Tessa Shetter is awesome… maybe I’m a little biased because she took me fishing. It’s true that she has a beautiful Instagram with many followers, but don’t let that fool you, Tessa is super down to earth and loves sharing fly fishing with others. A born and raised Alaska Native, she has built a wonderful life fly fishing with her boyfriend Kory.
Flylords: Who is Tessa Shetter?
Tessa: It’s always so hard for me to do an introduction and make it sound exciting! Honestly, I am just a girl who was born and raised in Alaska. I turned 23 in February and graduated from the University of Alaska Anchorage last year with my bachelor’s degree in Marketing. A big part of my life consists of fishing and photography, both passions credited to my wonderful boyfriend Kory.
Flylords: When did you start fly fishing?
Tessa: I started fishing when I was almost three, but only started fly fishing when I was a freshman in high school (2012) when I was about 15.
Flylords: What/who inspires you to get out on the water?
Tessa: It is really hard to pin it down to one thing. Personally, I find it so important to get grounded with nature. Fly fishing just happens to be what pushes me to do that, because it is relaxing and exciting at the same time. The stress of daily life can take a toll on anybody, and especially in Alaska where our summer is so limited. It feels crucial to spend as much time as I can outside (while it’s warm!).
Another thing that’s not so displayed about me is that I am such a homebody. I love to spend time at home and at leisure. Kory, who is in a lot of sense is my polar opposite, is very go-go-go, and can’t get enough of anything outdoors. So in truth, he is really what pushes me to get outdoors and I’m so thankful to have that motivation from him.
Flylords: What is your favorite fish to target?
Tessa: Can I say all of them?? I will take whatever I can get! Dry fly fishing for grayling is always so much fun, but I have really gotten into swinging for big Kenai rainbows and steelhead.
Flylords: Do you have any insane fishing experiences that stand out?
Tessa: Oh gosh, there’s a couple. We have definitely had a few close calls with our raft getting stuck on rocks in whitewater and sucked into log jams. There’s also one memory of Kory walking too far in a deep pool and water almost filling up his waders, while the current was just going fast enough for him not to walk back upstream. So scary!
We also saved a moose calf from drowning under a log jam as well, but was honestly more afraid of momma moose watching our every move!
Flylords: You’ve gained quite the following on Instagram, what have your experiences been like?
Tessa: The first company I ever partnered with doesn’t even exist anymore… I was a bit naive. I couldn’t believe any company wanted to work with me! They sent me a shirt (that was too small) and a hat, but there was no real contract. It was a learning experience and after that, I was more cautious in choosing my partnerships.
A couple of years ago I felt I needed to fish for Instagram and it started to get stressful. I didn’t like the direction that was going, I wanted to get back to fishing for the joy of it. Thank goodness I realized that and became more authentic!
Flylords: What do you do for a living outside of fly fishing?
Tessa: The majority of my work is actually real estate photography. I dabble in portrait and wedding photography, along with some social media management.
Flylords: What’s your favorite part of fishing in Alaska?
Tessa: What’s not to love! Sometimes I have to stand back and make sure I am not taking advantage of living in a state with such a vast ecosystem when it comes to wildlife and fisheries. We are stupidly spoiled with opportunities when it comes to fishing. I would say my favorite part of Alaska is the salmon. Although I don’t fish much for salmon, it is so cool to watch, observe, and learn about their lifecycle, while simultaneously using them to my advantage as a tool to track trout behavior and eating schedules. I often forget that the lower 48 and many other parts of our world’s water systems don’t experience salmon as we do. Alaska is truly an amazing place to live and fish!
Flylords: How do you like fly fishing during the Alaska winter?
Tessa: Alaska is cold during the winter, and some days I ask myself if it’s worth getting out on the water. Last year it became evident that fly fishing in the frigid cold can be very rewarding, I was lucky enough to get a 30″ rainbow. The coldest temperature I’ve experienced while fishing in the winter is -14, I definitely prefer 20 and above! Once Kory and his brother went fishing in the winter when it was super cold and his brother’s waders got frozen in a seated position. They had to cut him out of the waders so he didn’t get hypothermia… so winter fly fishing has its pros and cons.
Flylords: Do you have any bucket list fish?
Tessa: Locally, the only fish I’ve never really targeted (but would like to) are pike and sturgeon. But besides that, and I know this probably sounds silly to a lot of people, I would love to catch a brown trout. I’ve never had the opportunity to fish for them!
Flylords: Do you have fishing books/movies that you love?
Tessa: Obviously A River Runs Through It and The Old Man and The Sea are classics. I love watching Captain Quinn on Youtube along with other fly fishing YouTubers. Captain Quinn is based in Canada and does a lot of steelhead fishing, which I love!
Flylords: As a photographer do you take more joy in catching the biggest fish or photographing it?
Tessa: Photographing the biggest fish is for sure the best. Luckily Kory is an excellent fisherman so I have endless opportunities to capture his moments with fish, most of them usually being hogs! When we take friends and family fishing, all I care about is them having a good time and getting to experience what I love so much. It is so rewarding to be able to capture those moments on camera. Memories, man!