Captain’s Log 4/24/2015 (part two)

It was a glorious wild brook trout, or at least I think it was, for as I struggled again to get my phone out in the hope that I could capture this precious moment, I found the phone was of course still dead. As I subsequently released the fish with no witness or proof, something obvious occurred to me.  I was so intent on taking a picture of the moment that I missed the moment. 

I didn’t even take a good look at that gem of a fish, because I was going to take a photo and then look at that. With the broken phone and no camera, that could not happen, and I was then left with what? Just myself, and the memory and the water rushing into the past? Was that good enough? It seemed that my fear, anger and mania was my barrier and my entrance into something more important. Maybe that was the lesson of the wrecked phone– to slow down and savour.  Maybe this was something that fishing has been trying to teach me– the basic lesson of nature–that most living creatures, especially humans, are greedy little bastards, and to really know life, we have to work at savoring.

I was contemplating this as I sat and smoked a cigar with my beer and digested the sandwich that Jon had graciously offered me at his house. (Ok, I took it without asking like a greedy bastard). I had stopped by to chat with him, trade flys and get directions to Walkers pond.  Once there, I proceeded to catch yellow perch after yellow perch in my pursuit of a smallmouth bass.  That never happened, but after two dozen or more other fish on a Ghetto conehead EP fly, I began to wonder again why I ever fished or tied anything other kind of fly. I did manage to enjoy the warmth of the sun in the north wind and indeed felt a sense of ease.  This is something that mostly has eluded me in fishing.

I finally took all this over to Bass River to complete my personal Spring migration. For to return every year at the same time to the same place has begun to give me a sense of belonging, which is also something in life that has mostly eluded me. And as an epilogue to a fine day, and after 100 casts in a brutal north wind with my new douchbag, fishing buff on, with a really high tide, sun completely down and with the same EP fly, I hooked a fat, fiesty 18 or 19 inch schoolie, who fought like…well, like a really great bass. I kissed that first striper of the year really hard on the head, walked back to the car and rinsed my mouth out with some sterilizing, 100 proof bourbon, and headed home.

Thank you friends, for listening.

Keep your lines tight and your rod up,


Delaware trout with Joe and Charlie

Fished on Sunday with Charlie Moos and Joe Demalderis.

Joe is a great guide.

Charlie is a great comedian.

When he was casting, I actually thought he was doing physical comedy: the pratfalls and stuff, like Chevy Chase from back in the day…

Joe D has guided me on the Delaware for many years. At least 5, perhaps 6.

I obviously am interested in learning as much as I can about the river, and that’s why I hire Joe.

He knows everything, about fishing and the Delaware fishery.


On Sunday, he had us fishing streamers, like this one that was given to me, at the Shehawken boat launch, by Allen Landheer:


Like the last time Charlie and I fished with Joe, I took the front seat.

Some day Charlie should sit at the front of the boat, like Rosa Parks on a Montgomery City Bus…


Because its tough to cast streamers all day, and not move a fish, and that’s what happened to Charlie. I was up front, taking the first cast into every lie, turning every fish that might have taken a fly before Charlie even had a chance.

And this time, I didn’t take any sympathy casts out of the strike zone, like I did on the Passaic, giving Charlie this trophy pike that rightly was mine:


When your guide tells you to cast streamers, he disregards his personal safety to get you into some potentially big fish.

So try for a moment to imagine Joe’s predicament on Sunday.

He’s got two anglers of dubious skills, throwing tandem streamers over his head.

I say that because Charlie casts so much, he alone is like two really bad anglers.

I, of course, am a celebrity fly fisherman.

Like Trump Jr., I expect attention wherever I go and whenever I’m seen on the water.

I bring Charlie to keep away the cell phone cameramen, who are like streamside paparazzi. With a weighted streamer, Charlie does damage, like Bruce Lee with the nunchaku:

While I felt safe myself, I wondered if Joe was gonna be ok.

I was thankful that he was seated in the middle, like a buffer to protect me from Charlie’s errant chucks.

Getting a hook stuck in your skin is painful.

With a streamer, you feel the whack of the fly to your body, and you don’t immediately know if its pierced your skin, or lodged itself in your skull.

A fast flying streamer can cut through bone, especially when you got a guy like me throwing lasers.

But lucky for Joe I am perfectly accurate.

Charlie was the one to worry about…

Once I got a sulfur dry lodged deep in my thumb, past the barb. This was years ago.

I went to the Catskill Regional Medical Center to have it removed.

The two shots of novacaine to my thumb hurt like hell. And then they charged me 270 bucks…

I had been fishing for two days with the sulfur stuck in my thumb, afraid to pull it out. And I slept with the fly, to avoid the medical expense…

But when the guy at Beaverkill Angler told me I’d get gangrene, and perhaps have to get my whole thumb removed (I think he was exaggerating, as it was a size 18 dry), I headed for the hospital.

Normally I’m not so scared of pain, but when a streamer is flying all around you, zipping past your head, you get a little skittish.

So, as a gesture of kindness to Joe, I thought to advise him of the danger he was in, from Charlie, and told Joe the story of getting that sulfur stuck in my thumb.

Joe has a sense of humor; my story didn’t seem to disturb him much…

So I turned my attention to Charlie, and his casting technique, which hadn’t improved since we’d fished for pikes in November.

Charlie was bothered by my critique, which for me, as a teacher, means that my student is learning.

So I kept teaching Charlie how to properly cast a streamer, while he was casting from the back of the boat…

But, while Charlie’s casting was as terrible as I’ve described, I underestimated my awesome skills as a teacher. And it happened – Charlie got off a cast that tore through the wind like a laser…

Straight at his target.

And when he set the hook, I could feel the jarring force of his anger and frustration remove the dentures from my mouth, and dunk them in the river…


…and drench my polident, so I couldn’t speak for the rest of the day…

I should say that like Charlie, I didn’t manage to land any fish.

But I got at least 6 takes.

I was fishing that beautiful fly that Allen L had given me, and there was no way I was gonna have that break off in the lip of a giant brown trout, like all 6 were that took the fly.

Joe warned me that a big fish – the only kind I catch – could snap that fly off easily.

So I lifted my rod straight up once the line went tight, like a tard on steroids, to dislodge the fly…

They thought I couldn’t set the hook.

But I did it to save the fly, of course…

Captain’s Log 4/24/2015 (part one)

As long as the winter feels, the Spring comes very suddenly.  It makes me reflect with chagrin at the 1985 classic, “Fletch,” when Chevy Chase is feigning mourning at a funeral and through crocodile tears states the sublime:

Dr. Joseph Dolan: You know, it’s a shame about Ed. 

Fletch: Oh, it was. Yeah, it was really a shame. To go so suddenly like that. 
Dr. Joseph Dolan: He was dying for years. 
Fletch: Sure, but… the end was very… very sudden. 

So as it was with the coming of this Spring, and without warning found that I had an April Friday completely free on my calendar.  What was more shocking than the fact that it was free, was the fact that I had not laid claim to the day sooner and stamped in bold letters “FISH” on my schedule to protect the precious time.  I did so immediately and thus began my preparations. 

The first is always to see if I could share this time with a fellow degenerate fishing buddy, and at this time of year, what always has my attention is the ceremonial catching-of-the-first-striper-at Bass-River with Jon.  This was not going to happen due to conflicting work schedules, and Eric, my other reliable partner, was himself setting out to Western Mass to fish his way to North Adams to play a reunion gig.  So being on my own, I felt I could move more quickly and with more mania as is my natural way if I do not work very hard to slow down.  And being that I had the whole day off, I did not want to work.  

For the work, in my mind, had already been done.  I had been experimenting with tying my first dry flies, so that I could feel the same satisfaction of creativity that I’ve experienced with saltwater patters.  I finally got the proper materials, which cost a bloody fortune, from one of my fishing benefactors John Stu of Golden Beetle fame.  He not only gave me a cape, but least we all not forget, he had lent me one of his bamboo rods that is completely changing me into a trout-nazi fishing douchbag.  I have never tried to fish a place just to use a rod, I usually chose the place and then choose the rod, but this 6’9′ 3w dark split cane masterpiece has changed everything.  I needed to fish this rod again, and to pair it with my first, self-tied, #14 orange stimulator and prospect for wild brookies in the Quash on the way to Bass River…this was what I wanted.   

By 8am I was on my way to the Cape with my painfully tied #14 dry fly, which took my at least 40 minutes to tie (I could have tied 10 gurglers in that time) and arrived at the Quash eager to go.  I am going to partially give credit to a handful of Cape retirees who were gathering for a nature walk, and caused my mania to quicken and my fear to rise.  I did not want to share the trail with them, so I hastily prepared my gear and heading off to the river.  Now I was so sure I was going to hook a brookie with this fly that I put my phone in my front pocket of my waders so I could get a quick shot with the least amount of time handling the delicate fish out of water.  I know all this thinking sounds like a lot of work, and in my excited state, it only seemed like it added to my anticipated pleasure on the water.  After all I did not want to be burdened by the extra step of fasting the bibs on my waders.

I walked the stream for about 50 yards before I sank into a 4 and a half foot hole and flooded my waders and destroyed my phone.  The rage at myself lasted for many minutes and only the split cane could calm me.  I thought of giving up right there, feeling what we call in the shrink world–castrated, or separated from the source all goodness.  The river then began its pull, and my fly found itself again drifting down the banks with the tension of an anticipated strike able to bring my back to my place.  Finally, after some time, at a perfect spot under a downed tree, I got the first swipes at the fly…it was here.  I made three passes at the spot, past the small nippers to further under the branch when I few quick jigs of the fly forced a larger brookie to inhale….

(end part one)

Fracking earthquakes?

The US Geological Survey has published a report linking the dumping of wastewater into fuel injection wells – by fracking companies – with earthquakes.

Apparently, when they are done extracting the natural gas by the fracking process, they dump the chemically contaminated wastewater deep inside the earth.

The next concern, if fracking companies are allowed to continue dumping their toxic wastewater, is whether the associated earthquakes will cause groundwater contamination.

Published 3rd issue

Dear John,

I did enjoy the latest issue; best yet. Here are my critiques. Please keep your fishing to politics talking ratio at maximum 4:1. Right now it is more like 1:4, and as we all know you know very little about fishing, and you and your readers know even less about politics.  All of the energy of our critiques about the government or politicians might be better spent aimed at you, or at making ourselves better flies. Cause there aint many more fish left to catch. GB mag adheres strictly to the idea that buying rods, tying flies, preparing and talking rubbish about fishing is even more fun than fishing itself.  And that’s good. Cause, like I said, it seems there ain’t that many more fish out there to catch. And that’s good too. We should be thanking the politicians for thinning down the numbers. Think of how much money fishermen would lose if there were more fish.  Tuna would be a dollar a pound and everyone would go out of business. If there were tons of stripers, any rod would do, any fly would do. What fun is that.  If we got fish on every cast, every outing, no one would fish.  I like that there are only seven wild brook trout left in Massachusetts. If I hook one, whoohoo!  I mean, Arthur knew Damn well there was no holy grail, he was just sick of his cheatin wife stressing out his home, so he used the grail as an excuse to get out and go on an adventure with his boys. Sound familiar?  There doesn’t need to be any fish to enjoy fishing. Its not gonna stop me. I mean, how silly would it feel to have a 1500$ rig that catches sunfish?  I friggin hate sunfish. Everyone hates sunfish, cause there are too many of them, but I love 1500$ rigs…

So speaking of distressed fisheries, there is actual serious news that should be mentioned:  The East Coast states collectively lowered the striper limit from two to ONE fish of 28 plus inches this year. This sounds like a step in the right direction to preserving the greatest native fish in the northeast. I’m not sure. I have become skeptical, and even such a “generous” move as this makes me nervous.  It makes me feel that things may be graver than anyone imagines. That exponentially, the great schools of striped bass and their respective prey are being dwindled.  That very soon, our 8, 9 and 10w rods might become museum pieces or only packed up when we head to Florida.  I’m planning on giving this season my best, being on the water looking for stripers at least 3 times a week. We will see.  We can ask Jon how his brethren are fairing.  I will guess that he feels the disturbance, and as the old migration begins anew again, we can only await the news from the water…I will be there. Jon will be there, crutches and all. But how many of the children will return to their summer homes…well, there should be at least seven stripers this year and if I hook one, like Jon did on his gorgeous tube fly,..whoohoo!


Drake Mag, down for maintenance

To my huge audience of loyal readers,

You are probably unaware that the Drake Mag website has been down for maintenance for the past several days…

Since the launch of GB Mag, who still gives a crap about Drake?

But if you want to know why they changed their site to make it look like GB Mag, this exchange of correspondence explains it…

Dear John,

With the success of GB Mag, I am no longer able to send my daughter to piano lessons.

I was hoping we could reach some middle ground, and perhaps share the audience. As it stands, they are currently all flocking to your website.

Yours truly,
Tom B., CEO of Drake Mag

Dear Tom,

From one powerful CEO to another, I have a suggestion.

Perhaps if you reformatted your site to look more like mine, your audience will return?

Sincere regards,
John S., CEO of GB Mag

Got one



Got one.

On the Spey fly, which was a particular thrill. The fly didn’t sink much in the current, but I was working it over the edge of a shallow bar with a nice drift that I thought held promise.

Great night to be out. Got em on the last cast, the wind had just gone from zero to 30 from the north. I was afraid of letting go of a crutch and having it wash away. I would have been fucked.

Had a great time being out with Billy. He took some pics which I will send in when he sends them.

The Ospreys were out.

And the fiddlers.

My fish was smaller, but very strong.


Being entirely on one leg is hard.

But I feel great.

Probably won’t do that again for a while. Like, it won’t be a nightly thing for me, though I would love it if it could be.

But it’s too much for me
To do that.


Musings from Charlie

Have you seen that the drake is down for maintenance?


Perhaps a post of grandstanding?

Stating that the drake is on their heels…

and with good reason…



They updated the site to look like GB Mag.

Actually, I’m 100 percent convinced they didn’t.

But to hell with facts.

Their new site looks enough like GB Mag, and that’s a coincidence that must be exploited.


You’re a lawyer, no?

I am.

A low standards, bring any case regardless of the merits scheister?…

Ah yes, the way you describe it, makes me long for my glory days as a barrister…


A more than fair description of me, my friend.

Was I generous?

Your description was, in fact, generous, and I appreciate that.

Perhaps you should file suit, pro se?

Pro what?!

Of course it would be for free, you bozo!

No… Not pro bono…

Pro se.

On your own behalf.

Oh… If that’s what you mean…

Of course I should!! Brilliant!!!

Look in the mirror dude, this is a perfect case for you….

Striper spring

Hey Tom,

The leg was busted all the way off.
But it is healing well. I will need to remain on crutches/walker for quite a while.


That’s ok: I needed the break, so to speak.

I noticed the other day that I am turning into a striper.


Then I received this picture yesterday, from my friend, Billy. It is in his yard where we sometimes park.  Remember? 

Large ones at the river already.


So I’ve rigged my rod, and tied on one of my favorite tube flies from my tying this winter as an offering to the first striper of the season.


This day is beautiful. South wind, sunny. Warm.

I will hobble to the river this evening, should my leg allow,

And cast.

For the first time this year.



P.s. Don’t tell anyone else the river is on, yet. It’s nice to have a couple of weeks of the place to just friends like us.

I won’t be up in Boston for a couple of more weeks. 

I have decided to allow more time to complete my metamorphosis into morone sapien saxatilis.

New Jersey headwaters


Max and I fished the Passaic River headwaters on Friday.

I agreed to guide him to his first wild trout in his home state of New Jersey.

We started the day with a little casting demonstration from Max…

He said he could roll cast with a 6 foot cane rod, like it were a spey…

“The dry fly touching the water is enough of an anchor to generate a powerful, spey style roll cast on a small stream…”

Here it is:

With a cast like that, Max wasn’t really in the game.

He needed to eat, but all I had was a raspberry danish with an expiration date of February 4.

I inspected it closely, and was a little wary of it for myself…

So I showed him the Entenmann’s danish, and offered it.

He nodded yes, and I passed it over.


Max wasn’t getting a bite all day long.

Not even with his spey style roll cast to help him present flies in tight quarters…

So I got a few pictures anyway…

Here he is…


By the pose, it looks like he’s stalking a fish.

But the danish saw things differently…

And made an early exit into the long johns…

I like the early season fishing on our wild trout streams, because the water is always higher, and the big fish are spread throughout the river. They aren’t holed up in their low water, summer lies.

Max landed this beautiful brown on a well presented dry.


Max presented a dry fly better than I could have imagined of a New England, striper fisherman. But we should have had more fish.

The little black stones were everywhere.

And I think this early season, prolific hatch may be the only small stream hatch that fish key in to…

So Max and I did our damage with an Iso emerger that perhaps was the darkest fly in my box – like these stones we were seeing…


Its been a long winter with bad news from friends, bad weather and personal reasons to stay off the water.

I appreciate the motivation to get off my ass and fish, and also the kind advice to clean my car…

I will.

And of course the story of our day isn’t my version above…

Had a great time and look forward to another day on the water soon, my friend, perhaps for a native brook trout from a Ramapo Mountain stream.

Bamboo of course.