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Pulaski - the place I had sworn I would never visit again some 18-years ago! Boy am I glad I changed my mind! Well, to say that I changed my mind on my own would not be true, the TRUE motivation behind my journey back was because of two people Fred Campbell and Jeff Bourdages and their incredible project called HOOKE! The VIBE they spoke to me about preceeding our meetings together sounded all great and all but then again, who the hell are these guys I asked myself? Well, after a morning meeting with Fred at his production offices at Fokus in Quebec City and a lunch later that week with Jeff, I found myself amazed by the VIBE - ENERGY and DEDICATION that oozed out of both of them. A few visits to the Hooke.ca website where I watched their videos and this guide was HOOKE himself!
We met up at the Fox Hollow lodge in Altmar, NY with big smiles and hugs as if we had know each other for years and years. The VIBE had somehow transferred into all of us and remained the entire time we were together, through good cast and bad, through frozen feet and shared shots of Fireball on the river bank, it was magical and I did not want it to end! Let me back up a bit before I go on... on the first night we met up with Rachel Finn from Lake Placid NY, a fishing and guiding Goddess in her own right - she then turned us on to her friend and local guide/angler and Spey Jedi, Patrick Ross, who kindly took us out fishing for 3-days while he could have been making some $$$ guiding. Feeling the VIBE he said "screw the guiding - I'm hanging with you boys"! The rest, as they say, is history, sit back and feel the VIBES coming through your screen - better yet, get off your asses, go grab a rod and get out there and discover just how much fun you can have if you invest in your soul a bit!
Before you watch, please know that this film is entirely based on Fly Fishing with a Double Handed rod, aka, SPEY RODS! You may, from time to time, see some other guys in the background using 'Float' rods, which are basically long rods that use a center-pin reel (a free spool reel) that allows their "bait" usually an egg sack to drift about at the level the fish are holding in hopes that one may open its mouth and eat the sack - oh, and I forgot the best part, the egg sack is guided down the river by a strike indicator, or, bobber, if you prefer. It is a very popular method of fishing, although to me, rather boring, but quite deadly for those of you interested in numbers of hook ups in a day, and, if you enjoy sitting in the same spot for hours and hours. Now, I do not profess to be an expert on this type of fishing and hell, as long as you are out there, I have a tremendous amount of respect for you, especially at -10C, but the only problem, or, dissapointment I have with these anglers is that they NEVER move! As a matter of fact, if a fish takes them down stream for an hour fight, they walk right back to where they where and reclaim that exact spot and this seems to be normal. Problem is, when you are trying to "share" a pool with Spey anglers and other single hand fly fishers, problems may arise and that is what I dislike about this river system. I love the fish, the vibe while I am steadily wading down the river (when I can find a spot to do so) and enjoying the scenery and especially the banter between friends as we cast and fish. That is the best part for me. To think that this happens on ALL rivers would be a big fat FALSE! You will never find this sort of "ownership" of a spot on the rivers in Eastern Canada while fishing for Atlantic salmon and I dare say, on most rivers in Ontario where you find Steelhead.
I guess it is a cultural thing that started long ago and it does not seem like there will be much change, at least in this area, which is fine, hell, I got there last, not first! The bottom line is this, there are miles and miles of river and if you pick your spots and are with a few guys rotating though a pool most "float-anglers" will simply get the message and will move on, or, if they do not and they low-hole you (stepping below you to cast in your path) you can always politely explain to them that you were in the process of fishing and that you will indeed end up hooking them if they do not rotate along with you. I do not understand why that is just not the case as everyone could indeed rotate from the top to the bottom of the pool easy enough if they wanted to Anyway, that is not my fight nor is it the vibe I want to impose on anyone else. Either you have the overall VIBE of a ethical angler, or, you don't, I guess.