Scott Smith was two years old when he became “hooked” on fishing.
“My grandfather handed me a fishing pole took me to the end of his dock,” said Scott Smith. “I caught a perch and I have been fishing ever since.”
Smith, who has a dental practice in Adrian (south of Jackson/Ann Arbor) and place on the Au Sable River outside of Grayling, now shares his love of fishing with others. He will be one of several volunteer instructors at the 43rd Annual Michigan Council Trout Unlimited Fly Fishing School. The threeday school will be held June 7-9, on the Boardman River at Ranch Rudolph, southeast of Traverse City.
“This is an in-depth three-day school that is geared to anyone regardless of their skill level. We have a novice, intermediate and advanced classes all going on simultaneously,” said Smith. “So if you are novice, you will be fully introduced to the sport. We teach everything from how to wade, to cast, plus all the different types of fly fishing. Another important aspect of fly fishing is understanding stream etymology. Also we spend a lot of time teaching casting and we do that in a large open area on the lawn.”
Smith fell in love with fly fishing the first time he tried it 30 years ago.
“I went fly fishing with some friends who took me to the flies-only section of the Manistee River,” said Smith. “I was having such a good time fishing that I didn’t fit in with the group. They basically used the week as a getaway from their wives to drink and gamble. They sort of uninvited me one year.”
At a loss as to what to do, Smith started researching fly fishing and learned about Trout Unlimited (TU).
“I had read about the TU Fly Fishing School in Traverse City and signed up as a novice. They kicked me into the expert class; at that time there was no intermediate class which is where I belonged. I was a student at the school for three years and the
instructors took me under their wing. Well, some of those instructors moved so I eventually became an instructor.”
That was 27 years ago and now Smith is the coordinator for the TU Fishing School.
Smith operates his dental practice Monday through Thursday and spends his weekends fly fishing, primarily in Northern Michigan.
“I have been all over the country and the world but Northern Michigan is a great place. We have so many world class rivers and streams that I spend most of my time on the rivers up there,” he said. “I am also a guide and am busy most weekends with my guide service as well.”
Will he be taking at least one weekend off from fishing this summer when he gets married?
“Not true. My fiancé Linda who is from Traverse City loves to fish,” said Smith. “I am sure fly fishing will be in order for that weekend.”
Smith’s love of fly fishing also included a short stint owning a fly shop on the “Trophy Waters” section of the Au Sable River.
“I went into partnership with the owner and loved it and worked as a guide out of the shop. We sold the shop a couple of years ago but I remain a guide still there.”
Smith became a licensed fly fishing guide 20 years ago and started by working for Dave Leonhard who owns Streamside Orvis in downtown Traverse City.
“We are very fortunate to have Dave here in Northern Michigan as he is one of just two Master Certified Fly Casting Instructors in Michigan,” said Smith. “He is also one of the instructors at the TU school in June.”
Other key points to the fly fishing school:
• You do not need to be a TU member. If you do not have your own equipment they will provide it to you for the weekend.
• It is Free Fishing Weekend in Michigan so a license is not needed.
• Instruction is typically one instructor to every four students.
• Lodging at Ranch Rudolf is available, with discounts given to spouses and children, ages 12-18, when attending with another adult. All meals are included in the package, as well as two nights lodging.
The 43rd Annual Michigan Council Trout Unlimited Fly Fishing School will be held June 7-9, on the Boardman River at Ranch Rudolph. For info and to register go to tuffs.org or call Scott Smith at 517-442-2926.st