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.
KynsLee Scott (“Kyns” to her friends) is an instructor and guide for Blackfoot River Outfitters in Missoula, Montana. She’s also the Owner/Outfitter of KS Steelhead Guide Service in Washington, a 50/50 On The Water Ambassador, and a partner of Wild Rise. Check out her killer Instagram feed.
1. When did you start fly fishing?
I didn’t start when I was really young, by any means. It wasn’t until my family and I were deep-sea fishing off the coast of Kona, Hawaii, that fishing took hold in me. My dad caught a 539.5-pound Pacific blue marlin. I was nine at the time, and it had a profound, lasting effect on me. I started fly fishing—hacking at it at least—when I was in high school. I worked on the Missouri River and was self-taught for years. It wasn’t until my senior year that I really got into it. After that, it was like a wildfire. And here I am…
2. What’s your favorite water?
I have some secret spots here in western Montana that are very special to me. Recently, I moved to Washington to establish a steelhead guide service, launched an Orvis-endorsed fly shop, and worked for and with some great folks. This past December, I moved back home to Montana. Now, I feel refreshed on the waters I used to fish daily, and I see them in a whole new way. During my time in Washington, I explored some amazing waters. The Klickitat is still one of my favorite rivers to fish for summer-run steelhead, along with the Queets for winter fish.
3. What’s your favorite species to chase with a fly rod and why?
For the past few years, I’ve really been focusing and learning all I can about pike. In the summer, when the waters in Montana get warm for trout, I put the 5-weights away and pull out the big rods for Esox. It’s not necessarily the fight I love (although, they can rip) but moreso the hunt. These toothy critters are primitive, ruthless, and finicky. It is a fun challenge to immerse yourself in something new and try to educate yourself as much as possible.
4. What’s your most memorable fly-fishing moment?
One of my best memories in life was when my dad finally landed that marlin after hours of exhaustion. I was on the upper deck of the boat, and I’ll never forget the look on his face. (He tells the story much better.) I gave him a thumbs up and said, “Good one, Dad.”
One of my favorite guiding memories happens to be with my favorite clients, a talented, generational trio from the East. They had fished with Ryan Steen (a fellow BRO guide) and me for a few years now and pike were at the top of their list this trip. Both our boats were lapping a back slough, and the guests were slinging 10-weights with steel leaders and homemade 8-inch flies. I had begun pulling away from the bank to row another lap when I saw Colby give the line a huge strip set. I though, “You should really put a bend in that rod.” He was in the front of my boat, and I quickly turn the boat to see what was going on up there. I was blown away by the fact that he physically couldn’t bend the rod! An epic fight ensued, and that pike ripped us both a new one. It was one of the best memories I have from my career, with my favorite clients and one of my favorite species
5. What is your most forgettable fly-fishing moment?
During my 2016 season on the Klickitat, my boat racked up over a half a dozen broken rods. Maybe I was cursed?
6. What do you love most about fly fishing?
It connects people from all walks of life and is the cheapest form of therapy I can recommend. You can lose yourself in it, and if you’re with others, share a wonderful day together.
7. What’s your favorite piece of gear and why?
Currently, the Commando Heads from OPST, paired with a pink Lazer Line on my 5-weight Orvis Access (my favorite trout rod of all time). During my time in Washington, I was engulfed in all things swing. Now, being back on my home waters in Montana, I see streamer fishing and swinging in a whole new light!
8. What’s your go-to fly when nothing else is working?
It depends on the time of year. Some general stand-bys in my boat include Chubby Chernobyls and variations on the San Juan Worm. I’m a protégé of John Herzer, for sure.
9. What was your favorite fly-fishing trip?
Fishing for tarpon in the Everglades. Being a native Montanan, the ‘Glades felt made me feel as if I was on another planet. It took me completely out of my comfort zone and kicked my ass. I’m very grateful to have had that opportunity . . . and I’ll be back.
10. How do you define the difference between someone who loves fly fishing and a true trout bum?
Those who love fishing will travel when they can to fish. A trout bum? I know I’m a trout bum. I’ve lived in my car for seasons while trying to guide somewhere new, gone weeks without a real shower, and that won’t ever change. I’ve based my career and life around the sport, and I’m not in it for the “Benjamins.” And even after years in the industry, on my day off, you will find me on the water. But no matter what fishing camp you are in, we are all in it together.