Outdoors show in Brewer draws the winter-weary

Posted Feb. 28, 2009, at 5:25 p.m.

BREWER, Maine — Despite Saturday’s bright sunshine and balmy weather, the annual Cabin Fever Reliever show at the Brewer Auditorium attracted a dedicated crowd of outdoor enthusiasts eager for a respite from the winter doldrums.

“This show is about education and hands-on experience,” said Ernie MacDonald, chairman of the Penobscot Fly Fishers and primary organizer of the show. “People come here to see how to do things, whether it’s tying a fly, building a knife or making a pack basket.”

With almost 50 exhibitors, there was a lot to see at the two-day event. Commencing work on a new dry fly, Ron McKusick of Featherside Flies in Corinna paused to show off his Nor-Vise, a brass-and-aluminum tool that uses a bobbin mechanism to smoothly spin the tiny fishhook base of a new fishing fly. The rotating vise helps fly-tiers prevent repetitive-motion injuries such as carpal-tunnel syndrome, McKusick said.

“Almost everyone uses some kind of vise,” he said. “There are a few who use their hands to hold the hook, but that gets picky real quick.”

Charlie Mann, another fly-tying expert, was hard at work on a Spanker — a glittering, bite-sized morsel with yellow googly eyes, a lavish rabbit-fur tail and a delicate mallard-feather belly.

“It’s a flashy little pattern,” he said, fondly, of the two-inch-long specimen in his vise. “The trout like them.”

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