2018 Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing NC Bass/Laney Memorial Award

The original name of the award was to be the Larry Laney Memorial Award after Western NC native and one of the early Asheville PHWFF participants.  For those of you that did not know Larry, he suffered from debilitating arthritis and a degenerative bone condition related to his military service.  To see him you would have wondered how he even moved at all, that is until you placed a fly rod in his hand.  What emerged, besides and infectious smile was one of the most natural and fluid casting stokes you had ever seen. He was truly a testament to the healing that could occur at the end of a Fly Rod and an inspiration to everyone that met him.

The recipient of the inaugural award was never in question and in 2017 John Bass was pick for the honor.  Unfortunately, only weeks before the presentation we lost John.  For most of us John was 10-foot-tall despite the fact he had been confined to that wheelchair for over most of his life.  He was the patriarch of PHWFF here in NC and perhaps the most impactful volunteer the Organization had anywhere in the country. I don’t think anyone before or since has been responsible for recruiting more participants to PHWFF than John was. He believed if he could do it you sure didn’t have an excuse not to.  It was only fitting that we change the Awards name to the Bass/Laney Memorial Award.

The 2018 recipient has had an amazing impact on disabled veterans throughout the county and he has been an important influence here in NC. In the beginning, many of the early decisions effecting PHWFF here in NC would only be made after John has bounced those ideas off Curits.  Over the years, he has never failed to answer the call whether shooting shows, providing items for auctions and fundraisers, or just reaching out to a participant that happen to be a fan. 

Curtis was humbled and honored to be the recipient of the 2018 PHWFF NC Bass/Laney Memorial award.

FRC Update:

The Fly Rod Chronicles team are deep into our busy season, filming, production and special appearances are in full swing! Curtis and the crew are currently in beautiful Wyoming filming.

I wanted to reach out to you and share some really exciting news from our camp! Curtis has been named the 2018 American Outdoor Sportsman of the Year by “Legends of the Outdoors” in Springville, TN. https://bit.ly/2Adah7z This year’s event will be held aboard the General Jackson Showboat/Music City Queen in Nashville, TN on Saturday, August 25th dockside along the Cumberland River. Boarding begins at 9:00 am and will be followed by the banquet and induction/award ceremony at 10:00 am. Sponsorship information and individual ticket reservations may be obtained through the “Legends of the Outdoors” website at http://www.legendsoftheoutdoors.com/index.php/sponsors/sponsorship, or by calling 731-693-7770. Reservations MUST BE MADE and purchased before August 11, 2018. There will be a Meet & Greet/Autograph Signing on Friday, August 24th at Bass Pro Shops 232 Opry Mills Drive, Nashville, TN 37214 from 4 pm – 6 pm. Following the Bass Pro Shops event there will be a “Ride with the Legends” – General Jackson Showboat Dinner-Show Cruise on Friday evening, August 24th. Boarding begins at 6:15 pm, cruise starts at 7:00 pm, returning at 10:00 pm. (if cold or rainy, dinner, show and return will be moved up by 30 minutes.) Tickets for this event must be purchased through the “Legends of the Outdoors” office at grmason@bellsouth.net or by phone at (731)593-0171, tickets are $100.00 per person and must be purchased by August 9th.

We are also elated to share that Curtis has also been selected to be inducted into the Fly Fishing Museum of the Southern Appalachians in Bryson City, NC.  https://bit.ly/2NhP7aJ The third annual Museum Hall of Fame inductions will be conducted on September 8, 2018 at the Southwestern Community College Swain Center at 1 pm. Supporters as well as the family and friends of inductees are welcome to attend, there is limited space, advanced reservations are essential and are currently being taken. E-mail info@greatsmokies.com or call 828-488-3681 to reserve your place. Tickets are $35 per person includes admission to the induction ceremony, lunch and all weekend admission to the Fly Fishing Museum of the Southern Appalachians. Casting Carolinas and the Fly Fishing Museum of the Southern Appalachians invite all Museum Hall of Fame attendees to drop in at the Nantahala Brewery in downtown Bryson City on September 7th at 7 pm for a Pre-Event Party and Fund Raiser. This is an opportunity to meet and greet the MHOF Inductee, other members of the MHOF and help raise funds for Casting Carolinas, a non-profit organization that utilizes fly fishing as a means of helping patients deal with and recover from various cancers. For more information visit Fly Fishing Museum of the Southern Appalachians at https://flyfishingmuseum.org.

On behalf of our Fly Rod Chronicles crew I want to extend an invitation to all of you for these events, each one of you are such a big part of our FRC family and our success. I have attached a copy of our press release should you want to read more about the events.

Thank you for your continued support!

“Legends of the Outdoors” National Hall Of Fame Announcement

July 11, 2018 — Springville, TN — Founder of the “Legends of the Outdoors” National Hall Of Fame, Garry Mason, has announce the award recipients for this year’s annual Banquet and Induction Ceremony.

The 2018 American Outdoor Sportsman of the Year will be Curtis Fleming, nationally known fly fisherman and host of “Fly Rod Chronicles” television show.

This year’s Tennessee Outdoorsman of the Year will be Chris Nischan, professional guide and outdoorsman.

Joe Miller, of William F. Miller and Associates, is the recipient of a new award this year, the Bill Huntley American Leadership Award.

The recipient of the Wade Bourne Outdoor Communicator of the Year will be Colin Moore, editor in chief of FLW Outdoors magazine.

The Legacy Award goes to the granddaughter of Charlie Brewer, Sr., founder of Charlie Brewer’s Slider Company, Caroline Brewer-Calton, who has been a positive fixture in the family business.

This year’s event will once again be held aboard one of the largest paddlewheel showboats in the country – the General Jackson Showboat/Music City Queen in Nashville, TN on Saturday, August 25th dockside along the Cumberland River. Boarding begins at 9:00am and will be followed by the banquet and induction/award ceremony at 10:00am.

Hall of Fame members scheduled to attend included – Forrest & Nina Wood, Charlie Ingram, Bill Huntley, Emily Shaffer, Joella Bates, Jerry Antly, Mike Morgan, Ray Eye, Dave Precht, Morris Sheehan, and Cuz Strickland.

The event is open to the public. Sponsorship information and individual ticket reservations may be obtained through the “Legends of the Outdoors” website at www.legendsoftheoutdoors.com, or by calling 731-693-7770. Reservations must be made and purchased before August 11, 2018.

Thanks to Manchin, Capito for support of fishing for future generations

For us recreational fishermen who are proud to call West Virginia home, we recognize and appreciate the incredible fisheries resources we are blessed with in “Almost Heaven.” While some of my favorite fishing spots are here in West Virginia, I’m fortunate to be able to fish all around the world and see firsthand the value of healthy, sustainable and accessible fisheries.

Whether trout fishing on the North Fork of the South Branch Potomac River or sailfish fishing off the Florida Keys, recreational fishermen are all inherently conservationists who care about clean water, healthy habitat and sustainable fish populations. Through fishing license fees, excise taxes on fishing equipment and motor boat fuel, and direct donations to conservation programs, America’s 49 million recreational fishermen contribute about $1.5 billion annually to aquatic resource conservation.

Anglers have a longstanding track record of leading advocacy efforts in support of healthy fish stocks and fish habitats. From helping to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species, to ensuring sufficient population of forage fish are available to fill their key role in the marine food web, anglers are consistently at the forefront of pushing for conservation-focused laws and policies.

Recreational fishing is also a huge economic driver, including in rural areas. In West Virginia, recreational fishing has a $626.5 million economic impact annually and supports over 7,000 jobs.

I’m proud that our two U.S. Senators, Joe Manchin and Shelley Moore Capito, recognize the economic, social and conservation values of recreational fishing. They have been leaders in the Senate on fisheries issues, not only in their home state, but nationally, as well.

For example, Sen. Capito is the lead Republican author of S. 2773, a bill that would help ensure U.S. federal marine waters are clear of highly destructive drift gillnets. Although they have been banned in most U.S. and international waters, large mesh drift gillnets are still allowed in some parts of the West Coast. Most of the catch from these nets, which are over twice as wide as the New River Gorge Bridge and ensnare just about any marine life in their path, is thrown back overboard, much of it dead.

I’ve seen the negative effects that gillnets used in other countries can have in wiping out fish stocks. Large mesh drift gillnets have no place in U.S. waters, and I appreciate Sen. Capito’s leadership in ensuring we close this practice down.

For his part, Sen. Manchin has also been a leader on marine fisheries issues. He’s one of the lead authors of S. 1520, the Modernizing Recreational Fisheries Management Act (Modern Fish Act), which is co-sponsored by Sen. Capito. This broadly supported bipartisan bill would bring about long overdue improvements to saltwater recreational fisheries management and data collection.

Offshore waters have historically been the domain of the commercial fishing industry, but with the technological advances in recreational boats, engines and electronics, interest in offshore fishing has steadily increased over time. Federal marine fisheries management laws haven’t kept pace and are still focused on commercial fishing. The Modern Fish Act would provide the federal fisheries management system with the tools needed to adapt to recreational fishing, so that anglers can have improved access to healthy saltwater fisheries.

In these continuous political times, it’s heartening to see Sens. Manchin and Capito working across the aisle on bipartisan solutions to issues of importance to the recreational fishing community.

Fisheries issues should not fall victim to the rampant partisanship going on right now in Washington, D.C. Of all the fish I’ve caught over the years, I’ve never met one that calls itself a Democrat or Republican anyway.

Originally Posted on the Charleston Gazette-Mail Website.

PRESS RELEASE **** FLY FISHING MUSEUM OF THE SOUTHERN APPALACHIANS****

June 4, 2018 Bryson City, North Carolina – The Fly Fishing Museum of the Southern Appalachians Hall of Fame announces the third class of inductees to be recognized at our annual museum luncheon event. The third annual Museum Hall of Fame inductions will be conducted on September 8, 2018 at the Southwestern Community College Swain Center located at 60 Almond School Road, Bryson City, NC 28713, west of Bryson City on US 19/74. From the downtown Bryson City, drive approximately 7 miles west. The old Almond school is on your right.

Our 2018 Museum Hall of Fame Inductees are Jim Dean, Curtis Fleming, Kevin Howell, Sandy Schenck and Joyce Shepherd.

Jim Dean — Inducted in the Communications category as the editor of Wildlife in NC for many years, the author of numerous outdoor articles and books, and an outdoor photographer.

Curtis Fleming – Inducted in the Recreation category for his varied contributions to fly fishing as a fly fishing volunteer, fly fishing educator. Fly fishing guide, and “Reality Fly Fishing” TV celebrity. A West Virginia fly fisherman, Fleming is the host for more than fifteen seasons of the globally televised Fly Rod Chronicles.

Kevin Howell —Inducted in the Crafts category as a professional fly tier who is widely recognized for the creativity and wisdom in designing the famed Hot Creek Special, Trip Maker, Trip Saver as well as other noted creations. Kevin is the owner of Davidson River Outfitters and continues the family legacy of his father Don R. Howell and uncle Dwight Howell.

Sandy Schenck — Inducted in the Conservation category for his many years of dedication to teaching kids about the outdoors and preserving the land. He founded Muddy Sneakers – “teaching children the joy of learning outside” and he is the founder and executive director of Green River Preserve summer camp where he put 2,600 acres of Green River Preserve in a conservation easement, preserving the land for perpetuity.

Joyce Shepherd – Inducted in the Humanity category for her contributions to fly fishing as a volunteer of organizations that “give back” – helping others recover from personal challenges, as a fly casting instructor, and for her leadership in NCWF, NCTU, RRTU and Casting Carolinas.

*** Third Annual Museum Hall of Fame Induction Luncheon at The Old Almond School Gym ***
*** September 8th , 11:30 AM Meet and Greet, Lunch at Noon, Inductions at 1PM ***

The inductions will be held in Bryson City with Museum supporters as well as the family and friends of our inductees in attendance. Fly anglers from across the southeast will celebrate the Second Annual Museum Hall of Fame Inductions. With limited space, advanced reservations are essential and are currently being taken. E-mail info@greatsmokies.com or call 828-488-3681 to reserve your place. The ticket price of $35 per person includes admission to the induction ceremony, lunch, and all weekend admission to the Fly Fishing Museum of the Southern Appalachians.

*** “Lagers and Legends” Pre-Event Party at Nantahala Brewery *** September 7th, 7 PM ***

Casting Carolinas and the Fly Fishing Museum of the Southern Appalachians invite all Museum Hall of Fame attendees to drop in at the Nantahala Brewery in downtown Bryson City on September 7th at 7 pm for a Pre-Event Party and Fund Raiser.

This is an opportunity to meet and greet the MHOF Inductee, other members of the MHOF and help raise funds for Casting Carolinas, a non-profit organization that utilizes fly fishing as a means of helping patients deal with and recover from various cancers.

Each Inductee will select a beer to be renamed after them during the party. Nantahala Brewery is generously donating $1 per renamed beer sold at the party. Please come celebrate our fly fishing heritage together and meet each Museum Hall of Fame Inductee while enjoying some time at Nantahala Brewery.

For 2019, Museum Hall of Fame nomination forms may be obtained electronically from Mac Brown macbrownflyfishing@gmail.com or picked up as hard copy at the museum. The Museum seeks to recognize those who have made outstanding and unique contributions to the art, science and sport of fly fishing. We encourage you to nominate those who meet the nomination criteria and are deserving of such recognition. Once nominated, the candidate remains in nomination for current and future consideration.

“Fly Rod Chronicles with Curtis Fleming” Now Broadcast on Pursuit Channel with Potential to Pick up Millions of New Viewers

After 15 successful seasons with Outdoor Sportsman Group – virtually taking fans on fly fishing excursions around the world – “Fly Rod Chronicles with Curtis Fleming” announces a new home network.

Starting Jan. 1 and coinciding with the launch of the 2018 season, FRC will air on Pursuit Channel.

“After months of discussions with networks, and business mentors, we made the decision to grow our brand, making this move with the future in mind,” Fleming said.

FRC joins the ranks of renowned programming such as “Ducks Unlimited,” “Mossy Oak GameKeepers,” “Remington Country” and “Safari Club International,” the latter which recently partnered with Pursuit to promote hunting and sustainable-use wildlife conservation.

Pursuit also features Cabela’s Fisherman’s Handbook hosted by the retail giant, a current FRC sponsor and for which Fleming serves as expert fly fishing ambassador.

Not only is the show and its Bridgeport-born host a perfect fit for Pursuit, it’s also a win-win for fans. The network is often included on basic cable, as well as DISH and DIRECTV with no extra channels or bundles to purchase.

Under the three-year contract, FRC has also picked up an extra air time.

“Not only are we increasing to four times per week, we got better anchor times for our viewers, coast to coast,” Fleming said.

For those in the eastern time zone, viewing slots are 9 a.m. Tuesday; 9:30 p.m. Wednesday and 12 noon Saturday. West coast viewers can catch the show primetime at 10 p.m. Pacific time (1 a.m. eastern time) Friday.

Pursuit drew 42.2 million worldwide subscribers in 2017, bringing potential to add a few million additional FRC viewers. All those who tune into FRC in 2018 will enjoy a banner year.

“We feel this is one of our best seasons coming up,” Fleming said. “Not only do we cover different regions of my home state of West Virginia: The New River, Blackwater Falls, Glade Springs and Pipestem State Park – viewers will be able to see our travels to Costa Rica, Alaska, Wyoming, New Zealand, Belize and northern California.”

Under the non-exclusive contract, FRC can be viewed across the planet through the video on-demand service offered by Pursuit, “Pursuit Up.” The Pursuit Up app also offers a live stream of Pursuit Channel so viewers can tune in anywhere they have access to internet. Pursuit Up is also available through Roku and other popular streaming devices.  Shows will also be accessible on YouTube in the coming months.

“One advantage for our current and future sponsors is that we don’t have to wait a year and a half to promote shows. This is going to be a more immediate promotion,” Fleming said. “We no longer have to wait up to two years to run our shows Sunday morning on our regional networks. We can mix it up and show the most current episodes.”

Fleming’s daughters Laken and Autumn – who often serve as show co-hosts – are excited about the move to Pursuit Channel. They said it’s been hard to view the show on television while attending college, but now with Pursuit Up, they can stay up to date with episodes and share the videos with their friends.

Fleming and his entire crew thank Outdoor Channel for 15 great seasons and now look forward to the journey ahead with Pursuit. Pursuit CEO Rusty Faulk said he does, too.

“Fly Rod Chronicles is a quality production; second to none,” Faulk said. “Offering tips and tactics of fly fishing, as well as views of West Virginia, about which Curtis is so passionate – and some of the most beautiful waters in the world – the addition of this show will further enhance our offerings at Pursuit. We are thrilled to have the crew on board.”

Pursuit Channel is rapidly growing and is hopeful its reach will touch 70 million households in the years to come.

Editor’s Note: See a teaser video of scenes of the 2018 FRC season below. 

Fly Rod Chronicles with Curtis Fleming Wins West Virginia Tourism’s Best Broadcast Award

Bridgeport’s Curtis Fleming and his globally-televised fly fishing show, “Fly Rod Chronicles,” has been recognized by West Virginia Tourism for the best West Virginia broadcast.
Announced recently at The Governor’s Conference on Tourism, the award recognizes Season 6 of the show which aired this calendar year. The accolade tops off a banner year for the show – a year when Fleming, a 1984 graduate of Bridgeport High School, turned 50.
“We completely went crazy and overshot that year and had some incredible shows,” he said.
It’s also fitting that the show, which airs weekly on the Outdoor Channel, featured some incredible West Virginia scenery and relayed some inspiring stories about the Mountain State.

“A very special show was when we fished for ALS,” said Fleming about FRC Episode 74 which captures Fleming and his friend Bill Sumner throwing flies to bring awareness to Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease.
“His wife had been battling ALS and our goal was to raise money for the cure of the disease,” Fleming said.
The episode features a weekend at Harman’s Luxury Log Cabins, a trout stream treasure along the North Fork of the South Branch of the Potomac River, tucked into the Dolly Sods Wilderness and flanked by the Allegheny Mountains.
Episode 78 was filmed shortly after the June 2016 flooding in the southern part of the state. The show includes footage of a recently ravaged Greenbrier River and the fortitude of our neighbors to the south.
“We showed that West Virginians are resilient; that we bounce back,” Fleming said. “We got to take a U.S. veteran, who was also a flood victim fishing, which was really cool.  We got to put some smiles on people’s faces after a tragedy and showed that our West Virginia waters were still abundant with fish.”

The veteran featured in the show, Wes Phillips, was also treated to a Cabela’s shopping spree and Governor Jim Justice, owner of The Greenbrier, shared some first-hand accounts of the flood, as did various flood victims.
Other episodes airing this year included those showcasing some local football greats – including Bridgeport’s own Indian football team.
“That was something very special. I had made a promise to seniors on the team that if they won the state championship in 2015, accomplishing a three-peat, I’d take them fishing and that’s what we did,” Fleming said. “We took the whole senior football team on a fly fishing excursion at Chestnut Mountain Ranch.”
That outing was captured in Episode 71 and titled Back to the Basics – including basic information about fly fishing.
The other football-related show featured West Virginia University Coach Dana Holgorsen and some family members fishing at Glade Springs Resort. Fleming got to play coach to Holgorsen’s first fly fishing experience. It was a double win for the coach, Fleming said.
“After we went fishing with him, his whole entire football season turned around and he got a new contract to stay here in West Virginia,” he said.
Another Season 6 episode that showed off Almost Heaven was an excursion on Stonewall Jackson Lake; one which yielded a world record.
“It  was the year of the cicadas,” Fleming said. “So I took my daughter Laken down to Stonewall Jackson and she caught a world-record carp on a fly rod – with a cicada.”
Fleming said he’s enjoyed reflecting on the past year of shows.
“Looking back, it was a banner year and it had very little to do with me,” he said.
Fleming’s wife Shelly and their daughters Laken and Autumn are featured in some of the shows, as are some notable fishing guides and special guests.
In addition to the West Virginia-themed shows, some took Fleming to far corners of the world.
“I guess you could say we checked a few things off my bucket list,” he said. “We went to New Zealand, Costa Rica and as a family, we went to Alaska and broke six world records.”
2016 also brought Fleming an invitation to be inducted into the Fly Fishing Hall of Fame and an ambassadorship with Cabela’s – naming the Bridgeport native an expert fly fishing ambassador.
Fleming and his family lived in Winchester, Va. for several years. In 2012, he moved his family and show headquarters back to Bridgeport, where he first became hooked on fly fishing.
“Coming back felt good. This is where it all got started,” he said. “It brought us full circle.”
Awards are great, Fleming said, but it’s what’s behind them that counts.
“We support our home state and this shows they support us,” he said. “We like to go the extra mile for the state of West Virginia and to have that award come back to us is a good feeling.”

Bridgeport’s Laken Fleming Lands World Record Carp at Stonewall Jackson Lake

Bridgeport’s Laken Fleming landed a massive carp at Stonewall Jackson Lake. The 33-inch, 14.25-pound common carp – caught on Fleming’s custom-made six weight fly rod with a hand-tied cicada fly – is unofficially, but very likely, a new International Game Fish Association world record.

record-carp-curtisfleming-lakenfleming-fightingfish“When I had him on the line, I knew it wasn’t a guarantee that it was going to be a world record, but once I got him in the boat I could see it was evident this could be a contender. And then my mind kind of went blank. I mean how do you put into words that you’re about to break a world record,” said the 20-year-old West Virginia University senior and oldest daughter of Curtis Fleming, host of The Outdoor Channel’s “Fly Rod Chronicles.”

Caught on her sixth cast – at sun-up Sunday at Stonewall Jackson Lake – the 14-pounder didn’t just break the record. It shattered it by some six pounds.
record-carp-curtisfleming-lakenfleming-talkingfishingThe IGFA category which Laken was out to beat was a common carp on a 12-pound test line.

As verified by Jack Vitek, IGFA World Records Coordinator, the current women’s 12 tippet class world record (fly rod) for common carp is eight pounds.
“It was caught by angler Dotty Ballantyne on June 30, 2015 while fishing the Missouri River in Montana,” he said.
After submitting supporting evidence including photos and the actual leader and tippet, Laken awaits approval by the IGFA.
“It’s a pretty complicated process,” Curtis Fleming said. “Although the official decision is pending, we feel really, really confident that she’s got the record.”
The petite, 110-pound fisherwoman said the carp put up quite a fight which went on for about 20 minutes.

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“I have fought sharks in the Bahamas and Belize, but I had yet to fight a fish in the U.S. that fought as hard as this carp did,” Laken said.
Accompanying her on the fishing boat Sunday were her dad and their friend Rick Heim.
“Rick broke the record on the men’s side 17 years ago,” Curtis said. “He was with Doc (Frank) Oliverio who had taught half the state of West Virginia how to fly fish. He lived for this 17-year cicada hatch. He’s no longer with us, so for Rick to pass this down to Laken is pretty cool.”
Being the year of the 17-year cicada hatch is vital to the world record attempt, Curtis explained.
“First of all, fish love them. They are filet mignon for them,” he said. “And they make the fish vulnerable. Carp are known as bottom feeders, but now that there are prime cicadas out there for them, they are looking up.”
The summer of 2016 is prime time fishing in the Mountain State.
“Our fish here in the State of West Virginia will all put weight on them this summer. It’s a great time to catch fish,” he said.
All components of the world record attempt had a West Virginia flavor. Laken’s cicada fly was crafted and tied by Joe Messenger. Her blue, personalized high-end graphite fly rod was custom made for her small frame by Mark Crouse.
record-carp-curtisfleming-lakenfleming-withtroutIn addition to the record-breaking carp, Laken has a handful of memorable catches, including a nearly five-foot black tip shark and several bone fish caught in the deep blue waters of the Caribbean and a 33-inch brown trout caught last month in southwest Virginia.
The whopper carp she caught Sunday was actually her very first one. She seems to have that kind of stigma in the world of fishing and hunting.
“This past December was my first bow kill and I got a 10-point white tail in Kentucky,” she said. “And my first-ever kill was an alligator in Jupiter, Fla.”
Laken has been fly fishing with her dad since she was about 10 years old. She remembers her very first catch.
record-carp-curtisfleming-lakenfleming-alligator“I remember I had big buck teeth and a gap between them and I was standing at a farm pond at 4H Camp in Randolph County, West Virginia,” she said. “I was taking a fly fishing casting class with my mom (Shelly) and my sister (Autumn). My first catch was a bluegill and I was very excited.”
Curtis said those 10 years have flown by, but they have groomed Laken to be a pretty serious fisherman. She definitely has “the bug,” he said. She confirmed and she believes it’s a mixture of inheriting her dad’s passion and the environment in which she and Autumn were raised.
“One thing that is special about my dad’s job is that he always has the opportunity to invite us on these trips,” she said. “I’ve always had a passion for the outdoors and I’ve always said that when I’m on the water, I’m a happy camper.”
Sunday’s fishing excursion at Stonewall Jackson Lake was filmed and will be featured in a 2017 episode of the “Fly Rod Chronicles.”
“The episode will highlight tourism and the state and show people that we have great fishing in the central part of our State of West Virginia,” Curtis said.
And he couldn’t be more proud of the 14-pound carp than if he caught it himself.
“I was even more excited than if I would have caught it,” he said. “I was just sitting back, taking it all in.”
In August, Laken will start her senior year at West Virginia University, where she is earning an undergraduate degree in exercise physiology. She thereafter plans to continue her education by entering the physician’s assistant program at Alderson Broaddus University in Philippi, West Virginia.
Editor’s Note: Photos taken Sunday at Stonewall Jackson Lake are by Ben Queen of Ben Queen Photography. Other photos are submitted by Laken and Curtis Fleming.

Originally Published On Connect-Bridgeport.com

Salmon on a Fly Rod: Flemings Score Five IGFA World Records in Alaskan Virgin Waterways

It started out as a family fly fishing trip during which footage would be shot for an upcoming episode of the “Fly Rod Chronicles with Curtis Fleming.”

Those aspirations were multiplied as the Fleming family – Curtis and wife Shelly and daughters Laken and Autumn – returned home from the Anchorage, Alaska area with a handful of International Game Fish Association world record catches and enough great video to create a handful of episodes.

It’s perhaps ironic that it happened on the heels of Laken Fleming’s IGFA World Record common carp, caught in early-June at Stonewall Jackson Lake. But Curtis said he prefers to think of it as more of a “God thing.” The family was celebrating several milestones and it was pretty cool to see all of his girls accomplish something so notable while in each other’s company.

“Shelly and I were celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary, Laken turned 21 and we were celebrating Autumn moving on to college,” Curtis said.

fleming-girls-and-walruses1It was Autumn, a 2016 graduate of Bridgeport High School and West Virginia University freshman, who made the first notable catch on the very first day of the fishing trip. She said she was inspired by her sister’s world record catch at the beginning of the summer and, of course, her dad.

“I was so proud of her. I truly admire her passion for fly fishing and my father’s fishing amazes me,” she said. “After a few catches and several break-offs, I would have never dreamed that I had a world record king at the end of my line. I was literally walking on water when we learned that it was an IGFA world record.”

Autumn’s massive king salmon fired everyone up to reel in a big one.

Along with some friends and members of the FRC crew, the Flemings fished virgin waterways that featured wildlife and picturesque scenery that seemingly stepped out of the pages of “National Geographic.”

“The main river system was the Bristol Bay area. We caught huge rainbow trout in the Naknek River and then, of course, there were a gazillion tributaries that come off those glaciers,” Curtis said. “The girls did a couple of fly-out adventures and in one place they saw hundreds of walruses right behind them on the beach. They also flew out to Brooks Camp waterfall where there were brown bear eating salmon right out of the falls.”

The Flemings and company stayed at Katmai Trophy Lodge, guides which hosted the family’s daily fishing excursions. Depending on which species of salmon, members wanted to target, those excursions took place in various areas.

“They know where the different species group and when they’re going to hit,” Curtis said.

shelly-and-world-record-salmonThat strategy is all based on the salmon run – the time when the fish, which have migrated from the ocean – proceed on their life’s journey.

“The salmon all come out of the ocean and swim into the rivers to spawn,” Curtis said. “The king salmon are the first to come in and then the sockeye and the chum. Then the pinks and silvers are the last ones to come in.”

Depending upon the species targeted, the fly fish enthusiasts – each with proper gear and plenty of determination – were taken by either boat or plane to ideal areas, which were “loaded with fish,” Curtis said.

After Autumn landed a massive king salmon, it was Shelly who broke the next IGFA world record when she caught a pink salmon. She had chosen the pink variety because of the color’s symbolism of cancer. She wanted to honor her sister Pam Bibey.

“Pam fought cancer so hard for three to four years and lost her battle in 2014,” Shelly said. “While fighting this large pink salmon – with each tug and jerk – it reminded me of how hard my sister fought for her life. The irony of this catch was I released the fish back into its beautiful waters to be free – just like Jesus freed Pam into heave to be free. It being a world record only signifies my strong belief in our creator.”

Curtis said the pinks only run on even years, making it all even more ironic. Had the trip been in 2015 or 2017, there wouldn’t be any pink salmon to be caught.

laken-and-world-record-salmonThe next outstanding catch was once again Autumn; this time a sockeye salmon. After catching her prized king salmon, Curtis and the Flemings’ guide, James Johnson, took Autumn to a different area where she hooked into a large sockeye salmon.

“After a few measurements and weighing the sockeye, I as informed that I set my second IGFA world record on this dream trip,” Autumn said.

Laken also caught a world-record sockeye salmon, but hers was in a different line class. Though not her first world record, she said she was just as excited.

“Catching different species of fish holds a different experience; each in a beautiful and interesting way,” she said. “This was my first experience fishing the salmon run and my first time fishing in Alaska.”

Getting out on the river each morning held its own excitement as she caught king salmon, sockeye, pink and silver salmon varieties.

“When I found out that the sockeye that I had caught was a world record, I was amazed at my ability to fly fish in Alaska,” she said. “I thought I was going to have more trouble but the guides made it an extremely smooth process.”

curtis-fishing-with-brown-bear3Rounding out the five world record catches was one by Curtis. It was his first.

“I broke a record on a chum salmon – also called dog salmon because they say they’re not worthy of eating. They feed them to the dogs. They’re very toothy and ugly,” he said. “It’s very ironic that the girls all caught pretty fish and I caught that one.”

All five catches are pending certification from the IGFA.

The icing on the cake is that it’s quite likely that the family effort at Katmia Trophy Lodge will break a Guinness Book of World Records.

The Flemings traveled with Bridgeport’s Mark and Pam Carder.

“Pam caught her first salmon on a fly rod and Mark caught a beautiful 46-inch northern pike and several different types of salmon,” Curtis said.

Others sharing the trip included Dan Berger, a Washington, DC-based lobbyist who serves as CEO/president of the National Federal Credit Union.

“This trip was on his bucket list,” Curtis said.

Dave Zieg, medical director for Lockheed Martin out of Denver, Colorado, as well as Brady Hanson, a representative of Eagle Claw Hooks.

The Flemings and the Carders spent two days in Anchorage before meeting up with the others for a six-day stay at the wilderness camp. It was Curtis’s first time to fish that particular river system, but he had fished the Alagnak and Zodiac river systems.

The episode featuring the fly fishing and “epic” scenery of the Bristol Bay area will air on the Fly Rod Chronicles with Curtis Fleming on the Outdoor Channel during the first quarter of 2017.

“Katmia Trophy Lodge is an amazing destination and the trip alone with my family was priceless, but to know that I set two world records has still not set in,” Autumn said.

Originally Published On Connect-Bridgeport.com

An Inspiring tale…

By Andrew Pile, FRC Fan

(We were thrilled to read this comment by one of our awesome FRC fans, Andrew Pile, and with his permission are posting it to share the joy and inspiration with others. We hope you enjoy it as we did. Thanks, Andrew!)

I am writing to simply say thank you…in a long, drawn out comment.  I am a 41 year old proud West Virginian.  I reside in South Charleston, but my heart has always been in the mountains of West Virginia.  I grew up learning most of what I know about fishing at my family camp on the Greenbrier near Talcott.  It wasn’t until my mid 20’s that I took a true interest in fly fishing and really not until my mid 30’s did I start to act on it.

Because of my proximity, time restraints, and the fact that I mostly fish alone and on a whim sometimes, I have cut my teeth on the catch and release of Paint Creek.  I’ve fished a handful of our streams from North Fork to Blackwater and Cranberry to Cherry.   I have so much going on that I don’t get the chance to advance my skills at a satisfactory rate.  Running our family business, married with a son, multiple  other interests…I have plenty of excuses for not being better, but be that as it may I would call myself a low level intermediate fly fisherman.  Nevertheless, I watch your show when I catch it and last week I watched an episode of the fishing tournament on the North Fork.

Now what I am going to refer to will seem elementary to you but when they selected an olive wooly bugger and dead drifted it with a strike indicator was new to me.  So I thought I would give it a go yesterday on Paint Creek.  I guess it goes without saying since I am writing to you that my results were phenomenal.  I found that the trout were what I like to call in “chase” mode…more apt to chase than take a dead drift.  Many were not though, as I caught numerous drifting it.  Like most of my fishing trips I was only there a few hours because I had another engagement to get to.  In those few hours I learned something valuable and I always thank those I learn from because most of what I’ve learned fly fishing has been self taught.  I had 6 minutes before I had to load up and leave, so I figured I could surely outsmart one more.

 As I stood over the stream and surveyed where I had started in the morning I saw the same fish that I had first fooled into my bugger.  I don’t like fishing in a barrel, so I looked past him to find one more edge to cast to.  Now, here’s where you’ve been hundreds of times, but in my experience not once.  I was looking past that fish when I saw the vague flutter of a tailfin  just upstream.  I figured I had seen a ghost fish.  For me as the day wears on and I stare at the stream I start to see things that aren’t there.  So I stared deeply and saw the flutter again.  The longer I focused, the more I could make out the greenish-grey outline of what would appear to be a large rainbow.  I casted twenty times going in all directions and depths trying to entice him.  Just as I was giving up hope and contemplating going through tying on a box of different flies in hopes of getting him to react, I gave it one more roll and placed it where I thought would end up drifting right into his head.  

As I watched half-heartedly knowing I was getting ready to tie on another fly I saw the light color of the inside of his mouth and that was it.  My line was still drifting so I on the off chance that the fishing gods were watching, I gave my line a short pull and rod a slight lift and away he went.  The rest was a blur.  Ten minutes, 24 inches and 5 pounds later I came to hold what would be more than twice the size of any trout I had ever landed. I couldn’t hold my iphone far enough away to get me and all of the fish in the frame.

I’ll never forget this day as long as I live.   I won’t forget the stream, the fish, or even the wooly bugger.  I hope this gives you some joy, and perhaps a chuckle, hearing a novice paint this picture.

Clicks for Conservation – Trout Unlimited

By Spencer Knibbe
http://featherandfinblog.com/

Please join us in raising money to protect our cold-water fisheries from environmental threats for this and future generations by participating in our inaugural Clicks for Conservation campaign.

My best friend and former college football teammate, Michael Clare, is the co-founder of Gift Horse Media Group – a revolutionary fundraising platform that allows charities to raise money simply through the power of their social network…without a penny ever actually changing hands.

Here’s how it works:

A Charity looking to raise funds posts a sponsored video on their website;

Visitors to the Charity’s website click on and watch the video-of-the-day;

The Charity gets paid by the sponsor for each click…that’s it – by simply watching a video you have helped our your favorite cause.

What better way for us at Feather and Fin to do a solid for Gift Horse Media and raise money for our favorite conservation organizations at the same time! We are committed to donating 100% of all proceeds from this campaign to Trout Unlimited.

Please share with your friends and help us in this very simple and free way. We will keep the campaign open indefinitely so please pass the word along…the more clicks we get the better!

Watch the Sponsored Video Below to Contribute!

Connect To The Outdoors

by Kyle Schaefer

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A fly rod is a magic wand of sorts.  Depending on the sorcerer that wields this instrument, a million different outcomes can result on any given day.  Waving that magic rod can bring friends together, help one to find peace and solitude, and even serve as a bridge connecting the angler deeper to the outdoors.    A fly rod can send us to all corners of the world, in pursuit of an experience that the hooking of a fish may only play a small role in. 

 

Fly fishing has taken on many different roles throughout my relatively young career as a newly 29 year old.  When I began fishing with “addict status” stamped on my forehead, the goal was to catch fish… big fish… lots of them and more than my friends, all so you could brag at the bar over a microbrew.  Sounds like your cliché, young fishing guide living in a ski town.  That perspective slowly washed away with each additional day on the water with my Australian Shepherd, Laynie, at my side.

 

My time on the water began to be defined by a deeper consciousness that transported me to a peaceful place where I found my senses heightened.  A broad shoulder brown sipping tricos across the stream felt like it could be heard a hundred yards away.  The subtle emergence of psuedoclones were now observed in slow motion on a rocky mountain fall day, filling the air with life. This reminding me of each bug’s year long journey under the water’s surface for the chance to spread their wings for one day before falling to the anxiously awaiting trout below.  Snow capping the tall peaks surrounding North Park while the scent of rutting moose kiss the vigilant nose of Laynie, reminding us we are just guests here.

 

LoopRollOut-BWAs I sit on a plane flying 13 hours just to have a chance at casting to a trophy bonefish on the flats of Oahu, I openly admit fishing has become so far removed from the original goal of simply catching a fish.  Fly fishing is now my vehicle to connect to the outdoors, a way to slow things down, drop out of reality, notice the unnoticeable, and find my center.  A fish on serves now as: icing on the cake, a bonus, maybe even a surprise.

 

Samurai Warriors define a heightened state of awareness as “Satori”.  This is achieved when all senses are activated and out perform their own abilities causing the warrior to see the world in a different light.  The warrior makes life and death decisions without thinking, all the while keeping a quiet, calm and clear mind.  Sure, when on the river, nobody is doing battle or waging war, usually far from it, but where the mind goes with fly rod in hand can be very similar.  These heightened senses help to pick up the nuances of the ever changing river and most importantly for me, find peace, and myself as a centered angler.

 

GameOn

 

Get more info about Kyle, and his company, Tidal Roots  @ Facebook.com/tidalroots :  Handmade wooden Stand Up Paddleboards, wooden fishing nets, organic/recycled lifestyle clothing, and other accessories for the active outdoorsman

or follow him @ www.instagram.com/tidalroots for more stunning photography

Frostbite Fish-Off 2014 Pueblo Colorado

by Jamie Roth

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FBFOLogo 2-19 JRI remember hearing about the Frostbite Fish-Off in Pueblo Colorado just before the 2012 event. It was either too late for registration or I was too chicken to sign up so I didn’t get to fish but I did show up the day of the tournament and walked a few beats. The tournament looked great. Unfortunately walking along beautiful trout water without a fly rod in your hands is not natural. In fact it is as wrong as….. well I won’t finish that thought but it’s wrong!

2-19 JRThe Frostbite Fish-Off is run by the Southern Colorado Greenback Chapter 509 of Trout Unlimited. An entire Army of volunteers make this tournament happen. Ben Wurster and Lou McCullough from Steel City Anglers walk point in this effort and they have done an outstanding job to make this event a fun but competitive event that raises a good amount of money for Chapter 509. All of the proceeds from the event go directly to improving the fishery and many stream improvements have happened and continue to happen due in part to the money raised by this event. Lou McCullough provided a little history on the event.

Stream Improvement 2-19 JR6“Ben and I started the FFO after Ben was a controller in the Carp Slam in downtown Denver organized by the Denver Chapter of TU.  I knew a lot of guides and people in the business and we had the support of Team USA, Rob Kolanda and company.  I sent out hundreds of e-mails and we had 23 teams the first year.  It was an insane experience, with over 100 people at Garlic and Onions, the venue for the first year.  The money we netted over the first 2 years went into a total contribution from Cheyenne Mountain Chapter of $11,100.00 which was doubled by a GOCO grant. Coupled with a Packard Grant and $100,000.00 from CPW and other sources we totaled $340,000.00 for the Arkansas River Legacy Project Phase II.  It has been a real adventure, meeting new friends and spreading the word about the Arkansas River tail water.  Now the river is one of the top ten tail water fisheries in the country, thanks to Pete Gallagher of Fin-Up Habitat Consultants and his incredible design for the structures”.

Ben Lewis and I joined “forces” and created Team Chuck and Duck for the 2013 tournament. At that time, neither one of us had fished in a tournament before so we didn’t really know what to expect. Ben and I had drawn two good beats the night before (a fun event in itself) that we had both fished before so we were feeling pretty confident the morning of the tourney. As we walked to our first beat with a dozen tangled rods however, I began to question my confidence in two dudes with way too many rods who could only come up with “Chuck and Duck”.

When it was all said and done fish were caught, old friends were caught up with, new friends were met, and Ben and I had an absolute blast. We endured paparazzi, mobs of crazed female spectators, fish that ignored us the entire morning save our last THREE MINUTES of morning fishing, and a last hour of the day, buzzer beating, jaw dropping, ROD BREAKING fish hook up! Fun was to be had each step of the way. 2014 had big shoes to fill.

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Feeling the pressure just before the morning session

The 2014 Frostbite Fish-Off did not disappoint! The tournament this year started off with the news that we were going to fish two outstanding beats. We were going to fish beat 4 in the morning which had recently been worked on through the ongoing stream improvements and featured several beautiful weirs, a long deep run with large submerged boulders, and a run fed by the hatchery outlet. In the afternoon we had beat 2 on tap that featured a long riffle that tails out into a deep pool with a gradual drop off toward the north bank along the entire run. We would not be able to blame our beats if we didn’t post some respectable numbers. The pressure was on!

Ben got us off to a great start with a 19″ rainbow within the first 10 minutes of the morning session.  I was able to post 17″ of rainbow trout about 45 minutes later. We had two fish on the board and needed two more to max out our morning session. We needed to keep up the momentum. At that point Ben stepped in and turned it to 11.

Ben is starting to make a habit out of pulling absolute slabs out of Pueblo on the biggest nastiest flies that have survived since his Alaska days in the deepest recesses of long forgotten fly boxes. Good for Team Chuck and Duck that Ben sticks to what works!  I don’t want to give away his secrets but I’ll say that he was chucking a purple leach type pattern that almost looked as though it was sucking on a hot pink trout egg. Almost as if a leach was swimming around sucking on a leach. I’d probably call it a huge purple egg sucking leach….. and it’s awesome.

2-19 JR2

Ben Lewis winner of biggest fish 14′!

This awesome. When combined with the correct retrieve of course. This fatty could not resist the purple nightmare dangling in front of its face. Getting to net this thing was a treat enough. When it kicks in that you get 21″ out if this beauty since you are fishing in a tournament, the world is yours. But it got better.

While I was dinking around with midges and leaches, Ben was dredging away to seal the deal. And it turns out our 21″ slabba had a friend that also had an eye for purple. He held out as long as he could but not long enough. With 10 minutes left in the morning session, his glutinous Prince loving friend (the trout’s not Ben’s) let loose and bit down hard on the purple dancing dream that had been swimming around his head for the last 20 minutes. No way! Catching two trout over 21″ in that short period of time is no small accomplishment folks. There was no way we weren’t winning.

And we were! This was crazy considering our main goal going in was to not finish last. Lunch was fun and all but it took an eternity. We were looking to get back in the water. Our normal lunches on fishing trips take about 4 minutes. We were winning a fishing tournament! Crazy…

IMAG1367 2-17 JR

Are we friggin winning!?

 

winning 2-19 JR7After a quick wardrobe change, we kicked off the afternoon session. Ben hooked up quick and landed a 16″ bow. We were on the board in the first half hour. So far so go. Then I was lucky enough to hook and land a 17″ bow about a half hour after that. On a good pace! 20 minutes or so later I hooked up but felt the dreaded release and hook. I knew he came unbuttoned and my second fly found his tail. Foul hooked trout don’t count so after a quick net and release Ben was fishing again.

We needed one more fish! We got down to two minutes when Ben hooked up! I told Ben that I would get in position while he netted. I tied on the nastiest egg cluster pattern I had and threw a slab of mojo mud on the line. I told Ben that as soon as the fish was landed I would cast. I kid you not, with less than a minute left I saw a nudge and set the hook to a solid pull. Jim Good gave me a heads up that I had 10 minutes to land it. A nice 10-15 yard run of line and I was living the dream. Then my monster trout started coming right in.

No…… please no…… not now…. please not now. I’ve felt this fight before. I’ve been burned by this fight before. Yes, it was……………a sucker. A beefy egg faced sucker! Last year I broke a rod on a huge last minute bow…. And now a sucker burn with the clock at zero…… terrible 1st world problem to have.

BUT,…… we had put three descent fish on the board. We knew not posting four fish in the afternoon would make it very hard to place but we also knew that the conditions on the water were tough.

I think both of us figured we’d done well but didn’t know if we did well enough to place. I couldn’t believe that we were even considering the thought of placing. We have a LOT of REALLY good fisherpeeps (cannot forget our ladies) teaching our trout lessons year round in our great state of Colorado. Just to be close was a great feeling.

FBFO14Bronze 2-19 JR Lou provided a really nice introduction welcoming Team Chuck and Duck up front to accept Third Place at the awards dinner! Bronze Baby! And Ben gets the Biggest Fish award and a new rod to boot!

I’ve never won an award for fishing before. This was sweet! Bringing home hardware from a hard days fishing. Life is really good. I’m making Ben Most Valuable Fisher (MVF) for the 2014 FBFO. Thanks buddy! Can’t wait for next year.

On a very personal note, I would like to thank my Dad who introduced me to fishing at a young age. I learned from the get go that fishing isn’t all about catching fish. Thanks Dad! Looking forward to many more write ups.

For more information on fishing the Arkansas River Tailwater in Pueblo Colorado check out my blog at http://jamiesfishingjournal.blogspot.com . To book a trip to this great fishery head over to http://www.steelcityanglers.com and talk to Ben and Lou.

Small Stream Fly Fishing

by Mark Hanes

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Well it has been a rough and long winter in the Northeast so far this year and I have not been able to beat the winter blues with a few fishing trips to get by. To this point the reading of magazines and looking at the latest and greatest new gear on the web is beginning to become more depressing rather than a way to pass the time in anticipation of warmer weather and hatches.  Cabin fever has been in full force this winter.

 

Cabin Fever takes hold.  (Photo by Bella Hill)

Cabin Fever takes hold. (Photo by Bella Hill)

 

I enjoy all types of fly fishing and trout is normally my target,  but as I look back on many of my favorite times fishing over the years I realize they often happen on many of the small brooks and runs that are within an hour or two drive of home.  There is just something special about walking into a small stream and catching wild fish that seem to be perfectly made for those small streams.  What those fish lack in size they make up for in beauty.

 

 

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Proper Catch and Release is vital to the health of these fish populations for years to come. (Photo by Daniel Hanes)

 

Gear:

 

One of the beautiful things about small stream trout is that you can keep things simple. Rods used are usually in the 6 ft to 8 ft range and 3 wt to 5weight.   Reels do not need to do more than hold the line and I even suggest not spending too much on them since they will likely get scratched up in time due to climbing over rocks and logs.  When it comes to flies I only carry one small box of flies with it mostly being dry flies.   I am partial to elk hair caddis, Adams, and the classic royal coachman.  I will usually have a few ants and beetles as well.  The Nymphs I carry are simple like a selection of pheasant tails and hare’s ears will do the trick.  A couple of wooly buggers are also good to have just in case you feel streamers might be the ticket.  I usually only use flies from size 10 to 14.  Throw in a couple spools of tippet and a short 6 to 7.5 foot taper leader and you are set.  I do personally take a net to help take extra care of fish that I may want to photograph.  I guess that means a digital camera is required equipment for me as well.

 

Dejon Hamann demonstrates how to stay low to increase your chances of catching more trout. (Photo by Author)

Dejon Hamann demonstrates how to stay low to increase your chances of catching more trout. (Photo by Author)

 

Tactics:

 

You do not need to be able to make long cast when fishing the tight quarters that you will encounter.  I rarely cast more than 25 feet with most cast being in the 10 to 20 foot range.   What is more important with casting is accuracy since on these small streams you will likely spend more time keeping your flies out of the brush and trees.  One of my favorite tactics is sneaking as close as I can and dapping flies on the water.  When doing this close up fishing you get the thrill of seeing all aspects of the trout taking your fly.  The fish are spooky so you will want to tread lightly and keep a low profile often fishing from your knees to increase your chances of catching.

 

Nick Bell snuck up and made things happen with this fish. (Photo By Author)

Nick Bell snuck up and made things happen with this fish. (Photo By Author)

 

I hope you all get a chance to enjoy a few days experiencing the joys of small stream fishing.  You won’t catch a fish that will be one to brag about but you might catch a few that have the beauty to leave you wanting more.  By getting a little off the beaten path and fishing some small streams the gems (fish) are worth the adventure.

 

Native brook Trout (Photo by author)

Native brook Trout (Photo by author)

 

Wild rainbow trout. (Photo by author)

Wild rainbow trout. (Photo by author)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Surviving the Catch

By Greg Hall

psgreghallblurred“Catch and Release” has been around and in practice for many years.  Fishing organizations embrace it. I still think taking a few fish on a very rare occasion provides a great meal and is an acceptable practice.  Fish are returned to the waters with the thought that they will survive to be caught by another angler in the future. Many of us have no idea how fragile our released fish are, or what practices we can do to promote their survival.

 

Dr. Ed Crum has best described to me what catching a fish is like, to the fish, in human terms: think about running 40 yard sprints and then sticking your head in a bucket of water and trying to breathe. Hopefully, that got your attention!! Let’s use some common sense and observe some practices to improve the chances of keeping your catch extant.

 

  • In choosing your fishing equipment, match the proper rod weight with to fish you plan to catch.
  • Don’t use a 3 wt rod to catch 5 pound trout.
  • Use a proper catch and release net with rubber netting. The other nets cut into the fishes skin, removes the protective mucous membrane and can cause infections.
  • WET YOUR HANDS before handling the fish.
  • After netting your catch keep the fish in the water at all times. Unhook quickly and under water.

 

Using the proper size rod to match the fish you are catching allows one to land a fish easier than bringing it to exhaustion using a lighter outfit. Trout will exhibit lighter discolorations in skin areas where the oxygen in those tissues is near or at exhaustion. If they survive it may possibly take many hours to recover. By keeping pressure on the fish using the rod tip in the opposite direction that the fish is traveling will fatigue the larger lateral muscles without exhausting your catch. By the way, FISH BARBLESS HOOKS. The time it takes to free and the damage the barbs create may cause your released fish to be no longer extant.

 

photo 1The eye and mouth of the fish can demonstrate how stressed your catch is:

   Ready to release: when the eye is focused, moving, looking down into the corner; mouth closed or slightly open

    Fatigue and some stress: eye is fixed with some dilation and not looking down; mouth slightly open. Gently revive moving back and forth in slow current until the fish is capable of swimming off on its own.

      Suffering severe shock, stress, and possibly near dead: Pupils fixed and dilated fully (glass eye appearance); mouth fully open and no movement. Little can be done at this point to revive your fish.

 

Life threatening injuries to your catch usually involve keeping it out of the water too long, damaging the gills with the hook or your fingers, and /or squeezing the fish behind the pectoral fins in the area of the heart.

The large brown trout exhibits a trout near death. The rainbow shows a little stress but with proper handling will regain excellent condition for release.

Videos and pictures of your catch can be safely taken if you keep your fish in the net in the water until the video/ camera is ready. Quickly hold the fish up and out of the water for no longer than fifteen seconds or less and place him back into the net, check his condition and properly release

I hope this gives a better understanding of really what “catch and release” should be. Hopefully other anglers will enjoy these fish and practice the same techniques.

 

Greg Hall, Exec. Pro Staff

Fly Rod Chronicles

 

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Go fish…

by Lance Egan

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To the un-initiated, fly fishing is often viewed as a mystical or magical “art” with complex tackle, rigging and hatch matching.  While fly fishing can be a bit tricky while sorting through the terms, techniques and places to wet a line, it often boils down to simply making whatever you place on the end of your line act like food.  Delving into this topic could result in a lengthy chapter in a book, but for this blog post I think it’s best left short.

Speaking specifically about Trout fishing, we are often given the same formula with promised success.  Books, magazines, DVD’s, internet articles or blog posts such as this often profess to “match the hatch” to ensure you catch as many fish as possible.  While “matching the hatch” has its place, too often it isn’t the best option to ensure you maximize your catch.

The next time you find yourself on a river with few hatching insects (or try this during a dense hatch, it may surprise you), think attraction rather than imitation.  I realize this goes against the grain of typical fly fishing advice, but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve found large numbers of Trout eager to take flies which look nothing like the natural insects making a home on the stream bottom.  Standard flies which fit into this “attractor” category include the Royal Wulff, Chernobyl Ant, Prince Nymph, Copper John, and Rainbow Warrior.  While each of these patterns share parts similar to things found in nature, none are exact replicas, most have strange, bright, contrasting colors and/or outlandish silhouettes, which more often than not draw the attention of the fish.

Put these or your confidence attractor patterns to use on your favorite piece of water.  Don’t overthink the fishing process.  Remember, Trout have a brain the size of your thumbnail.  Present your offering well and let the fish do the rest of the work.

 

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Brown Trout caught on one of the author’s favorite attractor patterns, the Red Dart

Go fish…

 

The Greenbrier: America’s Resort on the Fly

greebbrier sporting club

 

White Sulphur Springs, WV – January 24, 2014: Curtis Fleming, award-winning host of “Fly Rod Chronicles with Curtis Fleming” on the Outdoor Channel, filmed at The Greenbrier and The Greenbrier Sporting Club in April 2013 for an upcoming television episode, “America’s Resort on the Fly,” which debuts Monday, January 27 at 11 a.m. EST.

“I grew up in a small town in West Virginia surrounded by woods, streams, and rivers,” said Fleming. “Getting the opportunity to put my eyes on the detailed structure and grounds of The Greenbrier was absolutely amazing. To once again be reminded that the amazing state of West Virginia holds such grand treasures in its natural and refined resources is so incredible.”

In this episode of “Fly Rod Chronicles with Curtis Fleming,” Curtis takes his wife Shelly and his daughter Autumn to The Greenbrier located in West Virginia where they were able to take advantage of several fun-filled family activities, such as horseback riding, falconry, off-road driving, and of course, fly fishing the beautiful Howard’s Creek, a three-mile stretch of water that meanders through the resort’s 10,000-acre estate.

greenbrier with autumn

Curtis with his daughter, Autumn, alongside Jacob Ott, Director of Outdoor Pursuits at The Greenbrier Sporting Club

“The Greenbrier Sporting Club, the private residential community at The Greenbrier, offers every angler the opportunity to fish perfect streams, assisted by first-class guides, and to leave with memories of incredible once-in-a-lifetime trophy catches,” said Fleming. “My daughter and I had an awesome time fishing with Jacob; The Sporting Club members are certainly lucky to have him!”

Every week, Fly Rod Chronicles presents a compelling half-hour fly-fishing adventure show that brings viewers to the breathtaking beauty and majesty of the world’s premier fishing destinations. Each program provides authentic and exciting fishing action with informative instruction, hilarious entertainment, and insightful environmental issues.

“It was great having the Fly Rod Chronicles crew here,” said Jacob Ott, Director of Outdoor Pursuits at The Greenbrier Sporting Club. “Curtis was a blast to fish with; he only sort of hooked me a couple of times. If he keeps practicing his casting, soon he’ll be as good as his daughter.”

The Greenbrier, “America’s Resort on the Fly” episode of “Fly Rod Chronicles with Curtis Fleming” will air on the Outdoor Channel on Monday, January 27, 2014 at 11 a.m. EST and repeat on Friday, January 31 at 7 a.m. and noon, and again on Saturday, February 1 at 5:30 p.m.

To watch a teaser of The Greenbrier episode, visit http://youtu.be/HSoFESLmprM.

To download photos courtesy of Fly Rod Chronicles, visit https://www.dropbox.com/sh/a3c7v9hkzojdxko/MTdu7SOHhe

Curtis Fleming is a native of Bridgeport, WV and his website is www.FlyRodChronicles.tv.

 

ABOUT THE GREENBRIER:

Located in White Sulphur Springs in the Allegheny Mountains of West Virginia, The Greenbrier has been welcoming guests since 1778. Known as “America’s Resort,” it encompasses more than 10,000 acres of undulating landscape that includes: four golf courses (including the exclusive Greenbrier Sporting Club’s private course); a championship indoor and outdoor tennis facility (including five outdoor clay courts and five indoor courts); The Greenbrier Clinic (specializing in executive health); a 40,000-square-foot spa; a mélange of sporting activities; shops; private homes at The Greenbrier Sporting Club; guests-only casino; and, at its heart, a vast and imposing grand hotel. Purchased in 2009 by West Virginia entrepreneur James C. Justice II, The Greenbrier has undergone a $250+ million restoration and is now home to The Greenbrier Classic, a PGA TOUR, FedEx Cup event, and will soon launch The Greenbrier Medical Institute, a state-of-the-art medical complex on the resort’s grounds. To learn more about The Greenbrier, visit www.greenbrier.com.

ABOUT THE GREENBRIER SPORTING CLUB:

The Greenbrier Sporting Club, a private residential sporting community, is the pinnacle of luxury real estate in West Virginia, offering exclusive homesites from $300,000 and homes from $1 million within distinctive neighborhoods set across the 10,000-acre estate of The Greenbrier, an award-winning resort in the heart of the Allegheny Mountains. Sporting Club Members enjoy access to an array of private amenities including two members’ lodges, outdoor pools, award-winning golf at The Snead – an 18-hole Tom Fazio-designed golf course, Eastern-inspired spa (Ananda in the Alleghenies), full-service equestrian center, private access to miles of trout stream, sports complex with indoor squash courts and a 25-foot climbing wall. Members also indulge in exclusive mountaintop amenities at Greenbrier Summit Village and so much more. Home ownership at The Greenbrier Sporting Club also means complete access to more than 50 amenities and activities at The Greenbrier resort, including three championship golf courses, The Old White TPC, The Greenbrier and The Meadows. To learn more about The Greenbrier Sporting Club, visit www.greenbriersportingclub.com.

 

MEDIA CONTACTS:

Mark Liebermann at WEILL
E-mail: mliebermann@geoffreyweill.com
Tel: 1-866-PR-WEILL
www.geoffreyweill.com

Stacy Eskins at The Greenbrier Sporting Club
E-mail: seskins@gbrsc.com
Tel: 304-536-7772
www.greenbriersportingclub.com

Big fish in a little pond

by Chad See

psPSChadSeeAt the age of ten I found myself walking along a field edge where I would cross a field to a small farm pond.  As I weaved my way through the head high hay numerous grass hoppers and crickets leapt from the grass and fled for cover.  As I reached the edge of the pond, some of those grasshoppers would flee in the wrong direction and end up on top of the water.  At first they would sit still, and then they would struggle ever so slightly, trying to make their way back to the safety of dry ground.  I watched this with great focus as I was certain of what would happen next.  Sure enough within a few seconds of the insect struggling on the surface I would see the familiar shapes of the ponds residents appear beneath him.  Sometimes it was several sunfish that would come, sometimes it was a large mouth bass, but regardless, the result was always the same; the fish would come close and strike from beneath.  Every single cricket, grass hopper, leaf hopper, or other sizeable insect that had the mishap of falling in to the pond met the same fate.  The fish just loved them.  They gobbled them up with reckless abandon.  With this in mind the wheels began to turn inside my young mind. I’d walk the field and gather up a cool whip container full of these bugs and put them on a hook, surely this would allow me to catch all those fish.  It didn’t take long and I realized that casting a cricket on a Zebco 33 is darn near impossible.  I tried everything to get the bugs on the water but finally decided I needed the extra weight of a bobber to do the job.  It worked!  Well, sort of.  I was now able to cast the cricket on the pond, but it would not float.  Despite my best efforts they sank.  I still caught fish though.  The bluegills would eat my sunken offerings but not as savagely as they did the naturals that would float.  Thus began my search for how to imitate those floating and struggling insects.

I’m sure that some of you are wondering why I’m writing about a pond full of sunfish when I live literally minutes from some of the best trout fishing in the eastern U.S.  The answer is pretty simple. Not everyone reading this does live near incredible trout fishing, but nearly everyone reading this blog has a farm pond or small local lake nearby that is teaming with sunfish and these little gems are many times overlooked as a great place to learn and spend time as a fly fisherman.  That little farm pond is where I got my start and the lessons I learned there forever shaped who I am as a fly fisherman.  While bluegills may not live in the most pristine places as many of our beloved trout that we love to pursue, they still provide a wonderful outlet for those of us who don’t have trout waters out our back door.

There are many reasons why we as fly anglers should love small ponds and all they have to offer.  First of all is what I touched on earlier, and that is the vast number of these small waters available.  With small lakes and ponds being scattered all across the country, it’s not hard for any of us to find one of these bodies of waters close by to fish.  The availability of these waters makes it very convenient to hit a spot after work, on a lunch break, or in any other free time you might have.  No matter where you live, how much time you have, or what your schedule may be, it is a likely bet that with a little scouting you too can find a small lake or pond of your very own to fish.

To me, the most important of all the benefits of the small pond is the advantages it has for the beginner.  Most small ponds are in the open or at the very least have large openings around them which lend them to being very “caster friendly.”  Nothing is more frustrating to an angler new to the sport than spending half your time picking your flies out of brush or breaking off flies in trees.  Not only do the open surroundings make casting easier, but the flat surface of a pond eliminates the drag and line control issues associated with fishing in the current of a river.  What this means for the beginning caster is that he can focus more on the cast and less on his surroundings and what his line is doing on the water.  Basically, you can just cast and fish which simplifies the entire angling experience and makes it a more enjoyable way to get started.  By a show of hands, who likes to catch fish?  I figure right now everyone reading this has a hand or two in the air.  This is where ponds shine.  On the average, these small bodies of water are loaded with fish which in turn means more opportunities to catch fish and we all know the key to getting anyone “hooked” on fishing is to allow them to have success.  With numerous fish come numerous opportunities to perfect various aspects of fly fishing.  With every strike you get the chance to practice the timing of your hook set and practice playing and landing the fish which are two of the most important things to master.  You will quickly find that the skills you hone on these blue gills in small ponds can be applied to all the fishing you do.  Another perk to ponds is the versatility they offer.  Not only do they offer a variety of fish, but they offer a variety of ways to fish for them.  You are not limited to dry flies only; you can fish streamers, nymphs, indicators or any other method that is appealing to you.  The best part is that every technique can be successful.  You may also find that as you learn more about your pond and the species that live in it that you can focus your efforts on different species and adapt your fishing to specific fish on each trip you make.  One day it may be small poppers for bluegills, the next may be throwing frog patterns near lily pads for bass.  The options are endless and every trip to a small pond can be rewarding and relaxing.

The equipment needed to get started fishing these small bodies of water is pretty simple.  For sunfish a 3 weight will provide enough backbone to do what needs done.  If you plan to pursue bass a five or six weight may be better suited to your needs depending on the size of the bass you are going after.  As for flies, the panfish will eat nearly anything they can fit in their mouth.  Bead head nymphs, crickets, hoppers and small poppers are favorites of mine but feel free to experiment and try new things, you never know when something different will be the hot fly of the day.

Fast forward and here I am 31 years old and I still find myself walking that field edge and crossing that field to the same small farm pond that has been on the family farm for years.  The difference today is that I no longer catch containers full of insects or struggle with the ideas of how to place them ever so gently on the surface of the pond.  Today I cross the field with a fly rod and reel and a small box of flies in my pocket.  As I approach the edge of the pond and the hoppers scatter and fall to the surface, I can’t help but smile as the blue gills dart about sucking them up one at a time.  I sit undetected back in the weeds and pull the box of flies from my pocket.  There I see a Dave’s hopper and grin as I take it out and tie it to my tippet.  From a crouched position I make a steeple cast to avoid the tall grass surrounding the pond and I place the hopper on the water.  Two twitches later and a hefty eight inch bluegill is struggling on the end of my three weight.  He’s not the biggest fish in the pond, he’s not as pretty as many of the trout I have caught, but on a day when my time is limited he’s what is available and to me any time spent fishing  on any body of water is better than sitting at the house not fishing at all.

Tight lines to everyone and if you get the chance to explore a local pond you should do it.  You never know when you just might find a honey hole right in your own back yard.

Your Backstage Pass

Fly Rod Chronicles focuses, not only on the amazing and adventurous locations and techniques of the art of fly fishing, but also on the people who love it. We make it our mission to explore the areas in which we film our shows, and to get to know the people, the communities, and the land. We want to give you a taste of what we experience on the road – and we want to bring that same attitude and outlook to our online community.

In effort to create and culture a community of knowledge, wisdom, and humor, we have enlisted the help of a number of creative anglers to share a little bit of their love of the sport with us here. Stop by frequently to check out the writings and musings of some of our sport’s most interesting writers. And feel free to share your own thoughts and experiences with us, as well. You just never know when we might decide to share your stories here, too!

The Truth About Fly Fishing

SpencerKnibbeSpencer Knibbe is the Managing Editor of Feather and Fin, an outdoor blog focused on all things fly fishing and upland hunting. He is an avid outdoorsman forged in the tradition of chasing brook trout and ruffed grouse through the New England woods. Spencer is passionate about conservation and ensuring the continuation of the traditions for generations to come. He resides in Ridgefield, Connecticut with his wife and two sons. 

Managing Editor, Feather and Fin

www.featherandfinblog.com

 

 

Fly fishing is both easy and accessible for the first-time angler. However, many would-be fly fishers never pick up a rod due to false perceptions and perceived ‘barriers to entry.’

Every potential entrant that forgoes waders for another pursuit is not only a missed benefit to the fly fishing community, but sadly a lost comrade in our fight to ensure the survival of the delicate ecosystems that support the beautiful variety of fish we hold dear.

As with anything else in this great life, a missed opportunity is a regrettable shame – particularly if it is due to a misconstrued notion. I constantly bump into these illusions and feel compelled to counter them in the hope that the open-minded beginner will read this, pick up a fly rod, and give it a try. Here is a list of the top five most commonly held fly fishing misconceptions that I have encountered over the years.

 

Five Fly Fishing Misconceptions

1) Fly fishing is too difficult and complicated.

Fly fishing is no different than any other type of fishing – it involves a rod, a reel, some line, and a lure…in this case a hook adorned with various materials to mimic a fish’s natural prey. Throw in some basic waders for those who do not want to get wet, and that’s about it. Forget the classic image of the goofy fly fisher wearing a vest packed full of knick-knacks and gadgets. Similar to all other forms of fishing, casting takes a few tries but ultimately the angler will pick it up with some practice. It does not have to be graceful or pretty,  just get the lure in front of the fish without spooking it…that’s it, you will catch fish and your skills will improve with more time spent on the water.

2) The gear is too expensive.

It’s not…Similar to any other activity one may pursue, there are degrees of gear – there are ‘high’ end, expensive brands, ‘lower’ end budget brands, and everything in between. Often there is no correlation between price and quality. There are many very high quality, high performance options available in all gear categories for the beginner who has yet to fully commit to the sport. With a bit of research, you’ll easily find the right option for your price point – whatever it may be.

3) Fly fishing seems snobby and elitist to me.

This was my impression when I started out, and I am glad I ignored it. I was embarrassed to ask questions at my local fly shop because I felt the staff looked down their noses at me…shocked that I would actually ask them about the difference between a 5WT and a 6WT. I quickly learned that my first experience was the exception and while a few people who derive a sad sense of self-worth from belittling others’ and extolling their own virtues, the fly fishing community is full of men and women who truly care about the environment, building relationships, and introducing others to the sport. The stodgy codgers who exclusively fish dry flies upstream on cloudless 65 degree mornings in May have gone the way of the automatic fly reel. They have been replaced by a vibrant, diverse group of anglers who are challenging the norms of the sport in new and exciting ways…to the benefit of everyone.

Fly Fishing Misconceptions_14) I don’t live near trout water.

It doesn’t matter, fly fishing is not a one species game. We all live near a fish-able body of water of some sort – pond, stream, river, or the ocean. You can use a fly rod to catch anything that can be caught on a traditional rig, in freshwater and in salt. Some of my most exciting fly fishing moments have been targeting species other than trout – don’t let it stop you from getting out there.

5) I don’t have a mentor or someone who I can go out with.

The fly fishing community embraces newcomers with open arms…take advantage of it. I urge every new angler to join Trout Unlimited.  There are chapters nationwide and, for little money, new members gain instant access to the knowledge base of other members, frequent chapter outings, a large supply of ad hoc fishing buddies, and impactful local conservation initiatives. Though you may not live near trout water, TU is less about the species and more about the fly fishing community in general. The willing angler should never be very far away from a like-minded companion willing to get out there and introduce someone else to this wonderful world.

 

If you suffer from one of these misunderstandings, I encourage you to reconsider. You are depriving yourself of a new world of beautiful places, cherished relationships, and breathtaking excitement. Please take advantage of the many readily available resources out there (e.g. books, Orvis Fly Fishing 101, etc), find a buddy, and join Trout Unlimited. You will thank me.

Fly Fishing Misconceptions