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Why Young People Fly Fish, Part 1, with Austin Boswell

Description: This week, my guest is Austin Boswell [37:57], owner and guide for Eastern Oregon River Outfitters. I wanted to talk to Austin because I'm doing a two-part series on why young people are suddenly getting into fly fishing after many years of it being mostly an older person's pastime. I got into fly fishing at a young age, but in those days all the fly fishers I knew were older, and today we're seeing a great influx of young people taking up the sport. Why? I don't have any answers so for the next two podcasts I am going to be interviewing two fly fishers under the age of 30 to find out why it is so intriguing to them.
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Podcast Transcript:

Tom: Hi, and welcome to the Orvis Fly Fishing podcast. This is your host, Tom Rosenbauer, and this week, my guest is Austin Boswell, and Austin is a young fly fisher who's started his own successful guiding and outfitting business. And in the next two podcasts, both this week and next week, I'm kind of exploring young people in fly fishing and why we're seeing a great increase in young people in fly fishing, which, I think, by the way, is one of the most exciting, is the most exciting thing I've ever seen in my long career in fly fishing.
But we've got a lot of new people getting into it, and I wanted to explore, for both my education and yours, why fly fishing has suddenly appealed to young people so much. And it started before COVID. It wasn't because of the COVID pandemic. It started, you know, maybe five, six, seven, eight, nine years ago. And so we're gonna kind of explore, with a couple young people. One, someone who's in the business, Austin, and then the following week, just a college student that I know who is into fly fishing. We're gonna talk to them about what they value in fly fishing, and what intrigues them about fly fishing. So, a little bit different kind of topic, but I hope you enjoy it.
Oh, and by the way, I know that some of you follow my fly-tying live, online fly-tying classes on Mondays, and especially enjoy the tie-offs, with the great Tim Flagler, where we compete, and both tie the same fly, and then people get to vote online in real time. We're gonna be doing that live at the International Fly Tying Symposium in New Jersey in November, so you can look that up online if you're interested in attending that, and seeing us go head-to-head online, both the Saturday and Sunday of the show. And I'm also gonna be teaching fly-tying classes at the International Fly Tying Symposium, one class on dry flies and one class on nymphs, and I'm gonna be tying some of my own patterns. Now, these classes aren't free. And they're gonna, I think they're gonna fill up quickly, according to the organizers. So if you do want to come to one of these classes, you should contact the people at the International Fly Tying Symposium. It's gonna be a lot of fun, and I'm really looking forward to it.
All right, but next, "The Fly Box." And "The Fly Box" is where you ask questions, and I try to answer them, or you comment on things, or you share a tip with other listeners. And if you have a question or a comment for the podcast, you can leave a message at You can either just type your question in an email, or you can attach a voice file. Try to keep your voice files under two, two-and-a-half minutes, please. So, anyway, let's start out with an email. This first one is from Todd, from Albuquerque, New Mexico.
"The last time I went out fishing, and was getting my reel ready, I found an auto-wrap of fly line passing underneath a lower wrap of fly line. In order to pull the line off my reel any further, I had to loosen the line and essentially un-knot it. Was this caused by something I did? Is there anything I can do to avoid this happening again?" Well, Todd, that's an easy one, and it happens to all of us from time to time, more frequently than we'd like to admit. But this comes from you reeling your leader all the way into the reel. And what happens is that free end of the leader gets passed under a loop of fly line, and then you pull it out and you got a tangle.
Hopefully you notice this before you get a big fish on the reel, because that line binding over itself can put the brakes on a running fish, and maybe break your leader. So, the solution of this is never wind your leader all the way into the reel. I just leave, usually, oh, I don't know, five or six inches of the end of my tippet hanging from my reel. You can come up with some clever way of retaining it if you want, but I just leave it loose, and that way, I know that it's not gonna pass under a loop of fly line. So, that's probably what happened. I don't know of any other way that this could happen.
Scott: Hey, Tom. This is Scott from southwest Washington. This is my first time calling in. I've been listening for a few months now, and I just wanted to say thank you for all the free information you've been giving everybody. I wouldn't be able to fly fish if it wasn't for you guys. You've kind of coached me and introduced me, and done everything, because I don't have a mentor in my family to kind of sit me down and explore fly fishing. So, thank you for all you do helping people get into the hobby.
I got a few questions for you, Tom. The first one is in regards to the Chubby Chernobyl pattern. I've been using it a lot because it's a great indicator, but mine doesn't seem to float as well as the fly shop versions that I've been purchasing. I was hoping you could give me your preference on the dubbing you use. I've been using kind of a natural dubbing because it's the only one I have that matches the colors I've acquired so far. But I think that they might be causing me issues. The flies from the fly shop I believe use more of a synthetic dubbing, and I think they're not absorbing the water as much, and I think that might be what is sinking my Chubby faster than it should be, because do have to dress it in desiccant powder quite a few times, more than I'd like to.
My second question is in regards to steelhead flies. I understand that steelhead and rainbows are the same fish, and so they should technically react to the same flies. So, I think it would be cool to tie up some, maybe, of those intruder patterns. Maybe some of those wet flies that people find a lot of luck with fishing for steelhead. Maybe making a smaller pattern for trout? I was hoping to hear your input on that. Maybe it's not a good idea. Maybe it'd be something cool to try out.
My last question, Tom, is in regards to woolly bear caterpillars. It's my first fall of my first season fly fishing, I should say, and I just noticed some woolly bears floating in the water all along the streambanks in the Cascade Mountains, and I'm just trying to figure out if that's something I should match. Maybe it'd be a mop fly, which I'm not too familiar with. Or maybe I just wait until they hatch into the tiger moths. So, if you could give me some help? Maybe they don't even eat those. Maybe I'm wasting my time. If you could give me some advice, I'd really appreciate your help, Tom. Thank you.
Tom: So, Scott, I'm really glad you're enjoying the podcast. You know, the Chubby Chernobyl does need regular dressings of desiccant powder, depending on how fast the water is, how bubbly it is, and how many fish you catch, so you're gonna have to use desiccant powder a lot, I think, but, and it's probably not the dubbing. If you're using a good dry fly dressing prior to using the fly, in other words, a paste or a liquid that you pre-treat the fly with, you know, it won't absorb too much. But the type of dubbing really isn't that important. It's more the amount of foam, and especially the amount of wing. I find that you really have to add quite a bit of wing to a Chubby Chernobyl to keep it visible.
You know, you complain about it not floating, but it's probably just that you can't see it. And you need some kind of material that will not absorb water for that wing. So, EP fiber is one good thing. Widows web is another good material. Antron yarn, white Antron yarn... Not Antron. Antron will work, but it'll absorb a little more water. Polypropylene yarn. What's sometimes sold as a Para Post is a good yarn. That's a yarn that won't absorb water. But you need to add quite a bit of it on there, and, you know, don't be shy about putting a big hunk, two big hunks of yarn on your Chubby Chernobyls. And then, you know, your foam body has to be wide enough to add some flotation, so don't make your foam bodies too thin either, but I don't think...the dubbing isn't really gonna make that much difference if you...whether you use a natural dubbing or a synthetic. Most of the dubbings hold float and quite well, and float well.
Regarding small intruders, yeah, people do that. That's a good idea, and people do use small intruders for trout. They work quite well. I don't know if they work any better than, say, a wooly bugger or a standard streamer, but they're fun to tie, and they're beautiful, and yep, they work. They work quite well, in smaller sizes, for trout. Regarding wooly bears, I've never seen a trout eat one, and never heard of a trout eating one. You know, I think that a trout that ate a wooly bear would probably eject it right away, because it's fuzzy, and probably doesn't taste or feel like something that's food.
So, you may find differently. I, again, I haven't heard anything about trout eating wooly bears, and I wouldn't bother imitating one until you actually see a trout eat one. Maybe collect a bunch of them and throw them in the water and see if the trout eat them. But I know that some caterpillars are avoided by trout, and some moths are avoided by trout, too. Some of them are eaten eagerly. Other ones, maybe they don't taste good, I'm not sure. But I think there's a lot of research to be done on the edibility of caterpillars and moths.
Let's do an email. This one's from Kevin. "This afternoon, I went and explored the North Fork of the Moormans River in Shenandoah National Park in Virginia. Living nearby, the park offers a ton of small stream brook trout fishing, which is something I've fallen in love with since moving to the area in March of this year. I'm like you. I go nuts over these 6-inch fish. On today's trip, water was low, and it was a new area to me. I chose to fish large holes I thought had fish, or where I could see fish. When casting to these holes, I would witness 20-plus 6 to 8-inch trout scatter in all directions as soon as my dry fly hit the surface. Shortly later, they would all return to the stream center on the bottom. I fish a 6.5-foot 3-weight, overweighted with a 4-weight line. I was using 8-foot 6X leader and tippet, and figured the fish were scared away by my fly line making a splash, or moving the water.
I opted into adding 3 more feet of tippet to the end, and trying that. Similar result. Additionally, to mention, I was using size 12 to 18 foam body ants, foam body patterns, ants, beetles, chubbies, and the like. I'm a little confused. In my past brook trout experiences on different streams, the fish would often disregard the fly line and current, especially when casting upstream, and would attack the fly. Here's my questions. When fishing low water, do the shallow conditions make keeping your fly line out of the water more important? And second, would these fish be less spooky when the stream is at a normal running level?"
So, Kevin, yes. I think you hit on the right answers. You know, in situations like this, where the fish are really spooky, you might try to keep your, just cast your leader to the fish, but it's tough to get close enough sometimes doing that. You might try a tenkara rod, where your fly don't have a fly line that hits the water, and a tenkara rod keeps all the, nearly all the leader and everything else off the water, so you, just, basically casting your fly on the water. So, that might work, but, you know, sometimes, especially on a bright day, shallow water and small streams, the fish are almost uncatchable. And what I do in that situation, because I find that I, no matter what I do, I can't get a fly close to the fish, I just wait till the water conditions change. So, you can try that. You know, just wait until you get a rainstorm and the water goes up a little bit.
The other thing you can do is try fishing when the light is low, early in the morning, or just before dark. And then, you know, sometimes you just have to pass up those fish that are in those pools, and fish the faster water at the head of the pool, or the faster pocket water where the fish aren't gonna be as spooky. So, yeah, sometimes it's just tough. And I think that you'll find that those fish are gonna be a lot less spooky when the stream comes back up to a normal level.
Here's an email from Steve. "Thanks for everything you and Orvis are doing for our sport, and the conservation of our natural resources. I'm relatively new to fly fishing, and love learning new things each week from your podcast. I wanted to see if you could speak to the longevity of felt wading boots. How long does the felt last before you start losing traction? I also wanted to see if you would be open to doing a podcast on high-mountain brook trout fishing. I haven't seen much in the archives about this topic."
So, Steve, you know, the life of felt's gonna depend on how much it's used, because it does wear, but it wears pretty well. It takes a long time. I have felt soles on wading boots that are probably, I don't know, six, seven years old, and they're still in good shape. So, as long as the felt isn't coming off, as long as you have some felt on the bottom, the boots are gonna work fine, so I would say you should be able to get five, six, seven years out of a pair of felt-soled wading boots before you need to replace it. And replacing it is a royal pain. There used to be places that redid felt soles, but, you know, the cost of that is probably almost what you'd pay for a new wading boot. And you can do it yourself. You can put new felt, but again, it's a difficult process, and it often doesn't hold that well. I've not had good luck. So, I think you can not worry about your felt wading boots for a number of years.
And regarding high-mountain brook trout fishing, I've done a couple podcasts on high mountain lakes, but they were more specific to the Western United States, and of course, some of those lakes have brook trout, but I will look into finding a guest that is an expert on high-mountain brook trout fishing.
Kyle: Hi, Tom. Kyle checking in from Massachusetts. I had two questions this week and one suggestion. First question relates to fly casting. Most of the information out there is about how to throw a tight loop, but I'm going to fish a big indicator split shot and egg pattern soon, and I was curious about how do you open your loop, when would you do it, and why would you do it? And if there's any clarification you can provide about that, or just Tom's take, I'd appreciate it.
Second question relates to entomology. I'm a little bit confused about how, you know, there's mayflies and caddis, and caddis has a pupa stage, but mayflies don't. And, of course, midges have a pupa stage too, and if you could provide some clarification as to, you know, why they have a stage that's called pupa stage, what does that signify, that would be helpful. I have books on the topics, and still a little bit confused.
And finally, a suggestion. And this relates to fly line. I have noticed that all the good manufacturers have the taper on the website, and you can see a chart that shows how long the head is and whatnot, and I think it'd be really useful, especially for the layman like myself, who has some experience, if you had a standard fly line, you'd have to choose a standard, next to it. So, if you showed the chart for the taper for the line you're selling against a standard taper, be really useful to see, "Oh, this is a longer head, this is a shorter head." You know, "this is different, and this is why." I find that that, I think people will find that that's useful, and might help people feel more comfortable purchasing a new fly line. Thanks as always, and appreciate you fielding my questions. Bye, Tom.
Tom: So, Kyle, to open your loop, it's a pretty easy process. All you need to do is open the arc in your casting. So, you know where you apply power normally to get a tight loop. It's a fairly narrow arc where you apply your power. And, to open the loop, you just wanna ease up a little bit, and maybe let your back cast go back a little further, and let the rod tip on your forward stroke go a little lower, and that will open up your loop fine. So, it's actually, you know, doing things that the casting instructors tell you not to do when you're practicing. But just opening up that loop, opening up that casting arc, should help that.
And, your second question, why do caddis and midges have a pupa, and what does it signify? Well, it's just the way they've evolved, and it's part of their life cycle. You know, they're just different bugs, and they're in a different order, and that's how they do it. So, they have a larval stage, and then, in between the larval stage and the adult stage, they have a pupa stage, where, in the case of midges, when they're in the mud, or in the case of caddis, when they're in their nets, or when they're in their case, they actually change.
And you see a similar process with monarch butterflies, you know, where you have the caterpillar, and then you have the chrysalis that they call it, we all studied in grammar school, and then the chrysalis hatches into the adult. So, it's just an intermediate stage between a larva and an adult. And mayflies, I believe, are a more primitive insect, and they don't have, they just don't have that stage. They just go from a larva. They do molt, and grow, as do all small insects. And mayflies just hatch from the larval stage. They don't have a pupa in between. So, suggest you just do a little more studying of basic entomology, and I think you'll understand it quite well.
Regarding your fly line suggestion, some of those fly line charts do have a standard taper. If you look in the taper charts, if you see, like, weight forward, or double taper without any special signifiers, those are gonna be the standard tapers, so I think you'll find that in most taper charts, and if you don't, shame on whoever's doing it, and if Orvis isn't doing it, shame on us. But I think we are.
Here's an email from Doug, from Annapolis, Maryland. "I started fly fishing when bamboo and glass were state-of-the-art materials for rod building, and I remember going to one of your traveling sales shows in the early '70s, at a suite at a hotel in Baltimore, and buying fly tying supplies, fly boxes and fly wallets, and still use them today. So, I did a lot of dumb stuff in my teens, but in a rare moment of clarity, I bought a reel, an upside-down C.F.O. III, and two bamboo rods from the 1972 catalog, a 7.5-foot, 3 and 7/8 ounce for 6-weight, that I dearly love, and a 5-foot 5-weight Mitey Mite that I have a love-hate relationship with. I looked at it in my rod cabinet, and I think I should trade it for something a bit more useful, and then I fish it, and fall in love with it all over again. These two rods and the reels are specifically mentioned in my will.
Anyway, your podcast with Shawn Brillon about bamboo rods brought up a question. I'm looking at my copy of the 1972 catalog, and Orvis always advertises the bamboo rods as being impregnated, and never a need to re-varnish, and easy to take care of. Shawn made no mention of that when talking about the build process, so I'm wondering if you folks still build them that way. Mine have had nothing more than the absolute basic care, and I fish them all the time, and after 50 years, they look brand new. Well, maybe not the grips. Thanks for the podcasts. They're part of my daily commute to and from work. Tight lines, and hope to catch you on the water one day."
So, Doug, Orvis stopped impregnating bamboo rods sometime in the, I think, late '80s, early 1990s, and there were a number of reasons. One is that the modern glues that are used in bamboo, and the polishing process, really, really weatherproofs the rods well, and they don't need to be varnished. You know, in the old days, they varnished bamboo rods, because they didn't have good waterproof glues, and the water would get into the glue joints, and then would separate the glue joints, and the rods would either break, or they would take a set. And, you know, with the advent of better waterproof glues, the rods don't need to be varnished. And they had to varnish the rods to protect that, those glue lines inside the rod, so Orvis came up with a process to impregnate the bamboo, so that it wouldn't take on water. But that became problematical, mainly because the process utilized some chemicals that OSHA was not really happy about, and made us stop.
So, you can tell an Orvis impregnated from a non-impregnated rod, and we don't, unfortunately, we don't have any records of when we stopped impregnating the rods, to the best of my knowledge. But you can tell an impregnated rod, because it's a much darker color, almost a reddish-brown, and the Orvis rods that are not impregnated, the newer models, have more of a blonde look on the outside. So, that's about the only way to tell the difference between a impregnated and a non-impregnated Orvis rod.
Here's an email from Bill Robichaud, and I'm going to... I don't usually use last names, but Bill has a blog, and is an author, and I wanted to read his letter, so that you can look his blog up if you want to online. "I very much enjoyed your recent podcast with author Tim Traver. I found myself in alignment with most of the views of both of you, and also learned a lot. And thanks to Tim for mentioning my own writing and blog, 'Bird in the Bush.'" So, you can look up that that blog, "Bird in the Bush."
"On the topic of catch and release, I'd like to share a couple passages from one of my teachers and mentors, Martín Prechtel, an indigenous man who lives in northern New Mexico. These are from his latest book, 'Rescuing the Light.'" And I'll read the quote here. "No human is supported by anything while it's alive. Only by what has generously died in order to keep you alive and feed you. It's not about being sad about that reality. It's not about numbing yourself to it. It's not about pretending it could be otherwise. It's about learning to have gratitude, which only comes from the grief of the realization of that generosity. The animal killed for food is not a poor thing. He is a courageous being, giving his life to you for your well-being. He is superior to you. This means you have an obligation to become an equally glorious human being, with a soul of such generosity that it is worth that animal's gift of having died to support you and your people."
That's the end of the quote. "This is why I will always prefer a fried trout to a Big Mac, and why my own moral compass and ethics sometimes lie in catch and eat." And, again, you can see Bill's blog, called "Bird in the Bush." It's about wildlife and nature, and does also have some fly fishing posts in it.
Here's an email from Aaron. "My family and I just relocated from California to southeast Missouri, and I have been enjoying and exploring new places to fish. Coming from California, I was worried that my trout fishing adventures would be hindered, and I would have to up my warm water fishing game. I was pleasantly surprised to find quite a few blue-ribbon streams in Missouri with healthy populations of wild trout. As an added bonus, I have also been able to up my warm water fishing game with so much fishable water here in Missouri. My question has to do with reel foot sizing. Are there standards for fly reel foot sizing? I have 2/3/4 reels that will not fit some of my 2/3/4 or 5-weight rods, but have 5/6/7-weight reels that will fit my 2/3/4-weight rods. These reels are from well-known, high-grade manufacturers, not something I picked off eBay.
Not that my issue is with the Battenkill, but since you know the series well enough, does the foot size differ from, say, a Battenkill 1 to 4 model, or from a Clearwater to a Mirage? Thanks for all you do for our sport. Listening to the podcast is a highlight of my weekly commute."
So, Aaron, back about 15, 20 years ago, maybe, the Fly Fishing Industry Association, AFFTA, established standards for reel feet and reel seats. And, so, for the various sizes of reels, there is a spec that manufacturers have agreed to use, and also, for the reel seats, there is also a spec. So, if your 2/3/4-weight or 5-weight reels don't fit your 2/3/4 or 5-weight rods, then couple things might be going on. One is that the manufacturer made either the reel seat or the reel foot out of spec, and the other thing might be that either the rods or the reels were made before this standard was established. If they are Orvis rods, you can contact our customer service department at 800-548-9548, and they'll figure out whether we can easily replace the reel foot, or replace the reel seat on the rod, and they'll make it right for you. So, they should fit, and if they don't fit, then something is off. If it's an older rod or reel, then you may have a problem getting them into spec, but if they're, you know, within in the past 15, 20 years, they should be to spec, and if they're not, then we'll need to fix it.
And by the way, yes, there is a different size between those smaller reels and the bigger reels. The spec is different, because you want a lighter, smaller foot on the lightweight reels, and you want a bigger, beefier foot for those bigger rods, for, you know, big game and saltwater fishing. So, yes, there is a difference in the size of the reel feet and the reel seats on the rods.
Here's an email from Mitchell, from Atlanta, Georgia. "Due to some casting flaws of mine, I have a strong preference of the Helios 3D over the 3F." Well, Mitchell, that's not a casting flaw. It's just your casting style, so don't ever think it's a flaw. "That said, I was hoping to fill in some of the gaps in my rod collection with mid-priced Recon, which I now know are built on the HELIOS chassis, after listening to the podcast with Shawn Combs. Now, to get in the weeds, it seems as though some of the rods are based on the 3D, while some are based on 3F. For example, the 9-foot 6-weight appears to be based on the 3F, as it does not have a fighting butt, while the 9-foot 6-weight saltwater does have a fighting butt. So I am guessing that one is based on the 3D.
Is that correct that some of the Recons are based on the 3F and some on the 3D? Does that mean that some of the Recons are faster action, like the 3D, and some are slower like the 3F? Or do they all fall somewhere in between in terms of action? Lastly, overly-detailed question. If some of the Recons are based on the faster 3D, and some on the slower 3F, which one is the 9-foot 5-weight based on? I hope my convoluted questions make sense, but I have to believe others have also wondered about the Recons' action."
That's a really good question, Mitchell. And, you know, the rods are not exactly like the Helios 3. The Recon rods are a different material, and slightly different taper, and different construction technique. They're also made in our rod shop, but they are not the same blank as the Helios 3. And here is how they sort out, as far as the action is concerned. Anything shorter than 8.5 foot has a softer load. In other words, it's gonna be a slower action, almost like the full-flex action of the old Superfines. And that's because you're generally making shorter casts and you're fishing smaller water.
The 10-foot 2 and 3-weight are Euro nymphing action, so they have a very soft tip, and transition into quite a bit stiffer, but with more power. So, that's a kind of a specialized action, although they, you know, they're designed to flip a couple of weighted nymphs and a leader out into the water. Although they do work...they are kind of fun with a standard 2 and 3-weight tapered line. I use them for dry fly fishing occasionally, and they will do that, but they do have a much softer tip.
Between the 8.5-foot 4-weight and the 9-foot 6-weight, it's an all-purpose action, and it's kind of halfway between an F and a D, so that 9-foot 5-weight that you asked about would be kind of halfway between an F and a D. You know, not super full-flexing, and not really super fast. From the 9-foot 6-weight saltwater model and up, it's a big game action, and it's closer to the Helios 3D. And then, two special tapers, the 10-foot 7 and 8-weight, they're designed a kind of blend of stillwater fishing with big water indicator nymphing. So, they're kind of, they're, I would say they're more toward the F, but they're a different taper, and they're designed, you know, purpose-built for reason. So, hopefully, that will clear it up with you and to other people who are considering buying one of the Recon rods.
Max: Hi, Tom. This is Max from Somerville, Massachusetts. I'm a first-time caller, long-time listener. I've been going deeper and deeper down the rabbit hole fly tying lately. Suffice it to say, I've started experimenting with blending my own dubbing, with a coffee grinder, as Tim Flagler suggested in one of those podcasts, but I'm having a hard time getting the materials to mix homogenously, but also it depends on the material. I find that, like, it's harder to mix synthetics and natural materials sometimes, or if there's a pretty large difference in, you know, the fineness of the dubbing, and, like, the amount of, like, guard hairs in there, there seems to be some issue.
So, do you have any, like, tips and tricks for blending dubbing, whether it's mixing synthetics with naturals, or, you know, maybe you're not supposed to, like, mix, like, dubbings with really different consistencies? Although I imagine, like, these commercial dubbing blends, they seem to have, like, larger and smaller parts to them, so, I mean, how do you get them homogenous? Do you start small, or do you have to pull them apart manually before you put them in the grinder? Like, just, any kind of tips and tricks for blending dubbing would be super helpful for me as I... I mean, I'll probably figure it out with a lot of experimentation, but I don't wanna waste all my good material, so, hope to hear your response on the podcast. Thanks so much. Bye.
Tom: So, Max, it is hard to get certain dubbings to mix well in a coffee blender, especially if you have really short fiber and really long fiber dubbings, that's gonna be tough. You know, it's generally better if the dubbings are similar and shorter-fibered in general. The longer fiber don't work well in a coffee blender. So, there's a couple things you could do. One is to mix them by hand, which is not so hard. You just kind of put them together, tease them apart, put them together, tease them apart, put them together, tease them apart, and you keep mixing them back and forth with your hand.
Another way of doing it, which is a lot more work, but you might like, is to dump them all, dump both dubbings, or three dubbings, or four dubbings, or whatever you wanna mix, into a bowl of water, put a little liquid soap in there, and swirl it around with your finger until everything is all mixed up. Then you dump them out into a colander or a strainer, rinse them, to get the soap out, and then lay it out on a piece of cardboard or newspaper and let it dry. This will mix it pretty well for you. So, that might help. Or, you know, when I have that problem with the coffee blender, I just mix them by hand, and I find that works well enough. So, I hope that helps, and good luck with your tying.
All right. That is "The Fly Box" this week. Let's go talk to Austin about why young people are so intrigued with fly fishing.
So, my guest today is Austin Boswell. Austin is the co-owner of Eastern Oregon River Outfitters, which is an Orvis-endorsed outfitter. And Andrew...or, Andrew. Austin, Andrew's your partner. Austin, before we get into, you know, the main part of this conversation, tell people about your operation and what you guys do there.
Austin: Yeah. So, we run, you know, both guide and outfitters on the Grande Ronde and Wallowa River, up in northeast Oregon, doing both day trips as well as multi-day camp trips down the wild and scenic section of the Grande Ronde river. We do that in kind of two seasons, both in, you know, from about mid-June to mid-July, which we consider our stonefly season, our dry fly season. So, we do some day trips up high on the Wallowa, and then again with those four-day camp trips, just chuckin' drys and let the gear boaters go ahead and set up camp and do all that. We leave that area in the summer, just because the water gets too low and too hot, being a freestone river.
And then we return again starting about mid-September, and have a fun season all fall, chasing trout and steelhead, you know, doing the same thing, both day trips as well as camp trips, and floating down through there in rafts that time of year, because the water's so much lower, and targeting all those big rainbows. And the steelhead, and some incidental bull trout and other things that we catch that time of year as well.
Tom: It's a cool part of the world, and it's're a little bit away from the crowds in some of the other rivers right where you are.
Austin: Yes. It's a hard area to get to. You know, I always tell people the closest place you can fly into's still about a three-hour drive to where we're at. So, that alone takes away a lot of the crowds and a lot of the people, and it's a very remote region, especially by the time we float down about 13 miles into our trip, you're a long ways away from any roads and any houses or any sort of civilization, so it's a pretty neat trip, and a very neat country out there.
Tom: It sounds awesome. I've never seen that part of the world, and I hope to someday.
Austin: Yeah. It's fun. I always say we see more elk and bighorn sheep and mountain goats, and we see people in the fall, so that's kind of a fun perk of the trip.
Tom: Cool. Cool. Well, we're here to talk about people of your age in fly fishing, because I realized that I've had way too many old guys like me on the podcast lately. And, you know, let's start, Austin, with how did you get here? How did you get into fly fishing? You know, how'd you get started in this? Oh, and first of all, before old are you?
Austin: Twenty-eight.
Tom: Twenty-eight. Okay.
Austin: Twenty-eight. Yeah.
Tom: So, how did you get into fly fishing?
Austin: Boy. Good question. I have to say, I think very similarly to a lot of people. You know, I started going out with my dad and my uncle when I was, gosh, who knows, six years old, with a bobber and a worm. We had a little stocked pond by my house. We'd drive down there and chuck it out there, and every now and again, we'd catch one, and I just thought that was the coolest thing, you know. Just catching a fish, and before I knew it, my uncle bought my older brother a fly rod, and I watched him, you know, go out there and flail around with it a little bit, and I'd give it a try. And gosh, I had to have been about 10 years old the first time I stole it from him, and took it out... You know, I used to...I grew up in Bend, Oregon, so, you know, we're just blessed with all sorts of great water all around us. You know, the Deschutes runs right through town there.
And I stole his rod one day, and rode down to the river and started casting, and I'll be God, I caught one. You know, I remember tying on a Prince Nymph on the end of a, probably a 3-foot leader that was 40-pound test, and I tied on a Prince Nymph because it looked like a fly. No idea to me that, you know... I was trying to indicate a house fly, right? Didn't know quite what I was doing, and I caught one. I remember catching my first wild fish that day, and from then on, just being hooked, and just trying to learn everything I could about it, reading books, and just wanted to keep on going. It was kind of a funny thing that I've, you know, in a lot of ways, I say I found myself. I didn't really have a teacher or a mentor, anyone that I knew that was really into it. I just...I don't know why. I caught him on the bobber and the worm, and I thought, well, you know, that's fun, but this is just, it's so much more interactive, and being a high-energy kid, that was, you know, hard to please, I think I just, it kept me entertained the whole time, just always doing something, and that was kind of the very beginning of it for me, to say the least.
Tom: Well, you know, it's interesting, because you hear the, kind of, the cliche that, "Oh, there are no young people getting into fly fishing because they don't have mentors anymore. Their parents don't teach them. Mothers don't teach daughters, or mothers don't teach sons, fathers and uncles, and everything." So, it sounds like you started like myself. You didn't have a mentor. What were the most valuable sources of information that got you into fly fishing?
Austin: That's a good one. You know, I think, I remember when I would ride down to the creek, I think I'd, you know, every now and again, I'd be, like, on the Deschutes through Bend, and I'd see, you know, older people fly fishing. I think they'd be surprised to see me, you know, like, young... Gosh, I had to have been third grade, and then, you know, I'd ride my little BMX bike down to the river, and so, I remember there was a couple gentleman down there, you know, that were surprised, and they would, you know, "Oh, try this fly. Try this fly," you know, and he'd tie on a little piece of tippet for you. I didn't know what tippet was then. But, you know, just help out how they could, and then from there, you know, my uncle, my mom, my dad, start buying me books, and, like, the Curtis Creek fly fishing manifesto, right? A pretty easy one to read as a kid, but obviously, very informative, and listening to Orvis podcasts, and, you know, looking at Orvis videos, all that kind of stuff. And that's really kind of, I think, what excelled me to the next level there around middle school. You know, I started to understand, okay, what's going on here? What bugs am I imitating? You know, dry flies, wet flies, different parts of the hatch, all of that.
Tom: Mm-hmm. So, it sounds like it was a combination of sources that you had.
Austin: Yeah, I'd say so. And, you know, I say that kind of perked my interest. It made me a better fisherman. And then I actually started working at the Orvis store, when there used to be one in Bend, Oregon, my senior year of high school. And I always say, you know, I was into fishing. I knew what I was doing. That kind of really, really set me on the trajectory to where I'm going now, right? Being surrounded with guys that are, you know, really expert anglers, you know, kind of learning from them, and learning from the guys that are the best around you, really helped me as well. And that's kind of what really sent me over the top, and kept me on the trajectory where I am today.
Tom: Cool. So, it's interesting that you mentioned books, that you mentioned "Curtis Creek Manifesto," because, you know, there's this perception that younger people just learn everything from videos, and Instagram, and you obviously still see the value in books.
Austin: Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. I, you know, I think I'm kind of right at that turning point of generations, where we had video, but when I was first getting into fly fishing, right, it was still dial-up internet, right?
Tom: Yeah, yeah.
Austin: I'd try to get on, and, "Oh, I can't do it. Mom's on the phone." You know, the internet's going crazy, making all sorts of weird noises. So, yeah, there's something about it, just opening the page, and being able to read exactly what you wanna read right then and there. And I think that's just as valid today, you know, still having those hatch guidebooks, and all that kind of stuff, you know. It's just super valuable.
Tom: Yeah. Let's take a little side trip for a minute, because this is a question I get all the time. Somebody that's, you know, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19 years old, wants a career in fly fishing. You know, just loves it so much that they wanna make it their life. What kind of advice would you give to a younger person? Somebody that's maybe 10 years younger than yourself? What should they do to pursue a career in fly fishing?
Austin: I say, be humble and listen to the people around you, you know. Try to surround yourself with some of the best fishermen you can, guys that have done it. You know, guys that, you know, we consider experts, other guides, outfitters, and just listen, listen, listen, and absorb knowledge. See what they do. See how they interact with their rivers, what they do as far as conservation, what they do as far as, you know, working with guests that are on those trips. You know, how the...just watching fish, too, right? I mean, I learn more from watching guys that are really good fishermen. And I'm lucky that I got a chance to guide at an early age. And I always say, I spend a lot of time on the water. I have a lot of guests that come fish with us that are a lot better fisherman than I am, right? You know? And I've learned so much just from watching these guys, and experimenting, and trying new things, and just listening. Just taking it all in, absorbing that kind of knowledge. And so, I always say that's probably the best way to just set yourself off for a career in this industry, is, you know, meet a lot of people, listen to what they have to say, and try to learn as much as you can from them.
Tom: How does somebody break into guiding? How do you get started? What do you do?
Austin: That's a good question. I mean, obviously, I think first and foremost, you gotta have the passion, right? You know, it can't be for, you know, selfish intentions, right? It can't be, "I wanna be a guide to, you know, tell my friends," or to post it on Instagram, or whatever that is. I mean, you have to do it because you really have to love this. And obviously, most of the guys that have done it realized the kind of romanticism of guiding wears off, you know, after a couple years, and it's hard work. But that's not to say that it doesn't, you know, like, for myself, and I know for my business partner, Andrew, I love this as much today as I did the day I got into it, if not more. So, I think for a lot of people, to get into it, again, it's kind of, you gotta be lucky. You gotta meet some guys that are already involved in it. And, you know, I was lucky. I had guys that took me under their wing at a young age, but I was, you know, fully invested in this. I was working at the Orvis store, I was working out at Deep Canyon Outfitters, out at their hunting ranch, and [inaudible 00:48:05] Damien's. You know, I think you know. Damien [inaudible 00:48:07]
Tom: Mm-hmm. Yeah.
Austin: [crosstalk 00:48:09] let's give it a go on the fishing side of things, right? You've seen how we interact with the guests. You've seen kind of the product that we wanted, you know, delivered it to people, and give it a go. But again, to do that, you know, obviously, you gotta know your stuff, and, for me, that came from just spending time around a lot of guys that knew what they were doing. You know, especially being at that Orvis store, meeting other guys in the community that are, you know, I consider expert anglers, just picking their brains, and learning as much as I possibly could. You know, and then, obviously, spending as much time on the water as you can as well, right? There's no substitute for that.
Tom: Yeah. You know, I often tell people, and it sounds like this is valid, I often tell people that the, kind of, the foot in the door to guiding, or a career in fly fishing, is generally through retail. You know, working in a shop or an Orvis store. Would you agree with that?
Austin: Yeah. A hundred percent. I think, you know, for a lot of people, you know, obviously, you learn a lot, you know, being on the water and fishing yourself, but you learn a lot being in the shops as well, and you make a lot of good connections through there. I mean, obviously, the fly fishing community is growing a lot, but it's funny. Still, at the end of the day, it's a pretty darn small world. You know, anywhere I go, I meet someone and we all have mutual friends or colleagues, or whatever, that we all know from, you know, anywhere from Vermont to Oregon to, you know, Montana, you name it. We all know kind of the same crowd. And so, that's one thing, I think, getting into the retail side of things, you start to kind of, you know, immerse yourself in that community, and in those groups of people that, you know, kind of helps you, all of a sudden, make those connections where, "Hey, these guys need a guide out in Montana." "Well, I have a buddy that's looking to guide out there. Hey, give these guys a call," you know? So, I think that absolutely is probably the easiest way to get your foot in the door.
Tom: Mm-hmm. Okay. Great. Great advice. Exactly what appeals to you or appealed to you initially about fly fishing? I mean, it sounds like when you were younger, there weren't a lot of people your age into fly fishing, right?
Austin: Yeah. You know, there was a few, but yeah, not a ton, that's for sure. Especially [inaudible 00:50:24] as young as I was when I first started. I think the biggest appeal for me, you know, especially now, looking back at it and looking at myself then, I think it was just that intimate interaction with nature, you know? Both with the fish, being on the water, just being outdoors, and I think that's the same thing that appeals to me today. Not as much, you know, catching fish as it is just the complete experience. The places that... I always tell people, "Look, we're gonna have a great day. We'll be know, we'll probably catch a few fish, but it's about the whole experience. A lot of times, the best part of the day of fishing is not the fishing itself."
It's everything else that goes into it, right? The camaraderie, the people, the sights you see, the places it takes you, and I think that was the same thing then that appealed to me, you know, just getting outside and exploring. You know, I love the fly fishing, I love bird hunting, and I just love hiking through the woods. And that's never changed, and that's really what drew me into it. It was just one more thing to get outdoors and explore the natural world, and that's always appealed to me, it still does, and I just absolutely love it.
Tom: You know, one of the things, another thing that I hear, that I discount, that I don't believe, is that you go to a Trout Unlimited meeting, or a fly fishing club, in general. You, typically, they're Trout Unlimited meetings. And you don't see that many young people, and you hear complaints from the people there that young people are not involved in conservation, you know, they don't care about that stuff, they don't come to our meetings. What's your view of that perception?
Austin: You know, I... That's a good question. I wouldn't say that's true. I think that, you know, there's a lot of young people that, at least in, you know, my circle, in my world, that really care about conservation, you know, that realize, look, we love this. We wanna make sure this lasts for a long time. We wanna make awareness that, you know, put awareness out there about these fisheries, about some of the threats that they're facing, and, you know, if you're in the social media world, I have a very small presence. We have, like, a little business listing. But, you know, I'll scroll through there and see what, you know, other young anglers are saying, and it seems to me like there's a lot of young people that really care about this. And it's good to see, and that are, you know, really trying to, actively trying to make changes, and bring awareness to certain issues, and I think it's a good thing. You know, it's hard to say, to get a judge, you know, nationwide, what that's like.
Tom: Mm-hmm. Yeah, yeah.
Austin: But I think, overall, yeah, I think that the young people care just as much as, you know, the older crowd, about these rivers and about these places. Obviously they might not have as much time, you know, as being, some of the retired folks do, you know, to show up to meetings, and, you know, dedicate a lot of time to conservation, but that's not to say that they don't care, and I think they make changes how they can, and try to bring awareness to, you know, how they can, whether that's on a big scale, or even just sharing information with their friends, you know, teaching people about, you know, certain practices. Hey, spawning redds. Watch out for these, watch out for that, you know. Even down to those little kind of fine details.
Tom: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm. Do you go to any Trout Unlimited meetings?
Austin: No. We just recently got our Trout Unlimited chapter back up in northeast Oregon, so I haven't been to one in quite some time. I went to a couple when I was living in central Oregon. Up where I live in northeast Oregon, it's a small, little town, and so we actually don't even have a local chapter. They do some work up there, some conservation, but we don't have any meetings up in that neck of the woods.
Tom: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm. Okay. So, how does someone who's not, maybe not a member of a conservation organization, how do they interact? How do they make a change, without being a member of an organization?
Austin: You know, that's a good question. I think a lot of it can be done just person-to-person, right? You know? It doesn't always have to necessarily be, like, "Hey, I'm part of this club, and we're fighting for this big thing," you know? It can be just talking to your fellow anglers on the river, right? And like I was talking a second ago about just, like, you know, even being aware of spawning redds, right? You know, there's guys I know that, one of our good buddies up in La Grande, works with the soil and water conservation district, and they do a ton of conservation. So, for us, that's one of our bigger players up in northeast Oregon, right? They go out to all these places, and they're working on stream restoration, habitat restoration. You know, posting signs, hey, be aware of spawning redds. Here's what they look like. Watch out for this. You know, they're putting a ton of lumber back in the river, trying to, you know, fully re-route all these tributaries for our salmon and steelhead, that are returning back to those rivers, for, you know, more productive rearing and all that stuff.
So, I [inaudible 00:55:21] I think there's a lot of different ways that we can all kind of play our part in conservation. Whether, like, whether that be, you know, on the large scale, going to meetings, and kind of informing yourself and then sharing with others, as well as just talking to your, you know, everyday angler that's out on the river, just kind of showing them, "Hey, you know, that was a great fish. You know, sometimes, maybe in these conditions, you know, just be careful about holding them out of the water when it's this warm." You know, try to fight them fast, stronger leaders. Just little things like that, even, right? From looking at the full ecosystem to each individual fish, just trying to help everyone kind of learn more and play our part, to make sure that these fisheries last through our lifetime and into the next.
Tom: Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. Oh, speaking of that, I'm gonna ask you a really difficult question. Because I get asked this question all the time, and I'm usually at a loss. Where do you see fly fishing going in the future? Because, you know, people your age are the future of our sport, our pastime, or hobby, or whatever you wanna call it. We've never really found a good term to describe fly fishing. Sickness, maybe, is the best...
Austin: Yeah, disease.
Tom: the best. But where do you see fly fishing going? You know, the industry and the culture? What do you see in the next, I don't know, 30, 40, 50 years?
Austin: Good question. It's hard to say. There's what I think might happen, and what I hope might happen, I would say to that one, Tom.
Tom: Okay. That's fair enough. Yeah?
Austin: What I, you know, that old saying, right? First, you wanna catch fish, then you wanna catch a lot of fish, then you wanna catch big fish, and you wanna catch fish how you wanna catch fish. And I think what we're seeing right now is people, you know, there's a lot of people that are, obviously, get into the sport. The sport's growing really fast. You know, I saw that, especially kind of during COVID, post-COVID, it's, you know, just exploded. And some of that might be, you know, where we spend our time in central Oregon, obviously's gotten very popular. Northeast Oregon's becoming more popular, so we're seeing a lot more anglers, but I think that trend's, obviously, you know, nationwide. People are finding the outdoors, and then absolutely loving it.
So, I think it's, obviously, fly fishing is gonna become a lot more popular. I'm seeing a lot more people, you know, my age, and even younger, out on the water. And I see a lot of people that wanna be really successful. And I think that's why we see a lot of these new kind of techniques, such as Euro nymphing, all these things coming out, that, I think the technology's almost outpacing the fisheries, right? And that's what I'm seeing, is that people just wanna catch a lot of fish, and they wanna catch big fish, which, you know, all of the credit to them. I get it.
What I hope happens is I hope we kind of revert back to the old-school style of fly fishing, that, you know, you don't have to catch a million fish. Let's tie on a dry fly, and let's catch fish how we wanna catch them. Right? It's not all about catching a million. You know, let's make it difficult. You know, obviously, it's fun to catch fish. You know, I understand that every fish we catch, you know, puts a little bit more stress on them, a little bit more stress on the fishery as a whole. And so, I hope what we see is that people kind of really start to appreciate these fisheries for more than just the fish alone, right? The full ecosystem, and that we can kind of, you know, take a step back, and not have to catch a million, right? We can catch a few nice ones a day, and be happy with that, and even if that means we, you know, choose a more challenging technique to try to catch them, all the better, right? It makes it that much more memorable, I think.
Tom: Yeah. What a good philosophy. What a good thought.
Austin: Yeah. I've always said that, you know, we have these guests that go out there and just absolutely spank them, right? They have these epic days, and I think "Oh, what about that fish up there?" and they'll be, "What? I don't even remember that one." You know, it just all blends into one day, versus those days where you go out, and maybe it's a little bit more challenging, but you get, you know, six really nice fish on a dry fly, and boy, people remember every single one of those fish, exactly, you know, where that fish came from, how you [crosstalk 00:59:15] that fly. And I think that's something that's kind of really important, right? It doesn't have to be a million fish. Some of my favorite days, you know, personally, fishing myself, are when it's been really tough. You know, I catch one or two, and same thing. I'll remember that fish for the rest of my life now.
Tom: Mm-hmm. Yeah. Yeah. Great. That's a great point.
Austin: And so, I really...
Tom: So, that's what you hope. Where do you think it's going?
Austin: You know, I think... You know, I, this might be the cynical side of myself saying this. I think a lot of people... Obviously, they're getting into fishing for the right reasons. It's fun. The camaraderie's great. I think... However, with that, a part of it is about the picture, right? Oh, I see that, you know, "We gotta get the photo," it's "We gotta," you know, "show our friends." You know, "I caught this one, I caught this one." And so, I hope we're not trending that way. I hope we're, you know, the industry turning into, you know, people are doing this for themselves, right? And not to show others, right? But just doing it to really get a break from all the other stresses of life, right? To get away from work, and to get out there and just explore nature, be part of nature, and I think, you know, obviously, the more people that go out there and do that, the more awareness we'll bring to conservation, and how amazing these places are. So, I...that's a hard question to answer in that way, where I think it's heading. To be honest with you, it's, I'm kind of at a loss for words on that one.
Tom: Okay. Yeah, well, no, it's a tough question. It's a really tough question. And I don't have a [crosstalk 01:00:48]
Austin: Yeah. Yeah. And what about yourself? What do you think?
Tom: Oh, I don't have...I don't know.
Austin: From what you see? I mean, you see it more than anyone.
Tom: You got a better answer than me. You know, it's, "I hope." And my hopes are very similar to your hopes. I think you said it very well, is that we need to think more about the individual fish and the experience than counting numbers, and taking pictures of every fish. You know, I try to tell people, "Hey, take one picture, one fish picture a day, and that's it." You know, and try to make it a picture of the fish in the water, and not a grip-and-grin.
Austin: Yeah. There you go. Yeah. And, you know, it's funny. I mean, I think, obviously, the industry's growing a lot, and I think some people are kind of cynical of that. It's like, "Oh, it's gonna put that much more pressure on these fisheries and on the fish," which I think, obviously, it can. But with that being said, I think the more people that are doing this, the more money we're gonna, you know, get towards conservation, the more awareness that's gonna be raised for conservation. You know, obviously, every fish we catch, there's a little bit of harm to them, but then again, you know, you look at a lot of the issues that these rivers are facing, and then they're big-picture issues, right? Where we live in the Northwest, with the Columbia River and the Snake River dams, and, you know, the way our anadromous fish counts are looking, we're looking at really, you know, large-scale issues here. You know, not down to the, kind of, small, "Oh, this guy caught this many fish. That's gonna hurt the fishery."
Tom: Yeah. Yeah.
Austin: Looking at ocean conditions, and dams, and stream flow, and, you know, water diversion, all these big issues, that if there's more people and more voices on our side, on the angling side of the community, and people that care about conservation, you know, hopefully that means we get more in-stream flow throughout the summer, and overall just healthier fisheries.
Tom: What do you think solutions are to overcrowding on rivers? Particularly on rivers? It seems like rivers get more and more crowded with boats every year.
Austin: Yep. Yeah, boats, and wade-fishing anglers, and guides and all of that. And what the solution is to that, I mean, that's a hard one. I mean, I think, you know, as much as I hate to say it, and as people don't like to hear, I think that's probably intervention from, you know, like, at least where we live and where we work, that's intervention from the, you know, Bureau of Land Management and the Forest Service, kind of doing limited-entry use, which is... You know, they're public lands, and everyone wants to go out there and use them, but, you know, you see it. You know, I see it in central Oregon, when, you know, there's 100 people walking all over these streambeds, you know, that's detrimental to the, you know, all those macroinvertebrates, and especially when those fish are spawning, people are trampling over redd counts, and...
So, that's a tricky one to answer, and I don't wanna anger anyone and say, you know, you need more, you know, the Forest Service, and the BLM, and for us, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife to kind of put a restriction or a cap on that, and I don't think that would ever happen. But I don't have a good answer. You know, that's as simple as I can think about it is just, you know, some way to kind of limit that use, which, it is tough. That's a tricky one. Obviously, none of us want that, you know. We all wanna be able to go out and use our public resources. But yeah, when we start to become the issue, that's a problem. You know, when angling alone is hurting these fisheries. I mean, it is under pressure.
Tom: What about spreading the pressure out, and, you know, are there alternative species in your part of the world to, you know, get people to, you know, get out of this trout and steelhead mindset, and...
Austin: [inaudible 01:04:18] Yeah. That's a great point. And I think we're seeing it. I think we're seeing more people get, you know, involved with warm water fisheries, and kind of finding a love for that. You know, watching smallmouth eat top water poppers is pretty darn fun, and what we talked about on the phone earlier, carp fishing. That's become a real popular thing up here in the northwest. You know, the whole, all the Columbia River sloughs, and all, you know, even up where we live in La Grande, we have carp all through the valley, and what a great thing to go do. You know? You go do that all summer long, and those are invasive species. You know, we don't worry too much about them. They're a beautiful fish. They're, you know, a ton of fun to catch. We love catching them. But obviously, you know, we're not gonna hurt the ecosystem by catching carp.
Tom: No, and that's a fishery where you really have to get back to the essence of fly fishing, and you appreciate one or two fish a day, because they're not easy, right?
Austin: Yeah, exactly.
Tom: They're a hell of a lot harder than trout to catch.
Austin: Spooky fish, delicate cast. Yeah. The poor man's bonefish. You bet.
Tom: Yeah. What about women in fly fishing? Do know, it used to be pretty, not exclusively, but it used to be a male-dominated sport. What are you seeing in your part of the world, as far as more women?
Austin: We're seeing a lot more women come out and fish, you know. And I think when I first kind of started my guide career 11 years ago, I'd see, you know, those occasional husband-wife trips come out, where, you know, the wife wasn't too into it, but, you know, she came along with her husband, and then, you know, had fun, you know, regardless, and also appreciate everything else about the day, beyond the fishing. The last three years, we've seen a lot more women come out, and a lot more women that are deadly with the fly rod, right? You know, hey, we see it all the time on the Grande Ronde, they come out with their husbands, and, you know, the husband's the guy that books the trip, and really is into it. The wife will go out and fish him three to one, right?
I always said women just are inherently better with the fly rod, right? A little bit more patient, a little bit more finesse, and they get the job done, and we actually, this year, we had an all-women's trip. Unfortunately, had high water, and had to postpone it, but it was, you know, it's exciting to see, right? Just something totally different, outside of the norm. You know, still, the majority of our trips are all-male, you know, guests that come out and fish with us, but it's kind of fun to see that transition of see, you know, more husband-wifes that come out, where the wife's really gung-ho to fish, right? They're not out there because their husband's there. They're out there because they wanna be there. They wanna catch fish, and they want to experience it, and get better, you know. And then go do it themselves, and we're seeing a lot more of that, and like I said, we have some cool clubs in central Oregon that, you know, are all-women fly fishing clubs, and, you know, doing more outreach, getting more women into the sport, which is obviously, you know, better for everyone, and better, you know, just kind of make them more 50/50 across the board. So yeah, I think it's trending the right way, and seeing a lot more women out there doing it, and it's great to see.
Tom: And how are you seeing the, kind of, the general culture of fly fishing changing? I mean, we've talked a little bit about it, but...
Austin: Yeah. You know, I think it's becoming a little bit more, what's the word? Hip and trendy, right? A cool thing to do, right? Which it is. I mean, obviously, I do. I think it's just one of the most fantastic things you can possibly do, and I think that's kind of the culture of it. People wanna be fly fishing, right? It's kind of, you know, for a lot of people, it's their identity. Myself included, right? This is what I do. This is, you know, I'm sitting in my office right now. I have my dresser behind me, and then the other three-fourths of the room's covered with boxes, and fly-tying materials, and rod racks, and you name it.
And I think that's what you're seeing a lot more people, kind of, you know, not only do it as just a hobby, but really, it's kind of, it's their identity. It's what they do, you know. They consider themselves full-time fishermen, you know? They work, but they get off work, and their vacations are fishing-oriented, whether that's, you know, someone going out with their friends who are all diehard fishermen, or a family that's going on a camp trip, and they plan it around fly fishing.
Tom: Yeah. It does take over, doesn't it?
Austin: Yeah, and it happens fast, right? It only takes a few, and you're hooked.
Tom: Yeah. It sure does. Well, Austin, this has been great. This has been a really refreshing and interesting conversation. And I wanna thank you for sharing your thoughts. I know you're about to head out for, where you going? You're going on a trip somewhere.
Austin: We're going... Yeah. So, like I said, the Grande Ronde River, where we run our business, gets a little bit too low and hot in the summers. There's still fish around. We like to leave them alone when that water gets up into the 70s. So, we consider them our business partners. We give them a break for a few months. So we're heading over to the middle fork of the Salmon, for about a month and half here, to go work over there with the [inaudible 01:09:15] and go row some boats down the river, and catch some cutthroat.
Tom: Yeah. Cool.
Austin: Which is kind of funny, you talked about that progression as an angler, right? I kind of fell in love with the fishing, and the more I do this, I'm falling in love with the boating as well, right? [crosstalk 01:09:29] looking to get these drift boats down, and, you know, kind of pushing the limits there as well. Like I said, there's so much to a day of fishing beyond the fishing. Just a small part of it for me nowadays.
Tom: Yeah. That's definitely a thing, where you get a boat, and boy, you love rowing as much as you do fishing.
Austin: Yeah. Exactly. You know, the only better thing than having a boat yourself is having a friend that has a boat.
Tom: That's my philosophy. I don't... I just gotta... I don't have a drift boat, and I got friends that love to row, which delights me to no end.
Austin: Yeah, exactly. That's the way to go. That way, you get to sit in the front of the thing and actually fish a little bit.
Tom: Yeah, yeah. All right, Austin...
Austin: Yeah, well...
Tom: Sorry, go ahead.
Austin: Yeah, well... I appreciate...well, I was gonna say, yeah, I appreciate it, Tom, and it's great chatting with you, and yeah, hopefully you make it out to our neck of the woods one of these days. Come see what we have in northeast Oregon. [crosstalk 01:10:25] place.
Tom: It's on my list. It is on my list of so many, so many places I haven't been to, you know. Even, a full life of fly fishing, so many places I wanna see, and that's another great thing about it, right, is there's always some new frontiers, new horizons, new places to explore.
Austin: Yep. No, absolutely. I'm not done exploring Oregon yet. [crosstalk 01:10:48]
Tom: Yeah. I'm not done exploring Vermont. I got small streams within 30 miles of my house that I still wanna fish, so...
Austin: [crosstalk 01:10:56] Okay. So, yeah, my brother lives up [inaudible 01:10:57] there's a brook every three miles, and I said, "Have you finished that one? Have you finished that one? Have you finished that one?" And yeah, same thing. There's a lifetime worth of exploring to be had.
Tom: There is, there is. All right, Austin. We've been talking to Austin Boswell of Eastern Oregon River Outfitters. You can find them on the Orvis website, or in an Orvis catalog, and, or online. And they're Orvis-endorsed, and we're proud to be partners with them. Thank you, Austin.
Austin: You bet, Tom. Thank you. I appreciate it.
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