Monday, March 3, 2014

Judge Ye Not!

It was a Black Ghost that caught my eye.

Now that is a bit unusual for me as I tend to gravitate towards a Mickey Finn. But, for some reason as I swung open my streamer box the B.G. came into view first. So I began the process of taking off the little Quill Gordon I had at the end of my tippet and replacing it with the larger streamer. And, once again the swirl across and slightly downstream from me took place. A nice swirl too. Perhaps that's the reason I found myself using one of my eyes to look down at what my fingers were doing with line and streamer, and the other eye was splitting off on a reconnaissance mission trying to keep tabs on the swirling brownie. You could tell it was a brown trout by that deep yellow almost golden colored belly that flashed.

Now with new ammo tied onto the line I hunkered down like a Marine Corps sniper to get into casting position, though why I should be concerned about stealth now after I had sloshed around trying to keep my legs steady against the flowing mass of river water is really quite silly, dont'cha think? But, focused in and counting "clicks", I picked the landing point for my black ghost streamer and made my cast.  A funny thing happened as the streamer flew through the air on its way to its' date with destiny.

I felt an alarm go off in my head, something wasn't right, there was danger ahead!

 " Haven't I done this before?" These words were quickly invading my mind as the streamer continued on its' way.  This all seems very familiar. Right down to the Black Ghost streamer, "No, wait a minute, this is something I read about ! That's it! I read about this situation somewhere, in some book, or in some magazine,  somewhere, ?" "But, Why am I getting this uneasy feeling?" "What was about to happen?"

My self-interrogation ended quickly when, I got startled by a sudden, very strong tug at the end of the line. Sudden, strong and gone, as I felt the line go slack!  I could see the remains of the swirl right where the end of my line had been, quickly fading down the river along amid the surface flotilla of leaves, puff balls and bubbles.

Reeling in the length of fly line that was flapping about the surface of the water, my thoughts returned to trying to solve the puzzle of, "I swear I read about something like this?" Was it Bergman? McClane? Lee? the latter last name, took me right to thinking of Lee Wulff, but no it wasn't Mr. Wulff or anyone else.  No, sadly I remembered what and where it was. It was a "conversation". It was a conversation, I had about a year or so ago, not too far from this very run right here, with another fly fisherman. I remember giving him "My Wisdom" about using a "fresh leader and tippet of the right size for the type of fly you use. This was after he told me he was puzzled as to why his line broke? He said he lost the fish, his streamer (a Black Ghost) and his favorite " 6x leader " the one he had been using for the last 3 years! The last 3 years!!! He was using a leader that was 3 years old, (it was more than likely older than that, but that was all he was admitting to) a 3 to one hundred year old leader, and a real thin, small diameter 6 x'er to boot, on a large streamer! A streamer that required a 3x leader if anything!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

"Man! What an idiot that guy was, a 300 year old 6x leader on a streamer!" I chuckled to myself as I thought back on that conversation with Mr. Idiot Fly Fisherman!!.
" Oh, well, time to get back to fishing, let's tie on another streamer and see if I can get another crack at that nice brownie or one like him." I said to myself.  It was then, that I looked down at my vest and I noticed the reason the alarm went off in my subconscious fly angler brain. It was the little size 16 Quill Gordon dry fly that I hooked into the " fleece drying patch " on my vest, the very fly that I took off of "My" 6x leader and tied a size 6 Black Ghost streamer on to! "Talk about being an idiot!"

Well, at least it was only last year's 6x leader.

Stay Classic,  JB

Sunday, June 30, 2013

What The Fishing Bastard Said

Fly fishermen can be a cantankerous lot.
If they have a day where they have caught a goodly amount of average size trout, they will boast of the number and complain that the fish were small. If the winds of good fortune smile upon them and they land the "big one", they will bemoan that it was the only fish they saw all day. Should all the planets line up for them and the number of trout caught is abundant and the size large and plump, they will frown that their usual fishing associate did not make this trip and will not believe their report.

Seems we are a hard lot to please.

Now, this is not new to the "Contemplative Man's Sport". The Elizabethan epigrammatis and Church of England Vicar Thomas Bastard ( yes, that's his name) penned the following lines in 1598:

 Book 6, Epigram 14: De Piscatione
by Thomas Bastard

"Fishing, if I a fisher may protest, 
Of pleasures is the sweetest, of sports the best,
Of exercises the most excellent.
Of recreations the most innocent. But now the sport is marred, and what, ye, why?
Fishes decrease, and fishers multiply."

A fly fisherman can also be pretty fond of argument and correction.

I recall a time when I had a pretty successful time at "Cemetery Pool" on N.Y.'s Beaverkill River. The angler upstream from me spent his time flogging the water, but came up empty in his quest. We happened to cross paths with each other as we came off the river and were heading to our automobiles.

 "Hey!, the angler said to me, " I couldn't help but notice that you were into a fish quite often down there. I couldn't buy a fish tonight if my life depended on it", the angler said with a defeated look on his face. "

 To which I replied, "Yeah, seems I could not miss at times. I was using a size 14 Quill Gordon Dry Fly ".

The angler, shook his head and said, "Really? You know that's the wrong fly!"

Right then the words of Fly Fisherman and Author, Corey Ford came to me,
" You can always tell a fisherman, but you can't tell him much!"

Keep it Classic, JB

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The EZ Lame Brain Doctrine

Caleb and Missy Gottrout Champion Fisher People
I remember reading something that Ed Zern wrote some years back. He talked about those anglers that could think like a fish. Now some 40 years later (for me) I am able to understand what Ed was talking about

Allow me to explain.

If you hang around your local fly shop or spend some time in places that are favorite "after-stream" watering holes, pay close attention to the inmates. These folks are without a doubt the same fishermen or at least direct descendants of those "line - chuckers" that lined the bar at Frank Keener's Antrim Lodge or the Hotels along the Brodheads. And, if you do pay close attention to them you will notice that the lamer the brain, the bigger and greater the quantity of their reported catch.

The reason is quite simple. They think just like a fish.

When one of these "fish-thinkers" gets to the stream, he looks it over carefully, and he thinks to himself (which is very fish-like), "Where would I be if I were a fish in this water?" When the spot is located, he wades in and makes his cast, attains his drift and follows the fly that took him 10 minutes to decide on, during which he had another internal conversation, asking himself, "Which fly would I want to eat, if I were a fish?" Should he catch a fish he takes extreme pride in his ability to "Think like a Fish." So it just goes to reason that a fisherman who thinks like a fish, will catch more and bigger fish, than a fisherman who thinks like an armadillo, a gecko or a golfer.

"Now", you may ask, "How are these folks able to think like a fish?"

The answer is quite simple.

We need only to consider, " how does a fish's brain work?"
Now contrary to popular thought, a fish is not very bright. His brain is very, very tiny in relation to his body size. So, the tinier the fisherman's brain is, the easier it is for him to think like a fish, and catch trout left and right! Thus the lame brainers have a distinct advantage over other angler's.

This same principle (The Ed Zern Lame Brain Doctrine, as I like to call it) also explains why the fisherman with the biggest mouths also catch the biggest and most large-mouth bass. I suppose there is also data to support the idea that if you have eyes like Marty Feldman, you should be able to knock the stuffing out of catching walleyes.

Stay Classic, JB Martin
(with apologies to Ed Zern)

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

10 Things to Avoid on Opening Day

The long, long wait is over, flies have been tied, lines cleaned and a fresh start on a new trout season is at hand. For many anglers "Opening Day of Trout" is more of a time honored tradition of seeing friends and breaking down the symphony of cabin fever that has been pounding in one's head since about Thanksgiving of the previous year. Even if you are a dedicated (aka nuts) winter fly angler who takes advantage of the 24/7/365 seasons on the various "No - Kills, Trout Conservation Areas or other Special Regs. water, Opening Day still carries with it the promise of hitting some of those special runs and pools, that have been "off-limits" for about 6 months.

     In an effort to help you dear reader, to have an enjoyable and trouble free Opening Day experience, I submit a list of at least "10 Things to Avoid on Opening Day!"

1.) Any pool with the name Cairns
2.) Flies from Nigeria
3.) The Broccoli, Cabbage and Sauerkraut Omelet at the diner.
       (especially if you plan to be wearing waders later.)

4.) Fishing with anyone who says, "No, I don't know the property owner, but they can't see us down here from the house."
5.) Grasshopper flies
6.) Getting up early
7.) Non - insulated waders

8.) Expecting to actually catch a trout
9.)  Fishing as a guest on private-water with anyone who says, " No, I said, I used to belong to this club."
10.) Actually fishing.

Enjoy yourself, soak it in as best as you can.......
                 .........after-all, there are only so many Opening Days in one's life!

Stay Classic, JB Martin

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Read Any Good Fish Lately?

In my estimation an angler would be greatly served, if they took some time to "learn how to read fish".
Notice I did not say, read " a " fish, but, read fish. " Fish " is a language unto itself. It is the language of the experienced fly fisherman. The only school that offers a course in it, is the "Trout Stream".

     It has often been said, "That, there ain't anything deader than a dead trout stream". This comment can certainly seem true when there are no bugs about and no sign of surface activity on the part of the fish. A dead stream can even be those moments when an angler, finds himself, on a very quiet stream and he can observe trout "lolling about" in the clear water, seemingly uninterested with anything. This article however, is about those times when a fish is not seen, but " fish " is read.
     One of the techniques that can be used, to entice a trout to come after an artificial dry fly when there is no "natural hatch" about, is known as "Forcing a Rise", the taking of an unseen fish by repeatedly casting over a chosen spot. My son Chris can attest to the fact, that this is a technique that I employ frequently, much to his dismay, as he is always on the move, looking to explore as much of the stream as possible, and does not have the patience to "beat the snot" out of a particular spot, as does dear old dad.

      Here is an account of  " reading  fish " from G. M. L. LaBranche,

" We were fishing the Brodhead, in Pennsylvania. It was in July and the day was very hot. The water was extremely low and very clear, and the upper reach of the stream just below the Canadensis bridge, which we had elected to fish, did not look big enough to hold a trout of any size. In one particular stretch there was a hundred yards of very shallow water, a small pocket on the right-hand bank being the only likely looking spot. I knew this stretch held many fine fish when the stream was in better condition, and I decided that this particular pocket might be the abiding-place of a good trout. As it was approaching the noon hour, I determined to go no farther up-stream but to spend a half hour experimenting on the little pocket.
      The surface of the miniature pool was not over eight feet wide anywhere nor more than that in length, but its depth below a jutting rock which formed one side of it convinced me that it was worth trying, although there was no actual indication that a fish occupied it. The bottom was plainly discernible, except in the swifter water near the head, and, so no fish could be seen, I selected the edge of this swift water upon which to place my fly. A dozen or more casts were made without any apparent effect, when suddenly a yellow gleam at the tail of the pocket, just after the fly had floated over the lip, disclosed a fine trout poised in the flattening water. Explaining the situation to my companion-who was now all excitement, having seen the fish, and who really did not believe it could be taken.

         On the spur of the moment I decided to try to prove my theory (forcing a rise- jb) at the risk of losing the fish.  I ceased casting to him. We watched him for probably two or three minutes, during which time he appeared to be keenly alert, when he quietly left his position and moved back up-stream into the swift water and out of sight. My opportunity had come, although my friend thought I had lost it. To make more certain that the color of the fly played no part in the affair, I substituted a Silver Sedge for the Whirling Dun I had been using. After about a dozen casts with this fly there came that same yellow gleam,and the fish was back into position again. This time I continued casting, and, although he seemed to "lean" toward the fly each time it came down, he did not take it until it had passed by ten times, finally rising deliberately and fastening on the eleventh cast. He proved to weigh one pound ten ounces.

     To what conclusion does the observation of this fish bring us?

If he had been ready to feed before the artificial appeared , is it likely that he would have permitted it to pass over or near him a score of times before taking?

And when he occupied what I call his feeding position, why did he allow the fly to pass ten times, although exhibiting a certain interest in it each time?

It was never beyond his reach and could easily have been taken.

Was the desire to feed being gradually aroused in him at each sight of the fly?

When he did take it, it was done with such certainty that he must have believed it to be a natural, although quite unlike anything he had recently seen.

One thing is certain, however.

He was "decoyed" from one position to another on two occasions within a few minutes of each other, and by a different pattern of fly each time."      - (The Dry Fly and Fast Water, Geo. M. L. LaBranche)

     This account is a fine example of using " technique " when one reads " fish  ".
The next time you find yourself on the stream and nothing seems to be happening, try " forcing a rise ".
Along with knowing " Fish " fluently, you just may find yourself, proficient in another language.

Stay Classic,  J.B. Martin

Saturday, March 16, 2013

New, But Still Classic.....

"The more things change, the more things still stay the same." Its' an old saying, but like most of the old sayings, it comes to town riding on a breath of truth.

Back in 1992 a simple, thought provoking, film hit the American movie houses and began to create a new generation of creature upon the streams of this country. The creature: "The Modern Fly Fisherman", the movie: "A River Runs Through It" and for the next 15 years, give or take a bit, the sport of Fly Fishing began "another" renaissance.

We find this about the movie from Wilkipedia:

"A River Runs Through It is a 1992 American film directed by Robert Redford and starring Brad Pitt, Craig Sheffer, Tom Skerritt, Brenda Blethyn, and Emily Lloyd. It is a period drama based on the semi-autobiographical novella A River Runs Through It (1976) written by Norman Maclean (1902–90), adapted for the screen by Richard Friedenberg.
Set in and around the city of Missoula in western Montana, the story follows two sons of a Presbyterian minister—one studious and the other rebellious—as they grow up and come of age in a time that roughly spans the Prohibition era (1919–33) in the United States: from World War I (1917–18) to the early days of the Great Depression (1929–41).
The film won an Academy Award for Best Cinematography in 1993 and was nominated for two other Oscars, for Best Music, Original Score and Best Adapted Screenplay. The film grossed $43,440,294 in US domestic returns"

Impressive indeed.

New Fly Shops started springing up, Extravagant Fly Fishing Shows, the Outdoor Channels were offering Fly Fishing Only T.V. shows, new fly patterns, new gear,  the "Fly Rod" became the "I-Phone" of it's day back just a few years ago.

I was not untouched by this "cool way to fish " either in that day, even though I had been on the stream with fly rod in hand since the 1960's (my gray hair is real, thank you). In 2004, with the help of my son Chris, we put together a "fly fishing web site" called "".  The vision for ClassicTrout was to keep alive the fly fishing heritage and tradition of fly fishing that existed "before the MOVIE".

Now don't start writing letters to the editor here.

I loved the movie.

But there was such a "rush" to "modernize" and "revolutionize" the sport, due to its' new and almost maniac popularity, that I felt a deep breath needed to be taken and to try and stop some of the "gold rush" mentality.
Not looking for martyrdom or seeking to make myself in my mind, better or mightier than others, I just felt that perhaps, there was a need for a return to some of the "old days", whether they were the good old ones or not. Afterall, fly fishing is known as, "The Contemplative Man's Sport."

Now, with that said, I honestly don't care how another angler fishes or even what his motives are, afterall angling is about the pursuit of enjoyment, so go ahead, to thine own self be true! Enough said.

Now, however, we find ourselves again at another crossroad in the sport. The Internet and Social Media.
Yes, there is an effect on this sport by the Internet, there has been one for quite sometime now. Here I lean totally in the other direction in embracing the newest in technology (obviously, or I would not be writing a blog and you would not be reading it).  The wonderful thing here is that it offers the same flexibility to all.
We can can write and share our experiences, we can educate, we can be educated, we can inform and we can socialize and enjoy. Private Forums on web sites have taken a "nose-dive" across the Internet. While they are still sought out by the "newbie" who is in search of info about his particular situation. The more established practitioner seeks a quicker more "accessible" venue to ask a question, read a post, look at or post a photo or video. This is where Social Media meets the Fly Fisherman. The research confirms it.

So it is with this in mind that I have "UPDATED" to the masses. is now for the most part entirely a Facebook based enterprise. This blog will be active with my personal thoughts, stories and tall tales, I hope you enjoy them.

Please comment as freely as you wish.

Jim JB Martin