Posted: 06/30/2022 16:31:42
Modified: 06/30/2022 16:31:42
This writer started using a fly rod when he was little, spending his summers fishing on White Pond in South Athol. The fly rod was old and the favor fly was an insect that jumped out of the cork. They were sold at Aubuchon Hardware and the yellows and whites worked best on the bluegills that were the target. Over time my casting efforts improved and hours of casting allowed me to become good enough to land the bug where it was supposed to, and my coordination and sheer determination finally paid off .
My trout fishing was mostly in small local creeks and fishing was quietly stalking along the creek bank and soaking worms, not sleepwalkers, for native and stocked brook trout. It would be years later that the art of delicately presenting a fly, matched with an insect trap, would hit my radar. Many of the brookies ended up in the wicker basket after rushing out of the undercut banks to gobble up those worms that were dug up in the lawn. You had to be careful and replace the dirt and grass and “leave no trace” or there would be hell to pay!
But fly casting in the summer has become something special. We fished hard and competitively all summer. Many contests were hotly contested with my sister Maureen and other White Pond summer residents and, if memory serves, I won them all! Using night owls and a bobber, we caught perch, bluegills, pike, largemouth bass, pond chub and the occasional pout. We occasionally cast artificial lures with Daredevils, Mepps, Flatfish and Al’s Goldfish spinners used, and the artificial nightcrawler with red beads and a spinner.
It was fun, but the time spent with a popper on the fly rod was special. As an adult, my life took me to places where fly fishing was revered. It put me in touch with people who were expert fly-casters. My father, John Roche, was a rifle instructor at Massachusetts Junior Conservation Camp and Henry Guidi, the fly casting instructor, became his good friend. Thanks to Henry, my knowledge of fly casting has grown. He talked about the formal art of fly casting, as taught in England, where students had to hold a log tight against their body with their right elbow and lock their wrist to use the correct form. Listening to Henry, a wonderful teacher, my eyes were opened when he taught that the line on a fly rod does the work and the rod transmits energy to the line. He made you realize that the tighter the loop, the more skilled the thrower. “Let the rod do the work,” said Henry.
Later in life, the chance to learn fly casting from Bonnie Holding at Tim Pond Camp in Maine came along and that was my graduate degree. She saw my habit of using my wrist and made me tuck the end of the rod up my sleeve. Lifestyle habits die hard! Saltwater fly casting with big rods and big flies for striped bass was also an education and at one time yours truly was a fly casting instructor at conservation camp. I wasn’t Henry Guidi, but over the course of more than a year, a youngster with no prior fly casting experience won the casting camp championship.
Last week the fly rods were out and the White Pond sunfish cooperated. On a lightweight four weight fly rod they are really fun. Every once in a while the cork poppers get caught by a bass and it’s a thrill as you try to keep the big mouth from covering like water lilies and you have to control the fish using the rod, for the leader is usually a test of four pounds or smaller. My rod collection also includes a Thomas & Thomas 7 weight rod with an Orvis Battenkill reel which was purchased to catch smallmouth bass Minnesota Boundary Waters and it has done a great job in my life as a teacher and counselor of the Mahar Fish ‘N’ Game Club made these trips possible. The outfit is also a great stripe combo, but it hasn’t been used in a while. The bluegills, however, are still there and still obliging and when they hit the popper this guy is 12 again and life is good!
My year of bass fishing has also begun and on Wednesday night the bass were very eager to gobble up a green and white Senko. There were no mosquitoes and it was a great night to fish and relax. Life is really beautiful!
Mike Roche is a retired teacher who has been involved in conservation and wildlife issues his entire life. He has written Sportsman’s Corner since 1984 and has been a counselor for the Mahar Fish’N Game Club, counselor and director of the Massachusetts Conservation Camp, was a Massachusetts Hunter Education Instructor for over 40 years, and is a guide to licensed hunter in New York. . He can be reached at [email protected]