Athlete Highlight: Ale Bennussi Lives Peaks to Creeks

Flylords: Could you tell us a little about yourself?

Ale: I’m a sports and outdoor lover from Trieste, a beautiful city by the sea in northeast Italy, right on the border with Slovenia. Since I was a kid, my parents supported me in sports and outdoor activities.  I focused on playing baseball, yes you read that right, an Italian that played baseball for over 12 years, and not soccer.

Slowly I started to get into snowboarding, and after a few years of practice, I became one of the top riders in my country and decided to make boarding my lifestyle. I am still chasing that dream as a professional athlete and as Italian National Snowboarding Team Coach.

I have many passions besides snowboarding and fly fishing, like downhill biking, motorcycling, surfing, and photography, well and traveling, of course. Living by the sea I started fishing with my grandpa and parents since I was a young child. My parents always took me hiking in the Alps during summertime, and I was always fascinated by those crystal blue alpine lakes and wild rivers. Around 7 I started fishing on freshwater too.

Flylords: What was your first experience with fly-fishing? Is there a certain moment or fish that got you hooked with fly-fishing?

Ale: Around 14, I heard about this technique, fly fishing, that was the most natural, challenging and awesome way of fishing. Done, got my first fly rod.

I took some time away from my fly rod until about six or seven years ago when the passion got so strong that I spent most of my free time by the river, learning the different ways to catch fish on the fly.

Flylords: How did you start snowboarding? What made you fall in love with it?

Ale: I always liked skateboarding and surfing. So, when snowboarding started showing up in the European snowsports scene, I decided to give it a try, and never looked back.

Photo Courtesy of Marco Zeta Photography @marcozeta_photography on Instagram

Once I started was boarding on the weekends or during school breaks to the Alps with my friends. One Easter, it happened that the ski resort I was at was hosting a halfpipe World Cup. Damn seeing those guys flying over me was so dope, I decided I wanted to do the same. I put all my free time and focus on riding as much as I could considering that I was living by the sea and still going to school. Two years later, I was one of the best riders in Italy and that season I won or took runner-up in all the main competitions in Italy.

Do you see any parallels between fly-fishing and snowboarding?

Ale: Haha, you know that question is one of the most common I get.  I know plenty of fellow snowboarders who are passionate about the 2 sports. I think for them and myself we share a passion for the outdoors and the mountains, so the two sports are natural choices for us.

Flylords: How do you manage your time between coaching snowboarding and finding time to fish?
In Europe, the fly fishing season closes for winter, depending on areas but usually between the end of September and end of November most of the rivers close. Then rivers start to open back up between February and the beginning of April.

So the busiest time coaching the national team is during winter when fishing is closed. And once the late season competitions are over, the fishing season is in full swing, so finding time on the water is relatively simple.

Photo Courtesy of Roby Bragotto @robybragotto on Instagram

Anyway, during February, March, and April living around the Alps, I always have my fly fishing stuff with me so during my time off I can go out by the river to chase trout and grayling.

Favorite fish to catch?
It’s definitely the marble trout, that’s definitely my favorite, this trout that can reach 1.20 meters (approx. 4 feet) and reach about 20kg (approx. 44 lbs). It’s not that easy to catch and isn’t as popular as other trout species (at least in Italy). But when you land one you can truly see the beauty of this species.

Flylords: What is it like fly fishing in Italy?
Ale: In Italy, we have many passionate fly anglers. A few years ago my friend Luca Filippini and I decided to create a community, Hatch Fly Fishing Crew, to spread fly fishing around with beautiful pics, fresh videos, and cool style. In Italy, fly fishing was seen by the younger generations as a thing that older men do, with more classic style and as something more “elite.”

Taking examples from Scandinavians or North Americans, we wanted to give this impulse of freshness to push the younger generation to try and get fascinated with this amazing outdoor lifestyle that we all love. As fly anglers, we consider it more of a lifestyle and a passion for nature, the outdoors, the challenges the fish present, and respect for the fish and the environment they call home.

Flylords: Favorite spot that you have been too? Why?
Ale: I like to fish in Italy a lot, we have some awesome waters here and amazing fish. I enjoyed a lot the trip I did in Norway to visit the guys at Loop Tackle headquarters.  They went up north with the camper to the Rena River Camp. I thought to myself that I should take some time to visit more of Scandinavia. I really enjoy the Viking countries!

Flylords: Favorite Musician/Band?
Ale: Nirvana is one of my favorite bands, as well as Smashing Pumpkins.  I like a lot of music in general, rock, electro and house music as well. It all depends on my mood and what I’m going to do.

Dream Trip?
Ale: As you know in Italy we don’t have salmon so I definitely want to take a trip to Canada or Alaska to chase Atlantic salmon in their purest habitat.

I would also like to get down to New Zealand and Australia too, but when the season is good there, I’m in the middle of snowboard season in Italy, so that will have to wait.

Flylords: Whats next?
Ale: Definitely, push my athletes in the Italian snowboard team, and right now fishing during most of my free time until the end of the winter season. Then fly fish as much as I can!

Ale Benussi is a professional snowboarder and coach of the Italian National Snowboard Team. He is one of the founders of HatchFlyFishingCrew and can always be found pursuing a new adventure! Check him out on Instagram @alessandro_benussi!

Questions by Flylords team member Craig Cullen. Check him out on Instagram @cwcullen!

All fishing pictures courtesy of HatchFlyFishingCrew and Loop Tackle. You can check out the HatchFlyFishingCrew Instagram here, and the Loop Tackle Instagram here.

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