2016 Year in Review – Taylor Pirie

I have been telling Joey and Matt for about a year now that I would write them a blog.  I kept telling them about what I was up to and they kept saying “Write a blog!” I would tell them absolutely, but then would slip my mind. I finally felt like I needed to do something for these guys because I had been telling them I would for too long.

So here you go boys!


2016 has been an interesting year to say the least. All I have seen this year on Twitter and the news is how much 2016 has sucked. We had a horrendous Presidential Campaign, we lost many prominent athletes, actors, sports casters, and many more reasons that have caused people to say that this year has sucked. Our family lost two of our most special members. However, I still believe that 2016 was one of my favorite years in my 24 years that I have been alive. I have had the fortune to catch over 15 different species of fish and travel to many different places to target these fish. I got to spend more time on the water with my friends and family than I ever have before. I was able to get on the water and catch a fish in 11 of the 12 months this year. Below you will find my fishing timeline from 2016. I hope that this serves as motivation for people to get on the water as much as they possibly can because there is no better way to spend your free time than targeting fish, regardless of the species you may choose.


January
The only month of the entire year that I was unable to catch a fish. 🙁

February
My fishing year begin in February when I had the pleasure of going out with Dan Harrison and Cam Chioffi of Harrison Anglers. I was unsure of what to expect because we were fishing for Brown Trout in Western Mass. Now, I have lived in Massachusetts my whole life and consider myself a good trout fisherman, as that has been the main target of fly fishing in my life and I had never heard of any Brown Trout in Mass. However, I was sorely mistaken. While our first trip in February did not lead to catching any fish, it lead to taking another trip with Dan shortly thereafter. While I did not catch a fish with Dan on this trip, I was able to catch a medium sized Brown Trout while fishing the tributaries of Lake Ontario. While I was unable to land any Steelhead, I will definitely be back for those at another time.

March
I had booked another day with Dan to go out after some Western MA Browns. He told me that his co-founder and brother of Harrison Anglers, Tom, was going to accompany us. I was pretty excited to get both of the Harrison Brothers on the boat at once and knew we were in for a fishy day. We sat through torrential downpour with no fish moving for the first three to four hours of the trip. And then it started to happen. We were moving fish and the cold rain was no longer an issue. Dan on the oars and Tom and myself on the rods dialed it in. We ended up putting three big brown trout in the boat and should have put another three or four in on top of that. This was when I knew there were more fish to be caught. These two guys know their shit and put me on some of the biggest fish I have seen east of the Mississippi.

April
When my dad got wind of the fact that I had been catching some serious trout in Mass. he wanted to join in. So I called up Dan and said, “Let’s get after it again.” Dan was all for it and the next weekend we were back in the Berkshire’s. I ended up only catching a small Brown Trout that day, but my dad was able to rope in a solid brownie to cap off the day. Needless to say, if you’re feeling the itch to chase after some brownies and cannot get out West, Harrison Angler’s has you covered.


 

May
Every East Coast fisherman knows that the end of April, and all of May is the beginning of the Striper season. I was excited to get back home from living in Syracuse, NY all year to chase some Stripers around. Throughout May and June, we had some great Striper fishing. I spent most of my time fishing the marsh system of the North Shore but also focused on Plum Island Beach and Crane’s Beach.

 

June
While the Stripers were awesome to chase after, I was excited to return to the waters that I grew accustomed to during my time at Middlebury College. The reason I returned here was to compete in the Middlebury Mountaineer Pike Rodeo. This lead to the highlight from the month of June, as I was able to win the Middlebury Mountaineer Pike Rodeo. The competition allowed for two anglers to fish for a 24 hour window. I was able to put two fish, 28.5 inches and 24 inches, to secure the win. It was great to fish with one of my good family friends Scott Cooledge, as he helped captain the boat through the murky waters of Otter Creek.

 

July
This was one of the best months of fishing I had this year by far. Every July since I have been born, I have been fortunate enough to spend at our family ranch outside of Cody, Wyoming nestled in a valley of the Shoshone National Forest. There, we have the ability to fish endless miles of unfished waters. We are the second to last ranch on a dead end dirt road, with the last ranch belonging to my cousins. With this all being private water, and the other ranch owners near us being mostly horse people, the wild German Browns are left all for us. While these fish are awesome to chase, they are not known for being able to break 20” on a regular basis so this year I branched out more, as I traveled to new waters with both friends and my father. With my friends, Chase Clymer, Calvin Williams, Matt Leach and Hunter Huebsch, we found some of the best trout water in the Lower 48 states. I will not disclose this location, as I most certainly lose some of my friends, but trust me when I say that this held some of the most bucknasty Brown and Rainbow Trout I have ever seen. We spent two days on this river and caught some amazing fish. Later on, I spent a day with my dad horseback riding way up into the mountains to find completely unpressured waters and some very hunger Brown Trout. Finally, the trip to Wyoming concluded on the North Fork of the Shoshone River, as we spent three days rafting this and catching some rambunctious Bows! This year’s trip to Wyoming was one of the best that I have ever experienced in my 25 years of going.

 

August
As I got back home to the North Shore of Boston, I soon realized that the Bluefish were moving! However, for the first couple of days I could not find any and was getting frustrated. Then one night after catching Stripers on the rocks of Rockport, it happened. We were headed home and saw a commotion on the top of the water. It was not the typical blitz that is expected when targeting bluefish, but rather it was Bluefish tailing and cruising on the surface in 100 ft of water in the middle of nowhere. It was very weird, but boy were they hungry. We proceeded to put 15 blues in the boat as they crushed popper after popper that was thrown at them. While this night was awesome, the highlight of August was the shark trip that my brother, father and I took. We were unsure what to expect as we had not targeted sharks in a year or so. We headed out to about 30-40 miles offshore from Gloucester, MA. After setting up our baits and getting our chum slick going we waited. After 30 mins we had multiple blue sharks in our slick but they weren’t taking our bait. As a fly fisherman first, I ran up to the bow, rigged the 14 wt rod and threw on a 10” red streamer and threw it out in the slick. As I started stripping, the sharks attacked it. Coming tight and setting a fly on a 10’ 300 lb shark is a feeling I will not soon forget! At the end of the day, we had put 11 sharks in the boat and 9 were on the fly! It was an incredible day offshore!


September
With the end of summer drawing near and my new job starting up outside of Westchester County at a school called Trinity-Pawling, I was sure that I would not have much time for fishing. However, I found a day to get away from school and found a secret dam, that I will not name, that holds some serious Brown Trout. I was throwing a streamer with my 3 wt fly rod and was able to pull out a nice 21” brown towards the end of the day. It was a great way to start off the school year at my new job. As the school year started to cruise by, I became giddy with excitement for what lay ahead in October.

October
October has become my second favorite month, behind July, over the past three years and it is all because of one weekend. For one weekend my dad, Calvin Williams, James Alvord and myself go out to Montauk to Fish the Blitz! Fishing in Montauk is high intensity, run and gun, slamming the throttle down chasing pods of Albies, as they blow up bait balls. It is some of the most fun fishing there is because of the adrenaline rush you get when chasing pods of fish around at full speed and only get one or two shots at them before they disappear. Once you are hooked up with one of these fish, you will be addicted for life. They fight like a bastard and peel line at speeds that rival any fish out there. To top it off, there are tons of Stripers and Bluefish mixed in, but the Albies are the main target. Albies will remain one of my favorite fish to target because of the way that you have to target them and what they do once they eat the fly or lure you are throwing at them.

 

November
During the month of November I spent my first Thanksgiving away from home. Our family went down to Florida to visit our grandparents and celebrate Thanksgiving there. While I enjoy golfing, I would much rather fish than golf for a week. So my dad figured out a way to get our boat down to Florida so that we could fish a couple of times while we were on the East Coast of Florida. Our first day out, we went right for the Gulf Coast with the hope of running into some Mahi-Mahi or a bill fish. We crossed paths with the first but not the latter. However, on our way in from the gulf stream, we ran into a ton of Jack Crevalle that were dying to eat anything thrown at them. They fight hard and you immediately know why they are a relative of the infamous GT. These things crush you and make it impossible to get them to the boat. Needless to say, this Thanksgiving was one of my favorite even though it was without a few very special people that were lost during this year.

 

December
This December I went on a family trip to an island in the Bahamas off of Abaco Island. Here you can fish for more fish than you know what to do with. The first two days of my trip, my dad and I hired a guide to take us out and pole us around the Marls of Abaco. The 400 square miles of the Marls of Abaco are home to an abundance of Bonefish and the occasional Permit. While we were not lucky enough to cross paths with a permit, we did cross paths with plenty of Bonefish. These fish require some of the most technical fly fishing that any fish requires. You must spot the fish, track its movement, cast to it without landing the fly too close to the fish because you will spook i,t but also without landing the fly too far from the fish that it never sees your fly. However, once that Bone sees your fly, it’s on! They attack aggressively and once they realize they have a fly in their mouth will speed off into the distance, putting you in your backing in a matter of seconds. After these two days on the flats and catching a good amount of Bones, we took to the deeper water to target Wahoo and Mahi-Mahi. We had gotten word that the Mahi had not made their way north yet so we put on our wire leaders and went after the Wahoo. I had never targeted a Wahoo before and as someone that despises trolling, they were an absolute blast to target. We went 0 for 5 on the first 5 that we hooked due to various reasons some being, another wahoo cutting the line attached to the wahoo we were fighting, a shark eating our fish, the lures failing and high seas creating slack and the lure popping out. However, we dialed it in and readjusted our gear and strategies and we stuck 2 and a half Wahoo after that. Yes you read that correctly, 2 and a half Wahoo. The first fish we put on the boat was missing its lower half as a shark had bitten it off. We had the head and half of the midsection of the Wahoo. We then put a 40 lb fish and a 50 lb fish in the boat shortly after that. The 50 lber came on Christmas Day and who could ask for a better present than that.


 

As the Bahamas came to a close and I sit here in Miami International Airport with a five hour layover writing this blog, I remain as grateful as ever to have had these opportunities this year. This hobby that I love takes me to some truly remarkable places and I will forever be grateful of the people that help or accompany me on these journeys. Fishing is a passion that will never die inside of me and I hope that we can continue to grow this sport by invigorating the younger generations and protecting the waters and fish that we are so lucky, as human beings to be able to fish in and fish for.

— Taylor Pirie

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