Monday 15 October 2018

RETURN TO VERMONT PT 2 - lake champlain and lake carmi

 lake champlain and lake carmi

as ive said many times before ken makes an outstanding breakfast probably due to his younger days as a server in burger king (when i found this out mid trip i then proceeded to say "do you want fries with that " everytime he asked for something much to my amusement" ) , anyway we decided this day we would head out to the big lake "champlain" where i had an amazing time last trip with all sorts coming to the boat so i was kinda pumped for doing this , ken had checked the weather and although windy it was due to flateen off early evening so we decided it would be pike time . i still hadn't got a champlain pike yet so was something i was keen to get into and ad to my list .

we made up the rods before we took off , so much easier just to break em down and store ready to throw together and get fishing asap , i also love kens boat , perfect for zipping about in the shallow water and have some great memories of the last trip on this so was kinda cool to be in it again and ken has it fitted out to be fly fishing friendly , great boat . 

ken had chosen the launch spot the aptly named "rock river"  

of course there was a bridge over it so as every fisherman all over the world does i went and looked over it , had to be very carefull though crossing the road as the cars come from the opposite direction , which is actually really bizarre for the head , if youve been to the states youll know what i mean . thankfully i got to look off both sides without becoming road kill . 

actually talking about road kill , ken is hilarious when driving  as youll be going along quite nicely chatting away when he will make a weird guttural sound and slow down turn to you and say "did you see that"  , this is the point that you realize he has seen dead meat on the road so its kinda  like a tye it or fry it situation and if its a fry it well that whats on the menu for the night , i have become quite good at diverting his pea sized brain away from roadkill so thankfully we wont be having flattened skunk at this evenings bbq ...............close call though 

one thing i have noticed with ken is that his boat launching skills have improved no end and most of the time he actually gets the boat in first time and usually on the slip , he also has upgraded his engine so looking forward to this one 

so the boat in the water and straight away im seeing loads of small baitfish on the surface and occasional splashes where predators are hitting them , fascinating to watch if i had bought the 3 wgt with me i would have chucked on the small minnow flies i tied but i didnt and ken was keen to get out on the lake chasing pike , just the place looked very fishy ......oh well next time maybe 

as i was standing in the water , looking at the baitfish i saw this bloody snake coming straight at me , sorry i dont do snakes i was out the water in a flash leaving one croc in the mud , nope aint doing snakes , so after it had slithered away into the rushes i retrieved my croc and jumped straight in the boat  ,much to kens amusement and i believe he uttered the words , stupid rock tosser  

a couple of shots of the rock river apparently theres quite a lot of carp in here , imagine if this was the uk it would be lined with people with bivvys and being charged 50 quid a day to fish it lol anyway mabey on my next trip ill get a chance to fish for them .

so lake Champlain , let me tell you if you didn't know , the place is big let me give you a few facts 

size -435 square miles of water 
length - 120 miles 
width - 12 miles at its widest point
depth - average depth is 64 feet but the deepest point is between Charlotte vt and essex ny where it goes down to 400 feet 
amount of shoreline - 587 miles
islands - 71
watershed - 8,234 squre miles

there are - 318 bird species on or near it 
has over 90 species of fish and is considered one of the top 5 bass waters in the usa 

oh and theres champ (the U.S equivalent to nessie) but thats a different story

so we headed out to kens favorite hunting grounds on missisquoi bay which by the way is around 14 miles wide at its widest point and an average depth of 15 feet , although the water was a lot shallower at the moment due to lack of rain so we were fishing in the 6 to 10 ft bracket .

we headed out and it was clear to see ken was on the ball and putting us on marks he fishes himself by lining up shore marks , something i also do myself , constantly watching the shore and looking over his shoulder . 

ken cut the engine and we slowed down to an almost stop then flies hit the water , ken did say the water was very colored and indeed it was a lot more colored than my previous trip to the point i could only see the fly a few feet away in the water.  

almost straight away ken was into a fish (the boy knows his stuff ) 

after a lively and spirited fight a fine slab of vermont snotrocket was in the boat , things were looking good

i had opted to use one of the new Shakespeare agility 2 fly rods on this trip , i actually bought it as a back up for my pikesabre but as it happens i was so impressed with it i just used it for most of the trip the rod itself is pretty much an upgrade from the previous agility fly rods they had out , this was the #10 wgt which i coupled with a fast sink #11 line ,handled it brilliant with big sinking subbugs , in fact every cast i was into the backing and this was into the wind , a serious bit of kit absolutely recommend it either for a back up rod or a first pike fly rod , you cant go wrong for the cash.    

after ken fish i changed over to a classic big 12 inch red head flash fly , hoping to get a reaction from the flash rather than seeing it as an item of food , im a great believer in winding up the predator even if it aint hungry , get something past it to annoy it and 9 times out of 10 it will smash into it .

this is where things went dreadfully wrong 

we started drifting over big weed channels so i put the fly at full line length in between the weed a gap of about 3 feet all the way down the weedline even with the wind i was impressed i got it where i wanted it , when the fly was around 20 foot from the boat , BANG the rod arched over and i knew straight away this wasnt a pike , as i got the fish under the rod i looked over to see a massive paddle like tail of a largemouth bass , ken was "dude thats frikin massive" as he said that the line went loose as it dived , for a moment i thought it had come back up so i stripped the line and came to where the braided loop should have been .

im still having nightmares about this because the loop was completely gone along with leader , and i dont know why , i tye all my own loops and have never lost a fish yet , i test all before i go on the water in fact i have a routine when i rig up , i have no idea at all , suffice to say it lost me my biggest largemouth this is going to haunt me for a long time . nothing else i can say about it  

as i was re rigging ken hooked into another pike , they really fight these champlain fish

they also have a great silver/white color about them , as per normal picture taken and the fish was released without harm and with a big swish of its tail it went back to the depths surley my time would be next .

things then started to get a little hairy weather wise , the predicted calm down of wind didn't really happen but everything looked perfect the sun was starting to set it was still warm you'd think the predators would be all over the flies .

but no something didnt feel right we chopped and changed flies from surface flies to bottom flies , bright colors to natural colors nothing was going down , the wind was starting to really push us and ken made the call to head back into the shore , safety always comes first and you dont want to be in trouble on a lake this size , the ride in was quite lumpy right till we got into the mouth of the river so the call was right , although we did chuck a couple at the river mouth but ken said he did have fish from this area but as he said it was usually when there was more water in it .

but hey we certainly tried 

so we hitched the boat up and headed back to kens via the local shop for movie snacks (we are both big horror movie fans )as we stood by the checkout the lady asked ken if that was all , ken said yes and of course i said "are you sure i thought you wanted some trojans for you and boris the animal later" always makes me laugh ken not so :-) 

where ken lives is actually quite rural and very dark , not much in the of street lights and to be honest i kinda like that , so as we were travelling back along a darkened road ken was like "holy crap look a ufo " i turned to my right and there was some quite bright lights just above the treeline a fair distance from us . "ken bro thats a fecking helicopter" "its not look at it " "bro its got a flashing light at the back and underneath and besides if a ufo was here they are looking for intelligent life to abduct , your quite safe bro " "ken - so you fancy carmi tomorrow bro . dumb redneck



last time i was here i had an absolute blast on this lake had trophy sized smallmouth bass great yellow perch and rockbass so this time i was looking forward to tackling the pike on there 

targets acquired or idiots loaded up , take your pick .

carmi what can i tell you , well 
around the lake is 7.5 miles with an average depth of 20ft and around 33ft at its deepest  so actually quite a tasty predator water , besides pike there is a whole host of other species in there as well .

ken did say that this was around the time he started fishing carmi for pike so hopes where high  

ken doing his location finding thing . we hit a few of kens favorite spots and fished large white bucktail  flies on sinking lines , this was one of kens patterns which he showed me how to tye , well actually he was tying it and when he finished i stole it , well he already had one so he didnt really need two did he , and it looked great in the water , a pattern ill be making a few up off for those rare days i get on the water over hear . 

indeed carmi is a beautiful lake and to be honest looking around it could have been any one of a number of lochs in scotland , i always notice that Vermont is so like Scotland in so many ways , well except for the cool food like pumpkin doughnuts , seriously pumpkin doughnuts are so good and java monster coffee , hell we drunk so much of this and the other energy drink that actually turned our pee luminous green , whic was somewhat worrying 


anyway i digress , so we went from spot to spot trawled the bottom got in among the weed but not a touch , we then headed across the lake to a more rocky bottom spot and hear we actually had a few hits mid water but couldn't connect so after a while and with the sun starting to set we headed across to the other side again where i had some great smallmouth before , 1st drift ken had a nice smallmouth but that was about it , i had noticed that the water was a lot more coloured than last time i was here and i was thinking mabey id left it a little too late coming over but as ken wasn't catching i really didnt feel that bad i mean this is his backyard .

but hey thats fishing and to be honest floating around with ken all day is a blast the fish are a bonus 

so we called it a day and headed somewhat deflated back to the launch and back to kens to discuss plans over a bbq (thankfully not roadkill) and have a bash around on his quad all good fun 

so today was a bit of a none start which was a bummer for me but hey thats fishing and to be honest we had tried lots of different things and methods , but i suppose if it aint happening it aint happening nothing you can do about it but i was out with dan the following day as ken had to work chasing wild brook trout and wild rainbows in shallow water .

ken has his own unique way of getting the bbq started and i suppose its making the best of his best  natural resources 

so we enjoyed the rest of the evening eating bbq around the outdoor campfire discussing what was happening and what the plans would be for the coming days and trying to avoid being bitten by weird flying stuff  and off course when we had done we retired indoors to annoy alexa with my funny accent , she dosnt quite understand when you call her a dick :-) 

kens wife Naomi had also prepared pizza for us which actually was better than the stuff you get delivered so we chilled out and started to watch hellraiser , actually quite funny because ken was asleep within the first 20 mins of the movie , i resisted the urge to shave his eyebrows off which believe me was quite hard 

so another day done and another to look forward too .

part 3 ill be heading up some remote places with brother dan looking for wild trout stay tuned for this next week 

tight lines 

Saturday 13 October 2018


the journey home 

being a travelling angler aint so bad. the biggest worry is usually what flies and gear you need to take and what to leave behind especially when it comes to pike and muskys . luckily anything i am missing can quickly tied up at brother kens.  

once you have your destination its really a case of packing what you need for your trip and allowing for any issues that arise like breaking a rod and not having a spare; that can prove costly and indeed ruin a trip if you aint got a tackle shop close) .

i use this orvis rolling luggage and does the job very well and has a great stiff protected bottom dept for rods and boxes that could get busted up during travel; only downside is that it really only accommodates 4 piece rods in 9ft lengths which is a bugger as one of the rods i wanted to take was a 3 piece and wouldn't fit in the case . but all was good as i had another 4 piece in the form of the new Shakespeare agility in a 10 wgt which actually is a bloody great rod for the dosh and perfect for what i need .   

so i managed to get eventually everything i needed in the case which was mostly tackle to be honest as i could wash my clothes in the river while i was fishing so only needed a few shirts and some evening where in the form of some sweat pants oh and some roll on and that is pretty much it and how i roll on these trips; so gear sorted time for a good sleep as i was going to be up at 6am the following day .

usually when i head over to vermont i travel via new york then usually get the vermonter train all the way up to st albans where brother ken picks me up , however this year for whatever reason the flights were very expensive (i later found out it was because i was there when it was labour day so that pushed the prices up) but undeterred i looked for other options and thankfully i know my way around the states quite well so i wasnt worried where i landed in the states as i knew how to get where i wanted .

so after a look around i decided to go (purely on price) via Chicago and montreal in canada and then a very short hop down to the us border at highgate on lake champlain where i would meet up with ken , so my original plan was to hook up with ken around 1:30 am have a few hours sleep then head up to new york state to float for muskys in the canoe , well that was the plan .   

the flight from Edinburgh was pretty much standard with united airlines and as per usual i was approached by boarder agency with a million and one questions ,, which was pretty strange as i was actually queuing to get my tickets  but hey you know i dont mind as they are keeping the country safe , so dont really have an issue with this .

so landed in Chicago and picked up my luggage (survived)  and headed for immigration , whos only question for me after where i had come from was if i had any haggis in my luggage ( i didn't lol)  i had a few hours to wait for my connecting flight up to Montreal so headed for some food and drink to pass the time

about 30 mins before boarding they announced that there would be a delay due to an upcoming weather front , well i had actually seen this coming in before they announced it so i was kinda not surprised really . 

plane delays are an arse but id rather be safe and it was crazy sheet lightning and monsoon weather so after around 90 mins we started to board  and i was luckily enough to get a seat to myself for the journey up to Montreal  .

you know i dont mind flying but taking off i mean i really turn into a wreck im fine when im up there and landing but dear taking off er naw , so i plugged in the headphones and plugged in some 80s thrash metal which turned the whole thing into a cool moment ....i survived  

nearly there 

the approach to Montreal was very cool with lovely views across the city at night , and i touched down safety and after a lengthy wait i cleared customs (again) with no issues ,, so i walked out into the night and looked for a ride down to the U.S border at highgate on the edge of lake champlain

here is where i needed to be
the U.S border

actually where i ended up was in the Canadian border crossing some distance away from the us border let me explain 

by the time i got down to the border it was around 3:30 am so i wander in to a very dark border office and i kinda stroll in and surprise two very sleepy border guards who clearly where not expecting anybody to cross  so they say
border guard"er what do you want "
me "er to get in "
border guard "in where"
me "er america "
border guard "this is the crossing into canada"
me "fook"
border guard " the american crossing is down the highway there , that big building"
me "how do i get there"
border guard "you walk"
me "fook"

so i head down the thankfully deserted highway and approach the us border through the car entrance and straight away get apprehended by the american crossing officers who pretty much wanted to know everything since i was conceived about why i wanted into the usa .

now i quite understand there questioning , i mean the sight of me in shorts t shirt and rolling fly luggage looking like some kind of bizarre Scottish Bigfoot walking down the highway is enough for any border agent to  question my motives , anyway they hauled me into the border office and after 30 mins of examining my passport and travel plans they decided that i was safe enough to be let loose on the american fish stocks .

so by this time i had been keeping ken up to speed on my approximate time of arrival and he lives fairly close to the border so it was pretty much a case of him driving up and picking me up which he did . it was actually so good to see this guy who i call a brother and we hat a long hug and a back slap and you know it was like i hadn't been away and he bought me a monster energy and a pack of roasies jerky so life at this point was very good , id landed back in my second home and i could breath a sigh of relief .

so we arrived back at kens place and i opened up a pack from the guys at svs (knickelback stickers are cool fellas) and by this time it was near to 5am so after pretty much 34 odd hours traveling im guessing youd be thinking id be grabbing some shut eye well nope  me and the redneck decided we would load up the canoe and head up into new york state and float a river for muskys im here to fish hard so straight into it .

the hunt for muskies

so ken was pretty much my guide on this one as my use of canoes and fishing is virtually zilch , but on the plus side im a great swimmer so the plan was that ken would drop me by the road, next to the river with the canoe , which i would get down the bank and into the water , ken would take the truck and head down stream and then bike back to the start point , to save a bit of time i rigged up the rods and got the boat ready for kens return .

 as i said this was my first time fishing from a canoe so i was a little apprehensive on how it was going to go and to be honest i was also a little excited but this would be my only crack at the muskies this trip as i had other things i had to do and fish to catch

so we drifted the river and ken pretty much told me where to cast as we drifted across river that was literally 3 inchs deep going into deep slow flows where the big flies and fast sink lines would hit the deck among the big sunken logs where the muskies live , this was bloody exciting stuff.

drifting down the river with the odd paddle to help us along and i actually saw my first musky firing across the shallows getting out of our way and on the other side of the river a big shoal of suckers going past  this was clearly what the muskie was after quite an amazing site 

so we tried and we tried and we hit all the spots that ken has had fish from before and we hit spots that were absolutely predator hotspots but it was to no avail  we floated for literally miles pushed the canoe over the shallows and fished deep meandering curves of the river i managed 3 hits (didn't connect) and ken had a couple of hits and a few follows but it just wasn't to be .

they say these fish are the fish of 10:000 casts and i can well believe it  but you know i absolutely loved it and it was one of the highlights of the trip and im so looking forward to going back and trying that again , what an absolute blast.

those who know will know the river those who dont please dont ask as i respect the wishes of the folks who fish it ....thank you  

the river from hell 

the breakfast of the vermont angler. ken cooked up a great breakfast with this amazing muffin type thing that with egg and sausage and other stuff , i mean this was absolutely beautiful in fack i actually had two with a cup of kens magic coffee which comes from a machine that i still cant work, but this certainly hit the spot 

today we were going chasing smallmouths in pocket water and to be honest this is one of the reasons that i keep coming back (well dispite kens cooking) as fishing pocket water is fantastic , dropping in to pools behind massive iceage boulders and rocks chasing these absolute tanks on 7 wgt fly rods in fast water is really, adrenaline pumping stuff and when you hook one well hell you know about it ,, theres no other fish that i know off that can give you a rumble like these things and its always a blast to fish for them .  

this trip was all about traveling light as we would be doing a lot of walking looking for runs and pools , ken is an excellent guide and know his stuff like no other ive met so this part i was really looking forward too 


as we pulled into the verge i was greeted by this site  as i looked i released if it hadn't been for the soaring heat and the abundance of american snacks in the front of kens truck i would have thought i was in scotland but looks can be deceptive 

this river was really something that i havent encountered before a boulder strewn river straight out of the Jurassic age  massive rocks and boulders both in the river and on the bank which made moving around extremely difficult even in just wading boots  well except for ken who has the agility of a mountain goat and is more used to these rivers than i am and was at the holes long before me .

but thats part of the adventure finding and experiencing new places and new techniques and this day certainly tested me , we actually walked  miles up this river jumping in to small fishy looking pools and ken had the first score with a great looking fish teased out from right behind a rock .

a great way to start 

so we fished this pool for a bit then headed up river to a spot ken knew there was a few smallies in  so after a 10 min hike through the rocks and bankside vegetation i saw what can only be described a rock the size of a large truck just kinda sitting there in the water with a fast run in front of it and a really nice looking bit of slack water behind it .

i cast a clouser upstream and let it drift down the current until it was slightly downstream from me then stripped it back  kens advice was sound as the 7 weight buckled over with my first smallie of the trip. again i cannot stress how much these things fight and they just new stop going for it , absolutely amazing fish. and pound for pound the hardest fighting fish i have encountered .

happy i have opened my smallie account for the trip 

ken on a rock doing what he does , you can see the type of bank we were faced with and i can tell ya its not the easiest to wet wade in but still great fun as you search around for that next pool or run which is always just up there and then the next and then the next , you know how it goes 

i decided while we were at the big boulder to change fly so i stuck on what i call a scrap fly which was bassicly bits of olive and white dna fibre , the thing with me is i never throw anything away when tying pike flies as i know i can use it for smaller perch and smaller predator flies and this was a prime example.

i always love to catch a new species on the fly and on the last trip out here on the last day fishing with ken he caught a fallfish , quite a fiesty fish and great on the fly i really wanted one on the 3wgt at the time but i had run out of time for that year , so i tied on my scrap fly and cast slightly upstream and across the current and let it drift down then pinched it back as it was drifting down and then bang . what followed was a spirited fight with my first fallfish (kinda like a supercharged uk chub) so that was another ticked of my list 

we spent the rest of the day up and down the river dropping into pools and generally having a laugh  as we always do with ken shouting back "hey you ok old timer` yea funny bro , and kept hooking into fish despite the heat , we are talking it was up into the 90s by the time the afternoon came but it does make wet wading fun and cooling , by far my favorite way of fishing

find a sutible casting rock and go 

when i said it wasnt easy fishing i meant it , hard hard going but when you get to a spot like this it all becomes worth it  and you can see why traveling light is the way to go on these trips and to be honest all you ever need for a day can be fitted in a chest bag and slung over your shoulder.

boom another smallie falls to the scrap fly on a wild river far far away. i love fishing with a chest bag , this one is a william Joseph which i bizarrely found on a facebook market place pace from a u.s seller so i mailed him and he agreed it would be cool to send it up to ken and i would pick it up while i was there save a fortune in post and packing to the uk , so thanks again fella this really did the job and suited all, my needs ......

so we carried on up the river and well we have to call a point where you know we have to walk all the way back we came and of course a bit of fishing on the way , so ken called it and we headed back, as we walked ken stopped by a long glide and said fancy a swim , well actually i did , the heat was unbearable so in we went and hell it was good .

 so after getting back to the truck we headed back off to kens via the local store to stock up on energy drinks , rosies jerky and doughnuts . and plan the next days adventures 

the fly store in the middle of nowhere 

ok so ken told me about this store a few times and i really enjoy visiting and supporting small local, stores and especially in the states as there is far more choice but this was beyond my wildest dreams and just so feckin cool.,

so after breakfast we headed of to rolands place which was literally in the middle of nowhere  when we arrived the place was closed but this is the way it is as you can see by his website 

so we hung about in the carpark for roland to arrive and i still couldn't really believe what i was seeing so took a little video of the store 

i dream of places like this where you can just walk in sit down and tye flies with the owner and have a chat and purchase a few things i have to say it was a pleasure to meet roland and if you get the chance or your just passing south hero then drop in  youll be glad you did and theres even one of my big flies, hanging from, the wall, behind the counter .

so thanks roland was a pleasure to meet you and thanks for the bag of candy see you again in may

lake champlain
so near yet so far

return to Vermont pt 2 of 3 next week

pt two will feature lake Champlain and lake carmi

pt 3 will feature a fantastic day with dan the paramedic deep in bigfoot country chasing brooktrout and wild rainbows in wild places 

(thought it would be better to do this in 3 parts to do the trip justice)

thanks all
(a cave in scotland)