FISH­ING

How Scavenger Fly will unite an­glers (and catch them more fish) through so­cial me­dia sleuthing

Field and Stream - - CONTENTS - By Joe Cer­mele

There’s a se­cret stash of killer flies on your home river. Here’s how to find it. By Joe Cer­mele

NO MAT­TER HOW di­aled in you are on your home river, there will al­ways be days when you strug­gle. Maybe you need a big­ger streamer than you packed. Maybe you just don’t have the right bug to match a hatch. Now, imag­ine that hid­den close by is a com­mu­nal fly box only cer­tain an­glers know about. In­side is a stash of pat­terns left by other fish­er­men. There’s even a notebook with en­tries about why a fly was added, and per­haps how or where to use it. You grab a fresh bug or two, leave a few of your own for the next guy in need, and just maybe your day turns around thanks to a fa­vorite tie from a fel­low an­gler.

If Aaron Przy­byl­ski, the cre­ator of Scavenger Fly (scav­enger­fly.com), has his way, such boxes will ex­ist on ev­ery river in the coun­try. And since find­ing one plays into the mod­ern an­gler’s ad­dic­tion to In­sta­gram, his plan might just work. Part trea­sure hunt, part com­mu­nity driver, and part an­gling ad­van­tage, Scavenger Fly may be the smartest merger of fish­ing and so­cial me­dia yet.

OUT OF THE BAG

Przy­byl­ski, a Min­ne­sota na­tive and de­vout fly an­gler, and his fam­ily have dab­bled in geo­caching for years. For those un­fa­mil­iar with the ac­tiv­ity, par­tic­i­pants use GPS to lo­cate hid­den trin­kets planted through­out the coun­try. It was Przy­byl­ski’s wife, Char­lotte, who first won­dered if it would make sense to marry geo­caching with fly­fish­ing. So in May 2016, Przy­byl­ski grabbed a zipseal bag and de­cided to find out.

“I dropped a few good flies, a pen­cil, and a cheap notebook in the bag and hid it along the Kin­nick­in­nic River in Wis­con­sin,” Przy­byl­ski says. “Then I sent a few pic­tures of clues to its lo­ca­tion to a cou­ple bud­dies and sort of for­got about it. Within a few weeks, I started get­ting more and more pic­tures of new flies in the bag and fish peo­ple caught on flies from the bag.”

Thanks to the suc­cess of Przy­byl­ski’s ex­per­i­ment, Scavenger Fly was born in late 2016, start­ing with an up­grade from a plas­tic bag to wa­ter­tight fly boxes. Each box comes with six starter flies, a notebook, a pen­cil, and in­struc­tions, which spec­ify that if you take a fly with­out leav­ing one, you should pick up five pieces of trash. Przy­byl­ski en­cour­ages an­glers who pur­chase a box to add a few of their own flies, and then plant it in a lo­ca­tion that’s not im­pos­si­ble to fig­ure out but would take lo­cal knowl­edge to find with a few lo­ca­tion clues posted on In­sta­gram with the hash­tag #scav­enger­fly. Any­one who finds the box is asked to take a photo of it and post it with the same tag. Tagged pho­tos of fish caught on flies from the box are also wel­comed. The goal, Przy­byl­ski says, is for the boxes to be­come gen­uinely use­ful sources of lo­cal pat­terns.

HID­DEN FOR GOOD

As of this writ­ing, only 12 Scavenger Fly boxes are hid­den away—sev­eral in Wis­con­sin and Min­ne­sota, a few in Iowa and Colorado. This spring will be the com­pany’s first big push to the pub­lic. Przy­byl­ski says Scavenger Fly is al­ready cre­at­ing a buzz. He’ll be charg­ing $40 for a box pre­loaded with six pat­terns, plus a T-shirt. Scavenger Fly will also do­nate $5 of each sale to a fish­er­men-friendly cause, start­ing with the NRDC’s Clean Wa­ter Act ef­forts.

“I’m hop­ing that the do­na­tions to the or­ga­ni­za­tions that mat­ter to an­glers will boost par­tic­i­pa­tion,” Przy­byl­ski says. “I know some of these boxes will go miss­ing. There will al­ways be those din­guses that will steal them, but I re­ally be­lieve that fly­fish­er­men are good-na­tured. They want to help each other out and share what they know.”

For any­one who lives in New Jersey, you can fol­low the #scav­enger­fly hash­tag to the box I planted on the South Branch of the Rar­i­tan River at Lock­wood Gorge. It’s tucked away at one of my fa­vorite lit­tle spots, of­ten over­looked by many an­glers. Con­grat­u­la­tions if you find it. I’ve pulled many 20-plus-inch trout from that hole.

Cache In

If you can find this box, you may end up with a magic fly.

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