Year of the Hendrickson: February 14th 1915

Roy Steenrod
Courtesy of Dette Trout Flies

Bradley, N.Y
February 14, 1915

Dear Mr. Steenrod:
Do you know of any lead in thin sheets, any size, soft, and easily handled? The point is to make a hook travel upside down when you wish. Almost any thin flexible lead would do. I did this years ago, so it can be done.

I got played out before lunch and had to eat a very little and drink a glass of milk before I felt better. I will be working cheerfully at something and this goneness will suddenly grab me. When I have to go thro the rearranged materials again I may find some stuff worth sending you. Lord, how I did give away stuff when I used to get nearly all of it myself. I would get a nice lot of feathers, and never imagine that I would never have a chance to procure more. I used to have the pick of hundreds of Philadelphia Capons, and sometimes found wonderful hackles. I got one Capon that had the only perfect pure yellow duns I ever saw, but there were only a few hackles small enough for 10 and 12 hooks, tho bird was very big. I sent off the little story, but it will come back. I don’t know anything about fiction now, on these story magazines.

I am sending for two more of the cheap pipes. My friends like them. I have used them a lot myself. They look like French briar and amber, but must be imitations, but so well finished up. Another thaw and rain, probably. Thermometer 46.
Theodore Gordon

P.S. I got one copy of Field, anyhow. I had sent 25 cents to a friend for one and it arrived today. The war has knocked out much of its advertising. Hildebrandt publishers a nice little catalogue. What do you think of his black lines? For the South, at least, I prefer black t any other color; white is the worst, and show up in a horrible way in almost any water.

Take salmon flies. I have a devilish tough time tying one now, after so many years on dry flies. They are absolutely different in method, and the fingering on salmon flies extremely difficult.

I have been hard at work for these three hours copying a Jock Scott salmon fly (one of Forrest’s) when I was learning to make them. But they are such lovely things, and so fine for presents, that if I had not found it practically impossible to import the finest stuff and the expense so great, I should have continued making them, I would not rest satisfied until my flies equaled the very best professional work. After that the oldest anglers were glad to use them, and were grateful for present; once when I was hard up I tied 3 doz. And got $18.00 for them.
Theodore Gordon

P.S. A thought: A little care would lengthen the lives of our expensive air pump dressed lines for serval years. For instance some simple kind of large wood reel or skeleton, so that we could roll off the lines quickly and easily, and keep them off the small reels from 1st of April. My careless ways alone spoiled one end of my best line, after three years use, and it suited me exactly. Christian spent a couple of hours with me this afternoon and I was glad he came as I was not fit to work, and was a bit depressed by my news.

You can shade your Cahill hackles from red to light brown. It is a most useful fly. You are getting on fine with your tying. More modern work than the North Carolina man, who fishes wet.

I sent 20 cents to Hildebrandt for the two pictures of two big fish. Big mouth bass and mascanonge. The latter must have been finely mounted, and I shall love to have it.
Theodore Gordon

Would like to take masscollange on stout fly tackle, and an enormous Bumblepuppy. One would have to have 100 yards of line.

Dear Mr. Steenrod:

Many years ago I got acquainted with a conductor on the P.R.R. and he was continually blowing about a trout stream that flows into the Lumnemsboning (?) river, called Young Woman’s Creek. At last three of us got the fever so bad we had to go and we travelled a devilish long way to get there, arrived at night and put up at a lumberman’s boarding house. We were so excited over prospects of great fishing that we could not sleep much.

In the morning we learned that there was no fishing until you went 10 miles upstream, and that the lumbermen were skinning every bit of lumber. Also that there was no fly-fishing until July. We traveled the 10 miles and cast our flies; one of the party after hours of casting did take one trout on fly. He had made a split bamboo rod himself, the weakest thing you ever say, and both tip and butt were smashed by this ½ lb. fish. I met a Philadelphia angler and he confirmed the tale of no fly fishing until July. Said there were no insects until then. He gave me a few worms, and I found one place the lumbermen could not disturb, ran way under a lot of drift and trash. Out of that I extracted 11 trout, up to half a pound, but in most of the pools there were only a few little things. The lumber drivers were awful. A big head of water and logs could be had behind gates that opened to bottom of a dam. Then gates would be opened and the logs and flood of water would tear down stream, smashing everything en route. They had built a gravity road out of wooden rails and had a string of cars on it loaded with logs. We were so tired that we got on this and rode down. I never was so scared in my life. The others said their hair stood on end. They were so sick they would not stay until morning. We ate our dozen trout for supper and got on a late train for Locknaren, where we put up at a comfortable commercial hotel. The next morning I was sitting alone (before breakfast) in the travelers’ room. When the landlord came in, he said that he heard we had a rotten time at Young Woman’s Creek, and I said, “Yes, we had.”

Then he asked if I was a good fly fisher, and I said I thought I was fair. He told me that a friend of his had just opened a new hotel at Bellefonte; that he was all ready for the summer business, but it was May and he had few guests. He said there were lots of trout but highly educated; that Bellefonte had a population of 3,000 and everybody fished. The stream after being joined by another flowed right thro town.

I braced up and thanked him. Hope returned but at breakfast I could do nothing with the other two boys. They were bound to go home and home they went. I on the contrary took the branch railroad up to Bellefone. Found everything as described by the kind landlord. Had a lovely room, 11 waiters, and excellent meals any time I wanted them. Stayed a week and never had a better time. One day I killed 40 trout but none over 1 lb. (They had me described and my fishing in the paper.)

There was much prefect dry fly water. The stream required special small flies they were tied by a man at Krider’s, Philadelphia. I found an expert angler who was crippled by rheumatism and bought most of his flies.

Sometimes I was beaten. I went one afternoon to a new dam with a splendid native angler. The water was rather shallow and ¼ lb. trout were rising everywhere. We tried and tried to no effect, until my friend found a solitary paly yellow dun, very small. He cast to the rising fish and in a short time filled his basket, 43 trout. He had only the one fly. At last I went below the dam and caught 8 trout.

Theodore Gordon

P.S. From the Magnetic Springs we went to Grand Haven and across the lake to Milwaukee. It was a cross sea that night, and we were in one of those immensely long lake steamers, with all the machinery in the stern. I never saw a sicker lot of passengers. We only remained at Milwaukee a couple of days, and then went to Oconomocas, Wis., a great resort for Chicago people and anglers. The whole country is full of beautiful lakes, 44 of them in it, and the town is on a large on, “Lake la Belle.” Some men came all the way from Chicago just to fish Sundays.

I tried the fishing in the approved style of the place. A steady, flat bottom boat built for the work, guide, etc. Comfortable arm chair in stern of boat, bait provided.

My “guide” was a nice fellow and eager to show sport. He first baited my hook with minnow and chucked it in, advising slow trolling while we were going to good water.

When I struck a bass, I brought it up to the boat. The guide arose, netted the fish, and rebaited. I had nothing to do but let out line and reel in again, but it was pleasant for a change. I was terribly disappointed over two dog fish of 8 and 10 lbs. Thought they were mascollange or very big bass. We caught enough bass though we fished la Belle close to the village or town, but it is a big lake. Cost, guide, $3.00, bait $1.00, boat .50-$4.50 per day.
Theodore Gordon

Edited by John McDonald, by permission of Theodore Gordon Flyfishers.

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