Trout Bum of the Week: Matt Canter

Matt Canter

Matt Canter with a false albacore taken off the coast of North Carolina.

photo courtesy Matt Canter

Matt Canter is a fishing guide and manager of Brookings’ Outfitters in Cashiers, North Carolina. The other day, he sent us a report and some pictures from a recent camping trip with his buddies in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It seems like a trip that exemplifies the Trout Bum ethos:

“We hauled three hundred and fifty pounds of gear–pulling, pushing, and carrying it five miles into the wilderness of Great Smokey Mountains National Park. Over the course of the trip, we endured a thunderstorm and snow in April, but we had downright amazing fishing.


Brookings 4

When Canter and friends plan a fishing and camping expedition, they don’t fool around. They dragged this load five miles into the woods.

photo by Matt Canter

These are peak fishing times here in western North Carolina, especially in the small wild  streams, and this trip with a couple of fly-fishing buddies was a great way to get the season started. The bugs were hatching, the fish were eating, and the three of us took serious advantage. Hiking in, we noticed blue-winged olives, dark caddisflies, and quill Gordons hatching on the small streams. These were all good signs, so we increased our pace to the campsite so we could get on the water as soon as possible.


Brookings 1

Despite some rough whether, the trout were biting on both dry flies and nymphs. This wild rainbow ate an Elk-hair Caddis.

photo by Matt Canter

For the first two days, we used dry flies, including Elk-hair Caddis, with much success, even landing a 20-inch rainbow. We also tested out one of the new Orvis Superfine Touch rods, and it performed especially well when short-casting to wild, finicky trout. After a thunderstorm, the water came up quite a bit, so we hit eddies from the bank using heavy nymph rigs to dredge along the bottom behind some big rocks. We caught even more trout than the previous two days without getting terribly wet. Throughout the trip, we enjoyed a wide range of weather and methods and the fish obliged quite nicely.”


Brookings 3

Wild browns such as this one are the reason trout bums are willing to drag their equipment up into the Smokies.

photo by Matt Canter

We asked Matt a series of questions about his favorite sport, and here are his replies:

When did you start fly fishing? I started fly fishing for bluegills and largemouth bass when I was 11 years old.  I caught my first brown trout when I was 12 in a little creek in Western North Carolina on some awful looking bluegill fly that had no sense ever being thrown into a trout stream. . . .that is when the addiction began.

What’s your favorite water? High altitude/ high gradient brook trout streams hold a special place in my heart, but I also enjoy the slow-flowing warm waters of a smallmouth bass river on a summer day.

What’s your favorite type of fly fishing? I enjoy all types of fly fishing, whether it’s trout fishing, casting a popping bug to largemouth bass, trying to slow down a false albacore, or throwing a 10-inch fly in pursuit of muskies.
What’s your most memorable fly-fishing moment? The first muskie I hooked.  It literally ate the fly off of the tip-top on my fly rod, thrashed around a bit, did a cartwheel at eye level, and sent my ridiculously huge fly 20 feet into a tree.  The whole event lasted all of 10 seconds, but it was the best 10 seconds I have ever had with a fly rod in my hand.  By the way, “Fish of 10,000 Casts” is BS. . . it’s more like 100,000.

What do you love most about fly fishing? Fly fishing is a complex sport, and I think this is a complex answer, since there are multiple things that I love about it.  It’s the challenge, the learning, the places it takes you, the people you meet, and the TUG.

What’s your favorite piece of gear and why? My wife will tell you that I have a serious problem when it comes to buying fly rods, so I guess that would have to be it.  I have one for most every situation you could throw at me, and I love them all, but I have to give Orvis props for the Helios Rod. In most cases, thats what I pick up when I hit the water.

What’s your next dream destination? I have always wanted to go to the Amazon in pursuit of peacock bass.  It just seems like it would be a cool place to go, and who wouldn’t want to see one of those things annihilate a topwater fly?

Remember: Leave a comment below, and you could win a Jackson Cowboy Shirt from our new Trout Bum Collection. We’ll pick a winner at random on Thursday, May 5!


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