This is the time of year that I get real antsy and some might even say I get a little cranky. As the last days of old man winter continue to fight and hang on I have to deal with those ever so slight hints that spring isn’t far off and it frustrates me to no end. It’s like trying to reach something stuck underneath an immovable object and your only recourse is to try and squeeze you arm under this object only to find out your fingers are just millimeters to short. ARGHHHHHH. Some people call this cabin fever but to me it is just the plain old desire to be outside and doing the things I haven’t done since before winter. It usually starts with having more daylight, spreads into rumors of Robin’s being spotted in the area, extends to more wildlife movement around like Skunks, bears and turkey and boils over with warmer temperatures. It is actually just a taste of what’s to come in a few more weeks.
Sure, I get outside during the winter but it’s not the same as standing in the middle of a stream on a spring day tossing some flies and trying to hook that stubborn trout, or chasing turkeys on a spring morning and that is where the my problem starts. At this time of year I start to check out river conditions, review the upcoming regulations for turkey and fishing season, finish preparing my hunting and fishing gear, quick trips to see if the fishing waters are opening up and checking the normal haunts for signs of wild turkey and this is how it all starts. Pure frustration.
This year has been a little more difficult for me than years past and I blame it all on my new found passion – Fly Tying. About three years ago I picked up Fly fishing, which was actually my second attempt at fly fishing. My first was about 15 years prior to that and I was still too young and didn’t have enough patience or appreciation for the art and skill of fly fishing to make it stick. So 3 years ago I had spent the winter getting up to speed with the concept of fly fishing and making my desire to learn how to fly fish known to my lovely wife. Well, she was obviously listening because for my anniversary that year I got a full day guided fly fishing trip and instruction as a present. A month after my anniversary I found myself heading toward an old familiar haunt from my childhood in the form of the Farmington River where I would spend the day reacquainting myself with this incredible river where my guide Jack Smola was going to teach me how to cast and present a fly to a fish I couldn’t even see. Not an easy task for sure but one in which Jack was successful, but we’ll save that day for another entry. For now let me just say that this day started my newfound passion for fly fishing. Ofcourse I went about trying to learn as much as I could about fly fishing after that, which actually includes trying to determine what bugs the fish are eating so you can figure out what type of fly to present to them. Sounds simple doesn’t it?!
The more I learned the more I wanted to take the next step in what I felt was a normal progression and that was fly tying and so the adventure began. Now maybe it’s the easy access to technology that allowed me to enter this new realm as it offered the opportunity to learn at my own pace and on my time instead of trying to find a tying class nearby. Ofcourse the internet is loaded with videos and tutorials with information from basic tying techniques to tying a specific fly or pattern, but the video is only the visual component. My new problem was who would I bounce questions off of when I had them and believe me, I have had plenty. That is where access to fly fishing forums on the internet comes in, especially in the areas where you do not have a local fly fishing shop, Fly fishing organization or a mentor. These forums are loaded with people just waiting to help out a newbie with all his fly tying and fly fishing questions. These forums were a major part of my success as was my introduction to a new fly fishing shop that had just opened up minutes from my home. Now there is an over abundance of information to discuss for someone looking to get into fly tying so I will leave this for another day.
So last summer I decided to give fly tying a try and started off with a starter kit that my dad had laying around the house that had never been opened or used which was good for me, but it also meant that dad wouldn’t be much help with my tying endeavors, but it was the kit that made it easy for me to give it a go because I didn’t have to spend loads of money on equipment only to find out I didn’t like it. So I set out to tie my first fly the ever popular Woolly Bugger. It was something I fished often, mainly because everything I have heard or read said that it was a fish catching fly and there was no wrong way to fish them and I did try to prove that theory wrong, but I still caught fish. So I did tie up some woolly buggers and after a couple I started to get the hang of it and actually had tied some that looked good and fishable. The nest step was to fish with something I just tied. Well I did and guess what; I actually caught fish…Holy crap! I can still remember standing in the middle of the Willimantic River with a huge Cheshire cat grin on my face as I brought that trout to hand trying not to fall in from all the pent up energy and emotion that I was overrun with. Then after thanking that wonderful trout for giving me such joy, I ever so gently put him back to fight another day. I’m smiling now as a matter of fact.
That day was the day I knew I was hooked, no pun intended, on fly fishing and fly tying. To actually catch something on a fly that you tied yourself…Man what a feeling. Anyway where was I? Oh yeah, my yearly bought with my version of cabin fever. So I spent my winter learning more tying techniques and patterns and I even took a formal class at my local fly shop. This new found passion of fly tying has forced a much larger than normal urge to get out on the stream and fish and making this time of year even more difficult to control than any of the years past. The desire to get out and fish the flies that I spent all winter tying with my own hands was getting the best of me. The good news though, is that I just need to get past this latest group of winter storms and I will be out presenting those flies to a hungry trout and hopefully he will be as inexperienced as I am and easy to fool but for some reason I doubt that will be the case. That trout is so close I could almost touch it.