Alex Cerveniak of Clifton Park is one of fly-fishing’s top bloggers (40 Rivers to Freedom, at hatchesmagazine.com/blogs/40rivers) and the content director for Hatches magazine, the annually published-on-paper and regularly updated online fly-tying journal, as well as the magazine’s sister Web site, Flyaddicts.com.
Considering how popular blogs, Web sites and magazines are with fly-fishers, those are impressive positions to hold. They’re all the more remarkable when you consider Cerveniak cast his first fly just five years ago.
He was deer hunting in his native Michigan, but bovine tuberculosis had made deer scarce, and he was bored.
“I said, ‘You know what, I’m going to start fly-fishing,’ ” he said. “I’d read that steelhead fishing was good during deer season because everybody is out deer hunting.”
That was in the fall of 2004. By the following January, he had acquired the necessary gear for fly-tying, as well as fly-fishing. “I was all in,” he said. That spring, he was catching trout on flies he tied himself. He had a dozen blue-ribbon trout streams within a half-hour of his home in Gaylord, Mich., including the famed Au Sable, as well as tributaries to lakes Huron and Michigan for steelhead and salmon runs.
“It’s just one of those things where you love it, and it’s all you can think about and it’s all you want to do,” he said.
But Cerveniak also is a family man, with a wife, 11-year-old daughter and 8-year-old son, and family men need incomes. So when the Georgia Pacific particle board factory in northern Michigan closed down three years ago, he reluctantly decided to relocate. His wife, Janet, has a sister, Jamie Radebach, whose husband, Matt, works at the General Electric Co. Global Research Center in Niskayuna.
The Cerveniaks came for a visit that summer, found jobs and an apartment in the Capital Region, and went back home to pack up and move for good. Now, he’s a lab technician at Adirondack Specialty Adhesives in Albany and an environmental science major at Hudson Valley Community College.
“There’s tons of work out here, it’s beautiful, the winters aren’t as long,” he said. “People here have no idea how good they have it, compared to northern Michigan. And [back in northern Michigan] they’ve had two inches of snow on the ground since late September, and they’ll have snow on the ground until mid-May.”
How does he find the fishing in New York? Most of the really good trout fishing involves some driving.
“Once you hit the hour mark, more opportunities arise,” Cerveniak said. But within minutes of home, in the Mohawk and Hudson Rivers and plenty of lakes, he found highly satisfying fishing for other species.
In Michigan, “I had a lot more cold-water fisheries — more trout, more steelhead, more salmon,” he said. “But the warm-water fishing here is 10 times better than it was back there — the smallmouth and largemouth bass. Other places in the world would consider this world-class smallmouth bass fishing. A lot of days you’ll get into the smaller fish, the 10- to 14-inch fish, that people will get bored with, but there’s nice fish too — you just have to take the trouble to find them.
“Carp fishing has become a little bit of an obsession.”
Naturally, there are steelhead and salmon to be caught three hours to the west of Clifton Park, and Cerveniak has made the trek many times. Also, naturally, he fishes the Battenkill River. In fact, he found some time on a late October Sunday to fish the Battenkill with Geoff Schaacke, who happens to be another fly-fishing blogger from the Capital Region (he’s co-author with Robin Hill of The Angler’s Net at www.theanglersnet.com).
It was pouring rain — a cold, drenching downpour. They floated the Battenkill in a canoe and cast, among other things, a large, shiny, two-hook jointed streamer fly called the Circus Peanut, and caught big, beefy brown trout in weather that would make any sane living thing miserable.
“If you’re going to fish, you’ve got to fish,” Cerveniak said. “You can’t get good at fishing in the wind on nice sunny days. I go to school full time, and I work full time, and my kids are both in sports, and when you get time to fish, you’ve got to fish.
“Hey, the post office still delivers mail in the rain.”