Dean Wormell describes himself as an “occasional blogger”. Dean is an avid fisherman who has a great ability to engage his readers through written word. I have enjoyed reading his blog posts and am so grateful he was willing to take some time to let me ask him a few questions.
Your last blog post highlights your top 12 days on the water from 2015. What have been 5 of your best days for 2016?
I’ve had some excellent days on the water this year, including many firsts on the fly….first albie, first shad, first saltwater white perch, first keeper stripers, 4 to date from 28’ to 31”, first pike, first snapper blue, a small bluefish. I’m blessed to have the time and locations close to home. Also having a guide for a son in the Adirondacks makes for great opportunities to chase tail. I couldn’t keep it to 5 days so below are highlights of the 7 best days on the water in 2016 in chronological order.
May Day – The striped “schoolie” bass show in New England waters starting in April and stay around sometimes as late as December. We were chasing them in April, but only a friend caught one. On May 1, I met my striper mentor, Mark, in southern Massachusetts predawn and brought my first 2016 schoolie to hand before sunrise. The day turned out to be very productive with over 10 caught throughout the day first with Mark, then later in the afternoon with Jeff, another fishing buddy from the fly fishing New England board flyfishingnewengland.net. I even caught a my first white perch, large for that species at 14” in a tidal river.
Mother’s Day in the Adirondacks – Matt, my son, Val, my wife and I fished the West Branch of the Ausable River in the Adirondacks on Mother’s Day this year. We watched Val get into several 12+ trout which was very special as she does not fish as much as Matt and I and when she gets to catch we always feel good. Spending a day on the water with the family is always fun and even better when we are all catching fish.
Cheeky Day – Cheeky Fly Fishing is a New England based fly fishing company making fly and spin reels. For the last 5 years in late May, they host the “Cheeky Schoolie Tourney” on Cape Cod. This is a catch and release striped bass tournament where the largest 4 fish of the day wins. I’ve fished the tourney the last three years and this past year was the best in terms of numbers of fish caught. My partner, Jeff, & I caught dozens of “micro” schoolies sized from 8” to 13”. My first catch of the day was a shad, another first on the fly. We didn’t place high, but did record the smallest schoolie at 8” which won new Simms waders, boots and a sling pack. My son, Matt, drove down to fish for his first striper after the tourney. After 3 years of trying, Jeff & I got Matt into his first stripers that weekend. A couple that night and a few more the next day.
Adirondacks 4th of July – I spent the long holiday weekend with Matt in the Adirondacks. We fished for trout and pike and I was able to get into several of my first pike on the fly with Matt guiding me to his favorite spots. Summer in the Adirondacks is always enjoyable and even more when we are catching fish.
First Keeper – A legal sized striped bass for recreational anglers is 28” or larger in Massachusetts. We call them keepers, but usually release them. I’ve been chasing stripers for 5 years, caught my first schoolie 3 years ago and landed a 27” last year, but had yet to catch a keeper. I met Jeff at a spot near Chatham, MA to fish the outgoing tide at first light in mid-July. We were fishing a nice rip and had caught a few fish in the 20” range. A long cast landed my fly in the center of the rip and it was clobbered with a surface take. The fish ripped line out running with the current and into my backing, a first time seeing backing. I recovered most of the line and the fish took another run into the backing. We finally landed and taped it a 28” – my first keeper.
Local Pond Day – We have several local ponds that are great places to fish for bass, gills and crappie. Val & I took the canoe out mid-summer to one of the ponds and she actually out fished me – a rare event. I did get my first crappie that day.
Boat Day on the Cape – Mark, my striper mentor, owns a 17’ Boston Whaler that he invites me out to chase stripers occasionally when the seas cooperate. Mark, Nate, another fishing friend, and I headed out to the Monomoy Rips off of Chatham, MA mid-August. We launch about 4:30 AM and make a 40 minute run to rips to be there at first light. It was calm as the eastern sky warmed and we saw lots of surface activity with fish busting on bait. I was throwing a large articulated squid fly that Mark had tied and hooked up with what was the biggest fish of the day at 31”. I landed two more keepers that day, Mark got his first keeper of the year and Nate hooked into some good fish but did not land them. A great day fly fishing from the boat with many nice fish caught with friends.
First Albie – A friend met through the FlyFishingNewEngland board invited me to join him in mid-September to a southern New England jetty to chase False Albacore. The albies show up in southern New England for September and October and many anglers take vacations to chase these powerful little tuna from shore. I watched my friend land 3 and was able to get my first late in the afternoon before leaving. Blind casting into current along the jetty for 6 hours and suddenly the line went tight and all the excess line cleared the stripping basket in seconds. Two strong runs and the second into my backing was exhilarating. I will be haunted by the albie for the rest of my days.
What percentage of time do you fish saltwater versus freshwater? What do you love about fly fishing?
This year, I’m fly fishing about 60% saltwater and 40% freshwater. I chase striped bass, false albacore, bluefish, shad, flounder and whatever I find on the end of the fly line in the salt. Trout, largemouth & smallmouth bass, bluegills, crappie, landlocked salmon, perch, carp and pike are some of the many species we find in the freshwater here in the northeast. I will fish for most any fish that’s willing to take a fly.
I also am very fortunate to have a son (@troutdoors) and wife (@valwormell) that like to fly fish. My son, Matt, got both myself and Val, my wife, into fly fishing over 10 years ago, so times we all get to fish together are very special. Matt currently guides for Wiley’s Flies (@wileysflies) in the Adirondacks so our trips to visit Matt and fish the ADK are also one of the things I love about fly fishing.
Do you tie all of your own flies? What does it feel like to catch a fish on your own creation?
I tie saltwater baitfish, dry flies, nymphs, streamers and bass poppers. I like to participate in fly swaps and do get many flies from fellow fly anglers. I’ve also received some flies from friends met on Instagram and from contests. I take inspiration from many tiers and like to tie both classic and modern patterns that have proven to be successful. 90% of the fish I catch are on flies I’ve tied and it is a rewarding experience to see how well the flies work and make adjustments to the patterns over time to make them better.
Most of the time, it’s not the fly that catches fish, but the presentation that fools the fish.
You seem to regularly fish for bass with the fly rod. What is your go to fly rod set up for fishing for bass?
I do fish for both fresh and saltwater bass. For freshwater, I fish both a 5 wt and 8 wt rod with floating lines. I use the 5wt when throwing smaller streamers, nymphs & dries. I use the 8 wt for throwing larger articulated streamers, bass bugs and when the wind picks up. For saltwater I use my 8 wt with primarily with an intermediate sinking line. I’ll switch to a faster sink tip line in stronger tidal currents or when fishing deep water.
What are you favorite trout waters that you have ever had the chance to fly fish?
My favorite trout waters are the ones with trout…lol…When in the Adirondacks with my son, we fish blue line streams loaded with native brook trout and catching these with dries on the 3 wt is very special. Closer to home in Massachusetts, we have several stocked streams that produced 12+ inch rainbows and browns year round. We also have a couple landlocked salmon streams that are fun to catch 20+ landlocked Atlantic salmon during their fall run.
What is your favorite fly shop?
The Evening Sun has a large selection of tying materials and very good prices on gear. I also learned how to tie flies taking a fly tying class at the Evening Sun. Charlie Shadan, owner of the Evening Sun, goes out of his way to help with all things fly fishing.
Wiley’s Flies in Ray Brook, NY is the best stocked fly shop in the Adirondacks. Vince Wilcox, the owner is a signature fly tier for Umpqua and has published two books on fly tying. There is also an affordable motel at Wiley’s Flies which is where I stay when visiting the ADK. My son, Matt, guides for Wiley’s Flies.
Where is your dream fly fishing destination and what puts it on the bucket list?
I have several fly fishing destinations on the bucket list. Some are more affordable than others, but all have equally appealing qualities to me.
Dean River in British Columbia, Canada. This is one of the most remote wild steelhead fisheries in North America and chasing this anadromous fish in a beautiful setting tops the list. I’ve yet to catch a steelhead and would love to do it on the Dean River.
One of the several Atlantic Salmon rivers in North Eastern, Canada. Nova Scotia, Labrador and New Brunswick all have Atlantic Salmon rivers and a DIY trip from New England is an achievable destination to chase these powerful anadromous fish. The Atlantic salmon would also be a new fish on the fly for me.
Anywhere in Alaska for giant rainbows, grayling, artic char and salmon is also on the list. The beauty, expanse and diversity of the fishery in Alaska makes this a destination that most all fly anglers plan to visit.
Top 3 beers after a day of fly fishing?
A cold local IPA is my favorite beer. We have several excellent local breweries that produce strong, hoppy ales which I enjoy the best. Some of my local favorite breweries include Trillium, Ipswich Ale and Harpoon Brewery. It seems like there is a new local, craft brewed New England IPA every week, so this list is constantly changing.
I love interviews where the dedication and enjoyment of fishing come shine through the words on the page. Thank you Dean for doing the interview. I am looking forward to following the blog…hint…looking forward to a new post or two from the occasional blogger…as well as following you on Instagram and Twitter.