Fly Fishing Film Tour, Cleveland

fftlogoSome years ago, I was able to catch a Fly Fishing Film Tour in Maumee, Ohio.  It made a lasting impression and I always hoped that each year the funding or sponsorship would be found to keep it going.  I was excited to learn that the film tour was not only still being produced, but stopping in Cleveland this year.  There was no question, I would be in attendance.

While my overall opinion on the film tour is highly favorable, I do give honest critques and there were some things I didn’t like.  Let me start by saying, none of the negatives were profound enough to outweigh the positives, and I was glad I went and would go again.  So let me get the bad parts off my chest.  Parking is a genuine pain in the a** around the Cleveland Museum of Natural History.  There are very few parking spaces on the street, a small lot at the museum that fills quickly, and a nightmare traffic flow problem at the next closest parking garage at the art museum.  The latter option, gives everyone approaching from the right the ability to turn in, while if you need to access making a left turn you will wait an ungodly amount of time – all while making everyone behind you mad that isn’t trying to get in the garage.  For the incredible inconvenience, you are treated to $8 parking.  Maybe the locals or people that visit routinely know the ins and outs and how to navigate it, to anyone else it was a buzzkill start to the night.  I must not have been the only one who thought so, as I heard a museum worker discuss with a patron a “capital project” that included a new parking garage.  If true, I’m not one to just complain, I would give to it.  The next downfall was the apparent mindset of ‘the more the merrier’.  I bought my tickets as a pre-purchase and know there was an “at the door” option for a few bucks more.  I’m sure no one was turned away at the door.  When it came time to get seated for the film, my wife and I ended up in makeshift rows of chairs at the side of the auditorium.  A not so great view of the screen with people behind you putting their feet on the rung of your chair or inadvertently kicking it every 2 minutes.  Heard many people commenting around me about it.

CWF03062015AJSo now let’s talk about the awesome-ness which is the Fly Fishing Film Tour!  My night started with the same beautiful date I had years ago in Maumee, only instead of  being a good looking girlfriend, it was my wife and mother of my two children.  It was pretty fun to have a couple people say they had seen her at events at the museum before – even though she hadn’t been there in 30 years.  It was flattering to my wife (and I) and she is so humble, it was fun to see her embarrassed by the attention.  I know I’m biased, but how gorgeous is she?!

CWF03062015beerBoth the event and museum staff were warm and friendly.  The reception area was plenty sizable and despite the large turnout, there was no shortage of great tasting free appetizers.  Drinks were priced fairly for this type of event at $4 a beer and $6 a cocktail.  My beer of choice, a tasty 16 oz. Sweet Water Brewing Company Pale Ale, felt like a steal.  I enjoyed the beer and the ‘packaging’ was as cool as I have ever seen – a Steelhead in air with the fisherman in the background standing in a small wooden jon boat. Photo to the left.

There were numerous vendor/sponsor tables throughout the corridors.  While due to the aforementioned parking, I did not have time to visit many.  My wife and I decided food and beverage superseded them, in the limited time before the movie.  It did look like people were having a good time checking out the various wares and services, along with entering some raffles for substantially nice prizes.  Bummed I didn’t get to participate.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESSo the best is for last. The night is truly about the film(s) and that has never disappointed me in the two events I’ve attended. For those that don’t know, the format is a series of short films that in total, resemble the length of a full feature film.  Each short is as diverse and entertaining as the anglers that enjoy the sport.  From swagger and style, to humor, serious, and conservation, it is all covered.  Some parts light, some heavy, all overwhelmingly entertaining.  You leave feeling connected to nature, the fish, and the brotherhood of fly fisherman all over the world.  It is a near religious experience.  The energy and vibe of what not only is happening on screen, but with the audience, is impossible for me to explain in words.  The more obvious and easy to describe moments are when hundreds of people let out an audible sigh and breath of relief when a fish is landed or the collective gasp on a missed strike or fish comes off.  I wont go any further explaining – I just want to invite you to experience it.  If the Fly Fishing Film Tour is coming to a city near you, don’t miss it!

Cleveland Metroparks, Trout Derby at Wallace Lake

I have to say NE Ohioans are a hardy ‘hearty’ bunch (Valentine’s Day pun intended).  A rather dire forecast of temps, wind, and snow did not discourage the masses from participation in an ice fishing trout derby to benefit the Cleveland Metroparks Fishing Fund.  Still somewhat new to NE Ohio and not knowing what to expect, I have to admit I was pretty surprised to see the parking lot nearly full at 8:15 a.m.  I guess I have a lot of kindred spirits here that wouldn’t let the holiday or weather keep us from fishing.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESSAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESThe event format was straightforward and very organized, registration from 8 to 9 a.m., fishing from 9 a.m to 2 p.m. and have your longest trout measured by a roaming crew of staff.  A good selection of bait was offered for sale on site, which I thought was a nice gesture to encourage novices and others who may not be well geared or prepared.  I also want to mention that everyone from park staff, rangers, police, and even fellow anglers were very friendly.  Anyone with perceptions or stereotypes of urban areas would have had those shattered today with the amount of camaraderie I experienced and witnessed.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESSAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESI was on the ice about 30 minutes before the start horn would be sounding.  Of all the fishing types I do, those that follow this blog with some regularity know that I am not a very good or confident ice fisherman.  In fact of all the types of fishing I do, it is easily what I have the least success with.  So I wasn’t going to over think where to drill holes, or come up with some crazy creative idea of where to fish.  I saw where everyone was, and simply chose a reasonable and respectable distance to set up.  While I was a little disappointed I was in an area only about four and a half feet deep, the Aqua-Vu camera showed some submerged branches and it looked ‘fishy’ enough on the monitor to try my luck.  The next 20 minutes was spent talking with nearby anglers as we all waited for the starting signal.  There was some healthy bantering between some of the people, likely locals who knew each other, but I had no problem jumping right in.  One of my contributions was a young lady who complained about being cold as she sat outside of the Shanty her group had brought.  I mentioned that being in, opposed to next to the Shanty, would prove to be warmer.  Her reply, “well I want to watch what’s going on!”.

With all of the conversations, time flew by and soon enough it was time to get down to fishing business.  I had a small jig tipped with two waxworms on one rod and a jig tipped with trout worms on my other.  No more than 90 seconds after the horn sounded, I looked up to see a local (Brian) hooked up and landing a small Rainbow Trout no more than 30 feet from me.  Returning to my own task at hand, I saw three Rainbows on the Aqua-Vu monitor.  I was sure I was the next to catch a fish, however, all of the fish in view showed no interest in my offering.  This scenario would play out multiple times over the next few hours.  I was simply seeing too many fish to move, yet I was unable to trigger a bite.  When I finally decided to switch to Powerbait, the weather took a dramatic turn for the worse.  Rather intense snow and wind, found me huddling over my holes, with no desire to re-rig.

CWF021415rtroutSAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESWhile I would catch no fish, plenty of others had success throughout the morning around me.  In fact, I would say more people caught fish than didn’t.  I was happy to hear people cheering when a fish was caught, and many of the people that I had gotten to know through conversations earlier kept me in the loop with what was going on.  I learned of a girl who caught her first fish ever, many youngsters having success, and plenty of savvy veterans catching numbers of fish – seeking to constantly upgrade into a prize winning catch.  The photo above of Mike Durkalec, Cleveland Metroparks, measuring a nice trout would be an example of one of those savvy veterans, Brian Kich, who put on quite a fishing clinic.  He had to catch & release as his success took him within one of his limit in the first 45 minutes of the derby.  At the time, the above fish qualified as 3rd on the overall leaderboard.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESSadly, there would be no prizes for the author, in fact there wouldn’t even be a single catch.  The photo above is so you know the exact person who needs to have his ice fishing man-card revoked or maybe you’ll know who to come up to and say, “my four year old with a Snoopy Pole outfished you”.  My other thought is to make a silkscreen of the photo and have it slapped onto a T Shirt that reads, “I went to the Cleveland Metroparks Trout Derby, and all I got was this lousy selfie”.

In all seriousness, I had a great time and it was a fun event.  Bravo to the organizers and attendees.  To the fish in Wallace Lake, in my best Schwarzenegger voice, “I’ll be back”.

An unofficial record trout in Idaho

It’s not that often that I post stories from outside of Ohio or the expanded Great Lakes Region.  When I came across a ‘jaw dropping’ photo of an enormous Rainbow Trout in a recent news feed, I knew I would be making an exception.  Take a look for yourself;

CWF02102014idahotroutLarry Warren with his 32 inch, 28.37 pound Rainbow Trout on 1/8/15

The story goes that Larry was fishing on the North Fork of the Clearwater River when he caught the mammoth trout.  Idaho law requires any Rainbow Trout over 20 inches with an intact adipose fin, must be released if it is caught in waters where Steelhead may be found.  Wild Steelhead are protected in the Snake River water system, under the Endangered Species Act, and Larry knew he had no choice but to return it to the water.  Good for Larry that he knew the rules, and good for Larry that he followed them.  Bad for Larry that he couldn’t keep it, because it would have shattered the Idaho record by nearly 8 pounds!

On a final note, I want to say that I admire Larry for providing the world with a wonderful photo.  The fish is massive, and he didn’t shove it down the camera lens to prove it.  To the trained eye, nearly all of the major ‘cool catch’ photos around the web, suffer from the same problem of anglers trying to over compensate the size of their catch by creative posing.  This is an old school angler, with an old school display of his trophy, and I love it.

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