A Fall Fishing Trip and the Southern Council Conclave
By Mike Hogue
For those not familar with the Federation of Fly Fishers, the FFF is the only organization which is an all volunteer group dedicated exculively to fly fishing. Its goal is to promote the sport and educate others about fly fishing. I was introduced to this group about 10 years ago through Ed Powell and some members of my old club the Hawkeye Fly Fishers. Through the FFF I have developed a large number of friends and learned a great deal about the sport. That being said I thought I would share some thoughts on the FFF's Southern Council Conclave which I attended last week in Mountain Home, AR. I decided to attend the show to see my family and also to return to one of my favorite shows which I used to do for many years before I moved to the Northeast.
The FFF is divided into several regional councils which cover several geographic areas. The Southern Council covers Texas, Lousiana, part of Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, parts of Tennessee and a few other surrounding regions. The show has about 40-50 commerical displays around 60 different fly tyers and a host of programs which occur all day during the weekend covering a variety of topics. If you have never been to a conclave, this is one of the best. The Southern Council Conclave is held each year on the first weekend in October in Mountain Home which is near the White River in Arkansas.
Perhaps the most enjoyable thing is the people you meet which are so very interesting, unique and creative. Folks that have a love of all aspects of the sport are on hand to talk about every topic and related part of the sport to those that attend. By most accounts I think around 700 people were on hand for the most of the weekend.
The tyers which are on hand are some of the best in the country with many past winners of the FFF's Bus Buzzick award which is a national award given to the nation's best fly tyer in the FFF. I had a chance to visit with the FFF's newest award winner, Bill Heckle. Bill is an Architect from Chicago and is one the Midwest's best tyers. Bill invented the tape wing caddis which appeared in Crazy Carl Richard's Caddis Flies Book. Bill ties many traditional designs for spring creek fishing. His designs will be sold this season as a contract tyer through Spirit River Company of Oregon. Bill made some nice trout flies for me which I swapped for some materials.
I had a chance to watch deer hair tyer Mike George make a few flies which were on the cover of the latest issue of Fly Tyer magazine. His work is very good and I had to bribe and beg him to get a fly for my collection from him. If you get a chance look at his flies in Fly Tyer, they are very good. He doesn't part with his bugs easily so you best be prepared to hand out some cash if you want one of these! Very good looking bugs.
I also had a chance to visit with Roxanne and Terry Wilson authors of several warmwater fly fishing books. The Wilsons have agreed to be my next guest tyers on my web site and I will very shortly ( after I get unpacked and get the pictures taken) will be writing a story about their newest flies and showing how to tie on my web site. There latest is a talk about fishing ponds and they are currently working on a complete talk about warmwater fishing in Missouri.
Guest speakers for the conclave were the Borgers . Jason gave a talk on the making of the River Runs Through It movie in which he was the stand in caster for Brad Pitt. He told how the show was filmed and also gave some of the insight into a few of the tips about the fishing. Most surprising is that a plastic soda bottle with rocks was used in some scenes for a fighting fish. Dad Gary's talk about where to fish for trout left me drooling. I now have about 10 more must places to visit in my own backyard in Pa. I had no idea that Gary was originally from Pa and moved to Wi after finishing schools some years ago.
One special talk was by Forrest Woods owner of Ranger Boats. Forrest is a commissioner for the Arkansas Game and Fish. Game and Fish is trying to establish a minimum flow on the White and he was on hand to ask for help. If you get a request for this participate! Forrest told about how he started the boat company and his career which was very interesting. I enjoyed talking with Forrest about some of the conservation issues with the Delaware here. I also told him about the TGF lawsuit against the NY City water system on the Epsous.
The auction is one of the best parts of the show. The auctioneer Johnny Chamness of Alabama is the best! Johnny's goal is to "not offend anyone" in the audience and sell lots of stuff. Right. Be prepared as Johnny will say or do anything to sell something. I should say that he is also a very typical Southern Gentlemen and treats everyone with respect. Over the years Johnny has sold a box of ice with a plastic fish in it! He actually got $500 for this. He made up a big story about going saltwater fishing and that there was some really nice saltwater fish in the box. Two fellows from Texas got in a bidding war and well that one is history!
The notable other item is the Taylor's Choclate cake. One year Johnny himself bought it for around $400 and left it on the stage when he came back it was gone and he never had a bite. The rule is if you buy the cake, you must share it with the audience, which is tough since about 300 people are typcially in the room. I have had the cake before and it is good!
The best part of the trip was seeing my folks. My Mom and I started doing shows together in the spring of 1995, so this next season is the start of my 10th year in business! Originally, my Mom and I sold flies together at the Fall Craft Fairs in and around Bella Vista. I sold flies one by one and sold a ton of stuff over the years, largely with the help and encouragement of my family. So it was good to work with my old partner again!
I the chance to fish with my Dad. My Dad is the near side of 80 and can still fish the socks of most people I know. He is simply amazing. Dad isn't fond of wading so he suggested that we go to a private ranch to fish called Rockbridge. Rockbridge is smack dab in the middle of nowhere. It is sort of a tribuatary to Missouri's North Fork River which is a section of the Upper White.
About the only thing this area is famous for is Yuell Gibbons. Okay, who is Yuell? There used to be this commerical for Grape Nuts cerral in which this fellow stood in the forrest and asked," Ever eat a Pine cone? Some parts are edible you know." That was filmed in the valley where Rockbridge is. Yuell was actually a very highly respected naturalist from this area. It was also a hoot, Johnny Carson added a ton of milage to this commerical and made Yuell famous.
This ranch is located near Ava, Missouri and has some the biggest trout you will ever see. It is a large spring creek which has an old mill and a small dam. The ranch has a hotel, bar, gift shop and restruant on site for you if you visit. The stream is stocked full of nothing but 16" and bigger rainbows. There are also alot of them. Lined up like stacks of firewood. Easy to fish for? Well sort of NOT! I specifically picked out some brutes, think I caught them? NO! Fishing here is different because mostly you stand on the stream bank. The fish eat a variety of bugs but it is best to find a really large nasty looking fly. If you go hunting bear, bring a big fly is the idea here.
I used Chernoble ants, stimulators, caddis and some Ausable Wulffs thinking a New York fly might just do the trick. Right. My Dad caught the biggest fish using one of my rods with a Madam X. I landed a few 16" trout that had some beef, since I was using a 3 weight, I busted off my fair share. It was a great time and my Dad still caught the most and off course the biggest fish. We had hoped to land some 4-5 pound fish but no luck. If you want to try to catch some beefy fish, this is the place. It is also a place that will fish well most of time since it is a spring creek. For older or the younger fly fishers or folks looking for a nice place, this is a good place to try. Rockbridge has had many famous guests over the years for good reason. The hardest part is finding it. It isn't expensive either. Our tag fees for 2 for the day were around $50.
Glad to go, glad to be home. Plan on attending next year if you can.
I have been adding lots of new items.
Ron Abby of Dyna King has been hard at it. These are cool. The two newest additions are:
The Barracuda with the Indexing Option. The Barracuda is the only AMERICAN made vise ( some of those from that company that starts with an "R" are now made overseas.) which is made of stainless steel with ball bearings for the smoothest action you will ever feel. The indexing option allows the head to turn freely and then locks at 4 points along the axis of rotation. It will dry epoxy bugs evenly without adjustment. This vise behaves in a similar way to the old "AK Best" vise, which click locked at various steps as you turned the head. It is a true rotatory vise and has an offset head. $345. Clamp or pedestal available. Midge jaws available also.
The Barracude Junior Trekker. This is an improved AMERCAN made lightweight rotating vise. This is the Barracuda Junior vise made lighter for travel. Machined of solid stainless and aluminum it offers the same famous hook holding strength of the regular Barracuda Jr but weighs in at less than 1/2 a pound ( without the base). Also features ball bearing rotation, an adjustable rotating drag and a bobbin holder. Very affordable. $209.00 Clamp or base, midge jaws available.
The New Griffin Montana Mongoose Vise is sure to be this year's newest hit! American made. True Rotary vise in which the whole head rotates to give you more room near the rear of the fly to work with. Comes with Pedestal, c-clamp, carry case, bobbin rest, bobbin and hackle gauge. $175
Terra Deluxe Bodkin: An Extra heavy large handle with standard bodkin tip. Very nice. Machined aluminum handle. $3.50
True Dubbing Spinner: Solid brass hook weighted to spin a dubbing loop. Similar to the old Lafontaine design. Spins evenly. Very nice; $12
Dubbing Comb: Metal fine tooth comb. For combing out dubbing or for removing fuzz off deer hair. Metal handle, much finer than most deer hair combs. $10 each
Terra Dubbing Rake: Back at a great price! Dubbing rake with brass handle, metal teeth allow to remove guard hair or use for teasing out dubbing. Very nice. $3.50
Foam Cylinder Tool: If you like to turn foam bugs out of cylinders ( Old Live Body) this tool is for you. Brass with threads, allows you to sand bodies into shapes. Fits Dremel or reg cordless screwguns. $6.50 ( Very shortly I will add new foam cylinders similar to Live Body )
Clear Rotating Spool Caddy: You've seen these in the magazines. Clear round drum, mounted to base feet with a small milled slot in the top. Handle spins drum to select various rows. Clear case allows you to see each spool of thread, floss,tinsel or wire. Enclosed body keeps dust out. Holds 40 spools of thread on 10 different rotating levels. Very nice: $55
Burnt, Dyed Peacock Herl. Used by Talleur and many others for herl body dries . Red makes awesome Rd Quill. Burnt herl, full sticks over dyed. Colors: Yellow, Natural, Red, Olive, Black. $3.00
It's Back! Micro Round Rubber Legs: I stocked this for many years and lost the supplier. Back again! Tiny legs can be used on micro flies or as legs to tiny para Madam X's. For size 16 and smaller flies. Choose from Black, White, Yellow, Olive or Tan $1.75 each.
Grizzly Marked Tarrantu Legs: Newset craze, grizzly marked legs. Round rubber with barring. Choose from Olive, Brown, Orange, White, Yellow, Medium Size. $2.50 each
Really Nice Extra Select Deer: If you like to make deer hair wings, this is the good stuff. Super strip patch of extra fine winging hair. From RMD , this is some of the best stuff I've ever gotten! Choose from Coastal Deer for compara duns or Texas Whitetail for larger hopper, muddlers and stimulators. $4.50 for a really big patch.
Very nice Red Bourbon Quails in stock. I have some nice Tennessee red quails. These have red brown bodies and are sort of similar to the red grouse I stock from the UK. Smallish bird, complete pelt: $12 each.
Midge Flash: Hottest stuff around. Tiny Krystal flash sort of stuff. A bit finer and a bit stiffer. Wind on for bodies, use for my old Pearly fly or use as an underwing. Very cool. Black, Purple, Orange, White or Chartreuse. $3.50
Clear Blue Ice Meiho Fly Box: Very hot box. Looks like an I- Mac computer, transparent clear blue. has a gasket. Inside has snap lids, holds midges, small dries plus larger area. $15.50
Chartreuse Meiho Box. Smaller cousin with a smoked gray inside window. Hot green outside. Matches that sh*$%tty pug bugs of McCough's! Gees did I really say Pus Bug? Ugh! Hot Lime box, great for the kids and plus you won't loose this one. You can see it about 5 miles away. Great camo for those glitter glow in the dark bass boats. Will share the shx%3t out of most things I fish for. Actually very nice. $8.50
Really Big Tubing. Extra large mylar tubing. Use for redfish spoon flies. Silver, Gold, Pearl. $5.50 for a pack.
Extra cool two toned flexo tubing. This has one color on the top, on the bottom. Sand eel ( silver black) or anchoive ( hot green and pearl). Very cool in Boston for those big gaint blue fish or stripers. Use for fall wipers moving in Des Moines. Make one, take Larry Young fishing and then catch a ton and refuse to give him one. YOU don't have this ! $4.00.
Extremely Nice: This was very hot at the show!!!!!!! Solid wood box. I have said this before, say again. 3 drawer oak tool chest. Solid brass ( silver colored ) handles and knobs. Has burgundy velvet inside, with divided drawers. Similar values for an antique box or a Grestner box are over $600!!!!!!!! This is a really nice box, ideal for travel or on the desk. $130
Specials: Make room for me to get more stuff.
Big Bag O marabou: Big bag of marabou. Loose. Fine. Choose from Orange, Wooduck or Olive. $1.00 each
Formerly Really Hot Woodstock Foam: Choose from Clown Barf ( used for Gartside's Gurgler), Plywood on Acid, or Plywood. Was $1.00 each now 2 for $1.00
Lots of Zing Wing. AKA Chinese Twine. I have a bunch of this. Dyed with markers to make medillion sheeting or use as zing wing. $1.00.
Fuzzy Fibers ( AKA Not So Unique Hair) . Not sure what this was for. It was supposed to be cool, opps still is. Buy it and make clouser minnows or spin like deer. White, Green, Chartreuse and Blue. Cool plastic stuff. Buy one get one free. $2.50.
Really Big Fly Fiber: Okay all you pike tyers! You asked for this and I still have it. For mega divers, use for really long flies. I got burned last time I stocked it. Never again. Buy it now because you won't get it any more. Buy one get one free. Yellow, Chartreuse, White. $3.50
Buy at least $20 of any thing and I will toss in a free prize. it might be something good, might not be. Pot luck. Grab bag of bright stuff guranteeed to scare something, sometime, some place.
Fishing Report: Still a bit early for salmon in and around Ithaca. Some reports of a few fish. We need rain and cold weather to bring the fish in. Try the wall out by the lake. Good bet is white or chartreuse streamers or clouser. Lower section of Fall Creek has some dry action late afternoons. Salmon run is very hot up on Salmon River. This is a long weekend with lots of water being pumped out. Try eggs and such. Many places in New York due to close after 10/17, check the regs book. Also fishing NY state fishing licences expired 10/1, renew yours.
Fall Creek Chapter of TU will hold annual banquet, November 8, 2003 7:00 pm at Holiday Inn Cortland. Program to Honor Leon Chandler.MCed by Jim Krul of Fly Fishing Univeristy. Door Prizes, Bucket Raffle, Silent Auction. For more info call Rich Andrews at 607-533-7385.
Plan to attend the International Fly Tyer's Symposium. 11/22 and 11/23, 2003. Tyer's include: Oliver Edwards, Theo Baklear, Dave Brandt and a host of 100 tyers from all over the world. II will have a booth and many new items never seen in public before. Tons of specials. Many classes, free demos and talks. $10 admission. Double Tree Inn, Somerset , NJ. Call Chuck Furimsky at 609-398-2618 for more info or Go to www.flyfishingshow.com.
For more Info Contact:
Mike Hogue / Badger Creek Fly Tying / 622 West Dryden Road, Freeville, NY 13068