Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Black Lake

Over 10,000 years ago large glaciers slowly dragged across the landscape leaving a twenty mile scar in the surface that is now Saint Lawrence County, New York.  This left sparkling granite bedrock exposed, showcasing deposits of rust red iron and veins of snow white quartz.  The water was once a murky tone allowing visibility to six inches at best.  This is how she obtained her name, Black Lake.

Since her and I have been friends, she has cleared dramatically due to the invasion of zebra mussels. The clearing of her waters did not make her miss her stride; she could still produce fish after fat fish. The deepest of her waters is only thirty feet allowing for expansive weed beds choking most bays by late June.  These mats, sometimes covering thirty acres at a time, provide perfect ambush spots for large pike and bass.  Spots that were made for kayak fishing, but  spots that are difficult to fish with lures made from fur and feathers for the majority of summer.

Many decades ago, my great grandparents bought a small island and quaint cabin on Black Lake.  The island is a granite glob protruding ten feet out of the water for half an acre.  The weather worn rocks are spotted with thousands of years of lichen growth interspersed with wild blueberries and waist high grasses.  There has never been any running water and the only source of power is a generator that is clogged with sticky gasoline that has been tested to temperature extremes over decades of unuse.  Any food and water you will need for your stay must be packed accordingly and ferried across the lake on ice.  There are two refrigerators in the cabin, but they store the nonperishable food from the island's other inhabitants.  The magnet on one of these refrigerators reads "This is a No Frills Kitchen."  A kitchen, or cabin for that matter, was never made that this saying was more fitting for.

I have visited with Black Lake since I was born.  At a young age I wanted to catch fish like I saw the rest of my family doing.  I would waddle down to the water's edge and fill my yellow bucket with lake water.  I would then clamber up from granite ledge to granite ledge and go fishing in that bucket. Perhaps I had seen too many monstrous fish pulled out of that lake to want to tangle with any of them or maybe I thought it would be easier to catch a fish in a smaller body of water.  I would sit there with my Snoopy Zebco waiting for my Snoopy bobber to be pulled into the eight inch depths.  It never happened in that bucket, but I am certain my first sunfish, perch, catfish, largemouth bass, crappie, smallmouth bass, and northern pike came from slightly deeper water only twenty feet from where I had once placed that bucket.  And many of those came with Snoopy's help.  Slightly older my sisters and I would have casting competitions with one rule: hooks only.  We would only make a few casts before one of us would have to reel in the perch that thought our gold Aberdeen looked like a tasty meal.  Older yet, I would occasionally experiment with lures in an attempt to make them more productive.  I put an apple slice on a hula popper (if I liked fruit, fish obviously had to as well) and made a cast I remember being tremendously long.  I made a couple turns of the reel and a hefty largemouth made a giant leap with my lure in its mouth.

It has been four years since I have seen her last and another four before that.  After graduating college I re-met with her for a brief week.  She seemed to still remember me.  She greeted me with the calls of loons and a placid surface.  She would light up the sky every night with her stunning sunsets and she still leaned in and softly sang me to sleep with her bullfrog songs.  When I last left, she was tossing three foot waves in an attempt to keep me with her.  She had not wanted me to leave so soon, and I had not wanted to leave her.  But life takes hold and moves you even farther from those you love.  You keep telling yourself to reconnect with old acquaintances, to make plans for a trip together, but it never happens.  Some memories fade but others only become more vibrant in your mind.  Soon, her and I will have that shore lunch we've been planning and she can try to convince me to never leave again.  I will be bringing some apples.

Monday, November 28, 2011

'Tis the Season for Cheap Flashabou

I was looking through Walmart's Christmas selection the other day and came across 100 strands of tinsel for 60 cents.  Most flash I have seen is $3.50 to $4.50 so that's about three dollars saved.  I grabbed two packs figuring that would definitely last me until next year.  It looks like they take a big sheet of mylar and put it through a paper shredder which gives you a few different widths of the strands.  Most of the tinsel is about 20 microns wider than regular flashabou, but I don't think most fish will mind the difference.  Maybe some of you picky trout tiers will.  If you wanted you could probably wait until December 26th and save another 20 cents per pack.

I recently came across flashabou for your hair.  First they take saddle hackle, then flashabou... soon you will see teen girls dubbing their bangs.  Maybe we should start throwing the girls decked out hair in the stream and see what we catch.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Flyyak's Got A Mascot!

When I came up with Flyyak's blog name, I had an idea to have a yak flying around somewhere.  I suppose I could have just copy and pasted a picture of  one of these:

and although Chuck Yeager would like it, that wasn't the image I was thinking of.  I was thinking of some cartoony animals flapping around in a that-could-never-happen kind of way.  Well I am a bad artist, and a worse photoshopper.  With an hour of drawings and half a day of figuring out how to use the most basic photoshop functions, I managed to come up with my flyyak.

 I don't have a name for him (or her) yet, so feel free to leave a name if you think of one... or to tell me I should have paid more attention in art class.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Progression of the October Snow

I heard the weather channel calling it "snowtober" yesterday.  I hate when portmanteaus are made out of words that don't belong together but someone smashed them into one word to sound cool.  It doesn't sound cool.  You sound like a tool.

Moving on.  We got snow.  In October.  Not really that rare for me but I didn't think it would have accumulated to more than half a foot.  I have trick or treated in snow before and have had an ice storm on October 13th before.  It's just a little too early for my liking.

I took some pictures of the progression of the storm because I was without power for twelve plus hours yesterday.  I did organize my fishing stuff, tie a few flies, dedust/cat fur my computer and threw a bunch of birds at some pigs.

Oh, I also dropped my phone in the toilet and lost the front half of my kayak rack to a  power line dangling over the road.  I think that's a goner unless I see it on my way into work tomorrow.

Notice all the tree limbs down.  The sound of limbs breaking was unreal while I was shoveling.

Rabbit on Rabbit
My first attempt at a double bunny fly. All I had was a small Bass Pro Shop catalog to look at, but I was happy with the results.  It was meaty enough I think for a toothy fish to want it.  Now to tie more in different colors.  If you'll excuse me I'm going to showerleep.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Goodbye Autumn

 I wish it was nice to see you winter.
...and it's accumulating quickly.

View from the balcony

Tak is not happy

Friday, October 28, 2011

Things To Do: Winter 2011 Edition

You're all thinking, "Wooo, a new blog post!.... wait this looks like a list of chores not a legitimate post."  Well, my loyal four followers, this one isn't just for you.

I like lists.  A lot.  Where I sit currently I can count four lists. And that is without ruffling the papers up.  I'm sure there are other forgotten and fairly unimportant lists hidden among the other papers.   All but one of those lists include food... so I guess I like food a lot too.  I wanted to put together a semi-formal list of things to do this winter when I'm not fishing.  I don't think I've ever fished from November to March so maybe that will go on the list if I'm bored enough.  I'm hoping that by placing a list on the blog where I can cross things off and maybe post about said list will provide some motivation to get the tasks marked off.

Tie some new jaw wrenching flies. Among, but not limited to, include the bunny butt slider, the sex dungeon, some sort of carp fly with some fancy barred orange legs (I'm not sure why but they look like something necessary for a carp fly).  Mostly I want to tie some meaty flies for pike and some carp flies.

Spin some deer hair.  I've been following Pat Cohen's blog for a while now and have wanted to try making some bass bugs that rival his.... OK, I'll be happy if they are a quarter of the quality as his.  I've made a couple experimental attempts with deer hair with only a little success.

Install kayak rod holders.  I recently picked up two Cabela's rod holders that should make my life on the water much easier.  They are designed for spin or bait casters which I usually have with me as well as the fly rod.  This will save me from having to shove a rod or two between my feet or behind my seat.  I've been using a still water kayak that has no fishing upgrades at all.  All I need is to borrow a power drill and a spade drill bit and that will change.

Get at least 5 substantial posts in by the end of February.  I have noticed that this blog is fish oriented.  What I mean from that is if I don't fish, I don't post.  The main point of this blog is to post about my fishing trips, but I want to expand that a little more with some pointless YouTube videos or some amateur flies I've tied.

...that list seemed longer in my head.  I will add things throughout winter and I will mark things off as I go.

If you'll excuse me, I have to go buy all the bread and milk from the grocery store for this impending nor' easter.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Things like this:

Too many false casts
...ok, it was a 350º pan.

make it hard to do things like this:

Fish on!
...ok, it was a snagged rock.

But I did so anyway and got some of these:

Stocked trout, not on the fly

Green sunfish, on the fly

One of them I didn't get:

Wheres Waldo baby musky

 And some autumn type pictures:

Mothers and their fallen

Poplar Puddle

Lonely Lambsear
Reds and Browns

Open and Closed

Oh, and happy birthday to the best guy I know!

Monday, October 3, 2011


Oranges, reds, and golds reflect off the glass pane surface of the lake.  A fish rises pecking at a fallen bug stuck in the tension of the surface. The ripples distort the reflection of leaves and dew and sky in a massive, vibrant collage.

This is my time of the year.

When you can smell the crunchy fallen leaves tumbling through the air and forming piles on every surface.  When you awake to dew thick enough it seems as though it just rained.  When most days are cloud filled, making every sunny day much more stunning.  When the dew turns to frost and every leaf and twig is covered with a crystal lace.  When you need a sweatshirt in the morning and are sweating by noon.  When every night seems to have a full, fat moon smiling above. When apples and cider and doughnuts are a constant craving.  When you must watch for ghouls and demons and witches. When the Great Pumpkin rises from the pumpkin patch.  When autumn is the only place you'd like to be.

I have always had a pull to this time of the year.  An insatiable appetite for everything that fall brings.  After school I would run off the bus to pile leaves as high as the rake and my arms would let me and then dive head first into the pile.  I would drag my dog in, and cover him up, and laugh as he darted free of me leaving a trail of cartwheeling leaves behind him.  I would sprint up the hill behind my house to a lone apple tree that my great-grandfather likely planted years ago.  The apples were small and tart and not particularly tasty, but they were free and dripped with the taste of fall.  I would go into the woods and sit.  I would be content with the fiery colors surrounding me and as the flames fell, I would try to catch them.  I was always fascinated in knowing I was the first, and potentially only, person to ever hold this leaf.  I would wait for anything to come by and be ready to take a picture of it.  I would then quickly be distracted by a caterpillar or a chipmunk.

Years later I discovered a golden delicious apple tree my grandparents owned.  The tree produced giant, softball sized, orbs of uneven, anemic, mottled yellow; but a bite into the apple yielded an explosion of sweet, tangy, luscious ambrosia.  This tree propagated a fruit I felt unworthy of eating.  But, I felt more worthy than the deer, who were also onto my secret nectar-of-the-gods, so I ate them anyway and enjoyed them until I felt ill.  The next year, my grandparents cut the tree down.  Every time I see a roadside stand or farmers market selling golden delicious apples, I buy them, and I am always disappointed.  I fear that no golden delicious apple will ever be able to share even a small piece of my memory with how good those apples were.

When we were younger, my sisters and I would construct our own haunted houses in our living room.  One of us would set everything up while the other two waited elsewhere.  When the "house" was perfected, we would turn off the lights and tour the others' creation.  I would rent books from the library for terrifying inspiration but all I remember learning was how to make thunder with a piece of paper.  In retrospect, the instructions to do so was to rumble a sheet of poster board, which I didn't have access to.  I improvised with a regular sheet of 8 x 11 paper and produced a sound reminiscent of someone shaking a piece of 20 lb, acid free paper.  Occasionally we would have made construction paper ghosts or cut out bats and the architect of the haunted house would hide and leap out at some point to add additional fright.   But my favorite decoration was the rocking horse our father made covered in a white blanket.  I suppose I originally created this to look like a ghost, but I quickly learned to place it just out of reach of the light seeping in from other rooms and directly in the path of where my sisters would walk.  One of them would quickly stumble over it, get hurt, and stop playing with me for the night, but it was worth it.  What's scarier than potential for bodily harm?

Lately it hasn't been the fall I was hoping for.  No crisp smells. No crunchy leaves.  No colors of fire leaping from tree to tree.  It has, instead, been a water-logged, mushy leaved, lack luster season.  I am grasping at the hope that there will be a week when the rain abates and the autumn leaves paint the forest.  I was planning on getting some supplementary fall pictures this weekend... but if I did that the pictures would all be grey, wet woods or flooded mud flows.  Here's some pictures from previous years to get a small fall fix.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Pocono Pond Pickerel

I went fishing with a couple guys on Thursday with the plan to fish the Francis E Walter dam.  Prior to leaving I looked at the flow gauge online and saw the water was moving at 4000 cfs compared to the normal 1000.  After arriving, we took a look at the dam and decided against fishing there and instead went to see what the small ponds nearby could produce.  I did not look at the weather forecast for up north and did not expect it to be 20º colder than it would be back at home.  Combined with rain, wind, and shorts, I was cold quickly but still fished the whole day.

We tried the pond at the north end of Walter Des Road (I heard it was called Stick Pond).  We quickly found Zoom super fluke were the lure of choice in any color for the pickerel.  Walking around the pond and casting were we could netted us roughly 10 picks between us and a 13" largemouth.  After fishing most of the exposed shore line we went to a series of three private ponds.  I only managed one pickerel here and lost two of the bigger ones of the day.  This taught me that although the pickerel is small, they still have teeth that can cut through fishing line like it was a spider web.  The guys I were with made out with two more largemouth and seven or so more pickerel landed the largest being 23".

The pickerel were all very agressive strikes from quickly walking the dog near the surface.  Some fish missed the lure three times, but with continued retrieve finally found the hook.  We probably had short strikes on twice as many fish we caught resulting in our flukes getting a few new holes in their tails.  Two of the bass hit the fluke within 3 seconds of hitting the water before we even got a chance to twitch the lure.  The third was caught in 6 feet of water on a Senko.

Black tears


Another toothy critter

After such success with the fluke, I still wanted more pond action on Friday so I went to a pond that apparently only exists in my faulty memory.  After finding out that there was never a pond there I hit up a section of the East Branch Perkiomen I haven't fished before.  I didn't have my waders, and it was much too cold to wet wade so I fished from shore and pulled 3 smallmouth 8, 10 and 15 inches, losing a few more.  I believe that 15" is my second best for the East Branch and a respectable fish out of any water.

Fat Perkiomen Smallmouth

Wooo! Underwater camera!

Those pickerel made me miss catching northern pike up north where I never fish without a leader.  I may have to add another trip to my to-do list.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Slow Going

The end of summer is upon us and with that comes hurricanes (apparently) and me sucking at catching fish (apparently).  Right before Irene came through I did some fishing and managed 5 smallies on the fly rod off the East Branch Perkiomen.  As soon as the rain started the bite stopped and I haven't had a bass on the fly since.  I managed to get a white perch and a couple fall fish while fly fishing adding to my species count.  With my mediocre flies not producing, I have started spin fishing again and managed a couple decent, for me, bass.  I've been mainly using a chartreuse buzz bait and getting some explosive reactions.

mmm... clousers


And that's where the fishing part of the blog stops.  

Irene came through and gave the area some hefty flooding.  I had to work the morning of the storm when the water was the highest which meant I had to find a route that didn't pass over any creeks or streams.  I wish I got more pictures that day but by the time I got out of work the water was back down to an unremarkable level.  Some trees were knocked down, some cars were stranded in the middle of bridges they thought they could ford, but most came through unscathed.  The Nockamixon spill way was cleared of most its weeds and left them in the trees.


I stumbled across a new edible mushroom for me to try.  The black trumpet.  I picked about a pound in a small area, but have yet to find a recipe that really stands out and showcases the mushrooms flavor.  I think I will experiment a little and see what works best.  I was already going to make an alfredo sauce, so I will toss some in there.  They smell like a peach or apricot and not like a mushroom at all.

Do you know what smells worse than a skunk?  

A skunk that's rotting on a muddy river bank.  

I thought about grabbing some of the skunks fur to make some flies but decided against it.  The catfish might like them.  

I'm hoping that's not a sign of the fishing to come. 

Monday, August 15, 2011

Mediocre Weekend

I had to go back to Binghamton this weekend to help assemble a garage with my family so I got out fairly early on Thursday to do some East Branch Perkiomen fishing.  I managed two smallmouth, a largemouth, and a bunch of panfish.  It felt good to be out again after a couple week hiatus from the long rod.  I tried a new foam beetle pattern that the panfish loved, but the larger fish were avoiding it.  Eventually, I switched to my trusty woolly bugger to pull in the bass. I had quite a few other decent hits but I managed to not land the fish.
Blooming Glenn Road covered bridge

Troll under the bridge

Big longear on the surface

Once I was home on Friday, I had some time so I hit up the Chenango River to see if I could get a few more smallies or even a walleye.  The spot I decided on required me to hike a few hundred feet through a stunning, 6 foot high, field of purple flowers. After arriving at the gravel pit and throwing a few casts out, I didn't like the clarity and moved down stream some.  This caused me to have to bush whack through some thick bamboo and driftwood.  Once making it out the other side I looked down and saw....

*Side story*  Two weeks ago Jackie and I were 1.5 miles upstream from the aforementioned location with her dog (aka my fishing partner).  We threw a toy in the river for him while this normally water loving dog refused to fetch it.  We watched the toy float slowly down stream while we could do nothing to retrieve it. *End of side story*

....THE SAME TOY WE LOST!!  While I was slightly excited to save 8 dollars, I was much more taken back that the toy beached itself in the spot, on the same side of the river, where I had happened to be meandering along two weeks later.  It must have been fate.  I cleaned it up and its as good as a moderately used dog toy that has been soaking in river water for two weeks... but it smells a little better.

Waiting for a ride home

Picture Perfect Purple

The must-have fish and rod picture

Swollen left leg

I managed to pull three better-than-stream sized smallies from the Chenango after forgoing the bugger and switching to a clouser minnow.  I may have a new favorite fly, but I'll need more field testing to be sure.  I guess that means another trip to the fly shop...

...of course I'll never get out again if this rain doesn't stop.