Prepping: Yes, Fishing & Fly-Tying is Prepping

We don’t talk about the role of fishing much in terms of prepping and it’s an oversight we are about to set right with some personal history.

As I’ve told you many times, pappy was a Seattle firefighter (captain and acting chief in the 5th battalion now and again) so his days on, and off, we scattered all over the calendar.  Which was very convenient because he loved to go fishing in an 8-foot pram we’d built in the family home basement.

A number of times, we’d put that boat up car-top carriers of our ’49 Chevy and off we’d go.   One of our favorite haunts was Jameson Lake in eastern Washington, not too far from Sun Lakes State Park.

Jameson is a unique lake, carved out by erosion fueled by ice sheet melt and it lays in a north-south coulee that’s perhaps 300-feet high along the rocky, damn-near vertical shore on the west side of the lake.  Not very wide, but quite long.

Most of our limiting-out happened because I’d been schooled in the manly art of “single-egging.”  We’d set out an anchor right in the deepest part of the lake, northwest corner and start reeling them in.  But, on a number of occasions we got “skunked.”

Pappy noticed, though, that when the fish weren’t biting on the eggs we’d been soaking on the bottom, they were feeding near the surface.  An insatiable quest for knowledge runs in our family so he got hold of a fisheries biologist with the state of Washington and was told that this was a (thus and such) shrimp that was hatching and the fish went wild for it.

Next thing you know, pappy was adding a whole new dimension to his fishing exploits.  He signed up for “fly tying” classes at Patrick’s Fly Shop out on Eastlake Avenue in Seattle.  I’m pleased to report, even now at age 70, Patrick’s is still in business and is the oldest fly fishing shop in Seattle.  They were also something of a “hobby shop” in the 1950’s so when pappy was going though feathers and such for fly tying, I’d be drooling over the latest Revell Models.  I so wanted the UFO model…..

If you click over to Patrick’s “About” page here, you will see a picture of a bunch of men sitting around learning how to tie fishing flies.  Pappy signed up for classes – which was a real deal because there was either no charge or just something minimal at the time.  They’d just appreciate students buying equipment there.  Which pappy happily did.  Except for a few items that came from George Herter’s catalog before Cabela’s….

When we got sufficiently good with the tying part of specific flies taught in class, he decided to tie up something he dubbed the “Jameson Shrimp” based on what we’d seen in the water over at Lake Jameson.

He piddled around for several weeks, getting the fly “just so.”  And I have to admit, those fairly small hooks and a rather drab but correctly colored set of feathers, topped off with a dollop of brown lacquer as the “head” and it was a dead-ringer for the fish’s favorite.

Purists like us don’t mess with lowland fishing for trout in the hot summer months.  Trout in warm lakes taste muddy, which is not very useful when the whole point of trout fishing was to get enough trout that we could pop them in the Little Chief smoker (which we put in the fireplace in the living room of the house) and turned them into the best-damn Territory smoked trout you can imagine.

As soon as the weather cooled down enough, we were back to Jameson and fishing again.  This was, now we other boats around user were getting “skunked” we were reeling ’em in like crazy!  We’ve motor up to the north end of the lake, kill the motor, and wind-troll to the south end.  Often as not, we’d limit out in one circuit, sometimes two.

Word spread like wild fire in the fire department.  Suddenly, people all over the city were fishing with Jameson Shrimp tied by Cap’ Ure at 37’s.

OK, nice touchy-feely fishing story and all, but it has what to do with prepping?

Well, to begin with, at the design layer, there’s a process here.

  • Find a food source
  • Find out what eats
  • Bait with it’s food of choice
  • Harvest
  • (And have a bunch of teriyaki smoked trout with an Asahi or Kirin beer.)

Most animals eat daily so the first part – figuring out what they eat – is the “keys to the kingdom.”

Although we live in an age where the oceans are quickly being stripped of resource, water is still an incredible “growth medium.”  Last I heard from him *(he’s busy as hell) Oilman2 was looking at an aquaponics set-up on his place.

And I hear from my consigliere that the USDA has some programs coming along that will encourage small farmers (like us) to put in ponds in order to raise freshwater food stocks.  We’re still kick around whether we want to do that, but a 2 or 3-acre small lake fed by our seasonal creek at the high end and with a concrete spillway at the low end, paid by for (in part) by taxpayer dollars (through tax write-offs and such) is a very interesting prospect.  I figure it would be 15-feet deep, tops.

Sure, trout wouldn’t be the game here, bass though is pretty good eating if not too muddy-tasting.

Which is why I have been looking at an Amazon offering of a $70 Beginner Fly Tying Kits for Trout, Saltwater or Bass.  Mostly because it’s too far to commute from Texas up to Seattle where the right path would be to learn the art directly from the folks at Patrick’s like pappy did.

In a virtual world where “prepping” seems to equate to owning guns and preparing for the end of the world, a different tack is to find some skills -like fly tying” and put them to good use.  Like building a camp fire with one match (in the rain) fly-tying is a useful skill.  Few people can take a few bits of wool, cloth, or feathers and turn it into a delectable morsel to tempt a fish into your eventual frying pan.

Two other quick points.  One of my favorite Jameson Shrimp stories involves a couple of frustrated firemen coming by the house one time saying “Cap, we got a bunch of fish on the hook, but they all got away!  What’s the deal?”

Pappy inspected his Jameson Shrimp that he’d tied:  The hook’s barb had broken off.  Apparently, he’d set the vice too tight and cracked the barbs off.  Still sharp as hell, but also easy for the fish to spit out – which they did.  Since he gave away flies, he promptly tied up new ones and added a “QC” step to his tying process (“Check barb!”).  Everyone was happy, except a few thousand trout in Lake Jameson over the year.

One other bit of fly-fishing trivia, passed on by buddy Rich who came by last week for a round of “Texas Outback Golf” on our private course (The Cottonmouth Creek Country Club):

“Did you know the Atlantic Salmon is nearly the same fish as the Steelhead on the west coast?”

I thought about it – pulling the golf cart down the second fairway, a short 140 yard hole along the creek.  “No, I didn’t…”

“Yep.  And the lure of choice for either, if you’re a real sportsman is the Jock Scott….”  (Rich won the round by three holes, by the way)

Sure enough, Amazon has everything: Jock Scott Fly Fishing Fly – Size 4 – 6 Pack for $10-bucks.  At those prices, I’m pretty sure it’s a machine-tied fly.  To purists, though, tying your own flies, making your own rod (which Patrick’s used to do, though don’t know if they do now) and then catching fish with the rig, well, how does Life get better?

We can take up the winding of ferrules onto three strips of select bamboo for a custom 11-foot fishing pole some other morning.  But, again, how many people in their prepping plans include a pocket full of ferrules and some of the colorful thread and lacquer to seal it all up?  For that matter, who has an assortment of fishing like in their prepping plans?

Wanted to mention it.  Prepping isn’t about living in fear of the end of the world.  It’s about living peacefully and in harmony with it.

Oh, and enjoying smoked trout and a beer, while we’re at it.

Write when you get rich,

7 thoughts on “Prepping: Yes, Fishing & Fly-Tying is Prepping”

  1. …Small box of generic flies and surface lures (and leader, a few hooks, and a couple snap-swivels), 100′ coil of stainless wire, a couple hundred feet of Kevlar thread, a pair of generic (H-F) chain-nose pliers with a perpendicular slot “Dremel-cut” in one side of the tip (they make excellent “fish hook removal pliers,” without the weakness inherent in the aluminum ones, and are still usable as needle-nose pliers), collapsible Shakespeare spin-cast rod/reel — My kids have this “kit,” too. Rod hangs on the backpack. The kit is 1’x4’x6′ and eats about as much space inside as 3 packs of cigarettes, because it is hard plastic (still working on that.) Our med kits contain New-Skin, which is clear lacquer. Dunno how well the lacquer will hold Kevlar, but one of my “afternoon projects” this coming Spring is to build a few Kevlar bow strings, so there’ll be an eventual update.

    A body who’s “prepping” for a GOOD situation doesn’t need to carry everything they need (them thar kitchen sinks gets heavy, quickly!) They just need to carry the means to build anything they could need in a “run or die” situ, and enough supplies to keep them alive until it’s built…

  2. fish and wildlife will come out and help you with a pond on a wildlife refuge such as yours. they have grant money available, they will help to lay it out, and have fish to stock it with. call your local fish and wildlife ranger in your county for details.

    • Problem is nothing with govt is without strings. If they put in fish, they might expect me to share which I’m not inclined to do, save a load of rock salt to the ass-end of trespassers…

  3. There’s no more fish left; outdoor “sports” pubs outed all of the out of the way fishing holes and they were fished out. What’s left is govt planting program implants. Tie all the flies you want, there’s nothing to fish for unless the gov gives it to you, or all the fishermen are extinct for a few years. No sea turtles either if not for govt saying hands off.

    But I remember walking a wilderness creek and watching 18 inchers from the bluff. A single Outdoor Life story had them all gone in a year. Survivalists are better off watching for crawdads and mussels.

  4. Great article George. You inspired me to get all my fishing gear ready to start the fishing seaon with the grandkids. They all got new poles for Christmas. I also got the golf clubs ready.

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