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Published by David Weaver [Fishidiot] on 06/17/2010 (3651 reads)
JOHN BROWN’S BASS
By
Dave Weaver
Photographs and artwork courtesy of author

Potomac Fly Fishing


Harper’s Ferry is a quiet place where the gentle hiss of river current is the only consistent sound, especially at night. It was quiet a century and a half ago on the night of October 16th, 1859 as less than two dozen men, led by the messianic abolitionist from Kansas, John Brown, crossed the Potomac and slipped into the town streets to initiate what Brown believed would be the end of slavery in America. A staunch Calvinist who believed that he was on a mission from God to end slavery, Brown intended to bring to life his favorite passage from the Bible: “Without the shedding of blood, there is no remission of sins.” The sin of slavery would be paid for with Brown’s own blood if need be.

Thomas Jefferson said that the view from Harper’s Ferry Virginia (now West Virginia) where the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers join was so “stupendous” as to be worth a trip across the Atlantic just to see its beauty. Thirty three years after our third President’s death, this little town saw played out what was arguably the seminal event leading to the Civil War – a drama seen through the lens of terrorism or martyrdom. Today, the bass fishing is fabulous in and around this tiny town so woven into the fabric of our nation’s past. For those fishermen with a historical bent, it’s easy to miss the strikes of hard hitting smallmouths due to the irresistible temptation to gaze at nearby Maryland Heights where Stonewall Jackson’s guns blasted the town into submission in 1862 (and forcing the largest surrender of Union forces in the Civil War); or the stately stone Harper house; or the old railroad bridge; or the fire engine house where Brown and his holdouts took cover; or any of a host of intriguing sites. A fisherman in the river is surrounded by bass under the surface and three states on the shorelines. So much to see, catch, and think about…so little time.

rusty spinnerAlthough largely a National Park today, Harper’s Ferry was an industrial town conceived by George Washington as a serendipitously located government factory village where converging waterways, upstream from the new capital, would drive the production of armaments for the incipient military of a fledgling nation. Jefferson’s protégé, Captain Meriwether Lewis, was provisioned for his Corp of Discovery here. By the mid Nineteenth Century the country had become consumed by the controversy over the expansion of slavery and Brown, a man who by all accounts had failed at every endeavor he’d undertaken, had pledged his life to the struggle against the South’s “peculiar institution” and set his sights on Harper’s Ferry.

John Brown was completely committed. Some thought him mad. After cutting his teeth in Bleeding Kansas where he committed several heinous murders of defenseless pro slavery men, Brown concocted a plan to move his personal war against slavery east and seize Harper’s Ferry and its weapons. He believed when news of his capture of the town spread that slaves to the south would hear the news and, undoubtedly with the help of divine providence, rise up against their masters and march in unison to join Brown, from whom they would receive the captured weapons. Thus armed, a slave revolt would snowball across the land and the institution of slavery would fall. When Brown proposed his plan to some prominent abolitionists in the North he was mostly rebuffed. Frederick Douglas thought his plan impossible and refused to participate. Nevertheless, Brown did get some backing by some who shared the growing frustration of many abolitionists who had come to feel that speechifying, rhetoric, and the publishing of treatises were toothless against the nation’s great sin.

rusty spinnerAfter several months of planning on a farm in Maryland, Brown was ready to strike. When he and his band crept into town that night they had, nevertheless, taken no rations with them nor did Brown seem to have any systematic operational plan to hold the town, spread the news, and develop the situation. It was a mess from the start. The raiders sent out parties in the night to detain local citizens and confiscate weapons and Harper’s Ferry remained fairly quiet through the night, but word soon began to spread and by daybreak local citizens, having discovered something awry, began a steady resistance and gunfire grew louder. The blood of locals, some innocent bystanders, and Brown’s followers began to flow in the streets. Brown seemed not to know what to do next and by morning had lost the initiative to a growing force of local militiamen and armed citizens. The local militiamen, enraged at the “vile abolitionists” and eager to avenge the deaths of townspeople, mutilated the bodies of some of Brown’s followers or cast them into the river. Panic and rumors soon spread across Virginia that an army of abolitionists were swarming down from the north and that a slave revolt was brewing. Many Southerners thought the raid a distraction, just the beginning of a larger assault. The South’s Great Nightmare seemed to be coming to life.

Although groundless, the rumors fueled a massive reaction with ripple effects felt in Washington by afternoon. On temporary duty in the Capital was Colonel Robert E. Lee and a reaction force of several dozen Marines and a couple field guns were hurriedly marshaled, placed under his command, and sent by train to Harper’s Ferry to put down what Lee called the “insurgents” and their “gross outrage against law and order.” Following this force were hundreds of militiamen and local vigilantes galvanized by the sensationalized headlines and rumors.

rusty spinnerBy the time Lee and his force reached the town in the pre-dawn hours of the 18th, much of the fighting had died down and Brown and his remaining fighters and their hostages had holed up in a fire engine house from which they had managed to keep up enough gunfire to hold the townspeople and militiamen at bay. The situation stalemated, a tense calm had settled over the town.

Lee had a lieutenant named J.E.B. Stuart, under a flag of truce, approach the engine house and offer terms. Brown refused and spent the rest of the night barricading the doors and preparing his defense. He had only a couple followers left unscathed. The local African Americans who he’d coerced into his force showed little enthusiasm for the fight. At dawn, Stuart returned to the engine house, received Brown’s final refusal to surrender, and the Marines promptly began their assault, battering the doors with hammers and eventually breaking through using a ladder as a ram. The troops quickly overwhelmed the defenders, killing one of Brown’s sons in the fight. Brown himself was struck down, wounded by a sword blow from Lieutenant Green who had led the assault into the engine house. Unapologetic and defiant, Brown was hauled off to face trail for insurrection and what he undoubtedly knew was an inevitable date with the gallows.

Part 2 of 2
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Published by Dave Kile [dkile] on 06/14/2010 (1556 reads)
The creativity and talent of the members on the Paflyfish site always blows me away. Our own Skybay has created a wonderful visual representation of the Paflyfish 2010 Jamboree.

Many great scenes from the weekend of fishing, Penns Creek, Coburn area and our evenings. Skybay really worked hard as you can see from all the different scenes and time spent editing this together.

You must watch both parts to really capture the weekend and Skybay's talents.

2010 PaFlyFish Jamboree
May 21-23, 2010

Part I
Friday




2010 PaFlyFish Jamboree

Part II
Saturday and Sunday




Skybay thank you for your fantastic videos of the weekend.
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Published by Dave Kile [dkile] on 06/09/2010 (3096 reads)
dwight landisOne of my favorite fly-fishing books is back in print after several years. Trout Streams of Pennsylvania: An Angler's Guide, 3rd edition by Dwight Landis is must have book for anyone who spends any time fly-fishing in Pennsylvania. .

Landis provides an amazing amount of detail covering the most important streams across the state. Inspired by the streams and their surrounding landscapes, he wrote this 1st edition of this Pennsylvania fly-fishing guidebook in 1991 at a time when there were very few books of it's type.

His book was one of the inspirations for Paflyfish.com and I personally pack his book with me as I trek out on my fly-fishing jaunts.

The reprinted 3rd edition (no changes) can be found at many local fly shops and online Trout Streams of Pennsylvania: An Angler's Guide, Third Edition.

An interview with Dwight on Paflyfish can be found here.
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Published by Dave Kile [dkile] on 06/05/2010 (2554 reads)
The first week of June is one of my favorite weeks for fly-fishing. Warm weather and lots of good bugs make for fun days and better evenings. I especially enjoy of the late spinner falls that occur on some of the larger streams. My trips to Northcentral Pennsylvania have provided the best luck with some of these late evening spinner falls from what seems to be brown drake spinners. Being that these big spinners don't show up until about 9:00 they are not the easiest to identify.

This all started about 20 years ago with my friends Ron and Greg trying to outdo each other on these early June evenings up in Potter County. Naturally as the sun would start to set we would tie on our normal #16 rusty spinners and enjoy a casual evening of landing of few more fish that added to our counts for the day. We then would fall into the Wharton for a cold one and a replay of our great heroics.

rusty spinnerAfter some period of cold beverages and tall stories of big fish we found ourselves discussing our limitless opportunity for fish the next day. The smell of over confidence was only outdone by the stink of our cigars.

These knuckleheads may have taught me how to fly-fish, but at 11:30 at night at the Wharton I was sure I could even out fish Lefty Kreh with one hand tied behind my back. We left that evening with a new challenge for the next days fishing derby. If I wanted to make sure Frick and Frack were going to be buying the cold ones the next night I was going to have to get up early and show them how to get it done.

The early morning plans got superseded by a very important resting and planning session until about 10:00 am. Well it was a marathon not a sprint right? The good news was those two seemed like they were planning as well from the sound of sawing wood rattling through the camp. I quickly dashed down to the stream and geared up for the battle of Fort First Fork.

Greg must have heard me leave because I saw him almost pull a surprise flank attack on me from down stream shortly after I got into the water. He wasted no time in landing a nice brown pretty quickly. Greg has a good methodical approach to fly-fishing and always came up with fish. I knew I had to keep an eye on him, but more so on Ron.

Faintly it sounded like Ron was still at camp even though he was about a mile away. Big snorer Ron was, could strip the paint off a camp wall without lifting a scraper. But soon I looked up on the road and Ron was preparing his morning assault with much more ernest then the guy I thought was prepping half of the camps in Potter county for a fresh coat of paint one hour ago.

The battle was on and went well for most of the mid-day. A fish here and there with pretty steady activity. I grew a bit weary after about one o'clock and needed to reload on some supplies. I was deep into fishing with #22 griffith's gnat for a couple of hours and my head was about to explode.

Ron was already at the truck and had a can of cold provisions in his hand. Ron bellowed, "So how's it going Dave?" I knew right away I was in trouble and that he was catching fish by the confidence in his voice. I was relieved to find out that Ron was only a few a head of me. Greg strolled up and shared a similar number. I was still in trouble because it always seemed that Ron could look at a fish and through some sort of Jedi mind trick could have a fish on the end of his line in no time.

I needed to get creative!

We moved backed to base camp for some food and to reload for the night assault. Ron quickly went back to his early morning job of stripping paint. I figured if I was going to pull this off I needed an ally in this fight. I had an idea, but not being much of a competent fly tier I asked Greg to help with some thoughts for the late night assault on the water.

The three of us always marveled at the night spinner falls this time of June and it was reported that the big fish always came out at night. Greg and I contemplated the idea of tying up some really big rusty brown spinners. How big? Well how big were those spinners we say last night and what is the biggest hook you have? Greg proceeded tied up some of our now #8 "B-52" rusty brown spinners. The bigger the better right!

We all came back for a final attack of the day and found a nice sulphur hatch to keep us busy for most of the evening. All the while preparing to launch our surprise as dusk set in. The large spinners were high in the air and with the cool night air they were preparing to make their landing.

Ron was still ahead on the fish count, but not by much as he tied on his regular rusty spinner for the last round of the evening. So Greg and I launched our "B-52's" onto the water. To our amazement the damn things caught fish. We could easily toss them around and quickly slap them over top of any rising fish. Not a lot of talent needed, but the action was fast. Ron was catching fish, but soon gave up because he cold not see his fly or to make sure we had a seat at the Wharton. Probably the latter.

Greg and I carried on for quite some time not by sight, but by sound. It was kind of surprising how successfully you could get setting the hook with just the simple splash of a trout attacking a fly. We ended up staying out quite a bit later as we launched our B-52's across the water that night. I know we ended up picking up over dozen fish each that and found Ron ready with our beers as we slogged in off the stream. Ron knew we had quite a night out there and earned our cold can trophies.

I may have won the battle that day, but Ron quickly clued into our clever little trick and waved his Jedi hand over the water the rest of the week and won the war. Always a lot of fun and look forward to my next time out for some light night big spinner action.
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Published by Dave Kile [dkile] on 05/27/2010 (1633 reads)
The Paflyfish Jamboree 2010 was another terrific gathering of over 75 anglers with flyswaps, guest speakers, live music and the fishing the Green Drakes on Penns Creek. Not only the expected Pennsylvanians, but members from Ohio and Maryland made it up for the weekend. A wonderful time for many to to fish and reconnect with friends.

Kudos to GulfGreyhound who made the longest trip of the weekend traveling up from Florida.

Green DrakePenns Creek provided it's usual wonderment and quandary for any angler. The evening fireworks on the creek seemed to start after 8:00 with several varieties of sulphurs, caddis and the Green Drakes taking center stage. Several different Green Drake hatches occurred during the days and evenings depending where you were at on Penns over the weekend. The size and number of these mayflies is always astonishing as the hatches exploded across the water. The creek and side roads were busy with people from all over the country checking out the late May spectacle.

Taking advantage of the great regional waters many folks took side trips to Spring Creek, Little Juniata, Fishing Creek and variety of local wild trout streams. General nymphing was popular during the day and sulphur hatches hit the streams with great predicability in the evening.

Friday night Jonas from the Feathered Hook Fly Shop spoke to the members about local fishing and hatches for the weekend. The next morning PaulG helped get the coffee going for the crew before everyone took off the day.

Dave wolfThe weather turned on Saturday afternoon with rain slowing building into the evening. Everyone returned from the streams on that night to start off the evening with entertainment from Shaky and his band.

Dave Wolf author of a Flyfisher's Guide to Pennsylvania joined the crew for the evening. Dave provided an delightful and entertaining conversation about flyfishing topics. He spent time reviewing tales of Charlie Fox, Charles Wetzel and the back story of his book. I have always been a big fan of Dave and was very pleased to have finally met him.

Fishidiot generously donated another one of his wonderful paintings for the raffle which was won by NickyBoy a new member on the site. Allen Fly Fishing and Tenkara USA provided gear to demo and raffle for the weekend. Winners of the gear included:
Pcray1231- Tenkara USA Fly Rod
Groove790 - AAllen Fly Fishing Vest
Redsun - Allen Fly Fishing Reel
Maurice - Allen Fly Fishing Vest

paflyfish
I want to thank the mods on the site Jack, Maurice, Afish and Fishidiot for putting together another fantastic Paflyfish Jamboree.
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Published by Dave Kile [dkile] on 05/18/2010 (2759 reads)
"Numnutz," I figure that is what my dog, Bogey, is saying whenever she sees me rushing around packing for a trip. Lying there wagging her tail she somehow knows I will forget something.

fly fishing fliesSo as I gear up for the Paflyfish Jamboree this weekend I have decided to take stock in what I really need to bring on my fly-fishing trips.  Normally as I head out on a fishing weekend it looks like I am loaded up and heading out on some a family vacation to Florida. You know the trip were the station wagon is stuff with crap and you all you have to eat is warm chicken and mayo sandwiches as you looked longingly at South of the Border in SC because your parents would never stop.  My wife won't let me stop now as any an adult, but I'm not bitter.

Lately I haven gotten lazy packing for my trips.  I create some lame-ass list that is scribbled on an envelope and I can't even read the damn thing after 30 minutes because it was written in such haste.  My mental state is weakened by a litany of sideline questions from my family. I soon find a new sense of urgency to quickly escape before broken door handles and printer problems set me back even further.  I must leave as it would be wrong of me to impeded what could be wonderful lessons in self-reliance for my family.

Between my weakened mental state and crappy notes I toss anything that resembles my fly-fishing gear into the truck.  Thirty minutes into my trip I remember the first thing I forgot and then in my head I hear Bogey chuckling,"numnutz."  

So I am resolved to make a decent list that I can take with me on all my trips and not have my dog laugh at me or so I think.

Gear
Rods, Reel, boots, waders, hat, wading belt, gravel guards, and vest/chestpack

Gear in my chestpack:
Flies (seasonal), tippet, extra leader, strike indicator, split shot, thermometer, polarizing sun glasses, forceps, nippers, Gink floatant, Gore tex rain jacket, headlamp, knife, granola bar, insect repellent, 2x glasses, fishing license, TP in ziplock bag, sunblock and water-proof camera

Things I keep in the my car:
Maps, GPS, cooler with cold beer and food, extra flies, rod carrier, folding chair, iPod player, fleece jacket, wool socks, extra rod, extra reel, change of cloths, fly-fishing books from Landis and Meck.

Some options: 
cigars (keep even more bugs away), matches, wading staff and net

Fly-fishing Packing List PDF

_
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Published by Dave Kile [dkile] on 05/10/2010 (1599 reads)
fly fishing fliesI am always blown away by the talent that exists within the members of the Paflyfish community. This years fly swap was no exception. Yet again all those that participated did a masterful job in with their flies. Everyone was kind enough to share their talents with me and always thrilled when my flies arrive. Bruno has lead the fly swap over the last few seasons.

This years swap had a warm water theme and included streamers, bass surface bugs, grubs and many more exciting ties that I look forward to trying out this year.

Members that participated included: fredrockgrizzly, jerseygeorge, skiltonian, osprey, David, Goodfortune, shipnfish2006. MidasMulligan, Fredrick, Flipinfly, salvelinusfontinalis, BelAirSteve, flyfishermanj, FrequentTyer, RCHILDS, Bruno and HuntinFool.

Guys I really appreciate your efforts. A special thanks to Bruno for organizing this years fly swap again.
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Published by Dave Kile [dkile] on 05/06/2010 (3250 reads)
Adam Mizrahi caught my attention with a very intriguing fly-fishing video he put together on one of his recent trips to the Casselman River. The Casselman is beautiful trout stream that runs from Western Maryland into Pennsylvania that I have enjoyed some really nice spring caddis hatches. The five minute video really captures the fun and mood of the day Adam and his crew made their run out to Western Maryland.

Digging a little deeper I found that Adam has a YouTube site with a small collection of fly-fishing videos from some other trips he has taken. His creative edits and soundtracks add a light surreal tone to his video. Some of the other regional streams he has waded include the Gunpowder, Morgan Run and the Conewago.



When I caught up with Adam I was expecting to hear about some big production company and equipment that he has access to create his videos. I was blown away when he explained this was all done with just a couple of entry level $200 video cameras and the software program iMovie that came with his Macintosh. Really pretty remarkable stuff for a guy that when not taking time to fly-fish and shoot video on a Flip Mino runs a home remodeling business. Self taught, Adam really captures, edits and presents the essence of his days out on the stream.

In addition to these videos, he hopes to get something together so he can enter into the Annual Drake Flyfishing Video Awards.

You can catch up with Adam and see more of his videos on his YouTube site.

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Published by Dave Kile [dkile] on 05/02/2010 (3010 reads)
Lewis and Clark explored the lands acquired in the Louisiana Purchase starting in 1804. William Clark hand mapped their journey and his base map provided much of the information for the western expansion that took place during the nineteenth century.

Having concentrated my studies in digital cartography during college, Google Maps is one of my first bookmarks on my menu bar and enjoy how easy it is creating my own maps. Google Maps is an wonderful base map for me to plan vacations, photography spots and ventures in fly-fishing. It is very easy to create custom map points that allow you to add notes, links, pictures and more.

I have my own private fly-fishing map with all my fishing spots, camps, restaurants and points of interest related to fly fishing. I keep records of all the streams I like with notes on where to park, GPS locations and sections I like to frequent. This is a big time saver and keeps my fishing locations journaled in one location. I keep a wish list of streams I have yet to visit and change those map points once I finally hit those streams.
google maps

I also use this map to plan all my trips. I can figure out distances, times, food stops and best directions based on a few streams I might try and hit. Google driving directions can be pulled up then emailed or printed before I leave.

It is amazing to me what can be done with these maps and how simple it is to mange the information once you get started .

To get going log into Google and then over at Google Maps you will find a link to My Maps in the upper left hand corner below Google Maps Search. Once selected you can browse other maps or get started by creating your own. As you name you map, three new buttons appear in your new map and then you can begin by adding new map points with the middle blue icon.

Google provides several different map points that you can change or add your own. Once you select a new map point it can be moved around and positioned anywhere on your map. There are several types of text you can add in the description. Very simple and straight forward to play around with as you get started. Save and done buttons help make sure you keep the locations you are creating.

The maps are always there as you log back into Google Maps. They can be modified, printed, emailed and embedded into websites. Maps can be shared with others and even worked on together. The only real downside is you need to be connected to the Internet to get access. Newer smart phones and making it easier to get around this issue.

Your next fly-fishing trip does not have to be a Lewis and Clark expedition, but with Google Maps it will make that trip to the Yellowstone River that much easier.
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Published by Dave Kile [dkile] on 04/18/2010 (3390 reads)
The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) has been stocking fingerling rainbow and brown trout throughout the Lehigh River for a few years now. In the spring of 2009 the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission initiated a study to determine the contribution of hatchery fingerling trout stocking to angler catch in at the Francis E Walter outflow to confluence Sandy Run and the confluence Sandy Run to relic dam above Palmerton of the Lehigh River. They are now entering a phase where they will try to assess the viability of the program. Over the past year we have seen some amazing growth rate for fingerling trout, rainbows in particular, and we are hopeful that the PFBC will find that the trout that they have been stocking will have a positive influence on the fishery.

trout finYour help is needed, in addition to survey boxes located at many popular fishing spots along the river we have created an online reporting system located here.

If you catch any trout while fishing the Lehigh River, please take the time to report your catch and also pay attention for fin clips while fishing as these will help to assess if/when the fish may have been stocked by the PFBC or other organizations such as the LRSA.

Snail mail cards are located at the aforementioned boxes located at some of the more popular fishing locations and angler log books can be downloaded from the PFBC PDF here.

Thanks to Tim Skoraszewski and Paul Kanaskie at Rivers Outdoor Adventures and all the members of the Lehigh Coldwater Fishery Alliance and Lehigh River Stocking Association for their conservation efforts on the Lehigh River.
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