Meet Brandon Soucie, a homegrown guide based out of the Roaring Fork Valley in Western Colorado. Since Brandon was just a teenager, he’s been working out of fly-shops and sharing his local waters with new anglers. We were lucky enough to spend a day on the Frying Pan River with Brandon to talk flies, family, and all things fishy. We are excited to add Brandon to our ongoing editorial series “Behind the Guides” presented by Costa Sunglasses.
Flylords: When did you start fly fishing?
Brandon: Well, I’m a Basalt native, who grew up fishing the Roaring Fork Valley. I wasn’t a fly-fisherman until I was about eight or nine years old. So at eight/ nine years old, growing up here, you see fly fishing everywhere. I always thought it was really cool and I wanted to do it. I asked my parents for a fly rod for Christmas to fish this little creek in their backyard that held about four or five brown trout, which I threw lures at all the time. Christmas day I got my fly rod. I was so excited
I sat out in the backyard for about two hours, figuring out how to get a hit. Finally, I caught one of those brown trout. It was then I had this epiphany. It was just so cool. So from that point on, all I wanted to do was fly fishing.
Growing up in Basalt eight or nine years old I certainly faced limitations. As I got older, I was able to kind of wander out to the river. My parents give me a cell phone to keep in touch. From there, I just started slowly working up the Roaring Fork, and up the frying pan river next to Taylor Creek fly shop.
I would stop in there with like $5 and then buy two flies that I had Googled. “This will get me through the afternoon”, I thought. That’s how I got to know those guys in there.
Flylords: When did you start working in the fly-fishing industry?
Brandon: Around 11 or 12, I asked for a job there. They told me no. And then when I was 14 years old, Tim Heng, who was the manager at the time and a local legend, came up to me in the shop one day and asked if I wanted a job this summer. “Yeah, I do!”
I worked there from 14 years old until I was 18. That’s when I was supposed to go to college. Then, I got my first season of guiding and loved everything about it. I thought “this is what I want to do at least for a few years”, and now I’ve been doing it ever since.
Flylords: How do you feel your career as a guide has been affected by how early you started off?
Brandon: It was a great way to start in fly fishing just because I was able to learn the industry at such a young age with such a passion for fly fishing. That was the biggest thing. It was fueled by always wanting to learn how to catch fish better. You know, now I’ve evolved as an angler. Now I have a lot of respect for fish. At one point in time, I was even mad at them, because I just wanted to catch them all. Now, I’ve evolved and learned that it’s not about catching every fish, it’s just the time spent in the water. That’s what I try to contribute to my clients. Catching a lot of fish in one day can be a lot of fun – but there will be days where you don’t, and you have to appreciate that.
Flylords: What is your motivation for getting out on the water every day?
Brandon: I love the sport – I love everything about it. How cool is it to take a fly made of feathers and fur and trick a living creature into thinking it’s real food? I love tying my own flies most of the time, and when I see a fish think MY fly is a real fly, and eat it is just so fulfilling.
Not only that, but when it comes to being a fishing guide you really have to love what you do. A lot of people think that being a fishing guide means you get to just go fishing every day, but it’s actually the opposite. You’re a teacher, and you have to be ready to teach people what you love so much every day. When you get excited with a client, it makes them excited, and that makes the day.
Flylords: Do you think the guiding life has changed now that you have a family?
Brandon: Absolutely. Just in the sense of the time that’s passed, I think the river has changed a lot. I don’t quite see it the same way, which makes me a little sad, because now I’m focusing on how my kid is going to see it. That’s the main difference; I’m no longer just thinking about myself. I want them to see the water and feel the same passion I feel, but we’ll see.
Flylords: How do you see this fishery being so special in comparison to a lot of Colorado.
Brandon: A. we have a lot of fish in our rivers. More than a lot of other rivers for sure. B. We have some amazing insect hatches. C, and most importantly, how resilient our fisheries are. To be able to handle the amount of fishing pressure that our rivers experience on a daily basis, and still fish the way they do is amazing. With guides coming out and catching fish every day, and to still be able to catch more of the same the next day really speaks to the strength of the fishery. We’re so fortunate with what we have.
Flylords: Can you think of a specific time on the water that you’ll never forget?
Brandon: That happens all the time. Every day is different on the water and you’re always learning. There are times where there will be PMD hatches that cover the whole river or days on the Fork where fish continuously chase your streamer to the boat. Part of being a fishing guide here is that every day is a special day.
Flylords: What are some of the most important elements (to you) of being a guide?
Brandon: Well, one of the most important things is that you have to be a people person. You have to like people. When I meet clients for the first time, you try to get to know them as they get to know you. You learn what they want, whether it’s what they want to drink or how they want to fish. The people personality is just as important as knowing how to catch fish.
Flylords: What do your days look like when you’re not on the water with clients?
Brandon: I like being with my family. We make it a point in our family to keep the kids outside. Whether it’s camping or swimming, we have fun. My wife is extremely patient, as I’m out guiding a lot and she’s taking care of the kids. Though once the summertime brushes over, I get to be a full-time dad and spend time with my kids. It’s what I look forward to through the season.
I also like getting out and fishing for fun. It’s not all just fly fishing either, which I know some people may consider sacrilegious. I like trolling the reservoir. I like ice fishing, and spending some time with buddies with our lines in the water.
Flylords: Why do you choose to go with Costas, and what do you think makes them unique?
Brandon: I love my Costas. The biggest thing for me are the glass lenses. They’re insanely durable and don’t scratch, but the main thing is the colors. The way they warp the contrast really gives everything around me that pop, and greatly improves my ability to target fish. For our river, the blue lightwave 580g lenses are the best I’ve ever used. Those lenses on the Permit frames are the only sunglasses I’ll even wear.
Flylords: What’s next for Brandon Soucie?
Brandon: For me as a fishing guide, I just go week by week – that’s as far forward as I hope to look. I’ve been a fishing guide for 17 years, and I still love every minute of it, and until I don’t love it that same way anymore, my only plan is to be simply that – a fishing guide.
Thank you Brandon for taking the time to chat with us. You can check him out HERE. Also, thanks to Costa for supporting our guides, and making this series possible. Stay tuned for more “Behind the Guides” features.