Dinner event will feature local fly-fishing legends

Well, the brutal Arctic weather that had settled on our region finally released it icy grip somewhat last week. Temperatures soared into the 50s on Thursday, and I celebrated the day by pheasant hunting with a friend and his pointing dog.

I acquired a new 20-gauge over-under shotgun last month, so we scheduled a day on a local hunting preserve to help break in my new piece. I had the chance to hunt with the new gun the week before Christmas, and that trip went well as I killed two pheasants with the first two shots from the 20-gauge. And although I am dearly fond of my Winchester 101 12-gauge that I’ve hunted with since the late 1970s, carrying around the much lighter 20-gauge that afternoon was somewhat of a pleasure. Our preserve hunt last week gave me the chance to enjoy my new shotgun as we were able to flush and shoot at nearly a dozen pheasants over my friend’s young female English pointer.

Hopefully, the weather will stay nice and maybe even get a little nicer, at least enough to get out and do some outdoor activities. But I am a realist and know that we probably will have to endure several more weeks of winter weather before spring arrives for good. That means, of course, finding other ways to amuse oneself during the winter doldrums. Some of the things I enjoy are a handful of off-season social events for us outdoor enthusiasts like shows, game dinners and banquets. They certainly are no substitute for being in the woods or on the water, but they provide a welcome break in the wintertime routines and offer a chance to socialize with fellow anglers and hunters.

I’m especially looking forward to a dinner event next month in State College that will feature two of my friends and fly-fishing legends, Joe Humphreys and Greg Hoover. The affair will be held at the Nittany Lion Inn, 200 West Park Avenue, State College, on February 24. The evening will start at 5:30 p.m. with happy hour and fly-tying demonstrations. Dinner will be served at 6:30 p.m. as a celebration to the guest of honor, Joe Humphreys.

Joe Humphreys and his remarkable career probably need no introduction to most fly-fisherman, but I’ll offer a brief synopsis here. He caught his first trout at just six years old. He became a protege of the late, great George Harvey, another of the greatest Pennsylvanians ever to cast a fly rod. Harvey started the world-famous fly-fishing and fly-tying courses for college credit at Penn State University. When Harvey retired, Humphreys took over the leadership role in the fly-fishing program from his longtime mentor, carrying on that tradition at Penn State and teaching thousands of new students to tie flies and catch trout.

In 1977, Humphreys caught the Pennsylvania state record brown trout while night fishing on Fishing Creek in Clinton County. That record stood for two decades and is undoubtedly still the biggest trout ever caught on a fly in Pennsylvania. He published “Joe Humphreys’ Trout Tactics” in 1981, which is still in print and remains one of the best how-to fly-fishing books of the last 50 years. Over his more than 40 years as a fly-fishing instructor, some of his pupils have included former President Jimmy Carter, former Vice President Dick Cheney and basketball coach Bobby Knight.

Following dinner, Greg Hoover will give a special presentation on the “Little Blue-Winged Olive Dun,” a tiny mayfly of great importance to fly anglers throughout the country. Hoover is regarded as one of the foremost angling entomologists in North America. He also has close ties to Penn State where he teaches entomology and fly-fishing courses and serves as the faculty advisor to the Penn State Fly Fishing Club. Hoover is an accomplished angler who has been tying flies and fly-fishing for more than 50 years. He coauthored the book “Great Rivers, Great Hatches” with Charlie Meck and has written numerous articles on aquatic entomology and fly-fishing.

While you will rarely see it noted on any of his bios, he formerly held the state record for brook trout in Pennsylvania.

After Hoover’s program the festivities will conclude with some raffles and auctions. Proceeds from this remarkable evening will benefit the Pennsylvania Fly Fishing Museum Association and their work in preserving the rich history and traditions of fly-fishing in Pennsylvania.

Tickets for the event are $45 and can be purchased on the Pennsylvania Fly Fishing Museum Association website, www.paflyfishing.org. Each event ticket includes a drink ticket, presentation, raffle ticket and a take-home fly pattern booklet.