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.