Pursuing Esox: Filming With Rock On Charters & 3-TAND

By Austin Green – Check out the original post on the 3-TAND.COM Blog!

Josh Laferty and Rock on Charters WILL put you on fish. He finds a way to catch the fish of ten thousand casts in only a few hundred!

Josh Laferty and Rock on Charters WILL put you on fish. He finds a way to catch the fish of ten thousand casts in only a few hundred!

 

The species known as the “fish of ten thousand casts” becomes no more predictable when you have a video camera on the boat. No amount of heavy planning or whether watching guarantees you capturing an eat while you are recording. Being with the right guide, in the right boat, and on the right river does boost your chances, however, training your batteries and memory cards to last an entire day of rolling can be improbable—nor is it realistic to keep your eyes glued to the LCD monitor all day long. Once in a blue moon a filmmaker gets lucky, and has the camera rolling at the right time, and in the right direction.

While filming in Virginia with Rock On Charters, I was mid-interview with Josh Laferty when such luck was afforded to us. Josh was wrapping up a comment about the success of musky research in Virginia, when in the top left corner of the frame, Mark Erdosy hooks into a feisty Musky. Zooming out and quickly finding focus, I managed to seamlessly capture the fight and netting of the fish. Mark joyously holds up his fish exclaiming, “Third Musky ever, second with Rock On Charters. Pretty badass time in Virginia!” You can’t plan a scene like that.

“Third Musky ever, second with Rock On Charters. Pretty badass time in Virginia!”

“Third Musky ever, second with Rock On Charters. Pretty badass time in Virginia!”

 

Every filmmaker needs a break on the boat, particularly when playing the role of cinematographer in a film focusing primarily on Musky. On every leg of filming Pursuing Esox, I have put the camera back in its case, and picked up a fly rod. When I am fishing for any big predator, I prefer the 3-TAND T-Series. Most Musky and Pike won’t ever get on the drag of your reel, and one could easily catch a trophy Esox of any sort with just a line and rod. However, I enjoy traveling around with a T-90 for other reasons than its drag performance. In my opinion, the most crucial attribute is its durability.

Taking A Break From Filming!

 

I can beat up the T-90 on muddy, rocky Musky Rivers for months on end through the winter, and without any maintenance, I can take off to New Orleans and put a thirty pound redfish on its drag. It is dependable, it is tough, and it never underperforms. The 3-TAND T-90 is my reel of choice when fishing in extreme conditions—and the reel that lives in my rod case when filming Pursuing Esox.

A passionate character to say the least. Austin has found a deep love for this sport and for chasing these fish.

A passionate character to say the least. Austin has found a deep love for this sport and for chasing these fish.

This Is Fly Magazine – June 2015 – “Pursuing Esox”

We are so grateful to have our article “Pursuing Esox” featured in this month’s online issue of This Is Fly Magazine! Jeff Brennan wrote the words and I took the photos! A huge thanks to everyone who helped make this project (the article and the documentary) possible! You all know who you are: Katie Blizzard, Brian Bergeson, Jon Bukowski, Kevin Ramirez, Brian Cadoret, Charlie Gordon, David Hegburg, Adam Silvis, Mike Ball, and Justin Damude! The list goes on and on and on, with too many to remember!

Check it out here: http://www.thisisfly.com/issue52_4.html?startPage=70&

Diaries Of A Musky Addict

“Diaries Of A Musky Addict” is a teaser cut from the documentary “Pursuing Esox: Pike, Musky, and Pickerel On The Fly.” The documentary explores the cultural phenomena surrounding the world of Esox fishing on the fly–the tying, the boats, the people, and their obsessive lifestyles. “Pursuing Esox” is filmed and produced by Austin Green Weinstein (austingreenphotography.com), photography and filmmaking student at the Maryland Institute College of Art (portfolios.mica.edu/austingreenphoto) and founder of The Uncommon Angler (theuncommonangler.com)

This film has been made possible through the support of Charlie Gordon – Buffalo Shoals Guide Service (buffaloshoals.com), Pat Cohen – Super Fly (rusuperfly.com), Justin Damude – HIPTOTHESTRIP (hiptothestrip.com), David Hegburg – Streamer Junkies (streamerjunkies.weebly.com), and Ron Poehailos & John Jinishian – 3-TAND (3-tand.com).

A special thanks to Jeff Brennan, Katie Blizzard, Ty Loomis, Jon Zukowski, Rob Lepczyk, and Morgan Kupfer for helping me organize, and execute this project!

Music: “Super Heady Spiritual Gangster,” By Soohan (From the album, “Made In Baltimore”)

We would also like to thank Flymen Fishing Company, Great Feathers Fly Shop, Tight Lined Tales of a Fly Fisherman, Keystone Fly Fishing, Rip Lips Muskie Flies and CCA Maryland.

Swinging In Low Water Conditions

 

Often, when you think of swinging for steelhead you think of heavy sink tips, big leeches, and intruder style patterns.  When the water is right, that is definitely the deal, but during the times when you’re faced with low river levels many of the people will give up on the swing and grab the indicators and egg patterns and take to the rivers looking for seams to dead drift flies. This can be a very productive way to go, however, you will probably run into a lot of other like minded people in these areas. If you’re into getting away from the crowds and finding far less pressured and more aggressive fish, then grab your double hander and get out there. Fish will tend to hold up tight to structure when the rivers drop so look for log jams, boulders, long deep runs, and tailouts. These are the areas I like to swing smaller, sparse patterns on shorter switch rods. Swinging flies allows you to cover a lot of water searching for aggressive fish, some of which have never seen a fly before and the takes can be incredibly savage. It also lets you get away from people and enjoy the beauty and solitude of the river. Some of the patterns I tie for these situations are…

 

DREAM LEECH:

A small and sparse, leechy spey fly that has been productive for myself and a few guide buddies during gin clear water conditions. Here’s a bright winter fish on the black/blue, “Dream Leech,” fresh off the tide, one of three that day!

SMOLT THIEF:


This is a small egg stealing smolt streamer that has proven itself to always have a space in the box. Tied in either this olive color or a black version, both have fished very well for steelhead and cutthroat. Fished on the strip or twitched while being swung, both ways have worked great! Here’s a beautiful sea-run cutthroat swung up on a black version of the S.T.!

Below is a low water steelie on the Alaskan peninsula that just couldn’t stand that little olive devil swimming around under that log jam! It came out of that pool and chased this fly for 20 feet before she hammered it! Sight fishing is fun!

 

 

String Thing:


The String Thing is a small string leech pattern that has been very productive for steelheaad and kings in low water. I mainly tie them in olive/copper, black/blue, black/purple and sometimes orange/white. When fished deep, this fly is almost hard to beat and sometimes gets it done when nothing else is getting any love. Here’s a nice fall run Klamath fish that just couldn’t resist the olive/copper leech…



 

Here’s a bright chrome Chinook that took the Black/Blue version in clear water on a cloudy fall morning. Swung along a cut-bank and under a downed tree, this fish grabbed on three back to back casts before I stuck him. It was crazy! I’m so glad the line finally came tight and the fun began!

 

These three patterns, in a variety of colors, will set you up perfectly for low, clear water. The rod and reel I would use for fishing these conditions would be a Redington Dually switch in weights from 4-7, depending on the situation. I personally pair my rod with a Cheeky Ambush for the smaller rods, and Mojo for the larger. For salmon fishing I use the 11’3” 7 wt switch with a Mojo, armed with a 525 Rio Skagit max short. I can throw a heavy tip and get down where those fish like to hang out. Swinging for kings is all about keeping your fly deep for as long as possible. Get yourself a set of medium and heavy I-MOW tips and you’ll be in business. Rio Skagit max short heads from 225-525 grains are going handle the heavy tips quite nicely. The Rio switch chucker line is a good choice for the lighter tip and light rods. Here’s the 11’3” dually 7 weight and the Cheeky Mojo, Rio switch chucker line doing work on this solid coastal buck. This fish took the Black/Blue “Dream Leech” in a slow cut-bank run with a bunch of nuggets on the bottom.

Even low water situations still produce on the swing, it’s just a matter of scaling it down and most importantly, having confidence. So the next time the rivers are low and clear, get out there and get after it. Just enjoy what you’re doing, the fish are merely a bonus that make up for the time spent not catching them!


By Mike Ball

If your interested in getting any of these patterns email me at mikeb904@gmail.com. Thanks and tight lines!


A Very Muskie Christmas

Katie Blizzard And Her Trophy Muskie

Katie Blizzard And Her Trophy Musky
Copyright 2015. Austin Green Weinstein. All Rights Reserved.

 

6 o’clock Monday morning wake-ups are only okay if fishing is involved. This trip would be a bit more technical as we planned to bring my five year-old son, Nolan, as he is still on school break. I am nearing pro-status taking Nolan trout, bluegill and bass fishing. My formula for success is a hydrated body, a caffeinated head and a backpack full of Nolan ammo (aka snacks), but let’s be real—fishing for musky in a small Gheenoe in frigid December slinging 10 weights with flies as big as Baltimore rats IS A DARING IDEAL! Austin, Nolan and I stuck to our plans and loaded the truck and boat and headed out. Chugging coffee and chicken salad sandwiches (odd, yes) we cruised and got our boat launched with the perfect amount of daylight. Nolan was warmly and smartly dressed, and thankfully excited for the day! First run down the river I was fishing first, casting and casting and more casting. 40 minutes in I managed to get the gigantic streamer wedged between two unforgiving rocks, I assume. I have my fair share of snags but this was making my blood boil…can’t cut the line, can’t swim under…stuck. Twenty minutes of trying to get the dang thing free was killing the mood to say the least. I am still curious how it happened but a metal clip holding the fly loosened enough to save the line. We had a small memorial service for that beautiful fly but it was time to move on.

The Gheenoe And Mercury Four Stroke

The Gheenoe And Mercury Four Stroke
Copyright 2015. Austin Green Weinstein. All Rights Reserved.

 

Now it was Austin’s turn to get his fix on and I back-paddled and maneuvered our boat so he had the perfect angle to cast—all while trying to entertain Nolan with quiz type questions, knock-knock jokes, and feeding him gummy snacks (and sweetly explaining for the 7th time why he can’t just sit on my lap when I’m rowing). During the next hour or so Austin had looked back at me for a split second and then I hear him say, “MUSKYMUSKYMUSKYMUSKY!” All while figure 8-ing so hard and viciously. He was a split second late and had stopped stripping thus the monster frightened and darted away. Tough break. The day got more interesting as we pull over to stretch our legs and warm up. We put together a lame fire as Austin is unusually concerned with how numb his feet are. I suddenly became a mom of TWO boys and resorted to warming up gnarly man feet with my hands and under my jacket to bring them back to life.

 

Fly Tied By Austin Green Using A Fish-Skull® Fish-Mask

Fly Tied By Austin Green Using A Fish-Skull® Fish-Mask
Copyright 2015. Austin Green Weinstein. All Rights Reserved.

 

I needed to get another shot, so again, we motored back up the river and I got myself refocused and stripped a bunch of line out and casted until my forearm started to slightly throb. The boat was gravitating towards the bank a bit too much, but I didn’t care and I just kept casting. Watching the gorgeous fly decked out with chartreuse and flashy colors slither and float in the water was encouraging. We have all had the thought, “Okay, if I was a ____ I would totally eat that, it looks so good!” As I’m mixing up my strips with some quick blasts a whitish beast soars up from under the boat and wrecks my fly! All I know is that I’ll have a stroke if she gets away so I strip set that hook so hard and it feels like I have it in deep. Mother musky is just as surprised as I am and is thrashing around and going under the boat and the phrase “Take away her will” was my only mantra I remember gleaning from a musky video. I muscled her up to be extra sure that hook was in! Nolan was cheering me on in the boat and Austin was absolutely stoked. He was saying many things all at once but the only thing I can remember in retrospect was him exclaiming, “You are such a babe!” when I hooked into the fish. It made me crack up laughing, and when I brought it up later he said, “Hey, Nolan was in the boat and I was going to say much fancier things if little ears weren’t around!” Oh, boy.

Katie Blizzard's First Musky!

Katie Blizzard’s First Musky!
Copyright 2015. Austin Green Weinstein. All Rights Reserved.

 

He helped net the mad monster and paddle the short distance to the rocky bank. My adrenaline was pumping and a hot sweat broke out all over me. When we safely had her in the water near the shore I just kept screaming we FINALLY caught a musky! It was all so surreal to me and more rewarding than I could have ever imagined. We photographed the beautiful creature we had worked so hard to find and every minute was feeling more and more gratifying. After momma musky had gotten a photo shoot I released her, unharmed, back into the murky depths from which she came.

Gorgeous Musky Caught On The 3-TAND T-90 and Orvis Helios 2

Gorgeous Musky Caught On The 3-TAND T-90 and Orvis Helios 2
Copyright 2015. Austin Green Weinstein. All Rights Reserved.

 

We headed back to the loading dock and my muscles in my face were aching from smiling so much. I sat up front looking all around at the water and sky and then back to my son because I was overjoyed he had come along to experience why mommy is so crazy about these elusive fish. The only feeling I can compare when we had finally caught the musky was the moments after which I had finally birthed my almost 10lb son. I was in labor for many gruesome hours with him and between anxiety and adrenaline I was a mess. As soon as he was officially delivered I made this happy crying weepy sound that I had never felt or heard come out of me before. He was here! I did it! It may sound like a ridiculous comparison to some but that experience was quite similar-outrageously stoked, relieved and amazed! Totally awesome late Christmas present! When we had gotten back to the truck I was getting Nolan in comfy clothes and then he said, “You know, Mommy, I am REALLY proud of you!” Now, that was the best!

Nolan Excited About The Day

Nolan Excited About The Day!

 

By Katie Blizzard

 

Deer Hair In My Beer

Besides getting deer hair in every uncovered orifice of my body, my least favorite part of spinning deer hair is getting it in my beer.  There just isn’t anything worse than finishing trimming your fly and reaching for your glass, only to find an evenly distributed layer of red and chartreuse flotsam across the surface film.

These particular deer hair trimmings are coming from my snook and sabalito tarpon floaty flies.  I plan on slapping these babies along abandoned docks and mangrove islands in the “back woods” of Ambergris Caye in Belize.

Once I am in Belize I wont have to worry about getting deer hair in my beer.  Not because my beer will gone any quicker, but because deer hair is not making the cut for my mobile fly tying case.

By Rob Lepczyk