Your name or any nicknames you have?
Nothing too funky, friends like to call me Sara Ann (which is technically my first and middle name) or Sara Louise, if they think I need a swift talking to, ha.
Where are you at in the world? Where will you be fishing this year?
Living and loving life in Denver, Colorado and fishing all throughout this great state and Wyoming right now.
What river(s) and lake(s) do you guide/fish?
Anywhere and everywhere! I’ll hike pretty much anywhere to fish a good alpine lake, and I’ll hike even further to get a lake to myself. My favorites are the ones that include beautiful scenery along the way without a lot of crowds, so I take off mid-week fairly often to accomplish that. Locally, I’m on most tail waters and freestone streams. I love the Fork, Colorado, South Platte, Blue, and small creeks and streams.
How long have you been guiding/fly fishing?
I was super blessed to grow up in South Florida where I’ve had access to fishing since a really young age: mostly deep sea fishing. Living in Kansas, I did the whole ponds and lake thing and it was when I moved here 3.5 years ago that I starting fishing on the fly.
What got you into fly fishing? When did you start?
I had the opportunity to visit friends who live on the Fork which is where I learned how to fly fish, hard place, I know, but I was really lucky to have that opportunity to learn where and when I did, and from a long-time friend. That was 2.5 years ago. It was a wonderful experience to learn how to fly fish on such excellent water that whole weekend and no pun intended, but when I left that weekend, I knew I was hooked and the events that happened in my life immediately after that trip kept me in the sport.
Why do you fly fish? What does it “do” for you?
After leaving Carbondale that first weekend of fly fishing, I got a call the next day that my mother had died unexpectedly. In a haze, I went and bought a bunch of fishing gear and left a few days later to go back to Carbondale.
For a long while after her death, fishing was about being on the water and in a state of mind similar to the one I was in during the last few days my mother was alive. Every time I got on the water, I felt closer to her and she felt alive, right there with me.
Fly fishing and being out there in the water all alone and totally immersed in what you’re doing became a deeply personal experience. Needless to say I spent A LOT of time on the water in the year after her death, I was probably fishing 3 times a week while working a full-time, non-industry job. Now, it’s still about connecting with nature and being outdoors and immersed in what I’m doing, but it’s also about travel and exploring new places and connecting with some of the great friends that angling has brought into my life.
If you own and use a Rod Vault, what do you like about you Rod Vault?
I don’t have one yet as I just bought a truck but I’ve been dreaming about what it would look look like atop Betsy, my new 4runner, ha – currently accepting donations towards Betsy’s first vault!
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?
Oh man, juicy question: I’ve had a lot of really negative things happen and said to me from men on the water and in shops, actually. I’ve felt unsafe and intimidated by men on the water, especially when fishing alone. I’ve been harassed, cat-called, and had unwanted sexual advances.
When I was first learning how to fly fish, I felt uncomfortable and insecure on the river but now, I have a lot more confidence and know-how with my skills and abilities to stay safe and make smart choices when I’m out. I fish alone a lot because I love the solitude and I’ve definitely gotten smarter and learned how to be safer, all together.
I think the reality is this: women are, at this point, a minority on the river. But I see that evolving, which is fantastic. As a minority, we’re under-valued and under-estimated in our skills and I hope at some point we’re no longer seen as a special population based on our gender and instead, fully integrated in the fly fishing community as fellow anglers.
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?
Just to get out on the water as often as possible: that’s the only way you’ll get better. When I first started fishing I didn’t know a lot of people as eager as me to spend every free moment on the water so I started going alone and it really cut down the learning curve and helped me learn to rely on my own skills.
What’s your favorite new piece of gear?
My Patagonia River Salt Shell. Hands down one of the best gear addition I’ve made in the last 6 months. I don’t know how I fished so long without it.
What is your favorite fly? (To tie, or catch fish on?)
Lately, I’ve been loving some olive beadhead Barrs BWO emergers and parachute extended body bwo’s for the sheer fact that the craftsmenship of the last batch I fished was so beautiful.
Best catch of all time?
It was a cool spring morning on the boat, haha… But really, earlier in the year I got my hands on one of the most beautiful browns I’ve ever seen. It was a long, slow day of chucking streamers on the Lower Colorado and right as I was losing my patience, I hooked into a hog. It wasn’t just about his size, but his markings and kype that just took my breath away and put the cheesiest grin on my face. That has to be tied with a recent trip on the Blue when I was alone and hooked into an extremely large, and strong, rainbow that took what felt like 30 minutes to net. Just as much as I love running down big catches, put me on an alpine lake and I’ll have just as much fun with the beautiful brookies.
What’s your “Dream Trip”?
I really wouldn’t mind some time on the water in New Zealand and the South Pacific.
What are some of the best places you’ve been fishing?
Growing up in FL, the fishing opportunities are lush so I have to say it’s been some of my favorite water to explore. I took a trip to the flats in the Keys last winter and everything about the trip and time on the water was beautiful.
Here in Colorado, everytime I get to hike and fish a new alpine lake I’m reminded of why I enjoy the sport so much: it takes me to places I may not explore otherwise but now, put a body or stretch of water somewhere and I’m going after it.
How do people follow you on social media or reach you?
On IG and FB you can find me and follow my fishing and fitness adventures @FindYourStrongWithSara