On a recent flight home from Portland, Oregon, where I was visiting relatives, to Washington D.C., I sat next to a man who was traveling on business. One thing lead to another and we eventually began talking about our hobbies and other interests. When I mentioned I liked to fly fish and had done so on the famed Deschutes River while visiting in Oregon, he became immediately enthralled. He expressed his desire at always wanting to learn how fly fish and asked where I liked to fish most. I mentioned a few places for trout and then casually commented I liked fishing for stripers on the Chesapeake Bay and false albacore on Harker’s Island in North Carolina. The man immediately thought I was joking with him as he thought you could only fish for trout as a fly angler. This is certainly not the case, but many uninformed folks thing so because they simply don’t know any better.
Fly anglers have ample opportunities to fish for a variety of species in many rivers, streams, lakes and shores across the country. In my home state of Virginia, I of course fish for all three species of trout that call the Old Dominion home, those being brook trout, rainbows and browns. This of course is just the tip of the iceberg even for freshwater fish. Largemouth and smallmouth bass are also high on my list and take up most of the fishing action where warm water fishing is concerned. Other species that are popular with fly anglers include fishing for gar, shad, pickerel, bowfih, carp, bluegill and occasionally catfish. Nearly all of these fish can be found in local streams near your home and you can often gain great access to them by simply asking a local resident to fish on their property. All the warm water fish I’ve mentioned above are generally found in great numbers, and your local fish and wildlife agency often has maps and can point you in the right direction should you want to fish for them.
Another misconception about fly fishing is that freshwater is your only option, which is completely false. I wanted to bring this point out in my first book Fly Fishing Virginia: A No Nonsense Guide to Top Waters. I did so by putting a fly angler on the back cover holding a striper. I also included several saltwater fishing locations in the book.
Fly anglers who venture into saltwater have a whole host of interesting species they can pursue beyond stripers, and they included Spanish mackerel, flounder, red drum, tarpon, bluefish, false albacore, speckled trout, cobia, barracuda and even tuna. Yes, I said tuna! This giant of the sea is so popular with fly anglers my friend Tom Gilmore authored a book on the subject apply namedTuna on the Fly, which can be purchased at any good fly shop or off Amazon. Gilmore goes into great detail on how to catch black fin, yellow fin and blue fin tuna. Gilmore really knows his stuff, so if you are already a saltwater angler or want to become one, you should get this book.
I once heard a professional fly fishing guide say that if all he could catch was trout on a fly rod, he would give up the sport overnight. While I wouldn’t quite go that far, I do believe if fly anglers are limiting their fishing excursions to only fishing for trout, they’re really missing out. The good news is that old 8# bass rod your dad left you (and which you rarely use because of your penchant for trout), will work just fine for many saltwater species if you are so inclined. The important thing to know is fly fishing has many fine species to explore, and the fabled trout the beginning.
Beau Beasley www.beaubeasley.com is the author of Fly Fishing the Mid-Atlantic: A No Nonsense Guide to Top Waters and regularly fly fishes for trout…..anything else that bites.