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Fly.

In 2003, after a long year of training, study and examination, I earned my Private Pilots License.

I could write a few thousand words on the process and the topic, and one day, I assume I will. But for now, let it simply be known that, as a boy, I had an extensive collection of toy airplanes, could recognize the tail art on almost an passing airliner, and stood watching airplanes take off and land with my Dad, who got his license in the late 1990’s. I’m confident that had you told the 15 year-old me that I would one day pilot an airplane alone, I would have laughed at you. But in hindsight, I’m not sure it’s completely out of left field. My Dad had the bug long before he was able to learn to fly, and he passed it on to me long before I learned to fly, and flying remains one of my proudest accomplishments and true loves.

I’ve long had the desire to combine fishing and flying. Simply loading up an airplane with a few rods and blasting off for a short hop to some water that would otherwise mean a long ride in a car would be satisfying enough, but I was captivated many years ago by an image put forth by, of all people, the Chief Parrothead, Jimmy Buffett. Mr. Buffett painted a picture in one of his books of spotting tarpon at low altitude from the cockpit of his Lake Renegade amphibious aircraft, landing, and casting a fly. Take a guy who loves fly fishing, aviation, and has a particular love for sea planes and Caribbean waters, and this can be a lasting image in his mind.

Fishing and Aviation collide head on in the wilds of Alaska, where thousands of anglers go each year to hop aboard a single engine airplane and be shuttled to parts that could not be reached otherwise.  The De Havilland Beaver has be come almost synonymous with Alaskan fly fishing, and rightly so, having put so many anglers on the fish up north. The Piper Cub, too. We love Cubs in my family. My Dad eventually got his own about a year ago, similar to the one fly fishing legend Lee Wulff operates in this incredible video dug up by Moldy Chum last week. It has it all; A Cub on floats, some beautiful scenery, great fishing footage, and Mr. Wulff narrating it all, yelling in cadence in that inimitable way that people used to do on TV, for reasons that still alludes me.

He also left behind a memoir entitled Bush Pilot Angler that I look forward to reading. Given all the flying or fishing books I’ve read, It’s a wonder I didn’t get to it yet.

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Filed under Aviation, Blogs, Books, Film, Fisherman, Fishing, Writers

To Do:

In the early days of a new year, I find myself making lists of things to do. Not the usual promises of gym routines and minimal alcohol intake, the kind that are designed to be broken, but the fishing kind. My home waters will obviously be well worked in 2012; that’s a given. But where else would I like to go? Costa Rica, of course. Bonefish in Hawaii. Chile, Argentina, The Bahamas. Yeah, right.

I’d love to do all that, and while out of pure stubbornness,  I’ll never rule any of it out, I’m talking realistic goals I can pick off like like swatting flies. The kind of trips that, assuming good health and no cracked limbs, there is no reasonable excuse not to complete.

In the next week or so, I will make the short two hour drive north to wander the White Clay Creek in search of brown and rainbow trout.

The White Clay Creek - Christmas Day 2011

The White Clay meanders into northern Delaware from the south-east corner of Pennsylvania, and is the biggest reason I have for considering a purchase of a Pennsylvania fishing license. I wouldn’t think twice, except that the PA license is a full $50 more than my DE license, due to non-residency and the significant difference in the sizes of our states. There are of course, other great reasons to hold a PA license. I’d like to fish the Spring, Beaver and Allegheny creeks, too. But the White Clay is the closest stretch of good trout water, and when scouting upstream, I’d prefer to not be halted by the invisible state line that renders my DE license worthless and my fishing illegal.

The White Clay is stocked every year by both the state, and the White Clay Fly Fishers Club. It is also home to some large holdover trout from previous seasons, and sees a spring run of shad every year. It’s truly year-round water, and I plan to make much more use of it this year than in years past. Thankfully, family is nearby, making it an easy place to stay and fish.

While on the topic of licensing in other states, my third license of the year will be purchased from the good people of Maryland, so that I can fish a stream that truly excites me. The Big Gunpowder River starts in Pennsylvania and tumbles through Maryland into the Chesapeake Bay.  The upstream Prettyboy Reservoir Dam releases 55 degree water  all year long, creating a fertile, east coast, Blue Ribbon trout water populated predominantly by browns, but with some rainbow and brook trout in the mix. While the brown trout population has been naturally sustaining for decades, there is some stocking of rainbow in the lower catch and release section of the river.

These waters made some news in fly fishing circles this year when The Maryland Department of Natural Resources and the Maryland Board of Public Works renamed the Gunpowder South Trail the Lefty Kreh Fishing Trail in honor of the Maryland native, and ambassador to our sport.

Fishing reports have been good all winter, and I’d like to get there sooner than later. In the meantime, I read Backwater Angler and Knee Deep; locals on the Gunpowder who share more advice and information than anybody has to.
Most of the stream consists of long pools divided by short riffles, tree lined banks and beautiful scenery, is a few hours form home, and I’ve never caught a brown trout. I can’t wait to try.

Gunpowder Falls, MD

I looked at the date yesterday and almost fell out of my chair. It may be a cliche, but it’s truly amazing how time will fly. Blink, and January will be over.

Fair enough, because February will find me in Lancaster, Pa for my first Fly Fishing Show. I’m looking forward to viewing all the latest tackle and materials, meeting some of the guys who write the books I’ve read and who designed the flies I disgrace by attempting to tie, (Mr. Clouser, Mr. Kreh, how are you?) and learning as much as I can. There are demonstrations and clinics on everything from casting and tying flies and knots. As if that were not enough, the International Fly Fishing Film Festival will be there, screening several films over the two days. With films based around our sport getting better, prettier and more interesting every year, this may well be the highlight for me.

Well, that gets me through February. More to come, no doubt….

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Filed under Blogs, Film, Fishing, Fishy Water, Industry, Places, Trout, Winter, Writers

Bluegill, etc.

 

An afternoon trip to nearby Trap Pond State Park today was made all the more pleasant, considering the date, by willing bluegill hanging around in relatively shallow water and eating bugs. Not a phenomenon, just a stroke of fishing luck when the pickerel and bass refused to cooperate.

I walked out onto a dock and found the fish hiding out under low-hanging branches. Being that my girlfriend had pointed out several spiders on our walk down the water’s edge, I tied on a foam spider, because that’s as close I am to being an entomologist, and caught a handful of them, until the spider fly became limp and waterlogged.

 

 

Other than that, I’ve been updating Fly & Gin headquarters with new machinery, which is the best spin I can put on the fact that the old stuff broke. Fly & Gin now comes to you via an iMac. And so far, I like it.

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Filed under Blogs, Bluegill, Bug, Fly, Housecleaning

Quick Hits/Link Pond

It’s been all work and fishing, (wah!) so I’m just going to toss a few loose ends in here and call it a blog post. Some stuff more worthy of your time coming soon…..

 

The Wino’s Fly Box

Old painted Altoid can, a few botles of wine, some glue, and there you have it.

 

 

Why, I oughta…..

 

You are NOT a trout! But it was fun catching you anyway…..

 

Chomp.

I think a Pickeral got my popper. It was brand new and had endured a whopping two casts before this….

 

Around the web….

 

Moldy Chum on Wild B.C. salmon testing positive for ‘lethal’ virus linked to fish farms .

Fishing Jones posts a video of Albacore blitzing that will make your palms sweat.

MidCurrent on the proper procedures for setting reel drag.

Field & Stream’s Fly Talk demonstrates the No-Tool Whip Finish.

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Blogs, Booze, DIY, Fishing, Fishy Water, Fly, Fly Tying, Gear, Link Pond

A Glimmer of Hope on White Clay Creek.

Just about the time I moved back to Delaware, fly rod in hand, White Clay Creek Outfitters abruptly closed its doors. I naturally, and perhaps correctly, assumed it another casualty of economic distress.

The news of a small fly shop closing is barely news at all these days. Some of the famed shops of fly fishing lure have sadly succumbed to internet sales, a down economy and the David & Goliath realities of competing with so called “big box” stores. Fly shops located in a random town near some random water seem most at risk, but WCCO was located on some of the states best fly fishing creeks, and had a core clientele. Perhaps it was other than monetary, but whatever the cause for the abrupt closing-up-shop, it left a significant hole in the fabric of the local fly fishing community. And that community covers significant ground, considering WCCO was just over 100 miles from my home, and the only fly shop in the state. The only closer fly shop is one I have yet to visit, 75 miles away and across the border in Maryland.

 

As Delaware’s sole fly shop went dark, Ken Prager, custom rod builder, continued to regularly updated the White Clay Creek  blog, and I continued to read the tips, fishing reports, and creek conditions. A banner appeared on the site promising “something new” coming soon. At first I suspected an online retail store, thinking perhaps the brick & mortar operation with it’s overhead had sunk the ship, but it’s a known fact that an online retail transaction doesn’t include talking fishing and free coffee.  Things looked pretty bleak.

As it turns out, all is not lost.

Prager recently posted great news – the opening of a new shop.

 

You may have noticed that the page headers of the site now say: Delaware Flyfishing – Something New coming soon.  Stay tuned to the blog for update on plans for the new shop location.”

 

The location is still unclear, but White Clay Creek will see a brand new fly shop by the end of the year. Prager is aiming for Thanksgiving for an opening weekend. I’ll be sure to show up, spend a few bucks, and thanks them for persisting in an endangered industry.

 

 

 

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