Fly Fishing Things

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What to expect when you go.

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On this page are relative statistics about fly-fishing to furnish reference points in order for you to understand what to expect when you go fly-fishing.

According to the Outdoor Industry Foundation, there are more than 18 million people who fly-fish every year.  Of this number just over 5 million are fly-fishing enthusiast.

The dictionary defines enthusiast as: "having great or fervent interest or excitement, a cause of keen or lively interest".  Passion would be another term I would use, which means to have a powerful emotion for.

The average number of outings per year is 18. Broken down as follows:

Age 16-24   29% (5, 220,000)
           25% (1,305, 000) enthusiasts
Age 25-34   18% (3,240,000)
             26%  (810,000) enthusiasts
Age 35-44   14% (2,520,000)
             9% (226,800) enthusiasts
Age 45 +    39% (7,020,000 )   
         40% (2,808,000) enthusiasts

Total    100% 18,000,000     100% 5,149,800

    Male 65% (11,700,000)               Female 35% (6,300,000)

Note: Your telling me that one in three fly-fishermen are female?  Not by my observation.  They may be in the camper; but they sure aren’t fishing.

For enthusiasts 75% (3,862,350) are male, and 25% (1,287,450) are female.
  Here again we’re talking one in four are female?  I wish that were true. If this were true, then a single guy would have another reason to go fly-fishing.

All participants 49% (8,820,000) are married, 51% (9,180,000) unmarried

For enthusiasts 44% (2,265,912) are married, and 56%(2,883,000) unmarried

Household Income:
Less than 40 thousand per year 39% participate of which 30 %
  are enthusiasts
Between 40 to 80 thousand per year
  38% participate of which 38% are enthusiasts
Over 80 thousand per year 23% participate of which 32% are enthusiasts.

Per Region:
North East                     21% participants of which              34% are enthusiasts.
South East                   
  30%                                    17%
North Central                  20%                              
          29%                                    28%

We can conclude that because of the higher density of population in the east more people fly fish there.
  However, more people fly fish in the West and North central regions as a percentage of the population than in the east. I would say this is due primarily to the quality of the waters in the west, and the reduced fishing pressure on those waters.

What to expect when you go. (That is; am I good, bad, or ugly?)

Game and fish survey’s tell us who’s doing the fishing and what success they have via creel counts( number of throw backs, etc.), but it’s still difficult to predict if you can catch as many fish as you think you should, when you go fishing.  Remember this: “all fishermen are liars.” (Not literally, however they do have tendency to stretch the truth) So, what are the number of fish you can expect to catch when you go?  It depends on a combination of several factors:  Experience, fishing conditions, and having the right fly at the end of your line.

Experience means your competence to fly-cast, being able to read water, knowledge of trout feeding behavior, recognizing prime trout habitat, and knowledge about what trout eat.

Note:  What follows is my personal opinion alone, and is relative only to those areas I have fished.

Fishing conditions are:  Prime when hatches occur, average before and after hatches, poor when water temperature is below 50 degrees (except at ice out), or during run off, and bad when nothing is happening because the water is too hot and the fish are stressed, or the water column is turning over, or the water is recovering from some type of disaster such as a toxic spill for example.

  • On a prime day of fishing, an experienced fly fisherman can expect to catch more than 50 fish in a day.
  • On an average day of fishing, an experienced fly fisherman can expect to catch 30 or so fish a day.
  • On a poor day of fishing, an experienced fly fisherman can expect to catch 5 to 10 fish a day.
  • And on a bad day of fishing, an experienced fly fisherman can expect to catch less than 5 fish a day; or even get skunked.

On an exceptional day of fly fishing, an experienced fly fisherman can expect to catch more than a hundred fish or give up catching fish because his arms are too tired from fighting fish.  Been there, done that, many times!

From my experience, and because of what I have observed over the years watching inexperienced fly fishermen (this is only my opinion) my guess is the inexperienced fly fisherman will only catch one fish for every four fish an experienced fly fisherman will catch under the same conditions.