Category Archives: The Arts

The Art and Science of Fly Fishing



AmericanPressTravelNews- 9/1/17-Article by Bob T. Epstein–Many people who have never fished before ask: What possible attraction could standing in a river, flailing a line with feathers tied to a hook, trying to catch a fish that you don’t even plan on eating, just catching, viewing, maybe take a picture, and releasing? Today it is estimated that millions of Americans enjoy fly-fishing as a hobby and a natural, physical and mental escape from their work-a-day lives. In the U.S. alone, untold thousands of jobs depend on the creation of fly-fishing gear for the would-be, or intrepid fly-fishing angler.  Hundreds of fly fishing schools have opened all across the USA to assist those with interest in learning the basics in fly tying, insect entomology and the art of casting and placing a fly in front of a trout, bass, pan fish and so many other freshwater game fish  (including the mighty carp), and all manner of salt water game fish as well.

Over the centuries, nearly all American Presidents have taken time out to fly fish. In more recent years, President Eisenhower took every opportunity to fish, likewise, Ronald Reagan, and both President Bush’s do.  The American  Museum of Fly Fishing in Manchester, Vermont showcases fly fishing tackle belonging to several American Presidents and high profile personalities that were part of all venues in American culture of the 20th Century.

As my wife Barbara and I are both fly fishing instructors and avid anglers ourselves, we have visited a few of the fine rivers that slice and meander through the Maryland landscape, such as the Casselman, the Savage and the upper Potomac to name a few. We also traversed America in an RV fly fishing as we traveled in some of the most scenic areas such as Yellowstone, Rogue River and the Snake, to name but a few of the many dozens we flicked a feather or two on. Fly rods in all the past centuries before the 20th were made of wood, some were made of metal. They were mostly hand-crafted out of various woods and bamboo.

Some of the finest fly rods and reels were made in the last few centuries in Scotland and France. Reels from the Hardy Brothers in England are highly prized today and old ones are also highly collectible at stiff prices. This is true of American makers such as Orvis with a long history of providing the CFO reel (Charles F. Orvis) to fly anglers for well more than a century and half now. Orvis Headquarter store is also located in Manchester, Vermont but many of the same fly fishing products and specialized accoutrements to the anglers art are located in Frederick, Maryland. It is a fine store that has everything you’d need for anything to do with fly fishing.


Today with the major degradations to our natural places in the past century as the Industrial Revolution accelerated, dams and industrial wastes pouring into all major and minor rivers, overfishing, development close to or on our waterways, is one huge reason hatcheries and a put & take program is now an important part of the trout fishing seasons in Maryland, the Virginias, Pennsylvania and most of these United States. The ideal of course is that trout and other game fish reproduce enough to sustain a more natural fisheries situation. However, far too many people want fish, so state & federal hatcheries oblige. If not, there would be no fishing licenses, gear-sales, or tourism dollars for the local economies that can offer very little else than a jumping off point for a great outdoors adventure. And the number of anglers and hunters is also now diminishing from a high of just a few years ago.

We visited Dusty Wissmuths Fly Fishing School over at White Tail Ski area and enjoyed sitting in on his indoor fly craft lore and his outdoor fly casting clinic. Stehanie Stephan Zaklin and her husband Kuy Kendal from DC were intent on learning all they can about fly fishing. “ I like the conservation aspect of fly fishing. As a couple we tend to move move a lot and this is a sport that is challenging and new life sport for us” said Zaklin.  Zaklin and Kendal have friends that fly fish, but they never had a chance to try it. So they are taking lessons along with another couple Theresa and Ali Zandi from Ashburn, VA. who independently found Dusty’s school to their liking as well. Both couples enjoyed learning the fundamentals of fly casting which initially just takes a certain amount of practice time. Some pick up on the concept of what goes up must come down as the smooth arcing of the fly rod creates horizontally as well as in any configuration based on the rod loading up and releaseing the tension in two directions. Once the “feel” is understood than building on the process with practice eventually make for perfect casting.

The art of fly fishing has been a sport of kings down through the ages.

There are hieroglyphic depictions of fly fishing on the walls of pyramids in Egypt. French and English noblemen enjoyed their rights on their own game reserves while their serfs worked their lands. Some of the finest fly rods and reels were made in the last few centuries in Scotland.

Today it is estimated that thousands of Americans enjoy fly fishing as a hobby and escape from their work-a-day lives. The beauty of women’s involvement in fly fishing lies partly in the fact that . . .

  • fly fishing is completely “gender neutral”
  • fly fishing does not require great physical strength or ability
  • fly fishing can be practiced by and at all ages
  • and most importantly, fly fishing is a rewarding outdoor activity that can be enjoyed by women, by their children and grandchildren for a lifetime


“Fly fishing is not about providing table fare. It is about the experience…it is the spiritual connection to nature—the melody of the birds, the singing of the trees, and the sunlight dancing on the water. And, of course, it is the poetry of properly casting and handling a fly rod, which is the physical connection from yourself to a whole other world living below the surface.”
~ Rich Kustich, Buffalo Spree Magazine

The museum serves as a repository for and conservator to a large collection of historic rods, reels, art, literature, and related angling items. Documentation of fly fishing as a sport, art form, craft, and industry in the U.S. and abroad from the mid-16th century to the present. There are also items belonging to U.S. presidents and noted personalities. Activities include demonstrations, classes, and auctions.

The Historic Opera House and the Ellicottville Brewing Company – EBC Located in Fredonia, New York

The Fredonia Opera House built in 1891
The entrance to The Fredonia Opera House – July 11th – Fredonia, New York is a small town located in Chautauqua County, New York. Bob & Barb “On The Road Again.”

Unique to Fredonia New York is the Opera House. Located in the downtown section. Built in 1891, it is a year-round performing arts center. Currently, it offers a variety of live performances, presents a cinema series of first run independent and foreign films, and serves as a rental venue for community meetings,  debates, weddings and performances. For more information call: (716) 679-1891. Their website is:

Just down the street is the Ellicottville Brewing Company – EBC. Located at: 34 West Main Street. Fredonia, N.Y.

The Ellicottville Brewing Company has over 20 local and hard to find Craft Brews
The EBC gives you a tasty generous portion of fish n’ chips.
Garlic chicken wings! Barb and I had a finger-licking good time with these well done wings!
More chicken, this time a bit spicy with peanuts, great noodles and a delicious sauce.

Barb and I enjoyed a nice and tasty dinner in this pub. We ordered the garlic chicken wings, lots of them. They were amongst the best we have ever ordered. The wings came with their home-made bleu cheese, carrots and their special house sauce. Very crispy, and not greasy. After looking over the menu for their main course, we decided on their fish n’ chips. The fish was coated in EBC Two Brother”s Pale Ale beet battet and Japanese bread crumbs, then deep fried. The dish came with crispy fries and Coleslaw.  We had Pad Thai noodle and chicken dish. It had light spice with al dente’ noodles. The noodles were covered with broiled chicken strips. It was the special of the night. The locals commented that they have a terrific burger.  They have dining on their patio. Since they are known for having over a selection of 20 local and hard to find craft beers. We sampled a few. That was a treat.

Take a look at their website: or Many evenings they are very busy, so call for reservations. (716) 679-7939.




Chautauqua Area of New York – So Many Artisan Entrepreneurs Are Bred Here – June 29th. The Reverie Creamery is owned by partners Riko Chandra and Jim Howard in Mayville, New York.  Reverie produces its own seasonal cheeses and also carries a variety of cheeses and goodies from around the world with a focus on small, American, artisanal companies.  Reverie is dedicated to using local ingredients and collaborating with a range of local artisans.  Their artisan products reflect a meaningful relationship to the land and Western New agricultural heritage. Because Reverie Creamery selections of cheese varies seasonally,  there always new things to try. They started as a cheese store selling a selection of Artisan cheeses, but soon began making their own fresh cheese. They are dedicated to using local agricultural products that they continue to market.

Besides their cheeses, their store is full of local food products and handmade items such as carving boards, ceramics, and many other beautiful locally made gifts.They also have cheese & wine pairings, harvest dinners, and many other events. We tasted some of the cheeses that were made on site. Delicous!!! For more information go  716-789-5757


Riko believes that “Every piece of fine cheese that you savor has a story to tell”
The upper Crust Bakery Fredonia


After the cheese tastings, we were ready for lunch. Just a short drive later we arrived at the Upper Crust Bakery and Soup Co. on Main Street in Fredonia, New York.

Their sandwiches look so big, so I ordered a half of homemade tuna with a bowl potato soup. Of course when I looked in the desert case, just had to have one of their delights. Hard to make a decision. They had cinnamon buns, pecan buns, blueberry and raspberry clouds and much more. With my raspberry cloud enjoyed a fresh cup of espresso.

Everything looked so good, it was hard to pick

For more information call: (716) 672-2253 or their website is:

The next time that we return, we would like to visit the Lily Dale Assembly. We did take a drive overall, to the site and took a walked around. The summer season opens June 30th. The the website has information and the event schedule:

There are so many places that we missed. Check out:






Museum of Appalachia in Clinton, Tennessee Best Museum Ever!

“The museum gardens are not only for the benefit of the tourist , they also serve as a food supply for the Irwin’s and their neighbors.” John Rice Irwin is shown here with his wife Elizabeth, and their two grandchildren, Lindsey and John Rice Irwin Meyer. Photo by John Meyer.

AmericanPressTravelNews-May 17th, Clinton, TN.-Bob and Barb “On the Road Again” this time at the Museum of Appalachia–I first met John Rice Irwin over a decade ago. His sparkling eyes and spirit for the past, as he’d dragged it into the present to preserve it for the future shone through loud and clear-not just what he said, but how he told the story of his foraging to collect on to his property the remnants of what is still left of early Appalachia as a living museum. 

John Rice Irwin spent a lifetime collecting the artifacts of the Appalachian people and although the museum’s founder is now retired, he can still remember just about every auction, every smokehouse and barn he has explored–and every good friend that he has made among the rural folks of Appalachia.  Those histories–and the people to which they are connected–are central to his passion for collecting and central to the character of the Museum.  

It was the familiar story of the devastating Barren Creek flood–legendary in East Tennessee for churning past the banks of the Clinch River in the dead of night and sweeping many people and hundreds of farm animals to their deaths–that led to one of his earliest purchases.  The purchase, made at a local auction, was just an old, worn, poplar horse-shoeing box, but the auctioneer mentioned in passing that it had been fished out of the nearby Clinch River over half a century earlier, following the catastrophic flood.  

After that purchase came many others, sometimes at auction, sometimes from making trips over dirt tracks and going door to door.  Earning the hard-won trust of rural folk is never easy, and John Rice will tell you that it was his knowledge of and curiosity about old-time farm implements that often opened the door to friendships.  But conversations with him begin to draw a larger picture, one where it becomes clear that it was—and continues to be—his admiration and esteem for the ingenuity, craftsmanship, and hardy perseverance of the people of Appalachia that has allowed him to forge relationships of trust and mutual respect.  

The purchase of several truckloads of early Appalachian artifacts from Bill Parkey of Hancock County reveals just such a relationship.  Bill’s family had lived in Rebel Hollow near the Powell River for generations, settling there before the Civil War, and the old homeplace had a wealth of early tools and equipment that he continued to use for blacksmithing and wagon-making.  For years, John Rice had been told that Bill would never part with his beloved tools for any amount of money.  The warnings largely were correct, for although John Rice occasionally was able to purchase a thing or two, his trips to “Revel Holler” were generally spent just visiting with his friend.  It was only after Bill’s death that his widow called John Rice, saying that Bill had told her never to sell his cherished tools unless it was to “the professor”—because John Rice had “always treated him right.”  It is illustrative that John Rice insisted on paying Mrs. Parkey twice her asking price for several truckloads of her husband’s tools.  

What grew out of John Rice’s love for this region’s past and its people is an impressive living history that has been nationally acclaimed.  It has been featured in the Smithsonian magazine, which said, “it vividly portrays something ethereal—the soul of mountain people,”  and it has been named one of only a handful of affiliates of the prestigious Smithsonian Institution in the state of Tennessee. Location