Vermont is a special place. It’s Ashley’s family home, where we met, married and lived for many years. Her employer is still there, and in turn we regularly make trips back to see familiar places and faces. After all of the travels across the country for the Outdoor Retailer show for my work, it was now late August and time to head to Vermont.
Vermont is about a twenty hour drive from our current home in Tennessee, and after a comfortable overnight in the Travato at a state park in PA, we found ourselves rolling into familiar surroundings. First stop, dinner with friends in Warren, where we were greeted by my friend’s son ‘Q’ , eager to show me his latest trout catch from Kids Brook, and to help him cook it for dinner. I happily obliged. Kids Brook is a small stream designated for just that – kids to fish – and a great way to get youngsters excited about fishing and enjoying time on the water.
I was also there to commandeer Q’s father, Whit, for a kid-free ‘man trip’ and a little fly fishing mission to the Upper Connecticut River and some surrounding whitewater streams we know well. The Upper Connecticut is dam fed, and one of the few rivers that can remain cold enough for trout fishing in hot late summer weather. My friend Brian joined us there as well, and an armada of the two of us in Jackson Kayak Kilroys, and Whit lounging on an Orion-throned SUPerCharger headed downstream.
Fishing was tough, but we still managed a few, and enjoyed a great day of floating a river, and a nice camp nearby at Brighton State Park.
Before our ‘man trip’ was over, we felt it was appropriate to check out some streams that usually find us paddling their whitewater rapids, not casting fly lines. It’s always cool to see whitewater streams with low water so you can see just what geology is there to form the rapids, or scout for any hazards that may be hidden during high water. Seeing fish while paddling whitewater is one of the reasons I began fly fishing in the first place. (For one of my whitewater GoPro videos of this creek at high levels, click here: Kayaking the North Branch Winooski)
Eventually Whit was dropped back at home in Warren, and I was heading towards Southern Vermont, and a day with friends from Orvis at their headquarters near Manchester, VT.
Manchester is great Vermont destination, with everything from shopping for the family to hiking, Jeep trails and fly fishing in the mountains surrounding town. There are convenient state parks nearby for camping, such as Emerald Lake State Park. It’s also the home of the American Museum of Fly Fishing, the first stop on my day’s agenda.
It’s no surprise that the museum is right next to the Orvis rod factory and flagship store. The Orvis name will forever be tied to the history of fly fishing, with the founder Charles F Orvis being a pioneer of modern fly fishing reels.
As somebody who’s primary job is product development, product history like what is on display in the museum is very intriguing. I believe outdoor products basically evolve to make activities more fun, for more people, with higher chances of success, in more conditions and applications. Seeing the original versions of a product that has changed very little in over forty years, that I caught trout with yesterday, is a testament to it’s innovation level and quality, and is just plain cool.
The museum has displays on prominent people in the fly fishing world over the years, the history of flies, rods and reels, artists, and proliferation of fly fishing into saltwater and other applications.
If you’re a fan of fly fishing and can spare some time off the water, put it on your RV-destination list and spend an afternoon in the museum. It’s worth the time. I don’t know how long it will take, but it looks to me like there’s still room for a modern fly fishing kayak in the rafters ☺
The Orvis CFO is the definition of a classic trout reel. A basic click-and-pawl style reel without many moving parts, the sound of a CFO is unmistakable, and has resonated upstream for generations. Fishing with it makes you feel like part of history. It’s my favorite small stream reel, and Made in USA.