A couple years ago, we ran a series called “Trout Bum of the Week,” in which we highlighted some of the guys living the good life. . .of a sort. (See the bottom of this post for a link to the previous installments.) Last week we launched another round of profiles. Most of the subjects are guides who have turned their passion into a vocation, spending their time in an outdoor “office” that may include a drift boat, gorgeous mountain scenery, and crystal clear water. Others do have day jobs but manage to spend every other available minute on the water with a fly rod in hand. Whether you aspire to one lifestyle or the other, it’s illuminating to explore the different paths these men and women have taken on their way to achieving “trout bum” status.
George Daniel is probably familiar to many of you already. He has appeared on ESPN and OLN while competing in the Great Outdoor Games and the Fly Fishing Masters, he has competed around the world as a member of Fly Fishing Team USA, and he is the author of Dynamic Nymphing. He’s also a certified FFF Fly Casting Instructor and is a member of the TCO Fly Shop staff.
1.When did you start fly fishing?
I started at age six while growing up in Potter County, Pennsylvania. Germania Branch (a native brook-trout stream), flowed past my doorstep. Since it was a kids-only section, and I was the only kid who fished in the village, I had my own private brook-trout fishery until I turned fourteen. At fourteen, I moved to central Pennsylvania, where I befriended Joe Humphreys, who took me under his wing and began to take my fishing to the next level.
2. What’s your favorite water?
The Northern Michigan streams—the Manistee, AuSable, Pere Marquette and similar style streams—which I believed were designed for the streamer junkie. That part of Michigan features my favorite trout water in the Lower 48, as it has such a diversity of species to target along with some of the hardest working guides and fly fishing professionals in the industry.
3. What’s your favorite fly-rod and why?
I like 10-foot rods for streamer, dry-fly, and nymph fishing for one main reason—excellent line control. I don’t spend too much time fishing small streams, and when I’m fishing bigger waters I want a longer rod to provide more reach over nagging currents for all strategies.
4. What’s your most memorable fly-fishing moment?
I was fifteen years old, and my father took me fishing to this small mountain stream about thirty minutes away from our home in Lock Haven, Pennsylvania. Within twenty minutes, I ran into another angler and was actually pissed off that we had traveled to this small stream and had run into another fly fisher. As the person approached, I realized this just wasn’t any normal angler. In fact, it was a she, and she had her blonde hair tied back in a pony tail and was wearing full camo. What was even more amazing was that she was in my ninth-grade math class but had never mentioned she like to fish. The next day, I told my basketball coach that I was going to marry that girl. Nine years later, that prediction came true.
5. What’s your most forgettable fly-fishing moment?
When I fell into Penns Creek during the first five minutes of a January trip while fishing with some friends. Instead of doing the smart thing and asking to see if my friends had any extra clothes, I decided to play it cool and just deal with the winter temps. That was probably the most miserable fishing trip of my life.
6. What do you love most about fly fishing?
It’s your time, so you can choose the pace at which you participate in the activity. If you want to be truly competitive, you can enter a one-fly contest. If you need time to get away from everybody and everything, you can hit a small mountain stream. If you want to spend some quality time with some old friends, you can float down the Missouri River. The great thing about this sport is that you can custom-build your experience.
7.What’s your favorite piece of gear and why?
I love fly lines, since they are the major transportation device to get your rig to the fish. Fly lines are likely the most underrated pieces of equipment. There’s nothing worse than a tacky fly line with a bad taper when you’re trying to target any species.
8. What’s your go-to fly when nothing else is working?
Lately, I’ve been fishing a lot of streamers, and would say the Sparkle Minnow has saved the day on more than one occasion. There’s something about that pattern that trout just cannot resist.
9. What was your favorite fly-fishing trip?
That one’s easy: a DIY bonefish trip I took with my wife to the Bahamas. I have a very short attention span (probably ADD), but the endless miles of bonefish flats, the blue water, and calm winds made me forget everything else and truly focus on being in the moment. Also, it’s a minimalist activity where you have a box of flies, a spool of tippet, an extra leader, along with bottle of water packed in your fanny pack, and you spend the entire day hunting down shadows in shorts and light fishing shirt. In all honesty, I would be happy to give up trout fishing for several months to do nothing but fish the flats.
10. What’s your next dream destination?
Very likely Belize or Mexico with my wife for the exact reasons mentioned above.