Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Back to Basics

stairs to the delaware river
To the river...
H: February 11, 2013: Apologies for the long lapse between posts. My life of late has been consumed with all things house related—building and construction, septics and wells, inspections and repairs, gas leases and property deeds... Yeap, this flygirl has found her dream fishing shack! More on that later, first, a quick 2013 Somerset Fly Fishing Show report.

I finally met up with members of the NYC Fly Meetup group—Matt, Jinny, Ryan. They turned out to be a great group of enthusiastic fly fishers and tyers. I look forward to fishing and tying with them some time in the future. I attended 4 seminars: Great Lakes Steelhead, Wingless Wet Flies, Dry Fly Strategies, and Swing Fly Techniques. I was scouting potential programs for my women's fly fishing club, the Juliana's Anglers (as well as feeding my newly acquired steelhead obsession ;). Except for the Wingless Wet Flies seminar which I found interesting from a historic ff perspective, I was rather disappointed with the lot. Given the 1-hour time frame, these presentations are just too general and broad to have much substance. Granted, there was some good photography and interesting fish stories told...

Of course I had to watch at least one casting demonstration to satisfy the casting geek in me ;). It turned out to be Prescott Smith on Casting in the Wind and Other Difficult Casts. His demo was simple and to the point—the point being that the key to casting successfully in the wind is to maintain constant tension. He used the analogy of a yo-yo, a lasso, and even a racetrack. If you keep your rod loaded at all times, the wind cannot take control of it.

As he gracefully executed the Belgium wind cast, he shared his experiences as a Bahamian bonefish guide and demonstrated some of the common mistakes he's seen anglers make—overpowering the final forward cast, breaks in the cast that introduce slack (public enemy #1), and bad form on the double haul. To finish things off, he visually illustrated that good casting is all about technique and has little to do with physical strength. He cast while sitting in a chair, then proceeded to lay down flat on the ground and cast. Good stuff! His demo covered the basics, but it's so often the basics that are lost in the heat of the hunt on a bonefish flat with 40+ mph winds blowing in your face. I can personally vouch for that.

Bahamian guide Prescott Smith casting while laying down on the ground
Prescott Smith physically demonstrating that good casting is ALL about technique, not strength.
Most of the show was spent catching up with fishing friends and acquaintances. I was really pleased to see a strong contingent of Julianas! I also ran into several FFF CI acquaintances. When I asked them how they felt about the whole Maxwell/McCrimmon incident, I was rather surprised at their responses. Most just shrugged their shoulders. It didn't seem to bother them at all or perhaps they just felt powerless to affect any change. That was very disappointing...

On a more positive note—I finally did it! I tied my first fly, something I've been putting off for years. Ironically it was at the FFF learning booth. I tied a black wooly bugger, alongside a fresh-faced 9-year-old girl who was tying a bright pink one ;). It certainly looks buggy. I hope to catch a nice trout with it later this year, although in hindsight, I really should have used a bead head.

Well since this momentous occasion, I have tied 3 more flies: a green caddis emerger, cased caddis, and diving caddis, courtesy of my good friend Kat Rollin. She's a gifted and celebrated fly tyer, known for tying beautiful, traditional salmon flies by hand (no vice!). In her basement, beside her extensive wine cellar, she has an amazing fly tying cave filled to the brim with more materials than I've seen in some fly shops. Thanks again, Kat!

So, back to the flygirl fishing shack... After a month of researching building design options and formulating a concept for the home I wanted to build (modern, open floor plan, green as possible), I decided I should at least look at a few houses on the market before making a final commitment. I saw a wide range of riverfront property and even considered making an offer on one—house was impeccable, river was appealing. But on my second scouting trip, I went to see a property that was over my original budget. Well, it was love at first sight! I fell hard, for an absolutely gorgeous stretch of river and stunning views. I'm afraid I didn't take a very close look at the house. Can't remember the last time I was so impulsive! Perhaps 11 years ago when I quit my job to study Carcharodon Carcharias in South Africa? Well, the house needs quite a bit of work... but the river is perfect!

Hopefully, if things go according to plan, I'll be settled just in time to greet the hendricksons :). I'm making 2013 all about getting back to basics—back to fly fishing (the simple joy of it) and discovering my new home waters (with a few house renovations thrown in). Fingers crossed XX.

looking out at the delaware river
New home waters?...

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