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Growing up on South Africa’s coastline with a fishing addicted father, I was basically born with a fishing rod in my hand. From chasing Tiger Fish in freshwater to hunting shark in the deep blue, my childhood solidified my passion for the search of a tight line. After moving to Toronto, ON in the early 90’s, I was introduced to Salmon fishing. After moving to Vancouver, BC in 2006, I was introduced me to real Salmon fishing! However, it wasn’t until 2013, when my higher education/career was taken care of, that I started to take fishing seriously again. That’s when I picked up my first fly rod. Now, I spend my entire year chasing Salmonids across the PNW along their migratory journey. When I am not fishing, tying flies, or dreaming of Salmon, I help transform our healthcare system through digital health innovation.
Spey fishing tops my list. Below are just a few reasons why:
The Type & Target: Life in the PNW allows Skagit Spey to dominate. This means I get to tie big flies and swing them in search of big anadromous predators.
The Feeling: There is something about whipping that fly back, peeling it off the water, and then letting the laws of physics take it to the far bank of the river. Every cast makes me feel like a fly ninja.
The Learning: As with any type of fly fishing, the educational opportunities are endless. Whether trying to perfect the multitude of casting techniques, the diversity of fly patterns, or the many permutations of line set ups, spey fishing provides endless opportunities to learn and grow as a fly fisherman.
Maui and the surrounding islands. These locations are only a few hours from Vancouver by plane and offer endless opportunities to enjoy diverse, beautiful, and natural habitats while being exposed to a deeply rooted fishing and surfing culture. Shaka Brah.
However, any destination that brings me close to nature and allows me to fish is rad. For me, one of the best parts about going on vacation is having the opportunity to fish a new body of water. This means doing research, tying new flies, meeting new local people, and targeting new fish. I have a signed agreement with my wife that includes a search for a tight line on any and all vacations.
A five day 67 km canoe trip in Northern Ontario with seven of my brethren has a certain memory forged into the circuits of my neocortex. After hitting handfuls of gorgeous, historic, and very manageable 300-900m portages, we finally reached the 2,900m portage we had all been waiting for. It was officially game time when I had to hoist my 45lb front pack, 60lb backpack, paddle, rod, and canoe. As much as I like a leisurely stroll while chatting with the gents on shorter portages, long portages packing weight need to be taken seriously and end quickly.
After strapping in, loading up, and conducting a safety meeting, we were off. In the wake of 13 minutes of the best torture a young man could ask for, I had lost the pack. Only three minutes later, I dropped my gear, sat on top of my canoe, and took a moment to stare into the untouched wilderness. The moment allowed the pain in my shoulders to dissipate.
A few seconds later, the calm settled in, and my focus on the deeply forested terrain increased. There she was…a beautiful, young, white-tailed deer, absolutely frozen in her tracks. I stayed still, attempting to let her soften up to me; however, she remained rock solid with the most endearing look in her eyes. Being curious, I stood up to gently approach the deer. Still, no movement! At this point, I had a suspicion that we weren’t the only two mammals in the vicinity.
With my senses heightened, I scanned 45 degrees to my left. There it was – a memory to last a lifetime – I made direct eye contact with a wolf just feet away from me. He was on the hunt.
No deer were harmed in the making of this memory.
When I was a youngster, my family would spend a few weeks and many weekends at our place in Fish Hoek, South Africa. One of my favorite memories as a child was the day we hooked into a shark that gave us a run for our money. All I remember was intense excitement quickly turning into chaos, radical yelling, drag screaming, and an uncontrollable ride into the deep blue. After what felt like hours later, we finally had the prehistoric beast next to the boat. Seeing a fish drastically outsize our Zodiak was magical! My dad and I looked at each other in awe as we managed to release that majestic predator back into the ocean without any repercussions.
As an adult, one of my favorite fishing memories was being in the heart of the Olympic Peninsula. The trip ended up with a rare doubleheader of untouched wild Steelhead, a memory that will last a lifetime.
Oceans, Rivers, Mountains…The quintessential outdoor playground.
Japanese tapas. A feast at “Guu Original” in Vancity is hard to beat.
I can’t choose just one. It isn’t possible. A few honorable mentions: The entire Bourne series, The Transporter, Bad Boys 2, Finding Nemo, X-Men series, and yes… Fat Amy is f*&ckin hilarious.
I have a diverse taste in music. Yet, my favorite satellite radio stations are a good guide. They range from Ozzy’s Boneyard (Hard Rock/Metal) to Old School Hip Hop and from The Joint (Reggae) to Classical & Jazz. As much as I want to love country (for all you trout bums out there), I just can’t do it. I don’t know what it is.
If it’s not a fishing rod, it’s my survival knife.
Nando’s Peri Peri fish sandwiches. There is nothing more rewarding than spending a morning fly fishing, filleting your catch, breading it, frying it, tossing it in Nando’s Hot Peri Peri sauce, and smashing it in between a soft Kaiser bun for the win. (Big shout out to my man Chef Gavin for bringing these to life every trip).
Vancouver, British Columbia.
Move Your Body, Move Your Life! If you think that’s cheesy, jog/hike five kilometers 2-3x per week, and do 200 push-ups a day for six weeks. Then, dare to tell me you ain’t feeling amazing!
Cast until the lights go out!
You miss 100% of the casts you don’t take.
Every step counts.
My bucket list is basically a fishing destination list that perennially lives and grows. Without publicizing the entire list, here are a few things I want to do before I die:
Land a Taimen on a massive fly in Mongolia
Fly fish for monster rainbow trout where Argentina’s Rio Barrancoso flows into Lago Strobel (AKA: Jurassic Lake)
Swing for big Atlantic Salmon on the Panoi River in Russia
Strip monster streamers for Golden Dorado in Argentina
Land a 30+ pound GT on the fly rod
Take a fly I tied out of a 10+ pound bone fish’s mouth (only <10 pounders landed to date)
The Trucker Hook Pro Model.