Friday, September 16, 2016

First day out in VT in quite a while

I had last fished in VT on 7/24/2016.  Normally, it's not too hard to find places to fish in August, but certain waters are off limits.  This year, due to record heat and very low water conditions, I didn't fish in VT once during August.  I did fish in NH during August, and that's where I'll be fishing again next week, but I finally got out in VT last weekend.

After a few cool nights and some rain overnight on a Saturday, I got out on a Sunday evening, on the main branch of the White River.  The water temperature was still marginal at 68F, but it was cool enough to fish.  Flows were still low, but adequate for fishing.

As I got to the stream, I saw a few iso emergers and there were a few BWOs in the air.  I had already anticipated those flies, and I had a 3 fly rig with an iso nymph up top, a Batman Prince in the middle, and a juju Baetis last.  This is a series of 4 major pools that I was fishing top to bottom.

On my very first cast into the first pool, my strike indicator went under.  I was guessing the water was too shallow and I'd snagged a nymph, but I set the hook anyway.  I hooked a fish and turned him - a nice brown - and then because of bad line management, he got some slack and threw the hook.  Earlier in the year, I took an 18" brown in this pool, and it may very well have been the same fish.

After that, things slowed down a lot.  I worked down through the first hole with no more strikes.  None in the second hole either.  I was almost through the third when my strike indicator moved again.  This time, I hooked and landed a small wild rainbow.  And that was it for the day.

Well, I had one more strike but failed to hook the fish.  So, 3 strikes in 2.5 hours - not really all that great.  But, it was nice to be on the water.  And, I helped a young boy who was bait fishing and struggling with his equipment.  I always try to help the next generation when I can.  I know that I was a bait guy at his age, and hopefully he will remember a fly fisherman helping him, and he'll consider fly fishing as an option in the future.

Next Tuesday, I'm heading to NH for a week or so of fishing, and during the trip, I'll fish in NH, ME and eventually, back in VT.  I hope to get out on the Winooski this coming weekend as well.

My trip to NH starts on Tuesday.  I will get there somewhat late, but I'm hoping to get a little time on the Connecticut above Lake Francis on Tuesday evening, probably the lower half of the trophy section - Carr Bridge down to Doc's Hole or so.

Wednesday, I'm fishing with a guide below Murphy Dam, and the entire goal for the day is big browns.  We are going to start in darkness with mouse patterns, and then move to nymphs as we get some light.

Thursday, I'm going to fish the entire upper half of the trophy section - from the dam down to the bridge.  After I hike back to my car, I will see if I have time to do any more fishing.  If so, I have a number of places to consider.

Friday, I'll fish in the morning for a bit, but not too long.  I'm meeting friends that afternoon and staying in Dartmouth's Second College Land Grant for the weekend.  I'm guessing we will fish the Dead Diamond Friday night and Saturday morning.  At some point, we will cross into Maine to chase big brookies on the Magalloway.  I will fish until Sunday evening and then head back to Vermont.

Monday morning, I'm going to fish the Clyde for landlocked salmon coming out of Lake Memphremagog to spawn.  In the afternoon, I might hit the Black River in Irasburg on my way home.

That's 7 straight days of fishing and I'm beyond excited.  I know that water flows have been increased on the trophy section of the Connecticut and fishing has been improving.  I will be at most of these places when they aren't crowded, and I'll likely have time on the trophy water all to myself,  Just me and the fish.

This won't be the end of my season - far from it.  But, after next week, all of my fishing will be on weekends, right up until mid-November or so, when I'll put away the fly rods and pull out the skis.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Brodin: Another company with great customer service (and great products)

Earlier this year, I talked about how happy I was with customer service from Sage, Simms and Patagonia.  All of them took great care of me after I had an issue with a product.

On the flip-side, Rio never even acknowledged a problem I reported to them with some of their gear.  This was disappointing to me, because I use their fly lines and their tippet material and their leaders, and I had a problem with a very specialized leader, and just wanted some information.  I haven't stopped using their equipment, but I have stopped using that specialized leader, especially after it cost me a 4 pound brown trout the last time it failed.  But, this post isn't about Rio or any of those other companies.

I now have a new company to add to the "great customer service" list.

I have been using Brodin nets for a long time - probably 20 years.  I still have my first net from them, and it still works.  It's small, and it has the older style mesh fabric webbing, so I don't use it often, mostly because the newer style baskets are more kind to fish.  But, it gets used when I go out with a second fisherman who needs a net for the day.

Two weekends ago, in a very short period of time, I lost my Brodin Ghost Cutthroat net.  It was there when I used it to land a fish, and 15 minutes later, it was gone when I needed it for a bigger fish.  I searched all over the area for it, with no luck.  I've even had a local fisherman in that area keeping his ears open for me, in case a local fisherman finds it.  But, the reality is, it's gone.  I know if I found a net like that on a river, I'd try to get it back to the original owner somehow, but in my heart, I'd want to keep it.  It's that nice a product.
This morning, I sent Brodin a message.  They don't make the same net anymore, and I was asking them about my first choice as a replacement for the net.  I explained how I lost the net, and I assume it was my fault.  I'm guessing that I failed to hook the net to my pack properly.  I tried not to place any blame on them.

I got an immediate response from their "info" e-mail address.  The surname of the person who responded was Brodin.  This is not a giant business like Simms or Patagonia.  This is a small specialty business, where family members answer e-mails (or it's an amazing coincidence of a last name).

And, they did something that totally surprised me.  They offered me a discount on the replacement net to "help to ease the pain", as they phrased it.

I was already a fan of their products.  Now, I'm fan of their entire company.  I'm looking forward to the new net arriving before I go on a short fly fishing vacation later this month.  This is what I love about our sport.  The best companies out there know that we, as consumers, have a lot of options when it comes to gear.  And, many of us spend a lot on gear (our wives will back us up on that claim).

It's nice when a company goes out of the way to earn or keep your business.  Here's a pic of the new net: