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Adventuring with Maria Prekeges and Jon White

Adventuring outdoors is a year-round activity for Maria and Jon.
(copyright Maria Prekeges and Jon White, 2020)

Save $400. Have fun. Learn at your own pace. Sounds good, right? That’s essentially the mission statement that lures Maria Prekeges and Jon White outdoors. And they mean it!

“Do you need to hire an expensive guide?” asks Jon. “No. Will it help some? Probably. But you can learn many of the same lessons from the comfort of your home and be $400 ahead with us on your side.”

You might recognize Jon if you frequent the Idaho backcountry, and you might find Maria familiar from her many appearances on ESPN, FOX Sports, CBS Sports, and other outlets both in front of and behind the camera. They have a passion for the outdoors, and they want to help countless others feel more comfortable (and entertained!) when heading outside.

These two aren’t always buttoned-up and formal. The outdoors are fun, and so are they! (2020)

With the imminent launch of Idaho Mountain Anglers, this dynamic duo is primed to bring entertaining vlog material, pictures, and hilarious stories to all of your favorite social media channels. We recommend that you follow them today (and put that money you save toward some sweet new gear!).

Jon is a seasoned fly-fisher, while Maria considers herself a novice. (2020)

Jon grew up in Idaho and has logged countless journeys through the hills, mountains, and streams of the American west. Maria was raised along the salmon streams and clamming beds of the Pacific Northwest. While Jon is a quieter, more introspective presence, Maria exudes vitality with every word. This ying-and-yang partnership pays dividends both in front of and behind the cameras they bring into the woods.

“I love catching trout. They offer so much challenge, and so much reward. I have learned to enjoy the acrobatics and strength of bass recently,” says Jon. “They really are my current favorites.”

“I’m still new,” adds Maria. “So any fish I catch is my de-facto favorite!”

Maria considers herself a novice reeler–she loves to be outdoors, but is generally learning the tricks of the trade from Jon, an experience angler. Her vivacious personality and humor come through in every short video, while her learning curve helps the viewer pick up tips at a casual pace. In producing their #MinuteWithMaria shorts, this duo has focused on snappy editing and quick tips to avoid the boredom and lack of focus of most fishing tutorials online.

While flyfishing the hills of Idaho is a great way to spend the year, Maria and Jon venture all around the country looking for angling opportunities. (2020)

While these two hail from Sun Valley in Idaho, their adventures are not limited to the mountaintops and glacial valleys. Maria’s job as a sports journalist (with an emphasis on rodeo work) leads her all around the country, and Jon is always looking out for a new stream, lake, or shore to explore. Along the way, they chronicle the dos-and-don’ts of fishing, hiking, and general adventuring throughout the United States.

Maria learns the tips and tricks of fishing so that you don’t have to spend your hard-earned money on a guide–unless you’d like to! (2020)

Keep your eyes peeled on their media channels as they begin to roll out some long-gestating videos highlighting a variety of topics. If you have never fished from a kayak before, we recommend that you stay tuned to find out the differences between the options out there (hard bottom, inflatable, and where they each shine). Whether you fly-fish or prefer conventional gear, you’ll have plenty to enjoy as you follow along with them.

“Head out your back door and explore!,” Maria finishes. “We want everyone to enjoy the outdoors, and we hope that we can help bring that spark to urge them out the door.”

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Fin-Telligence Fly Weird Fish

Fin-Telligence: The elusive tiger trout!

Baby tiger trout
A baby tiger trout is introduced in Oregon with the specific goal of eradicating pest fish – (Oregon Dept. of Fisheries – October 12, 2015)

When learning about the various quarries that can attract reelers to the outdoors, there are a few time-honored stalwarts that come to mind. Rainbow trout, largemouth bass, tarpon, grouper–all are among the first to cross the mind of a new angler. Murkier water comes with the territory, both literally and figuratively, and even species aren’t clear-cut differentiators.

Case in point: the tiger trout. The tiger trout is not a true species, but rather a sterile hybrid made from brown trout and brook trout parents. The tiger trout is occasionally stocked in lakes and streams throughout the United States (and abroad, though in limited numbers) in situations where wild stocks might be impacted by the act of stocking. For that reason, it is sometimes preferred in otherwise pristine trout water. In the wild, the tiger trout is exceedingly rare and alluring to the adventuring angler. For this reason, the wild tiger trout is a badge of pride that can elevate even the most otherwise-accomplished reeler.

Illustration of a tiger trout.
(International Game Fish Assc. – Duane Raver)

Biology:

Tiger trout can be found in the wild where populations of both brown trout and brook trout intermingle. The union is only viable when female brown trout and male brook trout breed, though some fish procreation isn’t the result of direct intent (but close proximity). The standard survival rate of these hybrids is 5% of fertilized eggs. Scientists also believe that a heat shock can help spur the necessary creation of an extra set of chromosomes that tiger trout require, which is why fatality rates and populations can fluctuate strongly from stream-to-stream (with an upper survival rate nearing 85%). This special hybrid is noteworthy to many researchers because the species are not terribly closely related (brook char versus brown trout), with different numbers of chromosomes.

The biological intricacies of tiger trout have been studied for decades.
(Canadian Field Naturalist Guide, 1983)

Hybrids, such as the tiger trout, are also subject to quick growth due to what scientists term “hybrid vigor.” This can enable the fish to grow more quickly and possibly larger than either of their parents. Hybrids can also display behaviors that neither parent express, though tiger trout do not deviate significantly from brook or brown trout.

Identification

Three tiger trout display the variety of patterns that make identification a challenge.
(Wikimedia commons, Matthew Tyree – 2008)

Tiger trout are fairly easy to identify because of their distinct “noodle” vermiculation (spot) pattern. They are only found in cold water “trout” habitat, and often have the general outline and body shape of a brook trout. Stocked brown trout often display somewhat-noodly vermiculations, but only tiger trout have those patterns throughout their entire flank (with few or no brown-trout-esque spots). Being a hybrid, their colors can vary between the silver-green-brown of brown trout and the green-top red-yellow bottom of brook trout.

MISTAKEN IDENTITY: This brown trout displays worm-shape vermiculations, but they are not prevalent enough to be mistaken for a tiger trout…if you have a keen eye!
(Jason Meckes – Clarks Creek, PA – 2012)

Habitat

The crystal-clear waters that indicate trout habitat are very much the haunting grounds of the tiger trout. Wild populations require brook and brown trout habitat simultaneously.
(Jason Meckes – Clarks Creek, PA – 2012)

Being a hybrid of brown and brook trout, the wild tiger trout is most often found in streams of the northeastern United States. The limiting factor in wild stocks is usually dependent on the brook trout being comfortable enough to breed, as brown trout usually enjoy the same water (and more). Any stream with both populations breeding could harbor a tiger trout population, but they are so rare that they are very difficult to encounter. A reeler that is interested in catching one had better look toward the western states, where they are stocked more commonly (Utah, Colorado, Oregon). For conservation purposes, they are the exclusive stocked species in many streams and lakes.

Catchin’ Tips

Conventional gear: The tiger trout is very similar to the brown trout in most of its preferences and activities. Larger specimens are nearly entirely piscivorous, so lures that imitate baitfish (and live bait) are successful.

Fly gear: As with traditional gear, your approach should be identical to that which works for brown trout fishing. If you are aiming for larger specimens, using an articulated fly or muddler minnow can be successful.

WORLD RECORD

The world record tiger trout is 20lbs 13oz and caught by Peter Friendland in Lake Michigan, Wisconsin (1978). The world record for fly tackle is 16lbs 12oz caught by Luke Butcher in the UK (2001).

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Blog Posts Fin-Telligence Fly

Fin-Telligence: Brown Trout

Left to their own devices, brown trout (salmo trutta) would own the world’s freshwater. They’re aggressive, voracious predators that start young, picking off insects and invertebrates that inhabit the same streams, rivers, and lakes. Bigger specimens (and they DO get big: more than 40 lbs.) make life miserable for their smaller neighbors, snacking happily on fish, frogs, and pretty much anything else that annoys them.

 

The reason brown trout haven’t emptied the waters of all their rivals is that they are delicious — and fun to catch — themselves. Between people and predators, very few brownies make it beyond a 16″-20″ slot.

 

And that’s why there’s a whole subculture of reelers that chase not only brown trout, but the big, gold, spotted monsters that’ve eluded capture and predation for years. Trophy browns are an addiction that nobody’s found a cure for.

Brown trout surfacing in a crystal clear creek.

If you want to see for yourself, here are a few things you should probably know before you go.

Where are they?

Once limited to their original Central European range, brown trout have now spread across the globe. They inhabit streams, rivers, and lakes and can tolerate water temperatures to the mid-80s if there’s enough oxygen (i.e., fast-moving streams). Water that’s below 68° F. is ideal, which means higher latitudes and altitudes result in the best fisheries.

the U.S., brown trout eggs were brought over from Germany and Scotland. After the German and Scottish eggs were hybridized and hatched, what’s commonly called the “generic American brown trout” was introduced into Michigan’s Baldwin River in the late 19th Century. Since then, they’ve spread to the mountainous areas of the country, as well as the Upper Midwest thanks to management plans and angling enthusiasm.

Whether you’re fishing the Sierra Nevadas, Ozarks, InterMountain Range, Appalachians, or Northeast Iowa, you’ll find brown trout.

Brown trout who are resident in lakes and reservoirs will migrate up rivers to spawn and return to their homewaters afterward. Each season the trip makes these brood trout bigger and stronger — and smarter. They’re essentially the brown trout equivalent of a steelhead.

What do they eat?

Brown trout are opportunistic predators. But they’re also wily and wary. If a presentation doesn’t look natural, a brownie’s likely to give it a look and turn away in disdain.

What you throw out should be dictated by where you’re fishing,

what time of year it is, and the size of the trout you’re targeting. I’ve caught 12 to 16-inchers in the midwest on waxworms and salmon eggs. Chelsea Baum, a fly reeler in Northern California has had luck with nymphing patterns on the Truckee River.

Monster-hunter Andrew Engel has reeled in beefy browns with baitfish and even mouse presentations to pre-spawn trout on his fly rig.

 

Think about what’s natural on the water you’re fishing. Using a spinning reel and see a grasshopper on the bank? Put it on a hook and try your luck. What’s hatching in the water? Pick the fly of the season. Looking for bigger trout? Figure out the baitfish patterns for your chosen fishing spot.

Location, season, size

Andrew Engel takes a photo before the release. @TheFlyDudes

How Big Do They Get?

In spite of their difficulty to catch, brown trout get exceedingly more rare and harder to land as they get bigger. So, if you’re regularly catching 24″, 4-pounders, you’re already in a small minority. But they get bigger. Much bigger. And that drives many reelers absolutely bonkers. They make thousands of casts, ignoring smaller specimens, just to hook a hulking brown. And hopefully put it back after the battle.

Thanks in part to catch-and-release fishing, the world brown trout record has been set and set again several times in the past 25 years. To-wit:

  • 1992: 40 lbs., 4 oz., Howard “Rip” Collins, Little Red River, Arkansas
  • 2009: 41 lbs., 7 oz., Tom Healy, Big Manistee River, Michigan
  • 2010: 41 lbs, 8 oz., Roger Hellen, Lake Michigan, Wisconsin (still the U.S. record)
  • 2013: 42 lbs., 1 oz., Otwin Kandolf, Ohau Canal, New Zealand

The big ones are out there. Go get ’em! Check out our Brown Trout Tips and Hacks this Friday for some suggestions on just how to go about it.

How Do They Taste?

Like any trout, browns are delicious. And given how hard it can be to land one, a brown on the grill may taste just little bit better than the rainbow next to it.

Try a simple preparation. Gut and dehead the fish. Squeeze fresh lemon juice into the body cavity, spread salt and olive oil on the skin. Wrap the fish in foil and toss it on the grill until the flesh is flaky. Eat smugly.

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Blog Posts Fly Fresh

No Matter the Season, @4Seasonsflygals are Reelin’

Back in September 2016, Texan Karen Clark was visiting Vail, Colorado with her husband, some friends — Beth Paterson and Leisha Scaling — and their husbands.

“Our husbands were golfers,” she says. “And we were looking for something fun to do. So, we decided to try fly fishing.”

Karen, Beth, and Leisha had never really fished before. But they went out with Katie and Cooper Anderson (of Anderson’s Fish Camp) and were instantly hooked on the sport.

“We loved it so much that we decided to form a little fly fishing club and start an Instagram account,” Karen says of herself and her two friends (all of whom live in the Dallas area).

And that’s how 4 Seasons Fly Gals was born. When I caught up with Karen and Beth, they were visiting Karen’s rental cabin in Branson and had been out fishing on Lake Taneycomo in 24-degree weather.

“They stock rainbow trout in Taneycomo,” Karen explained. “We’re still very new to it. We’ve got to the point where we’re going out by ourselves — without guides — wading, and actually catching fish. But there’s still so much to learn.”

The Fly Gals have added another twist to their new pastime, as well.

“We’re strictly catch-and-release,” Karen says. “I would never eat anything I catch. But we take pictures of our fish. And sometimes when we get back to the cabin, we’ll print off the pictures and paint watercolors of the fish we caught. That’s always fun. We also keep a fly journal of each trip we go on.”

Gals have also started tying their own flies.

“About a year ago, we took the Orvis fly-tying class,” Karen says. “I bought the set, and I’ve tied a few flies. Every time I come to Branson, I try to the flies I’m going to need. I’ve learned to tie an egg pattern. I’ve learned the wooly bugger, I’ve learned the sculpin. The squirmy worm, the San Juan worm — we fish with a lot of those in Branson. Tying flies is a lot of fun.”

As much as they enjoy fly fishing, the Gals are occasionally met with incredulity.

“I get tickled,” Karen says. “Sometimes, we’ll be walking through the airport with our fly rods and guys will come up to us think we’re carrying our husbands’ fly rods. I’ll be like, ‘No, it’s mine — he’s the golfer.’ We do attract plenty of men with our fly rods.”

For the Gals, the learning has been a big part of the joy they’ve found in fly fishing.

“Every time you go out, you learn something new,” Karen says. “There’s always something to learn.”

She referred to their outing that day as an example.

“Today was the first time that she went out and waded by herself, and she caught her first fish,” Karen says.

“Without a guide,” Beth clarified.

“Usually, in Colorado, we go with guides because we love Katie and Cooper so much,” Karen says. “We’re all grandmas, and they’re excited to see people our age taking up something like this.”

“Especially women,” Beth adds.

Most importantly, the Gals are creating many memorable moments as they continuing honing their fly angling skills — even if some of them don’t involve catching fish.

“I was fishing for the first time by myself for the first time at this little lake. Some other folks who were fishing there suggested that I move to a spot where the fish had really been biting,” Karen says. “I picked up my rod, but I didn’t hook my fly onto it — I just let swing. And as I ran over to the new spot, I hooked the fly in my calf.”

Ouch!

“I didn’t know what to do, so I decided to go back to the fly shop and see if they could get it out of my leg,” Karen says. “So, I was walking back, and this gentleman goes, ‘What kind of fly were you using today?’ I put my leg up and said, ‘Well, it’s right here if you want to take a look.’ He said, ‘Come on over here. I’m a surgeon, and I can pop that right out for you.’ It was really funny.”

Beth recalled a recent trip to Mexico.

“We went to Punta Mita, and we thought we were really big stuff. So, we chartered a boat and went out on the ocean, fly fishing,” Beth says. “I got sick as a dog. They finally took us back to the bay.”

“We thought we knew how to fish on the ocean because we’d fly fished before,” Karen says. “We were just too big for our britches on that one.”

Although the fly outing didn’t go as planned, Karen did get a jack crevalle on spinning gear after they returned.

“That was a little more fun because we really didn’t know what we were doing with the other,” Karen says.

Karen and Beth have a wonderful sense of humor about some of their missteps. Make no mistake, though. The Gals catch plenty of fish, and their enthusiasm for fly fishing has taken them on plenty of adventures.

“It’s fun at this point in our lives that we could find something that we just love to do,” Karen says. “It’s just such a learning experience. Every time you go out, you learn something new. And we’re just beginning.”

“It’s like a treasure hunt when you’re out there fishing,” Karen says. “You just don’t know what the day’s going to be like. You don’t know how it’s going to turn out, but you’re not going to leave until you catch a fish.”

“It’s beautiful, the scenery…,” Beth says. “It’s just a great way to spend the day.”

 

 

 

 

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Blog Posts Fly

Nick Vlahos hooks fish on Sandbars

Nick Vlahos (@sandbar_flies on Instagram) was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana but he grew up in Georgia. An avid fly angler, these days Nick travels between homes in Louisiana and Destin, Florida.

“I grew up in Georgia, mainly. I started fishing when I was four or five,” he says. “But I didn’t start fly fishing until I was thirteen or fourteen, after moving to Georgia. I started fly fishing for rainbow and brook trout in the mountains of north Georgia when my mom’s stepdad got me my first fly rod.”

He returned to Baton Rouge to go to college.

“It was when I started going to school at LSU [Louisiana State] that I got into saltwater fly fishing,” Nick says. “I started fly fishing out of a kayak for redfish.”

His go-to pattern for redfish is the Sandbar Mullet fly — which he ties himself and markets through his company, Sandbar Flies, as well as major outlets like Orvis.

“I like to throw it and a medium dumbbell weight to get down to the fish pretty quickly,” Nick says. “My favorite color for it is tan and purple.”

Nick didn’t always tie his own flies, though.

“Most of my buddies tied their own flies. They’d make fun of me because I didn’t, and I would bum flies off of them,” he says. “But then I actually won a fly fishing contest, and I got a gift card to Cabela’s. I spent most of it on fly-tying material and a vise, and everything I needed to get started. That was about seven or eight years ago.”

It didn’t take long for him to catch the fly-tying bug.

“From there, I was just hooked,” Nick said. “All my buddies then thought my patterns were better than theirs. So, I just stuck with it. And eventually, my flies got picked up through Orvis. I tie all the time, now.”

Nick concentrates his fly tying work on saltwater patterns — particularly those that are effective for the inshore species along the Florida and Louisiana Gulf Coasts.

“I tie based on the species that I target, mainly,” he says. “So, I create patterns for redfish and pompano, mostly. I’ll also go after tarpon, speckled trout and black drum.”

Sometimes, though, Nick’s flies will attract a species he’s not targeting.

“In Louisiana, sheepshead — which are known as the permit of Louisiana — are really picky. But they will also sometimes hit a fly, even if I’m going after redfish,” he says.

Nick sees an even wider variety of species when he fishes closer to Destin.

“In Florida, you get all the same species as Louisiana — and more,” he says. “You’ll get tarpon and bonito close to the beach in Destin. You can even catch snapper on the fly, amberjack, mahi mahi. There’s definitely a lot more species you can cover, there.”

Ultimately, it’s the challenge of fly fishing that keeps getting Nick back out on the water.

“I try to get out as much as I can,” he says. “You learn something new every time you go. It’s hard to conquer fishing — the fish are always in the mood for a different fly or they’re not there when you think they’re going to be.”

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Blog Posts Fly Fresh

Ken Tanaka has a wish4fish

Ken Tanaka (@wish4fish on Instagram), who grew up in North Carolina, has been reeling since he was four years old.

“It was a major thing I did with my father,” he says. “And I’ve always been very technical about fishing — even with conventional gear.”

As his career — as a DJ and also in marketing, branding and promotions — took off, though, Ken found he had less and less time for fishing. He traveled and lived in major urban areas like Los Angeles, New York, Tokyo and Minneapolis-St. Paul.

“In the Twin Cities, I decided to try fishing in one of the inner-city lakes,” he says. “I caught a 48-inch pure-strain muskie. It was 2012 and all I had was a crappy iPhone.”

Ken says, “A lady stopped to look at the fish, and I handed her my phone and she started recording.”

He posted the video on YouTube and started racking up the views.

“But I also got a lot of questions and comments,” he says.

Ken took a look at some other fishing sites and channels.

“I thought, ‘I can make a better video channel or vlog than what’s out there,'” he says. “So I started Wish4Fish. I started out wanting to help people who were trying to learn how to fish.”

While he was in Minnesota, Ken was introduced to all sorts of new-to-him species like muskie, walleye and northern pike. But then he went to visit a friend in Montana.

“He said to me ‘You have to try fly fishing,'” Ken says. “Growing up using conventional gear, I thought fly fishing was pompous.”

But he tried it anyway.

“He took me out on the Madison River,” Ken says. “And I caught a rainbow within the first hour. Right then, I decided that that’s what I wanted to do — I haven’t picked up conventional gear ever since.”

Ken moved back to North Carolina and started to get serious about his new brand. Fishing and Wish4Fish started to encroach on Ken’s work and family time.

“I was fishing five days a week on top of working five days a week,” he says. “My wife was wondering how long I could keep up with it.”

It didn’t take long before Ken realized he had to make a choice.

“I took it as far as I could part time,” he said. “I was lucky that with my marketing and branding connections, I was able to launch Wish4Fish into a full-time endeavor.”

And he continues with fly fishing.

“It’s the pinnacle of fishing,” Ken says. “It’s very manual. You don’t rely on the gear. You’re stripping and casting with your hands. It’s an art and a skill — and you have to know a little entomology.”

Even with the growth of his brand, the hands-on fishing remains important for Ken.

“I’m out there chucking streamers in the morning,” he says. “I’m big on tailwaters and streams that are wild and naturally producing.”

As much as the fishing itself drives him, Ken is also fascinated by the depth of knowledge required.

“It has completely captivated me,” he says. “The culture. The knowledge. There’s and endless amount of knowledge that you can absorb — not just in fly fishing but in fishing, in general. The pursuit to learn more keeps me going.”

Gaining and sharing knowledge not only drives Ken, personally, but it’s also key to his brand’s endeavors.

“Social media is a blessing and a curse,” he says. “But it drives growth in the fishing industry. In fly fishing, the growth is largely driven by kids and women.”

And inspiring new people to fish, in turn, is what drives Ken to being a role model for others.

“Used correctly, social media has been amazing for the sport of fishing,” he says. “It drives growth and diversity — and people come together around fishing in spite of any differences.”

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Blog Posts Fly

Emma Brown: Rocky Mountain Fly

Emma Brown (@EmmaBrownTrout on Instagram) has been fishing since she could walk.

“Well, I’d stand in the river next to my dad, anyway” she says. “I was always outdoors, always near the river.”

Emma didn’t pick up her own rod and reel until she was eight years old. Of course, it was a fly rod.

“I learned to fly fish before I learned to spin cast or anything else,” she says.

Although she had her dad for guidance, Emma largely taught herself to fly fish. Colorado’s Big Thompson River was her schoolroom.

“I learned to fly fish long before I could drive,” she said. “But the first thing I did after I got my license — on my 16th birthday — was head out to the river on my own and fly fish all by myself.”

For Emma, who’s attending the University of Colorado at Boulder, fishing is a way of life, but represents much more.

“I love it. Fly fishing is amazing,” she says. “You can take it to such beautiful places, like Rocky Mountain National Park.”

But Emma also sees her fly fishing skills as an opportunity to give back to the greater community. She works with The Greenbacks, an organization dedicated to restoring Colorado’s coldwater fisheries and protecting the state’s native trout population.

She started as a volunteer and is now working as an intern with the program.

“It’s this incredible feeling,” Emma says. “I get the opportunity to share what I love with inner city girls. When I started volunteering, I was the same age as they were. It was awesome putting a rod in their hands, teaching them to fly fish, helping them to learn about conservation and to understand all the awesome resources Colorado has to offer.”

Another organization that’s close to Emma’s heart is The Mayfly Project. The project uses fly fishing “as a catalyst to mentor children in foster care.”

“I was adopted at birth,” Emma says. “Working with the kids and teens in The Mayfly Project makes me grateful for the opportunities I have to give back to the community. It also makes me grateful for all that I have because I see that these kids are going through so much more than I am.”

Fly fishing is not the only thing Emma picked up from her father. Her dad is a firefighter, and during her first year in college, Emma completed her EMT training. Now she, too, is an EMT and firefighter with a local department.

“I guess I owe everything to my dad,” she says.

And like her dad, fly fishing is how Emma escapes from the stresses of work and school.

“Being outside and fly fishing,” she says. “It’s therapy. I get away from everything: College and the stress of the things I see and do at work.”

More than therapy, fly fishing offers something transcendental for Emma.

“In a way, it’s like playing god. You take a trout out of its habitat, and then you’re entrusted to put it back,” Emma says. “It teaches patience and gratitude.”

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Adventures Blog Posts Fly

Julie Cyr: The land (and sea) provides

Native Oregonian Julie Cyr (@outdoor_jules on Instagram) grew up with a deep knowledge of the outdoors and how to make her way in the natural world.

“My grandmother fished and hunted,” she says. “Even when my twin sister and I were really young, we watched our dad build his own fly rods, tie his own flies, and then fish with them on the Metolius River. As little girls, we both learned how to fish and shoot a recurve bow.”

Although Julie was born and raised in Oregon — growing up a serious athlete — she’s spent the last  20 years in Washington and currently lives in Tacoma.

“I was one of only four women who served on the Nike Training Panel,” she says.

Right after college, though, she got married — eventually divorced — and had a family.

“We moved to the Jervis Inlet area in remote British Columbia,” Julie says. “We were pretty much ‘off the grid’ — reachable only by float plane or boat — fishing, hunting, growing and foraging to provide for ourselves. It was a true return to living by our natural, circadian rhythms.”

Like Julie and her sister, her children also learned how to make their ways in the outdoors.

“I never really made a concession for their ages,” Julie says. “I included them in everything, taught them to fish and hunt.”

After returning to Lower 48, Julie — who had graduated PLU — focused on ways to continue living off the land.

“I learned about vegetables,” she says. “I had a love affair with vegetables and whole foods.”

So, she started an organic farm.

“I did a farm stand every weekend,” Julie says. “And when I wasn’t doing that or working outside, I was canning, pickling and creating recipes. It was my attempt to create an authentic field to table experience.”

While she didn’t have time for much else, Julie still managed to fish a bit and do some upland bird hunting.

These days, teaching folks about good food and how to grow or find it is still very important to Julie.

And not only is she finding more time for fishing, she’s also discovered a favorite quarry.

“I love estuary fly fishing,” she says. “Once I took my dad out to catch chinook on the fly. He caught his first salmon on the fly, and I caught a coastal cutthroat trout. It was beautiful, and I was hooked.”

Cutthroat are native to the West Coast and migrate from as far north as British Columbia to Northern California, which is the southern limit of their traditional range. And they’re scrappy.

“Native sea-run cutthroat, pound for pound, fight as hard as steelhead,” Julie says. “Unfortunately, coastal fishery management really needs to improve in order to save their habitats and prevent a decline.”

Julie sees fishing as a way to teach people about conservation and the outdoors while offering a sublime experience in nature.

“I don’t guide,” she says. “But I will take people out to fish. I try and approach it with a beginner’s mindset. I love the sense of community when I’m fishing with others. And I love giving back by educating people about native species and fishing.”

For Julie, fishing is also deeply personal.

“It’s my little piece of heaven,” she says. “I go for the solitude, but it’s also where I feel fully alive.”

You can hear Julie on ESPN 710 am Seattle, where she is a regular commentator on ‘The Outdoor Line’ program.

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Blog Posts Fly Fresh

Hannah Kramer: The Redheaded Angler

Growing up as a kid in Colorado, Hannah Kramer (@redheaded_angler on Instagram) fished but would “get bored after like 20 minutes.”

It was not until after her father passed away three years ago that Hannah picked up a rod again.

“He was a huge fly angler,” she says. “About a year after he passed away, I found dad’s gear and decided to learn how to fly fish. I thought it would be a way for me to honor his memory and to feel close to him.”

Photo: Jordan Younger

Hannah got started by taking some of the beginner classes offered by fly gear giant, Orvis.

“I took some of the free Orvis 101 classes,” she says. “And then I asked for advice on local fly fishing social media groups. A few people actually offered to take me out — It was awesome, and I learned quite a bit.”

“I’ve been teaching myself ever since,” Hannah says.

Her go-to fishery is the Blue River near Dillon and Silverthorne in the Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests.

Photo: Jordan Younger

“The fishing is beautiful and it’s close to home,” she says.

Right now, Hannah has one primary target species.

“Trout,” she says. “Someday, I would love to explore warm water species, but I love trout.”

Fly fishing provides a release from Hannah’s day-to-day work.

“I’m a teacher at a high-security correctional facility for 15 to 21 year-old boys,” she says. “I’m a special education teacher, so I have eight guys all day long and teach all their subjects. I love it.”

As much as fishing is a release from her sometimes-stressful career, it also offers lessons that she can apply on the job.

“I’ve learned a lot of patience with fishing,” Hannah says. “I work with the ‘worst of the worst’ — these are kids who have committed real crimes and also have special needs or learning disabilities — and the patience that fishing teaches has helped me with the job. Patience is important, because sometimes I need to remain calm in order to de-escalate a situation.”

But Hannah’s work is a two-way street.

Photo by: Kylie Elizabeth

“At the same time, the guys have taught me a lot,” she says. “Working with them helps me appreciate all that I have and the opportunities available to me. Like simply being out in all the beauty that Colorado has to offer.”

The patience that she’s learned from fly fishing has also come in handy with another aspect of the sport: The art of fly-tying.

“I decided to teach myself how to tie my own flies,” Hannah says.

She’s posted live videos and stories of herself on Instagram and Snapchat throughout the process, inviting her followers to learn along with her.

Probably not coincidentally, Hannah’s favorite fly to tie is also her favorite to use on the water.

“The pheasant tail nymph,” she says. “I love it because it works and because it’s challenging. I’ve probably tied a hundred and still haven’t perfected it.”

The pheasant tail mimics a mayfly pattern. She also likes the rainbow warrior.

“It works really well, too,” she says. “It mimics some sort of midge.”

Recently, Hannah went on a fishing trip with one of her dad’s old fishing buddies.

“He told me about what it was like to fish with my dad, and what my dad liked,” she said. “It was an amazing experience.”

And it’s the feeling of connection to her dad that continues to draw Hannah to fishing.

“I want to keep going out and exploring his favorite rivers and seeing where he fished,” she says. “I am still feeling the connection to him every time I go out.”

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Angie Allsup and her Fly Fishing Flygirls

Angie Allsup (@flyfishing_flygirls on Instagram) was born in Colorado.

“But I didn’t grow up there,” she says. “My parents moved to Southern California when I was really little and that’s where I grew up. But living in Colorado had an influence on my parents, and we would go camping and fishing often.”

Angie spent most of her life with a spinning reel, but about 15 years ago, her husband decided to become a fly fishing guide. So, Angie took up the sport, as well. She was smitten.

“I think of fly fishing more as an art than a sport,” Angie says.

Although Angie and her family live in a gorgeous part of the world — about five miles from the entrance of Yosemite — there isn’t a whole lot of blue ribbon fishing in their immediate vicinity.

“To find really good fly fishing opportunities, we have to head up to the Merced River,” she says. “Sometimes we’ll head east of the Sierra Nevadas to the Owens Valley, June Lake Loop or Hot Creek. There’s some great fishing over there. We also enjoy fishing in Idaho and Alaska, where my sister lives.”

Angie targets mostly brown trout and the occasional rainbow.

“Sometimes, we’ll fish the Owyhee River in Southern Oregon,” she says. “The brown trout there are huge.”

In the creeks and streams of the high country near Angie’s home, she has also caught golden trout.

“I keep meaning to post a picture with one,” she says. “But I’m always too busy fishing to take pictures.”

She’s also a strict catch-and-release reeler, so if she doesn’t get the shot before the fish is back in the water there’s not another opportunity to do so.

When Angie is fly fishing, she typically walks a creek or river.

“But we do drift sometimes,” she says. “Especially if we’re fishing in a place that we’re not familiar with, the best way to get to know the water is to hire a guide and float.”

As an avid fly angler, Angie noticed something about Instagram in 2015.

“All the women anglers were sitting around in bikinis, holding up fish,” she said. “There were hardly any accounts or pictures of women fly fishing. So, I started Fly Fishing Flygirls.”

The Flygirls tag line is “More fin, less skin.”

Women fly anglers simply tag Angie’s account, tell a little something about themselves, and Angie shares their images. Her Instagram account now has 23,000 followers and due to demand, she even started an apparel brand — also Flyfishing Flygirls — in 2016.

“It’s going pretty well,” she says. “I do it more as a hobby than a way to make a living, though.”

Nevertheless, the brand also helps Angie toward her goal of empowering more women to become involved with fly fishing.

“For me, it’s important to get more women to flirt with the sport,” she says. “I’d like to start a women’s fly fishing group up here — there aren’t many of us — and even teach some classes, so that they will feel more comfortable with it.”

Angie hopes that other women can experience fly fishing in the same way she does.

“I love being in the elements. Getting out on the water,” she says. “The sound of the river, the smell of the pines, the wind through the trees. It teaches me patience. I like to go out on my own — it’s healing and soothing for me.”

“It’s my peace of mind,” Angie says.

 

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