Welcome to Week XCI of 'Fishing Parkland Shorelines'. Like most of us I am a novice fisherman, loving to fish, but far from an expert. In the following weeks I'll attempt to give those anglers who love to fish but just don't have access to a boat, a look at some of the options in the Yorkton area where you can fish from shore, and hopefully catch some fish.
Last week, as I discussed a little local gathering to learn some basic fly tying techniques, I mentioned YouTube.com has become a great resource to see flies being tied, allowing viewers a chance to learn new patterns.
So it was only natural that I went searching the video site myself, happening on a series of fly tying videos by Jim Misiura.
Seeing his educational videos led me to drop him an email to learn more about the man behind the videos, and why he puts the effort into videoing his tying and sharing it with others.
Misiura said it started innocently enough.
"Well it started with taking pictures of the trout we catch," he said. "Then with digital cameras and camcorders it was the next logical step to video yourself catching fish. No more fishing stories (lies).
"Having fly fished for 30-years, and fished my river for 38-years, being friendly with other anglers, I would always try to help out the other/new guy with my experience on stream.
"I always wanted to be a teacher and when I was in my mid twenties my sister asked if I would do a fly fishing/tying presentation, demonstration for the home school kids, 12 to 14 year old, in the county. She said it will only have to be 30-minutes long. After I explained to her it would take much more than 30 minutes, we agreed that I would have the kids sign up for classes. That fall after investing some $500 to outfit six kids with fly tying kits we started our classes. So I learned from the kids how to be a tying instructor and fishing guide.
"So after the first season of making look at me catching big trout videos, I decided to fulfill my ambitions of becoming a teacher. I know how hard it was for me to learn to tie flies and the proper way to fish them. Like I said earlier I owe this sport so much more then I have taken away from it. I feel it is our duty as sportsman to pass along our knowledge of fishing and particularly fly fishing to the next generation as well as those that have made a later arrival to the sport. Nothing will make a person throw in the towel quicker than being frustrated and unsuccessful on the water or at the bench."
But why did Misiura start tying flies in the first place.
"Since I only had one rubber cricket, I had to buy my first flies from a local bait shop," he said. "These flies were obviously imported, breaking and coming apart after one or two fish. I soon figured out that making my own would in the long run be cheaper.
"I found my Dad's old fly tying box, emptied out the moths and found some useful materials. So with Dad's old kit and the pattern book that was inside I started tying my own flies. Well attempting to tie my own flies.
"The biggest attraction for most fly tiers is not that it may be cheaper to tie your own, but the satisfaction derived from catching a trout on a fly you tied yourself. Once you start doing that you become more obsessed with creating your own patterns. To me that is where the real attraction comes from."
Misiura also came to tying as a natural progression of fly fishing, which came after simply heading to the water to fish as a kid.
"Yes I started fishing as far back as I can remember; four or five years old," he said. I" would get to go with my Dad, Uncle Frank and older brothers. I have three older brothers and one younger, I also have five sisters. We were always trout fisherman, and trout season in my house and in Pa. is a big deal. Since my Dad was busy raising 10 kids I spent many hours with my Uncle. I would say both my Dad and Uncle helped shape who I am today. While trout fishing is what I do most, I also love to fish for warm water species, bass, bluegill, and other panfish. I also love to fish saltwater."
And then the fly fishing bug struck.
"I first became interested in fly fishing at an early age maybe 12 or 13," said Misiura. "I always read magazines like Field & Stream and Outdoor Life. My dad and Uncle both knew how to fly fish but had been unable to teach me as they were mainly bait fisherman. I would ask everyone I knew to teach me but to no avail.
"When I was 17 one of my buddies needed some money and sold me my first fly rod outfit. It cost me $40 rod, reel & line. When I purchased this I ran home tied a piece of Stream Mono line to the end for a leader, tied on a number six baitholder hook. But with no flies I dug through the family toy box and found a little rubber cricket. After impaling it on the hook, I ran back down to the river and started to flail away. The cricket floated, so on that first time with a fly rod in hand I managed not to scare the trout away but rather caught six small wild brown trout.
"After that day I was hooked, I read everything I can find, watched every video at the rental store, and basically taught myself. If I had to say who was my greatest teacher it would have to Gary Borger and Rick Hafle. Both made videos for 3M Scientific Anglers. I watched them and went fishing. Watched them again and again until I thought I knew everything. Boy was I wrong, I learn something new every time I go fly fishing."
And Misiura loves to be out learning new things as he fishes.
"My favorite spot is my local river," he offered. "Ever since I was old enough to slip away from my mothers gaze, age ten, I would grab my fishing pole and walk the two blocks to the river. There I spent countless hours lost in the adventure of chasing the 'Big One'.
"As I said before I didn't start fly fishing until I was 17, but during the seven years I spent with my spinning rod taught me a lot about how to read a trout stream. I would often go all day with my buddies, sun up to sun down with nothing more than a pack of crackers or a PB&J packed in our nap sacks. My parents never worried where I was; 'he's fishing'.
"In those days as you know we stayed outside all day, drank water from the hose and rode bikes without helmets.
"Those days I would spend as much as 300 days a year or more roaming home water. I do fish other places like the Delaware River. There is just something about the West Branch that my river can't give. My river is beautiful but almost entirely urban. For years it would be cast to the rising fish next to the shopping cart. The Big D however offers somewhat solitude. Aside from the thousand other fly fisherman seeking the same solitude.
"My river however urban, offers the same solitude in a way that even the Big D cannot. For about 35 years I had my local water all to myself. In the last ten years or so it has been leaking out that it is a great place to fly fish and close to home. On any given day from March through June I can go to my waters and catch wild brown trout that range from 18 to 24 inches, and not just one or two in a day. I have caught as many as 40 or 50 in a day, with a dozen of them being over 20 inches. My fellow anglers on the river just call them adults.
"You can say my river has been a place of countless days of peace and comfort to me through good times and bad. I owe more then I can imagine to this water."
A true fisherman, Misiura is satisfied by whatever fish are in the mood to be caught.
"I would have to say the species that is biting when I go fishing," he said, adding trout might win out if given a choice. "Since I grew up on a wild brown trout river, it's obviously brown trout. It is said that brown trout are hardest to catch of all trout. I have to agree, they are the most selective feeding trout. Rainbows are eating machines, and brook trout are just happy a meal is coming along. In small brookie streams they eat almost anything that is moving.
"Brown trout, especially wild brown trout, on the other hand will key in on a specific stage of a specific hatch. Even if there are several different insects hatching at the same time.
"When presenting my offering to wild brown trout there is still nothing that beats the feeling of seeing a 20-plus inch fish rising to the surface for a dry fly is the ultimate reward. When fishing large streams or rivers, 40 feet wide or more, I always fish moving downstream. There are a few reasons for this. First I'm not 20 years old anymore and it is easier to walk with the current. Second and more importantly when casting to rising fish we are casting down and across. If you think about it the first and only thing the fish is going to see is the fly. And lastly just as importantly as proper presentation is stealth. You may be thinking won't the fish see you coming? First when wading downstream you can move with the speed of the current, thus leaving no wake for the fish to see. When standing and fishing to a feeding trout you need to understand their field of vision. Trout, as most fish see out of the cone of vision. Take a cone and place it two feet under the water, the field of view will be large perhaps three feet. Now take the same cone and place it two inches from the surface, like a surface feeding trout, that field of view is now only two inches above them. Everything in between would extrapolate accordingly. So if you are 40 feet from a fish that is even three to five feet deep they won't be able to see you. When fishing small streams or with nymphs I usually fish upstream, for both stealth and presentation."
Catching a trout becomes just a bit better on a fly you have tied, said Misiura, adding the joy takes another step if the fly pattern is one of your own design.
"Every fly tier creates their own patterns," he said. "Whether it is a tweak of a classic or one that comes straight from their own experiences on the stream. The patterns that I've designed for trout that are most successful are my garbage bag series and the GSS emerger.
"My garbage bag series of flies uses the unconventional material of garbage bag or grocery bag for wing material. The GSS Emerger (Gartside Secret Stuff) I use 100 per cent GSS Olive. I spent countless hours watching the late great fly tier Jack Gartside tying flies at the Fly Fishing Show in Sommerset N.J. I took what I learned from Jack and designed the GSS, Jack used a soft hackle on his emerger. I designed mine with 100 per cent Gartside Secret Stuff. I fish this fly on a short dropper under a Garbage Bag Caddis or Griffiths Gnat. When the trout are feeding on caddis pupa they will take the GSS 90 per cent of the time. When the trout start to key in on the surface the GB caddis is an almost perfect match for caddis laying on the surface.
"Other flies in the GB series include several mayfly imitations. On the Delaware River in the summer months June through September. The trout start to key in on emergent sulphers and blue winged olives. My GB Olive no hackle and GB sulpher emerger seems to do the trick.
"When tying with grocery/garbage bag material, I use a slice of the bag and when pulled the material changes color slightly. So a dark grey or black recycled trash bag will become slate grey. A perfect match for the wings of the Blue Winged Olive, or any mayfly with slate grey wings. For caddis imitations I use a tan grocery bag, either a straight slip or pulled to change the color. You can see videos of these on my website or youtube channel (www.Youtube.com/Theflymanjim)."
So has the effort of videoing tying to share on YouTube been worth it to share ideas such as flies from garbage bags?
"My goal is to help as many people feel the joy, satisfaction and excitement that comes from spending time tying designing and successfully using their creations to enjoy the natural beauty that God has given us," said Misiura. "I would have to say that it is exceeding my expectations. My videos are viewed by people from over 120 countries around the world …
"I generally receive good feedback. I have many people tell me that I helped them learn to fish, tie flies or both, either from scratch or helped improve the way they look at fly fishing/tying."
Misiura said as a teaching tool YouTube is excellent for fly tying.
"It most defiantly is, the amount of knowledge that a person can get from watching Youtube videos is unlimited. I wish there was YouTube when I was learning," he said.