02/13/11
Insects and other foods the trout may be eating:
1.    Blue-winged Olives
2  .  Sculpin, baitfish and small crayfish (Imitate with streamers)
3.    Midges
4.    Little Winter Stoneflies


The Real Me
Sometimes I go back and read my articles a few hours or maybe even days after I
have written them and not only find some glaring mistakes, I usually get the
impression from what I have written that I completely overlooked the element of fun
and the overall enjoyment of the fly fishing experience itself. It's difficult to get very
detailed or technical about fishing techniques, strategies, etc, without it becoming
somewhat boring and dull at times. It also probably leaves the impression that I'm all
about the numbers of fish caught. Believe me, the enjoyment I get out of fly fishing
isn't just about catching large numbers of fish. That's really not at all indicative of
who I am or of what I personally get out of fly fishing.

Much of my early years in life was spent pursuing large, trophy fish of many different
species. I've caught most all of them, getting within only a few species of having
caught everything that existed on the IGFA list of species at one point in time. About
the time I was getting close, they added several more species, some of which were
so rare that it could very well take an entire lifetime to catch just one species. I gave
up meeting that challenge.

Many years of my life was spent tournament fishing, first four years fishing the
professional BASS circuit and then several years of fishing different types of
saltwater tournaments. All of the above was as serious as fishing gets. I have always
taken my fishing very seriously, but also probably different from what many would
think. When I gave up the saltwater tournaments and my major sponsors, I did so
because I was quite frankly just about beat to death, so to speak. I had cracked
both of my knees on boat consoles, cut and bruised myself from head to toe, fell off
a tuna towers, and not only broke, but crushed my nose. Worse of all, I ruptured a
disc. I was also getting into my mid-fifties and nothing was getting any easier to say
the least. Doing things like running a boat at 50 knots (near 60 MPH) in four foot
seas for a few hours at a time is rough on an aging body. Fishing saltwater
tournaments, even with the help of a crew, is usually about a 15 hours or longer day
ordeal and there's often two or three days of it in a row.

I will never forget one day I was fishing with my close friend Jim Armstrong, who
owned the SKA circuit at the time and now owns the
Redfish Tour tournament
circuit;  Jim, Jim's personal doctor, who's name I have forgotten; and I were fishing
an SKA (king mackerel) tournament out of St. Petersburg Florida. I was running my
boat at about 45 knots in heavy seas headed to the area we wanted to fish when
Jim yelled at me to slow down. As soon as we could hear each other over the engine
noise, Jim told the doctor about my previous ruptured disc problem and then
proceeded to ask the doctor if running the boat like I was doing could hurt my back.
The doctor replied  "it could not only hurt his back, it could kill him". I laughed until I
realized he wasn't kidding. He was referring to the severe jarring that all three of our
spines was having to absorb in the heavy pounding of the boat. He was also
probably scared to death but never-the-less, he got my attention. It was a couple
more years before I stopped fishing the tournaments, but the more my back hurt,
the longer it took to recoup after rough tournaments and the more I thought about
what the doctor said, the more I realized I should quit the fishing the tournaments.
Slowing down wasn't an option. You can't be successful backing off anything. You
have to get to where you need to fish and get there as quickly as you can. One day
I woke up and without as much as a second though, I called it quits.

Shortly thereafter, Angie and I started fly fishing for trout almost exclusively. This
happened back in 1997. I'm now 67 years old. The second or third year, we found
ourselves traveling all around the country and fly-fishing over 200 days a year. For
about three of those years, we were either fishing or traveling to and from the
streams to fish even more days than that. Compared to what I had been doing since
1976, fly fishing for trout was so relaxing and pleasurable I simply fell in love with it.

I wasn't exactly new to fly fishing. I had fished with a fly rod since I was a very young
boy. I had done TV shows on fly fishing for bass and bream during my TV days from
1980 to 1985. I had made a few fly fishing trips to Canada and Alaska fishing for
salmon and trout. I had caught several species of saltwater fish on the fly including
sailfish and bull dolphin, but I had never fly fished exclusively. In fact, most of my
fishing was done with conventional tackle. For several years (1985 to 1997) I
produced instructional videos on saltwater fishing. More copies of my videos on
saltwater fishing (a total of 46 programs) have been sold than anyone else in the
World.

When we started fly fishing, I still couldn't get out of the fishing work mode. I
continued to produce fishing videos (DVD), I just changed to fly fishing. A couple of
years ago, someone ask me how long it had been since I had gone fishing just for
the fun of it. I couldn't remember the last time. Since 1976, it was always either
fishing in a tournament or on-camera and sometimes, both. The only part of that fly
fishing for trout changed was that I didn't any longer fish tournaments, and I wasn't
pressed to finish a video. In fact, it was about five or six years before Angie and I  
finished the first one on fly fishing.

On the very first fly fishing trips we made,
I noticed something very different.
For years I had fished in all the states and several countries. Often I was fishing in
exotic locations. Other than just putting fish in the boat, I had always enjoyed the
many things associated with the fishing to some extent. There were always some
pleasurable parts of my fishing trips such as seeing new places, being aboard big
sportsfishing yachts, marlin darlins, etc., but they were never enjoyed without the
pressure of needing to win a tournament or to produce a TV show or instructional
video. Since 1980, my sole income has come either directly or indirectly from fishing
or boating. When we started fly fishing, even though I was still working on producing
videos, I was never pressed to complete anything. As a result, fly fishing turned out
to be a completely different experience for me. In comparison to what I had be doing
for many years, fly fishing for trout turned out to be a wonderful, peaceful and
enjoyable experience.

At the time we first started fly fishing, we were living in Panama City Beach Florida.
We would drive up to the Smokies and usually stay at my brother's house in Laurel
Valley near Townsend. Getting away from the rough seas to wade and wave a light
fly rod in the beautiful streams of the Smokies was very relaxing compared to the
hard core fishing I was used to. It was also a welcome change from living on the
beach for years, something many folks equate to a full time vacation up until the
time they actually live on a beach. The second year we fly fished, we made a month
long trip to Yellowstone National Park. I found the same type of peaceful and
enjoyable differences in my fishing in Yellowstone Country that we found in the
Smokies. Neither one of us could wait for the alarm clock to sound each day. We
were up early and ready to leave for the day when the alarm sounded. The
thoughts of being out in the wilderness on a new stream each day was enough to
wake us up.  

Even though we still aways fish with a professional video camera along with us,
there's never any pressure to come up with a TV program, a new video for Bennett
Marine Video in California, and there's certainly not any tournament competition
going on other than me doing my best to keep Angie from catching the most trout.
Actually, I'm just kidding about that - not about her beating me, but about the way I
view the results. When she does catch more trout than I, and she often does just
that, I'm actually always happier for her than I ever am when I catch more.

Often, we find ourselves as much involved with catching, identifying and
photographing/ or video taping the insects as we are the fishing. We find a great
deal of pleasure in doing that. We always stop fishing and take the time to video or
photograph beautiful scenery and the animals, especially the bears. We have over
a hundred and fifty bears on video from all across the U. S. We plan on releasing a
video on bears in the near future. We also have a lot of video and still shots of elk,
deer, wolves, bison, moose, antelope, eagles, hawks, ospreys and hours and hours
of digital video of many other animals. In other words, fly fishing has brought about
many other things we enjoy that are all a part of the overall fishing experience.

Often I just stop fishing, sit down and watch the water. It's amazing what you can
learn and how much you can improve your fishing by just relaxing, studying the
stream and paying attention to what is going on. As Yoga said, "you can observe a
lot by looking", or something like that. Of course you can't always relax. It's only in
Yellowstone that you can break a camera running from a buffalo. Only in the
Smokies that you can be standing in the middle of a stream about to cast and  
almost get hit in the head by a wild turkey that someone spooked downstream.

When I write the articles I usually write on this and our other websites, i usually do
so with one objective in mind - trying to help others improve their fishing. That
usually means trying to help others catch more or maybe larger fish. I mean, isn't
that the main objective of fishing?  We all enjoy being able to catch fish. I don't know
anyone who enjoys fishing all day and not catching anything more than they enjoy
catching a few fish. Most of your would probably agree that catching some fish at
least adds to the pleasure of fly fishing.
When I write about fly fishing in a
hardcore instructional mode, I often leave those that read the articles with
the impression that the numbers is all I am interested in.
 Although it may
appear to be that's all I'm interested in, I hope by now you realize that certainly isn't
the real me.

Prior to my proceeding into the details of the strategies I will be recommending
during the next few days for the beginning of the new season and the hatches we all
will soon experience, I guess I just wanted to leave a different, and hopefully a better
impression of myself than I usually do.
Believe it or not. I'm not all about
numbers of fish caught and I'm sure not all about the size of the fish
. I've
caught plenty of big fish - big blue marlin, the hardest to catch species of fish there
is to catch, huge shark, big bass, big trout along with big about everything else that
swims. That said, give me my fly rod, a few of my flies and some time on any of our
small brook trout streams in the Smokies and if you really knew me, you would know
that under those conditions, I'm alway very much relaxed, happy and at peace. I
hope all of you can not only catch a lot of trout, but also find that same happiness,
peace and satisfaction of the overall experience.

The long range weather forecast we are looking at for the next several days
indicates things will change and change rather fast, so beginning tomorrow, I will be
back into the "catch more trout" mode. Blue Quills, Quill Gordons and American
Grannoms will begin to move into position to hatch during the next few days.
I've
been preaching for the last several days that you don't have to wait until
the insects begin hatching (meaning departing the water) to catch plenty of
trout.
You can do that for at least a week and maybe even longer before any
substantial numbers of mayflies or Little Black caddis begin to hatch. I'll be dealing
with the details of how I think you should go about doing that beginning tomorrow.


Down and Dirty  (some are clean) Tips and Recommendations for Fly
Fishing Destinations -
Just keep in mind that it is strictly one opinion that happens to be mine. The intent is to hopefully
give those interested a general idea of what to expect. Most likely every guide, affiliated business
entity and local angler will have a different opinion. These streams also have full coverage on our
Perfect Fly Stream Section.

I'm too tired...tomorrow for sure

Copyright 2011 James Marsh