Fisherman Shares Passion With Others


Last updated 8/21/2014 at 9:20pm | View PDF

John Crane

Fly fishing student Schuyler Hornung practices his casting technique under the eyes of instructor Mark Cave.

When Mark Cave saw that fly fishing could open up more opportunities than spin and bait fishing in the pocket waters of the Sierra, he took up the sport with a fervor that would take him to specialty fly fishing shops and sportsman shows all over the West. He tested himself against the many forms of equipment and flies in that ancient quest to catch trout, and has earned his title as a Casting Instructor with the International Federation of Fly Fishers.

For Cave, the journey wouldn't be complete until he had shared his love for the sport with like-minded seekers of fish. Teaching is part of his nature.

As a member of the Kaweah Fly Fishers, Cave conducts free casting lessons at Del Lago Park in Tulare. He stands ready to answer any questions from his 15 years of teaching experience, and has a trunk full of casting equipment for those who do not have their own rods and reels.

A novice can pick up enough tips to have a wonderfully satisfying trip to the water, Cave says. He suggests at least two lessons: one for learning the basics and a second to reinforce the lessons of the first session and answer questions.

More experienced casters know there is always something to learn in casting and will spend a lifetime challenging themselves to be more proficient. Cave wants to help them reach their personal goals or will create access to appropriate avenues when he feels his own capacities are exceeded.

"I'll be there as long and as many times as students want to come," Cave said.

John Crane, KFF president, often assists Cave during classes and noted that Cave's recent students are particularly apt, picking up the feel for rod and line quickly.

"Mark cares about his students and works diligently to help them accomplish their goals," Crane said.

Cave advises anyone attending a class to bring a pair of glasses and a hat for safety. If you forget one of these items, make it the hat.

"You can always fish with a fly in your scalp, but not in your eye," he said.

Del Lago Park has water, but the true test of success for the student is when he or she can put a fly over a fish, Cave said. He and other KFF members have developed a full calendar of events that take club members and students to various fishable locations. Dates and places can be found on-line at These outings are designed to put new fly fishers over trout. No contest, no grades, just camaraderie and tips on reading water, casting and flies, Cave said.

For those who choose to go solo, they may want to consider taking the Sequoia Shuttle to Sequoia National Park. Most sporting goods stores offer fishing licenses. A fisherman will need a rod, a small fly box with a few choice dry flies, lunch and some water, to make it a day.

It is helpful to carry a pencil and small notebook to record a special observation or at least the true length of those fish. The streams behind Wuksachi Lodge or in Crescent Meadow offer some trout. There is not a well-marked trail, so one should scout out their spot ahead of time.

Finding a fly fishing shop where a knowledgeable fisherman or shop owner can help sort out a good purchase may be more challenging than catching the fish these days. The Sequoia Fishing Company in Springville or the Sierra Fly Fisher in Oakhurst uphold the traditional offerings of flies, reels and rods.

Cave quotes outdoor writer and guide Jack Dennis to describe why he fishes, "Trout live in beautiful places."

John Crane

Fly fishing instructor Mark Cave helps talk student Heather Hornung through a cast during class at Del Lago Park in Tulare.

Cave particularly loves fishing in the mountains. As the years pass and the fishing experiences collect more friends of fishing, he finds he enjoys the interesting people drawn to fly fishing.

Cave has thought about how to facilitate his love of fly fishing throughout his life. Accommodations might include more use of a boat or hiring a guide to pack the lunch, transfer the equipment and net the fish. As a member of a four-wheel drive rescue team, he has had opportunity to see first-hand the difficulties that can arise for lack of safe practices and would urge the use of thoughtful preparation when going to the river or lake.

The most important message for the fly fisherman is to know if a fly is not on the water, the fish is not going to eat it, he said. The second most important message might be not all of fishing is about catching a fish, he added.

Donna Luallen of Visalia is an active member of the Kaweah Fly Fishers and has been fly fishing for more than 30 years.


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