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Archive for Sunday, June 19, 2005

Fly fishing in Flint Hills fine

June 19, 2005

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— Fly fishing. Most consider it a sport commonly found in places such as Montana, Colorado or Alaska, but not in Kansas.

Bill Hartman of Emporia, a fishing guide, is trying to break that stereotype with his agritourism business, Fly Fish Kansas.

A longtime Kansan and fly fisherman, Hartman decided just four years ago to start his business by taking everyone from experts to novices into the Flint Hills for some good old fly fishing.

"There's not many fly fishermen around," Hartman said. "Not here. They just don't think of Kansas as a place to fly fish. People just have that perception that you can't catch with flies in Kansas."

But with every guided trip, Hartman proves non-believers wrong.

"We catch everything," he said.

"Crappie, bluegill, bass, even catfish late in the season. The one thing I can't catch is walleye, but I can catch just about everything else."

And plenty of it. Hartman said that on guided trips in the Flint Hills, he and his fellow anglers easily had caught 100 fish in a day.

On a recent guided trip with brothers and experienced fly fishermen Carl Peterson and Marten Peterson, the three caught 23 fish in their first 45 minutes in the water.

During his season from March to October, Hartman schedules guided trips throughout the summer, taking only two on each trip to locations near Strong City, Matfield Green and Madison.

"I'll go about anywhere I can catch a fish and I have permission," he said.

Hartman offers full- or half-day trips for $200 and $115 and supplies all equipment and transportation.

"I supply everything," he said. "I'm the Wal-Mart of fly fishing, and it's guaranteed. If people don't like it, they don't pay."

And so far, Hartman says he never has had to prove that statement. With men, women and children clients with ranging experience levels, Hartman never has had a dissatisfied customer.

"Some people take 15 minutes to pick it up," Hartman said. "Others take all day, but they still have fun."

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