My friend Charlie has had fewer hours than I on the water, but, he is still managing to rope and brand a beeve here or there with the Carpolo Charlie pattern in olive and yellow. Yesterday he decided to check on the herd at the pasture that bears his name. On the ride in he found a stray beeve and quickly roped it.
|Charlies stray beeve taken on a Carpolo Charlie olive/yellow.|
Several nights ago I was sitting in the prairie open under a diamond sky thinking about the recent chatter as to the demise of the local and small fly shops across the country.
Although, I've never been privy to the pleasures of having a nearby fly shop, I can certainly understand and see myself visiting quite often, only if one was near. I would think there is something personal about a fly shop to a fly fisher in the same locale... such as good solid information on the water and the fish, and friendships formed.
As to why the small fly shop industry is in such a nosedive, there are most likely a number of factors. One factor most certainly is the sluggish economy we all have been wading through for the last several years. Another reason may very well be the decline of interest in fly fishing altogether. And lastly, there is the increase of on-line marketing by Internet fly shops.
The Internet fly shop has become the convenience store for the fly angler and fly tyer. With just a couple of clicks, Metz or Hoffman, Sage or Winston, or Ross and Abel can be on their way to our doorstep. Although Internet fly shops are convenient, they leave much to be desired - I, for one, really like to look at hackles and capes before buying.
There was a surge in fly fishing interest during the mid 1990's and as it is with most surges there comes a peak or leveling-off that is sometimes followed by a marked decline. It appears fly fishing as a whole is in this declining stage.
The economy is slowly recovering, but, unfortunately when there are monthly overhead costs the small fly shop owner can only hold out for so long. Sad, but brutally true.
By and by the fly fishing genius will look for an answer to stop the decline of fly fishing. Failing to do so may very well result in a continuum of the art much like the demise of local fly shops.
Already we are hearing that the answer that will remedy the decline is introducing more youth to our sport, and why would any of us argue this point - it simply makes sense.
I would hope however, while we concentrate on bringing more young people to this fine and noble art, we fail not in rememering that they, the young ones today, will need adequate water to fish... in their future.
We are not exactly growing new fishing waters and do well to hold on to the existing waters we have. With the way it is with water currently, and the competition for the resource from agriculture, municipalities, business and industry, water for recreational purposes (i.e. we who fly fish) gets the short end of a very short stick far too often.
There are water wars being waged in some states with California being one of the most notable. Here on the prairie ocean, Oklahoma is currently undergoing a statewide water plan and hopefully the planners will have the same insight that Robert S. Kerr owned, making sure we have enough water, whereas our fisheries will not be threatened.