October 25th, 2016: Rebekka answers my call late on Tuesday afternoon, she is packing for her next big adventure and is a few cups of coffee deep, perfect timing for an interview.
“Right now I am getting all of my bags packed and batteries charged, this is my usual routine before a big trip. I am downsizing since I am flying to Africa, my luggage is definitely not as plentiful as if I was going to a fly-in lodge 10 hours from home. I am getting prepared a week before I leave, so I am very proud of myself!”
Flylords: Where are you heading?
Rebekka: I’m heading to Tanzania, it’s my first time fishing in Africa, so I am super stoked! For me, the toothier, crazier, and more vicious the fish are the more I like them. I will be chasing the Tiger Fish in Tanzania.
Flylords:Do you have a crew going with you?
Rebekka: I do have a team for this trip, it’s a team you’ve probably heard of, (Rebekka hesitates) when will this interview go out?
Flylords: Up to you…
Rebekka: Cool, well you are ultimately the first person to know this, but I am teamed with Capt. Jack Productions, RA Beattie, Drift Media and Thomas and Thomas Fly Rods. It’s an incredible group of talented people I get to work with, and to start in Africa is really getting my blood pumping! Tanzania here we come!
Flylords: What kind of rod setups are you bringing to target these Tigerfish?
Rebekka: “We will be setting up the T&T Exocett 9 weights, probably with a 250-300 full sink line, and some tarpon tapers for the warm water, we will also throw in some floating lines with sink tips. We’re bringing countless amounts of flies, although the goal is to try and get them on dry flies! I can’t wait to feel what the fight will be like. I just got back from a Musky trip and I really worked hard for that Musky… I definitely worked up some good fish Karma on that trip! It was like there were no fish in the entire lake, and then on the last day, at last light, when we were beaten up and cold, I threw in the 1 millionth cast and Boom, out of nowhere it all came together.”
Flylords: Do you ever get nervous before a big trip, what type of dangers might you run into in Africa?
Rebekka: “You can’t let anything worry you too much, that being said it’s important to know what can harm you. Malaria is definitely something to keep in mind, take precautions; long pants, long sleeves, don’t wear sandals. Malaria and mosquitos, in general, are in higher forms in populated areas, so luckily we will be far from the cities. My number one fear is probably the Hippos, they are oddly known to be the most aggressive animal in the world. I will also definitely be keeping an eye out for crocs and bugs. I have a really healthy respect for mother nature, just listen to your guides and camp owners, keep your head on your shoulders and on your career path. I have also een equally just as dangerous stuff down in Colombia, where I had to watch out for Electric eels, Anacondas, and Black Caimans. At home, I live in Black Bear country, so you always have to be on the lookout. Mountain Lions, Bears, and Moose that will chase you down if they are with their young.”
Flylords: How did you get into the fly fishing industry, was there a moment in time that made you want to pursue this career path?
“It’s kind of a blur now… I’m not sure if there was a precise moment that made me want to pursue this career, more like a number of events that kept pushing me in this direction. There were many times where I would veer away from becoming a ‘Pro Fly Angler’, I would think, that’s just insane, you can’t do that full time. Then a month or two later it would come back into my life. Significant situations would just be pointing and saying you should do this! People say If it’s meant to be, the doors will open, and that’s exactly what happened. I love the people I have met on this journey, the fly fishing industry has great energy. People just talk in their own language, everyone is a bit eccentric, and we are all completely bent on getting fish on fly and protecting our fisheries. I can sit down with any fly angler, strike up a conversation and be buddies within minutes. In the industry, we are all sisters and brothers.”
Rebekka: Ultimately I think people need to follow their passions in order to be happy, these passions can start at a young age also. This might sound cliche, but I started fishing as soon as I could walk. I was absolutely fascinated with water and fish. My parent actually had to strap a harness to me to help keep me away from the water. The day I was old enough to be on my own I was in the creek checking out the frogs, minnows, and tadpoles, and pestering my older brothers to take me fishing with them. They had to sneak out of the house if they didn’t want their baby sister with them. I think it was all meant to be in the long run.”
Rebekka: I studied to be an exercise physiologist in school, I had a great time with that career, but I really wasn’t happy. I jumped back into the industry side of fly fishing and it started working. It was a lifestyle that really made me happy. As a teen going into college, I was constantly being pressured into the more ‘socially accepted’ career paths. Then one day I just dumped it all to pursue my true passions. I love photography, filming, and fishing, so I sewed them all together and made it happen. I don’t like to live the way society tells you to, and with that understanding, my life has molded the way I wanted it to be. I am my own boss and I don’t fit well listening to rules. I am definitely a rebel, and the more I go against the grain the happier I am.
I bet you’re glad you got that recording.. That was a lot of words from the heart right there…
Rebekka: Fly fishing, when you think about it, is a time when you’re not concentrating on a stressed situation in your life. You are just concentrating on the fly, your line, and the water. You are concentrating on the now, and what keeps you healthy. Everyone needs to do more of that with all these fast-paced lifestyles. Life is short, but it can also be really long if you are miserable.”
Flylords: How can we help bring more women into the sport of fly fishing?
Rebekka: I think there is a rise in women joining in on our sport. When I started there weren’t many. I am still a pioneer in Ontario, there are not many female fly anglers where I am from. I think we have to be careful with social media, it’s happening in hunting and in other industries as well, there is a lack of quality, not a lack of quantity. Fly fishing is a sport deeper than holding a fish. It’s about the connectivity we make with nature, and a special moment we share with gods creatures. In social media, there is a whole lot of nonsense posting. A lot of trout squeezing, and a whole lot of selfies with fish. Posts should be about understanding our surroundings and respecting the fish. It’s not about kissing a fish and getting 500 likes, it should be deeper. Not sure if I fully answered that – If I wanted to cover it a little more clearly; I think it’s awesome we have so many girls getting into the sport, and enjoying the aspect of social media. What I don’t like is squeezing the crap out of a trout for a picture. But that’s not just girls, it’s everyone.
Flylords: Do you think social media has influenced the size of the sport?
Rebekka: Hugely. Social media is creating content, and companies are apart of it. People from all over the world are able to connect through hashtags, of course, it’s going to grow. It’s a great way for all of us to connect, and it helps to bring a lot of awareness to the sport. Beyond Brad Pitt and A River Runs Through It, fly fishing and photography create a very alluring and romantic idea behind the sport. I think it’s becoming very popular because of the content we are sharing. I think it’s a good thing because it gets people outdoors, off the couch and out of the office. It gives people a chance to breathe fresh air – grab that fly rod you got for Christmas 5 years ago, cast it, see how it feels. I want to inspire people to be happy, and to get out on the water. I know what kind of therapy the sport does for me, I want other people to experience that. You don’t need to catch huge fish, just being on the water should put you at ease. Unless you are using a tandem rig and get it caught in a tree…That can be stressful… That’s why I like streamer fishing… lol”
Flylords: Tell us a little about your dogs.
Rebekka: Rebel and Able are my fishing companions. Rebel is 16 years old, and Able is 15 weeks old. They are Blue Heelers and are just incredible dogs. Able is learning the ropes right now, he is my up and coming fishing buddy. Rebel is teaching him how to stay out of the pools and be patient, but he is getting old, it’s a lot of work to make it down to the river these days. He had a great time this summer, but I could see it in his eyes that he was lagging. So I made the choice to get a puppy. I am not sure I could stand not having a Heeler following me around. Now I am remembering what puppies are all about. He tore up the flooring a few days ago, showing me how much spunk he has. They are great fishing dogs, super smart and protective. I keep a bunch of gear in my jeep, and if I run to the store to get something, I know that they will protect my car. They know what my property is and they will give a smokey look to any shady characters. Being a girl, out and about in the backwoods, I need not only a bear dog but someone who can warn me of two-legged critters. Not everyone I meet will be a perfect gentleman.
Flylords: Do you have any Role Models in the Fly Fishing Industry that you look up to?
Rebekka: It’s actually kind of ironic, recently I was asked to join Yellow Dog Fly Fishing’s elite team of travel ambassadors, alongside Jeff Currier, Jako Lucas, and Oliver White. Those are three anglers I have looked up to for a long time. Flip Pallot has also had a huge influence on me, and I can’t forget about the Geobass guys. Chris, Jay, Thad and Brian were all so welcoming, and showed me so much respect from day 1.”
Flylords: Favorite Fish to Catch?
Rebekka: OMG, you would ask me that. I can’t just give you one favorite fish… If I had to choose… Because I love the way they act and I can predict them, it would be the Northern Pike, but BIG northern pike… The over 47-inches. I also love smallmouth bass… and Peacock Bass! – Peacocks are the Giant size colorful version of the smallmouth bass.
Flylords: Have you ever made a list of all the species you have caught…
Rebekka: Hmmm.. I have never made a list! The list has definitely grown over the years. I have a stack of airline tickets that is about two feet high on my shelf. I was looking at a few tickets the other day just going “When Was I There?!”
Since I was a little kid my parents thought travel was one of the best educators you could have.
By the time I was 17, I had been to every state and province. Not because we were wealthy, but because my parents wanted to introduce me to all these cool places and allow me to people to meet new people from around the world. Then they made me do book reports when I got back. Which is kind of what I do now, with my photos and articles after trips. I developed this itch to travel from when I was a young kid.
Flylords: Favorite Movie?
Rebekka: I loved A River Runs Through It… I know that’s really corny… Wait I have a better movie, it should have come to me right away but I have my mind on fly fishing. This is really geeky and dorky of me, but I am a HUGE Jurassic Park Fan… Just the first one tho.
Flylords: Beverage of Choice?
Rebekka: Umm… I don’t really drink too often, but If I do I am very low maintenance, a nice microbrewery lager. I don’t have a particular favorite, I just like to try different beers from the places I visit.
Flylords: Favorite Color?
Rebekka: Red… JK, favorite color is blue. I like the color of the water. But you don’t have to put that in there….
Rebekka recently returning from an incredibly successful trip to Tanzania, we thought we would throw in a quick update from Rebekka’s trip. Here is a 20 lb Tigerfish from the African Jungle!
Photo: Jeremiah Hamilton / Drift Media productions