March 6, 2022

Me Time

Sometimes you just want to be alone.

I love my family, I enjoy the company of good friends, but there is nothing quite as refreshing as solitude on a headwaters trout stream.

A recent trip to North Georgia allowed for a lot of "me time." 

It's multiple hours of driving each way. One's mind can wander through an encyclopedia of topics as the monotony of those highway miles melt away the daylight. Racing your GPS's predicted arrival time can be a fun, but fleeting distraction.

You know the weather isn't supposed to be great. The fishing that "turned on" with the warmer Spring temperatures earlier in the week is forecasted to retreat, in favor of overcast skies, intermittent rain, and piscatorial lethargy.

But that's okay. Soon enough it's only you, and the omnipresent whisper of flowing water as a companion. Stepping beneath the canopy, it's soothing... relaxing... the perfect elixir to all that ails.

You fall into an almost trance-like state while meandering up the steep mountain flow, softly dropping casts into pockets of soft water, one after another after another.

Suddenly, you are jostled out of inebriation by a taut line and bending rod. A visitor bringing a jolt of adrenaline pays a welcomed, albeit brief visit. Arriving dressed for the occasion, you pause to admire their stunning attire. However shortly after your handshake greeting, they quickly, but silently depart.

People fish for a lot of different reasons. For food, compensation, entertainment, or even notoriety.

Growing up an only child of divorced parents, I was able to regularly explore the benefits of detachment, affording me the ability to stretch my imagination and independence on demand, without oversight. 

As I grow older, it's become apparent that I fish to immerse myself in that comfortably nostalgic feeling of being alone. No emails, no deadlines, no responsibilities. Only a seven hour drive for seven inch fish. 

And I wouldn't have it any other way.


February 21, 2022

Small Stream Reflections

Alan Petrucci (or as some may have known him, Brk Trt or Uppahdam) is one of the most widely-respected anglers and bloggers I've ever been fortunate enough to know. Universally loved within our angling community, shocked and saddened are poor descriptors of my feelings when I learned that Alan had recently passed away.

Alan was a small stream master, ever in pursuit of blue lines and "wild jewels" (brook trout). It was not uncommon that he'd punctuate his blog posts with a photo of a delicious meal, a bit of his writing trademark. We unfortunately never got to meet in person, but exchanged many emails and communications over at least the last decade, even swapping some flies and stories by way of physical mail. I considered Alan a friend, and a role model in fishing, fly tying, and writing.

I suspect if you're one of the people that read this blog, you have also read Alan's almost daily installments of "Small Stream Reflections" as well. If not, you owe it to yourself to do so. There are few writers in this digital format that are as proficient at summarizing the multitude of emotions and intimate experiences an angler encounters both on the water and in life. You could tell his genuine love for the outdoors was only surpassed by that for his family.

I've always struggled saying the right things when somebody passes away. The omnipresent "condolences," or "thoughts and prayers" never seem sufficient. So I'll end this post simply; Alan, you will be sorely missed. Tight lines and Godspeed my friend.

February 19, 2022

Tenkara Path River Driftwood Fly Display

It's nice to be able to find time to blog again. I've been mostly consumed by work since the holidays... NFL Playoffs and the like kept me busy at all hours of the day. And when I wasn't working, I was dedicating a little time to the Tenkara Angler website, so good old T! went a little neglected.

Well, it doesn't mean fishing hasn't been on the mind. I'm super stir crazy right now and really need a day or two in the woods in the worst way. I might even head up to North Georgia next weekend to get a little trout fishing in... we'll see. 

But today I wanted to pop out a quick post to highlight something I received in the mail this past Friday. Its a lovely little river driftwood fly display from my friend Dennis who writes over at the Tenkara Path blog, as well as has a shop on Etsy.


There's nothing particularly fancy about it, and that's kind of the point. It's beautiful in its simplicity and will provide a source of inspiration at my tying bench. I thought it might be nice to display flies that were received in fly swaps or similar. For example, the second fly from the left was tied by Eiji Yamakawa, a friend who lives in Japan.

In any event, if you're interested in this sort of thing, check out the Tenkara Path shop on Etsy. Dennis is quite the wood worker and in addition to these displays, also sells tenkara line spools, thread bobbins, and lines. Even if you're not into tenkara, Etsy is always a fun place to show around "fly fishing" gear and accessories.

January 16, 2022

The Lost Valley Creek Fishing Report

Lost...?

In reviewing my posts from 2021 I realized that I never bothered to write up two short trips I made to Valley Creek during my family's 3 week return to Philadelphia in July. While the weather was warm (we were there around the 4th), the mornings in Valley Forge were nice and cool, as was the water. At least until the sun got high in the sky.

July 3rd...


Yeah, the wooden bridge. It's not the most famous wooden bridge over Valley Creek, but for those that know where this is, they also know how convenient it is to use to access the stream. 

On this day I took my Orvis 3-weight Superfine Carbon on its maiden voyage. I picked it up on sale when Orvis discontinued the model in favor of the fiberglass version. In the time I've fished it I've really enjoyed it. A bit more light in hand and fun to cast than my old Redington Classic Trout, (although that's a nice rod too and much less expensive than this Orvis) - I kinda regret selling it.


After hitting the water at around 9AM, it didn't take long for me to find one of Valley's brown trout. A fine specimen of what the creek has to offer, and one of a few I'd bring to hand on the day.


The fishing wasn't epic by any stretch, but with air temperatures only reaching the 70s, it was an absolute joy to be outside. A lot of other people had the same idea, as there were tons of folks not only fishing, but also riding horses, walking dogs, playing in the water, and all the other things people do on and around trails within a popular park. If you look closely at the photo below, you'll see some people getting their feet wet right beyond the metal bridge.  


July 10...

This day was to be a tenkara day. Not getting into semantics, I'll call it tenkara here, but I largely fished with beadhead nymphs... which is decidedly #nottenkara. I met up with a local fixed line angler named George that I had met on Facebook and we pretty much had our run of the creek that morning. 


It was a bit warmer than the prior week, so we were only going to fish in the morning. If I recall, I caught 3 or 4 browns mostly in the riffles.


I think George caught one or two as well, I don't remember exactly. It was one of those fishing trips where you meet up with somebody and chat for a bit, but give each other plenty of space on the stream. 

George was within view, but we were never fishing next to each other. That said, we'd occasionally meet up and swap stories with lines out of the water.



As planned, we called it quits around lunchtime. Mother Nature's oven was now on full blast and the fishing activity had diminished considerably. After collapsing our rods, we walked back up to the parking lot and stowed our gear while exchanging a few final stories about upcoming fishing plans. 

George is a great guy. I'm thrilled we got to meet up and I'd love to fish with him again someday.

January 10, 2022

Finding Meaning in a Weird Fishing Dream

Do you ever dream about fishing?

I don't mean daydream or to have aspiration. I mean actually dream, like while sleeping. I very rarely do, or at least that I can recall. I don't remember many of my dreams in the first place.

On this past Friday night I did dream about fishing, and when I woke up the events stuck to my conscious mind. It was a weird dream, but one I'd like to jot down, if only to document that it (and what followed) actually happened.

The scene is in a dark woods, perhaps at around dusk. It was definitely low light, almost like a tunnel of thick trees where the only light making it in was from a small break in the distance, creating a lot of shadows.

Image courtesy: https://akirakosemura.bandcamp.com/album/in-the-dark-woods

I might have been there with somebody, I don't recall, but as I progressed down the path I eventually approached a stream. One you could tell was there from the sound of moving water, but remained just out of sight due to its lower elevation when compared to the bank. Standing a good distance away to make my cast and not to spook any fish that could sight me, I tossed a blind cast into the void.

A count of one or two passed and the line went tight with violent pressure. Feeling a solid hookup and deep bend of my rod, I approached the water's edge. When the stream finally came into view, it was flooded with nothing but the white bellies of small, dead fish. The eddy was full of what looked like a massive fish kill... maybe brook trout, I'm not sure, but my line was dancing; weaving its way through the bodies.

Image courtesy: https://www.mass.gov/news/report-fish-kills

Once the shock passed, I brushed aside the dead fish with the back of my right hand to free my line from impediment and began to hand line (I was guess I was fishing tenkara) in the mystery fish at its terminal end. As it rose from the dark a thick body of vibrant bronze that was lightly spotted came into view.

I reached down and held the fish in my hand. It was some sort of trout, but not a species I'd ever caught before. It was a large one, perhaps 16 or 18 so inches, with a width spanning the length of my fingertip to wrist. Hook plucked from its jaws, a quick flick of its tail sent it back into the depths.

And then it was over. At least the dream was.

Or so I thought.

See, on Saturday I was reading some blogs in my blogroll to see what some of my favorite anglers were up to. Then I saw it... over on Ben Smith's blog.


That was the fish, albeit in much sunnier environs. I was tempted to comment about my dream on the post, but instead just left some sort of generic "beautiful fish" comment. But a day or so later I'm still irked by this circumstance, hence the impetus to write today's post.

Not previously self-challenged to make sense of my dreams, I'm not sure what it means. Coincidence? Foreshadowing? Are Gila trout in my future? What about the dark woods and all the dead brookies? 

All I do know is it was indeed a very weird dream...