The Rebuild Raft & Maiden Voyage

A couple of months ago I fell into a very old raft that was rotting away in a field. There were holes all through the raft, 5 snakes living inside the old rubber, nests of bees around the NRS frame, and Cataract Oars that were worn down to bare fiberglass. It was junk, but it was a boat. And it’s now my boat with a new life.

A little character that was easily replaced with stainless hardware.

Over the last month or so, I invested a majority of my time replacing hardware, parts, and fixing what broken things I could. It would not have been possible without the help of friends and family that are a lot more handy than I am. From several accounts, I think this boat was originally somewhere around 10 years old.

After fixing up the frame, refinishing the oars, and purchasing a new AIRE Tributary 13 HD raft this boat has a new life. It was a lot of work, and the boat has a ton of character. But, there’s something about a little hard work on a boat with character that helps produce good vibes and mojo.

Andy puttin’ the first fish into the raft on its maiden voyage.

Early this week, Andy and I took her out for the maiden voyage. It was a day of good fun, and I can tell the mojo is off to a good start because we somehow managed to land the expected trout, a couple smallmouth bass, and even one largemouth bass. This raft is already off to an interesting ride.

A smallmouth is always a pleasant surprise for river rats like us.

Initially, I’m really impressed with the set up. I’ve fished out of plenty of drift boats, pontoon rafts, jon boats, and even a Towee. But, having never fished out of a 3 man raft before, I was a little skeptical of what I was getting myself into. I’ll wait until I’ve spent more time on the water to give a full review, but if first impressions hold true I’m in love.

So far, my buddies are taking full advantage that I am more interested in rowing them down the river than actually fishing myself. And who could blame them.

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Summer Bassin’ & Relentless Fly Fishing

Roasted the Boogle Bug, and bent the 8wt in half.

When you and your fishing buddies are all fly fishing guides, it can be challenging to pin a day down on the water together. Yesterday Jake, Andy, and I were able to take a ride down the river for a summer smallmouth session. It was a blast. If you feel like you might be missing out on something, it’s because you probably are. I’m not sure what a summer would be like without river smallmouth floats.

I grew up fishing the river for smallmouth bass with my family and friends. Yeah I know, a lot of people are claiming home water these days. But, I lost my first Mickey Mouse Shakespeare Spincast in the river when I was 3 years old. So there’s that, insert laughter.

Puttin’ in. My idea of a good morning.

Anyways, where I was going with that is I’ve spent a lot of time on the river fishing for smallmouth, but every time I step in the boat with Jake and Andy I learn a thing or two. Whether it’s something about fly design, fish behavior, or a technique, I think it speaks volumes about how dialed in their smallmouth program is on the water they fish.

As I always say, you are only as good as the company you keep. When anglers fish together, they have the opportunity to learn together. But only if they are willing. I love that the anglers I surround myself with are able to question each other, and bounce things off each other in a constructive way. Anglers learning together is one of the things I’ve always loved about fly fishing. Well that, and having one heck of a lot of fun while fishing.

Don’t know the answer, Boogle It.

Yesterday we caught bass a variety of ways, but I pretty much got glued on fishing poppers. It’s sort of like dry fly fishing for trout, except smallmouth don’t necessarily sip, they gulp. And then they bend an 8 weight in half like it’s their day job, because they are river smallmouth and that’s what they do.

From rain, the river has been pretty high so far this summer. Yesterday was the first I’d been out after smallmouth since early spring, and I was glad to spend the day with good buddies. As always, I’m looking forward to many more river days this summer.

If fly fishing for smallmouth is your thing, check out Jake’s website: Relentless Fly Fishing and blog: All Things Fly Fishing. There are years worth of great fly patterns, stories, and photos.

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2016 Retrospective

As 2016 comes to a close, I’d like to thank all of you that have been following along with my thoughts, stories, fly patterns, information, and photographs on The Flow – Fly Fishing Blog. In 2016, there were many fish, good times, and beautiful pieces of water to think back on. Here are some of my favorite photographs from 2016. Enjoy, and Happy New Year!

A streamer tied by my buddy Bryan that was good for a few fish in 2016.
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Featured Fly: Pink Beaded Walt’s Worm.
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Featured Fly: Rock Worm Larva.
A big nose caught sipping a sulpur spinner as it was getting dark.
A big nose caught sipping a Sulpur spinner as it was getting dark.
A sulphur spinner with the egg sack still in tact.
A sulphur spinner with the egg sack still in tact.
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Gear Review: Hatch Finatic Fly Reels.
A thin blue line on a map that me started in fly fishing.
It’s always nice to get back to small stream Brook Trout on dry flies.

A Stanley full of coffee that was helpful to keep warm on a bitter cold day.
A Stanley full of coffee that was helpful to keep warm on a bitter cold day. Air temps were 6 degrees.
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A streamer tied by my buddy Austen that proved to be successful. Photo by Pat Burke.
SlimShady
Slim Shady, a fish that will certainly not be forgotten as the year changes. Photo by Pat Burke.

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Waneta Lake

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I never would admit that I grow completely tired of catching trout in moving water, but sometimes it’s nice to have a change of pace. A few weeks ago I was given an opportunity to fish new water for different species of fish. I’m very lucky to have a significant other that also consider a fishing trip and a vacation as one in the same. After finishing up guiding on Sunday June 21st, we set sail for Waneta Lake.

I am always excited to fish new water since I feel that it is a great way to test your angling abilities. I was even more excited to fish new water for a type of fish that I do not have much experience with. Fishing for primarily largemouth bass in a lake that was new to me was sure to present it’s fair share of challenges, but these challenges will also provide the option to grow as an angler.

Waneta Lake is a small lake (3.5 miles long, .5 mile wide) in the Finger Lake region of New York located between the towns of Wayne and Tyrone.  It is only 6 miles from Hammondsport, NY which is a small town located at the southern end of Keuka Lake (one of the Finger Lakes). When we arrived Sunday evening I was pleased to see Waneta Lake was at a very “fishable” water level. The lake was closed to boaters the entire week prior to our trip due to heavy rain that resulted in very high water. The lake being closed this period would have given the fish plenty of time off from angling pressure, which we were thankful for.

Although we were there primarily to catch largemouth bass, it was also a slim option to catch smallmouth bass, chain pickerel, and muskie. This trip was truly the best largemouth bass fishing I have experienced, although I will admit I have a very limited amount of experience fishing for largemouth bass. I was very impressed in terms of both the quantity and quality of the fish we were catching. We did not necessarily catch any “lunkers”, but 14-17 inches was the average size of the fish we were catching. For those of you that have not fished for bass, you are missing out on a very hard fighting fish that can give you about everything you would ask for, size considering. I was not able to catch a muskie, but those of you that have fished for muskie are already aware that it is not for the faint of heart. I was able to catch chain pickerel, which was very new and exciting. I have never fished for chain pickerel before so it was cool to cross that species off of my bucket list. I am a true believer that having the ability and experience of catching many different species of fish will make a much more complete angler. If nothing else, this trip was a great change of pace from the trout grind that I have been hard after lately through guiding as well as my own personal time spent on the water.

The best tactic I found for the largemouth bass of Waneta Lakewas fishing Bass Pro Shop Stick-O Worms Texas Rigged around weeds, docks, and points on the edges of the lake (This has proven to be successful in every lake I have fished for largemouth bass). I prefer fishing these worms still with a twitch every second or so with no weight added to the line. If this method does not seem to be the best I prefer adding a 1/32 bullet shot weight 6 inches above the worm and practicing a jigging action with the worm. Although I carry a wide variety of the colors, I found Houdini, Sprayed Grass, Sure Things, Watermelon Red Flake, Smoke Purple Flake, and Baitfish colors to be the best, in both 3″ and 4-1/4″ sizes. I have gotten to the point where I have settled on fishing Bass Pro Shop Rods exclusively. They do absolutely everything I have ask them to and are a joy to fish. While using the Stick-O worms I prefer to fish the Bass Pro Shop Johnny Morris CarbonLite Rod in a 6′ 6″ Medium Light Action.

Along with a great fishing trip, Watkins Glenn State Park is only located around 30 minutes from where we stayed so we decided to spend an afternoon there. Walking through the gorge was a nice hike up (or down) 823 steps on a path full of beautiful scenery such as waterfalls and cascades. If you have never been to Watkins Glenn or any of the Finger Lakes, I would definetly recommend putting that on you to do list. The biggest problem that I had all week was that there may have been several days that I was “out-fished” by a girl. As far as I am concerned having your girlfriend catch more fish than you is a pretty good problem to have, so I was not too disappointed. As always, I had an awesome time fishing with her as well as her family. I owe a big thanks to her and her family for asking me to tag along. Below are some pictures from the trip, enjoy!

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