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.
Kim Bryant has done many different jobs in the fly-fishing industry: she’s been a shop rat at Concord Outfitters in Massachusetts; a guide at New York’s Ausable Club and Wyoming’s Rock Creek Anglers; an instructor at the Orvis Fly Fishing School; and a host for Orvis Travel. She lives in southwestern Vermont, where she also runs Tall Cat Coffee Roasters.
1. When did you start fly fishing?
I started fly fishing at the age of 17, when I was in college in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont. As a child, I had above-average patience–able to sit at the end of a dock with a worm and bobber and not catch a thing. I attribute this one fact to most of my fishing success as an adult.
2. What’s your favorite water?
For many years, the small brook-trout streams of New England were my home, and I didn’t think much about traveling farther afield with my fly rod. I still have a very warm spot in my heart for these small streams, but I fall more and more in love with the bigger water of the mountain West and fish there as often as possible.
3. What’s your favorite species to chase with a fly rod?
Just as I will always love the small streams of Vermont, I will always love trout. They feel like home to me. That being said, I love checking species of my list and currently find myself dreaming about flats boats and tailing permit. I’ve been having this recurring dream about the golden dorado of South America. I might have to do something about that soon.
4. What’s your most memorable fly fishing moment?
A few years ago I was fishing the Big Hole in southwestern Montana. I had tied on a little black and red ant and saw a rising fish WAY down a little side channel. I made the cast, and the fish moved farther down the channel. So I fed out line on the water and achieved an irresponsibly long drift. There is no earthly reason that the fish made it to the net, but it did.
5. What’s your most forgettable fly fishing moment?
I trout-set on the first and biggest permit I had follow my fly, and I can relive every single second of the cast, retrieve, slight tug, trout-set, and watching that fish swim off into the sunset. Every. Single. Second. #haunted
6. What do you love most about fly fishing?
The thing I love most about fly-fishing is the way it lets me experience new places. It adds a sense of purpose to traveling that I really appreciate. When I visit a new place as an angler, I feel I get to be a traveler instead of a tourist. Traveling with a fly rod is like being given magical keys. The world is suddenly bigger in the best kind of way.
7. What is your favorite piece of gear?
I’m a minimalist when it comes to gear but my Orvis Gale Force Backpack has been so many places with me. I use it just about every day, all year. Gear that keeps you and your stuff dry should not be under appreciated.
8. What’s your go-to fly when nothing else is working?
A Beadhead Prince Nymph, all day long.
9. What was your favorite fly fishing trip?
This spring I took my daughter to a small local pond and she caught a few trout on her own. It was the first time she was genuinely thrilled about fishing (and catching!). It made me really excited about the fishing trips I can start planning with her.
10. How do you define the difference between someone who loves fly fishing and a true trout bum?
I think the difference between someone who loves to fish and a trout bum can be summed up with this analogy: a fisherman will order off the menu, and a trout bum will ask for the chef’s specialty. The people I know who fit this category always seem native to wherever they are. They are open to adventure and more than willing to see what the river looks like just past the next bend.