Heading Home, Moving Upstream

Casting Across isn’t really about me. I’m not a huge fan of writing about myself, and I dislike reading what I’ve written about myself even more. And if I don’t want to read it, why should I expect anyone else to? That is why I try to focus on the quarry and the culture of fly fishing, only mixing in a bit of self deprecation in as the feeling strikes me.

At the same time, context is key. And the context of life for the past year has been returning to Virginia and the Mid Atlantic.  The next setting for  fly fishing, life, etc. is going to be New England. Again.

Among many other things, that means a second chance at fishing places I never got to the first time around. That means making good on “I really wish I would have” statements. That means practicing what i preach by discovering new water and learning to love it for more than just the quality of the fishery.

Tailwater trout, sea run brookies, estuary stripers, and canal carp are not opportunities to which I should turn my nose up.  With an open mind and some perspective, I’m confident that I will form new home waters and favorite day trips.

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I Bought a Hat, You Get a Free Sticker

All the way back in the winter, I saw a hat that I really liked at The Fly Fishing Show.

Okay, I saw lots of hats that I really liked.

There are plenty of companies putting out great looking gear for fly fishers, but RepYourWater has been at the forefront of angling style for years. State or region-specific designs are their bread and butter, and allow people to show pride in their home or favorite fisheries.

I saw one, wanted it, but didn’t pull the trigger until just now.

But  what hat is it?

You tell me, and you get a sticker.

That’s right, the one form of currency in fly fishing culture that equates to the gold standard: a sticker. You get to pick whichever RepYourWater sticker you want!

Here’s how to win:

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TU Youth Camps: Where the Best & Brightest Shine

I never went to real summer camp. Stories of shenanigans that sound like tropes from a John Hughes film aren’t something I can necessarily relate to. Moreover, my first inclination is to balk at the idea that summer camp is seriously someone’s idea of “fondest memories.”

Then, I remember I did go to summer camp. But it was for fly fishing nerds, was for only one week, and we were almost to a person so focused on catching trout that there was hardly any room for tomfoolery. I mean, we had to be up before six to get an hour of fishing in before breakfast.

It was the Pennsylvania Rivers Conservation & Fly Fishing Youth Camp. It took a kid who loved fishing and turned me into a young man who was passionate about angling and conservation. That is where this camp really shines. Serving as a director of the camp for a number of years, we got to see the best and brightest that the region had to offer. Boys and girls came to learn, and a good number of them credit their experience that week for launching them to pursue a passion related to cold water conservation.

If you aren’t familiar with the Trout Unlimited Youth Camps, or the Headwater Youth Program in general, head over to the TU site to see all that is being offered to the next generation. If you are an active member of a chapter, make supporting these camps a priority. Many expenses through TU are worthwhile, but sending a teen or two to a week of a lifetime is an incredible investment. For more information on the 2017 PA camp, read below the break.

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Fly Fishing the Driftless: Angler Research

I’d like to think that I’m still relatively young. However, I am of an age where there are certain benchmarks  that separate me from the younger generation. When I was a teenager, and I wanted information on fly fishing tactics or a region, it meant a trip to the library. I’d have to find actual books in actual stacks, sit  down at a desk or check them out, and read. It was fun to  investigate. It required reading fishing books, browsing travel guides, and looking at physical maps.

Somewhere along the line, that changed. The internet made all of that information so incredibly accessible. Although a bit less involved than a trip to the library, the process has improved  thanks to the ease of use and the variety of resources.

This summer I am travelling to and fishing the Driftless. This area, occupying the  region where Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, and Iowa meet, is geologically unique. One of the results is  a wealth of trout fishing, primarily in the smaller spring creeks that run through every valley. Even though I grew up in  the Midwest, I had  practically no frame of reference for what to expect.

Planning and preparing for any DIY fly fishing trip means figuring out nearly everything about a fishery and the surrounding area. Here are three important types of online resources. The specific links will help you if you’re interested in the Driftless, but the “genres” should be beneficial regardless of where you’re headed.

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Fly Fishing Father’s Day: Game Changing Gifts

Father’s Day is less than a week away. If you’re like most people, you’re looking to  show your thankfulness and love to dear old dad through lavishing him with gifts.  If he is a fly fisherman, or if you’re looking to get him into fly fishing, gift-giving is as easy as pie.

And if you’re going to give a gift, go big or go home.

If there is one thing that we can all agree upon, it is that bigger is better. Better might not necessarily mean better performance, durability,  aesthetics, or anything like that. But better certainly means a better gift.

I’ve compiled a quick and easy gift giving guide for those of you who are looking for a last minute Father’s Day package. What I’ve put together is essentially a starter kit for that special dad in your life. A rod, a reel, and a fly box will get him out on the water, impressing fish with the quality of your gear.

Here are the three items that the fly fishing dad really needs:

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Rusty Flybox: Have Fish Will Travel

I’m traveling this month. The plan is to head up and down the east coast, go across the Midwest, and… who knows where else. Between school letting out, water clearing up out west, and better weather in general, June is a prime time for fishing and fishing-related travel

Since I’m currently on the road, the easy thing to do is direct you to some past posts that have to do with travelling for fly fishing.  For a number of reasons, I can’t fish in far-off and exotic locations very much. What I can do, and what I really enjoy, is just fishing wherever I am. Family vacations, business trips, and the occasional fly-fishing trip actually allow me to get out on the water in some great places.

Here are a few  of those travels:

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“Hey Mister Fly Fisher!”

On a beautiful spring morning with bluebird skies, I took a few hours to explore a new stretch of river in search of bass. The water had just come down to a reasonable level after a drastic amount of rain, and the color was about where it should be. I found my way into a few hungry and eager fish that were willing to chase streamers and poppers.

Wading out into the middle of the large, shallow river, I made my way towards a shelf. One of my favorite places to catch smallmouth is those churning, flat pools that are created after a series of riffles and rocks give way to deeper water. Spying one such spot across a deep slough, I waded upstream to the aforementioned shallow riffle and them down into position.

During my journey down, a group of tubers (innertubes, not potatoes) floated by. Being early in the season, their presence was hardly a nuisance. They were few in numbers, and the river was certainly large enough to accommodate their splashing and wallowing. Apparently, their terminus was adjacent to my position, as they all flopped out unceremoniously and went to a cluster of tents on the hillside above the river.

Two young men moved with a little bit more vigor than their peers. After docking their tubes, they charged the water like migrating wildebeest. I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt: their original trajectory may very well have been outside of the very pool I was fishing. However, the strong current and their “swimming” moved them directly through the deep water I was probing with my fly.

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I’m a Fly Fishing Guide

I’m a fly fishing guide.

I’m not licensed, bonded, insured, or endorsed by any of the big fly fishing brands. I’m not listed online, affiliated with a shop, or on anyone’s pro staff. You’re not going to see a website with lots of trophy fish pictures or celebrity testimonials.

I do have experience, though. Through years of working at it and figuring out what is effective, I feel like I have a functional grasp on the basics of angling. More importantly, I can communicate some of the fundamental principles of the sport at a level that even my clients can understand.

I know when they can’t make the cast that they need to make. We work through that together. I can still get excited when they miss a rising fish. We talk about how fooling trout is more than half of the battle. I can help them feel good about themselves if they don’t allow slack when a bass jumps and throws the hook. We laugh about how that is a problem I often have as well. Most importantly, I know when my clients are tired and just need a break.

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Last Cast of the Week, 6/2/2017

Most Fridays on Casting Across are  devoted to other people’s contributions in the fly fishing community. Articles, pictures, social media accounts, videos, podcasts, products, and more will be featured on The Last Cast of the Week.

Today, I’m sharing items from  Hazard Fly Fishing / Appalachian Furled Leader Co. / Tacky, American Rivers, and Field & Stream.

If you’d like to be featured in the Last Cast of the Week, or have seen something that others might be interested in, use my contact form or shoot me an email (matthew[at]castingacross[dot]com). Also, be sure to subscribe to Casting Across to never miss a post.

Check out the links, along with my thoughts, below:

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