Marty was born in New York, N.Y. and raised in Bayonne, NJ. He acquired his love of fishing as a child on his grandfather’s farm in the Catskills in upstate New York, where he learned to “tickle” trout at an early age, but did not get serious about angling until after he moved to California in 1955.
Marty joined the Army after high school and served from 1946 to 1948 in the U.S. Army Occupation in Germany just after WW II and then attended Columbia University, NY and graduated in Electrical Engineering. He became a computer engineer with IBM, Poughkeepsie, NY and he helped produce the first two modern production room-sized main-frame business machines. In 1955, he left IBM to take a position in a family-owned aerospace engineering company in Southern California. His wife, Rita, and daughter, Janet, left New York in their covered-wagon, a new Pontiac sedan, on their migration to California.
Marty started bait/spin fishing after he bought his first home in Grenada Hills, CA around 1957. On one of his first fishing trips, off Zuma Beach, he broke 6 inches off his rod tip and he was towed around in the rented skiff for almost a half hour against changing currents before he realized that he was snagged on the bottom and not into a 200 lb. sea bass. Other early trips took him out afternoons at 3:00 PM with light spinning gear around the bait barges off the Santa Monica pier to catch small sand sharks.
In 1960, Marty was transferred to Sunnyvale by his then employer Link Aviation of Binghamton, NY and in 1963 he joined Varian Associates which later became CPI. After a long career in a broad range of microwave electron device engineering, management, marketing and program management positions, Marty retired from Varian in April, 1992, with over 29 years of service. He continued to have an office and work as a consultant for another 12 years.
He fished extensively in Northern and Central California waters as a spin fisherman and started writing newspaper columns for Pacific Out of Doors and the Valley Fisherman in the late 1960’s. In 1970, Marty became President of the Santa Clara Valley Chapter of Trout Unlimited and was a founding Director of California Trout. From 1970 to 1972, he was on the task force to establish the South San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge. He started fly fishing and joined Flycasters, Inc. of San Jose in 1971 and quickly became involved with conservation activities of the Federation of Fly Fishers (FFF) in 1972. He held the positions of VP of Conservation with the Northern California Council of the Federation of Fly Fishers (NCCFFF) from 1973 to 1976; an executive for the International FFF and from 1976 to 1986, as Executive VP for Resource Development. From 1972 until his passing he was on the Flycasters Conservation Committee and served as Co-chairman in 1992. During the 1970’s and on, he was on the California Advisory Committee on Salmon and Steelhead; Chairman of Save our Peninsula Creeks Committee; member of the Sierra Club Task Force on Pyramid Lake, Nevada; Secretary and then President of California Fisheries Restoration Foundation; Vice President of Klamath/Trinity River Coalition and co-founder and first treasurer of the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance (CSPA), as well as several other organizations. Marty was the FFF representative to the International Wild Trout Symposiums and has been on the organizing committee for every symposium from the first symposium in 1981 until the latest symposium in 2010. He has a Wild Trout Symposium scholarship award in his name; the Marty Seldon Scholarship Award to a student in Fisheries Biology.
During his many years of service, he has received numerous awards which include the NCCFFF Award of Excellence, Field and Stream Environmental Award, recipient of the first Wild Trout Symposium, A. Starker Leopold Award for Long Term Service to the Cold Water Fishery Resource, FFF Man of the Year in 1981, the highest FFF award, the Lapis Lazuli Award in 1992 and in 2006, Marty was inducted into the NCCFFF Hall of Fame. Marty held an FFF Life Membership and a Flycasters Life Membership.
From 1900 to 1992, he was on the Financial Development Committee and Grant Writer for the Monterey Bay Salmon and Trout Project. From the 1990’s until his passing, Marty continued as Senior Advisor to the FFF, on the NCCFFF Board of Directors, and a very active member of the Flycasters Conservation Committee.
Although Marty bought his first fly rod, a yellow Grizzly FF-79 Fenwick rod, soon after he moved to the Bay area, he did “spring-worming” for small native trout (and rattlesnake avoiding) in the steep canyons of Mt. Hamilton’s Smith and Isabel Creeks above San Jose. It wasn’t until about 1970 that he took fly casting and tying lessons with co-worker Jake Takata, through Santa Clara Parks and Recreation. He soon was enjoying fishing in California’s spring fed Fall River, the upper and lower Sacramento River, winter and spring fishing in Pyramid Lake for giant Lahanton cutthroat trout and Montana’s Missouri River. He enjoyed fishing for Striper bass in the S.F. Bay Delta and the spring run of American Shad in the Sacramento River system.
Marty’s long involvement with the Federation of Fly Fishers has taken him fishing from Canada to Alaska, to England’s Test and Itchen, to Iceland’s Laxa-i-Adaidal, France’s Charentonne River, the Austrian Gmundener Traun , Costa Rica’s Rio Colorado River, and from the holy waters of the AuSable River in Michigan to the location of the origins of USA fly fishing in the Catskill Mountains of New York. Marty was far from a professional level fly fisher but he enjoyed every angling experience. Marty’s 40 year connection with the FFF and fly fishing provided him the opportunity to meet and make many hundreds of friends and many outstanding anglers throughout the world. He believed that fly fishing is the glue that binds us together into an international family.
Marty passed away on December 28, 2011. He is survived by his wife Rita, a son Jeff, living in Eugene, OR, a daughter Janet, living in San Francisco, CA and three grandchildren, Tevah, Jamil and Jordon. Marty was fishing and actively involved with the Flycasters conservation fundraiser until shortly before his passing. We have lost an avid conservationist and ambassador of fly fishing. He will be sorely missed by his family and the fly fishing community around the world.