The True Joys of Trout Fishing
by Mark Karaba
Copyright 2014 James Marsh
October 2014 Issue
James Reid's Shop
a trout. Many, I suspect, have thought about how they would like to try the sport but seem intimidated by the 'gear' overload.
To those not initiated into the world of fly fishing, it can be overwhelming indeed.
The worst thing that could happen to a person who is considering getting started in the sport would be to step into a high end
fly shop and check prices on fly rods, or to pick up a catalogue dedicated to fly fishing and try to sort out the overwhelming
available rods,lines, leaders, flies, etc., etc.
To be serious about getting started, the beginner needs a mentor of sorts to help clear the path to better understand most
importantly, what you do NOT need to get started. I for one, was the someone who learned nearly all I know of the sport
through trial and error. Yes, back in 1972, I was the guy who probably had the fly line threaded through the hook keeper on
my fiberglass fly rod. I don't remember what got me interested in trout fishing. No one in my family fished for trout. Yet, there I
was, head over heels in love, obsessed with streams and trout, on my own.
The owner of the local sporting goods store, was a patient and kind gentleman, and he trout fished. At some point, I
purchased a fly rod from him. He must have realized that this purchase by me was,in my eyes, an entitlement to the answers
of a thousand MORE questions by me! So, he firmly, yet graciously, suggested I go to the library and check out the book
'Trout', by Ray Bergman. I did just that. I read that book and re-read certain chapters for a couple of weeks. Afterwards, I went
to the creek close to my house and fished with a nymph, dead drifted upstream. I cast from the same spot, to the same run for
a longer time than I would ever do today. Then on maybe the 30th or 50th cast the line twitched forward a bit, and I set the
hook. I landed that brown trout. It was 26" long and weighed 6 pounds. That took place in 1976. The fish still hangs on the wall
in the cabin in Grayling, Michigan. By the way, I now have my own copy of that book. It was given to me by a friend. It sits in a
prominent place on a shelf in my home. It is still an important work and is very collectible. It covers much of the information
needed by a beginning fly fisherman that is timeless.
In today's world, with all the information available at ones fingertips, the learning process has been made much easier.
Though I feel that a mentor/instructor can speed up the process along with again, the information pertaining to what you
need to be proficient enough to have a beginning level of success, and what you DO NOT need to catch trout with a fly and
Though I, myself, would not be considered a minimalist. I own more fly rods than I care to admit. When left alone in a dark
closet they appear to multiply. One day you open the door and find that the 6-9 wt. rods have apparently given birth to 3-4-5
weights, that are nestled in a cocoon, or a swaddling cloth, that's even monogrammed to bear its name and weight.
The fly fishing scene of today is of a different era altogether. Just pick up a current issue of a Fly Fishing magazine and if you
can get your hands on one, any issue of a vintage copy of "Fly Fisherman Magazine" from the 70s or 80s, and you will
see what I am referring to. The writers of that era wrote with classic prose even when describing a technique or method. Most
of the names of the writers were iconic in the outdoor world. The fly patterns were classic and traditional and not nearly as
innovative in general. This commentary is not in any way a criticism of today's writers or the ever expanding complexities of
today's fly patterns. It is more about the comparisons of today's fly fishing world and the days that we few dinosaurs remember.
Fly fishing today, as with most things in today's world, can be very technical, and certainly that is the case if one considers
the overall scope of equipment available that some deem proper or necessary. The truth is that nothing has changed at all. It
is still about a fly rod, a fly line, a leader and a fly. Your Grandfather's flies will still catch trout. That old fiberglass rod will STILL
cast a fly, though maybe not with the grace and form of a modern graphite rod. You could still wear those old patched Red Ball
waders and hang the old wicker creel over your shoulder, though you may want to post a sign on it to explain it is for carrying
your flies and gear. The sight of a wicker creel worn by a fly fisherman today would send shock waves through the modern
brotherhood fraternity to those that have never eaten a trout, let alone considered it.
I remember those days - simpler times. They were days of excited anticipation of learning and discovery. Day of staying up
late to read Ray Bergman, Joe Brooks, Vince Marinaro and anything else I could find or afford that I thought held the key
to unlock the mysteries of fly fishing and trout.
I think back to many years ago, when I could not drive across a stream or river without stopping and looking,and wondering.
Times, when I was obsessed with learning to READ the water. Knowing that a stream held trout was one thing, I had to learn
where they were in the water. The very memorable chance of meeting some 'old timer' (someone MY age now) on the water
and the questions I would ask and seek answers to. Some gave me a fly, which I cherished. Once, during one of those
encounters with an older gentleman, we sat on a log in midstream and I listened to his long experienced observations about
trout. That particular stream where we sat, I remember not wanting that moment in time on that particular stream where we sat,
to end. This was someone who KNEW the secrets and was sharing them with me.
I sometimes went out of my way to sidle up to one of these sages and casually start up a conversation that usually falsely
implied that i knew what I was talking about. Looking back, I am quite sure my lack of knowledge was transparent when I spoke
over my head, all the time under the guise of trying to gain knowledge. The truth is, the real joy in trout fishing is where it takes
place - the cold,clean water and the air that is always better than at home.
When you finally get to that point that you are able to cast a fly, catch trout occasionally, feel confident in your ability,and
relax, then you can pause, look at the river and your surroundings. If the sun is shining and the trees and bushes are
alive with birds, and the wildflowers are in bloom along the banks, then you will truly begin to see what all the fuss was about.
he true joys of trout fishing don't come easy. I often times consider how mysterious and complicated fly fishing must
appear to those who would try to sort it all out on their own. Or, to those who may have, at one time or another, picked
up a magazine about fly fishing and thumbed through the photos of some happy angler in a handsome setting holding
Tobbyhanna Creek Pennsylvania
Courtesy Dennis McCarthy
Angie Marsh with a brown trout on the line
and an Elk as her witness. No photo shop
folks, just real life at Gibbon Meadows
Yellowstone National Park