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Saturday, September 19, 2009

Fly Tackle Dealer Show Teaches a Valuable Lesson

It has been another beautiful early fall week in Southern Colorado. The high country is bristling in gold and the lower elevation cottonwoods along the river are starting to join the in the dance as well. As soon as the oakbrush turns red, we'll have the whole shebang. Brown Trout are putting on the feedbag in a big way preparing for the spawning season which should start very soon on the South Platte and on the Arkansas around the middle of October. Actually, fish may be a little ahead of schedule on the Arkansas right now because the males we are landing are showing a bit of bottom lip and their colors are vibrant. They are also beginning to get into "chase mode" as well. I took a couple of nice males on a small streamer two nights ago in the rain by stripping it back up the shoreline towards me. None the less, now is a great time to get out and enjoy the Rocky Mountains. This is the time of year when they truly strut their stuff.

We went to the Fly Tackle Dealer Show in Denver last weekend. For those of you who don't follow the fly fishing industry, that is the show where dealers see all the new eye candy fishing stuff for the next year. There are generally more new gadgets, widgets, shiny reels and overpriced flyrods there to knock your socks off. Back over 20 years ago when we went to our first show, we truly enjoyed it. You really got to spend time with the folks that made the gear and fondle everything, have a few drinks and make some new friends. Now, in order to really hear about the stuff, you have to make an appointment with a rep or just stumble into a conversation. For about the past 10 years, I have been in the "stumble in" strategy. Actually fly fishing has turned into a pretty big industry, but I would bet that Haliburton makes more in one day than the entire fly fishing industry does in one year. However you would never guess that by the seriousness protrayed at these shows. This show used to take up an entire large hall at the Denver Convention Center. This year it was in one of the small ones and they only used half of that. Now, some of that is probably due to the economy, but last year wasn't any better and neither was the year before that. It may just be that the business model of having a big show each year has lost it's luster. Either way, it looked pretty much like a funeral procession had just passed through.

Manufacturers with great gear at blue collar prices did well this year and the hoity-toitys of the business, seemed to be all talking to each other during the time I was there. Some folks just don't seem to grasp the idea that the day of the $800 graphite rod may be over, and rightly so. We haven't had a lot of trouble selling high end cane rods and $300 graphite rods, but the plastic on the top shelf is going begging in most places. In my opinion, these manufacturers have been missing the boat for several years now and their arrogance of pushing the price ceiling is coming home to roost. For one, I am glad to see it, but not everyone would agree. There is absolutely no justification for a $700 pair of waders, an $800 graphite fly rod, a $1500 pair of skis or a $5000 set of golf clubs for that matter. This stuff does not make the fun meter go any higher than a Zebco 202 in the hands of a 8 year old boy when he sticks his first trout on a worm. We all seem to forget that as we get older, and I think we may be better for getting slapped around a little. I think, (and this is not a scientific study by any means) we have seen more folks in the store this year who are really happy about going fishing and forgetting all the politics and crap going on in their daily lives. I have enjoyed that very much and it makes me remember why I went into this business in the first place. To help people have a good time on their day or week off. Fly fishing is not a competition between you and the fish and the fish don't really care if they are caught on a $100 rod or a $1000 rod. They get stuck in the mouth both ways. I took out a little $50 Eagle Claw fly rod the other night and was amazed at how nicely it fished. As I sat on a rock around 7PM in a light rain, sipping a little of the malt, and watching fish rise, I remembered how much fun this sport really is. I'll go back to my cane rods, no question, because I have them and I love them. But they are mostly old like me and beg to go fishing. We just all need to act like a kid every now and then and remember what is important in life........a good family, a few good friends, and old fly rod, and old dog, and a good single malt. New shiny rods and reels pale in comparison.

Next week, I am leaving for Alaska for two weeks, I will be in with my son after a 36" Rainbow. I probably won't catch one and will definately freeze my ass off since winter is rapidly approaching in SW Alaska. Anyway, we'll have a great time and I'll help him close the lodge for the year and then we're going down down to the Homer area to fish the early October steelhead run on the Anchor River and Deep Creek before coming home. Hopefully when I return, I'll have a photo of a pig Rainbow to show you. If I don't, I just make something up, and tell you about it. That's what's expected of a fly fisherman anyway.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Fall IS HERE!!!!!

Did this year fly by or what. Better get your Christmas lists together because it won't be long before the sleigh bells ring and all that stuff. In preparation for that time of year, we will again do our equipment reviews of all the new stuff that we'll see next week at the Fly Tackle Dealer Show in Denver. This is the toy show for dealers. Some of them take this show very seriously and even offer workshops for dealers so they can ostensibly make more money during the next season. The reason I go is to see old friends and suck down a brew or two. During that process, I will look at all the new gear and such and see what jumps out at me. In the meantime, lets talk about fishing and the beautiful fall conditions. In the last newsletter I related how clear the water was but now lets add "very low" to that mix. The Arkansas is running just below 300cfs and is tremendously easy to wade fish. If you want to run a boat, you certainly still can, but it's pretty bony and the fish will spook off the bow depending on the time of day. The biggest problem we're having is shadows being cast by you, your rod, your oars, and your tippet. Again, let me stress the use of long fluorocarbon systems. Hopper/Copper/Dropper systems are still working with a #12 Stimulator dragging a #16 Red Copper John or Copperhead on 5X with a #20 Skinny Minnie or RS2 hanging about 10 inches off that on 6X. These are easy to fish and pretty deadly. During cloudy afternoons or the evening, stay with single dries such as a #16 Caddis, Royal Wulff, Royal Humpy or baby Stimulator. Larry now ties the Ape in a #16 which has been aptly named the Baby Ape to go along with the Papa and Mama Apes. This foam body creature may actually be the best Stimulator I've ever fished. For a photo see the July 15 newsletter.

Antero Reservoir is still fishing well on scuds, but Spinney has been a little slow as has been the South Platte above Elevenmile. These two pieces of water are a head scratcher this year. Fish are constantly moving around on Spinney and I believe its because it has been full and cold all summer long. Sure, you can go there and catch a half dozen on a Callibaetis, but that's not the Spinney we all know and love. The river below has had good flows but fish just don't seem to be present. I know they are there, but they are hard to find. The Trico hatch has gone begging this year. The wolf packs of fish on Trico spinners has just not happened. We'll see what the Brown Trout spawning run looks like in a month or so. In the meantime, just stay with the Ark or Elevenmile Canyon. We should have a tremendous September with BWOs and Red Quills on the Arkansas. Just brush up on your presentation. This is the time to become a better fly fisher.

Just for your information I found this to be somewhat amusing this week. It seems that the DEA discovered some 800 marijuana plants growing in the National Forest this past week just east of Glenwood Springs. The DEA agent in charge said that the plants seemed to "have been there for a while." Duh, you think maybe since about May when the ground thawed. During this process of catching the greatest villians since Sadam Hussein, the National Forest Service stated that if you see tortilla wrappers, Tecate cans, Spam cans or hear Hispanic music you should leave immediately because you may be about to walk up on some drug cartel members from south of the border. So now, the most feared thing in the woods is no longer a Black Bear or Mountain Lion, it is a tortilla wrapper. Run for your lives!!!!!! I'm sorry, but this has to be one of the most racist statements I've ever heard come out of a government agency in addition to being about the dumbest. Heck, it could easily have been me and Larry Kingrey on that trail. I've been making Spam burritos and eating them with Tecate beer since college and I have been known to listen to a little Mariachi every now and then. The longer I live in this world, the stranger so called smart people get. Hasta la vista baby.........