The Fish Stalker

Our blog post today comes from Barry -

"I wanted to share one of my favorite video clips with you.  It's a Tsimane archer in the jungles of Bolivia who never seems to miss.  He's using an arrow longer than his bow which has no nock and only 2 feathers for stability.  He moves with the predatory grace of a heron.  Enjoy"

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Guiding Season 2014

Tom  Ben Harris0952 2012


With fishing season right around the corner (our opening weekend is this Saturday), we are busy scheduling our guides.  We still have some days available in May and June which is primetime for hatches and rising fish here on Fishing Creek, our medium size freestone home water.  Get the details here and give us a call at 877-278-5638 to look at dates.  Hope to see you on the water.   Toby  Leslie BC BECK Image0012

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Send us your best fishing photo

We've shared many of our favorite photos with you over the past few months, but now we want to hear from you. 

Here are the guidelines: We're running a photo contest from today through September 18th.  Send us your favorite fishing photo by emailing it to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. 1 entry per person so choose wisely!  We will share all entries in a weekly blog and our office staff will choose the winners by September 25th.  1st Place Winner gets a Sage 2050 (5/6) Fly Reel, RIO Hat, and a 2014 Angler's Calendar. 2nd Place gets a RIO Grand Fly Line of their choice, RIO Hat, and a 2014 Angler's Calendar. 3rd Place gets a RIO hat and a 2014 Angler's Calendar.

If you don't have a favorite, get out on the water this weekend and snap one!  We're excited to see your best photos & hope to hear from all our readers.  Good luck!

Bighorn 09 1926


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Clinic Success

Good Afternoon.  We hope you all enjoyed the weekend.  The weather was beautiful here in PA.  We also hope you had a chance to get out on the water and do some fishing.  Saturday was Cathy's first casting clinic of the season and it went wonderfully.  Everyone had a great time and the fishing was amazing.  If you're thinking about learning to fly fish or just want to brush up on your technique, we have added another clinic to our schedule.  It's coming up on the 25th of this month.  Check out our website for details and then give us a call at 1-877-278-5638.


3824 Casting clinic   3827 Casting clinic  3833 Casting clinic

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Early Season Streamer Tactics

b2ap3_thumbnail_blog_0001_Brown-trout-streamer-0676.jpg  Last Thursday we were at the Philadelphia Angler's Club where Barry gave a presentation on Streamer Tactics for Big Fish. Our trout season opened here in northeastern Pennsylvania on Saturday and after several weeks of below average water levels, we got much needed rain and for the opener the stream was a tad high and off color. Perfect water for fishing streamers.

  With Barry's talk fresh in my mind, I thought it would be a good time to talk a little about fishing streamers. Streamers represent things that swim through the water that a trout would like to eat - skulpins, minnows, crayfish, leeches and so on. Things that make a meal. Streamers can be fished unweighted or weighted using lead eyes, cone heads, lead can be wrapped on the hook before tying the fly, split shot can be added to the leader, etc. Unless the water is very shallow, we prefer a streamer with weighted eyes most of the time so we can get an effective jig-like motion when retrieving.

  Most of the time we think the secret in in the retrieve and the depth at which the fly is being fished. If the water is cold and deep the fly has to be deep. If the fish are dormant on the bottom, a slower retrieve may be needed because the fish are not going to move far or move quickly. The fly has to be

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Trout Season Opens Soon

b2ap3_thumbnail_0772-Cathy-Becks-Super-Beetle_002_blg.jpgWith trout season just around the corner (April 13) here in Pennsylvania, we thought it might be a good time to let you know about a tying video that we posted to YouTube this week, Cathy Beck's Super Beetle. This beetle is a fun, inexpensive pattern to tie and you'll be surprised at how well it works.

As soon as the weather warms up, terrestrials will become active and this is a great pattern to tease up fish. It floats well, is easy to tie, and is a great fly to trail a nymph behind. We've used it for trout all over the world and ib2ap3_thumbnail_blog_0000_superbugger001v_006.jpgt never fails. 

The Super Bugger is another great eary-to-tie pattern to use when the water is cold, high, or off color. It's a good search-type streamer and it pushes a lot of water so it gets the attention of the fish even when they may not see it. Both of these patterns are also available for purchase from our store. We tie the Super Bugger in tan, black and olive.

Our water here at home looks very good. We haven't had any extremely high water this spring and now that the weather is warming up, we should have good spring hatches. If you haven't fished our private water on Fishing Creek, you might want to consider a day with one of our guides. We think our freestone water is pretty special and we think you will too. Check out the details and then give us a call to arrange a date. Wherever you are, if you're in trout country, we hope you have a great season!

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Preventative Winter Maintenance


Preventative Winter Maintenance

This is a good time of year to think about our tackle, especially rods and reels. There are a few things we could do now that might save us some frustration and expense later on and it will get us ready for the spring fishing – that is hopefully just around the corner.

Take a careful look at your rods & reels for anything that requires factory attention. This is a good time to send tackle in for repair. The warranty departments are often busy in prime fishing season, but can usually get repairs turned around quicker during the slower winter months.

Rods -

Examine the tip top and other guides for wear. Pay very close attention to the tip top as wear usually shows up on this guide from the line traveling in and out of the rod. The tiniest uneven spot or slight crack in the finish of the guide will ruin fly lines. Often your fly shop will have a rod repair person who can replace guides. If not you should contact the manufacturer about replacement.

The ferrule should not show any wear either. However, if the rod has been fished with loose ferrules it will eventually work into a broken ferrule. Telltale signs of this damage will be slight cracks in the female ferrule. If you see anything that looks suspicious, show it to someone at your local fly shop.

We use Simple Green on the cork rod handles. Wet the cork, spray with Simple Green, wait a minute or two, and wash off with a soft brush under clean running water. Let the rod air dry overnight to make sure all moisture is gone before putting it back in the tube for storage.

Pledge Wipes work well on the blank to restore a nice clean finish.

Reels -

Follow the manufacturer's instructions for reel lube. Depending on the drag system, your reel may not require and lube.

Look for corrosion on any screw heads, but especially on the reel foot. If you find anything that looks like it could be corrosion or lead to it, clean the area carefully with WD40 using a Q-tip or soft toothbrush (but not your wife's).

We use Pledge wipes on the outside of the reels to wipe away any dirt and to add a nice clean finish.

Look carefully at the line guard where the line comes off the reel to make sure it is not worn. Even the smallest grove made from the line wearing against the guard can make a sharp edge that can ruin the line.

Turn off all drags. If the drag is left on it can weaken over time.

Fly Lines -

All fly lines should be checked for wear and then put away clean for the winter. Use the manufacturer's suggested line cleaner. We prefer RIO's AgentX Line Dressing. Modern fly lines should never be cleaned with WD40 or Mucilin. Our lines today have sophisticated coatings which require sophisticated line cleaners.

To clean, pull as much line off the reel as you usually cast. Lay it in loose large coils on the floor. (If you have a pet cat, put him in another room.) With a clean paper towel put a squeeze of cleaner in the towel and pull the line through it working toward the leader. When you get to the end, fold the towel to a dry spot and pull the line back through. Wind it back on the reel.

Be watchful of cracks and rough spots in the line. If during the fishing season the line came in contact with Deet (di-ethyl-toluamide) from insect repellents, the line will appear as dry and cracked. Unfortunately, it will continue to deteriorate and will need to be replaced. A burr or crack in the rod tip or guide will also ruin your fly line. The leader or tippet can cut through the line if it gets tangled. This usually happens when a frustrated angler pulls on the mono and it cuts into the soft coating on the line. Modern lines are expensive and care should be taken to help them last as long as possible.

Before fishing in the spring replace your tippet material and leaders. Never store these items in the light. Keep them in your vest, desk drawer, or gear bag. Ultraviolet light will cause the mono to weaken and you'll loose knot strength. Always start with fresh leaders on your fly lines and fresh spools in your vest.

By taking time now to look over our equipment, we can save time later in costly repairs, replacements, or fish lost.

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Agua Boa Amazon Lodge

Our week at Agua Boa Amazon Lodge in Brazil was a great hit. Water was higher than usual and we had to work a little harder but everyone caught double digit peacocks and had a great time as shown here by Tom Harris and Will Andersen.

It's an amazing experience to be in the rainforest and to fish the river, a distant tributary to the Amazon. There are all kinds of fish species, birds, animals and exciting new things to see around each corner. This is truly a destination that always has something new to offer along with hard fighting, hungry, beautiful fish. We can't wait to go back.
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Rods Available - September, Alaska


We seldom have rods available this late in the summer for our September Alaska trip. As the photos show, the rainbows are fattened up from a summer of feasting and are in great shape getting ready for winter. The tundra landscape is beautiful, fresh cool mornings, often with fresh snow on the mountains.

Rainbows & Sockeyes


Fall is a gorgeous season anywhere, but especially so in Alaska. Grab one of these spots and come along for a week of exceptional fishing and scenery. Details. Contact us or Stew Armstrong at Frontiers today!
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Gloves & Stripping Fingers

As I write this we are in Cancun waiting to fly home. We've just spent a week at Isla Holbox, Mexico, for tarpon of all sizes. Isla Holbox is a lovely island, great lodge, great fishing. One of the most appealing aspects of Holbox is the fishing for baby tarpon (ranging from about 7 to 30 pounds) in the lagoons and rivers the crisscross the island. And during the migratory tarpon season there are big tarpon on the flats outside the island.

We use Sage Xi3 rods, 9 weights for the baby tarpon and 12 weights for the big tarpon. Any good size tarpon from about 15 pounds up is going to put up an impressive fight, and will jump with all his might again and again. It's explosive, fast moving action and you have to be ready to let him run while still keeping tension, get the line off the deck and out through the guides without any snafus. Having good gloves, stripping fingers, and/or tape will save your hands from line cuts. The line comes off the deck with such speed and friction that it's impossible to hang onto it without some protection on your fingers. And, if there is any sand on the line it will cut your hands as well.

We would sit at breakfast sharing stripping fingers and tape. Most of us prefer the stripping fingers as the tape sometimes loosens and it often starts to lift and then you've got an edge that the line can hang up on. When I do use tape, I find the best is the tape used in equine barns to wrap the hoofs of show horses. It comes in about 5" rolls and often costs less than $5 a roll. I cut it into about inch-wide strips and wrap my fingers. The tape is sticky and holds pretty well, but the stripping fingers are still best. My favorite gloves are Dr. Shade gloves with Polyurethane palms. The PU on the palms helps me get a better grip on the rod with wet hands and it wears better than nylon palms. They also help when working with fish. I find these gloves combined with stripping fingers are the ideal solution.

I use gloves and stripping fingers (finger guards) for peacock bass and chum salmon as well. When I'm wading and fishing for bonefish I use them because of the sand and shell grit that comes up with the line when the fish runs. The gloves also offer protection from sunburn. I get my stripping fingers from Sea Level Fly fishing, contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

When that fish takes off, you want to be ready to get things under control immediately. You can't do that if the line is burning cuts into your hands. Protect them from line cuts and you'll enjoy your fishing even more.

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Cathy's Fleeing Crab in Field & Stream

Cathy's Fleeing Crab with a natural

The coolest thing happened. Kirk Deeter has included my Fleeing Crab in his recent article in Field & Stream of his favorite patterns for trout and bass. It's an interesting list, be sure to take a look. You can check it out on our web site too under Merchandise. Thanks Kirk!
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Fly Casting Clinics and Guiding

Our casting clinics and guiding dates for the spring are filling up nicely but we've still got space so if you or someone you know is thinking about learning to fly fish, want to improve your cast or thinking about a day of fly fishing for trout on private water, we've got you covered! Our casting clinics are April 23 and May 14 & 21, for Basic fly casting and May 28 for Intermediate levels.

If you're looking for a special day of trout fishing how about a day of fishing on private water with one of our experienced guides. Carefully managed for over 30 years, our private water has an excellent population of browns and rainbows and some big fish that will knock your socks off! Come check us out for yourselves. We think you'll be impressed.

Check out the details on our website under Casting Clinics and Guiding. We're centrally located 3 hours from both Philadelphia and NYC in the heart of the Endless Mountains. Contact us for details.
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Choosing Your First Fly Reel

When putting together our first fly fishing “outfit” (rod, reel & line), we find ourselves making decisions about equipment that we probably don't know much about. This is when having a local fly shop is a very nice advantage. They have the expertise and knowledge to assist you with your selection. Arming yourself with some knowledge a head of time will help whether you can visit a fly shop or if you call a mailorder company.

A fly reel doesn't get a lot of attention but it is an important piece of gear and there are certain aspects of a fly reel that should be taken into consideration (beside cost) before making a decision on which model to buy.

The job of the fishing reel is to hold line. This is true whether you fly fish or fish with a spinning or bait casting rod. When retreiving, the line should go on the reel smoothly and evenly. Likewise, when a fish is running the line should also come off the reel smoothly and evenly without getting tangled. If the line doesn't come off the reel smoothly when the fish is running it could cause the fine leader to break. When you're winding line on the reel it's helpful to run the line between a couple fingers of your rod hand adding a little tension. This will help the line go on the reel in tighter coils which will help prevent the line from tangling on the reel.

When a fish is running line off the reel, it is the drag that keeps the line from getting tangled (if it was tight going on the reel). Drag is the tension on the line as it is leaving the reel. Most reels will have a drag knob which increases or decreases tension. If the drag is set too high for the strength of the leader you're using then the fish will break off. If it is set too light then the line comes off too quickly and the angler can't control the fish. Experiment with your drag setting by pulling line off the reel at different settings. If you're not sure what the drag setting should be, set it in the middle of the range until you become familiar with how it works. You'll know better after you've caught a few fish.

If the reel is an external rim model you can also “palm” the reel as the fish is taking line off the reel. The outside of the reel revolves in an external rim model. If the spool revolves inside a fixed frame than it can't be “palmed”. By palming the reel you can put light pressure on the spool as it turns and that will slow down the fish. A word of caution though – keep your fingers away from the revolving spool and reel knob when the reel is spinning.

A less important consideration is whether you like the sound of the reel. Reels sound differently from one to the next and usually the more expensive models are not as loud. Of course this is personal preference. Some anglers like to hear their reel as the fish is taking line off the reel and as they are reeling the line back on the reel. Most reels have a soft click as the line comes back on the reel and a louder click as the line is coming off the reel.

Most reels are easily converted from left hand wind to right hand wind or vise versa. Most of us today who cast with our right hand, reel with our left. You can, however, cast with your right hand and when you hook a fish, change hands, put the rod in your left hand so you can reel with your right hand. Either way works. For me I would rather not have to change hands when I've hooked a fish so I like to reel with my left hand. If you have more than one fly fisherman in the house, it's less confusing to have all the reels set up the same way. If that's not possible, make sure your reels are clearly marked so you don't get them mixed up.

To change the drag you take the spool out of the reel frame and usually flip a spring or a disc over to make it work in the opposite direction. Instructions should be included with your reel or if you buy it from a retail store, they will be able to change it for you. If you ask, most mail order companies will also switch it for you when ordering. If the reel has line on it and you switch the drag, you will then have to take all the line off the reel and wind it back on in the opposite direction so the drag is on the outgoing line.

Another consideration is weight and size. If you are buying a 5-weight rod, you will be buying a 5-weight fly line and thus will need a reel for a 5-weight line. If you buy a reel that is too small it may not be able to hold all of the line and backing (we'll discuss backing when we talk about fly lines). If the reel is too big the line and backing won't fill up the reel. This reel will be too heavy for the rod and will be cumbersome to fish with.

The actual weight of the reel is also important. When you look at a selection of reels that are compatible with a 5-weight line, you will notice quite a variance in weight. The weight of the reel is determined by how technical the drag is inside the reel and by the material used to manufacture the reel. Lighter materials like aluminum and carbon fiber are often found in the more expensive reels while the less expensive reels are often made from die cast. These are all very good materials. Be aware of the difference in weight and buy the lightest reel that is within your budget.

Another consideration is the availability of spare spools. You should start out fishing with a floating line which is what we use most of the time. But later on you may find that you want to buy a sink-tip line to use when the water is deep and the fish are down on the bottom. If you buy a spare spool for your reel, you'll be able to take out the spool that has the floating line on it and insert the spool with the sink-tip. Having a spare spool will make it easy to switch back and forth between the two lines and the spare spool costs less than buying second reel.

Like matching the fly line size to the rod, it's also important to match the size of the reel to the rod and line. While price often dictates what we purchase, keep the following points in mind while shopping for a reel:

1.Is it the correct size for the line you're using.
2.Does it have a drag adjustment.
3.Are spare spools available.
4.Can it be changed from left to right hand retrieve.
5.Do you like the way it sounds.
6.Is it made by a reputable company? If it needs to be repaired someday you'll want to be able to contact the manufacturer.

If you ask me for a couple of personal suggestions, I would recommend a reel like the Sage 1650. It can hold a 5-weight line and about 120 yards of 20 lb. backing, it's fairly lightweight, well made, and has an excellent drag. It's easily converted from left to right hand wind, spare spools are available, and it is large arbor. It retails for $99.00 and is a reel that you won't “out grow” and will be happy with years from now. There is also a 1680 for 7-9 weight lines. Sage

A second choice would be the Redington Crosswater CW2 4/5/6. Similar construction and features. I don't think the drag is as good as the 1650 but a very nice reel for the money. Reel retails for $55.
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Choosing A Flyrod







I can't tell you how many times people come up to us while we're in the Sage booth at Fly Fishing Shows and ask the question, "I'm just getting started in fly fishing. What should be my first rod?"

Of course at the shows, we have 90 rods on display representing at least 9 different "families" of rods, so I can imagine how intimidating this is for a brand new fly fisherman. But, actually the answer is not that difficult with the proper explanation.

There are many words used to describe the action of a fly rod. In layman's terms, what we are talking about is how little or how much the rods bends or flexes at the end of the casting stroke. In the industry we call this rod load. A stiffer rod bends less, thus making it a fast rod. Because it doesn't bend a lot, it generates fast line speed which can be very advantageous in some fishing situations, but this feature does not make it a good choice to use when learning to cast.

On the other hand, a soft rod bends more. This rod will protect lighter tippets and will give you a lighter, softer presentation on the water. But, like the fast rod it will not be a good rod to learn with because it takes a long time to recover from the bend or flex and your timing will suffer.

So, the perfect rod is somewhere in between, or what we call a medium-fast rod. If the caster can feel the line load the rod it will you establish the timing and rhythm of the cast. This is the first step to beginning to feel comfortable with fly casting.

The length and line weight is also a consideration. It's easy to think that a shorter rod will be an easier rod to start with, but that's not true. The most popular lengths rod for learning to cast is also the most popular lengths sold for general all around fishing and and that is 9'.  That said, I must admit that I like an 8-1/2 ft. too only because it's a
little lighter and not as tiring for a new caster, but either is a good length to start with and a useful length to use when fishing.

You will need to choose a line weight as well. This is the number assigned to the fly line which must match up with the rod. Rod manufacturers make this easy for us by putting the preferred line size on the rod blank usually close to the handle. If you look on the rod it will say something like, "9' #5 line". It it telling you the length of the rod and the line size that works best on the rod.

Line sizes range from 000 to 16 weight or from very very light to very heavy. If you're going to fish for trout and panfish though a line size of 4-5-6 should be your choice, and a 5 is my favorite to use when teaching someone to cast.

Therefore my favorite rods for teaching are medium-fast rods, either 8-1/2 or 9 feet in length for a #5 line.

If you were to ask me for a recommendation, I would suggest a Sage Vantage rod.

The Vantage is a medium fast fly rod and one that I particularly like and use in casting clinics. It's medium priced (in the range of beginner rods) and is available in 2 or 4 piece. It's also available as an outfit (rod, reel & line outfit).

An 8-1/2', #5 line, 2-piece, Vantage is $225. The 9' #5, 4 piece rod is $250 and the same rod in the outfit is $495, and includes a good reel and line.

For more information visit Sage, or visit your local Sage dealer.
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Angling Ethics

From Angling Ethics and the Golden Rule by Jim Bashline

(This was written at least 25 years ago and is still good advice. CB)

Angling for any fish species can be very basic or as complicated as one would like to make it. And it becomes more so each year. New methods, new tackle and new horizons as anglers learn more are continually adding refinements and different approaches to this simple sport. You can usually predict the arrival of budding anglers when you hear them say something like, “Wow, I didn’t know there was so much to this fishing thing. All the lures, flies, different kinds of rods and reels and everything. This is really interesting.” Indeed it is.

During the hasty years of youth, learning how to catch more and bigger fish is the major goal, but eventually most anglers develop an ethical code of their own. Where they fish, for which species and the type of tackle they choose are variables, but their codes are patterned after a common blueprint. It’s the well-tested Golden Rule.

Time teaches the growing angler that decent conduct on streams and lakes means better fishing and better-quality experiences for those who share the water with them. Today’s angling scene includes a different blend of participants. The kids and the “old-timers” are there, as they’ve always been, but there’s a new sort of entry-level group. It’s the fledgling fishermen between 25 and 45 years of age, who have decided recently to become anglers.

Now, a crusty rod holder who’s been stalking Pennsylvania waters for nearly a half century might say, I’m not going to rail against this wave of beginners. Sure, we’ve got to share the water with more license buyers, but these people also represent additional allies in our never-ending battle to conserve, maintain and add to the total fishing resource. I fervently believe that the defense of clean water is not vice and anglers should try to enlist all of the help they can find.

The “ethics of angling” undoubtedly sounds terribly lofty to some, and frankly, it may be. Perhaps a better choice of words would be “good manners.” As a large share of new anglers are attracted to fly fishing, so a large number of beginner sins are committed while wearing waders. In most cases, it isn’t that the novice is trying to be annoying, he simply doesn’t know. At the risk of sounding paternalistic, I’d like to insert some guidelines.

Wading noisily to a spot thirty feet away from another angler, who is obviously casting intently, is poor form. If the pool is large enough to accommodate additional anglers, it’s a good idea to observe the angler for a few minutes, determine whether he’s working his way upstream or down and then ask if he would mind if you fished “behind” him. Most anglers will be accommodating in this instance. Thank him and then quietly position yourself well away from him in the water he has already fished through. After all, he was there first.

A new fly fisherman can learn a lot by watching an accomplished veteran. If you see someone catch a fish from a particular spot, for heaven’s sake, don’t wade in next to him and start casting. It isn’t polite to ask flatly, “What are you catching them on?” A much better approach would be to make the observation, “Nice fish” or “It looks like you’ve got the right fly today.” Such an opening usually brings some worthwhile information and perhaps a sample of what fly the angler is using.

If the pool approached is not large enough to comfortably accommodate extra anglers, move up or downstream to another location. Yes, it’s a free country and all that, but on streams open to the public there is an unwritten “rule” that says: This particular spot is mine until I choose to give it up. Respect this rule and you’ll discover that others will too.

Where the regulations require the return of fish under or over a certain length or on no-kill waters, make a strong effort to learn how to handle the fish properly. Sure, we’ve all had to discover how to do a lot of things, but improper handling of released fish marks the beginner like no other indiscretion. It’s much easier to work with a fish in a net and remember that you shouldn’t keep a fish out of the water for longer than you can comfortably hold your breath. If you absolutely can’t get the fly out, cut it off and gently release the fish making sure that he has recovered.

If two or three anglers are fishing together, the proper procedure is to take turns in being the first to “work” a particular stretch of water. Yes, there is some luck involved in angling and a large measure of skill, but the first fly or lure to pass through a pool on any given day stands a better chance of scoring.

Ethical angling behavior should not be a mask that’s slipped on from time to time when others are watching. Actually, when others are watching is the easiest time for all anglers to do a bit of proper posturing. It’s those times when one is alone or thinks he is that true ethics are showcased.

Several years ago, as I fished a small tributary of Lake Wallenpaupack, I rounded a bend and saw an old angler wading behind a huge brown trout that was grounded on a shallow riffle. The fish was apparently attempting to move upstream for spawning. The autumn season had barely arrived, but this trophy-size fish had come from the lake a bit early.

At first it appeared that the grizzled angler was trying to grab the trout. As I silently watched it was soon obvious that he was coaxing the fish with his landing net in an effort to guide it into the next pool. Finally, when the fish began to flounder in less than two inches of water, the old man reached down and gently lifted it with both hands into deeper water. He watched the fish vanish into the depths and then, with great effort, pulled himself to a standing position by leaning on his wading staff.

“Hey, that was some trout.”

Startled, he turned and smiled, “Well, yes, it sure was. The biggest one I’ve seen in this creek for 30 years. Fact is, I gave some thought to just scooping it up in the landing net and . . .”

“Well, why didn’t you?”

The old timer smiled broadly and patted his chest. “That big trout is a healthy spawner and this is sort of my home stream. With some luck, I may have a chance to fish for its offspring. And besides, taking a big dead fish home without having hooked it fairly just wouldn’t be right. . . now would it?

No, it wouldn’t be. The defense testimony for ethics rests.
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Photographing Fish

We handle fish almost daily as either instructor, trip host, or fishing photographer. In all of these situations we want to capture the image and at the same time be sure that we are releasing a healthy fish that is not stressed or exhausted. Insuring the survival of the fish always takes priority over the photograph and there have been many times when we quickly released the fish without the photograph.

Sometimes we have to consider our own safety. Toothy fish like barracuda and sharks come to mind and even a small Jack Crevalle can give a nasty wound if handled improperly. Heck, we can get a sore hand by getting poked with the dorsal fin of a harmless panfish! These potentially hazardous situations can result from getting our hands too close to a mouthful of teeth (as in barracuda), or coming in contact with a sharp spine or gill plate (jack or snook), or an actual intended bite (shark). Cathy once grabbed a decaying sockeye salmon for a photo in Alaska and got her fingers inside its mouth of teeth. It took a month of antibiotics to get rid of the infection caused by bacteria in the rotting process. Be careful where you put your hands. Consider using a boca grip on a big fish to safely handle it for a photograph.

This is the system we use when we photograph fish. The longer a fish is out of the water the better the odds are of it not surviving. If the fish is in good shape one of us will compose the photo while the other is holding the fish safely underwater either gently cradling it or using a net. The person in charge of the fish can be getting it into the correct position for the photograph before lifting it when the photographer gives the word. If the head of the fish is gently cradled in one hand while gripping just ahead of the tail with the other hand, you’ll see plenty of the fish in the photograph and have a comfortable hold on it. For big or especially slippery fish a fishing glove or even a sun glove will help grip the tail. Make sure the glove is wet to protect the fish.

Our first photo will be a test shot of the angler holding the fish in the water. Then we'll check the photo for proper composition, lighting, etc. We may need to do this a couple times. When everything looks good, we'll let the angler know we're ready and on a count of three, the fish is lifted out of the water, the angler smiles, and the photographer fires three quick shots and the fish goes back underwater. We may repeat this process a couple times but with each “lift” the fish is only out of the water for about 5 seconds.

We cringe when we see an angler with a fish out of the water flopping around on the side of the river
while he gets his camera out of his pocket, turns it on, checks the program, and finally gets around to trying to hold the fish with one hand and photograph with the other. The only thing worse might be having the fish fall our of your hands in the boat or it landing in the dirt and stones alongside the water from an angler in a standing position. We always try to keep the net close by and the fish close to the water. If he slips away from us unharmed, so be it.

If the images look good in the preview, it’s time to release the fish. We’re still holding the fish with a firm grip just ahead of the tail keeping it in an upright position in the water. If it’s not anxious to go we slowly move it in a figure-eight or circular motion facing into the current making the gills work. Make sure the fish is in clean water where turtle grass, moss, sand, or mud won't foul the gills. If it's a trout, the water should be cold as well as clean. In saltwater, if the fish is exhausted or bleeding there may be predator fish in the area waiting for a chance to get at him. If it starts to turn sideways or goes upside down it’s in trouble, rescue it and repeat the revival process.

Remember, making sure the fish is healthy and not in any danger is the most important factor.
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Let's Go Fishing

We have a few openings on upcoming trips that we want to tell you about. We have a couple spots at Abaco Bonefish Lodge (May 14-21), one opening in Holbox, Mexico (June 13-19), and a couple on the Bighorn (August 14-21 or 21-28). We have space available for 4 night/3 day and-or 7 night/6 day packages. Click the links for prices and details on our Hosted Trips page.

Abaco Bonefish Lodge, Bahamas. Come along with us as we search the hard white sand flats so typical of the Bahamas for bonefish at this strategically located new lodge during prime time.

For a short time each year the big migratory tarpon are found at Holbox Island. The baby tarpon are always in the rivers and lagoons. Join us for an exciting trip fishing for both the big boys and the acrobatic babies.

If you saw the Wall Street Journal recently, you may have read about the expected grasshopper infestation in the west this summer. It's predicted that there may be 7 times the usual number of grasshoppers - the most in 150 years! The Bighorn is an amazing river during normal years, if this event happens, believe us - you don't want to miss it! Join us at Kingfisher Lodge in August.

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