Fly Fishing Need Not Be Complicated
Fly fishing certainly is an art form and many over the course of their lifetime master this sport. However, one need not cast a 60 yards, know the name of every nymph in the fly box at LL Bean and dress like they stepped out of an Orvis catalog to have fun catching fish on the fly. For most, the seemingly most difficult step to becoming a fly fisher is picking up rod, reel and line and attempting that first tentative cast. Well, don’t be an anxious angler, just do it! Fly fishing is not nearly as complicated as it is frequently made out to be and a person can learn all they need to achieve casting success and catch fish in as little as an hour. Now I am not saying that your cast will be perfect or that you will be able to cast like a pro but what most newbie fly casters don’t realize is that 90% of the fish caught on the fly are done so with casts distancing less than 25 feet. Therefore, fly fishing is more about understanding specifically where the fish are hiding and targeting them with short, well placed casts.
Another issue I see frequently when instructing new fly fishers is poor gear selection. They buy expensive waders, sun glasses, fly jackets and nets but purchase their fly rod, reel and line at Walmart. Avoid frustration, maximize available funds and shorten the amount of time it will take to master the art of fly fishing by first investing in these three critical items. This isn’t to say big money need be spent but $100 on a rod, $80 on a good weight forward tapered floating line and $50 on a reel will go a LONG way in shortening the learning curve. Better gear simply casts easier allowing beginners to become less frustrated when trying to learn.
When fly fishing, always wear eye protection. Beginner or experts should all heed this warning and when instructing I cannot stress this enough. Wind, branches, other fly casters, fish spitting the hook, misplaced casts . . . there are simply too many uncontrollable variables for an angler to make a perfect cast every time. Even experts casting in perfect situations can make mistakes. A hook in the ear or head is an inconvenience; a hook in the eye is potentially tragic. Full wrap around polarized sunglasses on bright days and cheap $10 clear safety glasses on those days that are overcast are what I call simple preventative measures.
Read a book, watch youtube videos, take an adult education class, hire a Maine guide, take a class at LL Bean . . . whatever the final choice, there are lots of instructional options to help anglers successfully take that first cast.
After long months of inactivity, “anglers anxious” wishing to fly fish open waters would be well served to make a pilgrimage to Grand Lake Stream (Delorme’s The Maine Atlas and Gazetteer (MAG), Map 35, B-4). Open April 1st to fly fishing only, hoards of anglers descend upon the stream, drunk on the prospects of pulling fat silversides from the stream’s turbulent, ice cold waters. Fishing is often fast and furious during the first three weeks of April, with hungry salmon eager to bite hard on any imitation smelt patterns (Black Ghost and Gray Ghost). Those new to the sport of fly fishing and confused by the overwhelming selection of flies can stop at the Grand Lake Stream store and simply ask the clerk what they are biting.
Widely considered one of the top landlocked salmon rivers in the state, Grand Lake Stream regularly produces salmon of between 16 and 20 inches in length, with larger fish always an exciting possibility. Regulations set a length minimum for salmon at 14 inches and a one fish bag limit on salmon. The dam pool is by far the most popular (and also most crowded location) so those wishing for a quieter and more pristine experience, it is good to explore other areas of the stream such as the hatchery pool.
Stream Side Salmon Sushi
Stream Side Salmon Sushi
Those staying in Grand Lake Stream usually stay in lodges with three fully prepared and served meals a day (American plan), however, those with more budget conscious considerations choose to cook our own meals (house keeping plan). For those choosing this plan option, I can think of no better lunch time meal than freshly caught salmon. This meal can be easily prepped ahead of time and assembled on-site with little more time commitment than making a sandwich.
Start by making the sushi rice the evening before, I prefer “Rice Select” but there are many other brands equally good. Cook rice according to the directions on the rice package and after the rice has cooled, add approximately 3 tablespoons of rice vinegar per cup of rice made. Rice can then be place in a large Ziploc bag.
In the morning, pack up the sushi rice along with, roasted seaweed wraps, pickled ginger, soy sauce, wasabi, and avocado. Once a salmon is caught it can be filleted and the flesh cut into thin strips. To assemble the rolls, place a seaweed wrap on a plate and press a thin layer of cool rice on the seaweed. Leave at least 1/2 inch top and bottom edge of the seaweed uncovered for easier rolling later. Dot some wasabi down the center of the rice so that it is spread evenly through the entire roll. Arrange avocado and salmon to the rice about 1 inch away from the bottom edge of the seaweed. Slightly dampen the top edge of the seaweed and then roll from bottom to the top edge. While some people prefer to accomplish this step with the help of a bamboo mat, it isn’t absolutely necessary. Cut roll into 8 equal pieces, top with a thin slice of pickled ginger and serve sprinkled with soy sauce to taste.