Wednesday, December 13, 2023

Fear of Flying?

  One day at work my boss, John, approached me saying he'd heard that I frequently went fishing, and would I mind if he tagged along to learn a few things. John's company was well established and no longer needed his daily input so he was interested in finding new ways to occupy his increasing free time. Hmm... lets see... a newbie fisherman with a vehicle and unlimited finances... Challenge Accepted! Over the next few months we explored dozens of new areas and styles of fishing.

 I guess it really didn't surprise me too much when John suggested we learn to fly fish. From the very beginning I was resistant to the idea, being the die hard tackle junkie that I am, but John was adamant. Having just viewed "A River Runs Through It", he'd envisioned himself wading a quiet pastoral brook, gracefully casting to unsuspecting trout with the accuracy of a marksman and the technique of an artist.
Murray's Fly Fishing School

So we booked a day at Murray's Fly Fishing School  just north of the city in Shelburne. Here we both received a half days classroom instruction on basic set ups, knots and fly selections followed by a half day practical casting instruction on stocked trout ponds. Within a week of that day we were both totally hooked on the concept and purchased the first of many complete fly set ups.

John on The Credit River

 That was 7 years ago. Unfortunately John and I have parted ways professionally and socially since then, me finding other employment and him finding other interests. The one thing I will always thank him for was pressuring me into doing something I had no previous interest in.

 In my first year, after catching a few largemouth bass and a 24" carp in a local reservoir, I started to realize that with proper research, equipment and a little luck, you could catch almost any fish on a fly.

These days a fly rod is my first weapon of choice except during the winter, when I'm either out on the frozen lakes or replenishing my depleted fly boxes at the tying bench. I love the subtleties of casting. There have been many fishless days on the water where I'd spend countless hours playing with the line and the flies, working on distance, accuracy and presentation, rarely accepting my limitations, only the limitations of the water I'm fishing. I have to say at this point that I consider a fly rod, for the most part, to be no better or worse than spinning gear, just different.

Crappie on a Streamer
First Carp Ever


Bullhead Catfish
 A few years ago in mid May, a group of us made the rounds east of Lake Simcoe and I had decided before hand to only bring the 4 piece Sage.  Where bait had failed, a subtly presented fly proved highly effective in culling a school of skittish crappies hiding amongst the emerging  weeds.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Later in the afternoon we had worked our way down to Pefferlaw, where on the first five casts of a full sized tube jig, my friend pulled out over 10 Lbs. of spawning bullheads. I figured this was a good opportunity to try something completely different and it took nearly half an hour of trial and error before I'd gotten the fly, weight and drift just right. What traditional flyfisher would ever believe you could consistently hook into a bottom feeder like a catfish one drift after another? The really crazy thing is that in between the catfish, suckers and occasional rockbass, I was also catching gobies!  

Round Gobie
  Anyone who knows me is aware that I'm a little obsessive compulsive in some ways. I like to keep lists. To date I figure I've caught 24 species of fish with a fly rod with at least another 50 native species on my hit list. Some of the more common, and yet elusive species on my list are: gar, musky and walleye.

 Over the last four years salmon have been a great source of entertainment during the fall. Getting them to bite isn't difficult at all, it's getting them to shore using a reel that is little more than a spool for your line!

 I've come to the conclusion that trout are basically smarter than me, and the few that I've caught must have had something wrong with them. One of my biggest problems with trout is that I don't know anyone who regularly fishes them and there aren't any concentrations in my backyard. All the same I will keep plugging on.
Dry Flies

 As mentioned earlier, I also enjoy fly tying. Just like the fishing, when I started out, I mostly concerned myself with learning the basic tying practices and patterns. Since then I've basically "thrown out" the books of fly patterns, and now prefer to tie what I call free style.  
Assorted 3" Hairwing Streamers

7" Pike Flies
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