There appear to be more people interested in fly fishing than author Beau Beasley thought when he wrote “Fly Fishing Virginia.”
“What has surprised me more than anything,” said Beasly, “is how many books have sold in general book stores. I expected them to sell at fly fishing shops and at general sporting goods stores, but I have been surprised at how well they have sold at regular book stores. What that says to me is that there are a lot of people out there who are interested in fly fishing but who aren’t participating in the sport yet.”
Beasley said that he is a Fairfax County fireman, and that it was in that job that he got the bug … or the fly, in this case.
“About 15 years ago, I ran a rescue call, and I met a man who had been walking around Burke lake and had been stung by a couple of bees,” Beasley remembered. “I asked him if he was fishing, and he said, ‘No, but I’m a fly fisherman,’ and I said, ‘I’ve always wanted to learn how to do that,’ and he said, ‘Why don’t you let me teach you?’ And three weeks later, I was fishing with him on Burke Lake, and I’ve been doing it ever since. Once I caught my fish fish with a fly, I said, ‘That’s it. I’m done with a spinning rod.’ The sensation is so different.”
Not for the wealthy only
Beasley said that he initially had to confront what he calls the biggest misconceptions about fly fishing. “There are only two things that keep people from fly fishing,” he stated. “One is that people think that it’s too expensive, and that may have been true 25 or 30 years ago, but not now. And the other thing that people are intimidated about is how to cast. Once they learn how to cast, and once they catch a fish on a fly rod, they’re hooked.”
Beasley’s enthusiasm for his new sport eventually led him to write “Fly Fishing Virginia,” which features 39 places in the Commonwealth where people can fly fish.
“It took a little over a year to write it,” he said, “and I traveled over 10,000 miles making sure that the maps were accurate. I fished at every location I wrote about.”
Northern Virginia fly fishers are lucky, Beasley said, because of what is so close by.
“The best place to trout fish around here is the Shenandoah National Park, which is about 45 minutes from here,” he explained. “People come from all over the country to fly fish in the Shenandoah National Park, and it’s right on our doorstep.
“People tend to think that you only fly fish for little bitty trout in mountain streams,” he continued, “but you can fly fish nearly anywhere, and you can catch nearly anything. You can fly fish for large mouth bass, small mouth bass, stripers, tuna, salmon, blue gill, crappy, shark … heck, I’ve even caught carp and catfish on a fly rod.”
Beasley said that he typically goes out fly fishing at least once a month, and some of the places he has been might be a surprise. “You know, you can look at the Statue of Liberty and catch stripers all day,” he stated.
Beasley follows the practice of releasing the fish that he catches.
The process of selecting what kind of fly might be needed to catch a fish at a location featured in Beasley’s book has been simplified. “You’ll get an overview of the river, the picture of the river, what type of flies will be hatching, what kind of rods, reels, and fly lines to use, whether you’ll need waders or not, and there’s a section about all the flies that you may need,” he explained.
The book also relates the best time of the year to fish, the seasons and limits, nearby accommodations, and rates the river on a scale of 1 to 10.
“There are five pages of fly patterns,” Beasley stated. “It’s like a Chinese restaurant. You have a picture of the fly that you need, and that’s what you need to order at the fly shop.”
So the question is … why? Why fish, and why write the book?
“I’ve seen some pretty horrific things,” he related. “I’ve probably transported 5000 people to the hospital, and fly fishing is a great mental escape for me. Part of the reason I wrote the book was I want people to enjoy fly fishing. If I can help a fire fighter, a police office, anybody in the helping professions to step out and enjoy themselves, it’s all worth it. And if someone would come up to me and say, ‘I bought your book and I went out fly fishing, and I took my kids or my grand kids with me, and we had a great time, well, that would be the ultimate for me.”