Sunday, November 28, 2010

The Connecticut Outdoors - A Wife's Guest Post

Well, it's Sunday night, and I'd really like to post, but my wife (love you Sarah) is making me pack up my "Man Closet" (the closet off of our balcony with all of my fishing/hunting/hiking/outdoorsy stuff in it) for our upcoming move.  So instead, I've asked her to post about the top three outdoorsy things she is most excited about taking part in once we get out of the city and up north to Connecticut.  Take it away Sarah ...


Hi everyone!  Sarah here.  I'm sorry to be taking Bruce away from you for the night, but, let's face it, we move in less than a week whether Bruce's stuff is packed or not.

And fly rods are expensive to replace.

They need to safely make the trip.

As stressful as packing, moving and transitioning is, I am actually really excited about moving up north to Connecticut.  I lived there until I was 18 (at that point I moved to Pennsylvania for college) but there is so much I haven't experienced.  My family isn't as outdoorsy as Bruce's family is, so a trip to NYC to see a show was always higher up on the agenda than an all-day hike or camping trip.  I have a lot of time to make up for!

With all that said - here are the top three outdoorsy things I am most excited about jumping into when we get to Connecticut.

1. Fishing Photography

I think fly fishing is one of the most beautiful and peaceful sports there is.  Photographing someone fly fishing is like photographing a ballet - it is just graceful and mesmerizing.  The problem with living in Atlanta is that Bruce has to drive a good distance to get to a decent fishing spot.  I can't always take the time to go with him - or stay out for as long as he would like (and if we're driving far we hate taking two cars!).

I am really looking forward to tagging along on some of Bruce's closer fishing trips.  We will be living alongside the Housatonic River and I hope to get some decent shots of Bruce fishing, what he's catching and the beautiful scenery.

Wildlife and outdoor photography definitely isn't something that I'm used to.  It's much different from a newborn shot I did a few weeks ago where I jumped up and down and babbled in a baby voice to get the little one to smile.  It's much slower, much quieter and requires a lot more patience.  Any and all tips are appreciated!

2. Hiking The Appalachian Trail

Last week I told Bruce that I wanted to hike up Stone Mountain early in the morning to watch the sunrise before we left, so Saturday morning we left the apartment when it was still dark and started the very cold hike up the mountain.

I don't know if it was the 30 degree temperatures, the 30 mph blustery winds, the straight-up elevation or the fact that I had just run a half marathon two days before, but it was a HARD hike up the mountain!  I was not a happy hiker ...

... but it was totally worth it.

Last winter, Bruce and I were in Connecticut visiting my family and we did hike one part of the Appalachian Trail.  It was difficult, but fun!

I took this from the top of the mountain.  That's my mom's church!  What a cool bird's eye view.  I can't wait to see other parts of the trail.

3. Kayaking

I want a kayak.

I don't know why.  No one in my family has a kayak.  Only one of my friends owns a kayak.  I've been kayaking all of three times in my life.

The first time was in Alaska on a cruise shore excursion.  My aunt and I went "Glacier View Kayaking", which we thought meant we would be paddling quickly in and out of glaciers.  In fact, it meant we were just floating along with a nice view of a glacier 200 yards away.  At one point we got stuck in some sludge and the guide had push us out.


The second time was in Florida with my same aunt.  We thought we saw a gator about 20 minutes in, freaked out and paddled like hell to get back to shore.

The last time was back in Florida with Bruce.

We stayed out for over an hour and the next morning I could barely move my arms.  What a good workout!  Kayaking seems fun, because it can either be extremely peaceful or a really hard exhilarating workout.

I'm not sure where I would be able to go out - I'm assuming the Housatonic River, but I'm sure there are also places across the New York State border, as well the Connecticut coast.

I don't know much about kayaks (recommendations welcome!), but I have a feeling that I will probably want to save between $300 and $500 to get a decent kayak.  I'm thinking I want a recreational kayak - perhaps this Emotion Kayaks Comet Kayak from REI?

I wonder if it comes in pink?  (Sorry Bruce - I had to throw that in there)

Well, there you have it - my top three anticipated outdoorsy activities for the next chapter of our book together!  I can't wait!

It was great to be with you all today.  Please stop by my blog, The Strength of Faith, and say hi!

Adventure On,

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Can't Get Enough

Saturday I went on what was going to be a simple trip to the river.  I wanted to hit a spot I had never been, and it would have been wonderful had I not missed my turn.  I missed one street and had to call Sarah who guided me to the road I needed.  Once I was there I started with the dropper combo that treated me so well last week, but quickly scrapped that for what I saw was going on.  I was fishing close to the shore line and happened to look across that water and saw a fish sipping a dry about 40 yards out.  Once I calmly moved close enough to see what was going on I quickly reached for a box I added flies to just the night before.

Slapping every pocket on my vest twice could not find the box.  I was getting worried I forgot it, and then I remembered I left it next to my fly tying things.  This was not good, because in the time it took me to walk the 40 yards I noticed that a light cahill would work, but it would need to be small.  The box that I was missing had either some that were size 18 to 20, but the box was on my living room floor.  So the rest of the trip was spent digging though boxes trying to find the smallest flies I had with me.  I fooled a couple fish into taking my offering but what I really needed was the right fly.

It a great trip but left a bad taste in my mouth and taught me a lesson.  Never leave the house without the box that has the small dry flies in it. Well as I said this trip had the potential to be great, but with this bad taste I might need just one more trip before we move north.  I think I have Sarah talked into coming to this same spot with me on Friday.  Now I need to talk my boss into letting me knock off work that day, and make sure the small fly box is in my vest.

this guy was a little beat up but had lots of fight

Hoping to be on the water at least one more time before we leave for the north so keep checking in.


Sunday, November 14, 2010

Grand Finale?

The view from Bowman Island

So I don't know weather this will be my last trip to the dam before we move, but either way it might go down as one of the most fun and successful fishing trips I have had in Georgia.  I fish a not so secret area in Georgia on the Chattahoochee river.  Burford Dam is the dam that holds Lake Lanier back, but what draws me to Buford Dam is the river.  The water from the dam rarely comes out higher then 50 degrees fahrenheit which makes this a year round trout spot less then an hour from down town Atlanta.  There are a couple down falls to this spot, the first is the fact that it is not a secret everyone knows about this spot.  Another big down fall is the fact that it's a hydroelectric dam and they release water from it, so there are times when you just plan can't be on the river.  The plus side is there is a lot of cold water year round, which helps spread the fishermen and the fish out.  Another plus is that along with lots of stock fish this section has trout that are wild(released and possibly reproducing in the wild) trout.  Lastly there are some big brown trout here. An 18lb 6oz  state recored brown trout was pulled from the river here and that is nothing to sneeze at.

looking at the front side of the island

The trip if it was my last was a great way to leave.  I think I brought to hand something like 25 to 30 trout.  I only left for the river after 11, and most of the time you get a late start you need to fish till dark to catch fish.  This didn't hold true on Saturday for a couple simple reasons.  First there was an early morning water release from 6 a.m. till 9 a.m. so till i got there the levels where just about back to normal. Also the water was not crystal clear like normal, it had a blue green tint.  The tint was a welcome sight to me because the skies were so clear so it was a little cover for me.  I strive in overcast, cloudy water, rain, and I have even caught fish in a snow storm one year when my brother and I went out one winter.

There are a lot of holes to fish and the options are never ending when it comes to what kind of water you want to fish.  I had two spots in mind when I pulled into the parking lot and as I walked up on the first I noticed an older man just down stream from where I wanted to be.  I stood back a on the bank and watched to see which way he was moving and figured upstream because he kept checking up on me as I stood there.  With about four trucks in the parking lot I figured one of my other spots will be open, so with that one spoken for I moved on.  The second spot I had in mind was on the other side of an island, but I didn't want to back track up stream to get to my normal cross point.  In an effort to be respectful to the guy I moved down stream and crossed below him.  Then climbed up on to Bowmans island.  The island's banks are tall walls of dirt and they are kept that way by the releases but I found a very distinct game trail going up one bank and followed it.
center of the photo that light stick is a buck rub about 70 yards out

Once I was on the island I just had to cross and find a way down the other side. When was up there I saw a couple buck rubs and a big scrape.  I remembered I was fishing and my mind went back to the task at hand, finding a was down the other side.  I found another trail and amazingly enough when I got to water level I was directly across from my favorite spot on the back side of the island.  With an idea of how I wanted to fish the hole and went about setting up a dropper.  I tied a big Adams fly on and dropped a  Prince nymph off it. On the very first drift a trout shot up from the deep and went after the Adams and I was in such shock I missed the hooks set.  I was not expecting to have a fish go after the dry fly because of the water color and the fact that there was no fly hatch going on.  My Adams was the only dry on the water.  After a couple unsuccessful drifts I thought that maybe it was time to switch up the flies, and after about twenty minutes and three or four flies I was still batting zero.  I retreated to a close rock and thought out loud talking through water conditions, air temps, weather forecast and what I would be looking for if I was a trout.  I kept the Adams but dropped a Zebra Midge off the back of it and that was the ticket.

The sheer dirt wall of bowman island and the first of many holes to fish

I then had two and a half hours of fish on.  The fishing was almost easy once I got the nymph right, and it was a blast.  Sadly I did not pull out a record fish but what I did was a personal first. I landed a fish on three consecutive casts.  Also when the hole was kinda slowing down I had a trout come from the bottom and hit the dry fly again, but this time I set the hook and landed a pretty brown trout.  It is fall and not only do the leaves show off the brilliant colors but the trout too.  Every single trout I caught was amazing and I felt myself taking a little longer to look each one over.  As I was head to the crossing spot I fished holes that looked like they could hold trout.

Thinking about how trout sounded good and these trout all looked healthy and strong I felt like I would take one for a change.  So when I hooked up with one on the last hole of the day I kept it and thought about how and when I would eat it.  I grew up keeping every fish, but for the last ten to fifteen years now I have been a catch and release guy.  When I want to take and eat a trout now, it is something that I think more about.  Growing up it was about keeping the limit but now its a conscience decision that I will be taking this trout to eat.  

Some great color on all the fish but the browns had the best

second fish to try the Adams

just a little guy

I found a new angle

an example of fish colors in fall

Well once I was home I went to work prepping the fish.  I haven't filleted a fish in a long time, but after messing up one side and leaving a little meat on the bone it came back to me and the other side was just right.  I left the skin on because it helps keep the meat moist and together, plus we ate it skin on growing up unless it was a huge fish.  This morning I woke up and cooked my catch with lemon juice, butter, salt and pepper.  I had it with dippy  eggs and toast.  I love having fish with breakfast but I do not do it enough.  Actually since Sarah does not like fish we do not have a lot of fish, but I want to start eating more.

top fillet is the one that I didn't mess up

breakfast of champions 


So I was thinking if this was my last trip to the dam I can call it a great experience, but if I get up there again I hope I can match this trip.  Thanks for following along.


Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Lots of News

So, I haven't updated in a long time, but not without reason.  Here are a couple reasons why and some stuff to look forward to.  First an update on the fishing front.  It is not good, I have been out once in maybe a month.  Last weekend was my once and it was a big flop.  I went to a spot that was marked year round fishing on a Wildlife Reserve, and it was also marked for heavy stocking.  So I figured what the heck I could use some stupid stocked trout on some dummy flies.  This trip was a big flop, I ended up seeing 7 trout in about a mile and a half.  The water was clear as glass and the fish had been spooked a couple times before I got to them.  I sat on the bank and watched a great blue heron snag a trout and fly off.  As I crawled up on my last hole I heard gun fire and was glad I bought an blaze orange hat and day glow green vest.  It was hunting season and I remember fall fishing PA once or twice.  Orange will give you away sometimes but it will also keep you from being shot.

Now as for the rest of life.  I am working on a new project at work.  It is a value vehicle outlet lot, and it has been nothing but hard work at this point.  I am talking 60 plus hour weeks, and this weekend is the kick off.  Hopefully the rest of the week will be smooth and Saturday will go off without a hitch.  This is the web site "Value Vehicle Outlet" and I deal with all the incoming vehicles.  It is a lot of work but I think the end product will be a benefit to anyone who needs a car fast and needs to just spend cash for said vehicle.  Check out the site and the car prices, the idea is to be up front with any problems, but all cars are road safe.  No haggle, no questions, and the guarantees are inline with other top value lot out there.

This leaves the biggest news, Sarah and I are moving to Connecticut.  We will be leaving Atlanta in December and that has brought up lots of bittersweetness.  The bitter part is we will be leaving new and good friends.  These are people who acted as family while Sarah and I have been so far away from our family.  I could name  maybe a dozen people who have helped me and who I have helped and I will miss them all.   Also I will be missing all the conveniences of the city, and the short trip to the mountains.  I have found a ton of great fishing spots and the fact that I will be learning new waters is exciting.  Now for the good stuff, we will be closer to our families.  It is the northeast so I know the terrain in the woods and waters.  There are plenty of other things that make this move exciting, and in the coming weeks I will try to blog more.  For now read these two blogs from Sarah and they will fill you in fully "cleaning up cleaning out moving out moving up!" "On Faith And Rainbows"  Thanks for reading, and I will try to be better I promise.

Untill next time