First things first, though. I tied flies this morning and afternoon at the first annual Sparse Gray Matter fly tying event alongside of a bunch of talented fly tyers. The event was sponsored by Shannon's Fly Shop and Dette's Fly Shop, and held in Califon, NJ. It was a terrific event, well attended, and from what I could see everyone had a good time. Special thanks to Dan Ansbach who put it together for Shannon's, and to Joe Fox, of Dette's Fly Shop in Roscoe, NY. Joe tied some beautiful classic Catskill style dry flies, carrying on the traditions of his heritage I know would make his grandfather,Walt Dette, proud.
After the shindig, I headed out to fish the South Branch of the Raritan for a few hours by myself, after a long week in Boston, and had one of those rare days it all comes together. When I got to the stream ,the air was crisp and cool, but not cold, with a slight breeze to chill the cheeks. The sun was bright, and higher than it has been in recent weeks, with the slightest hint of spring. The river was cold, as expected, but clear and a little high - just right for late winter fishing.
And the fishing was incredible, especially for this time of the year. I saw a few bugs in the air, midges and a couple of Little-black Stoneflies, but the fish were not on them. So I tied on a LaFontaine brown and yellow sparkle pupa, and before very long I was into fish. In two hours or so, I brought to hand/net a number of wild brown trout, averaging 7-8 inches, and a few rainbows as you can see below. BIG rainbows, holdovers that must have fed quite well over our harsh winter as evidenced by their hard fighting attitude, and bulky bodies. Every fish took the one and only sparkle pupa I tied on first. I did have to change my tippet a couple of times after landing a few fish, as it had frayed a little, but I used only the one fly. Of course, I sharpened the fly every so often, which helped I'm sure, as some of the takes were very soft.
It was a day to remember, with good friends and meeting some new ones at the tying event, and then a quiet late day on the water with the sounds of a woodpecker in the woods and fish on the end of my line.
Life is good.