Monday, January 24, 2011

TPFR casting session

This week the Tidal Potomac Fly Rodders casting session is going to be SATURDAY morning about 8:30 at Fletcher’s Boat House.

We will be on the river with a variety of single and two handed rods and different lines. Come practice, learn a new cast, try out some different rods, and ask questions.

Dress, warm, bring eye-protection, waders if you want to get a little wet - otherwise practice on the grass, or along the bank.

Temps are forecast to be about 40.

Fletcher's Boat House is located 2 miles North of Key Bridge and 1 mile South of Chain Bridge, at the intersection of Reservoir Road and Canal Road. You will know you have reached the entrance to Fletcher's when you see the Abner Cloud House, an old stone building, which is adjacent to the canal.
From 495, take the Glen Echo exit. You will be on the Clara Barton Parkway. Follow the Clara Barton Parkway until it becomes Canal Road at Chain Bridge. Continue on Canal Road until the entrance of Fletcher's at Canal and Reservoir.
From 66 East, take the Rosslyn exit to Key Bridge. Take a left onto Canal Road after crossing over Key Bridge. Bear left at Foxhall to stay on Canal Road, and continue onward until the entrance of Fletcher's at Canal and Reservoir.


Saturday, January 22, 2011

A conversation with Sheila Hassan

Tell me a little about your background, how did fly fishing become such a big part of your life?

I am a FFF Master Certified Casting Instructor. Worldwide there are approximately ten women with this rating and I was number seven. I am the lead instructor at the Wulff School of Fly Fishing in New York. I have a part time fly casting instructional business and teach private lessons and group classes in the New England area.

I fish both saltwater and freshwater and spend about 75 days per year fishing. I love fly fishing for the challenge that each fishing situation presents. No two days are the same and I love trying figure out what it will take to find and catch fish on any given day.

For my real job, I am a nurse practitioner; this can be very intense job. Fly fishing provides a great balance for my work life. I love being outdoors and being fortunate to spend so much time in nature, you observe things that many people never get to experience.

When did you begin to focus on being a casting instructor?

Unlike most fly fisherman, I did not grow up fly fishing, or fishing. I started spin fishing as an adult. After I enjoyed fishing, I got interested in fly fishing. My husband and I taught ourselves to cast. For me it did not go so easily. At some point, I was a better angler than fly caster, this caused me a lot of stress as I was fishing. I realized that my casting abilities were limiting my fishing. At this point, I took a casting lesson. After the first lesson, it was clear to me that I had no idea what I was doing, so no wonder I was bad. After a series of lessons and a lot of practice, I began to improve. When I could see the benefits of my casting practice, it motivated me to continue. After some time, my casting was no longer the obstacle to my fishing and fly fishing became fun again! When fly casting became fun, it opened the doors to enjoy my time on the water, whether I was catching fish or not.

I decided to become a teacher to help save others from the frustration I felt simply because I did not know what to do to make a good cast. I felt that if I could save someone else even a fraction of the frustration, and time I wasted not being able to cast, then being a fly casting instructor was for me. It is such a great position to be able to share my love of fly fishing with someone else and to see the look on their face as they improve, it is just great!

Who were some of the people who influenced you?

George Roberts (author or Master the Cast and DVD: Saltwater Casting 10 Steps to Power and Distance) was my first casting mentor. George gave me my first fly casting lesson and worked intensively with me over a two year period. He introduced me to Joan's Wulff's method of casting, which I found to be invaluable. George encouraged me to be a fly casting instructor. This is what led to my attending the Wulff Instructors school. There I met Floyd Franke and Joan Wulff both of whom influenced my teaching tremendously. I then was fortunate enough to learn from Floyd Franke ((former lead instructor) , who helped me as I prepared for my Master Casting Instructors test. I have also had the incredible experience of studying directly under Joan Wulff. Teaching alongside Joan has been a fantastic opportunity and I learn something every time I teach with her. I have truly been fortunate to have some great mentors.

So what makes a good fly casting teacher?

The reason I am a good teacher is because of my own struggles. Fly casting did not come easy to me, so I understand a student's struggles. I think that at some point in time I owned every possible casting error. I have not met a student that was worse than I was when I went for my first lesson. Because my greatest skill was tenacity and I was willing to be hard on myself and put in the hours of practice it took to improve, I believe that everyone is capable of change and improving. Some of us just take longer to get this improvement.

Tell me about your book, "Fly Casting: A Systematic Approach," why did you write it?

My book is unique in two ways, first it is divided into complete lesson plans for beginner, intermediate and distance casting. Most books have a chapter on each cast and the learner needs to determine their progression from one cast to the next. This usually means they follow the chapter based on their own interest, not in a pattern where the skills build sequentially on each other. In my book, you can focus on the complete lesson that matches your skill.

The second way my book is unique is that I have included a section on how to practice. The practice section matches the lesson plan approach. If you are following the intermediate casting lesson, then you can follow the practice session for this lesson. There is a fair amount of detail in each practice section. I envisioned someone using this as a checklist format for their practice.

I wrote the book to be an aid for other fly casters like myself, who needed detailed information about what to focus on when casting and how to actually practice casting. During lessons, I give so much information and a person can only absorb a small amount of this. My approach is to help the individual help themselves. The book is a technical manual, meant to be used as a resource for reference, clarification and learning that occurs as you re-read information.

When you get some time off, where do you like to fish?

I like to fish for everything. My most favorite fishing is for bonefish on a beautiful flat somewhere warm and sunny, but I am happy fishing freshwater or saltwater. Outside of Boston is not the best trout fishing so I spend more time saltwater fishing for stripers, blues and false albacore.

What is the most common casting error?

The most common error I observe is using too much force in a cast. Typically, when the cast goes bad, people resort to adding more force as a way to correct the problem, but this rarely works. Other casters use force because they think it is needed to get a good cast.

Fly casting is more about proper timing and speed. Developing the proper speed and timing is a thing of feeling. You can never get this feeling if you are using force to make the rod perform. You need to slow down, and decrease the force used. Then, you can feel the interaction between the rod and line. This is the feeling that good casters have. When you have this feeling, you can adjust your cast for a specific set of conditions. This ability to feel, is what make fly casting so enjoyable, to get it, most people need to back off and use less force.

What is the most important thing anyone can do to improve their casting?

Practice if of course a big piece of being able to change, but practice alone is not enough. Most people tend to practice what they are already good at. This make them feel good, but does not make them a better caster. When working to improve your cast you must be willing to change. The change will not feel comfortable at first. Often when I suggest that someone cast differently, they say it feels awkward. Of course if feels different, it is a new way of doing things. It will not feel natural at first but this is only because you have so much muscle memory for casting the old way. The only reason an instructor suggests that you change your casting is because your prior way of casting is not allowing you to get the results you want it is limiting you. If you practice this new way of casting, it will begin to feel comfortable and you will have better results. If you want a different outcome, you must be willing to change.

Good advice and thanks Sheila for taking the time to talk with us.

New Certified Casting Instructors

I will post Dan Davala's note from the Tidal Potomac Fly Rodders on our new CCIs:

I am pleased, excited, and extremely proud to announce to TPFR that we now have THREE NEW FFF CERTIFIED CASTING INSTRUCTORS in the club!!!!! Andy Manley, Dalton Terrell, and Trent Jones all passed the FFF Certified Instructor Exam with flying colors! I would like everyone to know how hard these three have worked to achieve this, and how much preparation, time and effort went into the process.

John Bilotta and I held their first preparation session at Fletcher's on June 17th, 2010, and in the past six months we have gathered in one form or another for many, many hours of practice. During this time, I have had the joy of watching them develop not only their teaching skills, but also refine and polish their own casting in the process. They have gone out in the cold, in the rain, in the wind, and most recently in the snow and ice to practice. All of this preparation came in handy, because they took their performance test yesterday in freezing cold temps complete with gusting wind and drifting snow. Needless to say, their examiners were impressed, and recognized how truly prepared all three of them were. Andy, Dalton, and Trent, WELL DONE!!!

This club is fortunate to have these three in the instructor pool, and I can truly recommend them with the highest level of confidence. Now PUT THEM TO WORK!!!!

Dan Davala

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Sunday practice

We had a good turn out this morning at Fletcher's for our Sunday casting seminar. Folks were working on a variety of fundamentals with single and two-handed rods.

It was cold, but we had fun. Thanks everyone.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Bay fish kill

'Very large' fish kill reported in bay

Cold believed cause for 2 million dead spot, croakers

January 04, 2011|By Timothy B. Wheeler, The Baltimore Sun - State officials say they are investigating a "very large" fish kill in the Chesapeake Bay, but suspect cold temperatures killed them, rather than any water-quality problems.

An estimated 2 million fish have been reported dead from the Bay Bridge south to Tangier Sound, according to the Maryland Department of the Environment, which investigates fish kills. The dead fish are primarily adult spot, with some juvenile croakers.

Agency spokeswoman Dawn Stoltzfus said bay water quality appears acceptable, and biologists believe "cold-water stress" the likely cause of the fish kill. Spot are susceptible to colder water, she said, and normally leave the upper bay by now.

Water temperatures plummeted in late December to near-record lows for that time of year, about 36 degrees. The average air temperature last month was 32.4 degrees, 4.3 degrees below normal, and reached 16 degrees at its lowest, according to the National Weather Service.

Large winter kills of spot have been documented at least twice before, the MDE spokeswoman said, with about 15 million dying in early 1976 and a smaller number in 1980. Anyone wanting to report seeing dead fish can call 1-800-MDE-GOTO.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Tides Jan 3-9

Tides for Key Bridge, D.C. starting with January 3, 2011.
Day High Tide Height Sunrise Moon Time % Moon
/Low Time Feet Sunset Visible

M 3 Low 1:51 AM -0.3 7:27 AM Rise 6:50 AM 2
3 High 7:20 AM 2.6 4:59 PM Set 4:28 PM
3 Low 1:51 PM -0.3
3 High 7:38 PM 2.9

Tu 4 Low 2:40 AM -0.3 7:27 AM Rise 7:34 AM 0
4 High 8:09 AM 2.6 4:59 PM Set 5:31 PM
4 Low 2:41 PM -0.3
4 High 8:26 PM 2.9

W 5 Low 3:26 AM -0.3 7:27 AM Rise 8:12 AM 0
5 High 8:55 AM 2.6 5:00 PM Set 6:33 PM
5 Low 3:28 PM -0.3
5 High 9:13 PM 2.9

Th 6 Low 4:09 AM -0.3 7:27 AM Rise 8:44 AM 2
6 High 9:40 AM 2.6 5:01 PM Set 7:34 PM
6 Low 4:13 PM -0.2
6 High 9:56 PM 2.8

F 7 Low 4:48 AM -0.2 7:27 AM Rise 9:12 AM 6
7 High 10:22 AM 2.6 5:02 PM Set 8:33 PM
7 Low 4:55 PM -0.2
7 High 10:39 PM 2.7

Sa 8 Low 5:24 AM -0.1 7:27 AM Rise 9:37 AM 11
8 High 11:04 AM 2.6 5:03 PM Set 9:31 PM
8 Low 5:35 PM -0.1
8 High 11:21 PM 2.6

Su 9 Low 5:57 AM -0.1 7:27 AM Rise 10:01 AM 18
9 High 11:44 AM 2.6 5:04 PM Set 10:28 PM
9 Low 6:16 PM 0.0

M 10 High 12:03 AM 2.5 7:27 AM Rise 10:25 AM 26
10 Low 6:26 AM -0.1 5:05 PM Set 11:25 PM
10 High 12:24 PM 2.6

Sunday casting session on the river

Any TPRF members stop by Flethers this morning for a casting practice session. We will be up and running about 10.