Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Bacon Wrapped Jalapenos and a Fly Swap

 -- Fly Fish New England Fly Swap -- 
I joined the Fly Fishing New England board a little over a year ago and am really enjoying the great local knowledge and camaraderie. Right after joining, I was able to get into the board's first fly swap and wrote a post about it.

The best part about this fly swap is that it's local and our host, Matt, brews some excellent beer. Last year, in addition to swapping flies, drinking beers and getting to know everyone, I brought some bacon wrapped jalapenos (BWJs). The BWJs were a big hit. Well, as the December winter froze over all the local streams and cabin fever sets in, posts on the board started up about "When is the next fly swap?" When the date got set for 1 February and the theme of fly swap was "your most productive fly", discussions about the BWJs also surfaced. A tradition is born.

Just like tasty looking flies attract the large fish, the BWJs are a treat that fly anglers cannot resist. We start with the BWJ recipe:
Jalapenos cut in half and cleaned
  • Rinse then slice down the center of a dozen jalapenos. Other long, skinny peppers work as well. (Serrano peppers where also used here. Can you tell the difference?)
  • Use a spoon to scrape out the seeds and pith (ribs) of the peppers. I suggest wearing glasses and possibly gloves if you are sensitive to the spicy juice of the pepper (my fingers were numb after this step).
  • Fill the pepper halves with jalapeno cheddar cream cheese (plain cream cheese works as well).
  • Slice bacon strips in half and wrap the half strips around the peppers, stretching them to cover the entire pepper. Place on a rack on a cookie sheet.
Bacon wrapped jalapenos ready to bake
  • Place the BWJs into a preheated 425 degree oven and bake for 30 to 40 minutes (you know what cooked bacon looks like, so pull them out when the bacon is done).
BWJs cooked and ready to eat
Now that the appetizers are done, let's get on to the main course. Our host, Matt, brewed up some fine beer for our discerning palettes.

 The Hefeweizen was fresh and spirited. A great beer to start with making me think of warm summer evenings. Next up was the Sour Brown Ale. It had a rich flavor and did not disappoint. The Mystery Ale was a pleasant surprise. Very smooth with some rich, subtle notes.

The first hour or so is spent sharing stories, talking about gear and commiserating about the very cold New England winter that has kept most of us off the water. Some of the guys brought some vintage glass rods, recently acquired off the interwebs, that where assembled and examined. A few were strung up to cast as well.

This is so much more than a fly swap. A meeting of like-minded individuals with the genuine desire to share and learn. 

I'm humbled with this group. Eleven guys that, in total, have over 150 years of fly fishing knowledge. We have salt expertise, fiberglass rod knowledge, rod builders, bass & pike specialists, tying professionals all with real, down-to-earth attitudes.

It's great to be in the company of these exceptional anglers, both during the swap and on the board year round.
The flies this year were again fantastic. With the theme of your best producing fly, everyone brought their A-game ties to the swap. I can't wait to get these wet.
FlyFishingNewEngland.net board host Ryan divvying up the flies
First up is our host, Matt's fly. This thing is a beast. 7 inches of triple articulated goodness. The front hook is a 5/0 and the stinger is tied facing up buried in in a bush of feather, marabou and deer hair. Definitely, the star of the swap.
Matt's Monster Triple Articulated Pike Fly
Matt also tied another beautiful streamer for chasing bass and pike.
Matt's "no olive" Streamer
Our board host, Ryan, ties a mean articulated streamer as well and swears by the propeller. Some give him much grief about it, but it looks like it will fish well.
Ryan's Propeller Head Articulated Streamer
Ryan also tied this deadly streamer pattern
Ryan's Deadly Streamer
Our salt expert, Jeff, tied a nice flounder imitation fly. He says to cast it out on the flats, let is sink and give it a twitch when a striper gets near. They will pounce on it.
Jeff's Phlounder Fly
The other Jeff, the glass expert, tied up some killer salt and freshwater streamers.
Jeff's Striper Slayer
Jeff's Flashdance Muddler
Tyler tied a great looking Clouser.
Tyler's Clouser
Alan, our professional fly tier and rod builder, tied these beautiful stoneflies. These are a work of art.
Alan's Stone 1
Alan's Stone 2
Mike, our fly shop guy, tied this awesome stonefly. Another killer trout pattern.
Mike's Stonefly
Chad, unfortunately missed the swap with last minute car issues, but was able to get his flies to the swap. This streamer produces on Eastern Connecticut rivers and all over New England. Brookies, browns, rainbows and even landlocked salmon hammer it.
Chad's Killer Steamer
Chris creatively packaged is flies with instructions on how to use. This one will produce.
Chris' "Will Work Best if Used in Water" Streamer
Dennis got crafty with this frog gurgler. The top of this fly is sparkle craft store foam. It really gets the big bass on the surface.
Dennis' Disco Frog
Yours truly tied a variation of the Articulated Baby Bass (recipe in the Instagram III Fly Swap post) and a simple foam hopper. Both have produced well for me. I used some Loon UV Fly Paint on the underbelly of the hoppers. We'll see if this makes them more lethal or just scares the fish.
Dean's Articulated Baby Bass

Dean's Simple Foam Hopper
Loon UV Paint Underbelly on Foam Hopper
As mentioned above, we did take some of the vintage glass rods out to Matt's back yard to cast. The weather was relatively nice (in the upper 30s) and everyone took turns throwing some line.

Throwing Jeff's Vintage Glass Road
A great time was had by all. Many of us will be at the Bear's Den Fly Fishing Show on 22 February, so drop a note below if you want to meet some of this great crew. 

You don't need to be a New Englander to join the FlyFishNewEngland.net board. Go sign up and I'm sure Ryan will let you in.
Our Fearless Leader