Is your name Frank?
No, it’s Mike. Frank is my last name, but then I answer to either one now. My bad for naming the guide service “Frank’s Fly Arts.”
Do you have a fly shop?
Heck no. Don’t really have any interest in owning one either. Who wants to be stuck behind a counter doling out fishing advice while listening to everyone else’s fish stories anyway? This is not to say I never worked in one. If you ever go to Montauk for the fall striper run, be sure to stop in The Camp Site Sport Shop in Huntington Station for some flies. Tell them Mike sent you.
Why do you offer casting instruction for free? Why a week in advance?
Because I know that I have skills to share that are best practiced on a lawn without the added pressure of learning in the critical moment when my client is in front of one of the largest _________ (Fill in the blank: brown trout, rainbow trout, striped bass, smallmouth bass) they have ever seen. I impart useful knowledge and fishing tactics that I have learned over many years of fishing with a fly rod during this instruction. I do this because I know that these skills work in the situations we will find ourselves in on the river and I know that my clients will have more success if they have practiced them before their trip. I do this a week beforehand because it gives all of my clients a chance to go over these skills mentally in the days leading up to the trip and those with fly rods a chance to put my teaching into practice.
Do you charge half price for individual fly fishermen on float trips?
No. My effort in planning, equipping, supplying, and piloting the boat are the same for single person trips as they are for two person trips. A large part of the service you get from a guided fly fishing trip is the on the water instruction and service. As a single fisherman, I can give you all of my attention and teaching which generally makes for a better, more rewarding trip.
Will you split a trip?
Yes. If you are a single fisherman who would like to share the cost of a float trip, please let me know when you call, email, or message me on Facebook. Give me a range of dates that you are available and I will do my best to find a second fisherman for your trip. Some may be reluctant to share a boat with a “stranger” but come on, we’re talking fly fishing here! Fly fishermen are generally courteous and if by some chance we come across the rare exception, I promise we won’t let anyone hog the front seat. I can’t say I’ve ever had that problem – and who knows, you might just make a new fishing buddy on your trip!
How old do you have to be to learn to fly fish?
I have taught fly fishing at summer camps in Saluda Shoals Park, Calleva Outdoors in suburban Washington, DC, and through my first fly tying courses at the Art Shack Gallery in Columbia. For the purposes of a guided trip, 7 or 8 years old is old enough to have the coordination and patience necessary for appreciating the experience and catching fish on one’s own. Children 5 or 6 and younger can learn to fly fish successfully in ponds stocked with good numbers of bream or small bass with open clear banks. I recommend the book Fly Fishing With Children by
_________ (Fill in the blank: brown trout, rainbow trout, striped bass, smallmouth bass)?
Yes I can.
Yes. In general. To catch trout, go to Saluda Shoals Park in Irmo and wade in near the riffles – faster moving shallow water. Be careful – wear a PFD and check the USGS river levels online before you go. I actually prefer the American Whitewater web site for my river flow information. Much over 700 cfs the wading gets a little tough for folks who are new to standing in moving water and over 1000 cfs is not a safe idea for anyone if you plan to wade to the middle of the river. At this park listen for sirens indicating rising water. If you hear the siren go off, GET OUT OF THE RIVER. Remember you are within a mile or so of the dam on Lake Murray at this park. The water will rise fast once it starts to come up.
To catch striped bass or smallmouth bass find a public access on the Congaree River and wade in. Again, wear a PFD and learn the river flows online. Do not push yourself to wade across water where you may lose your footing and be sure to keep a close eye on the river level. Sign up for the SCE&G cell phone warning system at SCE&G’s Lower Saluda River information site and carry the cell phone you register with them in an easily accessible dry bag with the ringer turned all the way up. When you get the call that the river’s rising, you’ll have some time before it rises if you’re on the Congaree, but the safest bet is to get out.
Will you tell me specifically what fly pattern, including size and color to use right now in a specific spot on the river?
Where’s the fun in that? Fishing is all about trial and error and learning the patterns that work for you based on your own observation of the fish and their environment. Everyone has their favorite killer patterns. It’s more fun to figure out your own. That said, for trout, go with standard bead head nymphs (prince nymphs are a good place to start) and bead head wooley buggers. A dry caddis is also a good bet when there’s surface activity.
For bass – smallmouth and striped – have some clousers for subsurface and some kind of topwater fly. Bright, dark, or natural colors are all good bets at different times of day.
Do I “allow” my clients to take fish to eat?
Yes. We are all adults here and I respect your right to do what you choose to with the fish that you catch within the legal size and number limits set by the SC DNR. That said, I do encourage catch and release fishing to help maintain the quality of our fishery and I find that most clients appreciate the fish they catch enough that they are more than willing to let them go so another angler can have the pleasure of catching them again someday. Besides, I take great pictures (which I always share with my clients) and if you catch a really nice fish there’s a good chance I’ll present you with a framed picture of your catch with the fly mounted next to it sometime after your trip.
This one’s for you, Mark. Sorry for the delay. I’ve had it on my shelf for a couple of years.
I just really like it. Hope I didn’t spoil the surprise! See you in a few weeks.
Do you still offer fly tying lessons?
Yes. Please contact me if you’re interested in a private or small group class. Rates are $35 per person for a 2 hour class – all materials and digital instructional presentation provided.
I’ve never caught a Didn’t you photoshop those fish into the pictures?_________ (Fill in the blank: brown trout, rainbow trout, striped bass, smallmouth bass) like that in the _________ (Fill in the blank: Congaree, Broad, Saluda) River.
No, I did not. If you see a picture on my web site, it was caught here. If I post a length, it is correct. If I post a weight, it came from a digital scale.
Who are your clients? Do you only guide beginners / experienced fly fishermen?
I have fished with first timers and world-traveled expert fly fishermen. I find that I often have something to teach the most experienced fly fisher, and my teaching background makes me a patient instructor. People who love to fly fish and want to share their passion with their spouses or children often find it better to let me teach their family members to fly fish than to take it on themselves. I do take special pride in hooking up a beginner to their first fish, especially when it’s a nice one. Of course they’re all nice ones when they’re landed on a fly!
Brother and sister from Montana each with their first fish caught on a fly. Went back to Montana telling everyone they had to come to SC to go fly fishing and whitewater rafting with Frank!
Her first trout on the fly. A mom with her first fish caught... EVER!
Do you do any spin fishing?
Yes. Bring your favorite spinning rod and lures or I can provide lures and a rod in a pinch. My only rule about this is I do not allow bait. (Not interested in having to clean spilled worms out of the boat.)
How far in advance do I need to book my trip?
The earlier you book, the better. I can handle a last minute booking made the night before, but in that case casting instruction must be on the water during the trip if needed. Often the better days fill up fast, so if you have a range in mind it is always best to pick a date and reserve it. In case of bad weather (thunderstorms in the area or high, muddy water) trips can be rescheduled.
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