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I am going to start off by saying if you like reading fishing stories just scroll right to the bottom of this post click on one of the links and buy the book. I’d say that sums up how I feel about this book and I probably could end the review right now but i’ll dig a little deeper.

For years I have enjoyed the writings of John Gierach. I own almost all of his books and at one time did own all of them. Now I am not going to say Mark is the next John Gierach, He would have to get a lot better at fly fishing to do that.  What I will say is that if you enjoy John’s work you will definitely enjoy this book.  Mark doesn’t an excellent job of telling the stories of his fishing adventures along with adding in a little hidden message here and there.  Somehow he can even take a bad day fishing and turn it into a great story. Well there is no such thing as a bad day of fishing but you know what I mean.

Someone told Mark that he enjoyed his stories because they were just the right length to read in the bathroom each morning. I am going to disagree with this book being brought into the bathroom. My reason why is that you will likely find yourself sitting there on an uncomfortable seat surrounded by a less than pleasant smell much longer that you need too be. I also would not try to read one of the chapters of the book quick while you have your coffee before work. More that one morning I was late leaving the house because one quick chapter turned into three.  For those of you that might not be good at picking up on subtle hints this book is very hard to put down once your start.

The stories are very easy to relate to on many levels. If you are from New York or fish in New York you will likely enjoy the fact that most of the stories take place on New York waters.  Unlike many fly fishing books that the author only focuses on fishing for trout Mark chases anything that swims.

Now for the bad parts. After reading this book I really want to quit my job, buy JP Ross out of fly rods, and just fish.  I can’t remember why any of that was bad. Oh yeah I have a family to take care of and if I quit my job I won’t be able to afford JP Ross rods. If you don’t already own a JP Ross rod you might after reading this book. I have one being delivered this week and I have a feeling it will not be the last. All kidding aside there was not one part of this book I didn’t enjoy reading. If you have a fishing book collection this is a must add.

I have a feeling there will be more great books in the future from Mark and I am looking forward to adding them to my collection.

Here are some places you can buy Reflections of a Fly Rod by Mark Usyk. Now click one of the links and spend the $15 bucks. You will be glad you did.

https://www.createspace.com/6680094

Reflections of a fly rod by Mark Usyk

https://www.amazon.com/Reflections-Fly-Rod-Mark-Usyk/dp/1540779289

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/reflections-of-a-fly-rod-mark-j-usyk/1125422100?ean=9781540779281&st=PLA&sid=BNB_DRS_Core+Shopping+Books_00000000&2sid=Google_&sourceId=PLGoP62465

 

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My First Guide Trip

It was a cool fall morning when we launched the boats in the dark.  This was my first time rowing down the river in the dark and to say I was nervous would be an understatement. I wasn’t going to let me first ever customers know that though. I was lucky enough to have a veteran guide let me follow him down river.  We were the first ones in the river so we had our choice of spots.

At 5:15 am we dropped anchor at tail of the School House Pool. We only had about a hour and a half to sit in the dark and wait for legal fishing hours.  We hadn’t been sitting there 5 minutes when one of my guests cracked his first beer.  They had brought a 30 pack with them so this had me concerned.  I started rigging up the plug rods we would put out at daylight. Once the plug rods were set I made sure our bottom bouncing rods were ready then I drank my coffee while they drank their beer.

When I put out the plug rods at day light there were at least 6 empty beer cans in the bottom of the boat and fish all around us. I was praying we would hit a few fish on the plugs and get them to the net first thing. That was not the case. We had 3 hard hits that doubled the rod over but never hooked up. At that time you couldn’t run bead chains unless you had a special lures permit and being new I didn’t have one.

Now it was plenty light out and we could see the fish constantly moving through the current around us. You could also now see at least 10 empty beer cans in the front of the boat. I pulled in the plug rods and hand them the bottom bouncers. I am not going to lie and tell you we were trying to get the fish to bite. We were trying to line them just like almost everyone else on the river at that time.  I explained to them how to cast just up stream of the fish so as not to spook them and then drift the line back into them. They kept casting right at the fish. I would tell them to cast ahead of the fish and they would cast way upstream and get snagged. I retied and they cast directly at the fish again. I was in trouble and I knew it. After about 2 hours of this and a few more beers the fish were gone and it was time to pull anchor.

When we dropped anchor again there were about 50 in the current right along side the boat. I though we were safe because it was a bit deeper water so they could get away with casting a little too far upstream. They were having trouble seeing the fish so their casts were even farther off target. It seemed no matter what I told them they did the opposite. It wasn’t long before another guide came through saw the fish and purposely splashed his oars through the hole sending them fleeing. I was not happy and never forgot this moment. I didn’t say a word as I was the new guy on the river and I had customers with me. I let them cast for a few more minutes while I regrouped and made a plan. I knew something had to change if I was going to get these guys at least one fish.

We made a big move down stream where I could pull plugs in some deeper water. I knew this was our only chance as they were never going to get one casting.  We fished through the first hole with out a strike. There were a few shots from a liquor bottle taken though. As I was setting rods in the second hole I noticed there were at least 20 empty beer cans in the bottom of the boat. I could tell the guys were far from sober. The second hole was money or at least it should have been. I watched the right rod double over and saw the fish thrashing on the surface. As I yelled “right rod right rod right rod” I rowed upstream as hard as I could to keep the line tight. Of course both guys tried to grab the left rod. By the time they got to the right rod the fish got slack line and came off.

There was only one spot left to try plugging before the boat launch. It was now or never and I was far from optimistic. I put the lures out again and started working them in the current. We were almost to the tail of the pool when the middle rod slammed down into the bow of the boat. I pulled hard on the oars and yelled “middle rod get it and reel”. I told them in the beginning you don’t have to set the hook, the fish will do it for you, just keep the line tight.  When he grabbed the rod out of the holder not only did he set the hook like Bill Dance but he dropped the rod right back down giving the fish the slack it needed. The fish was gone and so was all hope of saving the day.

Back at the lodge they told a bit different story to the owner who they had booked the trip through. They were not happy to pay all that money and not catch a fish. I was given the chance to tell my side  of the story when I stopped in later that evening. I learned a lot in that first trip. First and foremost I needed a special lure permit. Second there would be a limit on how much alcohol was allowed on my boat from there on out. This was when I decided if someone is just looking to catch a buzz they can hire someone else.

 

 

Today I finally was able to fish one of the Echo rods I purchased a couple months ago. The rod has been fished by multiple customers and I have made some demonstration casts with it but never had time to fish it myself. 

This morning that changed when I decided to head to the river for a couple hours. As I hiked to a couple holes that I have only fished by drift boat I imeaditly noticed how light it felt to carry. I have it paired with an Echo Ion reel and Airflo line.

The rod fished very well. I was casting a 1″ Air Lock indicator four size b split shot and an egg pattern with no problem. I was able to cast overhand, roll cast, and single hand spey cast this rod with no issues. The 10 foot rod makes mending line a breeze. It was a typical steelhead day so I was fishing in rain, sleet, and snow all just two hours. Oh and add wind gusts of 20 mph which made casting tough but the Ion got the job done. 

Unfortunately I didn’t find a steelhead that wanted what I had to offer so I still haven’t fought a fish on it. However, my customers tell me it handles fish very well. At around $160 I think it’s a top choice for someone who wants a high end performing rod without the high end price tag. Pair it with an Ion reel for another $100 and you have a killer combo for under $300. 

It was how it all started I think. I’m not sure if I actually went fishing or not but from what I can remember it was the start of this crazy obsession. I know it sounds crazy that I don’t know if I went fishing but claim it was the day I got hooked on fishing. 

I do know I was no older than 5 years old. At the age of 5 my parents bought the house I lived in most of my childhood and we hadn’t moved yet.  That means it was possibly the summer I turned five but no later. 

It was a beautiful summer day some time in the morning or maybe it was afternoon. It was 30 years ago cut me some slack. My grandfather, Papa, had pulled up infront of the house with his boat in tow. The boat was a beautiful white and blue Conroy cuddy cabin. At 19 foot it was huge to a young child. Realistically it was on the smaller side for fishing Lake Ontario but that didn’t matter to me. 

Unfortunately I don’t really know if I went fishing that summer day. For all I know he might have picked my dad up and I might have stayed home. I highly doubt that. I wish I remembered going out on the water. Although it doesn’t matter because I will always remember that day as the day it all started. I blame and thank Papa for causing my fishing obsession. 

I spent many days on the water throughout my childhood on that boat most of them with Papa and as I got older many of them with friends. I will always cherish that time. Last year I was given the chance to buy that very boat and there was no way I was going to say no. It needs some cleaning and tuning but next summer I will be taking my wife and sons out on Lake Ontario and I can’t wait. Of course Papa will be invited on the first trip out. 

I have to say a big thank you to Papa for my fishing addiction. With out it who knows what I would have done. I might have become addicted to something else and ruined my life. I might have invested the 100’s of thousands of dollars in have spent on fishing and been rich.  What would I do with all that money? There is no way it could make me as happy as fishing and guiding does. My fishing addiction has made me rich in other ways…better ways. 

In the end of June I had the pleasure of staying at the Hungry Trout Resort in Wilmington, New York  for 3 nights. It is one of the nicest fishing “lodges” I have stayed at. The rooms are clean, comfortable, and affordable. 

If you are bringing the family along they have a pool and playground area. Also hiking and biking trails are just across the river from the property.

Yes the West Branch of The Ausable River runs right along their property. You can walk from your room right to some very good pocket water behind the resort. In fact our last morning I caught 2 nice browns back there after all the spots we planned on fishing already had people fishing them. 

There is even a fly shop on site. Along with a pub and restaurant that serves up delicious meals and cold drinks. I will be reviewing them in later posts.

Overall as a fishing resort I rate The Hungry Trout Resort 10 out of 10. Everything you need is on site including the river. The staff is friendly and I started to wonder if being a fisherman/woman is a requirement to be hired. Also it’s a great place to bring the wife and kids. You can walk to the river leaving them the car to explore the many near by attractions. That is assuming they don’t fish. 

It has been almost a month since Jamie and I went on a guided fishing trip with the one and only Matthew Delorenzo. Matt works for the Hungry Trout Resort and took us on their Brook Trout Adventure to their  private Twin Ponds area. I had been wanting to do this trip for 20 years and this year I decided was going to be the year.

We requested Matt as our guide because after following him on Facebook for a couple of years I thought his personality would fit us well. I was right. He is a great guy and a lot of fun to fish with. He has great knowledge of the waters and the fish as well. An added bonus is his expert loon call.

It was going to be a bright clear hot day so we needed to start early and met Matt at 5 am. It was far from ideal trout fishing weather. He drove us to the ponds where we put the canoe in and he explain what our strategy for the day would be. In true Adirondack fashion we would be trolling streamers on sinking line. I was excited as I have always wanted to troll for brook trout and I have always wanted to catch a big brook trout.

We did exactly that. Our second fish of the day was a 5 pound monster that Jamie landed. It was also the only fish he landed but he wasn’t complaining. I landed 8 catching a nice 3 pounder as my last fish of the day. I had caught the biggest brook trout of my life 3 times that day. It was awesome each time a bigger one came to the net.

If you want to catch big brook trout but don’t have the time or the gear to hike back to a remote pond you need to book this trip. It doesn’t get any better. The ponds are in the middle of no where but you will be taken to them by vehicle. You will most likely leave catching the biggest brook trout of your life. It is well worth the money spent. Jamie and I have already booked our trip for next year with Matt. Next year he will be stuck with us for 3 days.

I don’t normally endorse other guides but in this case Matt is not direct competition even though we both guide in New York State.  We guide different waters and even if he did also guide on the Salmon River in would still have written the same review.

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I spent the majority of the day inside watching it rain. I did take the time to spool up a reel with new 10 weight line and mount it on a 10 weight rod I had forgotten I bought last fall.

That might be the first sign of a problem. I was thinking about buying a 10 weight for fishing bass in heavy cover and for pike fishing. As I was shopping around trying to figure out if I could spend the money at the moment for something of decent quality I realized there was a fly rod in my garage I bought last year. I went out to take a look at it and sure enough it was a 9/10 weight. I bought it from a snagger that needed money so it had a 7/8 weight reel that was spooled up with monofilament.

I started looking for a reel on ebay hoping to maybe find one spooled with line already. Then it clicked. I have a 2 handed 5 weight rod and reel in the garage that I don’t use and the reel is too big. Again there might be signs of a problem developing here but I am just going to ignore that.

So today I swapped reels put the 10 weight line on the larger reel and spooled the other with a brand new switch line that I had forgotten about in my office. Perfect 2 fly rods all ready to go and both new to me in one way or another.

It was still raining when I sent my friend Jamie a text asking if he wanted to go fishing in the rain. I knew he would say yes. He is always up for fishing in the worst weather at the worst time of day.

I told him where to meet me and put the rods in the truck. I was excited to try out this 10 weight and hoped to find larger bass in a pond I just started fishing last week. My first trip to the pond I only had small poppers and a 5 weight. Today I had bigger flies and a heavier rod.

It was still raining as we strung up the rods. I gave Jamie the 5 weight with a smaller foam bug that I knew would catch something. As I tied on a fly that was given to me by a fellow guide and friend I pointed out how, well let’s just say not pretty it was. We had a little laugh but I said what my friend always says “It doesn’t have to look pretty, it just has to have the right shape and

size.

” In the case of top water bass flies the right movement is also very important.

It only took two casts to prove that statement true. I soon was releasing a Largemouth. I didn’t end up landing any big ones but I did see one that was over 2 pounds caught by a guy with a spinning rod. That gave me more hope that there may be some true lunkers in this water. After only fishing a short time I caught 3 bass and Jamie caught 2 crappie. We missed a bunch more strikes and will be back there with a boat in the near future.

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