Fishin Technician

HOW DID YOU START YOUR FLY FISHING CAREER?

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My thoughts exactly clambellies.  If I didn't have this addiction, I wouldn't have needed a career. 

 

In 1971, when I was about 12 yrs old, my older brother became friends with somewhat of a prodigy of a young fly fisherman named Blaise Cznerokowski.  My brother and he were a couple of years older. To this day, Blaise remains as one of the most gifted, natural fishermen that I have ever known.  Blaise had been mentored in the art of fly fishing by a high school principal, the mythical "Mr. Baker," a man whom I never met, but whose teachings, indirectly, are with me even today. 

 

At that young age, I decided that come hell or high water, I would become a fly fisherman.  With only tacit approval, I raided my mother's stash of S&H Green Stamps and semi-legally acquired a 9' buggy whip of a fiberglass fly rod with an automatic reel and a level floating line.  With a lot of coaching and endless patience on the part of Blaise and my brother, I learned the fundamentals of casting and fishing small creeks for trout.  (By this time in my life, I was already an accomplished drowner of worms and soaker of salmon eggs and cheese balls.)  Though it may sound as an unlikely venue, the suburban San Fernando Valley, just north of Los Angeles where I grew up, was surrounded by mountains with several year-round flowing streams that held native populations of rainbows and some brown trout.  Hardly anyone fished those streams back then, and they were the perfect pre-school for a youngster, with a whole lot of desire and not much else, to learn small stream fly angling.

 

My father, a great outdoorsman, but not really much of a fisherman, supported my brother's and my growing addictions to fly fishing in any way that he could.  When we decided that we had to learn how to tie flies (to save money!) he bought us the fly tying gear and enrolled us in fly tying classes with the Sierra Pacific Fly Fishers, a local club semi-based out of The Fisherman's Spot in Van Nuys, CA, (still there today) the only place within driving distance of us that carried fly tackle and fly tying supplies.  The SPFF were a bunch of experienced old school fly guys in their forties & fifties (old guys to us) who were extraordinarily generous in sharing their knowledge with younger kids like us who didn't even have driver's licenses yet.  The tying classes and the on the water outings with that club remain as the most important formative influences in my entire 45 years with a fly rod in my hands.  That along with regular treks to the eastern Sierra Nevada streams with my Old Man, brother Bill and Blaise. Any trout over the 6" legal limit that was unfortunate enough to take our flies usually died and went into a canvas creel.  Any fish over 10" was a whopper.  Anything over 12" a trophy.  We ate every one of them, and though the 10 fish per day limit was strictly observed, that didn't include those that were eaten or the limits that accumulated over 3-4 days in the back country.  We drank out of the streams and never got sick.  We cooked over open campfires, and God forgive us, we buried our trash.  And nobody, but nobody ever fished where we fished.  We had a little section of paradise all to ourselves, never saw another angler, and we considered ourselves pretty solid conservationists because we didn't openly litter (we buried or burned our trash) and we sometimes let smaller fish go free.

 

Times change, and with them so must our attitudes and practices.  The California I knew then no longer exists, nor could it. I don't think I've killed a freshwater trout in over two decades, though I'm sure I would if it were a brookie and it was fat.  A lot of water has flowed past the waders since those days.  I've had the good fortune to cast flies to a lot of different species in a lot of different places, some exotic, some not.  I got to be pretty good with a fly rod for a while, then I dropped it for years chasing different dreams in blue water, out of a kayak and chasing big striped bass with hardware.  I'm fishing the fly rod more lately, getting a little more proficient again but still dealing with ingrained bad habits that were wall papered over years ago.  But I have no fonder memories than those early days, learning the arcane mysteries and solemn rites of the fly fisherman, being coached along by some truly generous and talented older guys.  And the greatest gift I ever received when my Old Man, who as a high school teacher never had any excess cash, but who freely spent what he did have on his kids, gave my brother and me brand new Browning Sila-Flex fly rods for Christmas in 1973.  That was almost state of the art back then, and I felt as though I had truly arrived.        

 

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From a logger of all people.  My best friends family owned a logging company, I grew up at the beach.  As we got older I wanted to hunt, he wanted to be on the water. 

 

He bought a little Tracker V bottom and we started tearing the fish up pretty regularly.  Then he broke out a fly rod one day.  I'll never forget watching a bass grab his fly clean out of the air.  Two years later he custom ordered a 18' Parker, no top, recessed cleats, smoothe all the way around.  He went to catching salty fish and I went to bowhunting.

 

A few short years later, my buddy died in a car accident.  I stopped fishing altogether for 10 years at least.  I came back to it as I figure I've killed enough.....fishing, you can let them go.

 

That boat has been sitting in his Dad's garage ever since.  So has his Orvis rod collection.  It needs to be used.  RIP old friend.

 

 

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Edited by Kbetts
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Not sure I’ve shared this story of early career with yoose yet, it’s a flyfishing tale of sadness that I probably should have learned a lesson from, but of course didn’t. The first fly rod was gifted to me from Dad’s friend I think in 1967 or so. To me it was just a fishing rod but I did eventually figure it out and loved fishing and a year later another gift came. All I really vividly remember was it came in a leather case. I fished with that too and got tinkers and pollock and was happy. I was 12 and I fished every day and had a BB gun and an 8’ pram – how could I not be happy?

Off season I was really into skiing in the hills behind our house. I would climb up and ski down all day, which is funny because that’s still what I do, but I digress. I skied and skied and skied and then in 1968 this French guy won a ton of medals in the Olympics and life was going to get bad, although I didn’t know it. I wanted to do that too, and I found a long hill where I stuck sticks in the snow like the poles in the courses and practiced skiing around them for hours on end. Every day. And on the edge of that hill was a house, and in back of the house sat someone who must have been hand picked by the devil himself; Donna.

Donna was 14 and I really didn’t know her because she was on the high school bus. But after a few weeks of me being a constant presence on the hill behind her house she came over to talk to me. “Did you see the Olympics – those guys are SOOO cute.” Hormones suck they really do. I wanted to become a ski racer and now here comes this Donna and she wears perfume and has other developments I’m not seeing in girls my age and just like that I’m no longer climbing this hill so I can get to the Olympics. This was my first crush and it fell into obsession before I knew what hit me. If I wasn’t in school I was skiing fake gates and as the courses became more and more complex I ran out of suitable sticks – what to do? I knew deep inside that mastery would win me something much better than a stupid medal but I needed more gates. What WOULD I do?

I’m probably not the first person who ever exercised bad judgement under the influence of whatever that perfume was and whatever was under that ski sweater, but I might be the first one to put fishing rods in his Dad’s table saw to make more slalom gates. My brother’s little glass rods were perfect like they were but I needed more and realized that rod the guy gave me in the leather case - I could get 8 gates out of that at least. And so I did.

It wasn’t 2 weeks before there was a second person watching me run gates, but it wasn’t a good thing because that person had an arm around Donna. He was Jackie and he never put a ski on in his life. They liked watching the little kid trying to become a racer though. A little kid, yeah welcome to reality.

I got a glass rod the next year and forgot the incident for a couple decades until my parents were moving, and in helping clean out the workbench I happened across a beautiful cork grip with a stub of cane protruding from it. The letters “Orv” were still visible. She married Jackie the year they got out of high school, so maybe I dodged a bullet there. I never skied in the Olympics and sure wish I could afford an Orvis cane rod now, if they even make them anymore. Damned hormones.

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2 hours ago, stormy monday said:

Donna was 14 and I really didn’t know her because she was on the high school bus

Hold on man, this is politically incorrect! mentioning those words could get you indicted today. :banghd:

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One of my first official fly casting lessons that I received was from an older gentleman on Long Island, NY. He devoted an hour or so in his back yard the classic book under the elbow casting technique. I had to be around 14 years of age and accepted everything as knowledge for the moment. 3 o' clock, 12'o clock, 9' o clock,

 

Eventually I learned that body English and self tempo's made myself an individual caster that worked for me. Sometimes brute force with style gets the job done quite well.

 

I get a charge out of people that answer to the question "have you ever tried the fly rod"  .............no it's seems too difficult or something like that.

 

I say show a kid a fly rod and blue gill pan fish and something positive will be imbedded somewhere.

 

FT

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1 hour ago, Fishin Technician said:

Hold on man, this is politically incorrect! mentioning those words could get you indicted today. :banghd:

Damn guess I can't host the Grammys. Again...

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Compared to most here, I got a late start - I  fished a lot with spinning and conventional tackle up to my mid-20s in saltwater, then got married, had kids and didn't fish much until around 40 - by then it was bass and bream fishing in freshwater. Always wanted to try fly fishing and so started with an 8wt and couldn't get it so  I sold the rod and reel but then decided to try it again - this time with a medalist 1492 and a 4wt - caught some bream, speckled perch (crappie) and a few bass and was hooked on it.   From there I moved back to the salt and I've fishing exclusively with the fly rod for the last 8 years or so, catching redfish, speckled trout, flounder, Jacks.  Everytime I catch a fish on the fly, there's a little part of me that says " I can't believe this sh*t works" but it does.  I tie my own flies and leaders and that makes fly fishing that much more special.

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I was very lucky to have a Dad who flyfished and a father who believed you can never start them to young.

 

As a young pup my first fishing rod was Two piece cane pole with black string, a bobber and a hook. Worms were the ticket but that was the first year on the water when I was 6 or 7.

 

My first fly rod was at age 8, a three piece bamboo with  pflueger 1494 reel. I think the rod was Montague if not mistaken. I believe that rod served me well for three years.

 

i think it was about age 11 that my dad taught me to build my first rod. The blank came from Herters, a 9 ft 6 wt. my dad said the wraps should be my signature statement. I settled on orange wraps and green tags, no color preserver because he felt that preserver  did not allow the marine spar varnish would not form as good a bond go the blank.

 

My dad was not a happy camper when I left the rod leaning against a tree one day at the Squanacook River.

 

 I did after a good lecture get to build another rod.

 

the rest from there is history and a lot of great memories.

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My father was not a fisherman, but he and my mother encouraged me when I got interested in fishing and got me a Johnson spin cast outfit when I was 7 or 8. My first fly rod was a 6wt Cortland beginners set up I got with S&H Green Stamps that my mother let me save from her grocery shopping, and I got a fly tying kit for Christmas that year--I was 9. I used to spend hours looking through McClane's Fishing Encyclopedia and trying to copy the flies I saw in there....  I still have that book, but not the fly rod.

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I got into fly fishing from a old fishing game on the gameboy color. It's been a on and off relationship since I got into it when I was in middle school. I bought a ready2fish fly rod combo with my allowance money and fished for sunfish with that combo. I really want to get better at fly casting and get into saltwater fly fishing, but I don't have a lot of free time. 

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I bought an Eagle Claw 8 wt at K-Mart, along with an old really cheap K-Mart flyfishing reel, and some level like. I intended to bass fish with it, but that never happened. What did happen was I bought some Accardo Round Dinny's and was able to cast well enough to catch bluegill. Cast towards shore, let ripples die away, twitch said Round Dinny, wait for ripples to die away, do it again, then if no dice, do short retrieves. Bluegill hitting those bugs was a blast! 

 

Anticipating retirement in 2 years to be followed by a move to Montana, I have stocked up on trout rods and eagerly look forward to spending the remainder of my life chasing brookies.

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I got one of those travel rods in a plastic carry case for a Christmas present when I was probably around 12. It was like 8 pieces and came with a spinning reel AND a fly reel. Was the first time I really messed around fly fishing.  I grew up fishing Nissequogue River on Long Island mostly for trout on spin gear and earthworms. As time went on I graduated to rapalas and spinners and eventually more fly fishing including trips to connetquot. Then I discovered surf casting and essentially hung up the 5wt until I learned more about saltwater fly fishing and that’s what I have been doing almost exclusively lately and it’s becoming obsession....

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In the summer of 1979, I worked for the National Park Service in Chancellorsville as a part of the YCC ( Youth Conservation Corp) Program.  Our camp counselor was Ranger Rick Brown. A bunch of the guys in the program loved to fish and would hike around our camp fishing small creeks for pike, panfish and bass. 

 

Ranger Rick began to take us to local ponds to fish. He was a flyrodder. He showed us how to rig a line, cast and land a fish. I, like the fish we caught , was hooked. It quickly became my preferred way of catching anything that swims. 

 

Still hooked after all all of these years. 

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I would say that geografy and communications and faith played a big role on my late start FlyFishing.

I started fishing when I was 3 years old. Grandpa took me to the stream at the back of his farmhouse, sitting on his shoulder I caught my first fish. It was such a magical moment that I peed on his back. I was hooked for life. Growing up, wherever there was water, I was fishing. Cane rods, spinning rods, later casting rods, salt, fresh... I did it all. By mid 90s fly fishing was something almost anecdotal in Brazil. The geographical isolation from places where one would fish for trout, the early stage of saltwater and tropical fly fishing and  with TV shows and movies being the only way to spread the sport I had no idea what was that thing that guys were swinging to catch trout but it was ok, because there were no trout in Brazil anyway...

Once again my Grandpa comes to change everything when he told me we were going to experiment the “ultimate fishing experience”! We were going to reach the pinnacle of fishing... we were going to become Fly—Fisherman! I have no idea how Granpa learned about it but as the conversation progressed I felt like a Jedi apprentice on a StarWars story learning  about a new reality, a new dimension of fishing. 

It was very difficult to buy fly fishing equipment over there and impossible to get any tying materials but we managed to get some gear and a few trout flys and I started to scratch the surface of fly-fishing. 

It all changed a few months later when my Grandpa died. I was at the beginning of my finance career, trying to be a triathlete and I just did not fish for a while.

Years later, then living in Chicago and pursuing my MBA, I would watch the water during my morning runs and I started to see massive Salmon cruising by the lake, Bass bedding at the shallows inside the marinas and it was just enough provocation to awake the fishing spirits that still inhabited my mind.

I went to an Orvis store and the journey started again... I was lucky to meet a few people in Chicago that were like mentors to me. Even though fly-fishing was their business, they were kind enough to take me fishing, teach me how to cast, tie flies and open the doors to “the ultimate fishing experience”. I was a student and a “Fly Shop Bum” for a while.

I joke that during my two years in Chicago I also got a MFT - “Masters in Flyfishing and Tying”.

For the past 15 years Fly Fishing has been a passion and my greatest hobby and I have been fortunate to learn about new fish such as Trout, Salmon, Tunoids, Blues and Striped Bass and to meet a number of very nice and experienced Flyfisherman. SOL certainly has been a reference and a source for me.

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