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Fishing with Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman

6/6/2006

Over the course of a sterling career, English-born actress Jane Seymour has become one of the most recognizable faces in American film and television.

Starring in the current WB series "Modern Men," Seymour is perhaps best known for her starring role in the 1993-2001 television series "Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman," a role that earned the actress a Golden Globe award.

But for all of her success on the small screen and big screen, Seymour may be most comfortable when she's fishing with her husband, director/producer James Keach, and the couple's twin boys, John and Kristopher.

Which helps to explain why Seymour was chosen to be this year's honorary chairperson for the June 3-11 "National Fishing & Boating Week."

Recently, Seymour took some time out of her busy schedule to tell ESPNOutdoors.com about her love of family, fishing, and acting:

In a stellar acting career such as yours, do any particular moments, accomplishments, or roles stand out more so than all of the others?

"There are so many moments that I don't even know where to begin.

"I suppose I was happiest in a movie when I did 'Somewhere in Time.' It was a beautiful island and during the filming, (the late actor) Christopher Reeves became a very special friend of mine — during the filming we were able to go sailing, yachting, and flying in his airplane. It was a wonderful romantic movie in a beautiful location.

"I suppose I felt the same way during the filming of 'Wedding Crashers' on the Chesapeake Bay.

"(As for television), obviously 'Dr. Quinn' was a special time since I did it for seven years. And so was 'War & Remembrance,' which was filmed in (several) countries and at Auschwitz — it was a very real (and moving) experience."

How did you become involved in fishing?

"My husband, James Keach, introduced me. He's an avid fly fisher and he taught me to fly fish for a movie.

"After that, he took me on vacation to a fly-fishing lodge, The Lodge at Palisades Creek, where we fished for (trout) about a week. I really loved it and became quite good at catching trout, both browns and rainbows.

"Then I went on to fish in Alaska with the whole family and we fished (on a couple of) rivers around the Katmai National Park. It was an amazing place — there were bears there and it was hugely exciting.

"Then I also fished in Florida, in the Keys. We were in the Marquesas fishing for tarpon and snook. I actually caught a 65-pound tarpon and I caught a shark by accident."

It appears as if you believe fishing and family go hand in hand. What does fishing bring to the table for families?

"Absolutely, it's a great family sport. It's something that you can all do at any level. Even for experts, you can still fish along with a newcomer or a small child, and everyone can have an enormous amount of fun.

"There is plenty of adventure in the great outdoors and I think it's (perhaps) the closest a family can get in today's world."

In today's fast-paced world, can fishing help bring families together?

"I think fishing and boating is a brilliant thing to do (as families).

What advice would you have for parents who want to take their children fishing?

"I think taking kids fishing is pretty easy (if you let it be).

"You can teach them the proper technique, give them a rod, show them where to wait, and then let them do it. The good thing about it is that it empowers them because fishing is not about intellect or strength, but it's about patience.

"There's a fascination about waiting for that fish to catch your bait and the excitement when a child catches a fish is just magic.

"The stories of that catch are told forever and ever. Kids will always remember fishing with their dad, their granddad, or where they caught their first fish."

What advice would you have for husbands or wives who want to enjoy the sport of fishing with their spouse?

"I think as a woman who most people would never imagine (going) fishing, I can tell you — and also tell the women out there — that it is really a lot of fun. It's definitely not just a man's sport.

"It's also great for a marriage. It's a place where you can get some alone time with your husband, communicate, and enjoy something that you both can do.

"The (bottom line) is that if I want to regroup our relationship and the family, then fishing is definitely the number one way to do that. There is no vacation that can bring our relationship and our whole family closer together than fishing can."

In this day and age of rising gas prices and travel costs, is it necessary to spend a lot of money to go fishing?

"I certainly believe it's a sport that a budget-minded family can do.

"Really, where ever you go, all you basically need are the proper licenses, rods, reels, and a few baits.

"After that, all of the rest of it is pretty simple especially since fishing can be done just about anyplace or anywhere including off the end of a pier or in the ocean."

What do you enjoy most about fly fishing?

"I love the skill involved in fly fishing.

"I really love the attention to detail for things like what flies are hatching, then matching those to a man-made fly that is hand tied and is absolutely beautiful in its own right.

"Then I love tricking the fish.

"To watch the fish be fooled, jump for it (the fly), then reeling them in, it is very exciting."

Do you like to fly fish for trout, other freshwater species, or for saltwater species?

"I've caught rainbow and brown trout and silver salmon.

"I've also caught a tarpon, a shark, and a snook.

"I've been out bonefishing, but I've never caught one since the conditions weren't right when we went. It was too windy then, but it looks like a lot of fun (to catch one)."

What's your favorite fly rod and reel combination?

"I usually use a five weight (fly rod) when I'm trout fishing, but it depends on what they're catching them on.

Do you have a favorite fly for trout?

"I prefer to use dry flies if that's what they're catching them on, but I'm not opposed to using a nymph or a wooly bugger, or whatever that thing is called.

"Usually, the trout guides I've fished with use (various) imitations of mayflies and they'll match the flies to whatever is going on."

What equipment do you use in saltwater fly fishing?

"When I've been saltwater fly fishing in the Marquesas for tarpon, I used an 11-weight rod there for the 65-pound tarpon I caught.

"I think I was also using a floating line and a tarpon leader with a 30-pound shock tippet."

Do you recommend going fishing with a guide?

"I always go with a good guide. For me, I think that's the trick since they know that area well, know what to use, and know how to catch the fish.

"In fact, that's one of the things I enjoy about fishing is that I'm learning all over again."

Are there any other forms of fishing and/or boating that you enjoy?

"Well, we live right by the water in Malibu, so I get to look at the water every day of my life.

"I (also) love to sail, although I personally don't know how to."

What is your favorite place to fish and why?

"I love to fish at The Lodge at Palisades Creek. They have such great fishing there. The rivers are amazing, the lodge is fantastic, the food is great, and the staff is amazing. When we go, we go out with a guide and we always catch fish.

"Plus, there in that region (in southeastern Idaho near the Wyoming border), you can fish so many different ways — you can float a river, you can take a horseback ride to fish, or you can wade — there are just so many ways to fish there."

What is your favorite species to fish for and why?

"Trout, I guess, since that's where I've got the most experience in catching fish.

"Plus, it's so beautiful and so serene where you catch them and then they put up this enormous fight."

Do you have a favorite fishing story and/or memory?

"Yes, the time I got a fish on my line in Alaska.

"We were all very excited and as I was about to pull it in, I was told by my guide to lose the fish immediately.

"When I looked behind me there was a mother bear and her babies. I was told to turn around and to say 'Hey bear!" and to back up slowly to where the rest of the group was.

"While I certainly didn't want to catch the bear's next meal, that was pretty exciting.

"I also enjoyed catching the tarpon, which was pretty exciting too, especially when it jumped during the fight."

Have you been able to enjoy fishing while actually filming on location or is that something that is relegated to your off-time?

"Well, I learned how to fish when I was filming 'Praying Mantis.'

"Once, we were in Ireland for filming and we took a side trip and fished where Tiger Woods also fishes — it's spectacular there.

"And when I filmed 'Wedding Crashers' last year, we went out boating on a yacht on the Chesapeake Bay, which was beautiful.

"When I did 'Somewhere in Time' in Mackinac Island, Michigan, we used to sail with Christopher Reeves on our days off. He was a great sailor.

"So I guess pretty much wherever I am, I try to snatch some time fishing or on a boat when I'm filming."

What is your role as honorary chairperson for this year's sixth annual National Fishing & Boating Week?

"My role I guess is to show that even someone like me who is very busy and has extended family can enjoy this family sport.

"As I've said, it's actually one of the most bonding things you can do in terms of a vacation that you can have with your spouse and your family."

If you could say one thing to Americans concerning fishing and boating, what would it be?

"Basically, fishing is a great way to see the world and to meet some very interesting people from all kinds of different walks of life."