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Douglas finds success in both fishing, writing

July 6, 2011

It was a father’s attempt to reach out and rekindle a strong bond with his son that catapulted George Douglas to the life he lives today, which could only be described as any fisherman’s dream.

Douglas, a 1987 graduate of Wall High School, was introduced to fishing by his father, George Sr., at just 3 years old, and was instantly hooked on the sport.

Fast forward to today and you will find Douglas a world-renowned fisherman, who has published two magazines and six books on the subject, and is a member of the Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame. The Wall graduate was inducted into the Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame in 2010, at a ceremony in Hayward, Wis.

Douglas was caught off guard by his induction, but was grateful to be recognized for everything he has done for the sport. Currently, he is only one of 48 members of the Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame to be inducted as a legendary communicator.

“I was really surprised and didn’t expect it,” Douglas said last Tuesday afternoon. “It was a great honor, and my family even threw me a little party. It felt good to know that all the hard work I have done was crystallized, in a sense, through that honor.”

It all started locally for Douglas, as he took the knowledge gathered from his father to the local ponds in Wall Township. As he got older, Douglas went searching for bigger catches, looking for more challenging bodies of water in places such as the Catskill Mountains in upstate New York.

As he entered his early teenage years, Douglas’ fishing abilities began to flourish, but his relationship with George Sr. began to falter.

George Sr., looking to recover the tight connection he and his son once had, came up with an idea incorporating a shared love between the two — travel and fishing.

“My father initiated an annual destination fishing trip for the two of us to take,” Douglas said.

One of those destinations — Salmon River in Palasky, N.Y. — would change Douglas’ life forever.

“Something about Salmon River really made an impression on me,” Douglas continued.

Shortly after graduating from Wall High School, Douglas decided Salmon River would be an excellent place to begin his life’s journey. Not long after arriving in Palasky, Douglas began his career as a guide, leading fishing trips out into the Salmon River.

An idea to advertise his services would be another life-altering moment for Douglas.

In 1991, Douglas’ started production on a small magazine, Salmon River Success. The magazine quickly gained popularity from its distribution throughout the northeast and was the major reason his fishing business thrived, Douglas said.

Prior to production, Douglas had no experience as a writer, but was able to use his fishing knowledge to give anglers an in-depth look at learning how to better fish for salmon, trout and steelheads.

“I didn’t have a background in writing, I really just did it to advertise my business,” he said.

With a flourishing business and magazine, Douglas decided to take on another challenge — laying the groundwork for his first book.

Two years later, the book, The Complete Guide to the Salmon River was published to raving reviews, as the number-one book to teach readers how to fish the famous river.

The self-published book has since become a legendary fishing guide, selling thousands of copies in the United States.

“The book was just the right book at the right time, because it really taught people things like how to fish the river and where to park,” Douglas said.

The publication still sells today, with copies going online for as much as $500.

“For it to still be selling over 20 years later is crazy,” added Douglas.

Following the success of his first book, Douglas went on to publish five more titles.

With all the success Douglas accomplished through his guide business and with his writing, it would have been easy for the now-legendary fisherman to just settle into his location in New York and enjoy the fruits of his labor.

However, Douglas, always the adventurer, went looking for another challenge.

He eventually moved across the country to Washington State, to explore the differences of fishing in saltwater on the West Coast for salmon and steelheads, which he felt made him more of a “complete angler.”

Following the move, Douglas began work on Kype Fishing Magazine in 2008, a biannual fishing magazine that is currently in print. Kype Fishing is distributed in fly-fishing shops all around the country, with back issues available for free at kypemagazine.com.

Douglas is the owner and publisher of the magazine, which has five full-time staff writers. He regularly pens the “Letter from the Publisher.”

“I really enjoy the writing and the challenge of it,” said Douglas. “To be able to come up with ways to influence people with the pen is a powerful thing.”

Despite his name being synonymous with fishing, Douglas feels all his individual success could not have been accomplished without the help of a particular individual — his wife of 22 years, Elizabeth.

Elizabeth Douglas is a major contributor to Douglas’ work, helping him with book and magazine publications, photo shoots and video productions.

“She has been with me from fishery to fishery, constantly on the road,” said Douglas, of his wife. “Wherever the fish are, she has been right there with me. Without her, I don’t know what I’d do.”

These days, Douglas spends his time writing and leading guide trips, always staying close to his roots.

In the fall, Douglas guides fishermen through Cattaraugus County, N.Y., then changes locations in the spring, leading hopeful fishermen into Ashtabula County, Ohio.

“Your mindset as a fishing guide is to do the right research and the right planning to make the right call for your clients,” said Douglas.

After catching countless fish in his lifetime, Douglas now gets the most satisfaction from meeting people on guide trips and helping them experience the thrill of the catch.

“It is the people you meet in the sport and the bonding moments with my clients, like a kid catching his first fish, that now gets me the most excited,” he said.

Douglas wanted to send a message home, back to the parents of Wall Township, to pull their children away from their digital distractions and into the great outdoors.

“You have an advantageous spot here [in upstate New York], just five or six hours away, which is a world-class fishery,” Douglas said. “There is also great bass fishing right in the [Wall Township] area. We need to try and get the kids out there fishing, taking advantage of the resources, so that the sport can continue to grow and strive.”

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