WELLSBORO - When a video showing scenes of steelhead fishing expeditions developed technical difficulties and had to be restarted, no one in the audience complained.
The viewers were members of the Tiadaghton Chapter No. 688 of Trout Unlimited and the guest speaker was George Douglas, a professional fishing guide, author, publisher and Hall of Fame angler.
Douglas' video was shown during his talk at the chapter's annual banquet on March 31 at the Penn Wells Hotel. It depicted a variety of fishing trips, many ending with huge steelhead netted by grinning anglers.
"I was born and raised in New Jersey," Douglas said. "I started out fishing little trout streams and bass ponds."
Now he guides other anglers for a living, hitting Steelhead Alley in northeast Ohio and western New York state in the spring and fall.
"I try to do about ... one to four anglers a day. It depends on boat access, whether the rivers are big enough to float on. It's low water right now," he said in early April.
During the rest of the year, Douglas lives on the West Coast.
As a young man, Douglas always enjoyed fishing, but "I never thought of guiding" as a career, he said.
"My father really influenced me. We fished together and he encouraged my talent, suggested I take it up professionally," Douglas said. "My eyes just lit up. I think I was about 20 years old."
Within two years, he started a guide business on the Salmon River in upstate New York. He also developed the "Salmon River Success Magazine," which was distributed throughout the Northeast U.S.
"I had my first book by (the time I was) 23," he added.
Titled "The Complete Guide to the Salmon River," the volume became a valuable authority for anglers on that waterway.
With the guide service and the book, Douglas reveled in his ability to teach anglers the art of salmon, trout and steelhead fishing.
Eventually, he moved to Washington state to learn about salmon and steelhead runs out of salt water and to explore western rivers. He believes the experience made him a more complete angler because he was introduced to new rivers, styles and techniques.
Out west, he studied the steelhead trout and came to his own conclusions about this migrating version of the rainbow trout.
"I believe that they come from an origin in the Western U.S., but there are some in Russia and other places, too," Douglas said.
"In the U.S. and Canada ... on the West Coast, rivers aren't really nutrient based. There aren't big fly hatches like we have here. Rivers are so harsh. There's lots of silt coming off glaciers ... flood conditions and ripping currents," he added.
With conditions so treacherous for hungry trout, "maybe they kept going back to the river mouth, where the ocean met the river," Douglas explained. "They found food there, minnows and bait fish. They became acclimated to the salt water and, I think, that's how they (steelhead) were 'born.' "
Steelhead trout can adapt to fresh or salt water. They are a popular game fish and have been introduced into waterways across the U.S.
Douglas enjoys sharing his fishing knowledge with anglers. Since he began his career in the early 1990s, he's been involved in multiple film productions and DVDs, sold his first magazine and started a second one, and authored seven books.
"I'm in my early 40s now, and it's been good. It really is a unique opportunity," he said. "I was inducted into the Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame in 2010 and I have a new book coming out. I don't have a title yet, but it's just about done. It's the project that I'm most excited about, but it's too early to talk about the concepts and the title. I haven't even discussed the marketing plan yet.
"I do try to promote my books and get my name out there," Douglas added.
While the details come together, Douglas still is immersed in "Kype Fishing Magazine," the periodical he started in 2008. Each issue of the magazine comes with a DVD featuring the best salmon, trout and steelhead fishing on the continent. It is produced on a quarterly basis, highlighting his own fishing experiences, along with articles and features from the industry's top guides and anglers.
Copies of the magazine can be viewed online at issuu.com/kype-fishing-magazine.
He has plenty of fodder stemming from his own time along the streambank.
"There are quite a few fishing stories out there that were defining moments for me, especially my first guide trip," Douglas said. "Something really amazing happened. It was symbolic, even.
"I'd been fishing all day with two clients, but we weren't hooking up. I said, 'I gotta do my own thing.' "
They headed to some pocket water - a spot where water gathers, such as in a deep hole, where the water moves fast. Still, the trio couldn't get a bite.
As it started getting dark, Douglas got out of the boat and stood on a big rock where he spotted two big coho salmon. He hooked one of them, a male.
"This fish is going ballistic. I gave one of the guys my rod and I grab a net and start chasing the fish," he recollected. "It was unbelievable. There were rocks and fast currents ... I tumbled into the water, tumbled in the current.
"Then I get my footing, come back up, and the fish was in the net!"
Back in the boat, the clients were more entertained by the fact that when Douglas had tumbled among the rocks and fast current, his hat had floated to the surface.
"I came up with it back on my head," he laughed.
Such an experience is symbolic of life, he said, in that "it takes us for tumbles. The reward is the fish at the end of the day."