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.
Jenny Mayrell-Woodruff owns and operates Fly Fish Beavers Bend in Broken Bow, Oklahoma. She is also a member of the Lower Mountain Fork River Foundation and the American Fly Fishing Trade Association. When she’s not chasing trout, she fishes for bass, tarpon, bonefish, permit, and other species.
1. When did you start fly fishing?
I started fly fishing about 15 years ago. The passion started with largemouth bass on rural farm ponds in North Texas and trout on the Lower Mountain Fork River in southeastern Oklahoma.
2. What’s your favorite water?
My heart is with my home waters of the Lower Mountain Fork. I spend over 200 days a year on this river, and have watched over the years as it turned into one of the best trout fisheries in the South.
3. What’s your favorite species to chase with a fly rod?
Sight-fishing for tarpon is my favorite! I might be a trout bum, but I really like to watch those silver kings dance, whether or not they make it to the boat. That’s why I really look forward to my hosted trips to El Pescador each year.
4. What’s your most memorable fly fishing moment?
Getting the chance to guide a group of 10- to 12-year-old girls fly fishing for trout for their first time. They were roll-casting and mending like champs within only a few minutes of instruction; it was awesome. Every time I looked up, one of them had a fish on, and there were moments where they all three had a fish on! The smiles on their faces were priceless. I know they will remember that trip forever and possibly someday grow into loving the sport of fly fishing like I do. Knowing that I sparked that passion in them is what counts!
5. What’s your most forgettable fly fishing moment?
I swallowed a barbless size 20 Red Hot Nymph in the middle of teaching an on-the-water fly-fishing class with my husband, Orvis Endorsed Guide Rob Woodruff. Two of the participants got their lines crossed, and I cut the small nymph from the bottom of one to release the other. I guess I had my hands full untangling the line, so I put the fly in my mouth. Well, I went to tie it back on and quickly realized that I swallowed it, and then panic set in. I went to two different hospitals, and they both told me not to worry about it. When you swallow a sharp hook, it’s really hard to just not worry about it, but, hey, I made it through alive.
6. What do you love most about fly fishing?
I love the creativity of it. I think it is so neat how, no matter what body of water you go to, you can create and fish a pattern that matches the main diet of the species you are targeting. I think everyone gets that warm-and-fuzzy feeling when they catch fish on flies they tied themselves.
7. What is your favorite piece of gear?
Hands down, my 5-weight Helios 2 is my favorite piece of gear. I like the versatility of it: It has the delicate touch for pitching dries, perfect flex to turn over heavy streamers, a backbone to land the fish quickly, sensitivity for high-stick nymphing—and the best part about it is makes me feel like a wizard when I cast it.
8. What’s your go-to fly when nothing else is working?
I am a “streamer chick” at heart! Therefore, my go-to fly is a streamer that I tie: an olive Mohair Leech with a chartreuse bead head. I always make sure I fish it deep and vary the cadence on the retrieve.
9. What was your favorite fly fishing trip?
My favorite fly-fishing trip was this past April when I got to spend a few days fishing with my trout-bum friend, Maggie Stone. We fished the Missouri, Madison, and one top-secret location that is the river that Maggie grew up on. We both caught the most beautiful browns and stunning rainbows throughout the trip, but the most exciting part was I actually got to fish with someone who is just as passionate about fly fishing as I am.
10. How do you define the difference between someone who loves fly fishing and a true trout bum?
A true trout bum’s mind is always infiltrated with fishing, and they are also very passionate about the waters they fish. A trout bum will be the one that says “one more cast” and end up taking a minimum of 50 more. Word to the wise: never go fishing with a trout bum unless you pack an adequate amount of food and water