Tamara Spence

As an integral part of her Ojibway heritage, fishing has been tied to Tamara Spence’s family life since birth. Over years and time on the water, she has recognized the connection between well-being, the environment and land-based activities that is instilled in many of us. It is in this context that she began asking more questions about what it really means to live off the land.

These questions eventually led to her study at Lakehead University where she is exploring the essence of wellness through an indigenous framework, particularly focusing on the role of nature and connecting with the land.

A thriving fishery is an essential component to the wellness Tamara is researching. That’s why—in addition to her research—she is a passionate advocate for sustainable fisheries management. She regularly speaks at focus groups and writes through her position as Editor-in-Chief at The Argus on issues of sustainable yield, responsible harvest and ethical use of our fisheries.

These days there are very few people who rely purely on the land for physical survival but that doesn’t mean we cannot live off the land. Through the work of researchers like Tamara, we are understanding the importance of a healthy fishery to well-being—particularly amongst Indigenous Canadians—and by advocating for our fisheries, she is helping future generations to not only live, but thrive off the land.

 

What’s the best memory that fishing has given you?

The harmony that is felt when fishing. I remember one moment vividly. My friend Steve and I were fishing at my favourite lake. The air was clear, and the river was softly rippling, the mist was radiating off the water and the sturgeon were jumping in the distance. On top of catching fish that morning, and releasing most, the coffee was out of this world.

What’s the core message of your writing and speaking advocacy?

That we are trusted with a great task, the management of our tributaries and waterbodies. We must be proactive and conscious of our actions in order to ensure our children and their children have the same opportunities that you and I have.

How do we strike a balance between consumptive and conservation fishing? (a big question I know)

I think there is a great deal to be learned still in regards to catch and release and selective harvest. I believe that if you are hungry, be sure to provide for yourself if you’re in need. But if you know in your heart that it’s not necessary now, put them back for when it is.

In 3 words or less describe your fishing

Dream: Patagonia trout fishing

Nightmare: cold and lost

Reality: hit or miss

 

Location:Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada

Email:tspence@lakeheadu.ca

Jeff Fisher

Since he was a toddler following his dad on the hunt for carp, pike and deep sea species around Southern England, Jeff Fisher has been doing his family name proud. His prolific guiding career has taken him to Northern Manitoba, Northern Saskatchewan, the Northwest Territories, Nunavut, the Yukon, British Columbia and even the jungles of South America.

You’ve guided all across Canada (and beyond) what sets this country’s fishery apart?

That’s easy, the vast amount of cold, clean, fresh water lakes and rivers along with the countless fishing opportunities one has living in or visiting Canada, from coast to coast to everything in between. The fish are plentiful and can obtain world record sizes in the right places and if you’re in the right places at the right time of the year, it doesn’t get dark.

What advice would you give to someone trying to become a full-time guide?

I’d say try and get used to living out of big bags, chasing the seasons, flying a lot and having more patience than you thought you had. There’s a reason why so many do it…It’s a really cool job, your desk has a 360-degree view and every day is different.

In 3 words or less describe your fishing

Dream: We slayed ‘em

Nightmare: The motor’s dead

Reality: We landed 1

Location:Nomadic

Lael Johnson

It’s not often a catfish catching kid from Kansas matures into a steelhead fanatic living in the Pacific Northwest but Lael Johnson has always been one to make his own way.

His journey to Washington took him all across the country, but since landing in the Seattle area he has matured into one of the Olympic Peninsula’s most sought after guides and his journey isn’t over yet.

How did you get into fishing?

I began fishing at the age of 3 under the tutelage of my father pursuing crappie, bass, gar, and catfish in Kansas. By the time I was 8, waiting on his work schedule to cooperate with my need to feel the tug was not an option. Throughout high school and the early years of my career as a Traveling Surgical Technologist my passion grew—my $60 Rapala bass rod saw a lot of weekend action in the Midwest!

When did you start to take fishing seriously… Something more than a hobby?

After a contract in Illinois ended, I landed a position at the Seattle Children’s Hospital and I moved to the area. A buddy asked me if I wanted to go salmon fishing and I replied: “where do I sign up!” We ventured to a favorite fishing ground for pink salmon and the very first fish I hooked broke my favorite rod in half.

Long story short, this is the exact day I became aggressively serious about fishing and why I do as much as I can for anyone I guide. Fishing for me is a passion, savior, and love. To spark an interest in fishing like that in others while seeing that moment happen from a catch you facilitated is one of the greatest joys I have today.

You’ve taken an interesting career path to professional guiding. Tell us about that journey.

My path into professional guiding started five years ago after I had gained a bit of attention through social media for consistent catching and photography. I would show my co-workers what they had missed on Facebook or Instagram, and tell them of my adventures.

After seeing these photos and stories, medical professionals I had worked with in the past were willing to give me a chance to be their guide and prove to them I had what it takes. The opportunity was all I needed.

Once word had spread throughout the various hospital systems that I was the “GO-TO” guide, many doctors, nurses, and medical device representatives started filling my dates. I now full-time guide 11 months out of the year and still work as a surgical technologist when the rivers I guide close for fish spawning.

Where do you see LPJ’s Guide Service going forward?

I am currently working on guiding in 4 different locations chasing fish with a rod and a lens. Being involved with Islander who supports anglers like us is a stepping stone towards that goal.

Washington’s Olympic Peninsula offers a spectacular wilderness experience… Unfortunately, that’s not really the world’s best kept secret. What’s your key to getting away from the crowds?

Yes, the all too busy Olympic Peninsula. My key to staying away from the crowds is to make the fishing report instead of hearing about it. Then—when the fishing is good—keep it tight-lipped. Not immediately blowing up your success on the internet in search of fame helps me fend off some of the guide chasers.

Also, being organized and prepared for each person that I have on board ahead of time makes the day more pleasurable for those involved and lets me be first to the fish. Fish that have been cast to all day don’t want to bite, so being the guy that gets to an aggressive fish first usually lets my group have a better day—very few, if any, beat me onto the water.

If you could only fish in one place for the rest of your life, where would it be?

I have been lucky to fish in many different landscapes from Patagonia, Canada, and Alaska but if I had to pick one the Skeena River System with its beauty, options, and fish is an easy choice. I’ve never felt so alive dwarfed by mountains and trees that surround you while ankle-deep waiting for the grab of a lifetime.

What’s the best memory that fishing has given you?

A father and son trip I gave to a co-worker before I was guiding. I told them that I wanted to see if I had what it takes to make it as a guide and I would be taking them out for fun. All I asked was for them to judge me truthfully on my performance during the trip.

I took them to the Skagit River which I had never floated, but I did my homework to know where to launch and where to take out. I thought that if I could catch fish on an unknown stream with two anglers that had little to no skill, I’d have a shot at doing this professionally or at least I’m going in the right direction.

At first, things weren’t going as smoothly as I had hoped and all we had to show for a couple of hours were some tangles and a beautiful float down the river. During one of my untangling sessions parked on the side of the bank, I heard some pretty loud splashing in the distance downriver, KINGS! I lit up because it was just the sign I needed—they were there, all I have to do was catch ‘em.

I quickly changed techniques, picked my line and headed for the fish. Not even thirty seconds into having one plug out it got creamed!!! The father pulled the rod out of the holder and desperately tried to hand it to his ten-year-old son, but he wouldn’t take the rod—the kid saw the size of the fish and wanted no part of it!

After fifteen or so minutes we pulled up a perfect specimen of a summer king. At thirty-five or so pounds it made our day very memorable! We continued to fish this honey hole for another couple of hours and landed seven others before we called it a great day.

In 3 words or less describe your fishing

Dream: 30# Rosy Cheeks

Nightmare: Big Falling Tree

Reality: Four Is Enough

Brennan Lund

A professional guide, Natural Resource Science major, and former member of the Canadian Junior National Fly Fishing team, Brennan Lund is the definition of an up and comer. Like many, it was family that introduced him to the sport, but since the age of 12, he has been forging his own path with guidance from many of BC’s fishing icons like Matt King, Andy Larkin, Vance Whitley and Todd Oishi.

In the summer you’ll find him guiding in BC’s East Kootenays, a region made famous the world over for its pristine water, genetically pure westslope cutthroat and monstrous bull trout.

What’s your personal philosophy towards fishing?

Utmost respect for the resource. I am a huge catch and release advocate for wild fish stocks, and want to change the way people think about fish. To me there are not a resource, they are a passion, and must be protected.

How do you hope to apply your degree to your work in the future?

Eventually I would love to be able to use my degree in a way to promote fisheries conservation, to help protect our wild fish stocks for the future, and reverse the mistakes made by previous generations.

In 3 words or less describe your fishing

Dream: Healthy wild stocks

Nightmare: No wild trout

Reality: Respect the river

Location:Kamloops, British Columbia, Canada

Tom Johannesen

It’s amazing how a little positive reinforcement can be the spark that ignites a fire. Tom Johannesen grew up fishing but at the age of 23 he had his first article published in a British Columbia Federation of Fly Fishers (BCFFF) newsletter and something changed.

Since that first article, Tom has been on a mission to master his craft and to share what he has learned with others. With over 200 articles published in magazines like BC Sport Fishing, BC Outdoors, Outdoor Edge, Canadian Fly Fisher, Home Waters, Reel Angler, Western Angler and Island Fisherman, it’s clear that it’s a mission he takes seriously. He also regularly hosts seminars and tutorials at fly clubs and shops in the hopes of lighting that spark in the next generation.

Which of your Islanders sees the most use?

My first Islander LX 3.8 has landed Steelhead on the Dean River, Bonefish in Mexico and Coho in the Queen Charlottes.  If the reel could talk it would say it has had a very happy and full filling life so far. The LX 3.8 still makes it to the Dean River ever summer.

You spend a lot of time giving seminars, what’s the biggest piece of advice you give anglers looking to improve their craft?

By far the biggest piece of advice I can give any angler is being properly prepared for each and every outing. This includes checking tides or water conditions and having the right gear to fish those conditions.  I always recommend having all your gear ready to go when you arrive on the water. This includes fresh leaders and flies and reels are lubed and ready to go.

If you could only fish in one place for the rest of your life, where would it be and why?

Immediately the Dean River for summer-run Steelhead comes to mind but I’m going with Big Bar Lake in the Cariboo as the lake contains rainbows to ten pounds and all forms of insect life are present to try and imitate. I enjoy fishing this specific body of water as it can be very challenging at times and everyday brings new prospects. As anglers, the more we fish the more we have the desire to be challenged.

In 3 words or less describe your fishing

Dream: prolific hatch

Nightmare: extreme winds

Reality: Relaxing outing

Location:Coquitlam, British Columbia, Canada

Email:tjflyfisher@shaw.ca

Steve Brown and Beckie Clarke

Is it the rhythm? the surroundings? the challenge? It’s hard to say, but fly fishing is an experience that changes people. After both being introduced to fly fishing at a relatively young age, the lives of Steve Brown and Beckie Clarke have been dramatically shaped by their connection to the water, both individually and as a couple.

They are each other’s soul mate, best friend, inspiration, lover, husband, wife, hero daddy, super momma, and fishing and business partner and it was all sparked by their shared passion for fishing…and a very fortuitous misunderstanding.

What brought the two of you together? How did you connect?

Beckie: I was looking for a new destination to host groups. Something remote. In a random conversation with my mom she told me that I had to check out Roatan; that it was the coolest destination that they visited on their cruise.

I started looking in that direction and found Fly Fish Guanaja. I contacted Steve and was really intrigued by him and his operation. From our first conversation I knew there was something special about him. I stalked him hard on social media; he did too, so we figure it wasn’t really stalking as we were both doing it 😉

After months of writing and talking we finally got to meet – fell in love and the rest is history. I told my mom about Honduras and Guanaja and she was like “Roatan?, oh no honey I meant Rarotonga”… Funny how things end up working out.

“Fish for change” is at the core of your fishing philosophy. What does that phrase mean to you? 

Steve: Fish for Change is the movement that organically bloomed from our Student Program at Fly Fish Guanaja. The profound experience starting and running Fly Fish Guanaja lies in the difference we’ve made in the local community, and in our guests. At the end of the day fly-fishing has been our way to help people, and that is what life is all about.

Beckie: I think any fishery that you indulge in you should leave thinking about how you were able to help or give back. Perhaps the ways of “look at me and my fish” could evolve into more of an inner connection to the destinations that you fish and help the communities around these waters.

How do you differ in your guiding styles?

Steve: One of the many reasons we fell in love so quick is that we see eye eye in fishing and guiding, which is rare. We are both patient and kind enough to enjoy guiding for over 15 years. Even though it’s not about the fish, we catch a lot of them.

We are more thrilled when someone else catches fish than when we do. We work harder than most guides, always changing something if fish aren’t biting, we are famous for going through many patterns if that’s what it takes. Most importantly, we can’t remember a bad day on the river.

British Columbia, Colorado, Honduras—you live, fish and guide in some very diverse places! If you could only fish in one place for the rest of your life, where would it be?

Steve: With my wife Beckie and our son William and daughter Aspen, that’s where it would be.

Beckie: As long as they were there that’d be the best place to fish the rest of my life.

In 3 words or less describe your fishing

Dream:

Steve: My kids catching permit

Beckie: William and his sister Aspen fishing together

Nightmare

Steve: Hijacked by pirates

Beckie: Steven, the kids or myself being hijacked by pirates.

Reality

Steve: Have fun

Beckie: Live everyday to the fullest

As a husband and wife duo, Beckie and Steve own and operate Fly Fish Guanaja, a remote private Island fishing paradise in Honduras along with Fernie Fly Fishing, a trout angler’s heaven located in the East Kootenay region of British Columbia. Combine that with their two young children and you’ve got a wonderful family that is building a very full—and fulfilling—life together.

Location:Guanaja and Faraway Cayes, Honduras

Email:steve@flyfishguanaja.com

Website:http://www.flyfishguanaja.com/

Phil Rowley

One of the many beautiful things about fly fishing is the range of depths into which you can immerse yourself. When you look at Phil Rowley and his career, it’s safe to say he’s off the deep end.

Phil’s interest in fishing started at the age of five when a friend took him in search of coarse species in England and he’s been hooked ever since. As a career, things took off in the mid eighties when he began tying flies commercially for a local fly shop.

Since then, Phil’s passion has passion and skill have only grown to the point where he is a coveted seminar host, the director of marketing and communications at Trout Unlimited Canada, an international fly fishing travel host, the author of three books, and has almost half a million views on his YouTube channel. His instructional DVD series—produced with co-Field Team member Brian Chan and found on their webstore www.stillwaterflyfishingstore.com—is a master class in still-water trout fishing.

While—as far as we know—Phil is not literally underwater with the fish, his resume clearly shows a man fully immersed in the world of fly fishing at a depth few can match. Thankfully he’s happy to share what he’s learned with others and we’re happy he’s on the Islander Team.

Fly tying is obviously one of your passions. What would you tell a tyer looking to make the transition from copying patterns to creating their own?

Learn all you can, take classes even if you can’t see yourself using the flies in the immediate future. If you can attend a fly-fishing show or fishing show spend time watching others tie, especially if there is a fly tying theatre. Take advantage of YouTube, watch and subscribe. Books and DVD’s also provide a wealth of information. Finally, practice. Try to find time on a daily/weekly basis to tie.

If you could only fish three patterns for the rest of your life, what would they be and why?

Tough question, as I target many species on the fly. Based on the premise that I chase trout most often, Balanced Leech (Bruised), Chromie and a Bead Head Hare’s Ear. For the stillwaters I fish primarily these flies simply produce on a consistent basis. These flies also work well on rivers and streams too.

If you could only fish in one place for the rest of your life, where would it be and why?

Lately I have been enjoying the peace and relative solitude of the lakes located in the southwest region of Manitoba. These lakes offer a diversity of species to challenge the fly fisher, rainbow, brown and tiger trout along with a great average size and a remote un-crowded experience.

What’s the best memory that fishing has given you?

So far, travelling to Argentina to chase monster rainbows on Argentina’s Lago Strobel, better known to some as Jurassic Lake.

What’s your personal philosophy towards fishing?

Don’t become biased to one particular species or type of fly-fishing. Learn all you can and target as many different fish as you can on the fly using a variety of methods. The lessons learned and the experiences offer huge dividends enabling you can grow and develop as an angler.

In 3 words or less describe your fishing

Dream: Beautiful warm day, light winds, remote productive clear water lake in a scenic setting, active fish feeding heavily on chironomids.

Nightmare: Fishing elbow to elbow in an ugly place

Reality: Somewhere between dream and nightmare scenarios, windy, cool day, sporadic hatches, moody fish feeding sporadically on a variety of food items.

 

Location:Sherwood Park, Alberta, Canada

Email:flycraft@shaw.ca

Website:www.flycraftangling.com

Brian Chan

Ichthyologist – it was probably the first and last time Brian Chan’s 4th grade teacher ever got that answer in response to the classic “what do you want to be when you grow up” question however for Brian, this was no novelty. He stayed true to his word and went on to have a 30-year career in managing recreational fisheries in the angler’s paradise that is British Columbia.

Brian’s personal philosophy towards fishing is not to just catch fish but to know why we are catching fish. This has led to extensive study of entomology and hydrology and how they relate to the craft of fly fishing whether that’s presentation, time of day, depth or fly tying.

The knowledge he has accumulated over his 40 years of fly fishing has made him a coveted guide, seminar host, author, and television personality.

Along with long time fishing partner and fellow Islander Field Team member Phil Rowley, Brian has developed a successful DVD series (Conquering Chironomids) and numerous stillwater fly patterns which are available on their website. His contribution to the world of stillwater fly tying was recognized by Fly Tyer magazine with a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2014.

All told, I think his 4th grade teacher would be impressed.

 

What attracts you to the lakes over other bodies of water?

In large part because of a career managing stillwaters as a fisheries biologist I have had a life long passion for productive stillwaters.

I know you’re a fly guy, but do you dabble in any other tackle like centrepin or mooching?

My youth was spent mooching for salmon in Howe Sound and the east coast of Vancouver Island. I also started steelhead fishing with a centre pin and still enjoy it.

What’s the best memory that fishing has given you?

Tarpon fishing in Cuba, waiting on an ocean flat at first light for the tarpon to leave the mangroves and head back to deep water for the day. For about 2 hours large groups of fish would cruise over the white sand bottomed flat. We intercepted many of those happy fish and the sight fishing was absolutely epic.

In 3 words or less describe your fishing

Dream: watching the indicator go down hard!

Nightmare: climate change affecting the survival of salmonids in interior lakes

Reality: having the continuing opportunity to fish well managed stillwaters in BC

(…three words is too tough)

Location:Kamloops, British Columbia, Canada

Website:www.riseformflyfishing.com

Yos Gladstone

From lakes to oceans to creeks to rivers, British Columbia’s fisheries are as diverse as they come. Yos Gladstone knows this better than anyone. Since he was a small boy growing up in the Chilcotin region, he has been exploring all that B.C. has to offer.

These days when he isn’t guiding in Haida Gwaii, the Lower Mainland, or the Skeena region himself, he’s helping others connect to the B.C.’s fisheries through his booking agency Chromer Sport fishing. Whether it’s trolling up 50lb kings, swinging for double digit steelhead, or dry fly fishing for rainbows and browns, Yos has been there, done that and can help you do the same.

How did you get into fishing?

My mom and dad ran a small resort near Gold Bridge BC and I was always fishing the local lakes of the southern Chilcotin region. It wasn’t something that I did with my parents, just was out there solo getting after it, the challenge of it was what I enjoyed then, and what’s kept me coming back for more after all these years.

When did you start to take fishing seriously… Something more than a hobby?

Kathy and Malcom Ruddick of Ruddick’s Fly Shop, then of Burnaby, were the first people to extend some faith in me and gave me a job at the shop. I was probably a horrible salesperson—only 14 or 15 years old—but I was just so happy to be surrounded by all the fishing gear and a whole new level knowledge that I suddenly had access to.

In 1997 I spend my first year on the coast, working at a lodge in Rivers Inlet, I’ve been on the coast of BC guiding every year since. It was in 1999 when I moved to Whistler I started freshwater guiding. Brian Niska who owned Whistler Fly Fishing at the time granted me the opportunity and I spent many years guiding for him in the Sea to Sky before starting my own business.

Tell us a bit about your guiding and Chromer. What inspired you to start the business?

I started Chromer Sport Fishing in 2006. I thought it was going to be easy, that I’d start a business selling fishing trips for all the lodges and guides that I knew and that the phone would just ring and people would send me their money. Young and naive I went for it and spent the first few years struggling to learn the business.

Much effort later Chromer now represents a variety of top-quality freshwater and saltwater lodges, guides and charter companies throughout BC. We are a fully licensed travel agency, but just focused on fishing in BC, nothing else!

When I moved to North Vancouver from Whistler I started my own guiding company, focused on the year-round fishing opportunities in the Sea to Sky region. I’ve been lucky to have an excellent crew of guides working with me, offering trips from Vancouver, Squamish and Whistler. We have people from all over the world fish with us, with lots of them fly fishing for the first time. It’s a fun job in a beautiful part of the world, chasing salmon, trout and steelhead on the wild rivers of BC’s southern coast.

While anglers are united by a common passion, there are different subcultures in the fishing world. For example, saltwater salmon anglers and trout fly fishermen often have different philosophies towards their pursuit. With your diverse guiding, you’ve got a foot firmly in both worlds. What do you see as the similarities and the differences between these “worlds”?

The similarities are simple, people enjoy the challenge of fishing, they enjoy the camaraderie of fishing and the definitely enjoy the aspects of the sport that bring them outside, putting them into nature and wild surroundings. Everyone that fishes also has a little bit of gambler in them, maybe not with money, but with their time, they’re willing to spend it, see what’ll happen. That’s why we spend the extra hour out there, or bushwhack just a little further, they’re all a gamble to see if it will pay off with a fish or a special experience on the day. I don’t see too many differences between the two “worlds”, but fishing is so multifaceted that an accomplished trout angler would feel completely out of place in a saltwater salmon fishing scenario and vice versa. The different styles of fishing are complex, they education and experience making them successful is apples and oranges.

What advice would you give to someone trying to become a full-time guide?

It’s a wonderful job if you like to fish and if you like being around people. The standing joke it, “it would be a great job if it wasn’t for the clients”, but that’s just being funny. The people you get to meet and spend time with is one of the most enjoyable aspects of this kind of work. The three most important things I could tell someone are; have a willingness to learn, have a willingness to be humble and have a willingness to work.

A willingness to learn will open doors to you, senior guides and anglers are more willing to divulge their knowledge if young guides listen and want to know.

A willingness to be humble is sometimes hard as a new guide makes their way in the world, but remember nobody likes a bragger. Whatever you think you’ve done good, the senior guides have done better and more than you, so be humble in your work with other guides and clients.

The willingness to work is what makes or breaks good guides, with a lifetime of long hours ahead of you if you’re trying to become a full-time guide. You get up early, you go to bed late, you have multiple responsibilities all day long. One has to pace themselves, ensuring clients on the last day of the season get the same experience and energy level as the ones on the first day. That’s not always easy to do, but if you want to be a full-time guide remember you’re going to work harder and longer than anything you’ve done before.

If you could only fish in one place for the rest of your life, where would it be?

That’s a tough one. There’s a lot of places I’d like to go, but within the places I’ve fished it’d probably have to be northern British Columbia during steelhead season. I love everything about that area, the wild space of it all and the style of swung fly steelhead fishing. Most of all I just really like the area, every time I cruise into the Bulkley River Valley or drive through the Kispiox Reserve I just realize how lucky we are to live in BC and have this wild fishery still.

What’s the best memory that fishing has given you?

Countless, there’s not a sheet of paper long enough to record all the ‘best’ memories, there’s too many. Looking back at 25+ years of fishing and 20 years of guiding its pretty amazing to think of all the crazy sh!t that’s happened, all the good times, all the once-in-a-lifetime scenarios that you’ll only ever get to see once and all the friendships that have been formed through the love of fishing.

That’s probably the best memory, and it’s not really a memory, because it carries on, but that fact that I’ve made so so so many friends through guiding and fishing. All my best buddies are because we’ve fished or guided together, the godfather of our little girl, has been one of my best fishing buds for years.

People always ask about the big fish you’ve caught or guided, I remember most of them, not all, but those are pretty cool memories of getting to hang on to a really big fish for a few seconds. I do however remember all the super slabs that we’ve lost after a fight. Not sure if those are best memories or worst memories but I can remember some pretty epic battles that have finished in the fish’s favour, which is pretty cool too.

In 3 words or less describe your fishing

Dream: just some sun

Nightmare: cold wet rainy

Reality: refer to nightmare! Ha!

Location:North Vancouver

Email:chromersportfishing@gmail.com

Website:https://chromersportfishing.com/