Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Home Shop

I’m sitting at the vise. It’s after midnight. If I could sleep I’d be awake anyway because of the thunder rolling above the river. Lightning flashes outside the window and the phone rings. 

I look at the number and answer, “What’s up, dude?”

“I’m at the shop. What do you think about…?”

The late night calls are more frequent than daytime calls. Like most small business owners, Scott Wessels never stops working. Even in his downtime he’s thinking of ways to make his shop better, not just for business purposes, but for his customers and ultimately, the sport of fly fishing. I could write page after page about the man. But it’s not his style so I won’t. I’ll just move on by saying that Scott is the most genuine, solid guy I know inside and outside of the fly fishing industry. 

Scott Wessels
Photo courtesy of Bears Den Fly Fishing Co (Capt. Joe Leclair)
Scott started the Bears Den Fly Fishing Company in 1989. He was a kid with an idea and innate street savvy business sense. In the years since he has built the Bears Den into one of the leading shops not just in the northeast, but known throughout the US and abroad. And I have to mention that his sister Sarah has played a large part in making the shop what it is.

I started going to the shop in 1999. The first time I walked down those stairs at the old shop on Summer St. I was overwhelmed when I opened the door. There was more gear and fly tying materials crammed into that basement than I knew existed. Over the years I’ve been to most fly shops in the northeast. I have yet to find one with as much inventory and product knowledge to go along with it.
Photo courtesy of Bears Den Fly Fishing Co.
A few years ago when Scott moved the shop to the current building I found out just how much stuff was in that basement. Jeff Iadonisi, Seth Nickerson and I helped move everything across town. We started on a Friday night at 6:00. After several trips with three trucks and trailers we stopped just before daybreak to get a few hours of sleep. The new shop was filling up quickly. Walking back into the old shop it looked like we hadn’t moved anything. Eventually we got it all out but I can tell you that if the Bears Den doesn’t have what you’re looking for, you probably don’t need it. But ask anyway because Scott and Sarah will find it for you.
Photo courtesy of Bears Den Fly Fishing Co.
February 20th, 2016 will mark the 18th Bears Den Expo. The Expo is free to the public and brings together manufacturer’s, guides, local and well known fly tiers and fly fishing celebrities in a low key, intimate environment. Attendees can watch a local fly tier spin a fly for their own water, turn around and bump into someone like Dave Skok or Bob Popovics and then have a quiet conversation with Lefty Kreh in the corner of the room. Personally, I like rooting through Jamie Boyle’s cooler for smoked bonito.

I’ve been with Scott while he plans the Expo. He agonizes over it for months because he wants to put on a great show for the benefit of his customers. It’s not for the vendors or the celebrity guest’s, it’s a thank you to the shop’s customers for their loyalty and support. Mark February 20th on your calendar and check back here for updates.

In the meantime, Scott will be at the Marlboro and Somerset Fly Fishing Shows with a scaled down version of the Bears Den Road Show.

Without appearing too mawkish (I’m a farm kid, I had to look it up), I’ll end by saying that the support, friendship and knowledge I’ve been given by the crew at the Bears Den over the years has helped me do what I do, not just at the vise but out in the backwater. I know it’s the same for a lot of other people in fly fishing. The Bears Den is not just my home shop it is part of my life and truly part of my home.

North River, MA
13 January 2016

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