It’s official… this Spring my family will be moving west to Northern California, so this is my last official GL tributary season. I’m going to love fishing in the west (I’ve been dreaming of it since I started fly fishing), but I will greatly miss my close friends I have made here in Western NY, and of course the fishing.
Also official… I am currently filming a winter based fly fishing short movie. I’ve been working with a very talented filmmaker and musician named Adam Kryder. Check out our new website www.rawwaterproductions.com for more info!
This winter has been season number two with my William Joseph WST waders, Squall Jacket, and Current chest pack. This setup remains bomb proof, efficient, and comfortable, even after a two-year beating. We have had a mild winter this season so far, but the coldest days were still no match for Willy J.
Finally, I had the pleasure of fishing with Matt Smythe a few times this winter. He put up a nice review of the Exodus pack a while back, and it was great photographing him and the pack on one of the craziest winter days we had all season.
With the current state of snowpack in the Rocky Mountain west, raging ditches force anglers to find alternate sources of entertainment. Lakes are being drained to make room for what is still to come, leaving tail waters that offer no reprieve. So we packed up the family and headed south to escape the Seattlesque weather. In search of warmth, sunshine, and a chance to fish some land locked flats far enough south to forgo the onslaught of rushing water.
Still a bit crisp in the wee hours of the morning, the sun not yet high in the sky, picking out lurking largemouths was rough. Waste deep in the cool water, I moseyed through ribbons of warmth. As my feet moved over finely textured sand, I felt like I was much farther from home. Taking in the scenic overtones I watched as an aerobatics pilot a few thousand feet above me, performed Lazy Eights and some negative-g Lamcovak’s. Soaking in the morning as the sun started its gentle arc overhead, polarization revealed targets in the clear water and the fun commenced. There were 10 half pounders to every 1 that was over two, so marking the targeted fish and those around him was important. After spooking a few fish I would love to have photos of, I finally placed my cast. The olive and yellow Hooker variation swam convincingly past the occupied bush and we had a taker! Standing in the water and watching a 4 pound bass mouth agape, tail walking toward me, brought out my inner Jethro. I hooted loudly so my uncle Cletus would know I had on a dandy, only I was alone, all alone…. I fished to some bass well over seven pounds but unfortunately someone had already shown them all three of the tricks I know. Another day I guess. Around noon the wake boarders showed up with the chop and the water clarity faded along with the action.
I sat down on the beach, sipped a yellow can and watched the boats roll by. On my way to the car I avoided a pop top so as to not blow out my flip flop.
These days fly anglers have more option and better products with innovative features than we ever dreamed of when it comes to fly gear. From fly lines, rods, reels to waders we are truly spoiled with great companies and innovative products. With that being said I’ve never been much of a fan of the quintessential fishing vest. But thankfully, like I mentioned, we have a plethora of quality options and alternatives these days from some cutting edge companies like William Joseph, Fishpond and Simms. I haven’t used a vest for over 12 years and prefer a chest pack of some kind. Over the years I’ve bought and fished many different technical packs as my angling needs changed. I’m a bit of a self admitted gear whore and carry everything from extras spools to sharpie markers for coloring flies while on the water. My favorite style has to be a chest pack / back pack combo and almost always am fishing out of one. Lately I’ve been using the William Joseph Coastal backpack Mini Chest-Pack Combo and I’ve really been pleased.
Key Features included:
- A full weight-bearing waste belt that also has integrated pockets for items that you may want quickly accessible like floatant or a point and shoot camera.
- Two main pockets with many inner pockets with zippers and divides. Great for organizing extra leaders, sharpie markers, bug repellant and anything else that is a must have on the water.
- Very light, weighing in at only 2 lbs 14 oz.
- Willy J’s signature TCS (tippet control system) so you can scrap that dangling tippet T that’s always unraveling.
- Anatomical shoulder straps.
- Two rod tube holders that can be used to carry water bottles.
- Removable and independent from chest pack. Great for wading out of a boat or when just the essentials and some fly boxes are needed.
But the most noteworthy and my favorite feature has to be Willy J’s Airtrack Suspension system. The Airtrack pulls the pack away from your back and lets air flow freely so you stay comfortable and don’t end up a sweaty mess. I’ve been fishing this backpack since last fall and so far its been great. If you’re tired of slogging around in a sweaty vest or do long day trips on foot you might want to check out this Willy J setup.