If you have a few extra minutes, make sure to check out the new issue of This is Fly. Grant Wiswell is the featured photographer, I have fished with Grant a few times and besides being a great guy, he is a bad a$$ photographer. You will not be disappointed with his images from Bikini Atoll.
One of the hidden benefits of being a fishing guide is the opportunity to witness cool moments in nature. Wildlife photography is a side hobby of mine, and for years I have been hoping to capture a good photograph a river otter.
A lot of times you see otters on TV and they appear to be social, gregarious animals that are friendly and curious. On the contrary, our local river otters are reclusive. Though they are always present, I only see them a few times of the year if I am lucky. Not only are they reclusive, but they are fast. They are as much land animals as water animals. Often when I see them they are running off onto dry land after catching a juicy trout.
Recently, I saw such an otter running down the bank. I had my camera handy and snapped a couple shots as the otter galloped by.
This was a typical otter encounter, and soon the otter disappeared into the brush. They are extremely fast!
I took the boat upriver and started to wade and spey cast, hoping for an early October steelhead. As I waded down the run, I heard a strange crackling noise. I looked upriver into some tangled brush to see the otter. He was crunching on a salmon carcass.
I was amazed to see the brutal efficiency of the animal. Otters are fierce animals. The otter had bright white teeth, and fed undisturbed for about ten minutes. I was able to get fairly close but did not want to ruin the animal’s dinner.
A lot of the wildlife that I see on the river is easily overlooked while fishing. It is often only when you look at the small details that some of the coolest things you can see on the river appear. Soon after they appear, they are gone.
Thanks for looking!
The last week was one of the coldest of this winter. We didn’t get much snow but it sure was cold! After a couple of days indoors, I needed to get outside, if only for a little while. I know most of you can relate to this after being indoors for a while. I went down to the river to take some photos on a dreary day.
One of the things that I look for is falling water when it is very cold. Often times, falling water makes really cool ice formations along the banks of our great rivers.
Another great photo opportunity is when there is lake effect snow in the area. Often the sun will break few for a little while in the afternoon, making for a beautiful array of pastel colors in the dwindling light.
It may sound crazy but winter is one of my favorite times to photograph things underwater. The reason for this is that the water is extremely clear at normal water level in the winter. Additionally, most fish and insects move very slowly in the cold water, making them easy to photograph.
I sure was glad when the weather did finally break today, allowing me to hook a few steelhead. My favorite places to fish in the dead of winter are the inside of bends and behind fallen trees. Trout and steelhead to a lesser degree congregate in the slower water as it holds oxygen and food sources in the winter.
Last year, we were fishing quite large baitfish patterns as there was a lot of lake run browns in the Muskegon. Each year is different, and this winter we are fishing smaller patterns in the same types of water. These smaller patterns catch as many steelhead as last year’s larger flies. Since the lake runs aren’t as abundant, the smaller swung flies take advantage of the stream trout that are biters. A slight change in tactics makes for some relaxed fishing, sometimes with many bites in the course of a day.
A lot of times I look for sandy bends that have a bit of deeper, darker water between the lighter colored bottom and the swifter current. Often times these are productive places for a variety of game fish.
As spring gets closer, there will be a period of excellent fishing in these areas as stone fly nymphs move in close to shore, and king salmon begin to hatch. You don’t need to necessarily match these hatches below the surface, as the increase in subsurface activity makes the fish search out moving targets.
When you look at rivers every day, you see the subtle changes that occur day to day. Soon the signs of spring will be apparent. For now, I am happy to fish whenever the weather breaks.
Enjoy this time of the year!–Kevin Feenstra
When you think of destructive forces in nature, you think of various storms and earthquakes, etc. On a smaller scale, you could argue that a two year old is similar. Our son Zach is a wonderful source of joy in our lives. However, he possesses a unique destructive ability, and some pieces of gear have fallen prey to him in recent months.
Most recently, my favorite sunglasses are the victim. I mistakenly set them down in a reachable spot, and before I knew it, they were vaulting majestically across the room, only to break upon impact on the wood floor. I find that rather than send things back for repair, I will try to fix them myself if at all possible. Sending a piece of gear back to the factory takes time, and that time is valuable with useful things like sunglasses. Also, my experience with sunglasses is that after you send them back, they might not be repairable. A few weeks down the road, you might hear that they are being sent back to you unfixed. Thus, Do-It-Yourself repair might be an option.
There is a simple, inexpensive way to fix the broken arm of a sunglass. Here is a list of things you need to make this happen:
- 1″ of heat shrink tube, just larger than the arm of the sunglasses. This is available in many colors, including clear, though black is the most common.
- A heat source; a heat gun is your best option because it usually won’t melt any part of the sunglasses (can’t make any promises, so you are on your own with this). A small butane torch could also be used, as well as a lighter. However, these are more likely to cause damage to your glasses (I have most unfortunately learned this the hard way).
- Gorilla Tape or other similar product: This is optional. You could also use glue to prep the arm. The shrink tube itself may be sufficient.
Here are the steps to fixing them, in images:
That’s all there is to it! It may not look pretty. However, usually it blends in quite well and no one is looking at your ears. This is especially true if you are catching fish…
Thanks for looking!
Jerome shares his fishing adventure from the summer, thank you Jerome. If anybody in the Mangled Fly community would like to share there fishing adventures just let me know.
Crying the Blues? Singing the Blues!
Had the opportunity to book a half-day trip during my vacation, with Captain Ken Rafferty out of East Hampton yesterday. A native New Yorker, Ken has been guiding on the east end of Long Island for 35 years, after careers in the music industry in Manhattan and construction business on the Island. I figured a half day would be enough. With a warm day in store for us and bluebird skies, and warm water temps, I had no idea how things would go, in the waters between the north and south forks of Long Island. After a short run to a sand bar, I hooked into a bluefish that was following a surface plug Ken threw out into the rough water on the edge of the bar. Lost that one quickly with a less than stellar strip set due to the early “jitters”. With few fish showing willingness to strike at the plug, we decided to hit “The Ruins”, a bombed out remnant of an historic lighthouse and Fort Tyler that was used by the military for target practice during World War II. We switched to a 450 grain sink-tip, and tied on an epoxy head yellow streamer. Within two casts at about 9 feet depth, I had hooked into what was definitely a good sized fish. Several minutes playing the fish was all that toothy bastard needed to bite thru the leader, leaving nothing but the frayed end as my proof. Several more drifts through the run produced no repeat, so it was off to several other sites off Gardiners Island, a large (5-plus square miles) privately owned piece of real estate in the same family and descendants for nearly 400 years, part of a British Royal Grant of the 1600’s. Trying to bring fish to the surface to provide target was the method for a few hours. The fish were sparse all the way out to Montauk harbor and not cooperating despite my single and double-haul casts. By this time we had travelled 20 miles or so, and had to gas up. I was tempted to grab a lobster roll from Gosman’s on the way back out but thought better of it. So, it was back out to the bay, working our way westward , watching for birds to point out the baitfish schools. A couple of hours of frustration later and I was considering calling it a day, when a flock of terns swirled in the distance, swooping to feast. We quickly made our way over and wouldn’t you know it, a tern tangled in my line! After Ken released it uninjured (no picture, sorry), the onslaught began, with blues in the 4-5 pound range hitting my chartreuse Cockroach pattern left and right. I learned that long quick strips without a pause got the best results. The runs were not that of the hundred yard, reel screaming, bonefish variety, but thrilling, nonetheless. Following the birds kept me in fish for the next hour or so, and a half-day soon, became a full day, and I had landed nearly a dozen nice-sized fish, all released successfully and I had my fill. Alas, no striper to show for my efforts, but I got that bluefish on the fly off my bucket list, and I ‘sang’ the blues all the way back to the dock. Next up, the September/October Striper Blitz – maybe even the Striper Derby!