Wednesday, January 19, 2022

WELCOME TO VOL 1/ISSUE 6  (DECEMBER 2021)

INTERNATIONAL TRAVEL

Ever since I first held a fishing rod, as winter turns to spring and the days lengthen, my fishing dreams turn to my two favorite freshwater fish—brown trout and pike. Pike I can catch in my beloved Czech Republic, but if I want a first class brown, the choices are few. This past spring, travel restrictions meant I was limited to Europe, so I phoned a few friends and scoured the internet for ideas. I was surprised to find some amazing information on Bulgarian brown trout. I knew roughly where Bulgaria was, I had heard that the countryside was beautiful, and I knew the capital was Sofia, but I had no clue what it offered fishing-wise.

I’m lolling in near-scalding mineral water, a gusty southern wind kicking up steam. Somewhere to the southwest, a typhoon is speeding my way, proceeded by gusty winds and banks of dark clouds that, admittedly, are a bit ominous. From my vantage in the natural hot springs, which are on the roof of the Akan Yuku no Sato Tsuruga hotel, it’s an impressive sight. Already, whitecaps are kicking up on the wide expanse of Lake Akan. For now, I settle a bit deeper into the steamy water, feeling my sore muscles pro-test; after 34 hours of flights from the United States, followed by a morning of two-handed casting, my shoulders are a bit cranky. A white-tailed eagle wheels overhead and I tip my head back, mulling the odd attractions that have drawn me to Japan, fly rods in tow.

Imagine hundreds of square miles of pristine saltwater flats, stretching as far as your eye can see, to where the horizon of water blurs into the hazy Caribbean sky. Aquatic habitat ranging from dense mangrove alleys to wide-open, savannah-like white sand flats, to reef-edge rollers … all within reach of the region’s preferred vessel: a simple panga.

Back in the 1980s I was the cameraman/producer of a television show featuring Lefty Krey’s travels and adventures across the top end of tropical Australia. He enjoyed world-class fly fishing for many species he hadn’t encountered before, and he cast on a variety of fish-rich and remote locations. It was a privilege to be with him as he saw for himself what Australia has to offer fly anglers. Before the end of the trip Lefty called Australia “the new frontier.”

The Miskito Coast stretches from the Costa Rican border all the way up Nicaragua’s Atlantic seaboard. The region is named not for the insects, as is often assumed, but, instead, for the Miskito Amerindians that are indigenous to this remote part of the Central American isthmus. The vast region is an extremely wild, half-forgotten corner of the world. But don’t overlook it; it offers one of the most exciting fly-fisheries in the world.

If you’re a saltwater fly fisher and the permit is your species of choice, you better prepare your-self for sleepless nights and days when you question your ability and equipment. I can think of very few other species that can take you on such an emotional rollercoast-er. The Permit Guru Mike Dawes once said that if you do everything correct, make a good presentation, don’t miss a strip, keep a permit’s interest, and you still don’t get the strike, you have to accept that as a win.

SPECIES PROFILE

DOMESTIC TRAVEL

Standing atop a stepladder blind-casting a tandem marabou jig rig into a bitter headwind that’s churning up rollers I could ride to shore on my longboard, I can’t help but feel like I’m playing the quarter slots in nearby Reno, Nevada. Cast, strip slowly, lift, and repeat, all in hopes that Lady Luck leads a cruising Lahontan cutthroat to one of my flies. To my left, my guide buddy Matt “Gilligan” Koles is perched on his ladder, launching a streamer with his seven-weight switch rod. Sporting neoprene duck-hunting waders and a pair of ski goggles, he came prepared for these cold, blustery conditions, which are known to bring Pyramid Lake’s big fish out to play. I cast again into the waves, let my flies settle near the sandy bottom, and begin to strip, waiting for another grab.

Most anglers believe that Alaska’s Illiamna/Bristol Bay/Katmai fishing season is strictly summer. But that’s not exactly true. Alaska actually offers two totally different fishing periods and your Alaska experience depends on which one you hit. Perhaps the most distinct difference in the two seasons is the availability of king salmon (also called chinook) and silver salmon (also called coho). If you arrive for the early season, which runs from the first week of June through July, you’ll likely find kings and sockeyes. If you choose the later season, which begins in August and runs through September, you’ll likely find silvers. The early season isn’t as highly regarded as the late season, but it offers some great options that often fly under the radar. I think the early season is fantastic and I have the photo support to prove it. Here’s what to plan for and expect if you choose to hit Alaska during the early weeks. These are my favorite elements.

CULTURE

November 1978, Madison Square Garden. With “Toys in the Attic” a few years behind them, Boston-born Aerosmith had begun its long descent into mediocrity that would eventually lead to a winking self-parody. But it was my first full-fledged rock concert, and despite the M-80s that some knuckleheads tossed from the mezzanine section, it was an exciting evening. (I like to think that the M-80 gang is still listening to Aerosmith today.)

About 15 years back, after a particularly exhausting Saturday spent casting and not catching, Kush and I found ourselves leaning against the Warthog, his battered old F-250, wondering if our steelheading was too frenetic to be sustained into middle age. Note a central theme: Friday night: arrive; drinks. Saturday: get up really early, beat everyone to the river; fish hard all day; off the river after dark; quick dinner; drinks.

GEAR

There is nothing straight forward about this. The choice of saltwater footwear is so personal it nearly defies recommendation. But one can offer parameters. Do you need fitting out for a dedicated wading trip or will you be mostly boat fishing with occasional forays into the water? What conditions are to be expected? Will you be walking nice hard sand flats or a mixture with soft suck holes and/or mud, mixed shells and coral pieces, horrid limestone ledges?

WHAT WE'RE WATCHING: Skiff Wanderer

TYER'S BENCH

Red-Nosed Tarpon Bunny Arek Kubale – December 15, 2021
The Murdich Minnow Dave Karczynski – December 15, 2021