April 14, 2012 The West Branch Angler & Resort played host to the 3rd annual Hell or High Water Event. This event marks the kick-off to the 2012 Catskill region season. With unseasonably warm weather, bugs and active fish didn’t wait for this event to start off 2012. The event was a full schedule of talks and seminars, vendors, Orvis 101 and 201 schools, and some fun casting events.
This was my first trip to the Delaware, let alone the West Branch Angler… and I was quite impressed. Sam and his team run a top notch operation. Every single person I met (employee or event staffer) couldn’t have been more helpful. The entire property is a family friendly laid back atmosphere that left nothing missing. Make sure to check them out if you are in the area or want a trip to some great water- http://www.westbranchangler.com
So on to the event. Starting at 8am there were talks every hour ranging from Loren Williams detailed presentation about fishing in varying weather conditions, fly tying demos, bug talk, and even how to take better photos. While I was able to catch bits of most of the talks, any of these on their own were worth the trip.
Want to know line tapers? they can help
Want to learn knots? yup they do that
Want to learn to cast? grab a rod
Plus gear, flies, rigging… in a few hours you can learn it all
Steve Silverio was presenting the history of bomber patterns and their evolution. As always there were more than a few flies to drool over.
Through the morning the fly shop was pretty busy. Flies, leaders, rods, waders… you name it, they were being bought. John Shaner from Hardy spent a few hours reconditioning and sharing history of various Hardy reels.
Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing (PHWFF) was there as well. This is probably the BEST organization in fishing today. I had the honor of sharing lunch and dinner with 2 of the participants and it really opened my eyes to the great work they are doing. There was an auction going on, and while I never heard a final number… I know it was a good day. Please go to http://www.projecthealingwaters.org/ to find a chapter near you and get involved. We have some things in the works and hope to have PHWFF tiers featured in the near future.
I took a break for a bit to check out the river. Matt Smythe (http://www.fishingpoet.com) and I kept our eyes peeled for bugs and risers.
Regal is known for their high end tying vises, and they’ve started casting boat parts. While Oar locks and anchor rigs have been out for a while, they are now releasing a full raft frame. This thing is super strong with the quality you expect from Regal http://www.regalsportingtechnologies.com
A great part of this event were the Fly Games. While it was a competition, it had a nice open format allowing people to sign up and cast whenever they were free. Setup on the lawn behind the restaurant, it allowed for people to watch (or harass) while enjoying a sandwich or burger.
Sage and Rio sponsored the distance casting. A 9′ 5wt Sage ONE paired with a Rio Gold line had everyone gunning for that 100′ cast. Five casts to get your best distance, but you hand to be accurate… the lane was only 12′ wide.
Another neat event was the “High Jump Cast” sponsored by Ross/ Scientific Angler. At 3 distances each angler to make 3 forward and 3 reverse casts… all from a chair.
There was a sack race sponsored by Scott. 3 targets to hit, but the catch? You move between them in a burlap sack.
More bugs were showing up and had me move down to the home pool to check on what was going on.