“Most of Dave’s winter days are spent either tying flies, writing about tying flies, thinking about tying flies or traveling to fly-tying classes and fly-fishing shows. It’s a little tougher to track him down in the summer and fall when he’s crazed and running around New England in hot pursuit of stripers and blues, bones and albies, skippies and bluefin, and even an occasional trout.“
Dave Skok is a Boston-based fly-tier, photographer and writer with 20 years of fresh and saltwater fly-fishing experience. He is a two-time winner of the Martha’s Vineyard Striped Bass and Bluefish Derby and was lucky enough to be the only fly fisherman in the 60-year history of the Derby to win the Grand Prize. He has held the IGFA 6-lb. tippet record for Atlantic Bonito since 1994. Dave’s skill with rod, vise, pen and camera has been featured in over a dozen books including: Bob Veverka’s Innovative Saltwater Flies (Stackpole, 1999), Rich Murphy’s Fly Fishing for Striped Bass (Wild River Press, 2007) and numerous periodicals including The Drake, Field & Stream, Fish & Fly, Fly Fisherman, Fly Fishing in Saltwaters, Fly Fishing & Tying Journal, Marlin, Motor Boating, Offshore, Saltwater Fly Fishing, Salt Water Sportsman, Sedge & Mayfly (Italy) and Sportfishing, amongst others.
Dave was born two weeks late, at one minute after six in the evening, in the spring of 1974 in Bridgeport, Connecticut. This seemingly trivial fact is only mentioned because Dave believes it explains a lot about him: he is a diehard night owl and tardiness is a problem that has plagued him for 30 years (although he is a lot better about it nowadays).
Dave Skok grew up in the suburban coastal town of Fairfield, CT, where a great part of his youth was spent with a fishing rod in hand, which almost any faculty member of the Fairfield public school system could attest to.
Dave’s parents separated when he was just a little tyke and his fishing education benefited from this tremendously. Dave’s mother would take him to the Housatonic and Farmington Rivers to fly fish for trout on one weekend day and his Dad would take him saltwater fishing the other. Dave brought it all together when he was fifteen by scoring a handful of fly-caught schoolie stripers in the back of Southport Harbour.
Dave began tying flies when he was ten-years-old. Like many before him, he thought he could save money by making flies rather than buying them. WRONG. By the time he was sixteen he was selling #24 Blue-Winged Olive parachutes to the local fly shop and soon after he tied about 1,000,000,000,000 popper tails (or at least he said it felt that way) for the now-defunct Mystic Bay Flies.
Two events really lit the salty flame for Dave. The first was a trip to fish the Watch Hill reefs with Capt. Steve Burnett: http://www.fishwatchhill.com/captain_steve.htm
“I took my first fly rod 3-footer that day and also witnessed squid-frenzied bass for the first time. WOW. Not long after, I spent an entire summer on Cape Cod and Nantucket. I went to the Cape to be an instructor for the inaugural season of the Orvis saltwater fly fishing school. I didn’t care for teaching at the school all that much, but I sure didn’t mind having the other four days of the week off to fish and spin bugs. Our dumpy Dennis apartment was condemned mid-summer due to some plumbing issues (it’s a long story — ask me about it sometime for a laugh, though) and I ended up spending the remainder of August on Nantucket with my then girlfriend and her Dad. Having grown up fishing Long Island Sound and Catskill trout streams I was completely blown away by the quality and diversity of the Cape Cod, Nantucket, and Martha’s Vineyard fisheries (I had been there before — thought it was too crowded. I know better now).”
After employment at Mystic Bay, and a part-time fly shop tour-of-duty, Dave moved to Boston in 1997 to run the fishing department at the Orvis corporate store. He stayed at Orvis Boston for a year and a half before again pursuing a lifestyle where he could hopefully work less and fish more. Unfortunately, he has been only partially successful in that pursuit as he definitely does fish longer and more often now, but that damn work thing still keeps getting in the way.
Dave currently resides in Winthrop, Massachusetts, a small peninsular suburb only five miles from downtown Boston – “it’s a cool place to live if you’re an urban fisherman”. He can check one of his favourite fall-time blitz spots from his porch and he can still hop on the “T” and be downtown in half an hour.
Not a bad life, but he believes he’s still got to work on that “work less, fish more” program.
See what Dave Skok is up to at: www.dwskok.comBackground Photo: by Terri Laine