“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”
In the blink of an eye, another year has come and gone. Flies were tied, fish caught and countless miles traveled. It was an eventful year by any measure, and one that has been tough to whittle down for this list.
Before we begin though, don’t forget to go back and check out last week’s Top 5 Fish post! The first submissions to our Reader’s Gallery have been posted, and there are some epic catches ranging from dinner-plate sized Bluegill to a 300 lbs Tiger Shark. There’s also still time to contribute, so please don’t hesitate to shoot me an email if you’d like to see your catch(es) featured as well.
Now on to the fun…
#10 – January with Jake
Fishing can be hit or miss in January as weather and wind often prove an unpredictable pairing that time of year. As a result, planning trips can be a bit of a crapshoot this time of year. So, when it came time to settle on dates for Jake to visit this past January, we targeted the tides and hoped the weather would cooperate.
To our surprise, we were treated to three of the better January days I’ve experienced in a long time. Skies were blue, winds were absent and temperatures remained in the low 70s throughout.
Better still, we caught fish early and often with nearly 50 slot fish coming to hand on our first day. Add in Flounder on the fly and a sizeable speck, and it was certainly a trip to remember.
#9 – Backyard Bassin’
Another early highlight of 2022 occurred late in January as I stepped out back to test the sunfish patterned Deceiver.
Skies were bright, temperatures were cold and I had no expectations of catching anything. Needless to say, I was a bit shocked when the 5 lbs fish featured in the collage to the right thumped my near 6″ streamer.
Releasing the fish after a quick photo, I assumed it would be my best bass of the year. However, history repeated numerous times over the following weeks as countless 3-5 lbs bass fell for my streamer as I worked the small neighborhood pond.
There are times when the experience is more than the fishing. Such was the case when Maedbh and I made a late July visit to Colorado.
It was Maedbh’s first visit to the state (beyond Denver) and the goal was to let her experience the areas of the state I’ve come to love. Following a similar route to the one Jake and I took in 2019, we headed south from Denver to Colorado Springs before heading west to Eleven Mile Canyon. From there, it was on to Grand Lake and the western entrance to RMNP.
Along the way, we caught some trout, photographed some wildlife and sampled more than our fair share of craft beer.
#7 – A Cold Mississippi Morning
In early March, the FFI Gulf Coast Council hosted the Sweetwater Classic at Percy Quinn State Park in McComb, MS. Along with tyers, casting instructors and speaker, the event also included a “Big Bass” tournament.
Never one to turn down a little friendly competition, I registered online and rose early to make the 1.5 hour drive to the state park that Saturday morning.
Known for big bass, I had come armed with my 9wt, intermediate line and a box filled with large deceivers. The fishing gods had other plans, however, as temperatures had plummeted to below freezing overnight.
Winds churning the lake into chocolate milk, there was ice in the kayaks as Brian, Ben and I launched shortly after sunrise. Four hours of futile fishing later, Brian tapped out as Ben and I made one last ditch effort to find fish.
Fighting our way through the wind to a small channel along the north side of the lake, we finally broke the skunk as Ben landed a large chain pickerel on a Clouser’s minnow. Tying on a Clouser of my own, I quickly hooked up as well. The bass, all 11″ of it, would be my only fish of the day. And, to my surprise, it proved enough to take 2nd Place in the “Big Bass” contest. In turn, the $80 cash prize proved just enough to cover my entry fee and a tank of gas…
#6 – Flies & Flights
In April of this year, Brian, Ben and I began hosted the first Flies & Flights tying event at Rally Cap Brewing in Baton Rouge. More social gathering than organized tying night, we hoped these events would help to bring together the largely disperse fly fishing community that calls Baton Rouge home.
With help from RSFF, Orvis Baton Rouge and Pack & Paddle, we’ve been able to do just that with as many as 25-30 tyers joining us on occasion.
There’s still plenty of room for growth, and we’re hopeful to see just that as Flies & Flights enters its second year. If you haven’t joined us yet, be sure to mark your calendar as our 2023 dates are announced.
#5 – Costa Rica
Delayed two years due to Covid, Maedbh & I finally managed a belated honeymoon in early May of this year. Settling on a Costa Rican road trip, we spent the better part of a week touring the Pacific coast before finishing out the week with a few nights along the shores of Gulfo Dulce.
Primarily an eco tour trip to that point, my fly rods were finally unpacked and put to use these last few days.
Tallying eight species during my stay (much thanks to the folks at CRAFF for all of their help), it was an eventful trip that left both Maedbh and I eager to return.
#4 – 20 September Days
When I first stumbled across The Orvis 20 September Days photography contest in 2020, I didn’t quite realize how big of a part of our lives it would become in the intervening years. I had submitted a few random cell phone images with little hope of winning during the early weeks of that contest, but it was only when Maedbh captured a stunning Smoky Mountain scene late in the month that competing even crossed my mind.
As it turned out, that image went on to win the 2020 competition, and, in doing so, sparked a new found shared passion for my wife and I. We began to plan trips with the intent of capturing angling images, and (though nearly derailed by Hurricane Ida) found our way into the Top 3 once again as a friend’s wedding brought us to California late in September of 2021.
Intent on keeping the streak going, we set aside a day to visit to the Catskills region while visiting Maedbh’s mother in September of this year. Rising early on a brisk morning, we made the hour-plus drive to the famed Willowemoc. Stopping to fish at a few locations, Maedbh found her shot as I fished upstream of the Livingston Manor Covered Bridge. Though I failed to find the fish that morning, Maedbh’s efforts were rewarded as she once again earned 1st Place in this year’s #20SepDays.
#3 – Striper on the Fly
In May of 2021, I briefly tried my hand at Striped Bass on the fly. It was the waning hours of The Mayfly Project’s 25 on the Fly, and the goal was a single Striper before the sun set on our tournament hopes. While Jake succeeded (securing 4th place in the contest), I found myself undergunned as my 7wt struggled with the coastal winds.
Intent on rectifying that this spring, Jake and I set aside a day for Striped Bass prior to the start of the 2nd annual TMP x 25 on the Fly. Armed with a 9wt capable of handling the winds, Jake took me on a whirlwind tour of the state’s Striper waters. Fishing from sunrise til set, we covered at least half a dozen locations with striper coming to hand at all but one.
Though most qualified as schoolies, the final fish of the day proved my best. A large striper caught as I cast in near chest deep water no more than 30 minutes before the sun set.
#2 – A Big Year
2022 was perhaps the closest I will ever come to having a “Big Year” in fly fishing. I fished more days than any in recent memory, covered more miles than I care to remember and, as a result, landed more species of fish than I thought imaginable. In the end I landed 57 species on the year with vivid memories of the three others that would have made it 60.
In the end, it proved enough to win both the KFF Mixed Bag and RSFF Jambalaya Challenge. Though both were surprisingly close with Bill Morrison and Brian Roberts giving me a run for my money in
With luck, 2022 was just a prelude to further success in 2023. However, the bar has most definitely been raised.
#1 – The Mayfly Project’s 25 on the Fly
As was the case in 2021, The Mayfly Project’s 25 on the Fly Tournament has to rank as #1.
Having learned from our mistakes in 2021, Jake and I reversed our route in 2022 starting off in Rhode Island before finishing things off in upstate NY.
Some unexpected format changes left us scrambling, but a bit of internet sleuthing paid off as our first stop of the second morning produced the two highest point fish in the tournament (Gar & Drum).
It was an exhausting few days including some power naps along the NYS Thruway, but the effort proved worth it when the results were announced. We had taken first place by 370 pts. A margin wider than the gap between the 2nd and 5th place teams!
With that, I think it’s time to call 2022 a wrap. Thanks to all for following along this past year, and be sure to subscribe below if you’d like to see what we have in store for 2023.
Until then, Merry Christmas and a happy, healthy and fish filled 2023 to all of you!
2 thoughts on “Top 10 Moments and Memories of 2022”
Heck of a year!
Good adventures! Here’s to more in ’23.