Saturday, July 18, 2020

Mr. Bank Sipper*

H: It was a perfect overcast afternoon on the Delaware when I first saw him across the river. I slowly and quietly moved closer. Not sure how long I admired him from a far before I made my move. 15? 20 minutes? Didn't want to appear too eager or turn him off with any angry salad** so I carefully timed and executed my casts, checking the fly after each drift. The time spent watching him paid dividends as I knew exactly what he wanted and where he wanted it. 3 drifts later, he was mine. :)

Wish we had a photo together Mr. Bank Sipper but your handsome mug will do. Hope we meet again!

West Branch of the Delaware bank sipper

*bank sippernoun: smart, wary, and exceedingly picky surface eater; resides within inches of a river bank. requires stealth, patience, and precision to catch. Often referred to as a S.O.B. (acronym for son of a bitch ;). 

**angry saladcolloquialism, noun: the annoying, ubiquitous clumps of algae found in the waters of the West Branch; first heard used by my friend Mike Mc.

Thursday, July 9, 2020

50/50 on the Water

H: Last year, Orvis released their second 50/50 on the water video and yours truly was in it. It came about completely by chance. I'd met Jackie Kutzer from Orvis a couple of times in passing on the Delaware and I ran into her again at a Dette Flies open house. We talked, about fishing of course, in particular about swinging flies for steelhead and atlantic salmon. A week later, I heard from my friend Kelly that Orvis was planning to shoot another 50/50 on the water video and that Jackie has asked if I'd like to participate. Kelly was going to be involved as well. They would be videotaping about 20 or so female anglers to capture their thoughts and personal experiences related to women and fly fishing.

Everyone who knows me well, knows I'm a private person that shies away from the spotlight. I'd rather be behind the scenes (like writing a blog) and behind the camera, than in front of it. When I guided at a Project Healing Waters event on the Salmon River, they had photographers walking around taking pictures all day. But I was so focused on guiding, I barely noticed them except to stop for a quick group grip and grin every now and then. 

But this was different. This would be 200% completely out of my comfort zone. The camera would be focused exclusively on me. My initial reaction was hell no! But as I gave it some thought, I came around. It's almost always good to get out of your comfort zone. What's the worse that could happen? I freeze up and can't think of anything to say. I'm so nervous my casting falls apart. And, they don't include me in the video. I can live with that! :)

Joel, the videographer, got in touch and we set a date to meet in my hood. He turned out to be a young kid, a super nice kid. I started to relax, at least until we started rolling. I'm afraid the rest is all a blur as I rambled on and on. As soon as the interview was over, I was ready to bolt down to the river.

Joel knew that I spey cast and wanted to shoot video of me casting my spey rod. So I took my 13-foot 7-weight down to the water. It felt good to be doing something besides staring into a camera although I could still see it out of the corner of eye. Afterwards, he suggested we walk the tracks. "Just act normal," he said. I laughed as he crouched down low in front of me and crab walked backwards with camera in hand to get a good angle. This isn't normal.... Before I knew it, it was over. Pheww

Of course I told no one about the video shoot. I just buried it like a bad memory. Lol. It wasn't that bad.

Five months later at the Fly Fishing Show, I stopped by the Dette booth to say hello. Kelly was there and the first thing she said was that she had seen a preliminary cut of the Orvis video. Turned out, I was in it. I made a face, dreading what footage of me might be in it. Kelly assured me it was all good. A month later, Joel sent a link to the final video along with an Orvis model release form. 

Here it is. I'm proud to have been a part of it.

I've read and listened to numerous opinions regarding the 50/50 on the Water campaign: It's a marketing gimmick, just a way for Orvis to make more money. Why do women need a campaign? If they want to fish, they should just fish! What obstacles? No one helped me when I was starting out....

My response to the anglers who say, "What obstacles? If you want to fish, just fish!" is: unless you've walked in someone else's shoes, you'll never know what it's like, so try to refrain from dismissing their perspectives so quickly. My experience learning to fly fish has been very positive but I've heard stories from many friends who had very different experiences. Everyone is different. Everyone's experience is unique. Try to respect that.

This comment was posted on the video's YouTube page:

Sorry but no. We don’t need more people, men or women, fishing out there and taxing our natural resources. One of the appeals of this sport is the ability to lose yourself in the wilderness and enjoy the solitude. The greed of the fly fishing industry has turned this sport upside down. The ratio of fishermen to fish has exploded in the last 35 years, leading to some ugly situations river side. This gave birth to the well known book by Rhea Topping- Rod Rage. People, especially newcomers to the sport haven’t the faintest idea of what stream etiquette is all about. I’ve heard of fist fights on the Feather River, I believe it was and I am sure it’s happened elsewhere. So no, we don’t need more pressure on our streams and lakes.

I get where they're coming from. Since I started fishing the Delaware almost 7 years ago, the number of anglers (and boats) on the river has increased exponentially. Does it bother me at times, yes. But you can usually find a quiet spot if you're willing to hike away from the main access points or fish less traveled sections of the river. Sure new anglers might be unaware of stream etiquette but everyone has to start somewhere. As for taxing our natural resources, we need to look further into the future. If this sport doesn't grow and attract the next generation, what happens to Bristol Bay? How about we try to get more people advocating for catch and release in their local fisheries? How about better education programs to teach new anglers river etiquette and proper fish handling?

Regardless of the motives behind the 50/50 on the Water initiative, as far as I can see, the end results are all mainly positive. For the future of this sport we all love and to protect the things we value, getting the next generation hooked on fly fishing is imperative. I'd rather live with more crowded rivers than have them polluted by chemicals from fracking or mining, damaged irrevocably. It's a no brainer to me. But that's just 1 flygirl's opinion.