The Weather Channel heralded the first of March as the beginning of meteorological spring, though our temperature in the twenties still says winter here in Crooked Eddy. I welcome the upgrade, something every angler’s spirit can use after nearly four months of frigid, mostly fishless weather. Forty days to go until I might actually be able to wander a riverbank with the expectation of a Quill Gordon, Blue Quill, olive, even a Hendrickson drifting past on its way to meet the rise of a trout.
Fly Fest lies behind us now, and it was an enjoyable day of tying and talking flies and fishing with a like-minded group of anglers. This was the first such event since the last Leap Year, when the world changed suddenly around us, and gatherings became taboo.
I tied about a dozen flies, sharing patterns and styles with interested seekers of Salmo trutta and its brethren, even walking one brand new fly tyer through the steps and techniques for tying a comparadun. The young angler advised he had started learning to tie flies this winter, and comparaduns became his first project. They are not the easiest fly to tie well, so I hope the tips I shared make it go a bit easier for him. He should find a lifetime of enjoyment in the craft.
I looked up at one point to see a couple of acquaintances uncasing and admiring a bamboo fly rod. I wanted to join them and view the treasure they had brought, but there was a gentleman at my side inquiring about the 100-Year Dun in my vise that deserved my attention. I wonder still which maker’s rod that might have been.
The Catskills of course have a long and cherished history in regard to the art of the split bamboo fly rod. The lineage traces back to Hiram Leonard when he moved his Maine rod shop to Central Valley, New York, establishing the rod shop that would be the wellspring of greatness. Thomas, Payne, Edwards and the Hawes brothers all issued from that gathering of talent in later years, and the talent has continued to grow to include some of the best rod makers of present days. Catskill Legend Bobby Taylor worked at Leonard since high school, and Dennis Menscer, inspired by Fred Thomas’ legacy decades ago, continues the Catskill tradition today, crafting his remarkable rods beside the West Branch Delaware. Is it any wonder enthusiasts gather here?
There’s a cane rod in the corner here that longs to cast a line on the river. A more temperate day is promised, though with twenty mile per hour winds fit to drive the chill through one’s bones. I weigh the advantages to my spirit against the physical discomfort…
I have yet to organize my fly boxes for the coming season, a task that, while necessary, fails to bring the same joy as tying the new patterns that must find a place there; and there are always new ones.
March first, and I should tie a few March Browns in observance! I have always smiled at the name, for they are flies of May. It seems the British cousin appears in February and March on their chalk streams, and the name was carried forward in the early history of dry flies here. Would that this burly fellow would grace our Catskill rivers this month, though it would then steal some thunder from Gordon’s Quill and my favorite Hendrickson.
There are still a couple of empty reel spools which require fly lines, and it is past time for me to decide which to wind on. These will need leaders of course, and notations in my book, lest I later struggle to recall which line they carry. There are a few things ready to be moved along that another might enjoy fishing them, and I should give some attention to that. Busy work, duties to pass the last days of waiting.
Forty days, a brief span considering the cold quiet months that lie behind, yet forever for a heart that longs to be with rivers!