The Global FlyFisher
Simply the Best Place to go for Online Fly Fishing and Fly Tyinghttp://globalflyfisher.com/reports/ifts-2001
How to go from Europe, Colorado and Endicott, NY to a fly show in New Jersey for 2½ days and still feel that it has been worth all the trouble. Read the Global FlyFisher partners' story from The International Fly Tiers Show in New Jersey November 2001.
How to go from Europe; Colorado and Endicott, NY to a fly show in New Jersey for 2½ days and still feel that it was worth all the trouble.
What can I say? A crazy plan all the way! To go to New York for less than three days essentially to be together with a couple of fly fishing friends. How do you tell your wife, your kids, yourself and your bank that this is sane?
You don't, basically...
Well, line up your arguments anyway:
- No, anthrax is actually a highly overrated threat
- No, of course my plane will not fall down - willfully or not. The risk is minimal
- No, it is NOT expensive! Actually it never was cheaper
- Yes, I really want to see these guys! They are my partners!
- I have an obligation to judge this contest that we made...
- I have to bring these prizes there
- There is a show which I want to see
- I will meet a lot of old and new friends
- I might sell some posters to cover my expenses
But don't reveal:
- She has to get up at 4:30 AM to drop you off at the airport
- The extreme Danish air port tax
- The fact that you will almost travel more than your stay will last
- You will spend a lot of money on stuff you really don't need
- That security and immigration will be a hassle and a farce
- That you will be worth nothing the morning you come home and might even be jet lagged for a few days
- You will not have time to power shop for interesting items for the family - not to speak of Christmas presents
With all that in place, order your ticket. They go as low as 300.- US$. Mine was 350... not including the aforementioned hilarious tax. Get up at 4:30. Get to the airport (wife willing to drive you) and survive the check in of too much luggage for a 2½ day stay.
Stay on your feet through insane security in transfer in Amsterdam's Schipol airport. Squeeze yourself into an all too tight space in the transatlantic plane. Devour several flight meals and see both Planet of the Apes and Moulin Rouge simultaneously on three screens the size of Game Boys on a distance more suited for 32" monitors. Not to mention erratic sound in ill fitting, agonizingly tight earphones.
Combine all this with 8 straight hours in the air followed by US immigrations and the Forestry and Agriculture Service, who wants to turn over your bags (which at least are there) full of skins and feathers from exotic animals.
To think that it just takes the happy face of GFF partner Bob Petti waiting at the arrival to forget all this! A hand shake and a hug, and the fact that I'm tired and worn out, hours behind my normal rhythm, is gone.
Great to see him again! Plenty time to grab a beer before second partner Steve Schweitzer lights up the day even more with his happy face. Hugs and hand shakes all around, and many sad comments on the fact that third parnter, Bob 'Raske' Skehan cannot be here too.
The weather is surprisingly fair. Sunshine and 20 degrees centigrade. The ride to the hotel is smooth. The room is ready. Our booth a just by the entrance. My name is in the program, and I get a preprinted badge.
We go to the room to exchange gifts. All sorts of strange things change hands. Posters, fly boxes, tying materials, cd's - even 1½ kilos of candy.
We are here to select the winners of the FlyMeister 2001 contest, and Bob has all the flies neatly arranged in boxes. We get to see them live for the first time, and while arranging them in nice little wooden blocks provided by Steve, we assess the crop. A nice bunch of flies, indeed. Not as many as we had hoped for, but enough to make us happy, and fill the categories.
We spend the evening in the bar, where people aggregate and say their hellos. Bob is thrilled beyond his wildest hopes when AK Best comes up to our table, and says "Hello Martin, good to see you again". AK stayed with me while he and his wife were in Copenhagen this spring.
Between us we know right about every person in the room, and we delight ourselves in greeting old and new friends in the fly tying community. Mike Martinek, Kim Boas, Mike Hogue, Theo Baakelar, Harry Scholl, Ted and Bob Patlen, Rick Ross and too many other names to remember. "Great to see you again", "Meet this'n'that", "Nice to meet you".
Falling asleep is not hard. Waking up isn't either - at 3:30 in the morning, when my body seems to recall that it must be morning. Luckily I fall back asleep again, and the next morning I'm all acclimatized and ready to roll!
It was a busy week at work and the last thing I needed was to take a Friday off when so much had to be accomplished. But, I had purchased my plane ticket and plans were made to meet the other partners of GFF at the IFTS 2001. Besides, I had awards, trophies, ribbons for the contest GFF was sponsoring and some secret presents for my fellow partners in GFF... I had to attend!
It was a busy week at work and the last thing I needed was to take a Friday off when so much had to be accomplished. But, I had purchased my plane ticket and plans were made to meet the other partners of GFF at the IFTS 2001. Besides, I had awards, trophies, ribbons for the contest GFF was sponsoring and some secret presents for my fellow partners in GFF...I had to attend!
I overloaded my hockey duffel bag with all my goodies and proceeded to the airlines check-in desk at Denver International. I was pleasantly greeted by a uniformed National Guard rep toting a M-16 and a belt-full of ammo clips. As I struggled to move my bags inchward towards the front of the line, he offered to help. "Oh my gosh", I thought, "here we go…I have a bag that weighs more than a stripped down Sherman tank full of tying vises, tools and whatnot. I am sure to cause interest now!" But, much to my surprise, he only helped me and didn't ask questions further. The lady at the baggage counter wasn't too happy with me, however. After going through the metal detector, in phases (me first, then my cowboy boots, then my belt), we were on our way!
Once I landed in Newark, I grabbed my skimpy carry-on and dashed to see where Bob Petti and Martin Joergensen were. I knew that Martin got in a few hours ahead of me, so I did not know what condition to expect those two in... did they stop by the pub for a few? Would they forget me? But fear not, they both were steadfast on a bench beside my luggage carousel waiting for me! After hugs and handshakes were exchanged, we grabbed my tonnage and jammed it in Bob's awaiting car (Bob, can you get a bigger car next time?!).
Upon check in at the hotel, we were anxious to get to the room and undo the baggage to reveal secret gifts to one another. One can only imagine from here that we GFF boys treat each other very nicely when it comes to tying tools, gear and materials!!!
A perk of running GFF I guess!
After a quick undoing of baggage and a total re-arrangement of the hotel room, we left it in a tornado-state and headed for the hotel bar. That is where hobnobbing, general joking and some tomfoolery took place over the course of the weekend; rumour has it that I told some jokes that weren't funny and did my impression of the human pez dispenser, but those are all lies, I tell you.
The likes of A.K. Best, Paul Schmookler, Ed Engle, Chuck Furimsky, Dick Talluer, Mike Martinek, Byard Miller, Kim Boal, Richard Ross, Jack Gartside and others all invaded the libation station and shared lies that took a year to conjure up! Most impressively was the appearance of George Harvey, who celebrated his 90th birthday (I believe) while he was there! Bravo George! We can only hope that we all live on as missionaries of the sport as long and well as you have.
Our booth was situated near the entrance to the show, which afforded us a look at all who came in... and vice versa! We saw many friends and shared many stories in an effort to catch up. In most every conversation came the brief and sincere discussion of the September 11th tragedy. With solemn faces, each of us shared our version of how our hearts have reached out in support of those affected. It was touching to see a bunch of flyfishers, both Americans and foreign citizens, united in a common supportive thread of thought.
Now, it was very good to see my website partners again... and we only hope that the fourth, Mr. Skehan, can join us in the future! Let me start with Mr. Petti. I email-chat him almost every day where we share fishing talk, braggart stories, rod building questions, website to-do's and general talk having nothing to do with flyfishing. He's become a part of my daily routine just like going to the work coffee machine in the morning. And now to see him again for only the second time I can remember in 3 years. We did our catching up via IM before going to the show... and it was good to see him again! He shared lovely pix of his daughters, who are growing like a weed! It's amazing how flyfishing has brought us all together, but it is the sharing of daily life events that seem to be most precious when we talk.
And now for Martin. A long lost Danish brother is he. We have video-conferenced from time-to-time, so I get to see him, his wife and his two boys on occasion. Internet technology is a wonderful thing! Martin really is the guy who is the 'cog' behind GFF. He supplies the technology input and the overall suggestive graphic look and appeal. The Bobs and I just provide content and some complaining from time to time! But, without Martin, you wouldn't have the website that GFF is today... so I guess we will keep him!
It was certainly great to see Martin again. The last time I saw him was well over a year ago when I visited Denmark and spent a week fishing. I plan to go again this year, but not just to see Martin. His close friends, namely Henning and Ken, have become good friends of mine as well... and they are quite entertaining individuals themselves... especially that Ken! I truly believe that Henning is the voice of reason when those three get together!
So, again, I repeat that we all missed seeing our other partner, Raske. But not always do schedules coincide. Be it known that Raske was sorely missed.
Oh, and you ask how was the show? I kinda got lost in describing the catch-up and not the show. And that was primarily on purpose. For you see, meeting my fraternity of flyfishing friends was the primary reason I came. There are many flyfishing shows throughout the year that have booths and booths of vendors and tyers, but only one caters to the international crowd like no other. Chuck Furimsky's International Fly Tying Symposium is the one event I look forward to each year in meeting my long-lost domestic and international tying friends.
Until next year...
A small town kid in The Big City.
The trip from my house in Endicott to Newark Airport is roughly three and a half hours. What starts off as a pleasant drive through the western foothills of the Catskills morphs into a turbo speed slalom course through I-95 traffic with Stevie Ray blasting on the CD player as I race to pick up Steve and Martin. If anyone needs to be convinced that airline travel is safer than driving, just take them for a ride along the Jersey turnpike late on a Friday afternoon.
Walking into Terminal B at the airport, I see sure evidence that the world has changed - a pair of camo-outfitted National Guard troops, one with a very large automatic weapon slung over his shoulder and his hand at the ready. No kidding around with these guys - they looked pretty serious. I thought it best not to ask them for directions to the international gate, eh? However, the bubbly lady at the information desk was quite helpful.
I figured finding Martin in an airport slightly larger than my hometown would present a problem. "Meet me at the KLM desk", he instructed, as neither of us really knew what to expect. As luck would have it, there is only one exit from the international terminals (and customs), and the KLM flight crew was just coming through. I was assured that the passengers would be coming through at any minute, as they were still making their way through customs. I must say, as a casual observer, that the flight crew on Martin's plane was not hard on the senses. Lucky SOB.
Sure enough, here comes Martin, dragging luggage and a big smile. Great to see him - it's been nearly two years.
Since Steve's flight wasn't scheduled to arrive for another couple hours, Martin and I had the pleasant task of trying to find somewhere to sit and relax in an airport under guard and under construction. The funny thing is, all the cool stores and lounges are beyond the security checkpoints and unavailable to people without an airline ticket. After a half an hour of shoving our way through one crowd after another, I was thinking that maybe it would be worth buying a ticket just so we could go sit down somewhere! Sheesh!! At least the weather was nice, so a walk outside between terminals was actually enjoyable.
We finally found a little watering hole with an empty table and there we sat for an hour or more, nursing a couple Coronas and catching up on life. Damn, it was good to see him again. It was actually hard to believe that we were actually sitting together having a talk. After the fourth or fifth "You guys all set?" from the waiter, we got the hint and headed off toward Terminal C where the Continental flights arrive.
Since we can't pass through the security checkpoint, we have to meet Steve at the baggage pickup, so downstairs we go. Of course, seating space is limited (cough cough) in such an area, so we sat along the luggage carrier for awhile until we started seeing bags coming through the conveyor system. Soon enough, here comes the bionic man, Steve Austin-er-Denver-er-Schweitzer. Hugs all around. Damn, it was good to see him, too. You think you keep in touch with people via emails, but there is something special about getting to talk fact to face. He and Martin double teamed his jumbo duffle (what is it with these guys and heavy luggage?), and off we were to the hotel, dinner, drinks, and the show.
Ok, so here is little ole me sitting at the table with Martin and Steve (not to be confused with Martin and Lewis), stomach grumbling as we wait for our dinner. Along comes Mike Hogue from Badger Creek Fly Tying. Mike's a good egg and always quick with a story, so he pulls up a chair and settles in. As we were enjoying our bar fair, AK Best stops by and chats with Martin before joining us briefly at our table. Seems AK stayed at Martin's house when visiting Denmark recently, so "the old guy in the garden" had a reason to visit with us and chew the fat. Now - I really am a small town guy - I don't get out much - so this was pretty cool. The room was filling with a who's who of fly tying personalities. I was like a kid in a candy store.
I'm not worthy!
Once we got the contest flies organized, took stock of our booth inside the show entrance, and socialized a bit, it was time to toss and turn all night waiting for the show to open.
The show itself - where to start? From my point of view, it was mostly a blur. Some highlights include
- Paul Schmookler's new magazine, The Art of Angling, looks delicious.
- Tying streamers and bucktails in line-of-sight of Mike Martinek is intimidating, but I really nailed my last fly and was brave enough to show it to him. Bless him for being complementary.
- The "Fly Tyer" guys didn't know us - or at least pretended not to know us. Me thinks they don't like it that we give away for free what they charge for, heh heh.
- How about that Chris French? It was cool to have one of the contest winners at the show. He was psyched.
- I never got tired of people telling us how much they like the site. It sure makes the work worthwhile.
- I didn't shop. Well - I didn't have any money to shop - so that didn't help - but I think I'm reaching critical mass of fly tying materials. I have no burning needs. That only can mean one thing - I need tie more flies.
- Kaufman's bonefish book is simply amazing. I gotta whisper in Santa's ear about that one, for sure.
- The Emmett Johnson Show - coming to a fly tying event near you.
- Walking around the room, I couldn't help but get hit with a feeling of inadequacy in the face of such vast amounts of knowledge and creativity. Everywhere you turned there was something to see and learn.
- Seeing all 110 contest flies lined up next to each other was inspiring - many hours of work went into that display and we were honored by everyone's participation.
- Blown glass fish - simply amazing.
- George Harvey - bless his soul.
- The staff at the Doubletree Hotel - top notch.
- Meeting Kenny Abrames and Jack Gartside - what a hoot.
- Rick Ross is one heck of a fine fly tyer, but don't ever follow him to New Brunswick to find a place to eat.
- Martin "Shutterbug" Joergensen and his detached flash - here, there, and everywhere.
- Steve - you did one heck of a fine job with the trophies and ribbons.
- The "Tie a Fly for Freedom" display was a heavy dose of reality - as was the lower Manhattan skyline.
- I got a knot in my throat saying goodbye to the guys. Who knows when we'll ever be together again.
Now I sit here, trophies getting boxed and ready to be mailed to the contest winners, and can't help but think back on the show with a smile. My ID badge was hanging from my rear view mirror for a couple weeks - a constant reminder. There's a little work left to clean up for the contest, but I'm already looking forward to the next iteration. I hope the tyers are, as well. We'll have some new and creative categories - you just wait and see.
As far as the guys - the sooner we get together again - the better. Next time, we fish.
That includes you, Mr. Skehan.
Raske Misses Out... But Invests In The Future!
With high hopes of joining my partners at this year's IFTS in New Jersey, I was looking forward to the show and the opportunity to put some faces with names of members of the Streamer List. Alas, my plans fell through at the last minute, and it appears I missed out on an enjoyable event. Too many things happen at once in the fall, and you can only do so much. I've "missed out" on many fishing opportunities this year as well, but you see….I don't really mind…because I have been spending my weekends raising my infant son! In a few years, I'll have a wonderful opportunity to develop a new flyfishing buddy and steward of Maine's outdoor heritage…..my "investment in the future"!