Trout Bum of the Week LII: Chuck Hawkins

Although brown trout and steelhead are Chuck’s maine quarry, he loves fly fishing for anything that swims.
All photos courtesy Chuck Hawkins

Welcome to our series called “Trout Bum of the Week,” in which we highlight some of the folks 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. 

Chuck Hawkins is the owner of Hawkins Outfitters, in Traverse City, Michigan. He has been fly fishing for more than 45 years and guiding for half that. He and his wife, Cherie, launched Hawkins Outfitters two decades ago and were named the 2010 Orvis Endorsed Guide Service of the year. Chuck is also an Orvis fly designer, with several great patterns under his name. (See below.)

1. When did you start fly fishing?
Forty-five years ago, I was in the Kamloops region of British Columbia throwing flatfish lures. I saw a good fly-caster practicing for a trip to Alaska and was intrigued. A year later, I didn’t own any spinning gear.

Catching steelies on the swing is the name of the game in Chuck’s boat..

2. What’s your favorite water?|
The Manistee, Pere Marquette, and AuSable in Michigan; Rios Limay and Chimehuin in Patagonia, Argentina; and any flat with permit or tarpon on it.

3. What’s your favorite species to chase with a fly rod and why?
Whatever I’m fishing for at the time. Guiding so many days limits my fishing time, so honestly I take what I can get.

4. What’s your most memorable fly-fishing moment?
I’ve been very lucky to have many memorable moments around fly fishing: Two permit in three casts, my son landing a 23-plus-inch brown at 12 years old, a client and his wife each landing 16-pound steelhead in one day, 10 trout between 20 and 30 inches on the Limay in Patagonia in one day. I’ve had a lot of fun!

5. What is your most forgettable fly-fishing moment?
Being in a boat with an incompetent guide in Belize when he almost flipped the boat miles from the nearest land.

Chuck and client Julie Tallman show off another Michigan steelhead.

6. What do you love most about fly fishing?
The places I go every day, and the people I meet.

7. What’s your favorite piece of gear and why?
Helios 2 rods! They are the biggest advance in rods since graphite. Plus, I have to give a shout out to textured lines because they are unbelievable.

8. What’s your go-to fly when nothing else is working?
Hawk’s Nutcracker Streamer.

Chuck’s patterns include 1. The Nutcracker, 2. The Triple Double, 3. The Rag Clown Egg, and 4. The Hat Trick.

9. What was your favorite fly-fishing trip?
I can say that they have all been great, but that I just caught more fish on some of them. I’ve fished Patagonia, Belize, Labrador, Florida, Maine, all the western states and Canada. . .great places!

10. How do you define the difference between someone who loves fly fishing and a true trout bum?
A trout bum’s world completely revolves the next fishing trip. In my world, that is almost everyday because I get as much joy guiding as I do fishing.

One thought on “Trout Bum of the Week LII: Chuck Hawkins”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *