Welcome to Winter 2010. And what a winter it has been so far. Lately fly fishermen have had a tough time. The Smokies streams have been cold, frozen over cold. Fishing a couple of weeks ago was fairly good. Anglers were catching some nice post-spawn browns. Then the temperatures dropped, snow arrived and at this point just falling into a creek or river would be dangerous due to hypothermia. Many of the local fly fishermen have switched to spinning rods to avoid wading.
The dams holding back our lakes have been generating constantly. Heavy rain all year has loaded up our lakes that need to be drawn down to winter pool. This is done in preparation for the Spring rains which are not far off.
All the ponds I’ve seen lately are completely frozen over. It’s too cold to fish on the lakes for most of us. So, anglers have been doing other things lately other than fishing. Cabin fever has set in.
Anglers did not get to fish as much as usual this year because of high water. We heard people complain all year. And it seemed, that the high water only occurred on weekends when angler demand is high. But still, high water is better than no water. No water is what we lived with in 2007 and 2008. Give me high water every time.
We had a busy holiday season at the shop. Business was up from last year in November and December. The new lines of fly fishing gear look promising for 2010. Most of the companies took large forward steps in new design and pricing strategy. Most company managers and owners are looking forward to a good year as our Country slowly climbs out of our latest recession. Fourth quarter sales were encouraging to all of us. Many of our manufacturers started the fourth quarter very slow. They were worried. So were we. Then in November things started to pop. December was even better. A lot of those worried people feel better now. Internet sales for us and most online retailers made a huge surge last year. We are all wondering if 09 was the peak. And, we’re working harder to make our websites work harder for us.
For the next two months we will be updating our website and getting the store ready for the Spring rush. Advertising materials will be printed, new merchandise will arrive, thousands of flies that represent the early hatches will come soon. Customers who tie flies will be doing a lot of that. So will I. Spring will be here before we know it. Winters don’t drag too long for us. Spring is our deadline. The Quill Gordon hatch is our first game. When that happens and we let thousands of people know, the anglers will be in Townsend, doing what they love to do.
What if Winter drags into March? Sometimes it does. We have to contend with that. We might be ready on March 1st for the rush but snow and freezing water temperatures could keep everyone at home. That is the nature of our business. Floods and high water also have a drastic effect on our business. Spring is a time when we wonder what will happen.
The excitement this Winter is all about fly tying demonstrations and classes at our store. Our Free Saturday Demonstrations draw good crowds to our store. They start this weekend.
Have a great month!
January 7, 2010