Your name or any nicknames you have?
Sara Thronburg is my legal name. As for nicknames…well I respond to Momma, Honey, Sissy, SaraBear, and Saratoga on a daily sometimes minute by minute basis.
Where are you at in the world? Where will you be fishing this year?
I was born and raised in Casper, Wyoming where I am fortunate to have the North Platte River run through it. As a nurse and mom by day and night, I am a woman angler every second in-between. I will be expanding my fly fishing excursions to Ireland this September hoping to hook up on pike and brown trout. There is also discussion about Bolivia next year for the quest of the beautiful golden dorado.
Most importantly, while I respond to these interview questions, we are headed to Western Wyoming to fish the Salt and Snake River with our anxious pups, our pickup rigged with our ready to go rods safe in their rod vault, and our vintage Clackcraft.
What river(s) and lake(s) do you guide/fish?
My home river is the North Platte River, in which I have spent the most time on. You really can’t get any better than when you have stretches such as The Mile, Grey Reef, and Fremont in your backyard. My husband and I have a drift boat in which we take turns oaring and fishing. He always lets me fish first and when I land one, then I switch to the oars and we spend our time trading off and on guiding each other down the river. We like to fish new waters in the state and when we travel in the states or abroad we always find time to check out other waters/species. I only guide friends. It truly is a perfect “girl day”. I enjoy spending time on several secret tail waters here in this great state.
I definitely hit a fishing buck-list item last year. My sister and I went steel heading with the Rods-Reels-and-Heels crew in Oregon hitting the famous Deschutes. I always read about it and so badly wanted to go, so I grabbed my sister and we took an all ladies camping/fishing trip. Steelhead are definitely a fish of a thousand casts. Spending time with my sister and fellow lady anglers was truly and freeing and most adventurous time that can only be described as nothing short of magical. We did land a few steelhead with the help of our friends Russell Scott with Direct Adventure in Bend, Chris the owner of Bend Fly shop in Bend, and Jessie Dodds the fishiest gall I have ever met with Fin & Fire. What a team and what a blast. If you ever want to adventure to the famous Deschutes, get ahold of them. Good people right there.
How long have you been guiding/fly fishing?
My love for fly fishing started in High School. I actually had senior pictures taken on the river, which was close to 20 years ago. My love for fishing never ceased after High School, but life gets busy and my hobby took the back burner. When I met my husband he so happened to fly fish. Of course he immediately got me out in the drift boat, which I had really only experienced wading up until the point. The drift boat ruined me a bit and I am slightly spoiled now. I have been fly fishing avidly ever since. It helps when your spouse shares the same passion as you do. Clarification; it helps when making weekend plans, not exactly helpful on the spending budget. Fly shops are my favorite place to shop. If you ever get to Casper Wyoming, stop by the Ugly Bug Fly Shop. There you will find one heck of a woman guilde/angler, Miss Addie Dees.
What got you into fly fishing? When did you start?
One of my dearest and oldest friends started me down this path when I was about 16. I vividly remember us digging through his dads shed and finding anything extra we could possibly outfit me in. Thinking back, I was 32 before I had a brand-new pair of waders or fly rod. The point being, you don’t need brand new equipment or a plethora of money to be able to get outside and fish.
We spent countless hours on the water with his fishing dog Griffey after practices during the week or after games on the weekends. It was a great way to spend time learning an art and keeping out of trouble. By the time I was a senior in high school, I had fished the north platte, sunlight basin out of Cody, and landed a small rainbow in Yellowstone National Park.
Another shout out to a fellow angler, my friend is the Founder and President of Joey’s Fly Fishing in Sheridan, Wyoming where he instills his passion for fly fishing with our youth teaching them the art and love for this beautiful pastime. We have both said, “I was his first “Joey’s Kid” all those years ago. I can still remember his saying “Don’t walk with your rod like that…you’re way too far out!!!..yelling at me…nooooo…10 and 2!!…”.
Why do you fly fish? What does it “do” for you?
I love fly fishing, it gives me a sense of calmness that nothing else does. I am a busy wife, mother, and nurse. Fly fishing is “Me Time”. Although I love sharing this pastime with my husband, our kids, and our friends, there are moments when I am out in the middle of the water waist deep that my mind shuts completely down and I am truly relaxed. I feel I get more rest when I am wading in the water than after a 10 hour night of sleep. It is my way to reset and enjoy the great outdoors and beautiful country.
If you own and use a Rod Vault, what do you like about your Rod Vault?
We do own a rod vault. We have had it for about 3 years. I bought it for my husband but he rents out of the spots to me ;). It makes getting out on the water so much more convenient. As a women and a mom, I like it when things run efficiently. We are able to rig our rods in preparation for when we get to our destination, we are ready to hit the water. Next to the convenience of preparing the night before, it keeps our rods safe from being broken. If you have ever had your fly rod break, you know that sickening feeling you get in the pit of your stomach, so having the rod vault protects my trusty pink sage grace give me a solid sense of relief. We are actually going to be purchasing another one in the near future, as our fly rod collection is starting to become a slight situation. We actually need about two more. He can have one and I can have two 🙂
As a woman guide/angler, you're definitely in the minority. What made you decide to be a guide/angler?
As I mentioned above, the decision was getting out and enjoying the great outdoors. We didn’t use cell phones back then, we found things to do and our thing to do was to find old dirt roads that led to water that contained fish that wanted to possibly bite on a fly. It was a challenge and it was a way to deal with the stress and pressures of high school and coming into adulthood. More kids need to find adventure outside.
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?
It would be a lie to say that neither hasn’t happened. I would say that being talked down to is probably the most common of the two. I gave a lot of mentions in this bio as I think it is important to throw shout outs to good people who make lady angling, in what is still predominately a male sport, great. There has never been once that I have walked into The Ugly Bug Fly Shop that Blake or Vance haven’t been more than helpful and respectful. I can walk in and say, I want to do this but I am not sure how. Or I want to get this but I am not quite sure which one is best for me. I try to focus on the people in this industry who are supportive.
Now, I won’t completely fib. If I have been on the river catching fish and someone joins in and is visibly annoyed that I am a female and am in the water breathing the same air, I won’t say what I am catching them on when asked as I move upstream. Now if someone is nice and says even a hello, I will give them a few of my flies that I know will get them on fish. I will even find a different hole if I have been there for a bit. I wasn’t always like that. I used to just leave with my head down with a feeling of not being worthy. My husband has helped that. He always is so chivalrous by giving me the best hole first, and when I was getting back into fishing, he would help me if I was struggling, not because he is a man, but because he is kind and being a good human.
I would say, I do get (A LOT), “you don’t seem like the type that fishes, or wow…you like to fish, or you went by yourself??”
…………..Yes, I fish. Yes, I like to have my nails manicured to accent the fish that I catch ;). Yes, I own my own equipment. Yes, my fly rod is pink, yes my reel is pink, yes my fly line is pink, yes it cost me as much as my mortgage. Yes, I can row a boat. No, I don’t want to take you since you made just made fun of me. Yes, I like to fish but I like to wear mascara doing it.
Do you think being a woman gives you a different perspective as an angler/guide? If so, how?
I feel that we, all humans, have our own “why” for everything we do in life, including fly fishing. I can only speak to my perspective and my why and how I feel. As a women, we do have different perspectives in general, and that is what makes us different from men and provides diversity. When fishing, I probably do look and approach waters differently than my husband. I know what I think may look like good water, he might not agree, and visa versa.
I would say the biggest impact that I notice is sharing it with my kids. Our daughters don’t love fishing, I hope that changes, but for now they at least ask and share in my excitement.
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 get outside. Ask questions. Join groups that you feel are like minded. I am grateful for Brenna Richardson, with The Rods Reels and Heals, for putting together a women’s group. Where many of us didn’t have confidence to “do it by ourselves” before, we do now.
What’s your favorite new piece of gear?
I don’t have any super new gear, but I have a new lucky fishing hat. Yes, I am superstitious when it comes to fishing. My last new piece of equipment was my streamer rod/reel set up…it’s probably my favorite. It was a gift from my hubby for Christmas two years ago and I love throwing streamers. A lot.
What is your favorite fly? (To tie, or catch fish on?)
My favorite fly when I am nyphing is the trusty san juan in which ever color they like for the day, and an RS2 (Which I am convinced stands for Rex & Sara 2). I love throwing streamers so anything that looks like it will land me a big ol' brown is my favorite streamer fly. Dry flies, drakes and caddis. Right now, I am loving the hoppers!!!! Who isn’t?
Best catch of all time?
Honestly of everything that I have ever landed, the beginning a June I landed my first cutty. I catch a lot of rainbow trout and cuttbow, but I have never caught a true cutthroat in 20 years. She was a unicorn of a fish. Second favorite catch of all time was watching my sister land a steelhead. I have never cried like that over fish before.
What's your "Dream Trip"?
Bolivia-It’s happening. No time like the present, right?
What are some of the best places you’ve been fishing?
Every place you catch fish is the best place. I can’t name my best place, because then it would be everyone’s best place, but I would gladly take you wanted to go out fishing.
How do people follow you on social media or reach you?
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