Welcome to our series called “Trout Bum of the Week,” in which we highlight some of the guys living the good life. . .of a sort. (See the bottom of this post for a link to the previous installments.) 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.
Steve Hollensed is the owner/operator of Flywater Angling Adventures in Denison, Texas, and a two-time finalist for Orvis Fly-Fishing Guide of the Year. He guides on massive Lake Texoma, a year-round fishery for stripers and smallmouths.
1. When did you start fly fishing?
I really can’t remember but somewhere around 1985. And then in about 1995, I decided to get serious about it and develop my skills. From that point forward, fly fishing has been not just a part of my life, but it has been my life.
2. What’s your favorite water?
Without a doubt…Lake Texoma, my home water and where my guide service is based. Texoma is a real jewel that lies on the border of Texas and Oklahoma, one of the last places you would expect to fly-fish for stripers and smallmouth bass. The blue, deep water, high bluffs, and blitzing stripers always take the newcomer aback. And although the stripers were transplanted from the East Coast in the late 1960s, they have found a real home in Texoma. Productivity rates are so high on Texoma that high levels of angling catch and keep rates are required to maintain a healthy fishery. Yep…I just can’t help bragging about it.
Even when I go off to exotic destinations I always enjoy getting back on Texoma. Bottom line…I love the waters where I guide. All guides should.
3. What’s your favorite species to chase with a fly rod and why?
Tough, tough question. But if I have to pick one, it is the striper. Why? First and foremost, it is the hunting aspect of striper fishing. Stripers are always on the move, always looking for that next meal. Texoma is a huge lake, so every fishing day starts with a “hunt.” And for me, the game is in the finding. Second, I love the casting in this type of fishing: long casts, with long, fast retrieves. There is nothing slow or finesse about stripers on the fly. Thirdly, I love being on the water of a large lake, relaxing yet exhilarating. It is just a wonderful environment.
4. What’s your most memorable fly-fishing moment?
One day, several years ago, a good friend and I were about ready to bring our day on Texoma to a close. We had caught some fish, had a great time, and it was really starting to get hot. . .which is why there was not another boat on the lake. We had the entire lake to ourselves. And just about when we were ready to leave, it seemed as though the lake surface started boiling with blitzing stripers. There were stripers everywhere, as far as you could see. And the noise was incredible: nobody realizes how loud blitzing stripers can be, but you can actually hear ’em coming. Unforgettable!
5. What’s your most forgettable fly-fishing moment?
A very nice lady, on her very first striper trip, on her first real cast, caught a 30-inch topwater striper. . .and my camera didn’t work! We took some pics with the phone, but it just wasn’t the same.
6. What do you love most about fly-fishing?
It is an active, skill-based form of angling that is never dull!
7. What’s your favorite piece of gear and why?
Easy question: my Helios 2 907-4. I love fishing this H2 because it has the power to deliver large, striper flies (wind or no wind) to the school, yet it is still on the lighter side in terms of fish fighting. I can still cast the bigger flies yet still have a lighter rod to fight the fish with.
8. What’s your go-to fly when nothing else is working?
Not sure a go-to fly exists in striper fishing, but just let me say this about my confidence flies: It’s no use, unless it’s chartreuse.
9. What was your favorite fly-fishing trip?
A trip to the Mountain Fork River in the Kiamichi Mountains of southeastern Oklahoma to introduce my daughter to fly fishing. It was a special time for both of us that will never be forgotten.
10. How do you define the difference between someone who loves fly fishing and a true trout bum?
For someone who loves to fly fish, fly fishing is a big part of their lives. However with a true trout bum, fly fishing is their life.
And I have to add that you don’t have to be a “trout guy or gal” to be a trout bum. I am a warmwater fly fisher, not a coldwater fly fisher, but I think I do feel the same spirit that a trout bum does when they are on the water they love, pursuing the fish they love, doing what they love most! I am a lucky guy.