Monday, June 16, 2008

Fly Fishing is Sexy...

A sexy little brown trout

… at least according to one woman who responded to the question, “Why Do Women Fly Fish” at last year’s fly fishing seminar. I might agree if we could wear heels and a fabulous little black dress in the river, but something tells me that wouldn’t end too well. At this year’s Women’s Fly Fishing Seminar we learned more than just how to be sexy, we learned river etiquette, the basics of fly fishing, how to dress for the weather, tie our own flies, cast a fly rod and more!

Before I ramble on any further, I should probably explain what fly fishing is. Fly Fishing is when fish are caught by using artificial flies that are cast with a fly rod and a fly line. You can look online to find some great helpful sites such as this site: Fly Fishing 101 - for Beginners.

For this adventure, I brought along my friend Anna Fahey from Depauville. I figured she needed a taste of good old Oswego County fun. I had lost my fishing license so we stopped at Fat Nancy’s Tackle Shop in Pulaski to get a new one. I knew it was going to be a great day when we pulled into the Tackle Shop and Anna remarked “Oh wow… I never knew Fat Nancy’s was a Tackle Shop, I always thought it was a restaurant and I always craved french fries when I got off the I-81 exit and drove by”. (I guess the words “Tackle Shop” didn’t ring a bell). I knew there was a reason I brought Anna along… she would make me look good! So much to Anna’s dismay, there were no French fries, but I did find out that you can get a replaced license for only $5.

The seminar, sponsored by the Lake Ontario Steelhead Association (LOSA), was held at the Salmon River Fish Hatchery. If you’ve never been there, I suggest you make the trip to Altmar. We missed out on the tour yesterday because we had to leave early, but I’ve been there plenty of times before and it’s fascinating to see how the hatchery works.

The day had potential to turn into a nightmare for me. Fly-fishing seems very complicated and all of the women who showed up looked like die-hard fly fishing fanatics. One woman’s shirt had a picture of a hook and lure and it said “Bite Me”. To my surprise, every instructor there made things clear and easy to understand. I actually started to catch on and get excited to start the hands-on part of the day. The instructors covered all of the basics of fly fishing. There is a lot more to learn but they covered enough to give everyone a good understanding of the sport.

Instructor Lindsay Shukoff showing everyone how to dress for the weather

After everyone spoke, we split up into two groups. My group was the first to tie flies. The instructors did such a great job breaking it down step-by-step and helping out, that I actually tied my first fly and it looked NORMAL! It didn’t look like a squashed bug or an alien (except that it was hot pink). All of the girls did a great job with their first flies. It was like a big arts & crafts table. If you’re on my list for receiving Christmas presents this year, don’t be surprised when you get a nice homemade fly!

The basic equipment used to tie flies.

My first fly!! Of course I used hot pink... The fish will love it!

Anna's completed fly!

Next we went outside and learned how to cast! Anna and I had a great instructor and in no time we were casting like pros (well, close enough). Casting a fly rod is more about rhythm than anything else. Now rhythm… that is one skill that I actually do have. So maybe I finally found which outdoor sport I’m good at! Too bad we never actually made it in the river to test out our ability. Anna and I had to leave the seminar early, so we never made it in the river. I feel like I’ve learned enough in that one day to try it out on my own. So check back sometime this summer for my post on fly-fishing IN the river! I just might surprise everyone!

Anna learning how to cast

My turn!

Pictures from last year's seminar. I went and photographed it, but I was too scared to participate! Now look at me!

For women who are intimidated about fly fishing, don’t be. It is not as hard as it looks, it is very relaxing and it is FUN! Just ask someone to take you out and teach you and I guarantee you'll love it! The seminar is getting more popular every year, so be on the look-out next year and make sure you sign up! And don’t forget the number one reason why you should fly fish… it’s SEXY! Move over Angelina and Giselle… here we come!

The students and the instructors!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Turkey Hunting Basics

When I say basics, I mean BASICS – as in, I still have no idea what I’m doing. Opening weekend of turkey hunting was my first ever (very unsuccessful) turkey hunt. I have already established that I’m not so great at duck hunting, and I’m even worse at deer hunting, so I got excited and thought that turkey hunting would be my niche. I was wrong. I am even WORSE at turkey hunting!

I woke up bright and early, put on my really attractive hunting outfit, put my cell phone on silent (I don’t go ANYWHERE without my cell phone - you never know when a coyote might try to attack and you’ll have to call the nearest family member or hunter to come rescue you… I know this from past experience), then I grabbed my dad’s 12 gauge and headed out the door.

The blind, my dad's Remington 11-87 Sportsman, and me.

The first rule of thumb when you enter the woods is to stop and look up into the trees. Apparently, that’s where the turkey’s roost. My uncle Tom overlooked this tidbit of advice a couple of years ago and walked straight under a huge Tom (a Tom is a grown, male turkey, for those of you who are as hunting-impaired as I am… not to be confused with my Uncle Tom, who has the same name, but is, in fact, NOT a turkey). The Tom Turkey saw my Uncle Tom, had a good laugh, and then took off. We were sure not to have the same thing happen to us. So we looked around, and no roosting turkeys were to be seen. Off we ventured into the dark woods. My dad would stop every so often to use his box call. We would wait patiently for a turkey to reply, but nothing. This went on for about an hour.

With no luck, we moved to the blind my dad had set up. This is where my dad instructed me how to set up a turkey decoy. My only rule of advice is: do NOT follow my dad’s rules of advice. As you can see in the photo above, he is one of those men who doesn’t get bored while he hunts. This, according to my theory, is the reason that no turkeys were around that day. They were too busy laughing from afar. I did get to try out the box call for the first time. They are very easy to use, you just have to use the handle and rub it against the box and it makes a turkey sound. Maybe one day I will advance to using a mouth call, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

No luck in the blind. We got up, walked to a different area where we were “sure to see a lot of turkeys”. I sat behind a tree with my gun loaded and ready for about an hour, and once again, NOTHING. The only thing that made me feel better was that my Uncle Scott, who was nearby, also saw nothing. My dad must have sent them laughing halfway to Pennsylvania. We packed it up, went home, and had a nice delicious breakfast (my favorite part of hunting is the free breakfast I get from my dad afterwards).

The next day, to my dismay, my Uncle Scott went back out and shot a huge Tom right down the road from our spot the previous day. My Uncle Chuckie and his cousin Bob each killed a Tom too. So I guess I learned my lesson – I’m a good hunter… my dad’s not. :)

Bob Karker and Chuck Trump with their spring '08 kills

My neighbor, Suede, with the turkey he killed during last year's youth hunt. (Talk about rubbing salt in the wound)