Labrador Bound

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By Jason Tucker

It’s no secret that I love brook trout, and thus the name of my blog, Fontinalis Rising.

Size doesn’t matter. From 4-inch little gems to behemoth monsters the size of respectable brown trout, I find them all fascinating and exciting. When I was a boy, my grandfather took me down to the river and showed me two fish in the 24-inch range that had staked out the area as home.

Most of our fish were in the 6- to 8-inch range, and 12 inches was considered a good fish. To see two fish that had doubled that mark was incredible. Ever since then, I’ve wondered what made those two fish get so big.

I spent as much time as possible fishing for brook trout in Northern Michigan and its Upper Peninsula, and after many years I finally caught a 16-inch fish, which was my personal best for some time.

Since then I’ve gone to Nipigon, where a 12-inch fish is considered small. I caught one fish that was 22 inches, and lost several fish that were much bigger. (Brook trout tend to pack on the pounds once they reach about 22 inches. A 20-inch fish may weigh 3 pounds while a 23-incher may weigh 7 pounds.)

A few years later I was invited to go fish with the Sault Gang. We caught 38 fish that averaged 18-20 inches and 1.5 to 3 pounds, and got one big male that was over 4 pounds. I also took a trip to Isle Royale with a distinguished group of gentlemen. The fish there average 3-5 pounds. With research I’ve discovered that

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Eye Surgery #8 Update

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By Louis Cahill

I’m two weeks Post-op and things are going well.

I hate talking about my medical issues, but lots of you are asking for updates, so I’ll keep it short. That should be easy since, as of now, all the news is good. A lot went on in the run up to the surgery but I’ll just hit the high points.

Things were feeling a little sketchy the week before my surgery. The oil in my eye had completely turned to muck. Like spring run-off inside my eye. As a result, I developed glaucoma. Rising eye pressure threatened to damage my optic nerve. There was no choice but to remove the oil, however, the murky oil prevented my doctor from seeing the condition of the retina. He was going in blind and not happy about it. I won’t lie, it was scary.

Fortunately the surgery went well. Dr Alurkar flushed two liters of solution through my eye cleaning it out and the retina stayed attached. Statistically, the majority of folks in my situation, who do experience another detachment, do so during surgery. The vast majority experience it during the first week. I’m two weeks out now and my doctor says the retina looks fantastic! After a couple of truly awful days, my pressure has returned to normal so it appears I dodged the glaucoma bullet with no apparent nerve damage. I will not be in the clear for 60-90 days but things look really promising right now.

It will take at least 90 days to really know what I can expect for vision. It’s a mess right now but the double vision caused by the oil is gone and as of just last night my eyes have started trying to focus again. That’s very encouraging. Whatever I end up with, I’ll be very happy to have it. I’m struggling to keep my expectations in line. I’m just superstitious enough to worry about jinxing myself, but I’m starting to feel truly optimistic. I am sooooooo ready to get on with my life!

Thank you all for your continuing support throughout this nightmare. I can not tell you how good it feels to have so many people in my corner. I can’t imagine how difficult this would have been without that support. Hopefully I’ll be checking in with more good news in a couple of weeks. 


Louis Cahill

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Fly Fishing Tip: Mend Your Strike Indicator to Increase Your Drag-Free Drift

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When I first started learning the art of mending fly line, I constantly struggled with keeping my striking indicator and dry fly from moving across the surface of the water. Quite often, I not only moved them during my mends, I even lifted them completely out of the water in the process. Most of the time that wasn’t a good thing, because it usually caused my flies to be pulled off my intended drift line, and that greatly hindered my ability to catch fish, no matter how accurate my initial presentation cast happened to be. I learned quickly, that poor mending, and sloppy line management, were the two main factors in keeping me from getting my rod bent with trout. There was no doubt that my problem with mending fly line laid in the fact that my technique was awful. I thought I was a whole lot maturer than I really was as a fly fisher, failing to realize that I had just begun to skim the surface of learning the intricacies of fly line mending. Such as, determining when or when not a mend was called for during a drift, mend timing and form.

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Technical tips from Southern NZ

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By Chris Dore
Whilst I enjoy chasing big fish in the backcountry here in New Zealand, there isn’t actually much to it: Find a fish. Put your fly in front of him, and strike.

It’s the smaller, hatch-driven streams that offer the challenge for me, the technical presentations their finicky trout require and often ‘outside of the box’ thinking. Straight line presentations rarely succeed and so slack line casts, chosen to beat drag and deliver your fly naturally (or not) are mandatory.

Today, Simon Chu and I visited a rather technical stream in the deep south known for its wary browns. It was a fun day shared with a good mate but we certainly needed to bring our A game. In the end we hooked 2 dozen fish between us on a range of lightweight nymphs and film flies.


– Make every presentation count. Each cast needs to be

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Carp on the Fly – 12 Q&A’s to Get You Ready

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Good friend and fly fishing guide, Ryan Dunne has been capitalizing on the growing carp buzz by fly anglers lately.

Ryan commented, “I’ve seen a significant increase in carp fishing inquiries the last two years, and when the dog days of summer arrive and the trout fishing bite goes south, I now opt for poling my skiff and guiding my clients to carp on my local rivers and lakes”. Thank you Ryan for taking the time to sit down with Gink & Gasoline to answer twelve frequently asked questions about fly fishing for carp.

Have you found certain colors of fly patterns to be more effective than others?
I find that the water conditions and ambient light conditions dictate which color is more effective. I typically stick to four different colors when tying carp flies. They are black, brown, olive, and orange. Although the majority of my flies are tied in the aforementioned colors, I do tie with other colors as well.

Have you found certain fly tying materials (synthetics or natural) that carp seem to dislike?
I haven’t noticed a difference in carp behavior towards either type of material. However, most of my fly patterns contain a combination of both synthetic and natural fly tying materials.

What are a couple of your favorite go-to carp flies?
My two favorite patterns are the Carp Carrot and Carp Dragon.

Is the weight of your fly patterns critical and if yes, when do you prefer heavier flies?
Weight is definitely a key part to my subsurface carp patterns. Feeding carp rarely stay in one place, so you want to get your fly in the feeding zone as quick as possible. Water depth will dictate the weight of my patterns. I find that bead-chain and dumbbell eyes in various sizes are ideal for carp patterns.

When would you say is the most consistent time to go carp fishing?

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Trout Deformities

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While not common exactly, deformities like this are not unusual in either hatcheries or in the wild but you seldom see a ‘special’ fish like this in a wild stream. Nature deals with this sort of thing in short order. In a hatchery, however, a fish like this will do fine and grow to maturity.

This brook trout would have been a solid 16 inches if he were normal. A buddy suggested I bank him. There was no need. This kind of deformity stems from injury to the fish’s spine early in life. There are no defective genes or disease to pass along so I released him. After all, he plays an important role in the ecosystem, at least from the otter’s perspective.

There can certainly be problems with hatchery raised fish. Disease and poor genetics can wreak havoc on wild populations. On the whole, I think North Carolina does a good job and it’s important to remember that this is a regional issue that is best evaluated by region. What’s right for a trout stream in North Carolina is not right for a steelhead river in Oregon. That’s another topic worth some considerable ink, but not just now.

It did get me thinking about some more troubling fish deformities. Specifically Idaho’s two-headed trout. There was a little bit of excitement about it when the New York Times published photos, in February of 2012, of the deformed fish which were

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Spey Casting Diagnostics Checklist

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By Jeff Hickman


To effectively and consistently make good spey casts you need to focus on these steps, especially when learning. But even veteran and advanced two-handed casters also need to focus on the important steps. Everyone who has Spey fished has had a meltdown at some point where their cast completely falls apart. In my experience these meltdowns are triggered by one small element changing. That one element starts a chain reaction that wrecks the entire cast. The cause could be external such as a change in the wind direction or wading depth or the change could be internal — you got lazy on your anchor placement or started dipping your rod behind you.

Recently while presenting at the annual Sandy River Spey Clave in Oregon, I jokingly made a reference to a fictional Spey Casting Diagnostics Checklist that I printed on waterproof paper and kept in my wader pocket. I was simply trying to make people laugh as Spey casting presentations can be a bit on the dry side. After the presentation many people came up to me and asked if I could give them one of my checklists. Since I did not actually have one, I told them I could email a checklist over. But it occurred to me that this is something that people want, so here is my short checklist that you can print and bring with you to the river next time:

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The Best Way to Improve Your Trout Game

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The single best way to improve your trout game is to fly fish on trout water that challenges you.

I’m talking about super technical water where trout are wary and extremely educated.  The places where the smartest of trout live, where all you get is one or two shots to hit your target. These trout streams force you to maintain the highest level of discipline in your fly fishing. You have to think out every step of your approach and presentation to find success. If you fail at executing these strict requirements, you’ll almost certainly be skunked on the water.

It’s really easy for many of us with our busy schedules to focus our time fly fishing locations that allow us the most success, or should I say the easiest success. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy these easy trout streams myself, where I can immediately start catching fish within minutes of wetting my line. Just remember, if all you do is fish easy trout water, you’re going to have a rude awakening when you finally get around to stepping foot on a truly technical trout stream. You won’t find success, your confidence will shrivel, your pride will take a beating and you’ll probably feel like crawling off into a hole when it all said and done. Not only that, but you’ll also be impeding the improvement of your fly fishing skills in the process, and you’ll be no different than a kid refusing to take off the training wheels on his/her bike because it’s easier and safer.

So change up your routine, step away from your comfort zone and the rookie trout water for a while. Next time you go fly fishing

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Are We Being The Best Ambassadors For Fly-Fishing?

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Are you proud of how you represent fly-fishing?

I sat in a meeting the other day, a discussion really, with a group of fly fishing guides. Most of them are guys I like and respect. I was very quickly stoked at, from my perspective, how they all got it wrong. The experience left me frustrated and angry for about twenty-four hours. After a cool-down period I’m ready to discuss it here. If what I have to say makes you angry or defensive, you should take a hard look in the mirror.

By any measure, guides are the gateway to the sport. They are the educators, informants and even the evangelists of fly fishing. They, and the guys at the fly shop, are the most common point of contact for the angler new to fly fishing. They are skilled, hard working, motivated individuals with a passion for what they do. If they weren’t, they’d have washed out of the business. Many of my best friends are guides and some of them are the best examples of what guides should be. So what’s my beef?

The first question put to this group of guides was, “Who are your clients?”

What followed was about a half hour of bitching and moaning with the common thread being, “our clients suck.”

To my ears this is inexcusable on every level. To be fair, I don’t think most of these guys are prone to thinking that way, but it only took one toxic personality to pipe up and they all piled on with comments about their clients being idiots, not being able to cast or tie knots or follow instructions. They also agreed that most of their clients did not want to be told they were doing something wrong, an important point I will return to.

I get it. There is no shortage of unskilled anglers out there. Many of them, as the group described, are business tycoons who are not accustomed to be told they are wrong. Still, I think there are a couple of very important points being overlooked.

If you are a fishing guide, you are in a service industry. You are being paid for your time and as long as you are treated with basic human respect, it’s up to the client how that time is spent. I have spent my entire career in service to clients who don’t understand my job and are often completely unreasonable and I have never complained about having a job. If that job allows me to spend my days on the water doing something I love, that goes double.

The root of much of this is ego, pure and simple. Fishing guides, and for some reason especially trout guides, can be a wildly egotistical lot. If this stings, it’s likely true. I heard comments like, “He’s a surgeon, you’d think he could tie a knot.” I’ll be the first to admit that doctors can be a pretty egotistical bunch as well. They say the difference between God and a doctor is that God doesn’t think he’s a doctor. Regardless, anyone with that degree has made a commitment to mastering something far more challenging than catching a trout. Perhaps the reason he’s not a great angler is because his job has left him little time for it, and when the time comes that I need surgery, I damned glad his priorities are not the same as mine.

If you expect to be respected for putting in the time, and making the sacrifices, necessary to master the art of fly fishing, then you’d better first learn to respect the choices of your clients. Everyone has skills. To think that being a good fisherman, or even a great fisherman, makes you better than anyone else is childish.

Now I’m going to get to what really raises my hackle.

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Use Long Leaders for Flat Water

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In the picture above, take a moment to view the disturbances the fly line and leader create on the water during a presentation.
The saying a picture tells a thousand words is true, particularly in this case, as a tool for me explaining how important it is to use a long leader when fly fishing on flat water.

Notice how little noise and footprint the leader makes when compared to the fly line. I was casting a Scott G2 5 weight rod with a 9′ leader and foam hopper, and I presented the fly as softly as possible. Anglers often don’t realize how much noise they’re creating during their presentations, and why so regularly they’re spooking the fish their casting to on flat water.

The fly line itself, creates the most noise during your presentation and is by far the biggest contributor to spooking fish. Try using a 10-12′ leader or even a specialty George Harvey dry fly leader, that’s designed to dissipate energy and lay out dry flies with slack. This will increase the distance between your fly and the start of your noisy fly line hitting the water, resulting in more hook ups and less spooks.

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