Beer and Bugs by Mark Usyk

Photo credits: Another Point of View Photography

I’ll never admit defeat because of the seasons or the weather. But I will concede to the fact that come fall, the fishing does slow down a bit up here. It’s a fact of life living in the north east. We all deal with it in our own personal ways, but the one way most of us use the time to take our minds off the details that the sun has gone down before we even eat dinner and that we aren’t on the water is to tie flies. You might tie during the slow fishing season to refill fly boxes that slowly gained empty spaces during the busy fishing season. You might tie just because it still connects you to fly fishing. The idea that you might not be casting a fly rod everyday now but that you’re still supporting the act in other ways has its own way of keeping one’s sanity in check. Or, if you’re JP, you suggest tying with a group at a local establishment that has room for a few people to set up vices in an area off to the side somewhere… and serves beer. The latter is brilliant if you ask me. You never know who’s going to show up, who you might get to meet, what type of tying you’re going to see going on, and when the fishing season slows down, a night like this is full of fishing stories. Exactly what the doctor ordered. Brilliant.

JP set up the first one on a Wednesday evening at a local spot called BBGs. That’s Beer Bites and Games. They had a loft above the bar that was perfect. Especially to separate a bunch of fly fishermen with enough feathers and flash meant to be gnawed on by fish to make Liberace roll over in his grave. Considering JP had feared no one would show up besides us I’d say that thirteen people was a pretty good number. And it was just what the doctor ordered to get rid of the slow fishing season blues. For about three hours BBGs became BBBs… Beer Bites and Bugs.

There’s something to be said about beards and flannel combined with thread and feathers, and if you want to think about stereotypes then it can be quiet comical. But fly anglers push past stereotypes and just get down to business. There were about seven vices, maybe eight set up, and the variety of the stuff being tied and the stories being told was what gets us all through this time of year, there’s no doubt in my mind. I met some really cool people.

One tier had gone out to Colorado and fished and even taken a guide course. He was tying flies so small that I had to lean in, my nose almost bumping them to get a good look. On the other end of the spectrum, only five feet away was a vice set up and enough hackles lying around that it looked as though there were full exotic birds lying on the table. I love big Musky flies, and when one example made the rounds and rested in my hand I asked how long it took him to debone this chicken? It was as long as my forearm. It was the type of thing that would probably make a PETA activist vomit. I thought it was a thing of beauty. I’ve yet to cast anything like that myself, but JP’s building me a 9wt so that I can find out. I figure it’ll be a lot like trying to cast a wet sock. I’m game.

An old friend of mine’s father in-law was in town from PA, so he came to hang out for the evening as well. It just so happened that it’s salmon season so naturally he’d been up to the river hunting big fish. So his discussions and those of Charlie who’d been up a couple weeks before about salmon and steelhead helped to paint a picture for the rest of us of what the river was like so far this year. Conversations like that are like listening to a chart topping classic on vinyl for some anglers.

It was only the first time, and our plans are to do it every couple of weeks, hopefully in different locations when we can find places able to deal with a bunch of feathers and flannel and willing to take         our money for a few pints of Guinness or whatever liquid gold they might pour into the glass by the pull of a tap. I’m a man’s man I think. I swear when I have to make a point but keep it under control around women and children. I’m not afraid of a fight and I can handle a trigger. I’ve got enough flannel in my drawers to clothe an army of scarecrows should the need someday arise. I always have a pocket knife. I’ve got a tattoo. My Jeep has a winch. I haven’t shaved in over a week and it’s for no other reason than I just haven’t felt like it. I’m a man’s man. Oh, and you should see my collection of feathers and thread. They’re to die for.


See you next week, Wednesday, November 16th at 6:30 at the 16 Stone Brew Pub in Holland Patent. Plenty of great beers on tap to make the ugliest of your tying jobs look gorgeous.