Our time in NY state was FUN!  When we arrived in the Lake Placid area to fish the Ausable River, it still seemed like winter.  There was still snow on Whiteface Mountain.  It was cold and rainy and perfect for fishing.  As we left Roscoe, NY, we’d had days in the 70’s and sun.  Spring finally caught up to us in New York and we had many fun adventures.

The Lake Placid / Wilmington area is rich with Olympic history and great fishing.  We had a trip down memory lane touring the Olympic Center where the “Miracle on Ice” occurred.  I could still hear the call… “Do you believe in miracles?”  A plaque on the wall memorialized all of the winners, including Eric Heiden who won 5 gold medals in speed skating which was held on an outdoor track, the football stadium for Lake Placid High School, which was flooded for the events.

When we were planning our trip to the area, we had numerous recommendations to get Rachel Finn from Hungry Trout Fly Shop as our guide.  We were so lucky to get Rachel and on a very cold, rainy day, I went fishing with her; Barb decided to stay in the SaraLinda and keep warm and dry.  Rachel took me to several different spots on the West Branch of the Ausable River and taught me to tight-line nymph (euronymph or czech-nymph).  We got into a few fish and had a blast fishing.  We did the guide talk interview in the guide shack of the fly shop.  Rachel is a great guide and her interview is one to be sure to watch.

When we headed south from Lake Placid to Roscoe, we saw spring emerging.  It was fun seeing all the trees budding out and flowers starting to bloom.  And yet, tonight as I’m writing this, we are in a freeze warning.

Roscoe, NY is known as “Trout Town USA”.  It is one of the  top 10 trout towns according to Forbes magazine.  We had some fun taking pictures of all of the “Trout Town USA” sites in town as well as sampling the locally sourced Trout Town brews of Roscoe Beer Company.  We also sampled some of the Catskill Brewery’s products on the recommendation of Zach Anderson.

Zach was our guide on the East Branch of the Delaware River.  I got to float fish with both Barb and Dr. James Kelley who came in for a long weekend.  Zach put us all on fish as you can see in the video.  Ken and Michelle Tutalo of the Baxter House River Outfitters put us together with Zach and also shared some prime spots for us to fish as well as what flies to use.  They were spot on.

Speaking of Dr. Kelley, we had a blast as he came in when Barb went home for her Mom’s birthday and Mother’s Day.  We fished the Beaverkill, Willowemoc, East and West Branches of the Delaware.  We even got to visit not one, but TWO, Hall of Fames.  First, we took a day and went up to Cooperstown, NY, to visit the hallowed halls of the Baseball Hall of Fame.  Next, we visited the Catskills Fly Fishing Museum and Hall of Fame in Livingston Manor.  More stories to tell but we were missing our third “Amigo”, Dr. Dan McCormack, who will hopefully join us this fall in Colorado.

Barb and I tried to get in to see a Midnight Ramble at The Barn, Levon Helm’s studio.  Unfortunately, nothing was happening when we were there… BUT…. we finally made it to the site of the Woodstock Music and Arts Festival, Bethel Woods.  We geeked out and went onto the original site of the festival, stood on stage and pretended to play to the crowd.  The spirits of Jimi, Janis and all the artists were present.  It was a very special trip for us.  The museum is not to be missed.

NY was definitely a “State of Fun” but it’s now time to head back to Pennsylvania and….

Ramble On!

 

We were so lucky that Ken and Michelle Tutalo of Baxter House River Outfitters in Roscoe NY put us together with Zach Anderson for our trips on the Delaware River.   Zach was everything you’d possibly want in a guide…. great knowledge of the river, patient, good teacher and most importantly, fun!  He told us he’d spent time picking out a new hat for the season and called it “The Sombrero”.

Fishing was great both times we went out with Zach.  I say both because both Barb and fishing buddy James Kelley got to fish with Zach.  We caught some big rainbows and browns on big March Brown dry flies.  We all had a blast and you will too as you watch this “guide talk” interview with Zach.  Enjoy!

Normally, I try to come up with a catchy title for a post hoping to draw your attention.  This time, simply,  “Rachel Finn”.

Rachel guided me on the West Branch of the Ausable River in Wilmington, NY.   She’s well known in the fly fishing community, as we have come to understand, and I had the great fortune to spend the day with her fishing, learning and having an incredibly fun time.  No need for a catchy title at all, simply “Rachel Finn”.

When Barb and I were just starting our journey, we wanted to make sure we found the “characters” who work and play in the trout streams we’d visit.  In fact, our very first blog post titled “Welcome” was tagged with one word, “Characters”.  As we fished our way through Georgia, North Carolina, West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Connecticut we’d ask “Is there a guide on one of our upcoming rivers you’d recommend?”  The response we got over and over when we say we’re fishing the Ausable was “You’ve got to fish with Rachel Finn!”  When we asked, how do we find her, we were told to call Hungry Trout Fly Shop in Wilmington, NY.  When we asked why Rachel, we heard things like “She’s a character”, “She’s a hoot” and most importantly we heard, “There is no one who knows more about the Ausable and you will have a blast”.

After fishing with Rachel, all of these are true.  I’m officially adding my name to the list of anglers who would say, “You’ve got to fish with Rachel Finn!”

I hope you enjoy this interview with Rachel we did in the guide shack beside the Hungry Trout Fly Shop.  Its chock full of great background about Rachel, stories, tips/techniques, places to fish in the area, what kinds of fish to expect to find, what flies to bring and more.   Thanks Rachel!

Connecticut was brand new to Barb and I.  It did not disappoint.  We fished two rivers, the Farmington and the Housatonic and caught some beautiful fish.  We also sampled some great food and stumbled upon a great music venue, Infinity Hall in Norfolk CT.  More importantly, we were lucky enough to attend a concert there that featured local CT artists Kerri Powers, Black River Union and Atlas Gray.   They guys from Atlas Gray were gracious enough to let us use their music as the narration of our time in CT.  I hope you enjoy the video and especially the music by this amazing group of musicians.  We loved all of the Connecticut Color.

We spent an incredible day on the Housatonic River with Bert Ouellette of Housatonic River Outfitters in Cornwall Bridge, CT.  We’ve been blessed with great guides on our adventure and Bert was no exception.  He put us on some amazing fish (see pics embedded in video), knew the river incredibly well pointing out all the named holes, gave us some good spots to go back and wade fish and kept us high and dry in his “Fear No Rocks” Clakacraft drift boat.  He knew the history of the area and was able to point out various artifacts along the way including a gorgeous covered bridge.  We had an outstanding lunch on the river that kept us going all day and it was a full day of fishing…. and catching!

This is a gorgeous river that reminded us of many of the western streams we’d fished before.  Rather than me trying to describe the river and how its fished, take a listen to Bert’s interview.  We learned so much from him as I know you will.   Enjoy!

The Farmington River in Connecticut is less than a two hour drive from both New York City and Boston.  Its a tailwater filled with riffles and runs and pools along its path.  We were incredibly fortunate to have Zach St. Amand of Fishing with Zach as our guide for the day.

He warned us about difficulties wading the Farmington due to its larger rocks and boulders which are very slippery.  The term we’re familiar with is “greased bowling balls”.  He was right but kept us in spots that were more easily accessible with our wading staffs providing great balance.  Oh… and at times, Zach providing the great balance to both Barb and I.  He kept us both from taking a swim a few times.

The first spot we fished we netted around 30 beautiful rainbows.  Barb actually had TWO “doubles”.  For our non-flyfishing friends, this means that on one cast, with two flies on her line, Barb caught two fish.  Doing this once is extremely rare.  Doing it twice in the same day is ridiculous!   We’ll share the pic when we do our Connecticut highlights video gallery later on.

This area was mostly stocked fish but sizable bows for sure.  At one point, Zach asked if we might want to eat one of our catches since these were stocked.  Barb and I had talked about this during our trip given we are “catch and release” fishers but if the opportunity presented itself and the timing was right, we’d do it.  It was and we did.  More later about dinner.

Next we went up into a section of the river that is a TMA (Trout Management Area) and fished more difficult water for more difficult to catch fish.  We both had success here but not at the rate we had to start the day.  That would have been impossible!  However, the fish we caught were beautiful fish and I was able to snare one during a Hendrickson’s hatch on a dry fly.  SO FUN!!!

As we were walking along the river, Zach pointed out some of the plants we were passing by including Skunk Cabbage (don’t eat) and Fiddlefern (can eat).  But what got us excited was that ramps were in abundance in one area.  We’d heard of ramps back in Richwood, WV which bills itself as the “Ramp Capital” of the world.  So of course, we picked some wild ramps…. which leads to dinner.  We had fresh rainbow trout caught by Barb, fried red potatoes with wild ramps and garlic bread for dinner…. all cooked over an open fire at our campsite.

Barb and I both agreed that this was a very special day we won’t ever forget.  Thanks Zach!!!

We had an incredible day with Jake Villwock of TCO Fly Fishing in Boiling Springs PA.  We fished two spring creeks, the Le Tort Spring Run and Big Spring.  The Le Tort is on the TU Top 100 Trout Streams list and proved to be challenging to say the least.  Big Spring turned out to be a blast.

Jake is a character and we absolutely enjoyed our time fishing with him.  Barb was laughing so hard, well, she’ll have to tell it.  Jake had us going stealth on fish.  Kneeling on the banks of the creeks casting to wary fish upstream of us.  Walking through muck to get tot he best spots.  He even had me crawling out into the middle of the creek on my hands and knees stalking a large rainbow.  I know, you’re thinking crazy…. but we hooked into fish and even landed a few.

Its fun fishing spring creeks that are such challenges.  We’ve fished a few out in Montana, Nelson’s and Depuy’s to name a couple.  However, these were even greater challenges.  We were lucky to have Jake along as our guide pointing out fish, keeping us low and sharing how best to cast to the fish.  Plus…. saying…. “oooop” at just the right moment.

We know you’ll enjoy his interview.  Its laced with great information about fishing the area, general tips to make your fly fishing experiences even better wherever you are, and most importantly, its pure fun.  A tip of our hats and a “cheers” with a Sly Fox SFT Ale… to Jake!!!

Almost heaven, West Virginia.  So goes the John Denver song Country Roads and we sure took a lot of country roads in our first foray into WV.  I say our first because we will actually make two, one this year and one next.

This year’s journey took us to the Cranberry Wilderness area of WV to fish the Cranberry River.  When we were doing our research into each river, finding shops and guides for our first day in each, we found that there were no guides working the Cranberry.   Seemed strange, having a Top 100 trout stream and no guides but we’d fished enough and were confident enough to just seek some local advice and trek out on our own.

We found Four Seasons Outfitters in Richwood to be great.  The staff there set us up with flies… shared a map with us and highlighted some areas to fish… and talked about how they’d fish the river.  Nymphs deep or streamers drug through deep holes.  Pretty standard stuff.

What they also told us was that to get to the “catch and release” section we wanted to fish, we’d have to hike at least 7 miles.  Ummmmmmm,,,, 7 miles?  Barb and I love to fish but we’d never walked 7 miles to do so.  3 miles, no problem.  But 7?  On an old railroad track turned into a path?  Up a mountain?  So we negotiated and got them to admit that if we just walked up a bit over 2 miles we’d find fish but we’d also see more anglers fishing “catch and keep” with trout bait.

Undaunted by this, we started our trek into the Cranberry Wilderness on the trail and within minutes saw a guy coming at us riding a bike.  When he got closer, we noticed he had a fishing rod stuck in a piece of PVC pipe attached to his bike.  He’d been fishing!  We knew the area was known as a mountain bikers haven but a fishermen’s too?  Turns out it is the common way people access the river to fish…. biking it.  Next time we’re getting bikes.  The hike up for a little over 2.5 miles was filled with excitement fishing this beautiful stream.  The hike back about did us in.   And to top it off, it had just snowed in the mountains and the fish bite was off.  No one was catching fish that day.  Luckily, we went back to the river a couple of days later and hooked into some pretty fish.

We found our goto spot for breakfast on the trip, Mumsey’s Iron Skillet in Richwood;  right on the Cherry River with great food.  We got to meet some of the locals and got some great intel on things to do in the area.

One local we met was Dr. Lloyd Atkins, the town dentist.  Turns out, Lloyd is an avid fly fisherman.  We sat and talked each time we were at Mumsey’s and got great information and lots of exciting stories.

Also need to give a big thanks to Lee Orr, the President of WVTU.  Lee also traded emails with us about where and how to fish.  He put us in touch with an outfitter on the Elk River we’ll visit when we swing back through WV in 2017.

We just missed by a week the annual Ramps Festival in Richwood, which bills itself as the Ramps Capital of the World.   We saw ramps signs all around the town and wondered what they were.  Turns out, ramps are kind of wild onions, sort of like a leek, really pungent like garlic and are in high demand because the season for finding them is so short.  As one person indicated, its kind of like waiting for Punxsutawney Phil to come out after the snow melt.  For Barb and me, we likened it to morel season.  We asked if they also had morels in the area and they did; they just don’t get the love that ramps get.

OK… we are off to Maryland… time to Ramble On!

Ms. Carolina

By TB

Leaving North Carolina was incredibly difficult for us.  We fished in some incredibly beautiful streams.  Caught some spectacular trout including all three species (brown, rainbow and brook) on both the Nantahala and Tuckasegee and made some new friends from our awesome guides, to new musicians, to restaurant owners, fly shop gurus and more.

The video above is a recap of our time in NC.  Its set to the song “Ms. Carolina” by Asheville-based duo Bird in Hand.  Band members Bryan and Megan Thurman are a fantastic duo playing what they describe as Appalachian Thunder Folk.  We were so fortunate to hear them play at Evolution Wine Kitchen in Sylva, NC on April 1st.  Their tour starts soon and has many stops including at the 5 Spot in Nashville (4/22), at Westport Station in KC (4/29), Lions Lair in Denver (5/5) and Adair’s Saloon in
Dallas (5/11).  You can check out their entire tour on their Facebook page and their music on ReverbNation.  I promise you’ll love to hear them.  To all our friends and subscribers, go see them and please tell them Tom and Barb sent you!