Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Hunting for the Big Pickle (Ditch Pickle Classic recap)

by Peter Nardini

No matter how much you prepare or when you go to sleep, the 5 a.m. alarm always comes too early. After packing in food, equipment, and downing at least 4 mugs of coffee each, my friend Greg and I made the drive up to Swanton, Vermont. The night before was spent pouring over topographic maps, fly fishing magazines, and basically anything short of voodoo that could possibly give us an edge catching fish in the Ditch Pickle tournament. We finally arrived weary-eyed at 8:30 a.m. At check-in we talked Cape Cod striper fishing with some great guys in front of us, Jay Modry and Matt Dickstein of “Carpe Carpium”, who ended up placing second in the tournament (looking back, we probably should have asked them where to fish). We met up with Chris and Mike from Green Mountain Troutfitters at the sign-in table, grabbed our “Pickle Stick” for measuring the fish, admired our Tunaskin Ditch Pickle Classic shirts for a quick moment, and hit the water.

We began our Saturday at the Missiquoi section. We had carp following us under our boat which seemed like a good omen for the day, however the catching was another story. After about an hour on that spot we moved down to Ransom Bay. We caught a half dozen smallmouth bass there and, after not being able to land one particularly “pickle” worthy specimen, we putted around in search of weeds and structure for largemouth bass. 

Pete with a monster smallmouth bass

Greg landed a nice 14 inch largemouth at the next spot but we forgot to take the “grip and grin” picture to accompany the picture against the “pickle stick” ruler (it is a photo release tournament). I tied on a black popper that Pete Kutzer recommended when I was roaming around the fly section at the Orvis Manchester store a few days prior. If it put him on fish at the Pickle, then it would put us on some as well. The poppers saved the tournament for us, Greg caught two on the “Kutzer Special” that got us on the official tournament board, our one goal of not getting skunked was accomplished. Both fish took the circuitous route to land, however. The first fish flopped out of the boat but as my friend jumped around in a fury I went through my recent memory and remembered that we hadn’t pulled the fly yet. I grabbed the rod and, feeling the tug, landed it a second time. Truly a team effort. The second fish almost cost me my new 5 weight Recon. I dropped the rod as I went to net the fish for Greg and, without my knowing, my fly got caught in a tree. The boat went in one direction and my rod the other, only taking notice when I heard it flexing. We were faced with the ultimate anglers’ dilemma: fish or fly rod. As soon as we landed the bass Greg threw the boat forward and I reached into the bush and freed my fly. Soon after, we returned to the launch glad we had points on the board after a very interesting first day.

The next morning did not go much easier, as we missed the 5 a.m. launch and rolled in around 5:45 a.m. The fish waited and from the get-go the bite was on. I was able to get into three juvenile northern pike and Greg hooked into a 20 plus inch pike before breaking off. Right when we were planning where to go next, we noticed a saltwater scene developing out on the water. Thinking they were large smallmouths we raced over to check out the situation. After a few stops on the seagull train we finally were able to get a visual on what we were chasing and hooked into white perch. While they were not smallmouth and didn’t count towards the tournament, we found that a few 12 inch white perch can sure put up a fun fight on a 5 weight. 

Afterwards we headed towards the Missiquoi section. We had no luck and my bubblegum clouser that had done me so well earlier was returned to the depths by another bigger northern pike. We fished our way in to the boat launch until our loops were collapsing and our arms couldn’t take another cast. The post-tournament BBQ was just what we needed after fishing in the rain. We were well taken care of with the ladies from Green Mountain Troutfitters helping with the sides and Brian Price and Greg Brown manning the grill. We traded stories from the tournament with Tyler from Orvis and I happened to meet up with fellow Endicott grad (go Gulls) and fly guy in the line, The Fly Pack owner Cory Merrill. At the awards ceremony we learned that there was a Ditch Pickle first with a repeat winner- team "Imbassiles" bagged the title for first place team (Jeff Faulkner and John Cooper) AND angler (John Cooper). After a few Museum giveaways and some very nice words from Chris Lynch we begrudgingly packed up the fly rods and headed back to Manchester.

We came, we fished, we didn’t get shut out, and we met some great people. The weekend on Champlain was filled with fishing situations that you just can't make up, which is part of the attraction, and we already can't wait for the 2016 Ditch Pickle Classic. Thanks again to Chris Lynch and Mike from Green Mountain Troutfitters for having us, we were so honored to be included as a sponsor at this year’s Ditch Pickle Classic and will continue to be a supporter in the future.


Monday, June 29, 2015

"The Wonders of Fly Fishing" at Bass Pro Shops

by Peter Nardini

AMFF Executive Director Cathi Comar and Communications Coordinator Peter Nardini traveled to Bass Pro Shops in Foxboro, MA this weekend bringing their Museum exhibition “The Wonders of Fly Fishing” on the road. The event offered the complete historical experience with artifacts from the Museum and incorporated a Massachusetts flair bringing Gurglers and other flies from their collection that were tied by the hand of the late great Jack Gartside. Cathi Comar gave a fantastic presentation on the role of women in fly fishing (A Graceful Rise) and offered some insight on our upcoming project with her talk on the history of saltwater fly fishing. Friends of the AMFF Bob Selb and Dana Gray were on hand for gear appraisals and AMFF Ambassador Mike Rice of Mud Dog Flies was on the vice tying his exceptional saltwater patterns next to the display of the Gartside flies. The AMFF thanks Mike, Dana, and Bob for donating their time and contributing to a fun event as well as Bob Berkowitz and Bass Pro Shops Foxborough for being such gracious hosts. Be sure to catch Mike Rice demonstrating his saltwater patterns again at our 8th Annual Fly Fishing Festival on August 8th.

The fun continued on June 20th as Communications Coordinator Peter Nardini traveled to Bass Pro Shops in Utica, NY for their “Go Fishing” event. Along with other fun activities provided by Bass Pro Shops, Peter helped the kids master the art of tying the “clown fly”.  Thank you to the wonderful staff at Bass Pro Shops Utica for making this happen and hopefully we inspired a few little anglers to come over to the good side and pick up a fly rod.

The "Clown Fly" or Funnyflus Jesternum occurs in plentiful, colorful hatches throughout the year

Monday, June 8, 2015

The History Makers: Bob Hines


by John D. Juriga

Bob Hines was the former staff artist for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), the only person in the history of that organization to hold the title of National Wildlife Artist. Though lacking formal art training, Hines became the vehicle through which millions of citizens learned about their natural history. The American Museum of Fly Fishing is pleased to exhibit selected pieces of Hines’s artwork and artifacts related to fish and angling in their Leigh H. Perkins Gallery from June 27, 2015 until December 31, 2015.

Hines once said, “Now a lot of people would say drawing a fish is easy.  Well, it is if you know what you are drawing.  From my way of looking at it, a fish has its own set of muscles and its own way of using them.   They use their fins differently each time they want to do something—aggressive, recessive, flying or whatever.  You have to show these things if you want to do a good job.” 

 Bob Hines Timeline

1912:  Robert Warren Hines is born in Columbus, Ohio, the second son of George and Mabel Nunemacher Hines. 

1916:  Mabel Hines gives birth to a daughter who lives but one day.  Four year old Bob begins drawing pictures to comfort his mother as she grieves over the loss of her newborn. 

1921:  The Hines family moves to Fremont, Ohio.  It is here in the northwestern corner of the state that Bob comes of age, hunting, fishing, and camping along the Sandusky River. 

1925:  Mabel Hines dies on Christmas Eve.  Bob channels his grief by caring for a backyard menagerie of animals.  He also joins the local Boy Scout troop, which acquaints him with the richness of Ohio’s natural beauty.  (Later in his career, Hines repays his indebtedness to the Boy Scouts by illustrating the merit badge handbook on fishing.)

1928:  At sixteen years of age, Hines graduates from Fremont Ross High School.  His senior entry in the yearbook includes the telling phrase, “The mind of a sage and the soul of a boy.” 

1929:  Hines earns his Eagle Scout with Silver Palm status.  He teaches himself taxidermy, which later gives him insight into the anatomy and motion of his future animal subjects.

1939:  A health crisis forces Hines to reevaluate his priorities.  During the darkness of the Great Depression, he decides to return to drawing as a means of educating the public about Ohio’s wildlife.  The state conservation commissioner hires Hines as staff artist for the Ohio Division of Conservation and Natural Resources at a salary of $2,200 per year.  When Hines learns that his new responsibilities will include painting with oils, he consults his former high school art teacher.  After a four day refresher course, he learns enough about oil painting to serve him the remainder of his professional art career. 

1944:  A chance meeting with Frank Dufresne, former Chief of the Alaska Game Commission, leads to Hines’s debut as an illustrator of books.  Never having visited Alaska, Hines fervently researches the assignment.  He labors two months on the watercolor of a leaping grayling until the final design meets his satisfaction. 

1946:  USFWS Director Albert Day informs Hines that his redhead duck design will appear on the 1946 Federal Duck Stamp.  Over two million copies of the stamp are sold, a reflection of the number of servicemen returning to civilian life after World War II. Later this year is the release of Frank Dufresne’s Alaska’s Animals and Fishes with Hines’s illustrations.  One reviewer comments on Hines’s “genuine originality and unerring color sense.” 

Grayling from Alaska's Animals and Fishes

1947:   Hines uses the proceeds from Alaska’s Animals and Fishes to join an Alaska trek with members of the Outdoor Writers Association of America.  Frank Dufresne is one of the trip leaders.  The Columbus Dispatch sponsors Hines.  He writes a series of articles for the newspaper regarding his experiences in Alaska.  A photograph captures Hines fly fishing on Lake Wilson in the Tongass National Forest. 

1948:  With the encouragement of Frank Dufresne, now Director of Information for the USFWS, Hines leaves Ohio, moves to northern Virginia, and becomes a federal employee.  Rachel Carson is Hines’s first supervisor.  Already a Federal Duck Stamp artist, Hines is eager to observe the selection process for the stamp’s annual design.  Appalled at the casual, subjective nature of the procedure, he proposes an open competition with stated rules, guidelines, and impartial judges—the format that remains in use today. 

1951:  Following the commercial success of The Sea Around Us, Rachel Carson resigns from the USFWS.  She and Hines collaborate on a study of marine life along the Atlantic coast. 

1955:   Rachel Carson’s The Edge of the Sea, illustrated with Hines’s pencil drawings, is released and reaches number two on the New York Times bestseller list. 

1956:  Release of the first U.S. postage stamps featuring American wildlife.  Hines’s monochromatic images of wild turkey, pronghorn antelope, and king salmon grace the first three stamps.  The press run for the series, which exceeds 500 million stamps, introduces the term conservation before it enters the national vocabulary.

1957:  Release of Hines’s tricolor whooping crane postage stamp.  A British philatelic survey names it one of the ten best stamps in the world for that year.

1963:  Release of Ducks at a Distance, Hines’s primer of North American waterfowl identification.  Rejected by five commercial publishers, the booklet sells over two million copies for the Government Printing Office.

1965:   Release of Waterfowl Tomorrow, a study of waterfowl biology illustrated with Hines’s pencil drawings.

1966:  Release of Birds in Our Lives, a discussion of the various ways that birds impact our society.  The book, illustrated with Hines’s drawings, features his full color painting of a bald eagle on the frontispiece. 

1971:  Release of Sport Fishing USA.  Hines’s color plates depict the habits as well as the habitats of the various fish species.  One reviewer comments on Hines’s “accuracy and meticulous detail.”  The fish images become a popular series of collector’s prints.  Later that year, Secretary Rogers C.B. Morton presents to Hines the Distinguished Service Award from the Department of the Interior.  The citation states “Mr. Hines possesses a remarkable visual perception. . . . He paints wildlife in the act of being alive.” 

1972:  Ohio Congressman Delbert L. Latta reads into the Congressional Record:  “The Department of the Interior can be proud to have Mr. Hines on its staff, for his service to his fellow Americans is priceless.”

1975:  Hines illustrates Fifty Birds of Town and City.  His bird images likewise become a series of collector’s prints.  The Abercrombie and Fitch Company selects Hines’s painting of an Atlantic salmon for the National Fish Stamp.

1976:  During the American bicentennial year, the Government Printing Office releases a reproduction of Hines’s bald eagle image.  Titled “The Symbol of Our Nation,” the print sells over 100,000 copies.  

1979:  Release of a revised edition of Migration of Birds, enlivened with Hines’s color illustrations.  A colleague notes, “those paintings glow with color, almost movement.” 

1981:  Hines retires from the USFWS after thirty two years with that organization. 

1991:  Release of the fiftieth anniversary edition of Rachel Carson’s first book, Under the Sea-wind.  This is Hines’s last major commission.  The museum at the Department of the Interior in Washington, DC, hosts an exhibit of Hines’s artwork.

1994:  Hines dies on November 7, 1994, at age 82 of pneumonia superimposed on chronic lung disease.  There is no obituary published, no public funeral service.  In an interoffice USFWS memo a colleague notes that Hines’s “practiced eye could see the incredible details in a sunset or the breast of a wild turkey.” 

*To purchase John D. Juriga's book, Bob Hines: Natural Wildlife Artist please contact Beaver's Pond Press  

anyone who orders a copy of the Hines book from Beaver’s Pond Press can enter hines as the code for an additional discount. 
* * * * *

Copyright John D. Juriga, 2015.

"The History Makers" the AMFF's monthly feature of people who are impacting or have impacted fly fishing history. If you have an image and profile of someone you think we should feature, click here to submit that information for consideration.