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.
Matt J. Libby grew up the son of a Master Maine Guide and spent every summer at Libby Camps, which was founded by his great-grandfather on the shores of Millinocket Lake in 1890. Matt J. (the initial distinguishes him from his dad) and his wife, Jess, now run the place, and he flies guests to remote waters in his trusty Cessna 185.
1. When did you start fly fishing?
2. What’s your favorite water?
Really, I’m expected to answer that?
3. What’s your favorite fish to chase with a fly rod and why?
Brook trout, because of the sheer beauty, but salmon are a close second for the fight.
4. What’s your most memorable fly-fishing moment?
Late September, I was fishing at the base of a waterfall, and I pulled out the most stunningly beautiful 4-pound brook trout on a size 22 midge pattern.
5. What’s your most forgettable fly-fishing moment?
I flew a customer into a remote stream for the day. At midday, I slipped on a steep slope, driving a stick well into the palm of my hand. After almost passing out (I don’t do so well with blood) and the client getting me a drink of water, we were able to finish the day and fly out one-handed.
6. What do you love most about fly-fishing?
The scenery, relaxing, and just casting with nothing else on my mind.
7. What’s your favorite piece of gear and why?
My Cessna 185: it gets me to the fish. If it has to be actual fishing gear, I would say a lanyard, which keeps all my tools in one spot and means I don’t have to sweat it out in a bulky vest.
8. What’s your go-to fly when nothing else is working?
Stonefly dry with a Copper John dropper.
9. What was your favorite fly-fishing trip?
Kepemits River, Labrador with my father and the guides I work with. We were catching 7- to 12-pound landlocked salmon all day long in ripping current. I never thought my backing knot would get that much of a test.
10. How do you define the difference between someone who loves fly fishing and a true trout bum?
The person who loves fly-fishing thinks about it year round and gets to do it for three or four days. The trout bum is on the water whenever they have the chance. The fly-fishing lover classes their day by how many fish were caught. The trout bum doesn’t give up, works their ass off to figure the fish out, but at the end of the day, if there were no fish caught, the day was still pretty spectacular.