No Bait Needed to Lure Participants to Cast Their Lot With Fly-Fishing

Frank Selby has been fly-fishing since he was a "real tiny kid," growing up in the Midwest in the late '40s. He has moved around a bit since then, but, "All along, I never got away from fly-fishing."

He even practices it now, as an Orange County resident--and what's more, he's been doing his best to spread an appreciation of the sport. Coastal Southern California would hardly seem a mecca for fly-fishing, which conjures images of Zen-like serenity along isolated mountain streams, but Selby says the style adapts well to salt water.

"As a matter of fact, I was teased a lot when I first came here and started saltwater fishing with my fly rod," Selby said, adding that people would be surprised at what can be caught with a fly rod.

For about five years now, on the first Saturday of each month, Selby has been teaching the subtle arts of fly-fishing at Upper Newport Bay Ecological Reserve. The next workshop is Saturday from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

In the workshops, Selby teaches two basic casting techniques--straight-arm casting and the roll cast--and also demonstrates several knots for tying flies to the line. Then, students practice their newfound skills in the Back Bay. They might even catch something, such as bay bass, halibut or stingray. (All catches are released back into the bay.)

Selby, who volunteers his time as teacher for the Saturday workshops, says the 1992 release of the film "A River Runs Through It" helped boost fly-fishing, particularly among women. He says there are now more women than men taking his classes, and he believes many are attracted to this form of fishing because it doesn't involve the messiness of live (or once-live) bait.

All the techniques he teaches can be translated to fresh water, but he emphasizes that fly-fishing in salt water can be an end in itself, and some fishing enthusiasts now take to deep-sea fishing with a fly rod.

Recently, Selby opened a fly-fishing shop in Costa Mesa, through which he also offers private lessons and local excursions. Float trips through Upper Newport Bay have brought in 14 species of fish, he says, including mullet and croaker, in addition to the aforementioned.

Advanced fly-fishing enthusiasts who like to make their own lures can gather at Selby's shop on the second Thursday of each month from 6 to 9 p.m. for some communal fly-tying. It's more than likely that a few fishing stories will be told as well.

Selby, who travels as far afield as Colorado and Canada to pursue his favorite sport, says that just being outside is what he likes best about his hobby.

"You get out, you enjoy nature, you're more aware of what's going on around you."

For information on shop-related activities, call (714) 548-9449. For information on the Saturday workshops, see the information below.

Proceeds from the workshop help maintain the Upper Newport Bay reserve, which is operated by the state Department of Fish and Game.

* What: Fly-fishing workshop.

* When: Saturday, Nov. 5, (and the first Saturday of each month), 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

* Where: Upper Newport Bay Ecological Reserve.

* Whereabouts: From Pacific Coast Highway, head north on Jamboree Road and turn left on Backbay Drive. Turn left into the dirt driveway at Shellmaker Road.

* Wherewithal: $32, general; $10 members of the California Wildlife Campaign. (Includes use of equipment.)

* Where to call: (714) 640-6746.

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