Planning, prepping and packing for a destination expedition with fly gear can be the most important process of your trip; it can also be a giant waste of time. Often times we are faced with an abundance of questions about flies, timing, tactics, weather and such that we as type A (anal), fly fishing types will almost always over prepare. Phone calls, intranet research, fishing reports and he said she said bullshit about flows, temperature and the probable “run” can lead to some sleepless ness when you are going into the unknown with fly rods. This trip has been different for me, I’m going home; home to the tribs of Lake Ontario and her Migratory fish that originally got me into this fur and feather bullshit. Not fishing my home waters on the great north coast for several years has not made my prep any easier.
EQUIPMENT: Be prepared to break shit. I have four rods, multiple reels, extra fly line, more than enough flies, leaders, floro tippet 1x-4x and enough weight to sink a boat. Sacrifice the underwear and goggle map the nearest laundry mat to make room for more fishing stuff, you won’t be sorry. This trip is all about research for 2 weeks of client trips next year and the data we collect will help the trips sell or not, so the pile of camera junk becomes just as important as the rods.
FLY TYING: This step in your prep can be one of those big wastes of time. 99% of the time you spend weeks trying to wear your bobbin out only to arrive and find your money patterns are two shades to dark and local knowledge says don’t play them. Flies for Great Lakes Tributaries are not the techy patterns my vise is used to seeing and it was a great time getting back to my roots of tying. Large blue and black Prince’s, Soft hackles in in every crayon color I could think up and of course egg imitations. This trip’s whole sale fly would be something we have coined the Bead Bug or the beaded soft hackle. There are over 100 of them jammed in my egg box so based on the moon phase and my over whelming confidence in the way they look I am relatively positive they won’t work. If you don’t tie flies this is the type of trip to start. Migratory fish don’t seem to care as much about how ugly your head is finished or if you splayed your Coc De Leon tails. Dig out a bunch of large hooks, some thread that won’t break and as much of that chenille that came in your original starter kit as you can recover. Sucker spawn, egg flies, small buggers, stones, comets, nuclear roe bugs and soft hackles with whatever twist you can dream up works just fine if you are on fish.
Softhackle Bead Bugs
PACKING: Clothing can make or break a trip comfort wise. Being prepared for wet and cold weather that the north coast very often throws at you can be the difference in finding a little solitude in one of the busiest combat fishing zones on the planet. On days when the weather is shit those who are not comfortable in the elements stay home, giving the river to those who know how to spend money on good gear. Good waders and boots, under layers of fleece and poly, good socks and a worthy rain jacket all make the trip no matter what, everything else becomes expendable as the majority of my fifty pound checked bag is equipment. I can buy a tee shirt if it’s too warm, I don’t want to buy gear. Buy a nice carry on bag that meets your airlines regs and will fit your rods and reels. For this trip its in charge of getting 4 rods, 4 reels, camera equipment and some tying stuff there safely; things I can’t afford to have lost for the first 3 days of a trip. I would also highly suggest shipping stuff to your destination in advance. This comes in handy when you want to use longer Switch and Spey rods that you can’t always pack or carry on.
PLANNING: I will start by saying the websites, updated material and the poor response to phone calls has me a touch let down heading into this. Being in the guide game in someplace like Colorado has taught me the importance of good information on a unique website that is updated responsibly, NY doesn’t have a clue. Being from the area helped as I still have a few contacts on the ground but we are going places I haven’t been in years so a chit chat with someone who you have some confidence in goes along way. It took a contact in Colorado (Jmac) to ultimately make a connection with an outfitter who will be floating us on our last day. It’s all about who you know.
PERSONNEL: Have a good team, guys who all bring something to the table that will add to the success rate. It can be at the tying table at night, the willingness to contribute without fishing (camera time, exploring, cooking), netting ability or a positive, patient attitude when things are tough. One sour apple makes for bad applesauce.
TIMING: Chasing Migratory fish is a tricky business, if they aint there, you aint going to catch them. No water, no fish, bad water temps, no fish are things you will need to be prepared for. Going in historically prime times can help but that’s what everyone else is thinking too. Don’t get stuck in one place when you are chasing Lake Runs, have an open mind and the ability to change locations to find the fish. For this trip that may mean going away from our primary target of Big Brown Trouts and may put us in a Steelhead mode(we’ll deal with it).
So blog season begins again for me, this year I kick it off with some nonsense from a destination home with old friends, family and Scott Thompson and Braeden of Minturn Anglers fame. I hope to check in with some updates and of course some pictures as this debacle unfolds, it's going to be interesteing.