LIVINGSTON MANOR, NY — It’s amazing to watch folks create realistic dry flies out of bits of feathers and colored yarn, tied by the hands of true masters of their craft. It’s even …
LIVINGSTON MANOR, NY — It’s amazing to watch folks create realistic dry flies out of bits of feathers and colored yarn, tied by the hands of true masters of their craft. It’s even more astonishing to realize how the small world of fly tying can expand in a split second to reach back in time to rekindle memories.
Perfect examples of nature’s sublime intricacy and primordial magnificence, both realms awe-inspiring in their own right.
On Saturday, February 29, the Catskill Fly Fishing Center & Museum (CFFCM) hosted its annual Fly Fest to kick off the new season. It serves a warm up before First Cast, scheduled for Saturday, April 4, along the famed Beaverkill that flows just outside the world-renowned fly-fishing center.
Diane Amses and her husband Herbert Dunne traveled to the fly-fishing center from their home in Goulds, NY, just a slow crow’s meandering flight from Long Eddy, NY located along the Upper Delaware River.
While her husband is a long-time fisherman in this neck of the woods and previously on the South Shore of Long Island, it was Amses’ first-time tying flies under the tutelage of Nicole March, representing Catskill Kids on the Fly, a volunteer group of fly-tying instructors.
“My husband is a trout fisherman, but I’m not a fisherperson, but we go to a lot of tying events. It’s such a beautiful art form,” said Amses, who said her first fly was a bright purple Woolly Bugger: “It will catch anything.”
Dunne first wet a fly at the age of seven. Seventy-eight years later. he is still in search of trout along the East Branch of the Delaware River near Fish’s Eddy.
“I used to stay at the Antrim Lodge,” he recalled of the circa-1890s lodge in Roscoe, NY. Billing itself as “Trout Town USA,” it’s a haunt that has been widely known for years as a watering hole for a select cadre of sports journalists and legions of fly-fisherpersons.
So why fish?
“I’ve often wondered why I like to fish… It’s a compilation of factors,” replied Dunne. “It’s the beauty of the surroundings the fascination with those slippery underwater creatures.”
Asked his take on spin-casting and other forms of wetting a line, the 85-year-old fly fisherman cast a rather disdainful glance in the direction of this sports scribbler and said, “I only fly fish!”
In one of those really remarkably unexpected twists of fate—some might call it destiny unfolded or preordained—this photojournalist was reconnected with a slice of his past life as a park ranger in Yosemite National Park, one of the crown jewels of America’s National Park System. At this year’s edition of Fly Fest, this sports scribbler met Lance Hidy, a fly-fisherman, tier, author and graphic designer by profession who was instrumental in helping Ansel Easton Adams (February 20, 1902 to April 22, 1984) in bringing his final book, “Yosemite and the Range of Light,” to life.
Hidy also worked on designing “Ansel Adams: 400 Photographs” and the illustrious landscape photographer’s final eight books.
In addition, he presents a lecture titled “Ansel Adams as Environmentalist and Photographer,” noting that exposure to the outdoors helped Adams overcome adversity “to tell the world about the power that wilderness had, and transform the human spirit, what wilderness can do to a human being.”
“I grew up in Oregon and live along the Merrimack River,” said Hidy, adding that his father Vernon S. “Pete” Hidy was “a famous fly tier, author and photographer.”
In a moving homage to his late father, who passed in 1983, Lance Hidy penned “Vernon S. ‘Pete’ Hidy: The Chronology of a Reluctant Fishing Icon,” in which he recounted a few of his dad’s exploits and accomplishments.
“V.S. Hidy was a fly-fishing editor, writer, photographer, conservationist and innovative fly tier,” penned Hidy. “He founded the Flyfishers Club of Oregon coined the word flymph. My father’s untold story was hidden in my attic, stored in cardboard cartons [I] inherited when my mother died in 2006.”
On October 7, 2017, Vernon V.S Hidy was inducted into the CFFCM’s Fly Fishing Hall of Fame, thus joining the ranks of Theodore Gordon, Mary Dette, Art Flick, Poul Jorgensen, Harry and Elsie, and Lee and Joan Wulff, along with many other notables in the world of fly fishing.
“As a boy, I wasn’t as passionate about it as he was, but in the last 12 years I’ve been loving it,” said Hidy. “It opened up a new way to connect to my father and his legacy, and make friends with a remarkable group of fishermen and fly tiers, which has enriched my life more than I can say.”