Surviving Social Distancing

A Perdigon style Pheasant Tail Nymph – Italian style.

So, this strange period of home confinement continues. While we hope and pray that social distancing and not leaving home helps us get through this coronavirus pandemic without getting deathly sick, it is getting old.

Last Saturday, the Butte Symphony should have had its final concert of the season, and as a longtime member of the orchestra it seemed strange to be going through the motions of playing my horn without an upcoming concert on the calendar. 

It also seems strange to not be going to a weekly Kiwanis meeting. I’ve been a member of this great international service organization for almost 47 years, and as of yesterday, I’ve now missed five meetings in a row—something that has never happened before in those 47 years.

Of course, this past Sunday was Easter Sunday, and it seemed super strange to not be in church and singing celebratory Easter hymns.

But, strange as it is, we are getting through this and here in Butte the covid-19 numbers are holding at a relatively low and stable level. With that modest promise of continuing good health we’ll continue to avoid people.

When the weather has permitted, I’ve been using some of the time by getting a head start on spring yard work. While March went out like a lion, with over 13 hours of daylight, those late snows melt quickly and it’s good to be outside enjoying some sunshine and getting things cleaned up.

When the weather has been nasty, I’ve been spending some time at the fly-tying vise learning some new tricks, as well as restocking my fly boxes. One of the things I’ve been learning is the Perdigon fly. The Perdigon is sometimes referred to as a European nymph and it’s noted for being able to sink quickly and attract the attention of trout.

The fly in the photo is an Italian Perdigon version of a pheasant tail nymph. The tail fibers are from a pheasant tail, but the body has red thread with gold ribbing, then a section of white thread with silver ribbing, and, finally, a bright orange thread in back of the beadhead, and then the whole body has a coating of UV resin that cures to a tough finish with a little blast from a UV light. 

A variation of a UV resin coating is something I picked up from Zac Sexton, a former Butte resident, rod builder and fly designer, is to use a clear sparkly nail polish.

As fly-fishing is one of those outdoor activities that adapt well to social distancing, I’m ready to get out of town for another day of fly-fishing to try some of these nymphs. 

While I’m looking forward to some baetis or blue wing olive mayfly hatches now that we’re in mid-April, we shouldn’t forget that the spring wild turkey season opened last Saturday, and it runs through May 17. Turkey hunting is another activity that lends itself well to social distancing. 

I’ll note that this extended shutdown is really doing a hit job on people who make their living in various aspects of outdoor recreation. Here in trout country, we have flyshop operators, outfitters and guides, lodge owners, and others who work hard to make a living through helping the rest of us enjoy outdoor outings. My message to them is hang in there; better days are coming.

Kirk Deeter, a well-known fly-fishing writer and editor, edits Angling Trade, a trade paper for fly-fishing businesses. He writes, “Social science is predicting another baby boom as a result of the covid-19 Pandemic. We don’t know about that, but we do think there will be a fishing boom. Fishing has always seen a resurgence during times of national healing…The whole damn country is in need of healing and we are in a position to provide some of that.”

He adds, “I’m taking a doctor (or nurse, or both) fishing…for free…when this is over (or at least on pause.)”

So, on that note, if the sun is shining, go outside and breathe in some fresh air, and think positive thoughts.

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