For us here at Knee Deep (it’s a group effort) the show and expo circuit is wrapping up and, while sitting in a pile of boxes, plastic tubs, and extension cords, it’s nice to know that the air is warming up outside. Traveling to the shows and meeting so many anglers has been rewarding. It’s especially refreshing to meet new anglers and see their enthusiasm. Nothing makes you want to hit the water like hearing someone talk about their first trout on the fly. For those who really get the fly fishing bug, that feeling is the same for every fish caught after that first one.
For me the winter is a time to see old friends from near and far. As a kid, it was when family would come to town and we’d fish tiny streams for brook trout up in NJ. Nowadays, it’s a reminder of all the great fishermen (and women!) that I’ve been lucky enough to have fished with in the last 25 years and who’ve shaped who I’ve become. One pal I tied next to at the shows has known me since I was a 10 year old kid riding my bike to the river with a fly rod in hand. Some of the guys who let me tag along on trips to NY state all those years ago came to see me in in NJ and there is no way to describe how fantastic that feels. They’re still letting me tag along on their fishing adventures all these years later. It’s all been a reminder that the fly fishing family is very large but has a great spirit and will continue on for many years down the road.
Last but not least, during this season’s show circuit I’ve met so many supportive spouses along the way. Some of us have wives who may or may not fish but are supportive enough to set us free from the house every once in a while to share angling with others. Maybe it’s easier to let us run than listen to grumble while painting the house or working on the car. I don’t know how they live with us sometimes. I know I couldn’t have done it without my wife and I’m sure there are many other fishermen out there who feel the same way. Thanks Dear!
Thank you to everyone who attended the shows and stopped by to say “Hello” this winter. Knee Deep Fly Fishing wouldn’t be here without you.
Keep your tip on the water!
For anglers, this is the time of the winter when cabin fever starts to take hold. Maybe it’s when we’re in the car in the mornings and we notice we now need sunglasses again rather than headlights. For the hardcore trout bums, perhaps they notice the dog is waiting for them to get up and get moving. Whatever it is, we know spring is coming. We just have to hold on!
If you didn’t make it to Somerset, NJ for The Fly Fishing Show, you’ve got another chance to get your fix. The crew is on their way to Lancaster, PA for the weekend of March 2nd/3rd. I’ll be there tying and telling even bigger fish stories (it’s been a long winter) and hope to see some of you there.
The next weekend, March 9th, is Lefty Kreh’s “Tie Fest” closer to home in Grasonville, MD with the gang from CCA Maryland. This one is going to be pretty cool. It’s the region’s best tiers and guides getting together to share what’s coming out the jaws of their vises. There’s even a bar so you can buy them a beer and try to get them to let go of a few secrets. I’ll be tying there too so be sure and stop in for an hour or two just to say hello.
Looking forward to these two events should help to ease the pain of winter. Last year the stoneflies were climbing out of the water by the second week of March so there’s an end in sight!
Warm weather this week has water temps hitting 43 on the Gunpowder Falls river gauges and the weekend looks great. We’re crossing our fingers for 45! Here at Knee Deep we are big fans of Foote’s forecast for Maryland. It’s spot on for the Baltimore/DC area. While they are calling for a warm weekend – maybe some stonefly action – there’s a cold blast out to the West that’ll bring winter right back to us. Thanks to the folks at Gentner Consutling for turning us on to that Foote’s!
So what’s that mean for the fishing? It means you’ll need to get back to dredging nymphs with a hat and gloves. Not your cup of tea? Don’t have a hat and gloves? Get yourself to one of the upcoming expos put on by the folks at The Fly Fishing Show!
As a youth, I made a trip every season to the Somerset, NJ show with my father and brothers. It was a great chance to catch up with old friends in the isles and meeting the folks rewriting the book on fly fishing was inspiring. I’d go home with bags of hackles and threads with a refreshed enthusiasm for tying flies and rod building and spend the following weeks of winter in the basement with my family tying flies and building up for the warm weather to come. I recall a few icy trips to the Ken Lockwood Gorge with newly built rods in hand and Korkers on our feet just to get close to the water’s edge. I also recall snapping at least one on a frozen maiden voyage!
As a young fly-tier, The Fly Fishing Show was a chance for me to spend a weekend asking every question under the sun and shake the tying tables of guys like Bob Clouser and Bob Popovics; heroes to a kid who grew up fishing the surf. I’d run into the gang from my local TU chapter and ask the advice of my older fishing and tying friends about which necks to buy and dig through mountains of materials just looking for the perfect new thing that would catch me more fish. It was a great opportunity for a kid like me and the trip to Somerset became a pilgrimage for my family.
This year will be a great chance to catch up with friends at Somerset, NJ (Jan 25-27th) and at Lancaster, PA (Mar 2-3rd). Yours truly will by tying flies at both shows and can’t wait. I’m looking forward to seeing lots of old familiar faces at both shows. With any luck they’ll put me next to someone like NJ ‘s Matt Grobert and my table will get some overflow traffic.
Get out there this weekend if you can and get planning now for the Fly Fishing shows coming to the area. Don’t miss the chance to fill your winter with fly fishing!
Keep your tip on the water,
With winter about to clench its fist down on this warm fall season it’s time to start planning ahead for that cabin fever. The best remedy I can think of is a trip to one of the upcoming consumer expos put on by the folks at The Fly Fishing Show. The Knee Deep gang is ready and I’ll be tying at the Lancaster, PA show February 18th & 19th not to mention stocking up in person while there’s a huge selection of fur and feathers to choose from.
If you’ve never been to The Fly Fishing show you’ve been missing out! You won’t find a bigger gathering of pros demonstrating their skills and offering up free seminars and lectures. On top of all that, there are isles of tackle companies showing of their latest and greatest gadgets and rods…all out for you to pick up and check out.
Spending my teenage years in New Jersey I was lucky enough to attend the Somerset show every year. I used to spend the whole day getting to know the tiers and asking every question I could. I loved it. Some years I’d go for all 3 days of the show just to get my fill of the seminars and classes. As the years went on, I looked forward to the show more as a way to connect with old fishing friends and to stock up on rare or hard to find tying materials. This year will be no exception as there’s nothing like picking your tying materials first hand and catching up with lots of old friends.
Check out The Fly Fishing Show site, find a show near you if you can’t make it to Lancaster, and get your fly fishing fix for the winter. Plan to spend the whole day, or more, to take advantage of it all.
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.
This grainy shot is from a week ago on The Big Gunpowder Falls on a cold cloudy day. There’s a lot of magic happening in that clean spot on the riverbed.
Every year I can be found fishing on the New Years weekend. When I was a teenager the holidays were a time when my family was home together and we’d get out of the house as a group (a group of trouble makers) and slide our way to a local trout stream. Our mother was a saint to put up with us and this holiday routine. I recall a few years where I caused us all to be late for Thanksgiving because we were chasing brookies in Jockey Hollow or Christmases where new gear was tested right after it was unwrapped out at Ken Lockwood Gorge; always a fun spot once it was coated with ice. As the years went on and my brothers and I moved further from each other there are less afternoon outings following big early meals. I will never forget being out-fished by one of my brothers who threw a giant purple leach in a honey hole of hatchery rainbows. I’m still scratching my head over that 15 years later.
Nowadays, I still get out in the winter but recall those times with my brothers and father fondly. With the “early black stoneflies” just around the corner I hope to call them on New Year’s Morning and tell them about how they were thick in the air and how they missed it. Next year I’ll be lobbying hard to get everyone together for some icy fishing for sure. Living below the Mason Dixon Line means that there’s a chance for warmer days in the winter than our snowbound friends up North. Warm days and rising water temps signal the little stoneflies to crawl out onto rocks and snow piles to hatch. Snow is a great place to spot them as their dark bodies cure nicely with the reflection from a white background. Even a few adults buzzing around can let you know the time is right for fishing some nymphs in the riffles. As one of the first real hatches of the year, I get pretty excited when I see them fluttering around.
Don’t forget to stop by your local shop and pick up a new license for 2011 and be safe while getting Knee Deep Friday night – DON’T DRINK AND DRIVE.