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The Free State Fly Fishers

Learn to tie flies or fly-cast with this open-to-all club

Wayne Blake-Hedges pauses mid-tie at a recent meeting of the Free State Fly Fishers.

The morning temperature was well below freezing on my home’s weather gauge as I grabbed my coat and fly boxes. It was way too cold and windy to be on the water, so we were headed for the next best thing: tying some flies and talking about fishing.
    I was meeting a friend, Joe Demeo, at the Free State Fly Fishers Club, a winter haven for local fly-fishers. Anglers join the fly-tying sessions at the Davidsonville clubhouse to replenish their supply of fish-foolers while catching up and comparing notes.
    As a January and February bonus, fly-tying sessions are held every Saturday from 10am to 2pm. Fly fishers of all ages are welcome, youngsters especially (as long as they are accompanied by an adult).
    The forum is informal though it usually starts out with a skilled member giving instructions and demonstrating a couple of effective seasonal patterns. The materials for tying the flies are included at each session.
Getting Down to Work
    Joe and I started with two simple chain pickerel patterns in yellow and red synthetic hair. They both looked promising. After materials were handed out, members settled disputes among the dozen or so tiers as to technique in tying and presentation.
    Off to the side, Joe and I switched off on his tying vise, trying first the pickerel patterns, then our own ties of a mutual saltwater favorite, the Clouser Deep Minnow. We also went over some bonefish patterns that another member was busy tying for a trip next month to the Bahamas. As I said, the sessions are very loosely structured.
    The Free State Fly Fishers Club began some 40 years ago and has always included women fly-rodders and youngsters just beginning to learn. Current membership is about 70.
    Meetings are open to all the first Wednesday of each month (except December because of the holidays, and June, July and August because everyone is busy fishing). Sportsmen and -women often come from over a three state area to hear knowledgeable anglers or fisheries experts.
    The club also plans outings to special angling locations throughout the year; beginners who come along get extra help in fishing the areas in question. Deer Creek is usually on the schedule for shad in the springtime, then the Gunpowder and Savage rivers for trout, the Shenandoah for smallmouth, Trap Pond and Unicorn Lake for bream and bass plus many other hotspots, varying each year as time and interest allow.
    There are also special sessions for fly-casting instructions, and flea markets are legendary for great deals on used equipment and inexpensive fly-tying materials. If you’ve a yen to join in, you’re in luck.
    Junior (16 and under) and senior (55 and over) memberships are just $10 per year and regular memberships a very reasonable $15. The clubhouse is a dedicated building in the Davidsonville Recreation Center Complex, 3727 Queen Anne Bridge Rd.). Learn more from Joe Demeo (410-757-5318; [email protected]) or George Vincent (301-249-6399; [email protected]).