Tyler and I had the pleasure of fishing with central Pennsylvania's premier Smallmouth guides, Brian Shumaker. Brian is the owner of Susquehanna River Guides and has spent the past 30 years floating the rivers in and around west central PA including the fabled Susquehanna and Juniata rivers. Brian has become a good friend over the years so we jumped at the chance to spend a day on the water with him.
We did the 2 hour ride from our place to the meeting spot in record time where we then followed Brian with his Hyde drift boat in tow to the um, well, we will say...boat ramp. We were on a smaller piece of water Brain can only float in his hard hull during the Spring. later in the year there is simply not enough water to get down this particular river. Getting the boat in the water was interesting, but we got it down the bank and we were soon on our way.
Smallmouth are my favorite fish, they are beautiful, hard fighting and are tailor made for fly fishing. We spent the day pounding the banks and back eddies with streamers and slowly stripping them back. "Stripping them back" is really a bit of a misnomer, really we were just letting the flies hang and swing a bit and just keeping the line tight as the boat drifted down river. This is a cool technique as once you "get" it you can literally hold the fly in one spot for an extended amount of time to entice a big ole' bronze back to come up from the deeper water and smash it.
We started off a little slow, typical with spring time smallmouth fishing as the water was still a bit on the cool side at 52 degrees. When the sun got up and the water warmed so did the fishing. As soon as he stepped up on to the front casting position Brian was tight to a solid smallmouth. Literally it was on his first or 2nd cast!
nThis was not a guided trip, it was what we call a "row and go" meaning three guys are in the boat, 2 guys fishing and 1 rowing the boat. We would switch positions so every got to fish and every one would row. If rowing a drift boat is not something you do every day you will soon appreciate the skill of an accomplished oarsman. It is not as easy as a good rower makes it look...just ask Tyler. I really think you should spend some time on the oars if you can, it will give you a better appreciation of how everyone needs to work together for the boat to be successful. Tyler was picking it up toward the end, I am very excited for our Smith Fly raft to be completed so we can start floating some of our local (and not so local) rivers this summer.
On his second stint on the bow Tyler stuck a good fish followed by an even better smallie.
Tyler and I were fishing some of TFO's new gear, mainly the Axiom 2 X rods and the new BVK sealed drag reels. As mentioned smallmouth are my favorite fish to fish for, coincidentally we spend a lot of time chasing them each year. For years my go to set up has always been a 7 weight. We throw some pretty big flies when chasing smallies; Game changers, O'Neill's Controlled Chaos, O'Neill's Hovercraft, weighted crayfish patterns and the like. For me a 6 weight just doesn't have the muscle needed to punch these bigger, wind resistant flies through the air. It is not uncommon for us to be on the water all day and honestly an 8 weight was just too heavy to cast for 10 hours straight, that is why I prefer a 7 weight. Until now.
During one of my turns in the back of the boat I looked down in the rod holder and low and behold there was Tyler's Brand new A2X 8 weight. Will, I am not one to let a new rod to go to waste so I figured I would break it in for him. As mentioned earlier I am a huge fan of a 7 weight. That being said, if you get a little more than I light breeze the shortcoming of the 7 weight quickly comes to light, especially if you are trying to punch 60' casts with big flies. This was the first time I really got to spend with the A2X 8 weight. The first thing you notice is the overall weight of the rod. If you didn't know any better you would swear it you were holding a 6 weight. Load it up to cast and it is quite apparent what you are holding. Paired with an aggressive, weight forward shooting head this stick is an absolute rocket. It is light in the hand, you can cast it all day and it has plenty of punch to drive a big, articulated fly through the air with ease. It is a bit early to say it is my new favorite, but it will be a staple in my quiver for sure.
Several hours later and sever rotations on the oars we were at the take out. We had had a fantastic day with several Smallmouth landed along with a bonus Walleye, my first ever.
If you are looking for a fantastic central Pennsylvania Smallmouth experience Give my buddy Brian a call or check out his Facebook HERE. You will be glad you did. Till next time...
Tight lines, Tim
As many of you know Norvise ambassador Braden Miller was recently featured in a 5 page article in "Fly Fishing and Fly Tying Journal. It was a fantastically written article authored by Len Waldron. For those of you who have not yet had the pleasure of meeting Braden he is one of the most respectful, well mannered 14 year old's you will ever meet. Mature beyond his years, yet humble at the same time, Braden is the real deal when it comes to the fly fishing industry. I remember vividly as we were setting the booth up for the Atlanta "Fly Fishing Show" and my phone sounded. I looked at the incoming E mail and it took me a minute to realize what I was looking at...Braden was on the cover! (cover photo by our friend John McMinn) What a great moment that was for Braden, his family and for Norvise. Braden, his parents Will and Casey, brothers Blake, Brantley and Bennett have become family to us and we could not be more proud of his accomplishments.
To check out more of his work or to purchase some flies click HERE to visit his web site Miller Time Flies. He is also a great follow on Facebook and Instagram
Pretty cool huh? Till next time...
Tight Lines... Tim
We recently had the honor of being written up in Fish Alaska Magazine. Norvise and Fish Alaska have a long relationship that goes way back. George, the editor and author of the article and Norm were friends. Maybe that is why the article has a personal feel to it. Thank you George for writing the article and than you Fish Alaska for being such a great partner.
A great little story by Norvise ambassador Kevin Griffin. Giving what is going in the world right now, I thought is was fitting to post this one today. (I have had this post for a little over a year) Thank you Kevin for sharing this with us. Quite fitting I think.
Some of my fondest memories as a kid were fishing trips I went on with my Papa. Those trips taught me about nature, the environment, and the love between a grandfather and son. Now, 40 years later, I get the pleasure of experiencing this with my son. The river has always been my sanctuary, my refuge, a place I go to in order to wash away the stress life puts on us. I didn't realize how true this was until recently finding out my wife of 11 years was cheating on me and going through a divorce. God is good though and found me a new home on the river because he knew how therapeutic it is to me. Simply sitting on the porch and listening to the rushing water seems to drown away all of life's troubles. I've been worried about my little boy and how he is adjusting to having two homes now and his parents apart. I had him this past weekend and was able to take him fishing in the river I live on and experience the sheer joy of him catching his first trout. The smile on his face says it all! Saturday we made a memory that will live on in him for a lifetime and the river allowed that to happen. Thank you God for all the blessings you have given us, for our precious children, and for the beautiful trout streams we are able to fish. Please help us be mindful and protect our streams so our children's children will be able to enjoy them as we do.
A great story with a strong message. Till next time,