With our new Blackfly Lodge opening this past March, we have had both some wonderful guests and some wonderful fishing, inshore and offshore.
Edward Johnston of Leisure Time Travel Inc. visited us a few days ago and had a great time. He has written a review of the Lodge and of Schooner Bay and I would like to share it with you.
Click on this link to read Ed’s fine article
I was going to write a themed article which was supposed to be about “Kayaks”. Well, that doesn’t matter to me very much because I really don’t like fishing out of a kayak all that much. The thing I don’t like about kayak fishing …..is kayak fishing. Where’s the motor, this is way too much work.
So this month’s theme is “terminal tackle”. First off, that doesn’t sound good to me. Terminal means “the end” so I guess that must be the stuff at the end of your line. Does that mean at the end of your fly line or the end of your leader? It doesn’t matter, let’s talk about fishing flies.
Flies are those precious little colorful assemblages tied on a hook combined in a collage made up of any combination of chicken feathers, synthetic fibers, animal skins, flashy plastic or exotic selections pulled off the shelf of the local craft store. This organic piece of sculpture ( hook is not organic), when finished, should resemble one of the three things most saltwater fish will eat….a shrimp a crab or another little fish. This is of course unless you’re trying to catch a freshwater fish which will eat anything that flies or crawls. Sometimes they are “one-in-the-same” as many of those insects are called different things as they grow from a little nymph to a flying insect. This is all very complicated and you could use an advanced degree in entomology just to figure out how to “match the hatch” as they say. “Matching the hatch” is a freshwater fishing term meaning that you should pick a fly that resembles what insect is hatching on the river and therefore the fish are eating. This selection process actually applies to saltwater fly selection in that if you see a spray of shrimp in front of a wake you can be pretty sure that whatever it is that is making that wake is eating little shrimp. In fly fishing, you’re always trying to figure out what fly you have best matches what the fish are eating. Crabs and little baitfish can be harder to detect!
There are “crabby flats” and there are “shrimpy flats”! OK, how do you decide which is which? An old timer once told me to go to a flat at low tide and see where the birds are feeding. When the tide comes back in, go back there and that’s where you will find the fish. This advice is remarkably accurate PLUS, while you’re out there watching the birds you can look closely to see if there are any crabs buried in the sand or mud and note what color they are. This is where learning to tie your own flies comes in handy.
For “fishy flats” or fly casting in deeper water where you don’t know what the fish are eating, you have to go with a technique called “blind casting”. This is the most boring kind of fly fishing according to most true fly fishermen…. but it works.
So to put all of this advice in a nutshell, the challenge to terminal tackle for a fly fisherman is simply to fool a fish into biting your fly. It’s not the fight or seeing how big of a fish you can catch with the smallest rod possible, it’s the eat.
I’m worried that there is no real solution to saving the “old school” style fly shop unless you happen to live next to a productive stream or a boat ramp that sits in a city where everyone that lives there is a fly fisherman…..and they don’t have internet! Fat chance, as they say.
In my opinion, some of the shops that went out of business missed the “internet boat” and just couldn’t make up the distance. If you don’t have an online store and the staff to maintain it and staff to fill orders you are at a disadvantage. This is all a very time consuming and expensive project for any shop but for a small shop it’s overwhelming. I don’t think that you can just sell rods and reels and flies anymore, you have to have clothing, art and gifts to make it. It also helps to have some sort of walk in traffic from tourists…everybody has and uncle or brother who fishes and needs a gift.
Somehow though, the “deep down at the core of our human emotions concepts of getting the best price no matter what” kind of thinking has to change. The thinking of fly shop customers has to evolve into one that’s about relationships. The angler has to appreciate and understand the value of being able to walk into a beautifully appointed fly shop that is clean and fully stocked with a knowledgeable smiling staff with free advice.
Of course the fly shop has to treat the customer right also, but the one thing the small business has to offer over the big box stores or the internet is the personnel association and the friendship of the owners and staff. This sounds corny but the fly shop needs to be like your family where you go to get advice, and sympathy, and love. Yes, this means some serious branding has to take place because making your customers love your brand is what creates loyalty. What is your brand and what is your “brand promise”?
So really, it’s on the shoulders of the fly shop to create a place so comfortable and easy to shop with all of the gear and goods that you need plus great customer service so good that the consumer doesn’t even think about going anyplace else.
I know I said in my last article that I was going to write about not bringing fried chicken on a charter. I was going to go into great detail how my friend Capt. Bob Montgomery of Key West fame would in the morning of his charter open his customers lunch boxes and toss out any fried chicken or bananas. The bananas because everybody knows why! The fried chicken because after eating fried chicken there is no way not to get chicken grease on everything that is touched….grips, reel handles, lures, seats or anything else within range. Bob never asked, he casually tossed it out of the boat with a flick of the wrist without looking up to see where it was going to land. No one ever protested that I know of. Bob had a very intense manner about him, you knew he was serious. Actually I think he didn’t look up while tossing the fried fowl because he didn’t want to start laughing.
No, this article is about fishing in a parallel universe…you know, that’s the universe that exists along side our universe but we don’t know it. Well we know it, but we can’t actually see it. OK, we think we know that it exists and we wonder how we are doing over there. I’m fairly certain that I’m doing a lot better fishing over there than I’m doing here. All those fish that I lost on my last trip to the Bahamas, I caught them over there. That girl with the Thomas and Thomas fly rod with the Hatch reel at the bar….I almost sure that in the parallel universe we’re having a blast fishing in her new flats boat (she’s poling) and I just landed my fourth permit on fly. We were having some real fun!
Please don’t tell my wife Jean about this parallel universe or I will have to move to another parallel universe several parallel universes away. I didn’t mention that scientist agree that there are many parallel universes. Don’t tell Jean about those either…I have way too much fishing tackle in most of those too!
Next month, all about fishing in this universe and the fish I didn’t catch.
Well, it’s been a while since I last imposed on your attention span and I’ve been asked to do it again. My articles tend to be about fly fishing but I tend write around the edges of the subject. It’s like my paintings, they’re about fishing but not necessarily OF a fish. The reason I do this is because I collect antique fishing magazines for the unique artwork and the great graphics that were used at the time. When I do take the time to read and article or two it is amazing how some aspects of fishing never change. I believe you could copy an article from 1955 and publish it in today’s magazine and no one would know the difference….and this includes all of the articles on conservation! So, all of the easy articles have already been written years ago and I just can’t bring myself to explain, in a better way, that the reason a brown fly works better than a blue fly or how to apply line dressing so it doesn’t make your flyline even worse.
If you’ve fly fished for a while you pretty much have it all down as to why you need to tie good knots, how to pick a fly and by all means don’t throw your trash in the water or you might be flogged by someone in a canoe eating carrots. No, I will always try to investigate the part of fly fishing that no one really ever talks about or seems to think is an important subject like; What if I ate something last night and I need to explain to my charter that I really need to jump in the water and cool off….the water temp is 53 by the way. Nobody ever addresses that issue but I will. The answer for those of you who want to know what to say is: you forgot to take a critical pill and if you don’t get back to the marina right away you will die, or something like that.
Another subject I’ll never write about, unless I’m really desperate, is; what hand should I reel with if I’m right handed. Don’t bother to write in and tell me what you think about that subject because we talk about that every day in the fly shop. If you’re a trout fisherman you will probably reel with your left hand until you catch something that takes you and hour or two to get to the boat and you discover that your left hand no longer works and you’ll need surgery.
My next article will be about why you shouldn’t bring fried chicken on a charter….everybody already knows that you don’t dare bring bananas!