A Bunch of Ways to Increase Your Fun and Skills as Fly Fisher
by Mike Hogue
Sometimes I wonder if I am any good at fly fishing. I toss my fly in the tree, pick up a snag and break off a particularly interesting fly. I've gotten skunked more times than I can count. I have also slipped on the rocks, broken a few rods and I still have that wonderful spot on my shin when I took a thumping from a hidden boulder the size of a car one night while fishing for browns on the White River. Oh lets not forget the 22 stitches and the scar on my hand from slipping in a gorge one night here on Six Mile Creek. These times often remind me of just how hard it is to learn how to fly fish or even how to get to the point where you don't feel like a complete idiot.
I think there are several things we can do make the sport a lot more enjoyable and just plain fun. The whole point of fly fishing is to relax, pack away some of your troubles for awhile and get lost in the moment. The rush of the water running through my legs, the crash of falls behind me or the shrill of an eagle crying more than makes up for those moments in which we loose our composure and a bit of self esteem.
When I first started fly fishing I had one rule. Fish with somebody better than me. I would call all sorts of folks to go fishing. I would try my best to recruit somebody that was really good to show me the ropes. I bought beer, paid for the gas or even just stopped by and grabbed folks for a quick outing. I picked their brain, asked them everything I could think and only stopped when I thought I was becoming a pain in the butt. What I was trying to learn was where, how and what they used to catch fish. This I used on everything from trout to bass, smallmouth and loads of bluegill fishing.
Over time this eventually became a circle of friends and we had lots of fun. Some days these evolved into contests. Like the Ugly Fly day. My friend picked the ugliest fly out of my box and I had to fish until I caught something or it broke off. Then I did the same for him. Oops, darn I hit that tree. Now I get to use...... This is one way we thinned out some of those really great experiments that failed. Another popular contest was catch and keep everything day, sort of the anti-catch and release day. I don't know how many times I have caught a really nice fish and licked my chops thinking about how good that fish would taste in the frying pan with some onions and pat of butter cooked up over a campfire. Well, I'll give you a hint some of them are pretty tasty. Usually I do this maybe once every 2 million times I go and generally in a place with a million panfish.
Best story to pass on this was about my cousin Jeff Hogue. I was fishing with him in a county park. He wanted to fry up a mess of bluegillls so I started catching some. I had about 15 really nice ones loaded up on the stringer and he catches one and starts to add it to the bunch. He picks up the stringer and adds the fish, then throws the whole stringer overboard ( that is without tying the stringer up, so basically the stringer was in the lake. ) Jeff looked me at and I started laughing. He said, " That was kind of dumb wasn't it?" I said, " Well, yes it was." So we started fishing again. After about 5 fish Jeff shook his head and laughed. " I can't believe I just tossed those fish in....."
When I started fly fishing my Mom was a really good sport. She doesn't fish at all and sort of tolerates this because I like to fish and well my Dad is even worse. I used to pick out all of these really bizarre places to fish from rumors or stories I'd hear. My Mom would make up a picnic lunch, load all my gear up and drive off to find these exotic places I discovered. She would drop me off and let me fish, come back and we'd have lunch. She'd drop me again after lunch and I would fish some more. Sounds kind of strange but she loved flea markets and would go to all these really nasty roadside places and shop for hours. She had loads of fun. Found all sorts of bargains which I usually had to load into the car. You know the best part? If you are in that car with someone for an hour or so, eventually you talk. Try that one for the non-fishing spouse, girl friend, daughter or even son. I guarantee you will at least see some scenery and find some enjoyment out of the trip.
This is yet another way to increase your fun: A friend of mine has this really favorite spot on the West Branch of the Delaware, why he likes it so much I have no idea. I mean its okay and is the Delaware but it is not the kind of spot where I can stand for 12-15 hours which is exactly what my friend will do. I am of the school of thought, fish for awhile if it sucks pack it up and go somewhere else. I also like to do this: fish in a familiar spot that you like AND a new spot you've never tried, eventually you will fish a lot of water and see loads of places. As a side note to this, add this: mix running water and still water or fish for something other than your norm. I fished a stretch of one stream looking for trout and caught white fish, smallmouth, browns, rainbows and rockbass. Not bad catching 20 fish and 5 different species in one place. Even if you have fished the same place many times, go down or up the river and try something new.
The best fishing partner I have is my wife Laura. For those that don't know, I meet Laura on the PM in Michigan. This is a whole story in and of itself. Laura has taught me a great deal about slowing down, taking my time and well if it sucks, let's bag it up and do something else. So instead of standing in the cold water, freezing lets go get a beer and sit down where it is warm for awhile. Her approach is very different than my let's get up and go-go-go. She also has an amazing skill at picking flies. She always roots around in fly shops and picks out something very cool. Out west it was the Power Ant, Turk's and the Para Madam X. She found the Gold Trash in Pulaski and then there is Super Bugger. She has a way of choosing some pretty interesting stuff that works. So if she takes a liking to something, I usually don't object. Try listening to your fishing partner maybe they might have a better idea.
The part that simply amazes me is folks that go to a really cool place and never bother to site see. I could just kill someone that takes a trip to The Park ( i.e. Yellowstone) out west and never bothers to go see it. Here you are in the middle of national treasure that is beautiful beyond words and you never bother to check it out. You can't manage to see all of the scenery because you are too busy fishing. You can go lots of places to trout fish but standing 30 feet from a bull elk with a rack the size of a car while catching trout in the Madison. Come on! It doesn't get much better than that. Stop and spell the roses. Often I like to just sit, watch and listen.
Here is the flip side. Maybe you are near something else. It rains, it pours and the fishing bites. Take some time and see what's happening. Every time I go to Roscoe for example, one of my favorites is the Little Store. I don't know why I like this place, it is just like an adult's version of Disney Land. I am always fascinated with the place, so I make it a point to visit every time. Maybe you love a certain restaurant and even a particular kind of food. Stop and visit that while you can. Usually when I am on the road, I like to try to eat in interesting local places. I also try to eat stuff I can get at home.
My Dad is one person I love to fish with. He and I have had lots of fun and caught a large number of fish together. It was one way he and I connected and I learned a great deal about myself through him. I also feel lucky to have have fished with the guy because he really is good. He has out fished some of the best around. I try to watch and learn as much as I can from him every chance I get. Do yourself a favor, fish with your family if you can.
Well there you go. Fish with friends, visit interesting places, involve your family and spouse. Have a few contests and also stop and smell the roses. While you are along the way be sure to have some fun whether it is on a trip or in your own backyard.
About Mike Hogue: Mike is owner of Badger Creek Fly Tying and lives outside of Ithaca, NY. He is often seen at many fly fishing and fly tying shows across the Northeast. Many of his articles and stories have appeared in regional and national magazines. For more info contact him at Mike@eflytyer.com or log on to his web site: www.eflytyer.com.
Summer House Cleaning Sale: Loads of Bargins.
Whiting Streamer Necks: Gold and Silver Label. These are really nice necks. Perfect for streamers, bass, saltwater or salmon flies. Colors: Black, White, Ginger/Golden Yellow, Green. All Dyed over white. WAS $35 NOW: $18 each.
Metz Microbarb Saddle: One color only Ginger, grade 2. Perfect for sulphers and giant hexes or potmanthus, ties 10-12-14. WAS $22.50 NOW $16.00.
Saltwater Grizzly Capon Necks: Great bargin on these. Use for decievers, bass and lots of stuff. Nice stems with round tips. WAS $12.50 NOW $8.50.
Whiting Chickabou: This is perfect for matukas, large round tips dyed over grizzly. Use for bass collars, streamers or saltwater. Purple, Olive and Hot Orange grizzly. WAS $12.50 NOW $8.00
Whiting100's/One size and color only: Badger dyed dun size 14. Use for dries. WAS $9.00 each NOW $4.50.
I am too lazy to pack all these packs. Craft foam squares, 3 x4 foam cards in an assortment pack. Makes a million bugs, great for the beach, use as coasters for your Olympics parties. You get 2 each: Brown, Tan, Gray, Yellow, Black, Brown, Ginger, Olive, Hot Pink, Orange and Chartreuse. $3.00 for the pack.
Streamer Flies: I have a crapload of these. New England style streamers, very nice flies. Use for trout, bass or panfish. Come on it doesn't get any cheaper!!!!!!! WAS $8 a dozen. Now buy one dozen, get one more FREE!!!!!!!!!! ( $4 a dozen )
Hodgman 5mm stocking foot waders, not available any more. Extra thick for cold weather. Soze Medium, $40.00. Zero leaks and warm as a radiator after a trip down the expressway.
Fishing Grade Jungle Cock Necks. These are going fast man. I sold some on Ebay and they are flying out the door. Grade B, some splitters, just fine for fishing flies. $45 each or 2 for $80.
Terra Rotating Vise: This is really nice. Made of stainless steel with brass parts. This is a true rotatory vise which has loads of features. The arm is articulated which allows for up and down movement of the turning arm. The jaws are fully adjustable to accept all hooks and the head also moves up and down to keep the turning radius true when using different sizes of hooks. $45.00
This vise is a steal at this price! Last time a sold a vise like this they were $90.00!
RG French Magic Clip: Stem mounted version of the Magic Tool. Has rubber slots to push feathers into. Comes with 2 clips. $15.00
Terra Zingers: Clip on, rather than those pin on styles. Chrome with string pull. $2.50
Terra Over Stocked Bent Handle Scissors: The shaft is turned up by 10-15 degrees, gives you extra room for cutting. Wicked Nice. Gold Handles. This is a steal: $6 a pair. Last time I sold these they were $15!!!!
Terra "Gold Handle" nippers: Fingerless, stainless steel with needle/eye cleaner and gold dipped handle. $5.00
I have located a great selection of Maps and Fishing Gudie Books. Ideal for the fly fisher these are wonderful and very hard to locate. Most Maps are in Full color. Not available at the big box stores! These are unique items!
Sportsman's Map to the Adirondacks: Full color fold out map of the Adirondacks. Has color marking for state forrest land. Ideal for deer hunting, fishing or hiking. Includes highways, trails, rivers and creeks. Wall size for den or office, can be used for travel. $3.50
Fishing Map for the Catskill Mountains: Complete fold out guide to the Catskills. includes publci fishing areas, stocked water, fishing hot spots and fish to catch. Ideal for the car and travel. $2.50
Sportsman's Map to the Catskill Mountains: Full color fold out map of the Catskills. Includes trails, where to hunt and fish, ski. Sows over 200.000 acres of public lands. $2.50
Sportsman's Map Delaware County, NY: Full color guide to Delaware county. Has much larger fold out map of area streams, roads, trails, hiking and fishing. Ideal for hunting or fishing.Use for the Delaware East and West Branches. $2.50
Sportsman's Map Sullivan County, NY: Full color guide to Sullivan county. Has much larger fold out map of area streams, roads, trails, hiking and fishing. Ideal for hunting or fishing. Use for the Beaverkill and Willoweemoc. $2.50
Sportsman's Map ( for New York City/Catskill Resoervoirs): If you want to fish any of these for monster fish, you need these maps. Has trails, water depths, major highways and access points. Choose from Pepacton, Schoharie, Roundout, Neversink, Ashokan and Cannonsville. $2.50 each
New York City Reservoirs in the Catskill Mountains: Small guide to fishing the New York City water sytem in the Catskills. Covers regualtions, where to fish, types of fishing and has a general set of maps. $2.50
Guide to Trout Streams in the Catskill Mountains: Covers where to fish, regs, posted lands, fishing rights and major trout waters. Ideal guide fits into glove box or map pack. $2.50
Guide to Adirodack Trout Waters in the Adirondack Mountains. Great little guide covers where to find trout, major trout streams, selected trout waters. $2.50
Bonus: Buy any 4 maps or guides for only $9.00!
MIke's Bailey's Wader Promo:
These are the best waders around. Won't leak and they are guaranteed!!!!! I love mine. Been fishing in mine all season, warm, dry NO Leaks or membrane failures. Ideal for summer fishing protects you against poison ivy, deer ticks and neetles. These are awesome. If you need boots, these are well made + the best warranty......PERIOD.
Here's the deal. Buy a pair and you get stuff to go fishing.
Free 2 dozen flies with a Bare Bones pair. Stocking foot with elastic straps, 3 ply design. Neopreme feet. S-XXL $130 ( save $25!!!!!!!!! with free flies )
Free 2 dozen flies plus a Terra zinger+ a free clipper + a free hemostat with a pair of lightweight waders.......gees with this deal I am crazy. 5 ply design, heavier duty, double knee and neopreme feet. Comes with gators attached. Size S-XXL plus sizes available Stout Med, Stout Large. $200.
A free set of stuff equal to Over $35!!!!!!!
Clear Creek Bags:
Tired of breaking your back? Unload and Reload your stuff in to a bag. With a bag you can " see" all the boxes at once, no more where did I put this. Most ride on the hip and the shoulder to reduce strain on you back and neck. In hot weather, no more getting steamed up from wearing loads of clothes.
Hip Pack: Forrest Green, with built in water bottle/drink holder. Holds 4 smaller boxes or 2 jumbo boxes. Ideal for bass fishing or a trip to the beach. $50.
The Iowan: Smaller light weight chest pack, with fold down tray. Olive and Gray material. Very Nice $36.00
The Cypress: Olive and Gray chest or hip pack with fold down tray. Pockets for tippets plus built in zinger. Extra nice; $48.00
August 28, 2004, Summerfest: Catskill Fly Fishing Center and Museum, Livingston Manor, NY. Labor day weekend. Come out for lots of bargains. 9-3pm. Usually I can find lots of old books and some interesting buys plus old flies. I will again have a booth, our 4th year for this show. Lots of fun. You can register for a drawing for a Jack Yelle print with the Catskill Fly Tyer's Guild. It has a patch, the picture, the whole nine yards. For more info go to www.cffcm.org
Sept 25, 2004, Catskill Fly Fishing Center, Livingston Manor, NY. I will also be doing a Saturday demo tyer at the CFFCM from 1-4 pm. I plan on doing some flies with a crap load of plastic in it just because Ralph Graves hates those kinds of flies. Stop out to see some of my latest creations. Flies available for sale will benefit the CFFCM. For more info go to www.cffcm.org
Recent rains have come and were most welcome. Some streams are still clouded a bit from the rains. I have fished Salmon Creek, West Owego and Six Mile Creek and had mixed results. Caught many fish mostly smaller ones. In dirty water I had luck with black woolly buggers and really large red fox squirrel nymphs. I also have seen some giant potamanthus out, bright yellow size 8-10, few isnyochia's. Try making a pheasant tail parachute, dun hackle with hot post. West branch of the Delaware fishing really good toward dark.
As usual if you would like to be deleted for any reason contact me. For info on ordering contact:
Badger Creek Fly Tying
622 W. Dryden Road
Freeville, NY 13068, Mike@eflytyer.com, 607- 347-4946
For more Info Contact:
Mike Hogue / Badger Creek Fly Tying / 622 West Dryden Road, Freeville, NY 13068