Flylords caught up with Major League Baseball player Charlie Blackmon or “Chuck Nazty”. Charlie is the center fielder for the Colorado Rockies and absolute machine of a leadoff batter in the MLB. Blackmon is a four-time MLB All-Star, a 2 time Silver Slugger Award winner and the 2017 National League batting champion. He is keeping pace right now as a contender for another NL batting title in 2019. We caught up with Chuck Nazty to learn more about baseball, fly fishing, and life off the field.
Flylords: Who is Chuck Nazty?
Charlie: It is my on-field baseball persona.
Flylords: Where did nickname the “Chuck Nazty” come from?
Charlie: A couple of years I got the nickname when I told someone in an interview to just call me Chuck Nasty with a “Z”. From there it just sort of stuck. Had I known it would have followed me around like this, I probably would have put more thought into it.
Flylords: Will there ever be a beardless Chuk Nasty playing in the MLB?
Charlie: No I don’t think so I’m pretty locked in on the look. I think I’ll rock the beard as long as I’m playing ball.
Flylords: Where did the fly fishing journey begin?
Charlie: I grew up like most kids just spin fishing. Didn’t really get into fly fishing until a couple of years ago in Colorado Springs on the South Platte. Through social media, I got to know Tanner Smith and Ivan Orsic. They took me out to learn some of the local water in and around Denver. I’ve become friends with them and we try to get out and fish whenever we can.
Flylords: Tell us about the Tarpon you caught this offseason?
Charlie: Last offseason my wife and I went on a “Honeymoon” trip down to El Pescador Lodge in Belize. We were fishing with a guide on a skiff and had caught some bonefish that morning and were out looking for Tarpon. I was standing on the front of the skiff and somehow I spotted a fish at 12 o’clock (I never spot fish). Since I couldn’t make a back cast without hitting the guide I threw a backhand cast and rolled it out in front of the tarpon. I twitched it once and the fish just hammered it. After a 35-minute fight and some tangles near the boat trying to land it, I finally got the tarpon in. It was unreal. Saltwater fishing is like streamer fishing on steroids.
Flylords: Any fishing trips planned this offseason?
Charlie: Once the baseball season is over I’ll head down to the San Juan River in New Mexico for a float trip. I also want to do another saltwater fishing trip.
Flylords: Do any other guys on the Rockies enjoy getting out on the water to fly fish?
Charlie: Not like I do. We did a group trip out on the South Platte last year. Everyone enjoyed it a lot and caught fish. But no one really likes fly fishing as I do, most of the guys spend the weekends golfing.
Flylords: Alright we know we you’ve hit some grand slams in the MLB, have you ever caught a Grand Slam out on the water (Salt or Fresh Water)?
Charlie: When I was in Belize earlier this year I got very close. We had caught some bonefish in the morning and landed that tarpon I talked about earlier. So we spent the rest of the day looking for permit. The guide spotted a school of permit and at that point, I felt pretty comfortable casting so I made a cast leading the fish 8-10 feet. The fish went right over the fly, looked at it and never ate it. So I came very close but never got the permit to complete the slam. So now all I can think about is getting that Permit to complete the slam.
Flylords: Any similarities to fly fishing and batting?
Charlie: I do think there are a couple of things in common, the biggest is being calm under pressure. As a professional athlete, you have to understand how to perform under pressure. This definitely comes into play when you’re up at the plate, everyone is watching and you have to perform. It is really similar to when your fishing specifically saltwater fly fishing. Standing up on the front of a skiff when you sight a fish, you have to be calm and collected to deliver a good cast and presentation. Typically, you won’t get another clean shot at the fish.
Another similarity is being observant. In between pitches when I’m at-bat I’m trying to look for things that will tip me off on what might be coming next. What pitch he’s going to throw and when. Same goes for fly fishing, when I’m out on the river I’m observing all the different bugs hatching, how the fish are feeding, where they are feeding. It all comes into play when trying to catch fish. It’s the unpredictable things you can sort of figure it out. And really that’s what makes both so enjoyable.
Flylords: Home River?
Charlie: Here in Colorado, I’d say Deckers on the South Platte. But back in Atlanta where I’m from its the Chattahoochee, River.
Flylords: Favorite on river snack?
Flylords: Streamer or Dry Fly?
Flylords: Favorite baseball team and player growing up?
Flylords: One species you want to catch on a fly rod?
Definitely a permit. I had some chance but never made the connection. So definitely want to land one. But I hear for some people it takes years so we will see. I also think Golden Dorado would be cool but not too interested in traveling to all those exotic jungle destinations where I could get some sick from some unknown disease.
Be sure to follow along with Charlie on Instagram at @chuck_nazty.
Photos from Ivan Orsic at Trouts Fly Fishing.
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