TroutoberFest beckons anglers and experts
ROSCOE, NY — Fisherwomen and fishermen headed to Roscoe last weekend to partake in many activities at the 2nd annual TroutoberFest. Sponsored by The Beaverkill Angler, Hardy, Orvis, Umpqua, Cortland, Patagonia and others, the event was an opportunity for anglers from as far away as Florida and Maine to gather and learn about new techniques, try out equipment, engage in a sanctioned fishing tournament and learn to fly fish.
William Anderson, an architect from northern Virginia came to demonstrate tying exquisite traditional wet flies and flymphs. Wet flies are designed to imitate the nymphal form of mayflies as they emerge to become flying adults. Flymphs are a variation of traditional artificial nymph patterns with a circular collar (like a wet fly) that gives the fly a lifelike look as it moves underwater. Anderson showcased hand-hewn spinning blocks (based on designs by Pete Hidy and Richard Clark) that he makes for spinning dubbing onto silk thread for the bodies of the flies he ties. (www.williamsfavorite.com/).
Pat Cohen, from Cobbleskill, NY, ties large stacked deer hair flies for both trout and warm water fish such as pike, walleyes and bass. As he demonstrated, each fly takes him at least a half hour hour to tie and involves stacking various colors of deer hair on a hook, tying it down, compacting the assembly and then shaving to shape with a double edged razor blade. The result is an extremely dense collection of the hollow deer hair that is durable and floats like cork. He ties commercially and sells the flies and specialized fly tying materials and equipment from his website (rusuperfly.com) as well as appears at up to 30 fly fishing shows and seminars per year.
Eight women participated in a special Women's Beginning Fly Tying Class led by Kelly Buchta of New Jersey. Kelly covered the tools, materials and techniques used in tying flies that catch trout. In a sport increasingly popular with women, Patagonia sponsored a session on women’s fishing gear, featuring clothing, base layers, waders and equipment designed specifically for women.
The Dynamic Nymphing workshop was led by George Daniel, TCO fly shop manager, fly fishing instructor, competition flyfisher and coach out of State College, PA. Dynamic nymphing, or contact nymphing, is a set of techniques, rigging and equipment designed to increase your success in catching and landing fish while nymphing (www.tcoflyfishing.com/TCO_Fly_Fishing_George_Daniel_DynamicBook.cfm).
Mayflies spend only a few days flying in the air out of their yearlong life cycle. Most of the year they are aquatic creatures, living and metamorphosing through 20 to 30 nymphal stages underwater after hatching from eggs laid by the airborne females.
Many fly fishers fish for trout by imitating the adult mayfly only, using a dry fly, so-called for its final transformation from aquatic nymph to airborne insect on or just under the surface of the water, or as the dead flies that fall to the river after laying their eggs.
Trout feed all of the time and mostly target mayfly nymphs. Unlike dry fly when you see the rising fish, in nymph fishing you can’t see the fish take the fly, you can only estimate where the fish might be feeding underwater, and sense the subtle “take” by the fish of the very small imitation bug.
In fertile, productive trout streams, swiftly flowing waters have multiple currents of differing speeds both horizontally across the river and vertically in the water column. Rocks, logs, depth of stream and stream bed gradient all affect the flowing water.
In contact nymphing on small streams, the goal is to maintain enough tension on the entire fishing line from rod tip to fly to sense the subtle take of the fish without unnaturally dragging the fly through the water. Special leaders, called “sighters” are constructed using multiple colors of monofilament line to enable the fisherman to see the direction and tension of the leader without using a bobber or other indicator on the line, which affects the movement of the fly. In addition, a unique one handed upstream casting technique of a fixed length of the combined 15 to 30 feet of fly line, sighter and tippet (the last small diameter line attached to the fly) allows the fly to be precisely placed, immediately dropping to the desired depth in the water column, and still be under the tight control of the angler. Contact nymphing is popular in Europe and has proven extremely effective in international fly fishing competition.
Pete Robertson, born and raised on Sherman Creek near where it empties into the West Branch of the Delaware in Hale Eddy, NY, now residing in Fredericksburg, VA, traveled to Roscoe to attend the session. He had read George’s book but found the session extremely informative in putting the knowledge into practice.
Orvis representative Tom Zemianek taught a popular Fly Fishing 101 Class for those curious about the sport but not sure how to get started, beginners who have been learning on their own, or anglers who haven't fly fished in years and were looking for a refresher course.
The Trout Legend sanctioned tournament was narrowly won by Bill Chioffiof Massachusetts whose five fish the first day secured him a commanding lead over 26 other anglers even though he was skunked the second day. Participants in these tournaments report that fishing with other competitors of high caliber helps them learn new techniques and hone their skills when fishing their home waters.
Evan Lavery, owner of The Beaverkill Angler, declared the event a success. “Flyfisher women on average make up only 10% of the people participating in the sport,” he said, “but we had 20 women here this weekend as workshop participants, instructors and competitors. We also were able to introduce 25 new men and women to flyfishing in our beginner’s classes.”