For me, 2016 was a wild ride. It took me across the United States from New York to Montana, Wyoming and throughout the midwest. It also included a leap of faith in leaving my job to pursue a career writing and doing photography along with getting my teaching license in post-bachelors work. I also met a lot of great new people and honed my skills doing my new found passion, fly fishing.
I am slowly diversifying my fly fishing experiences, throughout the three years I’ve done this, I’ve taken a liking to trout fishing more than anything. The look, the fight and the techniques used to catch these fish is addicting.
As a Cleveland, Ohio native, we do not have the luxury of resident trout here in NE Ohio. There is the run of steelhead out of Lake Erie, beginning in fall (sometimes) and running into the spring. This fall was full of dry weather and low water levels minimizing time on the water.
I did hear from some self-proclaimed experts this was one of the best falls they’ve ever had. Those folks also fall into the “Secretive Angler” category, reusing old Instagram photos and passing them off as new fish they’ve caught. This type of person also won’t tell you what state they even catch the fish in or what day they were fishing. God forbid someone pass along general knowledge like someone once did to them. Ohio is full of this kind of bullshitter and should you ever run into this angler on the river, they HAVE ALWAYS CAUGHT 5 or 6 fish that day but ALL of them were caught hours before you got there. Ironic? They’ll also say you can’t catch fish in this spot or with that method IE: steelhead on stripped streamer.
The self-righteous angler we all know and loathe is the definition of many Ohio steelhead fishermen. While, I’ve met some great folks through steelhead, lake run fish just bring out the worst in some people. Don’t get me started on Michigan king salmon snagging either. Sorry, rant over.
However, I began my year of outdoor living by hooking a few steelhead with our local fly shop, Chagrin River Outfitters who helped me with the learning curve and finding some good water to fish here.
A few weeks later I went to Jackson, Wyoming, mainly to ski but did get in a few days on the Snake River hooking Whiteys. 🙁 I did have the opportunity to tie flies with Scott Sanchez and learn some new trout patterns from here. Scott is arguably one of the nicest people I’ve met in the fly fishing business and one heck of an angler and fly tyer.
Powder and the west go hand-in-hand and I certainly will be back to Jackson along with some other western towns soon.
I went up to Michigan and fished with my friend, Tommy Lynch, stripping streamers to mammal sized brown trout. While I had been away from the streamer game for some time, Tommy had me dialed quickly and now the Drunk & Disorderly is my go to fly pattern and feeling a tug from a stripped streamer is the SECOND best feeling in fly fishing.
The number one feeling is easily watching and setting the hook on a rising trout. I experienced this throughout 2016 and got the first feeling of it in Central Pennsylvania on both Spring Creek and Little Juniata.
In two separate trips I encountered BWO and Grannom hatches the first trip through and back in May, fished with my guide and friend, George Daniel and hit sulphurs throughout Central PA. Hatch season rules all and Pennsylvania’s hatches are some of the best in east.
Summer hit and I was able to get in some smallmouth bass fishing up on the Huron River in Michigan while attending Schultz Outfitters’ Demo Days in June. I’ve gotten to know Mike and Corey up there over the last year and they are great folks and incredible resources to warmwater and Northern Michigan fly fishing.
Father’s Day weekend, my dad and I got a taste of the hex hatch up on the Pere Marquette. This show is truly something to see, with tens of thousands of huge mayflies that show up on radar, falling and coming off the water and 20-inch plus brown trout exposing themselves at dusk. Before the hatch started we were dialed in on hoppers and got things rolling. While, we only pulled one fish during the hex, it was a memorable experience. If you are going, GO ON A WEEKDAY! Forget the traffic jam of inconsiderate anglers on the weekends with Larry, Curly, Moe’s all over the river on weekend days.
July came about and Dan Pribanic from Chagrin River Outfitters convinced me to head out west to Montana and do some trout fishing. As someone who was in a transition phase in my life, money was somewhat of a concern, but I knew the experience and good times would supersede any monetary issues. In Twin Bridges, we had the opportunity to fish several different rivers and streams which made for an outstanding week. Fishing the Madison River, Beaverhead, Big Hole and some small streams in and out of town, my
trout game drastically improved.
Afterwards I attended, Outdoor Writer’s Association of America conference in Billings, MT. Here I was able to meet people from several different publications which gave me some great inspiration to keep working on this site and my photography.
I ended August with another great trip, this time with the Orvis Cleveland store to the West Branch of the Delaware river. Here I hooked up with guide, John Miller, who has been fishing the Delaware for decades. Miller knows his stuff and found ways for us to hook fish all day long on arguably one of the country’s toughest tailwater fisheries.
Fall is usually hunting time and I try and squeak in some fishing when I can. I did get up to Baldwin, MI twice to do some trout and steelhead. Low water on the Pere Marquette was a worthy adversary keeping these fish spooky and on alert. However, I did manage some nice fish on two trips up there including a coho salmon, which WILL take a fly unlike a king.
I got out with Macie and worked on her pointing and retrieving. It was a nice fall to get in on some pheasant and chukar. I caped a few pheasants, so anyone who needs trout nymphs in spring, come see me!
As I reflect on this year, I measure it much more on what I accomplished as a person and in my life. At 27, I accomplished quite a lot and am very thankful for good health, supportive friends and family and blessings from God that have allowed me to fish, ski, hunt, be published in print and in photography several times this year and pursue my change of careers from former TV journalist to educator.