyway, it was fish-able and I did miss on it so I was proud of that too.

I had about had it with the setting, I just was getting antsy, one of the guys behind us chose to use Hare's Ear and I was listening him take one after another.  After 2 hours or so we moved upstream and switched places. I was able to catch (2) 3-4" Rainbow Trout once Craig came back down from venturing further up I asked if we could get a move  back down.  We spent until 1200 moving back down to the steps of the highbanks, with nothing to show but we were moving down to the Pines.  Once there we walked until a spot we frequent,  nothing to show but there were always baby fish nipping at the fly...walking down some more, and still having the pressure of nonstop kayakers moving through I finally made  a cast where the instant it landed a 12" Brown popped it...game a decent fight but in slow waters it was easy to bring him over into the net.   No photos to show, did a fast release and he was on his way.

That was my last fish of the day, Craig unfortunately, didn't do as well.  However, he usually out-fishes me so I think he was OK with  the end result.  Unfortunately for him, the one he hooked was able to snap off his line causing Craig to sit down into the water and the fish air-showed multiple times on him just to rub it in. A short bit later he did catch a small 5" trout but really at this point his phone was out of commission leaving him with little to show.

At the conclusion, we returned to the Arcadia Management check station,  met up with the other 12 anglers that registered, traded a few laughs while we waited for the remainder to roll in.  Trout Unlimited had 14 registered anglers show up and with every registration came a 12 month membership to Trout Unlimited (Ch 225) Narragansett Chapter.  Many thanks for the prizes that were graciously donated by River and Riptide Anglers

I look forward to seeing TU:225 orchestrate future events (Dry Fly fall Tournament) and would love to get more females out on the water.

The biggest thing that future entries will be dedicated too:

Don't knock it 'til you try it!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

National Holiday...

Ok to me it is, the boston bruins parade is here and I can't contain my excitement...

Friday, June 17, 2011

The crowds are gathering

Sitting at McGann's listening to the bands, enjoying the night. I can't wait for tomorrow to be here....yet I can't help but want time to stop...really take in this moment.

As we have our beer, crowds are starting camp in front of the TD Garden, memories are being made. This is bigger than christmas eve...


The garden

Time Out & Let's Give a WOO

I'm blogging via my phone...first time ever! I'm on the train and next stop Back Bay, Boston....this will be a historic day tomorrow...I've always loved and supported the Bruins and want to share with you on location...do stay tuned photos will be appearing here, twitter (chunkadee) and facebook...
Tomorrows forecast high 70's with isolated T-storms possible...

Congratulations boys!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Where I've Been & What's Next: Why We Need YOU to help!

My head is still spinning from fishing in the morning that went less than perfect. Ok it was absolutely disappointing. However, I was still fishing while millions world-wide were unable to do so... in reality it couldn't be that bad. There are places I have the luxury of frequenting, then there are others I wish I could visit all the time. The one that stands out above the rest though is the Trophy Stretch up in Pittsburgh, NH off of the First Connecticut Lake.

July 2010, Craig and I had already planned on visiting Pittsburgh, NH. You see I love to fish, Craig did all the research into this trip. What I've wanted to accomplish was to take on as many New England spots within my first year of learning. I love to explore and enjoy keeping these sacred times so close to me. Craig had done it, he found this absolutely great spot. Instead of camping like we normally do we reserved a cabin with The Cabins at Lopstick. Not only are they accurate and give great details of all their cabins, there are photos, video tour, testimonials as well and they are absolutely accurately portrayed. They are situated directly across from First Connecticut Lake, many cabins have beautiful water views. Giving their location, they are in a prime spot to hop on and into the River, Lake, and Streams...

Timing for this trip could not of come any better of a time either. July 20th I was part of a major lay-off with a health insurance company, in this lay-off I was scheduled to return to the company in a promoted position. On the drive up, I was delivered a tough blow. "The position is frozen, we will not be asking you to come back. Sorry." Sorry doesn't feed my daughters, sorry doesn't do anything for my worries. Fishing would cure that this weekend.

Map of the Trophy Stretch from Cabin's of Lopstick site.
Map of the Trophy Stretch of the Upper Connecticut River Pittsburg NH
Upon arrival, we very quickly checked in, got our licenses and hit the first spot..we went up by the Dam pool and it was a steep climb down and ended up by the Judge and Jury Box....Not sure were that name comes from. Temperature was decent and the sun was setting. At this spot Craig and I were navigating getting down, I can't recall at what CFS the river was flowing but it was a tough navigation through for me, stronger than what I'm used to but wasn't as tough as the White River in Vermont earlier where we went "Swimming' multiple times.

It really is truly sad I can't recall how many times we hooked up that night, that night it was more about decompressing from the emotional blow and allowing myself to take in the beauty of this area. I fished many long narrow swift sections that were fairly shallow, I did get a Rainbow that night. I had a gentleman not take to kindly to me hooking up after a few moments, he took off and didn't even say Hi.

* I'm actually getting used to the fact that there are some men who do not want to accept that women can and enjoy to flyfish too. Which is their loss as we all have the rights to enjoy this amazing art*

As dusk quickly crept in over the trees, I called back to Craig unsure if I heard a response, we saw each other and he knew I was done for the evening. After getting to the side and now in the brush it was pitch black I decided, headlamps are a much needed necessity, and we need those pronto. I also realized I could not navigate the same trail down and needed to get up...straight up and just get to the car, eventually he will too....right?

After what seemed to take 35 minutes, I made it to the main road, trekking along to the car in my waders with my gear. I made it to the car and there was no Craig. This wasn't good...in my mind I was thinking of fast water he had to cross it in the dark if he called out I couldn't hear etc. I waited and waited and finally decided to walk part of the original trail back calling etc. EVENTUALLY we met up. LESSON LEARNED.

The following morning, we got up early ready to explore the remainder of the stretch, again if you refer to the map:
Map of the Trophy Stretch of the Upper Connecticut River Pittsburg NH
We started around the Covered Bridge, walked underneath and slowly worked our way until the Step Pools... the wind was changing making casting difficult for me. We did however get to see some wildlife including this little dialogue:

Craig: "Wow did you see that bald eagle?"
Me: "Yes, beautiful."
Me: "Good eyes honey."
Craig looks back nonchalantly semi-eye roll: "You don't need good eyes to see a B-52 dive bomb your head."
Me: "Good point" and we carried on...

At the end of the day we had to run into town, I was driving him crazy with my need to see a moose. He was still doing the eye-roll (which I counted how many times) we finally drove 20 miles to get to a store for food and on return we were giggling over the 4x4's with their spotlights on the woods looking for moose. Well, we didn't need a spotlight, our headlights did wonders...just in time too. I was so captivated by the size...they really are large! Our car was between 30-40' from this incredible bull...or cow...I'm going to say bull it was huge. (Summer time no antlers ;) )

After our close encounter, we returned to driving the speed limit, and no longer giggled about those with spotlights...well just a little.

Our final morning, we decided to return to the covered bridge and fish that area, and take more time to really enjoy. This was our last day before our 6/7 hour drive back to RI. Wind was still present but not as strong. We enjoyed the many pools around, however I did more than Craig.

This is the only trip I didn't just out fish him, I really out performed and being how competitive he is, this wasn't going over to well with him. On the last hour or so of fishing I was taking a break talking to a gentleman who lives in New York that frequents this stretch multiple times a summer. It was so refreshing to talk to someone who has been doing this for years and years and listen to his stories. We discussed fish conservation, he is a member of Trout Unlimited and was educating me on some spots in this area to try out before we headed out for good.

While discussing and watching Craig miss after miss a person from the N.H. Department of Fish and Game approached a bridge we were standing on and off loaded so many fish. How many did Craig take? 0. This is not result in a happy mood... I however, got a few rainbows out of the ordeal...

Mr. NY told us where Mr Fish Stocker lived and said there was stocked fish in a great wide open area so we drove down Route 3 to River Rd and turned into a small residential area, we lucked out... We pulled into a persons driveway who lived directly on the river 3 homes away from "Mr Fish Stocker" we fished here for over an hour and let me tell you I wish I had a catheter..waders are not female friendly, nor was the location. It was gorgeous with big beautiful healthy trout all around, Craig landed one and lost one here and he felt redeemed. Mr Fish Stocker was playing fetch with his dog and sent a passing wave. We were truly blessed to be here enjoying what nature provided and learned so much.

Since our New Hampshire trip we have gone to other states frequenting Connecticut's Farmington River many times and call that our "retirement home." We want to call Montanaourretirement home. We are traveling out there July 17-27th and while I want to land as many trout as possible I'm so excited to visit Yellowstone National Park and surrounding areas and just really mesh with nature and with that I want this experience to enrich what I've learned and teach me so much more that I can bring back to Rhode Island. I want to bring this back to my daughters, to bring back to our local Trout Unlimited and community. Of course I will be live blogging all during this trip!

On a sad note, Atlantic Salmon and coldwater trout that reside in these waters on at such a devastating decline and the Atlantic Salmon is listed under the endangered species act. While populations decline due to contaminated habitats it pushes an urgency to educate and protect. While standing on the rock's off of River Rd, my boots were getting covered with didymo (Rock Snot Pictured Here)

Even if you do not suspect there has been any Rock Snot in your area you need to do the following:
CHECK – Remove all visible clumps of algae and plant material from fishing gear, waders,
clothing, water shoes and sandals, canoes and kayaks, and anything else that has been in the
CLEAN – Soak and scrub all items for at least 10 minutes in very hot water with lots of soap.
Felt-soled waders need 30 minutes!

If you are unsure if this has been reported, please contact the local Department of Environmental Services so they can come out and research/test the waters.

Rock Snot is not the sole reason why Atlantic Salmon and cold-water trout are on the decline, but it is an important one that shows little to no signs of improving and with your efforts and joining forces with local agencies and Trout Unlimited we can protect our fish and our waters so that others like myself and future generations can enjoy this magnificent art for generations to come.

Please view the photos below and enjoy! I love comments, so please post away and I will respond promptly!

View from our Cabin looking out to First Connecticut Lake from The Cabins at Lopstick
Our fridge properly stocked and ready to go!

Craig fishing into a decent pool below the Dam Pool

Going down the stretch above Doc's pool. Showers on and off and just serene

Fast Waters didn't deter us or the fish plenty of catching and missing here

Driving up into NH, Franconia Notch area. Such a great great weekend!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Perspective Graduate Course: Learn Fast

My Girl:

Ever have an event occur that causes you to step back and shed new light on a situation? I think many of us have, some more than one...I know they appear to me from time to time...

May 1st: Beautiful day in Jamestown, RI my 8yr old daughter is playing her favorite sport: Soccer.
About 10/15 minutes into the game she and another collided sending me to my feet. I usually have to see blood, or real evidence before I make a move/sound etc.....This was one of those times.

As her 4'3" body went into the air she hyper-extended instantly belting out a blood curdling scream that sends shivers down her spine into your toes. Mid-air she screamed grabbing her back landing onto her tailbone before flopping over to her stomach.

Standing at the sideline, I waited then her Coach looked at me and in my head "F**k!" My
daughter screams "Mommy help me!" Those that know her, she will hobble, bleed off a field before crying out.

She ended up being immobilized and taken to the Children's hospital by rescue....HOURS later discharged for a Sprained Spine .....WOW thank Goodness it was only sprain and nothing worse...She's walking, this is great...Right?....

In one aspect, her walking out was great, there were parents, family members, siblings being rushed in, and they were not leaving. There is nothing to slap you in the face more than to see another mother grieving for a child she can't save and won't be going back home with her.

I also saw children whose parents never gave a damn about them literally. They allowed unmentionable things to occur without any sense of humanity or love. Of course I squeezed my kids a little harder after being whiplashed into this perspective.

Unfortunately, my daughter did not just have a sprained spine. After two more mishaps that resulted in pediatric appointments, all day with radiologists we learned she has two compressed fractures. My heart I think actually bled for her...However, she is still here with me. So while it hurts it is bittersweet she is "OK" as best as can be. She is expected to recover well. I don't know when we will see her on the field again but I hope by end of the summer.

Here is my girl over two weeks later after the incident on the field. The brace remains on for at least 6-8 weeks perhaps longer. She is still very tender and sore at the site and each day is a day to remember what you have, take your chances, live each day and be aware of those lemons that roll your way...its the fruit you need to make your lemonade.

Time is Ticking ~ Fly Now: Perspective 101

It has been sometime since my last post. When life gives you lemons you make lemonade...well I like to throw the lemons at the person for creating that phrase. However, its meaning and purpose rings true. Take advantage of all opportunities that come your way, even when the design isn't clear perhaps it is the way you are looking at it.

**Stepping off the soap box now**

It has been just over a year since Craig shows me what Flyfishing was all about! You've seen the gorgeous photos from that...We had a day, the kids were on their way home from visiting their family in NY...Craig and I hit the road...

He had very little sleep, working the night before, (Works Rescue for a Fire Dept.) he was up at all hours. Meanwhile, a storm was rolling through, did my MUST HAVE DD (Dunkin Donuts) run... with an Iced Coffee and Bagel... NOW I am ready but I felt like I forgot something critical..... <----Remember that part.

We approached Route 165 with the clouds getting darker, entering Arcadia Management area. All signs on the weather radars showed the thunder storm approaching. We finally park and put on the waders, vests, shoes...getting our Rods together I hear a loud noise....almost like wind or rushing water. I called over to Craig if her heard the same thing...Crap, here comes the downpour.....so back in the car we got...least I had more of my Iced Coffee and we waited about 10-15 minutes until this downpour got a little more manageable.

Once in the water, on and off the sun tried to peak out, there were midges, occasional sulphur, and millions of mosquitoes milling about. I was a little downstream from Craig, two Coffee can worm guys (Ugh) to my right. As we were casting Craig ultimately hooked up twice (Sm. Brook, 11" Brown)...I'm not photographing for him anymore...screw it...Game on let's go I need to get caught up!

Finally after he helped correct a bad habit I was forming with my casting, I landed one...in the gill the hook set...He was a beautifully colored Brook, about 7" or so and quickly released.

By this time Craig and I have shifted spots and my coffee-can guys finally moved...1 of them put the fish in the back of his vest...that's nasty....

Once I moved to the top of the fast water I knew by watching this Brown rise where he was (Polarized Glasses broke *hint Birthday Soon friends!*) but it was not going to be easy, I needed to get close to the overhanging branches. Not close enough, and the fly will spew back out to the fast water . Too close I risk getting the fly stuck, breaking my set up or spooking the fish. So I used my tandem set up with a dry dropper, and my San Juan worm. On the second cast in I had a bite, went to set...Lost. I muttered something in frustration but who wouldn't be doing that! I started again but finally got it. Landed a nice Brown, thick, and a fighter...Once in slow water I was able to net him...
Here He Is:

Now...Look at the fish only the fish...

Soon as the photo was snapped, I noticed Whoops his mouth was dislocated. Quick fix and this little fighter was back into his hole! Now Flyfishing isn't just for guys, but those of us girls that do love to get out there does not mean we need to dress, or look like one of the guys... I remember now what I had forgotten...MAKEUP. In-fact I think I look like I'm still not awake yet. Don't let this happen to you!

As we continued on and made our way down to a section known as 'The Pines' we hopped in only to wait, wait, wait because of heavy Kayak/Canoe traffic. This normally wouldn't affect me but the issue is when they are loud, disruptive, or rude. Very few asked to cross when I had a line out and quickly had to reel in. Fewer were quiet...No fish were caught here however I did tie up the score to a healthy 3-3...Craig digresses...
Here was my third and last catch of the day:

A catch is a catch right?!?