Catching is what it is all about

By Joel B. Filner

Catching is what it is all about. Not fishing. Right? The purpose of this essay is to illustrate what we, as experienced fisherman, all expect from a day out on a boat. Big fish in constant action for reasonable numbers throughout the day. Or half day. Most of my fishing is from shore as I do not have permission to buy a boat and my jeep was a good compromise through my three sons’ college years. The winning of a charter in the CCA raffle was a real treat to my fishing season.

The trip with Tom Cornicelli of Back Bay Charters was scheduled to fit his time and the fish tides in Moritches Bay. We met Saturday morning at first light as that coincided with the incoming tide and slack period expected about 7:30 AM. The boat, a new 22ft Parker was laid out simply and efficiently for fly casting from either bow or stern, with a high freeboard that will really be comfortable (and dry) out at Montauk in the fall.

I like to use my own equipment when fishing but felt comfortable using Tom’s Scott rods, Tibor reels and the Teeny 350 for fishing in the deeper holes in the bay. This was my second venture into Moritches Bay this summer as I waded at outgoing tide by the Coast Guard Station one Sunday morning in the beginning of June. That trip was a bust as we didn’t even get a hit on fish working under birds for 4 hours.

Tom took the boat out in to the outside channel off the Coast Guard Station looking for any sign of action. The wind was up to 15 – 18 knots and steady out of the west/ southwest testing my skills as a backcaster, wind caster and pin cushion with the intermediate lines. I started with a medium fly with flash and big red eyes tied by Tom with olive over white. No fish. We then went to a “hole” on the inside of the inlet to the east, switching to the Teeney and a fly that was flash all the way with eyes on the sides and no weight. We made 4 drifts and then moved on to where we saw birds working and switched flies once again to a “wool” fly that looked like a cross between a sand eel on steroids and muddler minnow in olive and white. Our first hits and fish. This is after almost two hours of searching, drifting, and changing flies. Tom is very particular as to how the fly looks and acts in the water and prefers flies that look right and have the right action in the water. Hard body flies are not his preference and larger sizes for larger fish. He will change a fly if, after tying it on, it doesn’t act or look right in the water.

We now move to the inside of the inlet on the west shore fishing the tidal drifts and small channels. Again with the Teeney and a squid pattern enticing one more small bass. Back to the Coast Guard Station and a drift with the wool fly and a blue fish and another one and then no fly. We move again to the rip with fish in theory feeding as the bait goes by, stripping in long fast strips that don’t seem to work.

Lunch time at 1030 AM and a first for me … lunch supplied by the guide. The saga goes on for three more hours moving, watching, casting, and drifting, always with the boat in position to allow my casting and drifting to be where we think the fish are sitting. The boats around are not have much more success in catching but they are not getting a terrain lesson or a technique lesson at the same time.

The day ended with five fish and a lot of casting and respect for the effort put forth for a donated trip in a good cause. I learned that there is nothing like experience to gain as much knowledge of the bay as Tom evidenced in the trip. I also learned that a boat is useful but not the guarantee of success that I assumed was there. And I think that a boat is a constant learning tool and it would take me years to learn the water and the nooks and crannies of the bays that Tom handles with ease and confidence even in the tough spots.

I also learned more about the fish and the flies and water in that day with the lack of activity than if we were in a blitz for two hours.

Thanks again CCA and Tom Cornicelli.

Personality Profile: Lou Rossi

This month I’m pleased to introduce a new feature to the newsletter, the Personality Profile. The purpose is to bring to the foreground, using an interview format, those people who make and shake our sport. The first interview will be with the founder of the Salty Flyrodders and one of the two first inductees into the Salty Flyrodders Hall of Fame, Mr. Lou Rossi. Lou resides in Connecticut and spends time in Palm Springs Florida to harass fish in the winter. Lou has held a number of positions with the Salty Flyrodders including a six year term as president.

At what age did you begin fishing with a flyrod and was it fresh or saltwater?

I started fly fishing at age 22 in fresh water.

What were some of your favorite spots to saltwater flyfish in the early days?

In the early days my favorite spots were Shelter Island and the North Fork. That’s why the first conclaves were held on Shelter Island.

Who were some of the flyfishing personalities that you enjoyed reading about when you began in this sport?

The most prominent personalities I enjoyed reading about were: Art Flick, Lee Wulff, Lefty Kreh. They later became personal friends and we enjoyed many fishing trips together.

What prompted you to get involved with the Saltwater Flyrodder’s of America in the mid 1960s? What was the impetus involved in the creation of the “Salty” Flyrodders of NY? And how fast did it take off as far as interest to join from the general public?

The impetus involved in the creation of the “Salty” Flyrodders was waning impetus and decline of the salt water flyrodders of America. I felt the sport could have an exciting future, so from the original chapter # 6 of S.W.F.R.O.A., I created a new corporation to be known as The “Salty” Flyrodders of N.Y. The interest generated was immense and the club grew due largely to the publicity created by the Shelter Island conclaves and aided by a good crop of Weakfish, Bluefish and Stripers in the early years.

What were the early conclaves like, before saltwater flyfishing became such a visible and public sport?

The early conclaves were very popular. We had great speakers: Mark Sosin, Lefty Kreh, Chico Fernandez. All former S.W.F.R.O.A. clubs participated. The Connecticut club, The N. Jersey Club, The Rhody Flyrodders The original So. Jersey club with Capt. Colvin. All showed up at our conclaves. The camaraderie and fun was unforgettable, with many prominent people attending. Eric Leiser, Matt Vinciguerra, etc.

The late eighties and early ninety’s seems to be the time that saltwater flyfishing began to take hold along the North East Coast. What do you believe were the factors that attributed to this early popularity?

Mostly because many books and articles were written on the subject. When we first started there were no books. In fact the first Salt Water Flies book was written by a former member of the “Salty” Ken Bay. The books and videos created interest by the manufacturers to tap a new market with better rods and reels. I remember Lefty and I fishing with 1498 Medalists before Seamaster came on the scene.

Flyfishing has as a matter of course became highly commercial. It has sparked the largest growth in rods, reels, fly lines, tying material, clothing and even the travel trade, compared to other areas of sport fishing, My question to you, as someone who has been following this evolution from the very beginning, do you think this mass marketing will in the long run, help or hurt the spirit of the sport?

Fly fishing has become highly commercial. This has produced great advancement in rods, reels and lines but has killed the spirit of the sport. In fact most speakers refer to fly fishing as an industry. People start thinking that $750.00 rods are magic rods that will make them great casters, where good instructions and $100.00 rod will do. They also are led to believe that a $600.00 reel will automatically land them a big Tarpon, instead of learning the techniques. Everybody wants to be an instant master and the industry is telling them that money will do it.

The Guides’ Side, August 1999

Shinnecock Inlet at this time of the year is alive with bluefish and Spanish macks all along the east jetty. Shinnecock is also seeing a southern mackerel called the Cero Mackerel. They have been caught by flyrodders with tiny flies. They are also great eating. If bass is your thing try the east cut at night. Cast from the beach first, because many times, if you wade into the water the fish will be right behind you and gone.

Maverick Charters

Capt. Joe Blados (516) 765-3670

The North Fork in July and August have been hit with the summer doldrums, with recent soaring temps. Spanish Mackerel are a good bet at Goldsmiths, while smaller Macks have been caught by persevering flyrodders along the bay. The creeks have been all but dead, with the high temps we are experiencing to date. Mattituck Inlet has seen a bit of action on incoming water. Fishing at this time of the year is an early morning and evening affair. Have some crab, sand eel and butterfish patterns. And remember to fish the incoming tides, with its cooler water.

Dragon Fly Charters

Capt. Scott Holder (516) 840-6522

Again this week, it was strictly an early morning and night-time deal; by 10 am the bite is gone. We had some tremendous worm hatches this week. I even saw one that lasted all day on Wednesday. There were fish on them in the morning–nice, big blues–but as I said, by 10 am they disappeared. It was strange to see so much bait in the water; we had worms from Stonybrook to the Nissequoge river unmolested by any fish and the birds had their fill, so by the afternoon, even the birds disappeared. Just crazy!!!! There was also a lot of baitfish mixed in with them, so this week was very interesting to say the least. I might try for some Dolphin this week we’ll see how the weather is.

Fin Chaser Charters

Dino Torino /Frank Cresitelli (718) 317-1481 (718) 356-6436

It seems the weather and the fishing seem to be following the same trends, and if we used high tech, multimedia presentations to show their performance on graphs, they would look the same way: peaks and valleys (man I’m on this computer too much). Anyway, when it’s hot it’s hot. Capt. Dino had Gene Quigley, up from where he guides (the Jersey shore), and I had a 30 fish morning (all Bass) and were back at the dock by 10:30! Our offshore forays have only yielded some looks from Sharks, and catching plenty of alligator Bluefish (12-14lbs). The water is still not too warm, and it’s a little early for up this far north, but the reports from down south are good, so we wait. Last night, Geoff Jones and John Sikorsky had rough start, but the menu was good; we served up Goat cheese and Rabe pizza, Quiche, and Olive salads. And then the Bluefish joined the party and decided they wanted to eat also, and the fishing was hot. What more could you ask for great clients that are great fishermen–great fishing and good food, we had it all! The action has been all in Raritan Bay on Dino’s Maribou Clousers and Epoxy Minnows, fish ’em deep and vary your retrieve. The Striped Bass have been popping up here and there–“you gotta be in the right place at the right time.” Stick to the basics: structure and rips, structure and rips. On the Weakfish front, they have been showing in the Reach Channel and usually are very deep, although Timmy from “the Irishmen” caught a nice 4 pounder on a piece of metal in shallow water on Wednesday. That’s it for this week, as always if anyone needs a question answered I’ll try to help, just give me an “e”……Bye

Anything Goes with Jack, July 1999

By Jack Denny

I have an old faded pink hat that is very lucky. Yes, I’m superstitious about fishing but just about fishing. I’ve broken mirrors and walked under many a ladder. My neighbor had a black cat that crossed my path countless times over the years and nothing ever came of it. But not wearing a specific hat or shirt or item can spell disaster even before the fishing begins. The pink hat has been around along time and is a very serious fishing tool. It doesn’t have a long brim like the swordfish hat worn by Cape Codders. It doesn’t have the Lefty up and down look. It is a baseball style hat that was part of package for joining the Martha’s Vineyard Striped Bass and Bluefish Derby. I was able to choose the color, at the time a bright fluorescent pink, from a large selection. That year I lead the false albacore shore fly rod division for a couple weeks before being blown off The Board (a chalkboard with the winners located at Derby Headquarters) in the last week but I could care less at that point. I had found my lucky hat. The fishing that year had been just great and I associate it with this hat.

Other items of clothing have made their way into my ritual of getting ready to go fishing. A shirt my daughter gave me some how has been on my back during some great moments in fly fishing. I’m sure most Saltys have a favorite shirt or hat or jacket that they feel comfortable in and wear it with confidence. Well I’ve taken things a little further than just feeling confident, these things are a must for success. It was the last week in October, my two friends and I had been really into the bass (this is when I was still using other methods of fishing along with the fly rod). We had concluded after the first night that the clothes were part of the magic, so nothing changed for the next four days (now underwear is never lucky, it just has to be clean and changed often, socks are another story).

Flies are tied with thoughts of only catching fish, if a fly does not catch a fish after three attempts I consider it a jinx and the hook is recycled. I test all my flies in the water before casting them to see if they swim correctly, have good action and if I like them. Some flies never see a cast, just the bottom of my pocket and trip to the operating table for material removal. There is some strange “mojo” going on at the vise, I feel more confident using my flies than any store bought fly. I have fished flies by certain people if the are given to me. Perry Lisser’s “Mr. Bighead”, a Glen Mikkelson fly or one of Bob Woolley’s tube flies have brought me luck. Some flies that are given to me make it to the fly tying table only to be displayed and then copied.

Rods are lucky only after they have had the luck built into them, let me explain. First of all I choose a rod by the type of fishing I plan to do. You know, an eight weight rod for school bass and blues, small tunas, casting small flies, etc. you get the picture. Then I cast a selection of rods at shows or at the local tackle shop and then make my decision. No luck here, common sense and feel are what counts. Price is a consideration but hey, you only live once so what the heck. Then using the rod enough to catch fish builds the luck into it. Does this make sense? It may seem a little strange but that’s just the way things go.

I use to own a boat but there was never any superstitions that were associated with being on the boat. Some captains have some strange rituals and rules about being on a boat like not Pepsi only Coke. Not wearing my $24 Timex watch could spell disaster though. A couple weeks ago I decided to head down to the Jersey shore where the bluefish should have been in the back bay pounding the bunker. It’s been that way for years. As I approached the last toll booth on the Garden State Parkway I noticed something, no wedding ring and no watch. My heart sunk, my trip was doomed. But since I was almost there and I had the pink hat it just didn’t matter. As I parked my truck a local guy I have known for years came out of his house and greeted me with a big smile. We talked about the family, his garden, a mutual friend and then the fishing. Things were slow according to him but there were fish around. Good news at last. As I walked out on to the beach I spotted a big bluefish laying on the shore drying in the sun with its sides filleted. Another good sign. Three hours later I was walking off the beach with some great casting experience. Even the pink hat couldn’t save the day, too many other things were out of alignment.

The pink hat is faded though some bright spots can be seen under the brim. I have other hats that have become part of the dress code. They were broken in slowly and during days when I knew there were fish around so it (the hat) could get use to what I expect it to do while on my head. I know I am not alone with these strange ideas, there are others out there with some ideas of your own on what is lucky. Just keep things quiet, you don’t want others knowing the secrets to your success.

Letter from the President, July 1999

Well, we made through the heavy water. The 1999 conclave is now secure in the annals of Salty Flyrodder legend and lore. The weekend went off without a hitch (I think). Many, many, thanks are bestowed upon our weekend guest, Mr. Nick Curcione. Even though his body may have not been working 100%, (hip surgery in December) he gave 110% of his energy and talent and we thank him for that. Nick, you are always welcome.

I am also very happy to have initiated a new tradition for the Salty’s, the annual Hall of Fame induction, for service and sacrifice for the benefit of all members. This event serves two purposes. The first, is to recognize and honor the individual and the second serves to motivate others to be more active in club affairs, to let members know that service to the club will be acknowledged. I want to thank Mr. Lou Rossi and Mr. Don Avondolio for their participation in the nights events. All members elected to the Hall of Fame will no longer be required to pay annual dues to remain as members. They become members for life.

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