From Our Editors
Staff Size: 2–10 people
Average Duration of Services: 1–2 hours
Parking: Parking lot
Handicap Accessible: Yes
Recommended Age Group: All Ages
Most Popular Attraction/Offering: Drift boat fly-fishing trips and lessons
Q&A with Michael Frank, Fly Fishing Guide and Instructor
What is the one feature of your business that you're most proud of?
My ability to teach newcomers the casting skills, fishing tactics, and fish-finding skills they need to be successful during their time on the water.
The words of praise from world-traveled fly fishers and newcomers alike thanking me for providing them with an interesting, unexpectedly exciting real fly-fishing tour in a part of the world where they might least expect it.
What’s your favorite part of your job?
Having the pleasure of meeting dedicated fly fishermen from here in South Carolina and around the world, and being able to share the unique resource of the three rivers of Columbia, South Carolina, with them. [The three rivers] are part of the Santee-Cooper river system, which was the first in the world in which striped bass successfully reproduced in a landlocked setting without access to the ocean.
I really enjoy watching newcomers hook and land their first fish using the training and practice they have had with me. I love being able to be an advocate for our rivers and for their protection and conservation. It is especially rewarding for me when young clients on parent-child trips take an interest in the insects and other organisms present in the rivers that our fish depend on for food and grasp the importance of keeping the rivers clean for their benefit and the continued health of our fish populations and other wildlife.
When it comes to fly-tying lessons, my favorite part is the spark of recognition on a student's face when they realize that they are able to do it, and the pride they take in producing a cool-looking, buggy representation of a living fish food. I like that parents who may have been skeptical about this activity for their children and their ability to maintain focus often realize just how engrossing the whole process of tying a fly can be for a child. A few years ago, I tied flies at a boat show in New York. When I do these events, I will often sit people down and have them tie a simple fly. Two older gentlemen at the booth next to ours commented on how many kids were interested in trying it. They couldn't believe that the Nintendo Generation was so interested in something so hands-on and non-digital.
Have you ever been a patron of your own business? If so, what was the most enjoyable part?
I was lucky enough to have my second guide row the drift boat down the river for me a few times. The most enjoyable part was that I could fish and did not have to row. It was a special feeling being given the royal treatment and having someone else position the boat perfectly, allowing me to cast to the best spots. It gave me a better appreciation of what I provide my clients when we're on the water.
Is there anything else you want to add that we didn't cover?
I am a full-time teacher, and in my tying lessons, I provide individual help to make sure students leave with the basic skills to continue tying flies of their own. A lesson usually includes a digital demonstration of tying the fly we are working on in that class, followed by hands-on, step-by-step [instruction]. Once the first fly is complete, we will tie another together, and as students feel ready, they can move ahead at their own speed, tying more flies of the same style in whatever color they like. Students usually end up tying two to four flies in a typical two-hour class, and I also try to make sure I tie enough so that each student gets one to take home as a model. Students who bring their own thumb drive can also take the digital presentation with them so that they have the step-by-step instructions to work from at home.