Your name or any nicknames you have?

Kate Watson

Where are you at in the world? Where will you be fishing this year?

I am in northern British Columbia. I’ll be guiding a lot this year on my home rivers, but as far as travel goes, apart from steelhead trips on the west coast, I’ve got a few exciting destinations on my mind but nothing set in stone just yet. 

What river(s) and lake(s) do you guide/fish?

Last year I branched my guiding company into heli-fishing for char and arctic grayling in interior British Columbia as well as guiding in the Skeena region. When not guiding, I fish mainly moving water for steelhead on Skeena River tributaries. 

Kate wades and with the camera lens you can see her feet under the water

©Jeremy Koreski

How long have you been guiding/fly fishing? 

I have been fly fishing since I was a teen, but I never really took it seriously until my I was in my early 20s. I have been in the fly fishing industry for the last seven years. 

What got you into fly fishing? When did you start? 

My father initially taught me on our annual salmon trips as a teenager, but it was my uncle who really got me addicted. He joined us on one of our annual trips and had just purchased a double hand Burkheimer rod. I spent that entire trip and the rest of that summer determined to learn Spey, and haven’t stopped.

Why do you fly fish?  What does it “do” for you?

I fly fish because it fosters my determination, stubbornness, creativity, and desire for solitude. There’s something inherently soulful, calming and efficacious about fly fishing. I have become more conservation minded, more self reliant and insatiable for life. They say trout live in beautiful places, and I do not think they’re wrong. 

If you own and use a Rod Vault, what do you like about you Rod Vault?

I don’t own one yet…I am far too disorganized to be that organized; but I really should. 

Kate casts a two handed spey rod

©Talon Gillis

As a woman guide/angler, you’re definitely in the minority.  What made you decide to be a guide/angler?  

I grew up in the hunting industry and was around guides my entire life. As a young girl I knew I wanted, and more so needed this lifestyle; so in turn I believed I had to marry a guide as my only ticket in. It wasn’t until my early twenties when suddenly something just clicked, I thought to myself “ why would I marry a guide, when I can just be one myself?” I distinctly remember this moment, and from there on, everything changed. 

Has the fact you’re a female ever been an issue with a client or other angler (such as them hitting on you or maybe talking down to you?)  If so how did you manage it/them?

Haha, dear Lord the stories! Yes, I have had many situations where both guided clients and anglers have tried belittling me or tried to underestimate me. Typically it has been males; but this isn’t to say these stories represent all males. I’m pretty easy going about everything, but I like to wait it out when a client tries to tell me he knows which flies work better, and where on the river fishes better. They always turn out looking like an ass. So I wait for that moment and then I ask if we can continue our day. One of my favourite stories, is when I had two men in my boat and they hadn’t listened to me all day. Suddenly there was a pretty epic mayfly hatch so I rigged up two rods with dries and said we should switch over. They refused to believe that top water would work in this particular pool. They hadn’t caught anything in the last twenty minutes, and I could see fish slurping off the top. So finally he looks at me and says “if you think you know better, show us.” I had been tracking one particular rainbow, and within two false casts, and milliseconds after that fly hit the water, this rainbow leaps up and smashes this little mayfly. I hand the rod to the client and tell him to reel it in. Best part, it was the biggest fish of the day and they immediately switched over. I think the biggest thing with tough clients and tough anglers on the water, is keeping your head down and just proving them wrong. That’s not to say, let these people walk all over you, but I think you accede to more respect keeping a low profile because they can’t say anything bad about that, versus if you were in their faces calling them out. 

Kate casts in the sunlight

©Jeremy Koreski

Do you think being a woman gives you a different perspective as an angler/guide?  If so, how?

I am so on the fence with this issue, because I offer so many Women’s Fly Fishing Schools and I see the value in women supporting women; but at the same time I am so over companies telling us they’ve made us light little rods for our weak arms, with little grips for our dainty hands and painted pink to appeal to our flowery little minds. I have nothing wrong with the colour pink, hell I get my rods painted different colours, and I have my competition rod grips sanded down so I can cast more comfortably, but it’s this push lately that suddenly women are targeted into this sport…we’ve always been here. I don’t think women necessarily have different perspectives than our male counterparts, but maybe personal perspectives based on our own experiences. I do, however, think we offer a different voice to the dialogue in how waders are designed and how companies choose to represent women’s gear. 

Kate holds up a large salmon

What is a piece of advice you want to give to other anglers or a tip/trick that has helped you grow as an angler?

Slow down. If you think you’re going slow, slow down your cast even more. Also keep things real- don’t play the numbers game, don’t go down that road in trying so hard to get that hero shot that you’re jeopardizing fish longevity, and keep your fish wet. 

What’s your favorite new piece of gear?

Ooh, I am a sucker for new gear. I just received an Orvis Superfine carbon 1wt with a tiny Hardy Perfect 2 5/8 reel with an agate line guard. I can’t wait to take it out this summer for dry fly arctic grayling.

What is your favorite fly? (To tie, or catch fish on?) 

For steelhead, this year I was obsessed with fishing and tying ‘The Dallas’ especially using a silk gut blind eye. It’s an old pattern from 1895 from George Kelson’s book, “The Salmon Fly”. It’s such a beautiful pattern, swims perfectly and one of the few true spey flies tied with turkey wings.  

Kates favorite salmon fly

Best catch of all time?

This last fall I caught my best steelhead of all time. It was such a rough season already for everyone and I had reached that point in the day where I think we all do, where anything, even a coho (silver) would be fun to catch. Suddenly my fly stopped and I looked up and there was a huge chrome doe leaping up river. My reel screamed and got everyone’s attention. Her tail went over the 33” net marking, so with a quick picture and release I spent the rest of the day with a sh*t eating grin. 

What’s your “Dream Trip”? 

There are too many! To narrow it down though would be between assisting on the Steelhead Project in Kamchatka, fishing taimen in Mongolia, sea run taimen in the Russian far east, home to grizzlies and amur tigers and probably arctic char in Nunavut. Although catching a rooster fish in the Baja is high on my bucket list. 

Kate rows a boat

What are some of the best places you’ve been fishing?

Here in British Columbia, we are so spoiled by seemingly untouched watersheds, and wild places. As far as steelhead go, I think this is one of the best places I have fished for them.

How do people follow you on social media or reach you? 

Instagram: @katywat

Facebook: @onthewaterwithkate


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