During my summer vacation to Maine earlier this month I spent a perfect Saturday morning at the Arundel Flea Market. It being Maine, there was a plethora of vintage hunting and fishing tackle on hand. The best of which was a deadstock 1960s LL Bean fly fishing vest (as pictured above), which I acquired in short order as it fit perfectly and of course because I of course needed it. Flea markets like the one in Arundel are a fairly common coinsurance in Maine, especially along route US1 which is lined with antiques stores and all sorts of other vintage hunting opportunities. The dealers are friendly, the prices are reasonable and you tend to find all sorts of interesting things and different themes than you would in Connecticut or New York. The fishing and nautical vibes are strong as are the selection of other New England centric goods. There are also fresh coffee and donuts, so there’s that. Not a bad way to spend a Saturday morning.
Yellowstone National Park is stunning all summer, but in October it’s even more stark and striking. The grass becomes the color of straw, the bison get frost in their fleece and mist rises off the rivers in the cold. Most of the crowds have gone—though there are still knowing visitors—and snow dusts the mountaintops.
Then there’s the Madison River, the main attraction for anglers making their late-season pilgrimage to the Park. Brown trout head into the river to spawn, their color bolder, deeper red and gold. Following the fish are people who wake up early in the freezing dark to go stand in the water. In feels foolish at times, but when it all comes together it’s clear that it’s the right thing to do.
The weather is warming, the bugs are hatching and it’s time to air out those clammy waders that have been in the basement. It’s fishing season and it’s time to go stand in some water and wave around a stick with a bug tied to the end of it. The start of the season is also the right time to reassess your rod and tackle, so here’s the latest.
One of the great stores has no walls and, in fact, isn’t even a store at all. Consider the Andrews of Arcadia stall at Spitalfields Market in London. Every Thursday, John Andrews sets up his booth of vintage fishing tackle and it couldn’t be improved on by all the art directors on Madison Avenue. Antique angling wares—bamboo rods, cork floats, checkered sailing flags, restored reels, the odd canvas bucket—all laid out perfectly, priced fairly, and described with care and not a trace of snobbery. It’s a very sweet thing. Then lunch across the street at St. John Bread & Wine, and you’re enjoying the better part of civilized life.
April 1 is the beginning of trout season here in New York. Conditions don’t really pick up until later in the spring, but that doesn’t stop the faithful from lining the banks for a crack at the first fish after a long winter.
Here are the essentials for your time on the river—note the absence of the dreaded vest. Unless you are an accomplished guide or a decade-long member of AARP, you are forbidden to wear one.
Most exalted makers are blindly devoted to their high-end rods at the expense of their value line. Not so Scott. The Montrose, CO company does right by those who rightly expect a $300 rod to do what’s asked of it.
Trout are the gentlemen of fish—some anglers even wear ties, out of respect, while pursuing them. We don’t go that far, but the selective species are perhaps the most dignified ambition in the fishing pantheon.