This year I'm going to be ready. For the first time.
Honest. I mean it. This arctic weather will break sooner than we all think. (At least I hope so.)
Almost every year I tell myself I'm going to get all my tackle ready over the winter, tie the needed flies, search out some good spots. Then suddenly spring arrives, and there's a mad scramble to get ready. But this year I have to get ready; with family obligations my outdoor time will be limited and "catch as catch can." As for fly tying, that has already begun.
Joe Bruce returned from our early November trip to Louisiana and was soon in his favorite place –- beside himself with enthusiasm. Our guide, Marty Authement, had developed an articulated fly that was doing steady business with big redfish. (See? Kelly Galloup doesn't own the articulated fly franchise.) Joe adapted this approach to his Bullethead Darter patterns and hit the several Delmarva ponds before the "Artic Curtain" descended on the mid-Atlantic. Pickerel and bass pounced on it like US magazine on the Kardashians.
In early January, alumni of Louisiana and Andros trips met at Ric Boulin's house to learn to tie the articulated fly and special leaders required. I described our efforts as a jointed venture. We're still developing variation of the basic patterns; fly tyers always do this. You can see the new wonder fly at Joe's website, joebruce.net, and buy the fly or booklet telling how to tie it, "Tying The Articulated Bullethead Darter." Joe will also show his wares at Tie Fest. (See below.)
This fly is not as complicated as it seems, but the major material, icelandic sheep wool, is a bit exotic. The wool is available at Tochterman's in Baltimore and on such fly fishing outlets as J. Stockard. The beads, hooks, flash material and wire are all standard items widely available.
Another outcome of the jointed venture meeting was formation of an informal (chaotic) "fishermen's scouting combine." Joe Bruce has begun scouting salt and brackish bays and feeder rivers where we can launch our kayaks for secluded fishing for perch, pickerel, stripers, bass and other species. This is similar to the scouting of ramps I did in Virginia in preparation of "Fly Fishers Guide to Chesapeake Bay." The Maryland DNR site has an excellent guide to ramps in the state. But kayakers don't necessarily depend on ramps; we just need a place to park and slide the kayak into the water.
Rick Boulin and I are pooling our knowledge of nearby trout spots. (I think I'm getting the best of this deal; Rick actually knows what he's doing.) Some of these places can produce quality trout for those willing and able to hike some distance.
Rick primed my pump by sending me a photo of his lure collection for spin fishing for trout. Rick is a minimalist who uses his head and legs instead of carrying a tackle store with him; I wish I met him earlier in life, before I fell in with equipment gluttons. His top lure is a Size 1 Mepps spinner, with one tine of the treble removed. The rest of his lures are 1/8-ounce Kastmasters and wooly buggers tied on 1/8-ounce jigheads. My choices are slightly different, but that's material for another, more detailed column.
One of the blessings and the curses of living in our area is the wide variety of fishing available, which calls for a lot of different tackle, especially for folks who use both fly and conventional gear, although there are some overlaps.
So, in getting started on getting ready, I suggest the following sequence of fishing and tackle preparation: Trout, pickerel and panfish, bass, shad, saltwater. Begin with reels and lines and leaders, then rods, then auxiliary equipment like pliers, sunglasses, sunblock, then lures, then clothes.
You should also look into coming educational and equipment procurement opportunities at get-togethers like those listed below. I hope to attend all of these:
•Feb. 6-15: The 2015 Spring Fishing Classic at Bass Pro Shop at Hanover, MD offers a number of events and deals with free seminars by professional bass anglers February 6 -8. See http://www.basspro.com/classic.
•Feb. 7-15: The Great American Outdoor Show at the Farm Show Complex in Harrisburg, PA features 1,000 exhibitors and a packed daily schedule of programs on hunting, fishing and other outdoor-related activities. See greatamericaoutdoorshow.org.
•Feb. 28: The annual Fisherman's Flea Market at Gamber and Community Fire Hall 8 A.M. to 2 P.M. features good deals on fresh and saltwater fishing and related equipment.
•Feb. 28–March 1: The Fly Fishing Show, 9 A.M. to 5:30 P.M., offers dozens of top quality fly fishing vendors and such living legends as Lefty Kreh, Bob Clouser and Joe Humphries plus many local experts and rising stars on the fishing scenes, classes and free demonstrations at the Lancaster County Convention Center, Lancaster, PA. See flyfishingshow.com/lancaster-pa
•March 7: CCAMD's Tie Fest, the local annual gathering of fly fishing experts including Kreh, Clouser, Bob Popovics and other fly fishing and fly tying experts is being held at Prospect Bay Country Club in Grasonville, MD. The show runs from 10 A.M. to 5 P.M., banquet activities from 5 to 9 P.M. See http://www.ccamd.org.
Bill May is a Times outdoors writer. His column appears every other Sunday. Reach him at 410-857-7896 or email@example.com.