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.
Phoebe Bean was an intern here at Orvis in the fall or 2014, and she has written a bunch of posts for this blog. (Scroll to the bottom for a full list.) As you’ll read, though, she was hardly new to the sport. In fact, she caught the fly-fishing bug as a first-grader and has never looked back. Phoebe grew up between San Francisco and a sheep ranch not far from Idaho’s Silver Creek, so she’s had plenty of chances to wet a line. The fly-fishing images on her blog, beanstream, tell the story of her love for trout rivers.
She is currently working toward a Ph.D. in neuropsychology at the University of Montana in Missoula, Montana, surrounded by remarkable rivers and streams. When she’s in Montana, she guides fly fishers for Blackfoot River Outfitters, and she has also guided for Picabo Angler in Picabo, Idaho.
1. When did you start fly fishing?
Wow , it’s hard to remember that far back! I know that one of the first times I ever fly-fished was over my godparents’ wedding weekend on a beautiful spring creek in Wyoming. As a six-year-old, I don’t remember much, but I know it was a rainy morning, the fish were biting, and we ate the trout I caught for dinner. River trips followed soon after – the most memorable being on the Middle Fork of the Salmon, even though I refused to drink water and ended up severely dehydrated. But that is another story. I was also fortunate enough to spend my summers living in a cabin on Silver Creek in Idaho next to an avid angler who took me under his wing. I think that for much of my childhood, though, I was a cautious angler. I was afraid to make mistakes, to under-perform on the water in front of the adults I so highly respected. Not until I left for college did I start testing my knowledge and really learn the water on my own.
2. What’s your favorite water?
Although I developed a great fondness for the small streams in Vermont while living in Manchester, I feel the most at home on Silver Creek. Each bend holds a different memory–some wonderful, some frustrating–but all of them have taught me important lessons. Now that I live in Montana, I’ve had the privilege of learning new waters, and the North Fork of the Blackfoot is becoming one of my favorite rivers.
3. What’s your favorite species to chase with a fly rod?
Big brown trout are hard to beat, but I love the ambitious little brook trout that fill your palm with the most vibrant colors in the fall. Permit are on the top of my list to try! I’m not sure when that will happen, but I think about it often.
4. What’s your most memorable fly fishing moment?
One of my most memorable fly-fishing moments was on a tiny, unnamed creek in Yellowstone National Park a few years ago during a road trip I took with a college friend. The sun was dipping below the trees, beavers were slapping their tails angrily at us, and the trout were on a feeding frenzy! It felt as though we were the first people to ever walk through those meadows. None of the fish could have been longer than eight inches, but each one elicited a chorus of whooping and laughter.
5. What’s your most forgettable fly fishing moment?
There are a few moments I hope to never relive. One of the stupidest things I’ve done is drive three hours before the sun rose to a remote stream in the Pioneer Mountains only to realize I had forgotten all of my flies. The drive home wasn’t much fun. Needless to say, I now double-check my gear before going anywhere!
6. What do you love most about fly fishing?
Fly fishing offers a way to reconnect with myself in ways that I can’t when confined by four walls; there is something fulfilling about being outside in beautiful places and disconnecting from any and all worries. Although I cherish the days when it’s just me and my dogs on the water, when words aren’t necessary, I love sharing my passion for fly fishing with others. I started a women’s fly-fishing club through Blackfoot River Outfitters last year called “Hersdays” (if you know the shop owners, John Herzer and Terri Raugland, you’ll understand) and have enjoyed getting to know other fishy women on and off the water. I have also been lucky enough to help Jenny West of Go West Outfitters in Hamilton, Montana, with her Casting for Conservation clinics and love the opportunity to tie fly fishing, conservation, and girl power together.
7. What is your favorite piece of gear?
If you had asked me what my favorite piece of gear was six months ago, my answer would have been the Orvis Waterproof Backpack. Since I haul my DSLR camera around with me on most adventures, it’s nice to know that it’s safe from the elements or my clumsiness. Plus, I’m a big snacker, so having room for food is key! That being said, my favorite piece of gear today is the Helios 3F 5-weight. As I write this, I haven’t even had the chance to cast it with a dry fly yet (it’s still streamer and dirt-snake season here in Montana), but it’s already exceeded my expectations tenfold. I cannot wait for the first warm days of spring to arrive!
8. What’s your go-to fly when nothing else is working?
If I’ve exhausted all dry-fly options, my go-to is Coffey’s Sparkle Minnow. Works like a charm!
9. What was your favorite fly fishing trip?
All of the fly fishing trips I’ve been lucky enough to go on have been special. One of my favorites was a trip I recently took to Ireland in the hopes of fishing for Atlantic salmon in the River Moy on the northwestern coast. The folks at the Ballina Angling Centre set me up with gear and a ghillie, some strong instant coffee, and lots of courage. I can’t describe the feeling I had when the first salmon tugged on my fly. It was an epic journey.
10. How do you define the difference between someone who loves fly fishing and a true trout bum?
As soon as a trout bum gets off the water, they’re already thinking about the next time they can rig up their rod.
Orvis News Stories by Phoebe Bean:
Photos: A Western Angler Discovers East Coast Brookies
Photos: Scenes from a First East Coast Autumn
Photos: Endless Autumn for Brook Trout
Foam Is Home
Photos: Phoebe’s Last-Day Brown Trout in Vermont
Photos: Winter Fishing On Silver Creek
Photos: The Brown Drakes Are Here!
Photos of the Day: Cutthroats and Dogs on the North Fork of the Blackfoot