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First published January 1st 1999 - More than 15 years ago
Bassin with Bas
Stripers and a church organ both play and important role in this Northeastern tale
By Bas Verschoor
Earlier this year, in January to be precise, I had the good fortune of making the personal acquaintance of Page Rogers, otherwise known to 'intimi' as First Lady of the Salt. We had seen each other before at flyfishing shows previously held on the Eastcoast, but it was not until early this year that we had the opportunity of having a hamburger at the bar of the Royal Plaza Hotel in Marlborough, Massachussets. The 'burger was followed by interesting conversations, while enjoying several cups of coffee and doughnuts in the hotel lobby. What fascinating people one meets through this crazy passion of ours! How shall I describe my newly found ladyfriend? On Sundays, Reverend Page delivers sermons from the pulpit of Christ Church Episcopal in Middle Haddam, Connecticut. When her priestly duties are done, she trades her vestments for neoprenes and fishing vest. She is one of the prime movers - and one of the very few women - behind saltwater flyfishing, one of America's fastest-growing sports. It is always an interesting pleasure to watch this flydresser 'par excellence' at her tying table. To those of you interested in seeing Page's flies - tiny masterpieces - if you ask me, I say, check out Page Rogers' flies on Reel-Time.
She was kind enough to invite me for some fishing on a forthcoming trip, and since I was scheduled to tie at the Fly Tackle Dealer Show in Denver, we made an appointment for early September, usually a 'prime time' period for hooking up with some Stripers, Bluefish, Albacore or Bonito. So... come September, I hop on another 747, 767... whatever, flying a 'decent' airline, for a change. Delta, if memory serves me right. More airmiles! Got off at JFK on a sunny Sunday afternoon, and took the Connecticut Limousine to New Haven, CT., a 2 hour-ride, where I was warmly greeted by Page and Frank. The rest of the day was spent seeing some of the sights of beautiful CT., and delicious seafood at the end of the day proved to be an excellent cure for my jetlag! I had my first experience 'in the salt' during the following two days.
Myself enjoying the ocean
An absolute highlight in my ff-ing 'career'. Rather than telling all about it myself, I let Page describe our outings, in her own, eloquent way: Bassin' with Bas
"The northeast breeze seemed to have turned on the bass fishing big time, at least on the reefs in the Watch Hill area. Fished Tuesday and Wednesday, courtesy of guides Emmett Pizzoferrato and John Prigmore respectively, with Bas Verschoor, the "Flying Dutchman", fly tyer and Global Director for all of Europe for the FFF. He had never caught a fish in the salt before, so he was in for a 4 Advil night by bedtime...
Got bumped around out there, and there were some BIG rollers from Hurricane Erica. Found some HUGE seas at Little Gull and lots of Blues on 'Baby Butters' at the Race, but the best actual fishing was at the reefs and the Corner of Doom.... many, many fish... made us both very, very happy. Bas likes Stripers better than trout... we've ruined yet another one..."
Sofar for Page's story. I can only add that we fished 9 wt. rods, Cortland Kerbooms 350, and mostly Chartreuse Clouser Minnows. While staying in the Middle Haddam vicarage, there was another, unforgettable experience. One night - Page was working in her office in the church building - I sneaked into the church, and headed right for the organ, one of my other great passions. Sat behind the instrument, not having turned it on yet... my fingers gently stroking the keyboard... my feet on the pedals... looking at the music in front of me....mumbling to myself: "Think I can handle this one"... turning on all switches that had to be turned on, and there it was... Bachin' with Bas
...what an absolutely unique, heartwarming experience... just as good as being alone on your favorite stream, placing a # 18 dry in a riffle. From 'Toccata & Fugue in D minor' to 'Besame Mucho', from Psalm 84 to Billy Joel's 'She's only a woman', from Johann's Matthäus Passion to Ellington's 'Take the A train'... I tell ya, folks... the chalk came off the church walls! I felt intensely happy... blessed even! Headed on to friends in New Jersey, and to Denver a few days later. A happy camper! All good things come to an end... they seem to be over before they even begin. I sometimes wonder... who would I be if my father - God bless his soul - hadn't said to his eldest, 6 year-old son - way back when - "C'me on sonny, let's go fishing!".