Fly Casting with Custom Tied
Saturday, May 25, 2013
10:00 am - 3:00 pm
George Hammond, licensed Pennsylvania Fishing Guide, of Custom-Tied Flies and Guide Service will be teaching how to tie four types of flies. You'll learn how to tie a nymph, dry fly, wet fly and a streamer. Nothing adds to the fly fishing experience like fooling fish with something that you made with your own hands! Bring a bagged lunch and plan to enjoy the day!
Cost is $45.00 for Members, $55.00 for Non-members
When I arrived at the creek, I walked down to the water's edge, slapping a few bushes along the way. I was excited to see bugs, from yesterday's hatch, take flight. As I looked down the creek to the head of the first pool; I saw a trout rising to feed on the emerging insects. The downstream breeze on my face was favorable. I was stoked.
I put on my gear and removed a tan emerger mayfly pattern from my fly box. A few steps to the stream, a couple of knots, and I was daring that fish to grab my bug. This day that had started with a grimace about frost on my windshield had quickly turned into a cry of joy as that first fish latched on and ran with my fly. This feeling was the culmination of a process that began many weeks ago in February when the close of the extended season ended my trips to this stream. It is a process that begins much the same way every time I am privileged to get a line wet.
Strawberry Hill Nature Preserve is perched between Middle and Swamp Creeks. Both streams support healthy populations of mayflies, stone flies, and caddis flies. They also both sport crayfish, sow bugs, cress bugs, and fresh water shrimp. This is all food for Pennsylvania's State Fish.
With its greenish back and white tipped fins the Brook Trout is not really a trout at all, it's actually a Char. That doesn't really matter to the thousands of anglers a year that hunt these fish throughout our great Commonwealth.
The PA Fish and Boat Commission (PAFBC), in conjunction with educational programs all over the state, has instituted a program entitled, "Trout in the Class room." This program teaches our youth about the life cycle of our state fish, from egg to adult, and the environments they inhabit. "The Hill" offers many other opportunities for the budding angler to learn about streams, environments, insects, and fish. Information about all of our programs is available at our web site www.strawberryhill.org. On May 25th and August 3rd we are offering a chance to learn how to cast flies to fish. On 9 November we are offering a chance to learn how to tie your own flies. They are being taught by one of our Local Fly Fishing Instructors, B. George Hammond of Custom-Tied Flies and Guide Service. www.custom-tied.com.
Chasing trout in our Commonwealth's water ways is a wonderful way to spend a day, morning, evening or afternoon. These fish require fresh, cold, well oxygenated water and cannot tolerate pollution of any type. It so happens that the places they call home is some of the most beautiful terrain in the state. Lush meadows filled with red winged black birds, turtles, and blue skies; quiet dense forests populated by squirrels, mink, turkey, and deer. The angler will experience the true meaning of life holding on to the handle of a fly rod. Using imagination and ingenuity to present an imitation of food with accuracy and poise is nothing short of spine tingling. Give us a call and sign up for a course. We will show you the gate way to a whole new side of life. Welcome to spring in Pennsylvania.
Article by: George Hammond
The arrival of the birds is commonly known as a "Fall of Woodcock!" Typically they move ahead of the frost and Arctic blast in the autumn and behind winter's wrath in the spring. The Woodcock's feeding habits make it necessary for them to follow this flight plan. Their long beaks have adapted for probing into soft moist earth for the earthworms that make up about 90% of the birds' diet. Near the tip of the bill you would notice the hinge that makes it possible for the bird to grasp its prey and pull it out of the ground which is impossible if the ground is still frozen. The holes produced in the soil by this feeding activity are a good indication to the alert naturalist that a fall of Woodcock has arrived. Whitewash or droppings produced by the birds are also key indicators. Birds accidentally flushed will fly straight up through the cover like small helicopters. After reaching the desired height they will level off and zip away twisting and turning depending on the forest understory. This will all happen very quickly and be accompanied by a twittering or a piping trill-like sound. It is not uncommon for another bird or two to flush in unison or shortly thereafter.
During the spring the elaborate courtship ritual performed by the males proves to be one of nature's spectacles. This occurs at what we call the "singing grounds." The males produce a buzzing cicada like peent. At some point he then flies straight up in typical fashion to the desired height and then makes an erratic spiral back to the ground. This may happen numerous times as he woos and attempts to convince one of the hens to accept him. During this elaborate "Sky Dance", the male may emit a faint tuko-turkle call or a liquid trill commonly called the "kissing sound." This Sky Dance may occur many times depending to the degree of how many other males are competing. These little birds are very territorial.
The American Woodcock is not much bigger than a dove. Its ears are located in front of its large eyes, are situated high on its head. AND its brain is upside down. All of this, in conjunction with nearly perfect camouflaged feathers, lends to an ability to evade most predators.
The Timberdoodle's major enemy is habitat destruction. In Pennsylvania, loss of wetlands since 1950 is alarming. However, there is more than a margin of hope for the birds. Several years ago a group of concerned outdoor people formed an alliance known as Woodcock Limited of Pennsylvania. Most of their endeavor is focused on habitat restoration. In 2012 this organization, along with several other state's organizations went national.
On April 18 we will attempt to witness this spectacle of the Woodcocks' Skydance at the Strawberry Hill Nature Preserve beginning at 7:00 PM. You are cordially invited to bring your camera and join us in our endeavor!
Bio: Michael (Mick) Group has been a writer/photographer for several national and regional magazines since 1986 including but not limited to: National Hunting and Fishing magazine, The PA Angler, Talbot Bay Banner, Shotgun Sports magazine, Mid-Atlantic Fly Fishing, and Railpace magazine. During the 1980's-90's he contributed a regular outdoor feature column to the Sentenial, and the Cambridge Daily Banner. He is a speaker on conservation topics and a member of Woodcock Limited of PA.
A great resource to learn more: www.timberdoodle.org
Read "Woods for Woodcock," published in the Autumn 2010 Northern Woodlands magazine, to learn how public and private landowners are helping to bring back the woodcock.
If it were said to be a "voice" of Strawberry Hill, it would have to be that of the Barred Owl which is also known as the Hoot Owl, Eight Hooter, Rain Owl, Wood Owl, and Striped Owl. The bottomland forests around Swamp and Middle Creeks are ideal habitats for this bird. On many nights, the various calls of the Barred Owl resound with the typical, "Who cooks for you? Who cooks for you-all?" However this most vocal of all Pennsylvania owls can bark like dogs, chatter like monkeys, whinny like horses, and scream like banshees. When they are young and newly fledged from the nest, they make a rasping sound that is nothing like the typical hoot of an owl. The only times the owls are relatively quiet are when they are sitting on their nests in early to mid-spring.
Although primarily nocturnal animals, don't be surprised if you hear a chorus of Barred Owls calling in mid-afternoon. An owl will often awaken from its daytime slumber in a mature forest of deciduous trees and evergreens that are probably close to water. He will give a brief territorial call which is answered by other owls throughout the forest.
The Barred Owl is a stocky, large bird with a rounded head, but no ear tufts. This beautiful creature has brown-and-white striped plumage. He takes flight noiselessly through the dense woodland. Banding a few Barred Owls has revealed that they don't migrate; instead only move about 6 miles away.
It is easiest to spot a Barred Owl during the daytime by listening for the mobbing calls of blue jays or crows. These birds will often sound the alarm. Since they are mortal enemies, a whole contingent of smaller birds will descend upon an owl, harassing it until they drive it out of the area. Even though the owl could turn around and easily kill one of the pesky birds with one swipe of its mighty talons, it probably won't happen. Similar to a schoolyard bully, the owl, doesn't want to waste energy on a bunch of puny kids, the jays and crows, taunting it. In its drowsy state, the owl just wants to find another place to enjoy undisturbed sleep.
At night it is a different story. With incredibly keen senses of sight and hearing, the owl is one of the most formidable hunters in the woods. He will prey on all kinds of rodents, rabbits, birds (including smaller owls) and even skunks. Owls have comparatively weak bills and often prey is swallowed whole. Unlike other birds, owls have no crop and food passes straight into their foregut. The acid in the owl's gut is weak so bones, fur, and feathers remain virtually intact. Regurgitating a "pellet" is a voluntary act. Pellets contain the indigestible bones and fur.
(Video by: Canada Wild http://www.youtube.com/user/CanadaWild?feature=watch)
If you want to try to spot an owl in a mature woodland, join our naturalist for the Full Moon Owl Prowl at Strawberry Hill Nature Preserve on Wednesday, March 27 from 7:00 - 8:30 pm. Participants may see or hear a Barred Owl (Strix varia), Great Horned Owl (Bubo virginianus) or Screech Owl (Megascops asio), all of which are inhabitants of our region. You'll be amazed and intrigued by the "voices" you may hear.
Have you ever been worried about catching "cabin fever" over the winter?
Stephen King's 1977 novel The Shining is an exaggerated warning of the dire effects of being cooped up inside for too long. Most of us are familiar with the idiom, but did you know that cabin fever, while not technically a medical condition, refers to an actual psychological phenomenon?
Without access to the outdoors, people have a tendency to develop stress, anxiety, claustrophobia, and even depression. The cold winter weather often prevents us from being physically active. Time spent in the outdoors gives us the opportunity to stretch our legs and focus on natural stimuli that gently catch our attention, allowing our brains time to recharge from actively focusing on computer screens, advertisements, and printed materials.
Cabin fever historically referred to the bacterial disease typhus, which spread quickly among people living in confined spaces. Typhus was a particular problem during long winters in the north, where blizzards would keep people snowed-in for weeks at a time. The more casual meaning of cabin fever, which most of us are familiar with, was first used in 1918.
When the weather turns cold, people tend to stay indoors and watch T.V. or play computer games. These activities pass time, but do not allow the same energy outlet as a game of baseball or tag, particularly for children. In addition, indoor activities tend to require our constant, directed focus. In contrast, outdoor activities tend to engage a person physically, while allowing their mind to shift more casually between various natural stimuli. Because the person is not being bombarded with pictures and text that require very direct attention, their brain can recharge.
Humans aren't the only ones that tire of staying indoors all winter. Honey bees spend the colder months huddling for warmth inside their hives, but do not actually hibernate. In order to maintain a clean and healthy hive they store up body waste and debris. Only on warm winter days (about 50°F or more), will the bees exit the hive to stretch their wings in a "cleansing flight." They also survive the entire winter on honey stored from the previous fall. Can you imagine that cabin fever?
Luckily, there are plenty of ways to combat cabin fever. Many local hotspots offer opportunities to engaging in winter sports and getting outdoors even when it is cold. A change of scenery, though still indoors, can help break the monotony, so museums and galleries are always an option. Get out of the house and visit Strawberry Hill Nature Preserve in Fairfield, PA to learn more about how honey bees deal with cabin fever during part one of the 2013 "Bee-ginner Backyard Beekeeping" series at 12pm on Saturday, January 12th.
Eastern Wild Turkeys, Meleagris gallopavo silvestris, are native birds of the eastern forests with a large range covering the entire eastern half of the United States. These birds typically live in flocks during the winter with one or two dominant males called toms. The toms have red flaps of skin on their throats called wattles and fleshy bumps on their heads called caruncles. Long wire-like whiskers, resembling a beard, protrude from the chest of a tom and their feathers are usually vivid and iridescent with many colors including purple, green, brown, copper and gray. Female wild turkeys, like many female birds, are typically duller colors of grays and browns, which serve the important purpose of helping to camouflage them while sitting on a nest of eggs. Able to fly, wild turkeys live in a habitat that consists mostly of open woodlands and fields where they are known to forage on the ground or perch in small trees to feed. Acorns and other nuts, seeds, berries, roots, grasses, and insects make up their omnivorous diets, along with other occasional foods such as frogs.
Another feathered forest dweller, hailed as Pennsylvania's State Bird, the ruffed grouse, Bonasa umbellus, is mottled brown and white in color with a tail that is mostly gray and barred near the end with a thick black band. Also omnivorous, the grouse diet is similar to that of a wild turkey. With a raucous explosion, these birds frighten easily from their hiding spots and take flight beating their wings noisily.
The Bobwhite quail, Colinus virginianus, is also a native woodland ground-dwelling bird, named after its whistling call. Known to be quite elusive and considered to be a threatened species, the population of Bobwhite quail, like turkeys and grouse, is subject to habitat loss and destruction. With an omnivorous diet, Bobwhites will also eat just about anything that comes their way that is small enough to consume, including plants foods like seeds and berries and insects like beetles. Bobwhite quail also live in fields and open woodlands.
Last winter, wild turkey tracks were seen crisscrossing the snow-covered woods at Strawberry Hill and gobbles could sometimes be heard when hiking quietly throughout the Preserve. Ironically, on the Saturday before Thanksgiving, during the Twisted Turkey Trail Tussle event, I found two wild turkey feathers while hiking along the rugged ten mile course after the event runners. The Twisted Turkey Trail Tussle is a ten-mile, ten-kilometer, or one-mile run held at Strawberry Hill Nature Preserve on Saturday, November 17th. Event registration is currently open at www.StrawberryHill.org and early registrants are given a one-of-a-kind event t-shirt. Perhaps this year there will be more wild turkey feathers to find!
2013 Summer Camps!
For more information,
Spots for ages 4 -15 still availabe, but are filling fast!
|Gettysburg Contested: 150 Years of Preserving America’s Cherished Landscape|
Tue May 21 @07:00PM - 08:00PM
|Backcountry Hike with Trekking Poles Preparation|
Thu May 23 @07:00PM - 08:30PM
|Backcountry Hike with Trekking Poles|
Sat May 25 @09:00AM - 03:00PM
|Fly Casting with Custom Tied|
Sat May 25 @10:00AM - 03:00PM
|Land Owner's Forest Stewardship Seminar|
Fri May 31 @06:30PM - 09:00PM
|Land Owner's Forest Stewardship Seminar|
Sat Jun 01 @08:30AM - 05:00PM
|Adult and Child CPR/AED|
Sun Jun 02 @12:00PM - 04:30PM
|Nature Arts & Crafts Summer Series - Part 2: Painting|
Tue Jun 04 @07:00PM - 08:30PM
Sat Jun 08 @08:00AM - 05:00PM
Sun Jun 09 @08:00AM - 05:00PM