Gene Chague | Berkshire Woods & Waters: Local angler gets worldwide exposure
We have a celebrity in our midst: Chris Samson of Adams.
There was a full-page picture of him in the March issue of Popular Mechanics magazine. The six-page article also showed some of his fly fishing/fly tying friends from Vermont.
Wait a minute, you say. Popular Mechanics? Is that magazine still around? They did an article about fly fishermen and fly fishing? What gives?
First of all, yes, Popular Mechanics is still around and has been since January 1902. Owned by the Hearst Corporation, it puts out 10 issues a year and has over 1.2 million subscribers worldwide.
According to Samson, "They are trying to re-gear the magazine so that it is not just about cars, trains, etc., but they are trying reach out to new things going on. And right now, fly fishing has become a big thing. Fly fishing is no longer just for pipe-smoking old guys fishing bamboo rods, toting willow creels, wearing fedora hats and fishing only dry flies. There is a younger community of people who are taking up the sport. Fly-tying events are fueled by these people getting together to have a good time. All types of mini fly fishing tournaments are going on throughout New England and the country right now. It has become a popular sport."
Fly fishing companies donated nice gear such as waders, packs, nets, etc., to Popular Mechanics and it wanted to feature something just on fly fishing for the magazine. Popular Mechanics outdoor photographer Matt Kiedaisch contacted his friend Brian Price from St. Albans, Vt., and said that they would like to have his guys demo some of the stuff while fishing. Along with other Vermont anglers, Brian asked his friend Chris Samson if he would like to be involved.
As Chris put it, "When am I ever going to get a chance to be in a national magazine again, especially in one of the oldest magazines in the country?"
Obviously, he jumped at the opportunity.
They traveled to the Tailwater Lodge in Pulaski, N.Y., to do some steelhead fishing. The article, written by Matt Goulet, doesn't really say a lot about where they were, but it did feature the camaraderie among groups of friends on the river and showcased fly-fishing and the new gear. It mentioned that the fishermen had participated in the Iron Fly event (see below) the night before.
The article, featuring a full page picture of Chris, was read all over the world. Pick up a copy and check it out. Unfortunately, I was unable to obtain a copy of his magazine picture for this article, but I have included a picture of him with a gorgeous brown trout that he caught out of the Hoosic River. The weight is unknown as he immediately released it unharmed back into the river.
Chris is friends with a group of fly fishermen from the St. Albans/Swanton area of northern Vermont called the Vermont Fly Guys as well as another group that live a little further south near Burlington, Vt. They are involved in a tournament called Iron Fly. Basically that is a group of anglers from around the country which puts on mini fly-tying competitions.
These competitions consist of fly tying including the Iron Chef competition. In this event, everybody gets the same amount of materials and must tie a fly. One person starts a fly and his partner must finish it, whether or not he has ever tied it before. Or perhaps one must tie a San Juan worm blindfolded. In the final round, the Iron Fly round, everybody gets the same materials and can tie anything they want but it has to be a mystery material.
The last time, they used materials from a mop and whatever they had in their pockets, lint, cigarette butts, $10 bills, whatever. According to Chris, these events get folks together to talk about fishing and to tie some flies. They get donations from various companies and everybody wins something.
They also do a thing called "Get Trashed" where everyone gets together to pick up trash along the rivers.
While covering this article, I discovered that Chris works at Berkshire Outfitters in Adams. The shop, located on Route 8, is owned by Steve Blazejewski of Adams. When I arrived there, they were in process of switching out their ski and winter sports items and displaying their summer and water sports inventory. I was pleasantly surprised to see that they now sell fly fishing rods, reels, waders, etc. As local fly fishers know, there is hardly any place in the Berkshires any more to buy quality fly fishing stuff. Chris claims that adding the fly fishing items brought a whole new group of people into the shop. Among other name brands, it deals primarily with Reddington equipment which is affordable and indestructible.
Fly fishing and fly tying is Chris's passion. He and a few friends get together every week or so to do some tying. The big thing now, he says, is tying large streamers to fish for pike. He and his buddies plan to float the Housatonic River fishing for pike this year. He will let me know of any fly-tying events that he is planning through Berkshire Outfitters or on his own and I will pass them onto you. He really wants to get kids in North County involved in fly fishing and tying.
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