Angling Bovine Company & Other Fly Fishing Critters

Ah, nature. Mountains, trees, rivers, and, of course, fish. Have you ever noticed that sometimes there are other animals that vie for your attention while you are out fly fishing?

It is true. Surprisingly, it isn’t just a majestic eagle soaring overhead or a regal-looking buck silhouetted against an azure sky. Nor is it always a bear, wolf, or alligator looking to take advantage of a distracted angler.

Every once in a while, or, more often if you are like me, you’ll have seemingly benign wildlife encounters that impact your fishing. I’ve compiled a list of some of the more obnoxious varmints that haunt the same spaces as the fish that we pursue. This isn’t a call for their eradication or even their vilification. It is more of a public service announcement of sorts that there are wild and domesticated animals that might make your day on the water a little bit challenging.

Perhaps you’re a real fan of one of these critters. That is okay; everyone has dysfunction. For the rest of you, take heed:

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Spiders: Do I need to explain this one? You’re the first one on the creek, which means that you are the first one who gets to amass miles of spider web on your face and hair as you make your way to the water. Let’s be real: there is no way that there isn’t a spider crawling around somewhere on you after that.

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Memorial Day Outside of Black & White

Yesterday I was in Washington, DC, for Rolling Thunder.  A million motorcycles parading by is a far cry from the bucolic setting that most of us seek out as part of our fly fishing. But it was quite the sight, quite the sound, and quite the scene. The purpose of the event made it even more profound.

I’m hardly the super-patriot, but I’m also incredibly thankful that I live in the United States.

I’m often critical, but I don’t think it is appropriate to shame people for enjoying a day off of work.

I’m very, very appreciative of our veterans, but Memorial Day is about something different.

If you read Casting Across, you’re probably in it for the fly fishing. I don’t want to disappoint, but it is about the culture surrounding fly fishing as well. Frequently I point out how polarizing little things in our sport can be: strike indicators, keeping fish wet, and other silly little minutiae. That mindset comes from somewhere. That mindset has greater implications than just fishing.

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Last Cast of the Week, 5/26/2017

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  Cheeky Fishing, Fly Trap, & Vogue… yes, that Vogue.

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.

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Cheeky Fishing – 2017 Schoolie Tournament Recap

If you have been anywhere near an internet-enabled device in the past month, you’ve inevitably seen something about the Cheeky Schoolie Tournament in Massachusetts. This unique and incredibly popular event drew an enormous crowd this year, and anglers of all stripes (ha!) chased bass around the Cape.  This page has a video recap, a blog post, and some striper pictures for you to check out. Cheeky is a company that has been doing great stuff, and doing things a little bit differently, since they started.

Fly Trap Fly Holder

I love gadgets. I’m particularly fond of little things that can streamline, lighten, and simplify my time on the water. The Fly Trap is one such device. For an afternoon chasing a hatch or a day in the mountains, this little lanyard-esque clip looks like it could literally carry all the flies, tippet, and tools you need. Clip it on a pack or wader D-ring, and you’re good to go. Additionally, it gives you an “at your fingers” option if you attach it to an  overstuffed pack. I have not used a Fly Trap, but it looks cool enough that I think you should check it out.

Vogue – Fly Fishing Through India

Vogue? Yes. The same Vogue that you have to shelter your early reader’s eyes from in the checkout line. But  here’s the thing: this article may very well be the only time that thousands upon thousands read anything about fly fishing. And guess what: it is a good article. There is a little bit about angling and mahseer, but the author also writes about tigers, lime soda, and ritual creamation. Remember, there is a lot more to fly fishing than the newest rod technology or streamer tactics. Sometimes it is good to step away from the fly-bubble to see that.

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Trout Unlimited Costa 5 Rivers & Casting Across

The fun of fly fishing is the seed that grows into the tree of conservation.

That was the first thing that Andrew Loffredo, the national coordinator for the Trout Unlimited Costa 5 Rivers program, told me when I asked him to sum up the purpose of the group. In over 80 college campuses across the country, young men and women are casting their first fly rod, catching their first fish, and learning firsthand about coldwater conservation. On top of that, students who come to school with a passion for angling and protecting the resource have a seamless opportunity to continue those pursuits.

5 Rivers has done a lot more than just give college students something good to do. As was common throughout the fly fishing landscape a decade ago, Trout Unlimited was having a bit of an image crisis. Chapter membership was skewed older. There was a robust youth program that identified and encouraged the best and brightest. Yet, there was still a significant gap within TU that essentially stretched from teens to their parents.

The 5 Rivers program has taken off in the past few years, filling this gap and rising along with the tide of a generation of enthusiastic, young fly fishers. “Club activities expose students to TU in an engaging way,” says Loffredo. “We’re seeing more 5 Rivers/local chapter participation, too; building bridges through stream clean-ups and fundraisers.”

Many college participants are enrolled in degree programs such as biology or wildlife management, but there is a wide demographic spectrum throughout the various clubs. Again, students who are “TU Teen” alumni often start clubs or take leadership initiative. At the same time, over sixty percent of members have learned fly fishing through 5 Rivers.

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Peer Pressure, Neurotransmitters, & Fly Fishing

I like to think that I’m mature enough to make decisions for myself. Maybe it is prideful, but between my age, my education, and my intelligence, my actions shouldn’t be so easily swayed.

Then I get a text message with a picture of a fish.

My day takes a little bit of a right  turn. Sometimes, it is a pull-the-emergency brake, 180-degree spin towards the closest body of water.

Someone with a different worldview might say that it is my selfish primate brain realizing that someone else is catching food and therefore is depriving  me and  those who carry my genetics from sustenance.  I say that is nonsense. It is silly in principle, but also because I know what truly lies behind my compulsion.

In my head there is a little biological “X many days since a fish has been caught” sign. Whenever I land a trout, my happy little serotonin run up, wipe off the embarrassingly large number, and scrawl a big “0.” Out of joy, synapses fire their little electrical impulses to the  point where it might be dangerous to be wet wading. The dopamine is all in on the party, but then  they see a rise upstream and get all antsy.

So really, those little pleasure/incentive neurotransmitters are  to blame for the obsessive nature of the habit. They are to blame for the greedy “oh, just one more cast” after catching a nice smallmouth… or being distracted by that aforementioned upstream rise… or justifying another ten minutes, you know, since it is so nice out.

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Rusty Flybox: Youth & Trout

Next week, I’ll have an exciting announcement regarding Casting Across and a partnership with a premier fly fishing organization. I’m looking forward to this opportunity, but I’m waiting for all the ducks (trout?) to get in a row before I come out with it.

That being said, I will say that it has to do with fly fishing, conservation, and the next generation. So, to prepare myself and you for next week’s article, I thought I would share three pieces from the archives that exist within a similar topical sphere.

Fly Fishing at Fourteen

How do you create an avid angler and conservationist? Wire it into them at a young age. I had the blessing of being in an amazing angling location, having a best friend that fly fished, and  attending the premier coldwater conservation  summer program. Here, I recount some of the formative moments and concepts that made me the fly fisherman that I am today.

Tomorrow’s Conservationists: The TU Teen Summit

Last year I spoke with Franklin Tate, director of the Trout Unlimited Headwaters Youth Program, about the national education, service, and fishing program that attracts students from across the country. The TU Teen Summit gleans the best and brightest students from the 20+ TU camps in the USA, and gives them an opportunity of a lifetime to learn and fish. These are tomorrow’s leaders, and they are being given a great head start.

Breaking Curfew with Inky

So I might not have been the best or brightest when I attended a TU camp (many, many moons ago). However, I did have a lot of fun. And a lot of that has to do with the genuine character of the men and women that invested in my peers and me. One of them just happened to be half of the duo who started this whole Trout Unlimited youth thing.  While the classroom and stream time was important, the relationships were vital. That was what made it stick.

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If You Can’t Fish with the One You Love…

Don’t ever take a stream, a pond, or any other water for granted.

Take a minute to consider the closest lake or river. Maybe you’re there every day. Or, maybe you drive past it daily and then again whenever you go fishing. Maybe you have ample reason: it isn’t that great, it’s crowded, it’s too close. But hopefully the fact that it is close isn’t what is keeping you away.

Plenty of people live on blue ribbon trout streams, trophy bass lakes, or inlets teeming with shallow-water gamefish. However most of us live by dirty tributaries, suburban retention ponds, or unnamed trickles. Those waters aren’t glamorous. They might even be filled with just sunfish. Or just stocked trout in the spring. Or just small fish.

For all the aforementioned issues, these waters are still just a minute away. What these waters might lack in charisma, they might make up in character or intimacy. And let’s not forget: they’re just a minute away.

We’re all familiar with the whole fish -> lots of fish -> big fish -> that fish progression that anglers go through. Fishing your closest water religiously is a way to jump to the end of that chronology. For all the road noise, small fish, and normalcy that fishing the closest pond or creek might entail, you can forge a relationship that rewards you with achievements that transcend just fish.

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The Western Wanderlust of an Eastern Fly Fisher

I can clearly remember my first cast fly fishing out west. It came shortly after I pulled off the side of the road on Colorado’s route 34 along the Big Thompson River. Coming from the plains and foothills outside of Loveland, I also began my first ascent into the Rocky Mountains. Ever mile I drove, every step I took, I was going farther west than I had ever gone before. And this river – this scenery wasn’t like anything I had ever seen before.

Nearly all of my trout fishing in and around my home in Northern Virginia was small. Small mountain brook trout streams. Small spring creeks. The valleys and river currents were gentle. I was used to being able to cast, and sometimes even hop, across the entire creek.

The water I approached off that Colorado highway was bigger than nearly every river I’d fished in the Mid-Atlantic. It was like seven or eight of the high gradient streams I was used to fishing stacked side-by-side. All the while, the water was moving faster and plunging deeper. There was an instinctive knowledge of where to cast, but that didn’t completely mitigate the overwhelming sense of fishing somewhere big.

The mountains towered on either side of me, with others in the backdrop that were inconceivably tall to someone accustomed to the Blue Ridge. Birds, and their songs, were different. The foliage was similar, but still different. Standing on the bank, looking into my fly box, I wondered if the trout would know that my elk hair caddis was a different elk hair caddis. An eastern interloper, not fit for consumption.

It’s happened before, and its happened since. I began to fish before I really started fishing. My mind wasn’t in it, it was taking in everything that was around me. A cast to some slack water behind a big eddy produced an aggressive strike. A gold and red flash took my dry fly. Startled, my hook set was slow and all I felt was a slack line.

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Last Cast of the Week, 5/12/2017

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 Brackish Flies, Forbes/Orvis, and South Texas Kayak.

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.

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Brackish Flies – NE Fly Fishing

Wild trout in tributaries, carp in urban canals, sea run brookies in the tidewater, and stripers on the coast. Those are just some of the angling opportunities that the folks at Brackish Flies, a Massachusetts  fly fishing outfit, explore. They guide, tie, and share their experiences. A lot of what they do is a short hike from Boston, and a lot of it is unknown or underappreciated by local anglers (ask me how I know). Check out their Facebook page, where there are lots of great pictures and videos, and give them a follow.

Forbes – Reinventing Orvis

We all know about the dichotomous reputation that Orvis has in the fly fishing community. Let’s be honest… there were some shaky years, but now the brand is back with  a legitimate presence in the industry. This piece by Forbes outlines some of the reasons for the success: programs like the Guide Rendezvous, focusing on including women in the sport, and returning to being at the forefront of angling innovation. Speaking of being honest… I’m an Orvis fan. So this article is a fun read. Regardless of how you feel (dog beds!?!), I suggest you check it out.

South Texas Kayak – Kayak Fishing Accessories

If you’ve ever thought “I wonder what kind of kayaks are out there,” you’ve undoubtedly experienced the overwhelming number of options available. Then, how do you know which are the best for fishing? Once you nail that down, what else do you need? South Texas Kayak is a pretty good resource for questions like that. This particular article includes information on some of the essentials that  you should have on board. Beginners need this kind of help, and veterans can always use the reminder. Plus, there is a picture of a jumping tarpon off the bow of a kayak…

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Getting a Little Lost Fly Fishing

When was the last time that you got a little lost? Anything counts: hiking or driving, in the woods or in the city.

GPS, and the ubiquity of that technology – particularly on smart phones, has made getting lost an infrequent occurrence in this day and age. Survival skills training for 95% of North America simply entails the advice of “make sure your phone is charged before you go anywhere.”

I am not at all lamenting the fact that there are surely dozens, if not hundreds, of people who are spared from discomfort, injury, or death because of this digital safety leash. Plus, I’m able to reroute myself to avoid a bad intersection with a quick command to my robot butler / iPhone.

But are we missing out on adventure, just a little? I mean, is it a good thing to get a little lost every now and again?

A few years back I was fishing in northern New Hampshire. Only a few miles from the Canadian border, I was hiking through marshes and bogs searching for native brook trout. Now, under normal circumstances it is pretty hard to get lost while fishing. A legitimate survival skill is to follow a water source downstream. If you are fly fishing, let’s hope that you’re somewhere remotely close to a river.

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