August 22, 2019
Sports Column

Fly-tying kit proves holiday hit

As a childless Future-Stepfather-In-Training, I find that the clich? catch-phrase every teacher ever tried to impress on me may be true. It seems it may be possible to learn something new every day after all.

I may learn what the girls – age 8 and nearly 10 – like to eat (plenty) and what they don’t (most of the very spicy macaroni-and-cheese variations that I try to convince them are quite ingenious).

I learn that what they mean and what they say may be different things.

And sometimes, if I’m really lucky and pay very close attention, I learn that I may know a bit more than I thought.

Take Christmas, for instance. Among the gifts my fiancee and I tucked under the tree this year was one I was a bit nervous about.

It was (don’t snicker, please) … a fly-tying kit.

(Before you accuse me of any underhanded holiday trickery let me assure you that I already have my own kit … though I’ll admit I’m not exactly sure where it ended up when we moved to Holden).

My thinking: When I learned to tie flies a year ago, Sarah and Molly eagerly awaited their turns at the vise, and delighted in inventing gaudy new flies that may or may not resemble an actual insect. (For all our sakes, I hope most of them don’t, because I don’t have the foggiest idea how to exterminate fuzzy 3-inch-long, day-glo pink cockroaches).

Since they loved tying so much (and since none of us are overly excited about waiting for our turns at the vise), I figured another kit, just for them, would be perfect. After all, I rationalized, tying flies is a lot like the arts-and-crafts projects both love so much … except it’s more practical.

That was Dec. 23.

On Dec. 24 … and all through the early morning hours of Christmas … one thought reverberated in my nog-deprived noggin: What if they were just being polite?

This thought asserted itself quite innocently … at first. It was just a whisper that reached out from the back of my mind as I went through my final Christmas checklist. What if …

By the time Christmas morning arrived, I had convinced myself that the girls were just much better actresses than I’d thought … and I had realized how much effort it had taken them to act so excited about something so … so … so … unexciting.

When they opened the gift, both Sarah and Molly beamed. They said all the right things. They acted excited … again.

Still, I wondered.

Until Monday.

When I grumbled, groaned, and began to roll out of bed, my fiancee gave me a piece of interesting news.

“Sarah got up early,” Dawn told me. “She’s sitting in the kitchen by herself … tying flies.”

I grinned and shook my head in wonder.

I do, as I may have mentioned, learn something new every day.

Monday’s lessons: Christmas gifts don’t always belong solely to the recipient. And they don’t always arrive on Christmas day.

Buck Plummer checked in last week with a reminder that’s never too early for avid ice anglers.

The 6th annual East Grand Lake Area Ice Fishing Derby is scheduled for Jan. 24-25. Write down the date. Get in your entry form. Then get ready for an enjoyable day on the hard water.

Maybe it has been a bit warm to think seriously about ice fishing (I, for one, have no plans to launch my intrepid ice shack – “Save The Bait” – until there’s a heavy coat of frost underfoot).

But it’s Maine. It’ll get cold. Honest. And by Jan. 24, we’ll probably be out there … somewhere.

Plummer, who lives in Brookton and serves as the chairman of the East Grand Snowmobile Club’s derby committee, said that day may not be too far off.

“We’ve got some ice out here already,” he said last Monday. “The north end of East Grand has been frozen over for two weeks now, if not more. And the big portion of the lake froze over three nights ago.”

Read this next sentence very carefully: This information is more than a week old, and the ice may or may not be safe. Check before you go. Be careful.

Plummer said the committee won’t tinker with success, and won’t make any major changes in this year’s derby.

The derby encompasses East Grand, Brackett, Deering and North lakes, though about 95 percent of the anglers opt for popular East Grand, Plummer says.

The top prize: $1,000 in cash to one lucky entrant. You don’t have to catch a fish. You don’t even have to step onto the ice. All you have to do is enter the derby.

A derby registration with one raffle chance is $5, while a registration with three raffle chances costs $10.

Largest fish prizes are also up for grabs for seven species, and a junior contest is planned.

John Holyoke can be reached at or by calling 990-8214 or 1-800-310-8600.

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