Month: September 2017

We’ve been looking forward to fishing Maine during the fall since we first started planning our “River Ramble”.  We experienced New England, already fishing the Battenkill and White in Vermont as well as the Upper Connecticut in New Hampshire, but this was Maine.  Furthermore, our first stop in Maine was the West Branch of the Penobscot River, famed for its landlocked salmon.  But first, we had to get there.

The SaraLinda has taken us over 25,000 miles around the country almost twice now, but she’s never been on a road like the “Golden Road” from Millinocket (ME) to our campsite at the Big Eddy Campground.  You know you’re in for a ride when the address of the campsite is “Mile 28.5 of the Golden Road”.   We talked with Don at the campsite about the road and he alerted us to the fact it was somewhat potholed where it is paved and a washboard when it’s gravel.  The RV sites we’d read indicated that you’d better be ready for repairs after taking your rig on this road.  However, our guide, Greg “Boz” Bostater repeatedly told us we HAD to stay at the Big Eddy Campground.  So… we left Millinocket on a wild ride to our campsite… logging trucks beware, the SaraLinda was on the road.

When we arrived, the campsite was in the most spectacular area you can imagine.  Right on the West Branch, beautiful surrounding forests, the Big Eddy Rapid making itself known by the sounds of crashing waves and fishing right out our back door.  We were in fly fishing heaven for sure.

We met Greg, the owner and head guide for Maine River Guides right at the campground and proceeded to get in his drift boat right at the campground.  We fished the Big Eddy Pool until lunch, which was a great stream side lunch cooked by Greg himself.  Before heading downstream, we took the time to do our “Guide Talk” with Greg right in our campsite with the Big Eddy Pool in the background.

It was a great day of fishing with Greg who was not only an incredible guide, but also knew the history of the river, especially its rich history in logging.  We hope you enjoy our “Guide Talk” with Boz as much as we enjoyed our day on the river with him.  And yes, if you plan to go to this area, take the Golden Road to mile marker 28.5 and stay at the Big Eddy Campground.  Your teeth will eventually stop chattering from the bumpy road and you’ll have an incredible time.

There is only one river listed in the TU Guide to America’s Greatest 100 Trout Streams in the state of New Hampshire, the Upper Connecticut River.  However, the author of the book notes that when you come, plan to stay for at least a week to fish the varied sections of the river, as well as all of the tributaries, ponds and lakes in the area.

On our “River Ramble”, Barb and I are fishing not just the Top 100, but as many other streams as we can.   We did fish Indian Stream (and caught some beautiful small brookies) while we were in the Pittsburg, NH area, but really focused on the various sections of the Upper Connecticut.  We’d been forewarned that the area around Pittsburg was “Moose Alley” and we were to be on heightened alert for moose.

When we arrived in Pittsburg, NH, which is by geographic size, the largest town in NH, we parked the SaraLinda at our campground that overlooked the First Connecticut Lake.  Turns out the Upper Connecticut River actually has several dams and lakes including Lake Francis and the First, Second, Third and Fourth Connecticut Lakes.  Between these lakes are beautiful, often fast flowing streams with both landlocked salmon and brook trout in residence.  We were very excited to begin our “Ramble” in New Hampshire.

As always, we worked with a guide our first day in the area, Chuck Degray, owner/head guide, North Country Guide Shop and Fly Service.  We met Chuck at the campground and were off for the day.  We hiked into the woods a bit below the First Connecticut Dam and hooked into a few fish to start our day, catching them on nymphs.  A little before lunch, we switched to dry flies and we both caught another beautiful rainbow trout.

We sat down to lunch on the lawn of the Tall Timber Lodge, a beautiful spot on Back Lake.  Our view across the lake was spectacular as we plotted the afternoon’s fishing adventure.  Chuck had three options and we couldn’t decide which to choose.  Finally, the difference maker was a chance to catch landlocked salmon, so we headed off to a spot Chuck was excited to share with us.

As we hiked down a long trail to the water, we noted that if we were to come back on our own, we might want to leave a trail of bread crumbs to make sure we could find our way out at dusk.  When we arrived at the place to fish, we saw a few fish rising in the water but not many.  We tried to fool them with dry flies but to no avail.

Around 4:30pm, more fish started rising, and while they still weren’t interested in the dry flies or streamers we’d been trying to fool them with, Chuck recommended we try a wet fly.  I know what many of you reading this are thinking…. aren’t they ALL wet?  Well, of course they are all floating on or below the surface of the water, but wet flies float just beneath the surface and are typically “swung” with fish taking them on the swing, or more often than not, at the point the fly stops swinging and comes up to the surface.

Barb was in a spot with multiple rising fish and pretty quickly, BAM…. a fish hit her small wet fly and it was game on.  We didn’t know how big it was until it decided to jump, and when it did, all of our eyes went wide.  Barb and hooked into a 22” landlocked salmon and was fighting to coax it to Chuck’s waiting net.  As always when you hook a fish of this size, sometimes you win, but most often the fish wins.   This time, Barb won as you can see in the picture above.

It was hard to tell who was most excited,  Barb or Chuck.  It was a very large landlocked salmon for the river and Chuck indicated it was the largest he’d seen landed in well over a year.  We ended up hooking several more of these magnificent fish before we had our “walk off” fish and were ready to call it a day.

In the coming days, we fished a few other spots Chuck was going to show us, but, didn’t fool any fish until we decided to hike back to the spot where Barb landed the big one.  We actually decided to tie small strands of yellow rope to trees as we hiked down to make sure we’d find our way back.  When we arrived at “our” spot, there was a couple already there.  A guy was scouting spots to fish and his wife was on the bank reading and sunning.   We told him about the wet fly working so well as he was fishing a different hole than we were.   As they finally left the spot, we waited for the fish to start rising again.  Sure enough, around 5pm this time, a rise here… a sip there… and in not too long, we hooked into a few salmon.

As we walked out, untying the yellow rope from our marked trees, we were so grateful to have been able to fish these beautiful streams in New Hampshire and to have had Chuck show us the river.  We left New Hampshire knowing we’d come back to fish again, especially our newfound “honey hole” on the Upper Connecticut.

The White River in VT is, according to our guide, Matt Stedina, the only New England fishery with wild rainbow trout in it.  As we found out when we drove its length, it’s a very diverse fishery as well, from its beginnings until it flows into the Connecticut River in White River Junction, VT.

We met Matt near our campground and headed out to fish it on a foggy morning.  We parked our car near a long, tall bridge, shuttled Matt’s truck to a spot upstream, and after returning to that bridge, proceeded to bushwhack our way down the bank to the river.

When we arrived at the banks of the White, we could look up and see traffic crossing the bridge headed to Hartford, Lebanon, Hanover, and other points as people were starting their workday.  For us, we carefully waded out into the river and began fishing a riffle/run section of the river.  The White at this point had both wild and stocked rainbows and we were lucky enough to land a couple in our first hole.  We were fishing large dry flies and seeing fish rise to hit them was so much fun.  On one cast, as I was watching my fly drift downstream, I saw a fish rise behind it, and then, BAM, it hit it with such great force, not like the trout we’d experienced so far.  As it turned out, it wasn’t a trout at all, but a smallmouth bass.  It put up a really good fight, but, I landed it and released it gently back into the current.

As we waded our way upstream, never leaving the river, the sun was burning off the fog and the temperature started getting warmer.  We gave up on the dry flies and put on a nymph rig when we got to the big hole Matt was targeting.  We were both lucky enough to catch multiple fish out of this hole before the water temps were getting too warm and we decided to call it a day.  These trout will continue to feed as the water temps rise, but hooking, fighting and landing them puts them at more risk to perish.

We bushwhacked our way up another bank to get back to Matt’s truck and found a nice spot on the river for our “Guide Talk” with Matt.  Matt is the only guide who will float the White River from spot to spot, allowing anglers to fish the best of the White River.  The water was low at this time, so our trip was purely wading up the White River from spot to spot.  Matt indicated that if you came back in late May/June, you’d be in his boat and hitting more prime fishing holes on the river.  We’ll be back, but for now, we hope you enjoy our conversation with Matt Stedina, Trout Bum Guide Service, Stockbridge, VT.

The Battenkill River in Vermont is one of those “historic” places to fish.  You have a great, wild brown trout fishery located in one of the most beautiful areas in the country.  In addition, you have a rich history of fly fishing that is chronicled in the American Museum of Fly Fishing which houses numerous exhibits sure to wet the interest of fly fishermen.  And, any visit to this area would be incomplete without a visit to the Orvis mothership location in Manchester, VT.   Want to buy first run Orvis gear and clothing… head to the Orvis flagship store.  Looking for bargains, there is the Orvis Outlet store just down main street.  Interested in how that new Helios 3 rod is made, a trip to the Orvis Rod Factory is sure to enlighten you to the intricacies of rod making and the care taken in crafting these incredible tools.  Oh, and if you want to improve your own skills, there is the Orvis Fly Fishing School right across the street from the flagship store.  It that weren’t enough, right next to the flagship store is a large field and trout pond with giant rainbows waiting for students to ply their skills, catch and release these behemoths.

But we were here to fish the Battenkill, so we embarked on a day with Orvis-endorsed guide, Ray Berumen, the owner and head guide of Taconic Guide Service in Manchester Center, VT.  Ray prepared us for a “challenging” day on the river citing the fact that in a couple of previous days, clients had not landed fish.  Undaunted, we literally dropped into the river from a high bank, crossed over to the other side and headed upstream to a riffle/run/pool section.

As I headed upstream of Ray and Barb, I was alone in this beautiful river, searching for deep, slow runs where an unsuspecting brown trout might feed.  I was lucky and hooked into a 10″ brownie on a small nymph and got him to hand (I wasn’t carrying a net and Ray was really too far downstream to call).  After I released the gorgeous fish back into the Battenkill, I continued to fish the run with no luck.  After about 45 minutes, I headed back downstream where Barb had been working her run/pool section.  She was throwing dry flies at a few rising fish.  She’d not hooked anything yet so Ray took me downstream.  As soon as we got to a spot I was going to fish, we heard Barb “Fish On!”…. and it began.  The rest of our time on the Battenkill, Barb was the “hot stick” for sure.  She landed 5 brown trout over 16″, the largest right at 18″.  It seemed like every time I looked up, Barb’s rod was bent into that taco shape with a big, wild trout tugging and pulling on her line.  Very cool.

At the end of our time on the Battenkill, Ray told us of a spot we should do our “Guide Talk” with him.  We stopped at a covered bridge, but not just any bridge, the one Norman Rockwell painted in several of his iconic works.   We set up our camera and had a great time shooting Ray’s guide talk which we know you’ll enjoy.

Urban Oasis


Through the middle of coal country, right through downtown Scranton PA, flows the Lackawanna River.  As we read the section on the Lackawanna in the TU Guide to America’s 100 Best Trout Streams, we were a bit concerned given the description of the fishery.  However, when we arrived in the area and drove to A&G Outfitters, we parked in the lot and climbed a levee to see this beautiful stream flowing right through Dickson City, a ‘burb of Scranton.   We read the Lackawanna River Heritage Trail sign at the top of the levee and were impressed with the history, and more so with the conservation efforts of two organizations, the Lackawanna River Corridor Association and the Lackawanna River Chapter of Trout Unlimited.

The next day, in that same parking lot, we met our guide for the day, Adam Nidoh.  Adam and his father own and run A&G Outfitters with Adam doing the largest share of the guiding.  We got in our Crosstrek and followed Adam through downtown Dickson City, into Scranton, parking across from a pallet company warehouse.  As before, we climbed a levee and there was the Lackawanna.   We crossed the river on an old train bridge and walked on the levee downstream a bit before wading into the river.

At river level, with the levees framing both sides of the stream, tall trees swaying in the morning breeze, we were so far removed from the city, it was truly an urban oasis.  We tight line nymphed our way upstream, picking off fish at each riffle and deep hole.  Fishing inside a metropolitan area of well over 100,000 people, we caught beautiful, wild brown trout and never saw another person.  Amazing!

For our guide talk, we went back to the river, just over the levee from the A&G Outfitters parking lot.  Adam did a great job of explaining how this fishery came to be and how TU and the Lackawanna River Corridor Assoc. continues to improve the river.  Adam is President of the Lackawanna Valley TU Chapter and is passionate about protecting this urban stream.


Ever since we heard Jen Ripple of Dun Magazine talk at the Guadalupe TU TroutFest about the “Driftless” area of southwest Wisconsin, southeast Minnesota and northeast Iowa, we’ve been looking forward to fishing this unique landscape.  Glacial movements missed this section of the midwest leaving a beautiful area behind with numerous drainages holding small streams with trout everywhere.  Our first stop was the West Fork of the Kickapoo River near Viroqua, WI which bills itself as “trout central”.

Jen had mentioned we should stop in at the Driftless Angler in Viroqua and say “hi” to Mat and Geri, the co-owners, so we did just that on our first day in Viroqua.  Mat shared some local flies and flavor and we were off to our campground at the Westfork Sportsmans Club.

The next day, we met our guide, Pete Cozad at the shop and headed out to the river.  We didn’t head to the section of the West Fork that runs through the campground, but took a different turn and headed further upstream.  We hiked down a bit, crossed over a large metal gate and landed squarely in a field of cattle grazing.  Skirting our way around the cattle, we made our way to the stream and began fishing.

After fishing a few sections of the river, landing some really beautiful brownies, we headed back to the campground for our “Guide Talk”.  As you watch, you’ll notice Pete’s dog, Teak, patiently watching us, waiting for Pete to throw the frisbee again.  While Teak waited, we had a great conversation with Pete, talking about the fishery, his efforts to get kids involved in fly fishing and a great “one fly” tournament he holds annually.  We hope you listen in to Pete’s “guide talk” and learn more about fishing in the “Driftless”.


The Bois Brule River is rich with history, having had 4 United States presidents come to fish its waters.   An outstanding article, Brule: A River of Presidents, was written about the river and its history by Judy Nugget for Lake-Link.

For our trip down the Brule, we took the “classic float” in a canoe with Carl Haensel of Namebini.  Carl has been guiding on the Brule longer than anyone and his knowledge of its history and geology made our trip so memorable.  We floated down sections of the river that resembled a small spring creek and then we’d be in a large lake before heading down a rapids section of whitewater.  The changes in the river were a part of its character and added to its mystery.  As we floated by the Cedar Island Estate, one could imagine all the titans of industry and other luminaries who’d visited here and fished these waters.  As we moved downstream of the estate, it seemed around each bend in the river, a boathouse would appear, with a rich history all its own.

Carl was an excellent guide and his “Guide Talk” revealed his passion for this fishery and area.  This is his home water and it shows in his ongoing conservation work on the river.  Carl is very active in making sure the Brule stays a top trout stream and remains as it has been for decades.

The Yellowstone River is the last major undammed river in the lower 48 states.  It flows for 671 miles from just outside Yellowstone National Park until it empties into the Missouri River in North Dakota.  We’ve fished the Yellowstone numerous times both inside and outside the park.  The three sections outside the park we’ve fished are from Gardiner down to Yankee Jim Canyon, the Paradise Valley section and the section below Livingston.  All of the sections offer great fishing and while similar, offer a bit different fishing experience.

For our “official River Ramble” guide trip on the river, we fished with Jeff Pavlovich, guide and owner of Flies Only Fishing.   We actually had a connection to Jeff via our daughter Krista who had worked in Yellowstone National Park with Jeff’s wife, Chris.

We met Jeff in the Albertson’s parking lot in Livingston, not really knowing which section we were headed to fish.  It turned out a mud plug had come out of the Lamar River in the park that muddied the section below Livingston, so Jeff decided we’d head up toward Gardiner and fish the section down to Yankee Jim Canyon.

When we put in, Jeff had a yellow bodied “Chernobyl” dry fly on my line and a brown bodied one on Barb’s.  These dry flies are mainly a couple of pieces of foam tied together with a little foam topper to help you see the fly;  nothing fancy at all.  About an hour into our trip, I’d been catching fish at a ratio of about 5:1 to what Barb was catching, so, Jeff put Barb on with a yellow bodied fly and BOOM, she was catching fish, too!

We had a great stream side lunch and when we went back to fishing, Jeff tied on flies exactly as we’d started the day… Barb with a brown bodied Chernobyl and me with a yellow bodied one.  Of course, Barb started catching fish right and left with the brown Chernobyl and after she’d caught about 4 fish to my none, Jeff pulled over and tied a brown onto my line… POOF… I was catching fish too.

The funniest part of the day occurred when we’d caught so many cutty’s with our brown Chernobyls Jeff decided we needed fresh flies and tied on yellow Chernobyls.  Immediately, we stopped catching fish… so…. Jeff asked us to give him back our torn up, ragged, brown Chernobyls and he tied them back on.  BAM… we were catching fish again.  At the end of the trip, after these brown flies had caught dozens of fish, Jeff gave them to us as a memento of our trip…. especially given that he couldn’t possibly tie them onto another clients line.  However, he did make a stop at the Angler’s West fly shop to buy some new brown Chernobyls.

We had an epic day on the Yellowstone with Jeff and really enjoyed our Guide Talk with him.  We hope you do too!

We’ve spent a lot of time in the Jackson Hole area over the years, visiting Krista (daughter) and Chris (son-in-law) who worked at Jackson Lake Lodge in Grand Teton National Park as well as at the Jackson Hole ski resort.   One of Chris and Krista’s friends who worked with them was Tim Smith.  Chris and Tim actually worked together at Snake River Angler and of course, Tim was at Chris and Krista’s wedding at the lodge.

We have fished with Tim on the Snake River before, so when we were planning our “River Ramble” trip, we called Tim to take us on a river he’d been wanting to show us for some time…. the South Fork of the Snake.  Tim guides out of the Lodge at Palisades Creek, a gorgeous fly fishing lodge property in Irwin, ID.  We headed out for the river, not really knowing what to expect.

When we arrived at the river, we were awestruck.  It was absolutely gorgeous.   Our trip involved first class fly fishing, of course, but also included incredible canyons, eagles everywhere and geologic features that were amazing, including “the air conditioner”.   We caught both Snake River and Yellowstone cutthroats, rainbows, cut bows and more.  It was an amazing day on the South Fork and our guide talk with Tim, conducted on the river in the “air conditioner” was so special.  We hope you enjoy it as much as we enjoyed our day with Tim.

Boots Allen is a legend in guiding circles, not just in the greater Jackson Hole area but around the globe.  When we called Snake River Angler to book a guide for our trip on the Green River near Pinedale, WY, we asked for Boots and were so excited when he was available for our trip.  Boots is a third generation guide and his knowledge of not just the Green, but all of the internationally renowned rivers in the area is second to none.

We met him bright and early at Hoback Junction and headed for our put in at Warren Bridge.  We had a great day on the water with Boots and got some beautiful fish.   His “Guide Talk” is not to be missed.  Enjoy!