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You never know where life will take you!

My fly fishing journey has been one hell of a roller coaster to say the least. When I started fulltime guiding it was always difficult to figure out do I rather spend longer time on one specific destination and really get to know it well or do I try and move around to see as many different destinations as possible. Well I honestly think a big part of fly fishing is the places that you get too see and experience, it takes you to the most remote and beautiful corners of this planet.

I was very fortunate to have really kicked of my guiding career on a very remote atoll called St Brandons atoll. Situated 245 Nautical miles NE of Mauritius. Known for freakishly big bonefish, healthy numbers of Permit and monstrous size GT’s.  After three seasons on St Brandons I managed to get another pretty sweet gig in the Russian Far East, an area better known as Kamchatka. If that name doesn’t ring a bell then you have net been exposed to some of the best Rainbow trout fishing on this planet. I have not seen Alaska first hand, but all my guests over the past couple of years have said the same thing and that is: “Kamchatka is like Alaska 100 years ago”.

The passion has always been the fuel to any of my adventurous trips. Often not even thinking twice about any risk involved, but completely blinded by the potential fish that might wait on the other side. I soon also realized the amount of special people you meet along the way.

It was during my last week guiding St Brandons when Oliver White was part of an eight-man team. The fishing wasn’t particularly great that week, but the company was fantastic. Long story short, Oliver told me about his lodge that he is part owner of in the Bahamas, Abaco Lodge. The name definitely rang a bell and I had to go check it out online. We had many conversations on the different avenues one can pursue in the Flyfishing industry and I definitely listened with intent.

In my following season in Kamchatka, Oliver once again came over and we had another chance to fish together and share some good stories. This, on the other hand, was probably one of the best fishing weeks I have ever witnessed.

Well long story short, today I am sitting next to the pool waiting for the guests to come back from their day out on the water. Today I am happy to be managing Abaco Lodge together with my girlfriend, Lindi. The Lodge that Oliver had told me about four years ago.

Abaco Lodge is the only fly-fishing operation tucked inside Great Abaco Island’s renowned Marls region—a pristine swath of unpressured flats that are home to one of the greatest populations of bonefish in the Bahamas.
Ten to thirty fish days are not uncommon, with 200 square miles of prime habitat awaiting anglers. Our convenient and comfortable Marls-side headquarters also means no trailering, no fuel stops, and more time fishing.

And man, oh man, a journey it has been, a learning curve of epic proportions. I thought as a guide there were many things out of your control, but managing a lodge took that to a whole different level.

I am so fortunate to be running a very professional operation such as Abaco Lodge, with some of the friendliest staff I have ever come across.  Every now and then I even find a little time to sneak out on a boat and go explore.

Memories from Christian’s childhood are vague, but one thing that he really remembers as if it had happened yesterday, is the day he caught his first trout on fly at the age of six. Since that day fly fishing has been everything to him. He knew for certain that this was what he wanted to do for the rest of his life. Since that day he has been a full time fly fishing guide for the past 6 years guiding mainly in Africa, Seychelles and Russia. He has competed in 7 World Fly fishing tournaments and has recently joined The Fly Shop as a travel ambassador while calling Abaco Lodge in the Bahamas home. For more, check out Christian on Instagram!

Oncorhynchus mykiss: The Rainbow Trout

If you didn’t know now is as good a time as any to find out, I am a habitual nerd. Admittedly the library is one of my favorite places to go and read, most scientific research about trout… So in the course of doing so, I picked up a book written by William F. and John W. Sigler.

So here is a little bit of knowledge from the book. The name Oncorhynchus means hooked snout, in reference to the nose of a migrating trout or salmon. The rainbow trout or Oncorhynchus mykiss is one of the most widely distributed fish in the world including Hawaii, south Asian, New Zealand and Tasmania. Their native range extends from Rio del Presidio in Durango, Mexico to north of the Kuskokwim River in Alaska (Behnke, 1979).

Rainbow trout typically are spring spawners, however, stocked fish have been reported to spawn during every month of the year. They emerge from the gravel at .0.4 to 0.6 inches and by the first summer may be 4 inches in length (Scott and Crossman, 1973). Naturally reproducing fish often first spawned between 2 and 3 years old in the spring when the water temps hit 50F. Some wild fish wait as long as 5 years to spawn for the first time, whereas stocked fish can spawn in some cases can spawn after one year. Nest building can occur both day and night in gravel that is between 0.1 and 4.0 inches in diameter.

Rainbows grow fastest in water temps ranging between 68 to 70F but can survive for short periods of time in temps between 78 and 82F.  Rainbow trout have been long believed to be short lived with few living past 5 years of age, however in 1976 fish from Eagle Lake, CA were sample up to 11 years old (Simpson and Wallace, 1978). Lake fish often outgrow stream dwelling rainbow trout, average size as follows from 1 to 7 years; 2.6, 4.7, 11.4, 17.1, 20.3, 23.2 and 28.0 inches.

Studies showed that stream dwelling rainbow trout were less likely to feed on other fish, becoming piscivorous at roughly 2 pounds, until then they fed primarily on invertebrates. Lake dwelling fish became piscivorous once they reached between 12 and 16 inches.

Derek Olthuis is a fly fishing photographer and videographer. He is passionate about sharing his love for fly fishing and exploring new water. He films for the IF4 Film Festival and runs Trout Academy in his spare time.

Off the Grid: Our First Trip to New Zealand

We knew New Zealand would be a trip of a lifetime. With our trip rapidly approaching all free time was spent fine tuning our skills.

The first day we learned pretty quickly that you had to put in your time and earning a fish wasn’t easy. We came to find that Fly fishing in New Zealand is more like hunting than any other fly fishing we have experienced. With the day winding down and thanks to Matts keen eye, Stephanie pulled a nice size brown trout out from under a tree using a terrestrial.

The third day was when we truly fell in love with New Zealand. Matt took us to his special river. The day started with pouring rain but that didn’t deter us. The scenery was ever changing from rolling hills to rocky gorges.  Halfway through the day we rounded a corner and at the tail end of a pool was a large black shape. With caution, Amanda slipped in to the water and crept along the rocky shore. On her knees, she got into position. We tried a dry but no luck, so we switched to a nymph which was a success. With a battle that lasted forever we finally netted the brown and when we did, we realized it was not your average size, but a 10lb brute!

To top of the day Stephanie caught a 6.5lb beauty of a brown. It was the last bend on her final cast before we had to hike out. The brown put up one hell of a fight, running up and down the rapids. It was a great end to our unreal day.

Fly fishing around Queenstown was the most amazing and epic fishing adventure we have been on and we have Matt Butler of Travel Truly to thank for it. We haven’t been guided by someone of that caliber before, he is exceptional. His attention to detail is impeccable.

Fly fishing runs deep in Amanda and Stephanie’s family (pictured on the left), shaped by their father and uncle’s love for the sport. They currently live in Carbondale, Colorado where beautiful rivers and high mountain lakes are at their finger tips, they also enjoy exploring and the challenge of adventure. For more, check out the two sister’s adventures on Amanda’s Instagram and Stephanie’s Instagram.

Matt Butler, founder of Traveltruly, is a passionate, energetic fly fishing and travel guide based out of Wanaka, New Zealand. Originally from the Central North Island, Matt moved south to immerse himself in the incredible Fly Fishing and diversity that the South Island has to offer and spends most of his time exploring the numerous waters and attractions that the amazing landscape provides.

Running the Coast with Jamie Howard

World-renowned videographer, Jamie Howard recently released his latest film Running The Coast – documenting the Striped Bass Migration up the east coast of the United States. After 5 years of filming Jamie recently released this masterpiece and is offering the movie in a 3 part series on Vimeo. The movie was also selected into this years F3T (Fly Fishing Film Tour). We wanted to go behind the scenes with Jamie and ask him some questions about the movie. 

1. You have been producing fly fishing films for a long time now, when did you first pick up a fly rod? When did you first pick up a camera? What was the first film you ever produced?

I first picked up a fly rod when I was probably about nine and caught my first Brookie on a Virginia stream that year. I had directed commercials in New York and had to learn how to tell a story in 30 seconds, but after studying film principles I decided to take a leap. I went to film bonefish in the Bahamas after 911 – and that movie was In Search of a Rising Tide. One would never believe how difficult that was to make. I started off by getting stuck in an ice storm and the other cameraman was delayed by another day or so. It was Christmas in the Bahamas so not prime time to ask for guide favors and interviews. But we tracked em all down. It took almost a year to edit, even though it was only 20 minutes long. Mercifully, word-of-mouth helps it find an audience, and ultimately it made it to television after a ridiculous number of calls asking executives to just at least look at it.

2. You just finished your latest film Running the Coast, which took you 5 years to finish! Why did this particular piece take so long? Do you think this is your best work yet, and why?

Running the coast was supposed to take a season or two. Then, as I got deeper into the project I realized that this fish was fighting a population decline, so there were no automatics for where you would find fish. Also, everywhere I went people asked me if I was covering their particular discipline: the beach, the boat, fly, conventional, onshore, offshore, the south, the north, etc.… I knew I had bitten off more than I could chew at that point and I asked the crew to return with me again the next year and then the next year… Some happier about it than others 🙂 my personality dictated that I just couldn’t quit until I thought it was the best. Kind of a curse for me and perhaps a good thing in the long run for its value with the audience.

Is it my best movie? I was thinking about this question the other day when I was asked. Despite having the good fortune of Chasing Silver working out as I hoped, and even finding a place in the IGFA Hall of Fame theater, there’s a depth of characters and history and subplot that’s new here. I think I learned much in my older other films, and this one, I am proud to say, is the best filmmaking. They’re all special in their own way, though.

3. What was the hardest part about filming Running the Coast?

The hardest part was the sheer scope. It’s something you could only do once in a lifetime. Sort of like doing your residency as a medical student, or giving birth to triplets, it’s something you’re proud of doing but probably don’t plan on doing again. They’ve written books about The migration and even attempted to make films about it, but there’s a reason why we may have been the first to complete it. It’s insane and difficult. It’s ridiculous. You don’t know where the fish are exactly from season to season and there are so many ways to catch them. You are trying to cover over 1000 miles and theoretically, there should be other things in your life besides fish… Ha.

4.  What was your favorite part about filming this movie?

The best part about it was meeting so many great people. My goal is to go back and fish all the places now that I have completed it. I have sort of a rule when I film – don’t fish off when you can film. I only fished a couple of times in four years. Then it was when I absolutely had all the footage I could ever use from that location. Now I want to go back without a camera and look at the water from an anglers point of view only…These guys are also committed, and their fisheries are also unique and special. I’d like to just go fishing! Fingers crossed I can find the time and they can find the time.

5. Favorite species to target on the fly rod?

That’s an impossible question. But, I can say that a rising big brown trout on an uncrowded rocky mountain river is nirvana. Of course, watching a saltwater game fish take off with your fly is pretty nuts as well.

6. What is the hardest part about being a fly fishing videographer?

When you make a fishing film, the stars don’t have any contractual obligation to do their part or do what you want them to do. Nor does the weather. You have to apply film principles to the uncontrollable. And, there are so many things that can and do go wrong, that affect the cinema, that one is just working to buff them out. Pretty pictures and music are great, but many channels of audio and candid characters are the foundation of these longer-form films. The goal is to make an entire storyline that keeps falling forward. Kind of tough, but the fish deserve it. So it’s worth a shot.

7. Do you have any role models in the fly fishing industry?

My father taught me a ton. He walked way too far when I was just learning but I guess it stuck. He doesn’t come out to Montana anymore but when the weather is nice I’m sure to get a phone call. He will have tied up something to try.

8. What does your camera setup look like? Do you have any advice for the younger kids trying to get into fly fishing videography?

Any camera will do it. The Red camera is popular now as well as many SLRs. Depth of field generally adds a nice cinematic feel to a scene when it’s possible. Know your f stop 😉 But I’m convinced that it’s really not the camera, it’s the intuition of what to do with it, even if it’s just an iPhone. More time on the water helps with that.

9. Favorite Drink?

White Russian
(shout out to The Dude)

10. Favorite Movie?

The truth is no one can turn away from the Bourne identity movies, but another shout out to the Cohen brothers. Raising Arizona was a special movie in its time.

11. Favorite Book?
Faulkner’s Light in August

12. What is next?

I am working on small film projects right now not all related to fishing. If I do another one it will be for someone who underwrites a very special project. Running the coast is one-of-a-kind and I’m really blessed to be able to share it after all this time.

You can find the full film here: https://vimeo.com/ondemand/runningthecoast

Visit Jamie’s website here: http://www.howardfilms.com/runningthecoast/

Follow Jamie on Instagram here: https://www.instagram.com/howard_films/?hl=en

Visual Nymphing

Everyone loves to fish dries, no doubt about it. For decades floating feathers on a hook has gone hand in hand with fly fishing. Bringing a trout out of their aquatic comfort zone has an appeal like no other. It’s riveting to anticipate an elevating trout as it makes a split second decision to eat, or let the offering pass by. The visual rewards are first class which motivates many fly anglers to first tie on a dry when arriving at the river.

I would like not to take away from that aspect of the sport that we all love. However, if I might introduce an additional thought that can build upon our experiences on the water, it would the concept of Visual Nymphing.

Think of it this way, what’s more cunning or deceiving than entering the world of a trout and fooling them in their own realm? Isn’t the objective of a fly angler to be cunning and deceptive? Admit it, that’s what we set out to do each time we hit the river! It’s one thing to bring a trout to the brink of our world, but going below enemy lines into their turf where they are most comfortable is a whole new ball game. Here’s where Visual Nymphing kicks in. When looking at the structure and currents of a river, visualize where the trout should be holding. Now envision what it is that they are doing under there. Before you even make a cast think of their positioning, their purpose for being there, and what it will take to get your nymphs in front of their face. Now make your cast as planned, watch for strike detection, and enjoy the visual sight of a buttery brown rolling off the river’s bottom when you set the hook.

Keep in mind, Visual Nymphing is different than sight fishing, but if you are able to first see the fish it becomes even more effective and fun.

Take this one step further, ditch the floating indicator and learn Euro Nymphing. By watching what is called a sighter (hi-vis mono tied into the leader pictured below) your eyes are not constrained to the floating bubble or clump of yarn drifting on the water’s surface. Instead your eyes can more easily look past your strike detection devise to see what’s happening near the end of your line. You will be amazed at how much more action from the fish you can see. Not to mention all the other benefits of Euro Nymphing such as increased strike detection, a more subtle approach, and an improved dead drift. These benefits plus the added visualization make this not only a highly effective technique, but a ton of fun as well.

There are times and places for many techniques in the sport of fly fishing. Indicator nymphing, streamers, dry flies, or Euro Nymphing all perform well in different situations. With an open mind and a desire to continue learning, we can enhance our visual experiences beyond the single method of dry fly fishing. Don’t limit yourself to whats on top, try Visual Nymphing and see what lies beneath the water’s surface.

Gilbert Rowley is a professional filmmaker that specializes in the fly fishing industry, and the owner of Capture Adventure Media. Gilbert works hand in hand with many fly fishing professionals and companies in the industry. Among his accomplishments in film production include two official selections into the International Fly Fishing Film Festival (2016 and 2017). Outside of filmmaking Gilbert also received a Bachelors degree in Fisheries and Aquatic Science from Utah State University, and spends his time as a fly fishing guide on Utah’s Provo river. He is also a fly designer for Rainy’s Flies, and most important a husband and father.

High Country Haven

It’s the place that I look forward to fishing the absolute most. When I’m stuck inside in the dreary blur that is winter, hiding from feet of snow, there’s a mental countdown I have; hashing out the days until the high country will once again be accessible, thawed, and ready to fish.

I struggle to share my passion of fly-fishing in the backcountry with social media. It’s this back and forth mental argument I have with myself. Are these places that are so sacred to me and my family deserving of what could be unworthy eyes? Are they worth sharing photos of? But I’ve convinced myself that in the hearts of the public are where these places belong. By shedding light on their untouched beauty or by drawing more people out in search of them, these places stand to be protected. Now more than ever, our public lands deserve the limelight to shine bright on how truly special and completely irreplaceable they are.

My husband caught his first fish on the fly, a native Colorado River Cutthroat, when he was four years old. He did this in a place that so few people in the entire world know of, you could probably count them all on one hand. Years later, he would choose to be baptized in the same high mountain stream. I find my heaven on Earth way up in the mountains of Colorado, where Cutthroat swim in the same stream they have for likely all of their existence. It’s a place that fills my heart with such warmth that can only be replicated by the taste of the sun ripened wild raspberries that grow alongside its bank. Its frigid, snow melt water quite literally takes my breath away as I wet wade up its winding course. I could forever be happy catching fingerling fish the colors of the setting sun, never tiring of their delicate wonder. Miles in with sore feet and heavy shoulders, I feel most alive. I feel cleansed of city living. I feel closer to the Earth. This is the place that my husband first took me to learn to fly fish, and it’s where we’ll take our son when he too is ready. My first fish was a native Colorado River Cutthroat, my son’s will be too. And one day I hope my ashes will be spread here to become a part of this remarkable landscape, for I will be home.

My love for and my attachment to a place like this comes from something deep rooted and I believe, ancestral. The places we fish and the places we hunt are meant to hold such weight on our souls. They’re meant to be kept sacred for a reason. Back when my ancestors roamed the Northern Plains, their hunting grounds were their livelihood. For me, my fishing grounds are where I find solace. They’re where I go to rid my eyes of all the atrocities mankind is capable of making of his surroundings. Nature always seems to do right by the Earth, but such is not always the case for human nature. As sportsmen and women it is our responsibility to leave places like the high country better off than how we find it, so that future generations can bask in all its glory as we have been able to. Taking up a hobby like fly fishing and enjoying it to its full potential comes with the responsibilities of being a steward for the environment.

“If all the beasts were gone, men would die from great loneliness of spirit, since whatever happens to the beasts also happens to man. All things are connected. Whatever befalls the Earth befalls the sons of the Earth.” -Chief Seattle, 1835

Gabi Suggs is a public land advocate, fly fishing fanatic, wild game cooking enthusiast, and all around outdoors addict. She splits her time between her native New Mexico and Colorado where her husband plays soccer professionally. For more of her incredible adventures and words of wisdom, check out her Instagram!

Hunting Wolves

Anglers often associate Colorado with it’s pristine trout streams and high alpine lakes full of eager trout, but underestimate other aquatic inhabitants. An angler can devote their life to mastering the light tippets and delicate presentations required for trout. Nothing wrong with that. Diversifying the species you target helps to push anglers to work on different techniques. Targeting Pike on the fly helps to improve your distance and casting form. If you’ve ever Pike fished, you understand that hours of casting large flies and heavy rods outweigh the amount of fish you hook. Stripping the fly line until deep grooves form on your trigger finger. Honestly, fly fishing for Pike is not the easiest species to chase; although we continue to chase these elusive fish. Is it for the chance of hooking a trophy fish? Maybe it’s the thought of chasing the top dog of the lake. For me, it’s chasing a fish that I may or may not meet. It’s the challenge that gives me the motivation to continue casting in the worst conditions. Every pike that I land I can’t help but wonder how nature has perfected a true freshwater predator.

Pike are exceptionally picky. Nothing quite gets the heart pumping like getting your fly stalked by a shadow all the way up to your feet. After awhile though, it becomes rather frustrating dancing with a skeptical pike that decides last minute to bolt into the deep. The only thing you can really do is change up your fly and strip faster. Stripping the fly line as fast as you can until you are able to spot your fly just a few feet in front of you. The best part is when you see the glistening white mouth open up inhaling your streamer. There’s a moment between seeing the eat and actually feeling it, where your brain is telling you to relax and gear up because it’s about to be chaotic. And then the line comes tight. Attempting to get the line under control while applying a solid hook set is when reality sets in. It feels as if you’ve snagged a submerged rock, but the fish takes a hard turn ripping out line as it dives deep confirming your in for a battle. You never quite understand the true power of a pike until your ultra-fast action 8 weight is bent far beyond you could imagine. The best part is you think you’re in control, but what you fail to realize is that the fish has home field advantage. Pike are smart. They understand that to fool an overconfident angler they must drive you deep in the marshy weeds where they find a way to slip your fly. If you’re able to steer the pike away from the underwater hazards, you at least have a fighting chance. It’s not every trip that you land one, but it sure does feel good when you do. You can’t help but shake uncontrollably from landing that fish because it’s truly incredible. Even better is getting to watch that fish swim away giving you a little shower as it slowly disappears to the deep.

If you ask anyone who targets pike on the fly, they will tell you specific patterns and color variations that are tried and true. To me, it’s not about the color or size of the flies but how they appear in the water. It’s all about the presentation to the fish. Many anglers prefer smaller flies for certain times of the year but the articulated flies are a necessity. Tying your own articulated flies help to ensure the presentation of the fly appears the way that you want it. Adding additional materials or heavier materials to different sides of the fly gives the fly more of a struggling fish appeal to pike. That’s what I strive for. Make your fly appear as an easy meal to the fish and the number of hookups will increase. Remember it’s presentation over fly selection.

If there is one thing you get from this article it’s that pike on the fly is challenging but it’s rather rewarding when you finally get that fish. Not every outing is going to produce fish but pushes yourself to better your skills. Throw that extra ten feet of line. Straighten your casting arc. You’ll be surprised by your cast the next time you go trout fishing.

After living out on the front range of Colorado, Troy felt the need to further his education in the Roaring Fork valley where he has access to some of the most pristine rivers in the west. He spends his off season months attending school and fishing the Roaring Fork, the Frying Pan, and the Colorado River. He spend his summer months guiding for Minturn Anglers in the Vail valley. Even though he hasn’t been in the high country for long, he considers the Vail and Roaring Fork valley’s to be his home waters. There’s something special that keeps bringing him back!

Special shoutout and photography credit to Shannon OutingZach Freund, and Enzo Manuel for the sick pictures!

Fly fishing is easy. Fly fishing is difficult.

In my intro to photography class, we read an article by a well-known photographer Paul Graham. The article talks about how photography is easy and difficult at the same time. It is easy because people have instant access to cameras via smartphones, tablets, and other portable devices. All you have to do is pull out your phone or other portable device and push a button to capture an image. However, photography is difficult because every moment is fleeting. An image captures time and freezes it forever. Sometimes, people will hesitate to capture time and if they do not capture the moment quickly, it will be gone forever.

After reading this, I started to think about how fly fishing is easy. Sometimes, it’s too easy. I have had days where my friend and I could have slapped down a 25ft cast with a 7.5ft, 4x leader and a size 8 hopper on my favorite spring creek and the fish would still be willing to take my flies. I have had days where I have been on the water back in Texas at sunrise, throwing poppers and frogs at bass in a field of lily pads where I did not miss a single take. It’s days like this that lead to catching 8 pounders with your best friend and laughing away the ridiculousness of the fishing at hand.

I remember one day on my home river back in the summer of 2010. I had been fly fishing for a few years, and luckily, I ended up in the middle of a Green Drake hatch. After just receiving my first lesson on identifying the major insects and their life cycles, I put on a parachute Adams and went to work.

I remember on my first cast I hooked into a decent Brown Trout. I thought to myself that it was just luck, but it happened again and again. I was not sure why I having such a great day on the water, but I equated it to the help from the guys back in the local fly shop. I fished the same run from both sides for almost 2 hours, landing around 15 fish. For a kid who barely landed a few fish on average, I was ecstatic. I thought I had figured it all out. I thought I’d be having days like this everyday on the water. I soon realized that was not the case, but eventually with the help of many, I became a semi-proficient fly fisherman.

These days are few and far in between. When they come, fly anglers can appreciate the peace of mind they bring. Fly fishermen can relax, enjoy their surroundings, and listen to what nature is trying to tell us. They can root oneself in the natural order of things, giving us a sense of peace and tranquility.

So yes, fly fishing can be really easy, but it can also be hard…really hard. I know that I, as well as every fly fisherman, have had days where it has been a struggle to land a single fish.

Last summer, I spent a day in Cheesman Canyon, a place I have done fairly well in and I feel quite comfortable fishing. After getting skunked, I trudged out of there.

Another time, I watched a friend I was guiding struggle to land his first trout on the fly. Eventually, he landed his first trout in Eleven Mile Canyon right before dark on our first day (pictured on the left). All the anguish and stress from the hard work seemed to melt away after that.

These types of days can be frustrating for all fly fishermen, novice and experts alike. They can create a sense of disbelief and stress that should not be present while holding a fly rod. They can force one to be hypersensitive, focusing so intently to his (or her) indicator, dry fly, or fly line that he (or she) ends up missing takes or making sloppy casts, spooking every fish within a mile of you. They can create a sense of urgency, rushing oneself when redoing a triple nymph rig and tying new knots to get your flies in front of a fish again, only to realize you forgot to wet your knot resulting in breaking off the fish of a lifetime.

These days can make any angler want to throw away all their fly fishing gear and pick up a new hobby. I think every fly fisherman would prefer the easier days over the difficult ones, but there is something intriguing about the difficult days. The days of only hooking into one fish that required a lot of work…the days of thinking you have matched the hatch only to find your fly being looked at and then refused…the days of having bass repeatedly slam your top water and not being to get a hook in their mouths.

Now the question becomes, where is the balance between the two? Do you really want to have “easy” days every time?

Every angler is different. Some people will want to catch a hundred fish in a day, and others will want to work hard for one. However, fly fishing is subject to each person’s individual preferences. For me, I enjoy having a combination of both types of days. It’s great to have a day where everything clicks…when you match the hatch perfectly and present your fly delicately to each rising fish with a tactful grace…when you double haul a big frog underneath a hanging tree branch with precision accuracy to find a lunker bass waiting for food…when you sight cast to a beautiful, cruising brown trout and watch him eat your fly with grace.

It’s also a very humbling experience to have to put your work in for a single fish. It’s a humbling experience to struggle to get a solid hook set or to not even get a look from a fish that you know has been feeding actively. These days often make you want to get back on the water even more. These days fuel every fly fisherman’s desire to feel the tug on the end of the line so that they might have consolation in their fly fishing abilities.

All in all, I think every fly fisherman has had a combination of both days. Sometimes things work out, and sometimes they don’t. But that’s the great thing about fly fishing and life in general. Most times, you’ll get another chance. You can go to sleep at night knowing you will have a fly rod in your hand again, whether it’s in the near future or in a year. However, if there is one thing I know for sure, it’s that a single day of fly fishing, whether it be good or bad, can fill our minds with memories and thoughts about fly fishing, giving us enough to daydream about and fuel our imaginations until our next trip.

Tanner Poeschel, The Taylor River Trout Bum, is a creative content intern and ambassador for The Fly Lords. Tanner has grown up fly fishing in Colorado, specifically on the Taylor and Gunnison Rivers. For more of his work, check out his websiteFacebook, or Instagram.

Special thanks to professional photographer and videographer Teddy Hoffman! Getting out on the water with Teddy was an amazing experience. When it comes to photographing the outdoors, Teddy knows how to get the shot! For more of his incredible work, check out his Instagram and website.

Western Natives: Two Bros, Grey Skies and the Canary

As the winter continues to bring incredible powder days here in Colorado, the choice between hitting the river and slopes continues to be a struggle for the weekend plans. As I sit in class I can’t help but to reflect on one of my favorite fall days of fishing where it felt like fall, summer and winter all in one day. On this particular morning, my buddy Josh and I had enough of our Finance class and decided that the rest of our Friday would be better off if we took a day trip to Wyoming. Living in Fort Collins, Colorado gives a fly fisherman the ability to venture North across the border pretty easily, which keeps him away from the crowds of Denver that head to the mountains on weekends.

As soon as our class ended we packed up our gear as quickly as we could, hit up St. Peters Fly Shop in Fort Collins, and we headed North to Wyoming where we could see the storm clouds moving in the distance.

The multiple Wyoming plains lakes we had access to fish that day offer an abundance of scuds, midges and plant life creating an ideal scenario to produce good sized fish. In fact, after a full day of fishing these waters, we find multiple scuds and midges on our neoprene waders when we take our boots off.

The only thing that wasn’t in our favor at this point in the day was the weather, with a strong chance of rain and snow in the forecast. As the day progressed we ran into strong winds crippling our ability to cleanly present the fly and spooking fish in fine pockets resulting in a few fish encounters ranging between 15”-18”. Luck wasn’t in our favor until we threw on our biggest streamer in the box, which we refer to as “the canary” and had some incredible encounters with fish ranging in the 20”-24” range. These fish would run us to our backing with our 3x tippet and had us running up and down the shore.

After a few PBR’s the wind settled and the sun peaked out for the rest of the afternoon, venturing down the bank of the lake I could see a rising brown that looked like a pumpkin making consistent movements to the surface slurping flies on the water. I did the best I could to match the hatch and on my first cast I was into the brown. The brown came in at 24” and was by far one of the most beautiful fish I’ve encountered.

On the drive out we were greeted by wild horses and a bald eagle swooping through the valley. Easily one of my most memorable days fishing.

Landon Ecker is currently a student at Colorado State University but recently started an Instagram page called Western Natives specializing in high-quality photography and videography focusing on the outdoor space. He runs the page with three of his good friends Josh Lewis, Brian Waugh and Will Baker. Landon was a rafting guide in Buena Vista, Colorado where he developed his love for fly fishing.

Life Is More Fun Playing In The Mud!

The thing I love most about fly fishing is the challenge that I am faced with every time I step into the water, can I outsmart any fish today? With fly fishing for carp that challenge is set to another level. These “trash” fish will bring the best and worse out of me because of how smart and tricky they are to catch. One of my first opportunities to catch a grass carp was in Arizona. I was new to fly fishing still at the time so I was feeling very excited! I wanted to catch one of these “spooky heifers” to prove to myself that I could do it. I was fishing in a canal that winded and curved through a neighborhood where every midwest grandparent resided. I was on a small boat with a couple friends that new the water and the habits of these grass carp very well. We cruised around squinting at the banks of the water looking for little mouths to slowly come up and chomp on the surface of the water, all while dogs would be running up to the bank and start barking at us. Despite the noisy dogs, I had a few chances to cast my dry fly at a couple rising carp, that is when I realized just how spooky they truly are. First cast, I spot the carp and get excited and make my cast quickly and  as I watch my fly dropping and getting closer to the water I realize that it is going to land right on the fish’s head, and in just that moment of realization the fly lands and the fish darts away and takes all his homies with him!

The man feeding them waved at us, smiled and then began walking away and the fish were all smart enough to know that “dinner time” has ended. They all started to slip deeper into the water, disappearing. I knew I had to make my cast now before they all disappeared. I spot one in the school of about 10 fish, I lifted my fly rod up and cast my dry to the left, above the carp’s head. I see that it landed perfectly! I waited and watched the little mouth slowly opening and closing…getting closer and closer to my fly, my adrenaline starts pumping, I feel the excitement building up as I impatiently wait for this fish to get to my fly. What was only mere seconds, with my excitement taking over it felt like an eternity for this fish to get to my fly!

Here it is, I see my fly and the fish’s mouth slowly open, his head turns to my fly…then BOOM! it happened so fast, in a blink of an eye… I set my hook and grin… just as fast as my excitement came to me it left me even quicker. I had popped the fly right out of the fish’s mouth. This is where “carp bringing the worst out in me” comes in. I turned into a drunken sailor with no filter yelling out every curse word I knew. I was so frustrated with myself, but in hindsight, it definitely taught me not to never do that again! The sun was setting and with the sunlight playing a large roll in carp fishing we decided to bring the boat in. As if being frustrated and being outsmarted by grass carp all day wasn’t enough, as we are getting the boat onto the trailer the trolling motor falls off the boat, it must not have been fastened on tight enough. I offered to go into the water and get it since it was not that deep and I was wearing shorts. I took two steps towards the submerged motor and “swoosh” the thick algae covered cement boat launch knocked me down like a rug being pulled beneath my feet and I fall completely into the water. Needless to say more, I finished the day with some beers to saturate my carp frustration.

I was not going to let that frustrating experience stop me from catching one of these fish. It just made me want to outsmart one and challenge myself to get one even more. I attempted many, many more times resulting in more frustration and no carp. Then, one day I was home alone during my second summer here in Portland. I have not made many friends since moving here so if KC is not around I have the option to go fish alone. With the many strong, slippery and rocky rivers here I decided since I was going out alone that maybe this would be a good chance to finally get my carp on the fly!

It was about 7am when I left to head out to a spot where I felt confident I could spot some common carp. When I arrived I watched the water from a high bank where I could have a good advantage to see the fish without them seeing me or my shadow. It was a bright, very hot day and I could see fish everywhere. Some of the carp were just cruising and there was a few sunbathing, so I knew I did not want to go after those and kept walking and looking. I made my rounds through a couple spots from the bank casting at fish with a few rejections and a few spooks. Another “perk” of fishing for carp is that you are sight fishing for them and typically not in the clearest of waters, forcing you to rely a lot on your senses of touch to know when to set the hook and noticing if the fish does anything different than what they normally would do or if you have the advantage of seeing their gills flare, and even then you can still get it wrong. After moving on from spots where I had no luck I waded out to about knee deep in the water. With myself being so short it can be difficult to not get the sun glare on the water when trying to spot fish but after squinting, with my hand blocking the sun from my eyes I spotted three carp tailing. I waited and watched to see what direction they were going so I knew where their heads were. They were about 40ft out from me, give or take. I cast above and in front of the fish’s heads and waited for my fly to sink, then I slowwwly started stripping my fly in towards them as they were heading towards my fly. I watched them all swim right over my fly without even thinking twice about it… I was not giving up though! I took a few steps to the right and made my cast again and this time Instead of an actual strip retrieval method I was sort of twitching my fly as I stripped in and I watched as one tail stopped right where I believed my fly should be, I felt the smallest twitch in my line and I set my hook in hopes that this time I will have a fish on my fly and not being ripping it out of the water alone once again. Within seconds after setting my reel was screaming at me, peeling line out! I got him! The carp was going nuts! Swimming out and then back in, splashing his tail on the water, giving me the fight I have heard about so many times. I was Screaming and laughing with excitement! I felt so satisfied! I finally outsmarted one of these fish and was having the best time because of it!

As the fish was getting more and more tired I reeled him in close to me. I was alone so there was no handy ‘net guy’, I needed to tail and land this fish on my own. Carp are still spooky and will try and run even after they are tired with a hook in their mouth so after two attempts of tailing and the fish running off I was able to get my hand around his tail and when I went to step and angle my body to grab under the fish with my other hand my boots were stuck in the muck, muddy bottom of the water and I started to fall and all I could think as I was falling to my knees was DON’T lose this fish!! I had my hand still around his tail and pulled the fish towards me in the water as I fell and he was flailing all over the place splashing me. I was getting covered with mud, but somehow I managed to get my first carp on the fly and all on my own!

This memory will stick with me as one of my favorite fly fishing stories and I couldn’t be happier it was with a carp. They remain still to this day as one of the funnest fish to catch on the fly to me, even thru the rollercoaster of challenges, frustrations, and excitement they put me through and when I do get the chance to outsmart them which luckily happens more often now after all the practice I’ve had, the fight they put up makes it all worth it.

Kayla is an ambassador for Redington and Dark Seas Division clothing company. For more of Kayla’s fishy activity, check her out on Instagram! Special thanks to Matt Harrison for the photos!