On The Fly South June 2021
Missouri’s Roaring River State Park. Photo by Jimmy Jacobs
With the unofficial start of summer at the beginning of June, the weather is getting better and better across the South, and more of us are beginning to travel and fish more. Also, there are plenty of options from which to chose when we hit the water. In this month’s edition of On The Fly South, we’ll be taking you to Missouri’s Roaring River State Park to see what the fishing is like in a Show Me State trout park. Over in North Carolina, we sample the water of the South Toe River that drains the slopes of Mount Mitchell, the highest peak east of the Mississippi River. For fans of the brine, we head down to St. Simons Island, Georgia to chase redfish in the tidal creeks with Capt. David Edens.
You’ll also get articles on fly tying, lodges, new gear and more. While checking out the newsletter, visit our home page and sign up for a FREE subscription. You’ll then only get two emails per month announcing new posts and you also will make it possible for us to continue exploring the great fishing of our region.
Around the South:
Our New Sponser:
The Fish Hawk
On The Fly South welcomes Georgia’s oldest continuouosly operating fly shop aboard as a sponsor this month. Located on Miami Circle in the Buckhead section of the city, owner Gary Merriman and his staff have been the go-to place of angling gear and information in the Atlanta metro area for more than four decades. Drop by and visit with them or check out their web page.
Trout Unlimited Remembers Orvis Icon Leigh Perkins
Leigh H. Perkins, who purchased The Orvis Company in 1965 and over the next three decades transformed it into one of the country’s most respected sporting, apparel and dog brands, passed away at the age of 93 on May 7, 2021, in Monticello, Fla.
Although he built his reputation as a shrewd businessman and marketer, Leigh was most at home wading in a trout stream or walking behind a bird dog in the field. He was a lifelong outdoorsman who hunted or fished more than 250 days a year into his 90s, and his reverence for nature was at the heart of his drive to conserve land and water resources for future generations.
Born in Cleveland in 1927, Leigh was raised by a mother, Katharine Perkins, who was a dedicated angler and hunter at a time when there were few women who engaged in the outdoors. It was she who fostered his passion for nature and the sporting pursuits, and these experiences shaped his desire to conserve woods and waters so that others could enjoy them.
“She taught me to fish and hunt, and she was my principal sporting companion for the first 18 years of my life,” he wrote in his 1999 autobiography, A Sportsman’s Life: How I Built Orvis by Mixing Business and Sport. Together, they caught bluegills from farm ponds, cast to cutthroats in Montana, traveled to the Atlantic salmon rivers of the Gaspe Peninsula, and shot grouse, quail and ducks.
Although he was born into a wealthy Midwestern family, Leigh chose to make his own way in the world after graduating from Williams College in 1950. He started as a rodman on a survey crew in the iron mines of northern Minnesota, working his way up to foreman before taking a job as a salesman for Cleveland’s Harris Calorific, which made gas welding and cutting equipment. It was during this time that he discovered the value of listening to the needs of customers, which would serve him well as he built Orvis. As Leigh once told his grandson, Simon, “You always learn more by listening than by talking.
Leigh often spent time taking phone calls and reading customer letters to ensure that he was serving their needs, a practice that continues at Orvis today.
The idea of mixing business and his sporting passions first occurred to Leigh when he began looking for a company of his own to build. He had been a customer of the Vermont-based Orvis since his college days in western Massachusetts. After a nine-month courtship with then owner Dudley “Duckie” Corkran, Leigh closed the deal on the first day of 1965. He was a hands-on owner, serving as president, merchandiser, art director, product-developer and whatever else needed doing. His attention to detail was legendary, and he personally approved every item in the catalog.
Over the next 27 years, Leigh would grow the company—founded in 1856 by Charles F. Orvis—from a niche business with 20 employees and $500,000 in annual sales to a mail-order and retail powerhouse with more than 700 employees and sales topping $90 million. Along the way, he was a pioneer in both business and product development. Among the first to capitalize on changes in the direct-marketing world, Leigh made the Orvis catalog a household fixture from coast to coast and opened Orvis retail stores in cities around the country.
In 1966, Leigh launched the world’s first fly-fishing school in Manchester, Vt., teaching 150 students the basics. He added a wingshooting school several years later.
“It was one of the first outdoor schools of its kind,” says Tom Rosenbauer, Orvis’ chief fly-fishing enthusiast and one of the sport’s best-known teachers, anglers and authors. “Kids got that kind of stuff at summer camp, but it was groundbreaking for adults and the industry.”
The company now offers free instruction to more than 15,000 would-be anglers per year. As his grandson Simon explains, “His passion for education and sharing has grown over the years into an important Orvis legacy of increasing access and participation in the fly-fishing and wing-shooting communities.”
Tarpon Are Now Catch-and-Release In North Carolina
It’s official! The new regulation making tarpon catch-and-release only in North Carolina is effective immediately, which will protect tarpon migrating north in the summer. The process for legislative review was completed after an appeal by pier operators failed. The Bonefish and Tarpon Trust supported the amendment throughout the process and applauded the North Carolina Marine Fisheries Commission for taking this important step to improve the state’s management of the tarpon fishery.
“Protecting this magnificent fish while it spends time in our North Carolina waters is a great move by the North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries Commission Board,” said Capt. Jot Owens, North Carolina fishing guide and BTT Conservation Captain. “Thank you to everyone who supported this amendment and a special thanks to the Commission board members who voted in favor of this ruling.”
Fishing Legend Stu Apte Offers Casting Tips
How would you like to go after an elephant armed with a BB gun? In theory, that is what we attempt to do, when we go after a hundred pound plus tarpon—or any other fish that you can see, and you must quickly cast before they can see you— with a fly rod and a comparatively light leader tippet. The difference is, you can’t get an elephant with a BB gun but you can catch all kinds of hundred pound plus fish with a fly rod using a comparatively light tippet. All you must do is learn how to implement the proper fish fighting techniques, and how to get your cast to the fish with speed and accuracy. I started developing and teaching this back in the late 1950s and early 1960s when I was a backcountry fishing guide in the Florida Keys.
I will try to describe how to do the fast cast: if you are right-handed you will have the fly rod in your right hand and carefully hold the fly by the hook pointing away from you in the first finger and thumb of your left hand. I generally fish at least a 12-foot leader so this is even a little easier for people with a shorter leader. You should have approximately eight or 10 feet of fly line out of the rod tip. Do a forward roll cast in the air (without letting the fly or line hit the water) abruptly stopping it before it reaches its Zenith then shoot a little line on your back cast once again stopping it before it reaches the end of the cast and this should load your rod enough to make a 50 or 60 presentation, sometimes even a 70 foot cast to the fish without even a full false cast. Yes, this is something you must practice for accuracy but once you get it down and it is not difficult, you will catch more fish by doing a fast cast than anything else I can teach you.
Now, what is very important you must have your fly line dressed with Line Speed so that it will flow through the guides quickly and easily without having to put too much pressure into your cast or even double-hall. Just the abrupt stop on the forward roll cast and the abrupt stop on your back cast will load the rod for a good 50 or 60 foot forward cast with ease.
Depending on where I’m fishing, the quality of the surface water I may have to dry and then redress my fly line even four or five times during the day so it is really good to have some of THE LOON OUTDOORS LINE SPEED or STREAM LINE in my pocket or nearby so I can put it in my Loon Outdoors LINE CLEANING TOOL. This cleaning tool not only keeps you from getting the solutions on your fingers and then possibly on your fly but it does a great job applying the solution to the fly line.
RIO Coldwater Series Striper Fly Lines
RIO’s Striper fly lines are designed for the modern striper angler, and feature quick-loading, easy casting heads. There are three fly line types within this series: 1) a full floating line, 2) a clear intermediate sinking line with luminous running line, and 3) a series of 30-foot long sinking head fly lines with intermediate running lines. Each sinking fly line is density compensated and allows anglers to stay in touch with the fly. Welded loops on both ends of all lines make for fast rigging. In addition, the line is built with SlickCast—the slickest, most durable coating on the market.
The floating lines come in weights 8 thorugh 10, while the sinking versions come in 7/8-weight thorugh 11/12-weigtht. All have a MSRP of $99.99. More details are available on the RIO website.