Fishing with Elliot

I try to be very selective about who I pick for my interviews. I don’t just interview every angler. I only interview those who I believe, usually judging by their social media, will provide interesting reading for fans of Dock Talk 365. So, a few weeks ago, I did this amazing interview with Jeremy. At the end he mentioned his friend Elliot was a really interesting guy to talk to. I started checking out Elliot’s Instagram and realized that he fit right into the folks I interview here. As you will see, Jeremy was so right about his friend. Elliot gives us the breakdown on his perspectives about fishing. His personality and passion shine through his words. Here is what Elliot shared…

You recently had a chance to fish Lake Champlain. How was your trip?

My fishing partner Jeremy and I have “competed” in the Ditch Pickle Classic for the past two years. I say “competed” in quotations because the Ditch Pickle Classic is more about camaraderie and fun, and much less about actual competition. On top of that, Lake Champlain is an absolutely enchanting place to fish. Some parts of the lake are just like any other freshwater lake, lined with cattails, pockets of lily pads, and logs. Other areas of the lake are staggeringly deep, like 200 to 400 feet deep!

Jeremy and I constantly joke while we’re up there about catching a photo of “Champ”, the Lake Champlain cousin to the Lock Ness Monster, but in all seriousness, who knows what the heck is down in that abyss?! On any given day Jeremy and I go out prepared to fish for largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, perch, crappie, carp, pike, musky, bowfin, sheepshead, alligator gar, and more! Lake Champlain is just an incredibly fascinating place to fish.

2016-06-24-13-09-37For me personally, I had one pretty epic afternoon pre-fishing the Ditch Pickle Classic this past summer. The day before the tournament, we were scoping out some smallmouth spots early in the afternoon. Getting bored with the high sun, I started exploring a little bit. I’m standing up in the Hobie kayak, paddling around like a stand up paddleboard and I spot something alien to me. I get a little closer because I’m not really sure what it is. Could that be a bowfin just chilling there in the weeds like that? Yep, that’s a bowfin. Before I get a chance to cast at it, I spook the fish and it’s gone.

Moments later I’m still standing and searching, this time with rod in hand, and I see three decent pike cruising toward me. I manage to entice the Goldilocks of the three into taking my streamer, and a few minutes later I’ve got my first pike on the fly! Shortly thereafter I’m hollering to Jeremy again because I’m hooked up with a nice size bowfin! Sure, we caught some great bass that weekend. I think my biggest smallie was like 18″, with something like a 17″ largemouth as well. You can keep the largemouth, those bowfin and pike were the best part of Lake Champlain. I can’t wait to go back and get some more next summer!

I have been told that you do a ton of research before a trip. Where does that planning aspect come from? And how do you think it helps you be better fisherman?

In addition to being a fascinating place to fish, Lake Champlain is something else important to consider. It’s HUGE! And when I say HUGE, I mean like gargantuan huge. Being that I live over four hours away, it’s extremely tough to go up there and fish it multiple times a year and really get to know the lake. For that reason, I turn to the internet.

When Jeremy and I went to Cape Cod last summer, I had a dozen printouts from google earth and maps. Zoomed out, zoomed in, parking spots, fishing spots, I even had all the tide times for all around the entire Cape for the day of the tournament.

I’m sure it helps that I’m bit of a dork and a science-guy at heart.  I went to college for biology and environmental science, and following college I spent some time working as a field biologist. Before going out into the field, I would need to know the entire property we were investigating, all possible threatened/endangered species, soil types, wetlands, plants, etc. I try to bring the same preparedness to my fishing with Jeremy.

Does it make me a better fisherman? Absolutely! This past season is certifiable proof. With some hesitation, I entered a local kayak-only competition hosted by the local Hobie dealer, Three Belles Outfitters. This “Trifecta” was a combination of each angler’s best striper, best bluefish, and best fluke. But before this summer, I could count on one hand how many fluke I’ve landed. So to the internet I turned again. I researched tides, times, baits, fluke diet, feeding habits; anything I could learn previous to the week of the Trifecta.

On that first full day of the Trifecta I launched my Hobie with a plan. A couple hours later I not only landed my first fluke in a kayak, but by far my new personal best, and what would turn out to be the best fluke caught in the Trifecta by a solid three-plus inches! Ideally I’d be learning by fishing all day, every day to learn about new waters and new species. But realistically that’s not an option, so the internet will continue to be my greatest resource.

Besides, Jeremy ties and ties and ties when we’re headed out on any sort of adventure, so the least I can do is bring some research to the table.

What electronics do you use on your Hobie? What do you find as keys to reading your electronics while on the water in combination with your pre-water preparation?

I’ve got two Lowrance 5 units installed on my Hobie Outbacks. To be straight to the point, I haven’t really learned how to maximize my Lowrance units yet. Yes, I can see bait, yes, it picks up fish. I’d say 85% of what I’m using the Lowrance for is the depth/chart/GPS. You know, things like finding my way back to the launch on a dark, moonless night.

I know you do some trout fishing after the snow starts falling. What waters are you looking to hit this winter?

Winter Trout fishing is simultaneously one of my most enjoyable styles of fishing as well as my most frustrating. I really love fishing the Farmington River when snow is falling, but damn those fish are some of the smartest I’ve ever encountered. I can fish other small streams and rivers in central Connecticut and have, literally, so many trout that I get bored. But the Farmington River is an absolute enigma. I’ve had days where I couldn’t pay for a hit, and I have other days where I’ve had a dozen hits on big gnarly articulated streamers. Other days the only fly that will catch anything is a size 28 BWO. But I’ll say one thing for sure, watching a beautiful native brown rise up to a tiny little dry fly is unequivocally one of my favorite ways to catch a trout!

What are your typical fly fishing strategies during the cold weather season?

That answer has changed several times over the past few winters. A few years ago I would have been fishing nymphs under an indicator. Then I started fishing more with Jeremy and big articulated streamers became an obsession. Then last winter we started tinkering around with Euro-style nymphing. I really struggled to catch on when I first tried Euro-nymphing, but then all of a sudden it all came together.

Jeremy and another buddy and I went out one day last winter on a pretty heavily fished stretch of water. Jeremy and I were fishing Euro-nymph rigs, and our other buddy was fishing spinning gear. I think I landed a dozen trout that day, in maybe two hours of fishing. Jeremy caught a bunch too, and our spinning gear buddy might have caught one or two.

Two weeks later, I had a new Euro nymph rod in the mail, and I’ll start dragging those nymphs again soon!

You fish with Jeremy, who we interviewed. How do each of your skills and talents as anglers compliment each other in order to help you be more successful fishing when with him?

HAHAHA, Jeremy is an absolute riot to fish with! Jeremy and I are extremely different and yet extremely similar at the same time. Sort of a convergent evolution story. He and I are constantly encouraging each other to go a little further. It’s actually pretty funny to sit back and think about it from an outside viewpoint. We’ve both been fishing pretty much our entire lives. We’ve both been fly fishing for a long time. But neither of us have ever had any real instruction or lessons in fishing. He tries his best to think like a fly fisherman, and I try to think like a fish. You know, like “if I were a 18″ brown trout, I’d be hiding behind that rock ready to ambush a fingerling.”

At the same time, more than anyone else I’ve ever fished with, Jeremy and I fish like teammates. Neither of us are ever trying to out-fish the other, it’s all about the experience. While we’re working that stretch of stream we’ve never fished before, we’ll call out to each other. “Yo bro, can you reach that log? That looks like a sick little spot” or “Hey, I think one just swirled just upstream from you.” We were out after Albies this September, me and Jeremy and my wife Lauren on a friend’s 17′ boat. The entire day we’re trying to help each other catch fish as much as catch fish ourselves. When I fish with Jeremy it’s not about who catches what fish, it’s about “us” catching fish as a team.

You can go one place in the whole world fishing and can take Jeremy. as your fishing partner. Where are you going?

This is probably the hardest question for me to answer… I don’t really have a one place or another that I need to visit. Yeah, I’d love to head south for bonefish and permit, or to Alaska for salmon, or Canada for monster musky. But for me, it’s about constantly pushing further. I seriously had the best season of my life this year, now I need to figure out how to push a little further next year. I’ve got a list of goals for this coming season, like catching a 50lb striper from the kayak, catching a tuna from the kayak, and more. I know there’s a lot of guys that fish Florida and California and head off-shore with their Hobie kayaks. Here in New England, I don’t see why we can’t do the same.

2016-07-20-22-21-16You are out for a long day on the kayak. Last cast catches a hawg striped bass. What beer are you drinking to celebrate?

July 20th, this past summer, it was a Wednesday night. I went out alone as I had the previous three nights. It was mid-week of the Three Belles Trifecta Tournament, and I needed a big bass. I had already caught a 27″ fluke and a 34″ bluefish, which I was confident were going to be damn near the best I could catch of each of those two species. I went out this night in search of a bass to really give me a solid shot at the Trifecta competition. In my head, I needed a 35″ striper to even give me a chance at competing, I figured a 40″ striper would give me a legit shot, and if I could manage a 45″ bass then I really held solid ground in the competition.

The night before I managed a 43″ bass in the same spot on a live eel, and a couple months before I landed my personal best bass of 47.5″ in the same area. A few hours into the evening I had a few bass brought to the kayak but nothing worth taking pictures of.

And then… ALL HELL BRAKES LOOSE… as soon as the eel hits the water something big grabs it violently. Before I even have a chance to give it an effort, my drag is screaming and I’m in for a sleigh ride. The big ones are smarter than the others; I’m only fishing in 8 to 10 feet of water, and this fish immediately wraps around a boulder. I spend the next 5+ minutes peddling back and forth around this boulder trying to free my line. When I finally get my line and the fish free, I bring it to the surface to show what would be my new personal best striper. After quickly paddling it to shore, I measure out 49.5 inches on the tape and 48 pounds on my scale.

I didn’t make any more casts after I released her, I just packed up and headed home. Giddy like a 6-year-old girl, I’m in my Dakota for the hour long ride home periodically shouting out loud “FORTY-MOTHER-F***ING NINE INCHES!!!!!” When I got home all I wanted to do was wake up my wife and tell her about the fish! I knew she’d kill me for waking her, but I was waaaaaay too excited to go to bed. So a beer celebration was in order. Dogfish WorldWide Stout that I had been saving for a couple years was the beer of the night.

That being said, I’m simultaneously a beer snob and an opportunistic drinker. On any given night some of my favorites are Dogfish WorldWide Stout, Trappist Rochfort 10, and Samiclaus. Or at least those are the beers that I like to save for special occasions…which is I think the question you originally asked?

Yes, that is the question I originally asked but that is such a great story that I had forgotten. Thank you so much Elliot! These answers are terrific. I love the passion and excitement that you have for the sport we all love. To keep an eye on what Elliot is doing, keep tuned into his Instagram account.