Firsts and Favorites

Over the course of the past weeks, I have been fortunate to be able to do some fishing. It started on July 23, 2022, when I fished the backwaters near Amelia Island, Florida, with guide T.D. Lacoss of Amelia Angler Outfitters ( As you would imagine, the early morning sunrise on the Atlantic coast was beautiful as were the oyster beds and very green marshes.

I had fished salt water before, but this was my first time to fish it with a fly rod. While the fishing was slow, I did achieve my goal of catching my first speckled sea trout on a black Clouser. For good measure, I also caught a blacktip shark that took the line T.D. had been trolling as I fished for trout. It was about three feet long and put up an excellent battle; I am considering it preseason training for salmon season. We finished a slow day with a small flounder, also caught on the same black Clouser.

Next, I fished Yellow Breeches in Pennsylvania with PVFF President Andy Mekelburg on Saturday, August 6. We arrived at a church on Pine Road near Boiling Springs around 9:30 am. While there were not too many other anglers, it would have been better if we had met our original target time of 8:30 am but it worked out alright; Andy caught a very nice rainbow on a Woolly Bugger in a deep pool above a bridge and I caught a nice brown trout on a Beadhead Pheasant Tail nymph. In my studies, I had read about the effectiveness of Pheasant Tails so gave it a try. Notably, I tried a good place — a nice current before a hanging forked branch. I caught it at the end of day when I was about to give up, after a conversation with a fellow angler who shared with me that he had caught a nice trout there earlier.

On August 9th and 10th, I was fortunate enough to fish Spruce Creek at Evergreen Farms ( Evergreen Farms is a dairy farm with bucolic views and a guest house at which anglers can stay. It also is a big brown trout haven. On Tuesday the 9th, I literally spent hours trying to entice some of the big browns lying in a pool; it seemed like I tried just about everything in my fly box before a nice brown was kind enough to take a black beetle with rubber legs. Shortly thereafter, I caught a very nice 16” brown trout on the same fly about thirty yards down the creek after making a very nice cast to make a presentation between a rock and the far bank.

Of note, that night I fished after dark for the first time. I did not have a headlamp with a red light — since corrected — so I had to turn my back while tying on flies. It was truly incredible to hear the big browns splashing and a lot of fun trying to catch one. While I failed to capitalize on the few hits on my black unweighted Woolly Bugger, it certainly broke the night fishing ice. As an aside, if anyone wants to plan or join an outing to fish there in 2023, please let me know. I next fished for stripers on the fly on Cape Cod during my vacation. On August 16, I first tried for them on Brewster Flats with guide George Sylvestre of Sylvestre Outdoors (

While we enjoyed a truly majestic sunrise and I did a very good job of casting Clousers into a brisk wind, the stripers were just not cooperative. Later in the week, I tried for stripers with Clousers, Lefty’s Deceivers, and crab flies, on the Mashpee Town Beach and First Encounter Beach, but there was no change in outcome. However, I did catch a small crab and a magnificent sunset at First Encounter Beach. I also developed a strong desire to catch my first striper on the fly at some point.

Finally, I just returned from Idaho, where I was able to fish the Blackfoot River near Soda Springs, Idaho, on August 25th and 26th; it is one of my favorite places in the world. I was very pleased to catch a very nice Cutthroat trout on a stimulator with rubber legs and some green coloring. Again, this was after going through just about every fly I had. Interestingly, I had some fish follow my dry fly as I brought them in to try again but again, despite the presence of a lot of tall grasses and undercut banks, I found no success with my hopper collection.

After catching a magnificent view of the Milky Way, Saturn, and Jupiter, the next morning I was able to experience a wonderful western sunrise over the Blackfoot River. However, I was not able to crack the code required to catch one of the Cutties sipping and sometimes splashing around me. It was not for lack of trying.

These experiences have reminded me that as we often jokingly say, it is called “fishing” and not “catching.” It also reinforced for me the need to fully appreciate the incredible beauty of the environments in which we spend so much time as well as the reality that there is always more for us to learn. For example, I am now very interested in learning more about catching stripers on the fly as well as improving my dry fly fishing skills. As I do so, I look forward to fishing with and learning
from you.

By Mike Holland