- WILD FISH WORKS – Interview with Winston Pro Photographer and Independent Filmmaker, Russ Schnitzer
- HENRY’S FORK LODGE SELECTED AS NEWEST WINSTON PREFERRED LODGE®
- Montana Spey Casting Clinics Featuring Winston Pro Advisor, Tom Larimer
- Fly Fishing in the Seychelles and the Bumphead Parrotfish
- Winston Announces Pro Photographer Program
Category Archives: Blog
Q: Russ, your film, Wild Fish Works, just finished its run on the 2015 Fly Fishing Film Tour. What sparked this project?
A: I have to give credit to my friend Alan Moore for having the story idea. Alan is a long time employee of TU National and we’ve been friends for many years. This film is a conversation we’ve had repeatedly over the course of several years. It really revolved around the fact that wild fish conservation in the Northwest is a pretty heated topic and that’s something we both recognized. We both support wild fish conservation, but felt there was some middle ground that remained uncovered – ground that could still be cultivated through good partnerships, and good on the ground projects. We wanted to find a way to talk about adding value to wild fish conservation without casting stones at any particular party or ideology. There’s still a lot to be gained by taking a more middle road approach. The title, Wild Fish Works, really drives our story development.
Q: Was this your first time in the Seychelles? Where is it located?
JC: Yes, this was my first time in the Seychelles. The Seychelles is a country made up of 115 islands approximately 1000 miles off the coast of East Africa in the Indian Ocean. The archipelago nation lies just south of the equator.
When you say you’re after a 200lb fish with a fly rod folks think you’re crazy. Tell them the fish comes from freshwater and they call you a liar. I educate them. In the rainforest of the Amazon live the largest scaled freshwater fish on the planet, the arapaima. This rare fish is hard to find due to overfishing, but in the remote Rupununi River region of Guyana the dinosaur-like fish thrives.
The September sky was slightly overcast and the wind tickled through the valley as I stood overlooking one of my favorite Rocky Mountain creeks. Laden with fallen trees, overhanging branches and undercut banks the creeks flow held deep buckets, shallow runs and big boulders. The moody weather had inspired bug life to hatch and I curiously watched trout rise to the occasion.
Along the bank on the other side of the creek half in the water, a fallen tree succumbed to spring run off and it’s submerged branches created new homes for trout. My attention was drawn to a big trout happily rising, he’d tucked himself perfectly behind and below one of the trees branches; the foam line passed right through his “zone”. The protection for the fish was ultimate but for the average angler, the “fly eating” branches sticking out would make accuracy and point perfection of fly placement tricky.
Q: Tell us why you are so excited about these new Winston Boron III TH-MS Microspey rods?
TL: When I first moved to Oregon to guide the Deschutes, Spey fishing was just getting its legs under it. Back then, I had to convince most of my clients to try two-handed casting. These days, it’s almost uncommon to see an angler fishing a single-hand rod on the larger Northwest steelhead rivers. The Spey revolution has hit the Great Lakes steelhead scene in recent years as well. As more and more anglers have realized how fun and effective Spey casting is, it has started to creep into other fisheries, especially the trout world.
Over the past couple of seasons it has become obvious to me that the only thing holding back anglers from pursuing non-anadromous fish with two-handed rods was the equipment. While there are other small “switch” rods on the market, in my mind no company has produced a rod that would be fun to chase smaller species with.
WHAT IS YOUR BACKGROUND WITH WINSTON AND YOUR TWO-HANDED CASTING EXPERIENCE?
Since I was about 6 years old, someone from Winston had visited our Steelhead lodge in northern British Columbia on part of the Skeena River system almost every year. Since then, I’ve been using Winston rods and have been exposed to their evolution. Back then almost everyone used longer single-handed rods in 9 ½ or 10 feet when fishing for steelhead. It’s only been over the past ten years or so that people have really begun to use two-handed rods more than single-handed. I began two-handed casting almost exclusively about 20 years ago as fisherman were beginning to come to the lodge with two-handed rods so I wanted to learn all about them.
Boron III LS 9′ 4wt.
When it comes to trout fishing you’ll find me stalking spring creeks hunting for risers. This means small dry flies on a long leader with light tippet. The Winston 4-weight Boron III LS is my fly rod of choice. This rod has perfect feel and provides me incredible accuracy – the exact precision needed to place a fly to a trout that won’t budge from his lie. My fly line lands on the water ever so gently and when the trout sips my fly the finesse rod absorbs the shock of my hook set and protects my light tippet. There’s no better fly rod for fooling large stubborn trout on challenging spring creeks than Winston’s 4-weight Boron III LS.”
Beckie Clarke owns Fernie Fly Fishing and has been a fixture in the local fly fishing community in British Columbia for over a decade. She joined the Winston Pro Advisory team as a freshwater specialist in 2013. A formidable angler and dedicated conservationist, she shares the story of Fernie Fly Fishing and the special challenges of targeting bull trout.
You’ve quickly established yourself as one of the top female anglers in a sport and industry that has been typically dominated by men. How did you first get involved in the sport?
I was fortunate enough to grow up in British Columbia where adventure and the outdoors seem to be engrained within the lifestyle of most families. It engulfed ours that’s for sure and from a young age fishing was always part of that equation. My grandfather was the fly fisherman of the family and I adored him. I would like to think I inherited all his skill . The first time I dedicated any attention to learning to cast a fly rod was with his old gear. I was inspired at a young age with a keen sense of adventure so a life and career in the outdoors seemed inevitable. My original quest as a kid of becoming a mountain guide evolved into a fly fishing guide; that’s where it all seemed to fit.
What is the current film about?
“Our Two Hands” is an investigation into our society’s complex and intimate relationship with fly fishing for Salmonids. How did we arrive at this crossroads of conservation and sportsmanship and what are the creative alternatives to the currently flawed management practices for Salmon and Steelhead?
Q: You’re well known as a two-handed specialist. What is it about that particular discipline of fly fishing that attracted you?
TL: I was first drawn to Spey fishing when I lived and guided in the Great Lakes region, back in the mid-nineties. Swinging a fly with a two-hander just had a feel that was unmistakably soulful. Ultimately, two-handed fishing is what made me move to the Deschutes. I wanted to immerse myself in the sport on a river that screams for Spey rods.
From a fishing perspective the benefits of a long rod are huge. You can cover endless water, make long casts in the tightest of spots and most importantly, you have total control of your presentation. Plus, Spey casting is really fun! Nothing in our sport measures up to uncorking a long, perfect Spey cast and hooking a raging steelhead. (Well… Tarpon are right up there)