Fishing with Gary

Each fall my Gary C.of Pennsylvania visits us in Massachusetts for a week of striper fishing. Sometimes the fishing is great. Sometimes it’s just OK. But either way Gary is a good and longtime friend and fishing companion and we always have a good time.

While I rarely keep track of my own catches these days, during the week Gary visits I do keep track of his, and it’s a pretty good indicator of how the fall fishing has been year to year. The reality of fall striper fishing, despite it’s reputation as a time of bountiful blitzes, is that it is very streaky. This is especially true of the daytime fishing. In the daytime you tend to find either a lot of fish or none at all, boom or bust. This is a direct result of the stripers’ fall feeding patterns in which they abandon the structure and regular feeding lanes of summer to chase schools of fast moving bait. Today they may be here, tomorrow there, and the next day nowhere at all.

Even when you find the fish, they can be maddeningly difficult to catch. If you are a shore or wade angler, it’s typical to arrive at the water’s edge to find a cacophony of bait, birds, and bass all boiling the surface–but just outside of your casting range. If you a a boat fisherman you may find yourself surrounded by breaking fish, but by the time you hook and land one the school has moved 300 yards away. Fire up the engine, motor over, and the the school moves once more. You are constantly playing catch up, and for as many fish as you may see you never catch quite as many as you expect.

Night fishing in the fall, as it is most other times of the year, is more reliable. The bass can be counted on to gather at certain spots that attract bait at certain stages of the tide. Rivers and estuaries are especially good places for this. But even night fishing tends to be less predictable in autumn than other times of the year. And, like day fishing, it is subject to that other great factor of fall that can shut down the fishing in a hurry: weather, in the form of wind and storms (cold, though uncomfortable, doesn’t affect the fishing that much as the water temps are slow to change).

Here’s a brief summary of Gary’s catches since 2007:

2007: Day 14; Night 142; Total 156
2008: Day 2; Night 34; Total: 36
2009: Day 3; Night 52; total 55
2010: No visit
2011: Day 15; Night 4; Total 19
2012: Day 3; Night 36; Total 39

While a lot of factors, including weather, the relative lateness week of the visit, and the diminishing striper population in recent years all affect the numbers, it’s pretty clear how much more effective the night fishing is over day. 2011 is the only outlier in that respect, a reflection of my purchase of a boat (which allowed us to chase daytime schools) and night fishing that was exceptionally slow that year (largely due to the absence of lights on the water where they had once existed).

This year’s visit began this evening and we got off to a pretty good start, with Gary landing 15 bass up to 26 inches and dropping a few as well.

Pics from the 2012 Bears Den show

This past weekend saw the Bear’s Den Fly Shop’s 14th annual fly fishing show. Every year Scott Wessels and his family do a great job putting on this free show to promote fishing, friends, and fun. A few photos (click to enlarge)…


Masahito Sato
Masahito Sato tying one of his corsair-head streamers.

Bob Popovics shared some great stories of tarpon fishing with Jack in the Keys.

Famed flats fisher Dick Brown demonstrated some of his new bonefish patterns.

Dave Nelson tied some  beautiful old-school wound marabou streamers.

Pat Cohen made some amazing creations out of spun deer hair.
 Dave Skok fly in the night before from fishing in the Carolinas.  
When I saw Jamie Boyle in a Yankees hat my first question was, “Did you lose a bet?” He had. To Popovics.

The Gartside Grub

A large part of what makes running this web site fun is the people you meet. Last week’s newsletter brought a reply from  Doctor Robert Gartside of the Lake District in the UK–not a relative of Jack’s, but a sharer of  his  love for of angling.

A tyer himself, he wrote “When I fished Tweed, I tied a fly which I called the Gartside Grub. It was a salmon fly on a  fair sized treble  with a red wool tag and mingled brown & yellow deer hair wings a body of olive wool ribbed with red floss.. As simple as that but it looked just right in the Autumn colours and caught a fish first time out. My Ghillie was delighted as it was the first for his boat for a fortnight and I went on to catch my biggest salmon (25lbs)  and also my best catch of five in one day. I also had the  unusual experience of getting  three fresh salmon in four casts and the first weighed 21 lbs.”

That’s some pretty outstanding fishing. I asked for a picture of a Gartside Grub and he was kind enough to send this one. Not the best photo but Jack would have been delighted.

He also included a fishing report (always love reading those!): “…It is  really the off season for game fishing here but that delightful fish the Grayling is still in season and I am patiently awaiting an opportunity to take my friend Lord C. to fish for them on the Hodder…

Pics from Jacks Hall of Fame Induction

On October 9th the Catskill Fly Fishing Museum inducted Jack into its Fly Fishing’s Hall of Fame. Other inductees were John Randolph, Louis Rhead, and Art Lee.

Bummer to say that between traffic and weather the drive from Boston to Roscoe, NY took longer than I allowed for. I missed most of the actual induction ceremony. But I got there for the cookies and apple cider, with time to mingle and tour the museum. There was a dinner afterwords where Bob Popovics presented Ted Patlen with the Poul Jorgensen Golden Hook Award. Before presenting the award Bob voiced a few of his fond memories of Jack, including the story of how Jack got him into his first tarpon. Hearing the warmth in Bob’s voice as he spoke about the old days in the Keys, Vaca Cut, and the old Golden Grouper…it was one of the high points of the evening.

The museum is really interesting, packed with items of lore and tributes to fishers of legend. If you’re ever in the Roscoe vicinity (about 90 miles northwest of New York City) it’s well worth a visit. Jack’s friend Mel Harris once observed, “There were two things Jack was proud of…his flies and his lifestyle.” The museum’s exhibit does a fine job of showing both. It includes three of Jack’s self-published books: Scratching the Surface, Flies for the 21st Century, and Striper Strategies. There are fly boxes too, crowded with Gartside Gurglers, Soft Hackle Streamers, BeastMasters, Corsair Minnows, Sparrow Nymphs, and Gartside Pheasant Hoppers. There’s a Red Sox hat, a Christmas gift to Jack a few years ago to replace one he wore for years until it fell apart.

From Jack’s family of friends, a big thank you to Jim Krul and the rest of the museum staff for allowing us the privilege of seeing our friend honored in this way.

Here are a few pictures. Click them to enlarge.

Jack’s Home Page on Facebook

Happy to report that Jack’s Home Page now has its own Facebook page. Why a Facebook page, you’re wondering, when there’s already this wicked awesome web site with its own blog? Well, a limitation of blogs is that they tend to be “newslettery” in tone due to their inherent structure. Visitors can’t really talk to each other. On Facebook, however, visitors can talk directly to one another, drop in any time to share a joke, a comment, a story, a piece of personal news, or anything really. You can upload a picture, a video, start a discussion, suggest an event. So Facebook offers a nice way for the community of Jack’s fans and friends to keep in touch with each another and even make some new friends.

Hope you like it and visit often. Jack Gartside’s Home Page on Facebook

Jack interviewed on Fishface Radio

In case you missed it (or even if you didn’t) here’s a hilarious interview Jack did last March with his old friend Snag Hoofish (aka, Strayhorn Spadewater) on Snag’s Fishface Radio show. Jack was concerned beforehand that he might not sound sharp but he managed to deliver classic Gartside. The interview starts about 17 minutes into the show. Enjoy.

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The Marlborough fly fishing show

fly-fishing-logo-largest_5gkdAnother year, another Marlborough fly fishing show. Attendance was off some this year, both on the exhibitor side and on the attendee side. A cratering economy will do that, I guess. But Jack had one of his best shows ever. Sales were brisk. His booth was busy from the time we opened until the time we closed. And while I didn’t get to see it myself, people who came by the booth afterward said Jack’s talk on striper fishing technique went very well (he was concerned beforehand that chemo-fatigue might affect his performance).

Thanks to everyone who stopped by to say hi, ask questions, reminisce, or just wish him well. I thought I knew most of Jack’s adventures but it was fun to hear a few ones this weekend: a night fishing trip with Terry Boylan to Plum Island that ended with Jack and Terry hiding in the weeds from a boat full of drunks armed with rifles and searchlights who wanted to shoot them after nearly mowing down their inflatable raft; there was also something about a trip on a tramp steamer to South America that nearly ended very badly (got to ask Jack for more details on this one).

As we closed up the booth Saturday evening Jack told me how pleased he was to be able to attend the show after all. The injection of good will he got this weekend is as sustaining for him as anything the doctors do. His support network, he calls you guys. It’s a wonderful thing to see.

Here’s a video Dave Souza shot of Jack showing how to tie a Secret Sand Eel…