Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Cool post on coaching, and life from Vern Gambetta.

When I first started the path to becoming an athlete development coach, one of the first "voices" in the industry that stuck out to me - like 20-22 years ago (yikes!) was that of Vern Gambetta.  Vern makes you think, and brings good ideas to the front of my professional field.  

I really liked his current post on his blog "Following the Functional Path".  I also felt that they transcended athlete development... and could apply to tying flies or fishing as well... thus I'm opting to share them here.


Some Random Thoughts on Sports, Coaching and Life

Advice from best selling author David Baldacci:
Don’t write what you know about, write what you’d like to know about. And never chase trends. Don’t write about dinosaurs because Crichton did, or codes because Brown did. Write something you’re passionate about and want to learn more about. Have fun with it. Don’t treat it as a job. Exercise your imagination, treat it like a game.”
This prompted my thoughts: Don’t always practice and focus on what you are good at, take a chance and practice what you are not good at. Approach it with passion. Accept the fact that you may not get it the first time. Be uncomfortable, use those mistakes to learn. Use your imagination and visualize how much better you will be when you master it.
On Injuries in the developing athlete: Rather than look for blame, look for cause. In my experience the majority of injuries at the High School and youth level can be traced directly to poor fundamental movement skills. It is fundamental movement skills AKA Physical Competencies that underlie sport skill. We basically are putting the cart before the horse. The second factor is improper progression. The same programs are imposed on the freshman and the senior without any regard for Physical maturation, cognitive and emotional development. Third major factor is early specialization.
Your philosophy is your voice – It speaks louder than any words!
On the coaching of Brother Colm coach to Olympic 800 meter champion David Rudisha:
“If Rudisha was trained by a system to be a perfect athlete, it might destroy him,” he said. “If you get a supercoach, they only look at a blueprint—a product. Brother Colm goes to the roots. He understands people, where they come from.”
My take home message from this and what makes Brother Colm so successful is that he coaches the person not the event.
“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.” Victor Frankel
Think possibilities. Focus on what you can do. Accentuate your strength and minimize the weaknesses.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Flies and Florida...

Last week, we took a surprise trip (25hrs of driving!) from MA to FL to visit Rosemary's mom.  I worked from her condo there, and the family and mother in law all enjoyed the sights and sounds of the florida gulf.  I fished a spot within sight of the condo a few nights... and realized that I'd traveled a little to lightly... Night 1, I caught a few speckled trout, a small (20" maybe) snook and then hooked 2 absolutely giant red fish.  I dont remember the last time a fish took me to the backing, and these two got me well into the backing a few times... the catch was 1.) it was dark and 2.) I was fishing under a bridge on a concrete abutmant.  I'd never caught a fish bigger than 3-4# here, and from what I could see in my headlamp, these fish were easily 30".  They were BIG.  the first broke off during a run as I tried to brake him, and the other as I tried to lift him the 3 feet from the water up.
The next day I got a lady fish which was fun, and then on the other end of the abutmant, I had a good take, and lost a fly... Hmm?  I admit to not realizing blue fish were full time residents in Florida.  I must have lost, 4-5 flies, but did manage to land about as many blues in the 4-5# range.
Attempting pic's standing on the edge of a concrete lip with 3-4 feet of water below was a little sketchier than I wanted to risk...
Pick below was from a neat lagoon near by, but no takes.
Back at home, and hit the little stream accross the street... Lots of hendricksons coming off... but only 1 tiny brookie came to hand (like 3" long)... great to be home though!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

2" of snow... Remember, soon the woods will look like this...

Ok fellow new englanders... Yes, we got 2-4" of snow the other night... Just keep in mind, soon, mothers day will be here and with it, green forests like the one above along the east branch of the swift river in Petersham MA...

Soon.  Soon it will be warm!

And then only a few weeks later it will be early June, and despite the mosquito's and black flies... the woods will be lush and green.  They will smell and sound amazing... and many bugs will be hatching from beautiful rivers like the Millers... creating some awesome dry fly fishing :)

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Surprise, Surprise!

One of the beautiful things about having discovered the stream accross the street held wild brookies, is that, I can take a "coffee" break during the day (I work from a home office) and hit the brook for 20-30' just to have a mental re-set.  I cant pull that off every day, but it's a lot easier than driving some place! Wish I'd realized this years ago!
Yesterday I popped out to the stream, and managed my best in that river yet on a #12 Royal Coachman hair wing streamer.  It's a fly I've carried for a while, but for some reason never fished... but after reading an old post by Brktrt at Small Stream Reflections about the traditional version of the Royal Coachman streamer over the winter, I decided I had to actually get this fly wet. 
So approaching the stream, I tied on the Royal Coachman hair wing and did some swing/drift/jig in a nice elbow bend of a pool with a massive log jam.  There could be fish hiding in there you would never encounter... it's 3-4 feet deep in that hole, and there is a solid 8 feet (horizontally speaking) of woody "stuff" jammed into the corner.  I'm sure there are many fish "stashed" into that cover.
Any way, not takes in that pool, and with limited time, i quickly walked up about 50 yds to a similar pool in terms of depth, but that has no log jam, just an undercut root ball on the outside. I had a take quickly and missed, then tried again and caught a true surprise - a brown!
I knew Mass Fish and Wildlife had evidence of brook trout and some other cold water species reproducing on this stream... But I was pretty sure they didnt know there were browns.  So I quickly texted a pic to a friend who works for MDFW and he was going to run it past the coldwater biologists to see what they thought.
Makes me wonder if there are some big browns slyly making a living in the Nashua river 3/4 of a mile down stream... Regardless, It was a cool discovery - amazing to think these little creatures have made a living on this stream... and very curiosity inspiring to figure out where they came from!

I managed one more brookie from that same hole, the biggest I've caught on this stream so far I think: pic above.

I managed one more when I hit the original hole a second time before walking home, a very fiesty 6" brookie...

I'm excited to see what MDFW has to say about the brown.  Very cool, to think that some how, some way, in a stream that has never been stocked, and which flows into a river that does not get stocked (Nashua) these little fish some how have arrived... Very cool indeed!

Monday, April 7, 2014

With Rosemary and the kiddo's on the road home from DC, I took the opportunity to get in a spin on the mountain bike in the AM, drop off some clothes for a buddies kiddo's to use, and then hit a small stream or two on the way home.
I knew my favorite trails a little way's west, where I grew up, were still very snowy... but given the woods out back were clear, I gave the local state forest trail system a shot. There was a lot of snow. More than I thought there would be. It made for slippery riding, but, for fun riding none the less - it felt great to get outside, and deeply breathe the fresh air!
After the ride, I packed up, and drove to my home town to drop off the clothes, then hit a local stream.  It's a funny stream... the closer you get to it's confluence with a larger stream, the more likely you are to catch a native brookie... But I like this section.  There are small waterfalls up stream, and the brook is covered with hemlocks.  That said... Snow covered it's banks, and in spots, shelf ice still reached out, covering portions of the brook.  Rarely do you catch a fish in this section... but it's worth a shot regardless!  

After about 30' on this beauty of a stream working a streamer with no takes, I opted to pack up and hit one more stream before making dinner for the family...
The stream I fished is home to wild browns and native brookies in surprising numbers.  It can be tricky to fish in areas due to heavy brush or log jams... but some sections are just gorgeous.
I fished a section that is full of sharp bends that contain deeper holes - great spots for natives.

I started with a streamer and caught a couple... But seeing a few brookies dart up and eat the early stone flies that were dapping the surface to lay eggs... I had to try a dry.  I'd forgotten my floatant though... So on went the bomber - they seem to float through just about everything.  The bomber caught a few, and then started to sink as the oppossum dubbing body became to saturated to dry.
Bombers will work sunk... but I had about 1 fly change of tippet left (I'd forgotten that in the truck as well), so on went a deer hair winged/natural peacock quill bodied fly I'd created to mimic these stones... it really needed some floatant due to a dubbed head... But it floated enough to bring several more "risers" to hand.
The little pool below is deceptively deep, and the pic does not show the rate of flow real well... it was moving through pretty strongly.  That soft spot where water whirlpooled off the main current, basically 3/4 across dead center in the pic, resulted in many takes before I moved upstream and caught a few more.

The next two pic's are a couple I managed with the cell phone (this whole thread actually are cell pics).  Tough to do with that thing... but the pic's came out well, and show the bright colors of the fish from this stream.

Spring is slowly springing... and worth the wait!

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Scuds, bow's, coyotes.

Rosemary and the kid's went to see her mom and sister in DC this weekend (yes, my wife is amazing - she drove to DC with 2 2 and 3/4 year olds!!!)... So, after very busy work days the past few, I took this AM and shot out to the closest consistent year round trout fishery - the swift river in Belchertown.  This stream can be maddening.  It recieves massive pressure daily thanks to the fly fishing only and catch and release rules (in it's upper section), and becuase it flows out of the quabbin reservoir... which means even on a 15 degree January day, the water is rarely below 36 - at least up towards the bottom release dam.
As a result of all that pressure, and very sterile environment, the stream has some really picky trout, that seem to enjoy smaller flies all the time.  The good news though, is that small midges and scud patterns always work... and in the summer terrestrials become a welcome change of pace.  There are a few hatches, and the sulfer hatch in particular can be pretty darn good... Your just not going to see as wide a variety of life here as you would on a freestone.
Any way, I managed to get out today and had a blast.  I caught several... but the "most fun" were the fish pictured here which all "fell" for prototype scud's i've been tinkering with in natural hares mask and a funky combo of yellow and orange dubbing.  

These three all came from the stretch shown below.  I didnt check the gauge, but it felt lower than normal... I am wondering if they lowered the flow to reduce flooding odds downstream since there has been a lot of snow melt recently and solid rains as well... you can sense how clear it is though when  looking at this picture.  that log that is seen under water on the first pic is 2 feet down... and looks like its 2 inches down!

The section to the right of this log was my buggaboo today.  I caught one there on a big scud with a flourecent yellow belly (no kidding - saw it in a recent fly fishing mag and so far, every time I've come to the swift I've caught a fish on it - despite being about 2X larger than any scud you would find here!)... But I must have missed 5 more.  Well, in reality, I missed the same 1-2 fish about 5X... but it was super fun to try and catch em!

This is the view upstream.  You can barely see the "powerline" pool (really a run).  I love fishing hoppers there in the summer.

It was a long and cold winter here.  Many deer died, at the hands of coyotes... or said better, coy-wolves... given the "eastern" coyotes we have here are actually a wolf coyote hybrid.  This deer was either killed on the gravel bar, or a coyote dragged this part of the carcas here... given how much there is... I'd say it died in this spot.  Nature is amazing... beautiful and calm 1 minute, life and death the next.

Tomorrow I'm hoping to get out on the trails finally...

Friday, April 4, 2014

2 In a row!

Cool.  I dropped things for 30' walked to the stream accross the street and fishing the same streamer as yesterday, fishing in the same pool I managed to bring another beautiful little brookie to hand.

Awesome to see these little fish being active, and to have the honor of catching a few of them.

Also awesome to see some big BWO's coming off :)

Spring... is slowly springing!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

14 years to catch this fish!

The June before we were married, June of 2000 to be exact, we moved in together.  I was (am) a country bumpkin and wanted to stay close to my home town on the north east corner of the Quabbin Reservoir... But Rosemary was working in Boston, so we needed a spot in the middle.  We settled on Leominster MA for it's good options to come and go, regardless of where Rosemary's job would take her.
The first home we had was a condo.  you could see the Nashua river out the back window, through about 100yds of river bottom woods behind our home... but every day when I drove onto the road which reached into the patch of woods out condo had been built into... I drove parallel to a small stream.  It's got a solid gradient, and early spring often see's it roaring along to it's confluence with the Nashua.
It looked like it may have char, but it also ran through private property, and the first spot it would have been accessible was literally through someone's yard.  Add those "challenges" to the busy-ness of building a business, family, riding my bike and a mental lock on traveling west to fish waters that reminded me of my favorite forests and fields caused me to drive right by.
After 4 years in the condo, we built a house.  Our house is immediately accross the street from the stream.  On moving in, we became neighborly with the 80 year old folks who lived next store.  John, the husband, often talked of seeing the stream collored red, pink, orange or other bright shades while thick goo from plastic manufacturing a quarter to half mile upstream was dumped in.  This was 40 years ago... but that knowledge made me forget how running water can clean itself... and assume the stream was mostly barren of life.
Maybe 3 years ago, walking over the bridge on the stream on the main road (not a spot I normally walk) I noticed about 8-10 chub's or "other fish" finning in the pool below the bridge on a bright January day.  Now I got curious...
But we had kids, Will got cancer and the poop hit the fan.
Finally, last summer I remembered to ask John - who owns most of the land where the stream flows near our home - and who's sons yard is home to the bridge I just noted above - if there were any fish in the stream.  It was a loaded question - I knew there were some kind of fish in there... but what else may lurk?
John, quick to speak of them, gushed about all the "speckeled trout" they used to catch when he was a young man, before the plastic... but then also about how his grandson would catch lots of them up by the bridge about 18-20 years ago.  He didnt think many folks had fished the stream since...
I asked, and was granted permission... and late last year I fished the stream a few times.  Last summer was very dry and hot.  The stream was as low as I'd seen it, but still had decent water and some nice undercut banks/log jams.  but most impressive was that it clearly shared something with a stream about 2 miles south east - that flowed out of the same hill, their origins no more than a half mile apart... Even with the full summer of warmth heating the land around this stream, the water was down right cold - in the low to mid 60's depending on the day... even at noon in late august!
With low flow and clear, gin clear, waters, on my first trip, I spotted two brookies.  had it been a month later I'd have assumed they were ready for spawning... but in the end, I think they just really liked the lie they had found.  They wanted nothing to do with any of my offerings... but it made me so happy about the environment and the ability of this stream to support cold water fish...
I never caught a fish in the stream last fall, not even a take... well, outside a tiny little sunfish that must have come up from the Nashua that couldnt get the Mr Rapidian Parachute I'd drifted down a pool into it's mouth... And that fly was a size 18!
This winter was really tough, and I never even ventured to the stream since it had been covered in ice for weeks.  a couple weeks ago I asked Johns son if I could fish the part in his yard and he granted permission... and as I walked home, looking into the bridge pool there was a very nice sized brookie finning in the seem between two currents.
A day later, it blew out.  We had several days of rain and the stream was ripping.  Maybe it would be fishable, but the way this stream flows... it would have been really tough.  so I waited.
Today it was still moving fast, but not to bad, and it had mostly cleared.  A few stoneflies flitted about, and I had 30' at lunch... so I headed over. 
I walked up to the first bend I wanted to fish, opting for the woods vs the bridge pool / yard on this trip.  You can see below that there was good flow and nice cover both on the inside and out of this initial spot... which yeilded not takes.

After a brief set of drifts from where this picture was taken, I worked down stream about 20 feet at a pop and drifted the little streamer giving it twitches at the end of the swing - just like an englishman fishing wet flies.

I wish I could explain why this pic wont rotate... but for some reason it wont.  This spot is where I'd first seen trout on this stream last summer... but today, when I twitched the fly at the end of the swing just off the right tip of that log jam...

This little orange body, squirrel tail winged, grouse soft hackle neck streamer caused a strike.  I had the fish for a moment, before it released the fly.  I was really, really psyched!  There are fish in this stream that will eat a fly!

A few drifts later, and the same fish, or another holding about 2 feet further back ate the streamer, and this time, held on!

Saddly he fell off the fly as I lifted him to my hands - hence the dirt.. But he swam away strongly into the current and seemed no worse for the wear.  He was a beautiful wild fish - this stream has never known a stocking truck - nor have any of its tiny tributaries.

Amazing, this little stream flowing past numerous factories and shopping centers in the 1.5 miles or so before the area I caught this fish has managed to possess enough health to support wild trout.

A beautiful thing!

You can bet, it wont take me 14 years, to try and catch another!