This Week's View

by Deanna Lee Birkholm
February 6th, 2005

About "Reality"

We don't watch much television. There are a couple of programs which we find entertaining and at least one which allows us to laugh out loud. Other than that, we don't watch the so called 'reality' shows. I know folks who love Survivor, and since I haven't seen it I probably shouldn't comment on it, or the many other creative shows which put people in strange, unlikely places, requiring them to competitively meet whatever tasks to continue on.

By the same standard, most of the outdoor programs are either really 'gonzo' shows - folks fishing for massive fish with gear not falling into what I personally consider fly fishing. The others tend to be 'names,' celebrities who may or may not really fly fish, but having them on the show will bring viewers to see their favorite 'star.' I actually did see one some months ago which had a rock-star fishing for huge brook trout in the arctic, and it was pretty well done except for the portions where they either showed his band in performance or used the music as "background." With the sound off it was pretty good.

Have you noticed some of the fly fishing magazines use the same format? "Stars" fishing in places most of us will never see, and fish which frankly require considerably more athletic ability than fishing ability. That sort of programing or publishing doesn't seem to fill any great need in the average fisherman's life; at least not in mine.

There are a couple of exceptions in the magazines. Both of the Frank Amato Publications, Fly Fishing and Tying Journal and Salmon, Trout, Steelhead tend to have articles by real people who actually fish and use the methods and flies they recommend. They are by most standards practical and useful. The Canadian Fly Fisher is an excellent magazine and it tries to cover Canada coast to coast - no small job. But these are magazines which are outside of the box - that is based on unorthodox approaches to fly fishing. Yes, they are all Sponsors here - but again for the reason that they really do contribute something positive to our sport. They are not the 'doom and gloom' magazines which tell you how bad things are in places which really isn't the truth. If you need an example, Fly Fisherman magazine is known for running front page stories which if not the absolute truth are a very large exaggeration of the truth. Whirling Disease on the Madison and the death of the Clark's Fork due to a mining dam accident which didn't happen come to mind very quickly. Both cost the tourism and fishing industries in Montana a huge amount of money. Nearly bankrupted plenty of guides, that's for sure.

The good news is we are seeing a change. The subscriber base of FF&TJ and STS has greatly increased. The Canadian Fly Fisher, after a short-lived change of ownership, is back with Chris Marshall at the helm and has it's old feel and quality back.

And almost incredibly, there is a change in television programing in outdoor sports. In the past month we have seen both Dave Micus and Roger Stouff in excellent productions produced by Barrett Productions. Dave's was the 127 Shuffle on the madness surrounding the striper fishing on the east coast, and part one of Roger's Native Waters was exactly what we've been asking producers to make. (We can hardly wait for part 2). Real stories about real people in their "native waters." And another, In Search of a Rising Tide, produced by Jamie Howard, is a terrific program on not just bone fishing, but bone fishing by the people who live the culture, the Bahamian guides. It is probably the best piece showing the whole story ever done. Which was made easier by Jamie Howard's folks who seemed to understand that the real story had not been told. It has now, and if you get a chance to see it on OLN (Outdoor Life Network) don't miss it. (We have the DVD of it coming, we'll give you a report on it when we have it.) It is for sale.

Maybe I'm getting old (well, probably, not maybe) but I can still remember going downtown to the big auditorium to see Wally Tabor and his adventures. Africa, South America, the Arctic wonderful color films which starred Wally himself with him narrating the film from the stage. These weren't things the average man was going to do. It was exotic adventure fifty years ago. And perhaps has long out-lived its value - except as 'entertainment.'

I personally would love to see more fly fishing programs which have real people engaged in their local fishery. Like the ones I have mentioned above.

What we have found as the people who bring Fly Anglers OnLine (FAOL) to you each week, is that you don't mind seeing an occasional story about a trip to an exotic place for strange fish, if it is something which might be within the realm of possibility. We believe you would rather have stories from folks just like you who have solved the mystery of their local fishery. Or who at least have found something which works for them. That includes the Fly of the Week.

We have access to tons of books with neat fly patterns, and permission to use excerpts as we see fit - but, as our friend Ray DuBois mentioned recently, when you see so many 'exotic' flies in the magazines, how many of them are you going to tie? Much less use. And if the local fly shop had them, would you buy any?

There are exceptions, and the one we make is, if there is a unique tying method, or use of a different material, we will use it in hopes of bringing that material or method to you for your own specific uses. Ideas you can adapt to your own tying.

I hope as you read each and every issue of FAOL you find things which you can apply to your own particular fishery, fly tying, casting, rod building or a trip you are planning. We intend it to be relevant to you.

FAOL isn't reality TV, but it sure is reality fly fishing. ~ The LadyFisher

If you would like to comment on this or any other article please feel free to post your views on the FAOL Bulletin Board!

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