Baby Steps

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Ok, so he’s not there yet but Luke is going to make a fine fly tier some day. I can spot ’em! Maybe I’ll ask the good folks over at Dr. Slick if they have any plans for a “Safety Scissor”. If you made it to the Fly Show up in Somerset, you may have seen me working with a new set of “Razor” scissors. I’ve been holding them hostage since the show and I love them. Honestly, they’re so sharp that I don’t have to close them to snip my 6/0 thread. Luke is definitely not ready for those. He’d be more like Luke Skywalker with those in his hands. The Dr. Slick team is helping me put together a new arsenal of tools for this spring and I’m looking forward to all the new ways to apply bandages to my fingers. I can’t wait.

Spring is coming. I swear. It happens every year. Just when you can’t take it any more, the sun shines again and it’s time to fish. After all these fishing expos and today’s run down to the Maryland DNR offices to renew my guide’s license just this morning, I’ve got cabin fever bad. I’m looking forward to some upcoming shows like the big Fly Fishing Show up in Lancaster, PA and Lefty’s Tie Fest. Both are great opportunities to keep spirits high and get your fishing fix. Both the “fly show” and CCA/Tie Fest have facebook pages where you can stay up to date of what’s going to be at the shows. While we’re at it, have you “liked” OUR PAGE? Tie fest is a hardcore tying event and packed with some of the best tiers and a few shops selling materials (even a few rod companies). I think it’s a great chance to get up close and personal with the tiers and really learn a few tricks. Get yourself to both shows and you won’t regret it.

Keep cranking them out. Longer days are coming!

-Micah

Unexpected December Action

High water and crazy temperatures have made for interesting fishing this winter. I had one free morning before I was back to the grind and into holiday travel. So, despite a weather forecast of clear skies, I headed to the river anyhow.

I made it onto the water just at daybreak with no help from my coffee maker’s malfunctioning timer. The prediction of clear skies had me hoping to get some casts in before the sun hit the water. Things were slow and after only a few strikes on tandem nymph rigs I moved to a slower open section of river.

While the  irresponsibly high water is carving out under-cut banks –  that will surely be high and dry once the City of Baltimore tightens the vales this summer – it’s creating a temporary haven for reclusive brown trout seeking a refuge from the fast water. Employing 3” long heavy wooly-buggers I was able to create some activity by dropping them as close to the banks as possible. The skies stayed overcast and, while targeting any difference in flow rate along the banks, I had eager 12″ trout slashing at my flies while enjoying a deserted river.

Sometimes you have to head out even when the weather-guessers are telling you to stay home; they get it wrong more often than you think! Keep an eye on the USGS gauges if you’re headed out and don’t forget to get a new license before you hit the water and pick up some flies and fresh tippet.

Here’s a collection of shots from the last 2011 outing. Happy new year!

Don’t Get Stuck In The Cold

Often with winter comes broken fly rods and sad drive home from the river. No, we’re not talking about slip-n-falls onto your favorite rod (studded boots from Santa can fix that!) We’re talking about breaking rods with sections that won’t come apart.

Fishermen start their day in the cold and as the day warms up, their rod sections expand. It doesn’t take much but by the time you call it quits your favorite fly-rod seems impossibly joined in a single piece. Many anglers grit their teeth and pull at the fragile sections in an attempt to free them and snap their rods in the process. I’ve seen it happen many times and it’s sad to watch someone snap their rod in a parking lot all while trying to put it away safely in a case.

I had just such a day last week after hitting the river with 26 degree air temps and wrapping up with temps in the 40’s. When I packed up my waders and vest and attempted to put my fly-rod in its case I was met with an immovable rod section on my favorite custom rod. I safely stored the rod in my truck where nothing could harm it (racks on the inside of the vehicle are worth their weight in gold!) and decided I’d give it a try at home. The front or rear dashboard of most cars will accommodate half a fly-rod.

Un-sticking a rod at home is easier than in the field. You’re hands are warm and you have resources at your disposal. The goal is to cool the rod-blank enough to shrink it and have the sections come apart with a minimal amount of twisting and gripping. In my most recent case of a stuck rod, I was able to simply lay my rod on the kitchen counter while running cold tap-water over the ferrules (the male and female pieces that connect the rod) while I unpacked the rest of my gear. On my first attempt to free the sections I failed. I placed it back under the running water, cracked open a cold beer and washed my wading gear off….then tried again with blood-pressure-reducing success!

What if you’re not headed home and your rod MUST be stowed in the case? Hit the first aid kit! Those ice packs aren’t just good for cooling down an emergency beer at the campground. Place the rod ferrules on a wet rag or towel with the ice-pack on top. Let it sit as long as you can stand while the rod sections cool down. Ten minutes or so should be enough though there is a “but” here; if it doesn’t budge, don’t muscle it, give it more time to cool off and try again.

Above all, don’t wrench your rod apart by holding the guides; they’ll give before anything else. For more twist free pulling power, hold the rod sections with your forearms around your knees. Using your knees to push your grip open will allow you to pull the rod without a twist. Stay calm when you’re rod sticks and put it in the car to deal with at home when you’re not tired from fishing all day or all night. Cooler heads and hands are much better at unsticking a rod.

Orvis Days, Care For Kids and a big Thank You!

On October 8th, I was lucky enough to be invited to speak at the Orvis Store in Bethesda, MD during their “Orvis Days” event. I was flattered to have a great crowd of folks turn out to hear me talk about the Big Gunpowder Falls and show off some of my photography with a presentation following the seasons on the river.

Also presenting during the event was Trent Jones, who schooled us on fishing in DC on the Tidal Potomac River, all while we were entertained for most of the day by jazz guitarist Bart Stringham. Joe from the shop brouth in Sandwiches from PotBelly and other snacks and refreshments. Except for being on the water, what else could a fly-fisher want?

I couldn’t have asked for a better reception and I’m grateful for all the kind feedback I’ve received. Thank you to everyone who turned out and to Orvis for having me at the shop!

If you missed you missed the Orvis Days promotions last weekend there’s a chance to save at the store coming up the week of October 21st through Oct. 30th with a Care For Kids Card from the folks at the Children’s National Medical Center. The cards are $50 and get you 20% discounts on regularly priced merchandise. It’s perfect if you’ve had your eye on new boots and waders or a new rod for under the tree not to mention the long list of first class merchants who’re participating! I’ll even be working at the store Sunday the 23rd if you want to come and say hello.

March comes back with cold and snow?

As is fitting with most of my outings this Spring, the good days seem to happen when I’m busy with indoor activities and the cold days land on my days marked “FISH!” on the daytimer. I was not discouraged and after some fun stops in the AM I was on my way to the water with my dog Shay. Once we’d settled in and remembered what it was like to be outdoors we got into a good groove.    

"My new 'scent' "

   

While there were some tiny bugs here and there and I even saw one small fish bust the surface, I was throwing weight at the log jams. This little guy took a few tries to hook but he came out of his hiding place 3 times before chewing up my fly.
 

March Brown Jr.

   

The fishing got better as the sun fell and the eagles stopped flying around above me and a few fly changes later I had a good formula going. It was great to get out and unwind for a while. I eventually had to throw in the towel in favor of dry socks food and a good brushing for the dog…not before a few better fish were duped by some more creative streamer fishing.   

March Brown ...that's better!

   

I spent half an hour or so picking grass out of my dog’s coat and packing up my laundry and wet leaky (fairly new) waders and then headed down towards Baltimore for some dinner. A while back the guys over at Backwater Angler clued me into Andy Nelson’s BBQ and it was just what the dog and I needed after a day eating squashed sandwiches. As always it was great and hit the spot after working hard chasing after trout with a stick!    

BBQ Dinner

   

All-in-all it was a great day and with over 150 hard-won miles put on my new transmission I made it home safe and sound. That “satisfied but tired” feeling that only comes after a day on the water was good to feel again after a long winter and I’d almost forgotten about those 2 fish days spent with frozen guides and hands. I’m looking forward to the warmer days ahead.    

It Was The Winter…The Cold Winter

Almost Ice Fishing

Some years winter really drags on. Living in Washington, DC it can seem like winter is canceled one week and back at work the next. It’s what makes cabin fever soar over 103 degrees. I get the fever pretty bad every year and, after spending a LOT of time hibernating, have to find ways to get out. Sometimes the timing isn’t always perfect and, more often than not, the weather is at its worst. One such trip last month was exactly that.

The wind was blowing 15-20mph steady with gusts up to 40mph and there were a few inches of snow on the ground.  It was definitely winter. A serious blow out in my waders cut my day short and made me happy I was only a mile from the truck and a bag full of spare clothes. We found a good post-fishing homestyle Mexican place on the way home and the day was saved. 

Sometimes you have to get out no matter what the Weatherman says. In a few more weeks we’ll be sporting short sleeves tossing caddis and mayflies. I can’t wait!