Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Deerfield River Spey Day June 1, 2013

For the last three years now, I have volunteered my time, my abilities, and my money to help out with the Deerfield River Spey Day in northwestern Massachusetts.  The event is hosted by Walt Geryk ( and his crew of volunteers.  The event usually consists of fly tying, spey casting demos, free BBQ, raffles, and auctions. 

The proceeds go to Reel Recovery, an organization devoted to assisting cancer survivors in their recovery through fly fishing.  I enjoy helping the cause and traveling to some beautiful river locations.  Every year I have constructed a leather fly wallet and tie a few flies to go along with it.  The items are then added to the list of wonderful trips, gear, and artwork to be auctioned.  This year was no different, except I may have donated more flies and materials than usual.  Again, it’s all for a good cause.  This year was a little different for me.  I usually have the family in-tow with me and we spend time after the event together.  With the addition of a new puppy to our family, traveling a good distance and finding accommodations for the puppy was a bit much this year.  I made the trip this year solo.  Thank goodness the weather held out, unlike last year’s monsoon event.  I had aspirations to fish before and after the event. You would think a solo trip would allow me endless hours of fishing, but it didn’t. 
At the Hairpin Turn

The drive is nearly five hours each way, and not leaving until late Friday afternoon put the kibosh on the evening hatch since I had to find a place to throw down the tent for the night. 

Up early on a quest for coffee took me to the Shellburn Falls Coffee Roasters, then as I scoped out fishable water I ended up at the Zoar Picnic Area and decide to give a hand setting up the big tent. 

Once the event got underway there was a steady flow of people, some faces new, and some familiar.  My little travel table/tying table soon had the company of two other tiers, one of which was Allen Landhere.  I’ve encountered Allen at many of the Somerset Tying Shows, and he is an exceptional tier.  It was nice to have fellow tiers at the table to share in the skills and chatting. 
Allen Landheer
To say the least, the day was perfect and as the afternoon wore on and the event was winding up, I contemplated driving back home or fishing the evening hatch. 
Walt talking casting finess
Auctioneer Chuck!!!

Streamers donated by Eunan
What I’ve noticed each year of doing this event was that the auction has some really incredible items, and each year I watch as countless items go for virtually less than cost.  The point of the event is to raise money for a charity, not get an item for dirt cheap.  This brings me to why we are there.  I am sure we all know someone who has lost the battle with cancer.  I for one know an individual who is currently battling cancer.  His name is Mark and he is an avid soft hackle tier and angler.  Mark goes by the screen name soft-hackle on a few web forums and is a co-founder of the flymph web site (  I met Mark a few years back at a tying event in the Catskills.  I think Mark was the first internet human being, at least fly tying related that I met face to face. Mark came up introduced himself and we just started talking flies, and everything soft hackle. The knowledge just fell out of him.  This was my first time really doing a tying event and I wasn’t even unpacked yet. Mark made me feel like I had been tying with him for years. I think from there it’s been no- stop for me. I still smile thinking of all that enthusiasm he shared.  Eventually I got to sit down and watch him tie and again the knowledge just gushed and I beamed with respect.  Mark and I have stayed in loose contact over the years since then.  Mark truly has been an inspiration to me.  Two years ago I got to see Mark while battling with cancer at the first annual Flymph gathering in the Catskills.  I was glad to be able to stop and say hello to him and the fellow Flymphers.  I had hoped to tie at this years Flymph event, but scheduling was an issue. 
I digress a bit here.  Flash back to the Deerfield.  I decided that my obligations to get back to New York were greater than fooling around chasing trout all evening.  I packed my vehicle with a bit of mixed feelings, but mostly pleased with being a part of the Deerfield River Spey Day.  I couldn’t resist the temptation to wet a line for an hour or so.  I found an unoccupied pull off and threw together my gear and hit the water.  I worked my way toward a sweet little run when I noticed a decent splash as a trout inhaled a bug.  I opted for a March brown parachute pattern, since they were sporadically coming off the water. I then wanted to increase my odds of hooking up with a fish, so I added a dropper fly.  I chose the Genesee  Jewel wet fly, created by Mark.  I’ve heard and experienced the capabilities of this fly as a searching pattern.  Now let me paint this in a different light. 

Genessee Jewel by Mark Libertone
 I am on a tight schedule, I’m physically and mentally beat from the previous events, and I’m fishing a non-descript piece of water I have never fished before, in hopes of connecting with a fish (trout preferred) on a sunny slightly humid June 1st day.  It wasn’t easy, but eventually my parachute was pulled under and the Genesee Jewel was connected to an over excited rainbow trout.  I played the fish to submission with a giddy kid type feeling overcoming me.  It happened, my road trip, tying event, hoopla extravaganza was candy coated with one simple fish, taking one wet fly, created by one remarkable person. 
I fished a bit longer hoping to improve my odds and as the sun shone bright, a brief down pour of rain told me it was time to go.  I searched the skies for a rainbow, but realized it came in the form of a fish.  I thank you Mark Libertone for all the inspiration.