Jim Kammel of the Catcher and the Fly guides out of Washington, D.C. – a location that anglers don’t too often think of when considering fly fishing destinations. However, the region is rich with a diverse amount of angling opportunities. Kammel recently sat down to take on some questions for the Venturing Angler:
1. Why do you guide where you do?
The Coast Guard took me from the salt flats of Florida to the urban waters of Washington, DC. The fishery here is just incredible, offering a variety of species to chase all times of the year. Whether bass and carp in the summer, stripers in the fall, trout throughout the winter and into spring and finally the highly anticipated shad run in the spring, I always have fishing opportunities for clients. This diversity is why I love to guide in the DC, MD, and VA areas.
2. What is your favorite fish specie?
If I were never going to leave the DC metro area, I would chase brook trout every day. The flash of color and the beautifully secluded streams make these fish my favorite fish to fish for in the area. Fortunately, I have had the opportunity to chase fish elsewhere. When I am not guiding in the DC area, I guide in St. Maarten and chase tarpon 7 hours a day. From the beach, from the boat, or even from the street, the pull of this silver beast will even get a zombie’s heart to pump again.
3. What is your favorite thing about guiding?
I love the ability and opportunity to share fly fishing with new or inexperienced anglers. About 10 years ago I gave up my bait caster and focused on the fly rod. To date, I have not found a species that I can’t hunt on the fly. Teaching and helping other explore this amazing activity is my favorite thing about guiding.
4. What is the most memorable trip you’ve guided and why?
My most memorable trip was a year ago, with a client that had never picked up a fly rod before. Their father had purchased a ½ day trip on some urban waters. The weather was right, so I rigged the rod with a Catcher and the Fly shiner, and we started bouncing it of the rocky shore for bass. After several trips to the bank to retrieve the snagged fly, I noticed a large bass hanging close against the rocks, and a VERY large tail poking from below them. He dropped the shiner right where I pointed and I watched the bass spook and run down the shore. I told him to just strip the fly in and we would move down the bank, when BLAM! The rod bends and the line starts flying off the reel. After 10 minutes, he brings a 30” snakehead to hand. I have purposefully chased these fish all over the DC area, and have spent so many hours watching them watch me with no bites, and here it is a guy with only a couple dozen casts ever under their belt, lands one.
5. What is the funniest thing you’ve experienced while guiding?
I was guiding a father and son on one of our many amazing brook trout streams in VA. The son is giving Dad a bunch of lip about how he is going to out fish Dad. So Dad decides it is time to take a stand. We are working this beautiful pool, and son makes a nearly perfect and is dead drifting a caddis, we can see the fishing starting to move towards the fly. That is when Dad drops the perfect cast, with a small hopper not 2 inches behind son’s caddis. The fish make a split second choice and pounce on the hopper, Dad lands a 9” brookie. After a picture and releasing the fish, he turns to son and says, “When you pay for the trip, you can catch the fish, until then they are all mine!” We all busted out laughing .
6. What makes your guide service great?
My experience on the waters I fish. When I don’t have a client, you can find me on the same waters that I take my clients. I have explored every log, rock, pool, and riffle. Because I know the water, I can help even the newest angler find fish. Combine that with the ability to help even experienced anglers improve their fishing abilities and you have a great guide service.
7. If you had only one day off all year, where would you fish and what fish would you target?
I hate this question, because it makes me sad. ONLY ONE DAY TO FISH ALL YEAR?!?!??!? But if I was so cursed, I would chase brook trout in Virginia. Someone once said fish don’t live in ugly places, and this is especially true of brookies. Then you add a wild fish with incredible colors? I could and have spent days on these small streams.
8. What are your favorite three flies?
Elk Hair Caddis, Soft Hackle BH, and the Catcher and the Fly Shiner.
Elk Hair Caddis works on SOOOO many streams. Soft Hackle BH on a stout hook, and I am ready to chase trout, sunfish, bass, and carp. The shiner is a great fly for bass, strippers, snakehead, and essentially anything that eats other fish.
9. What is the one piece of gear you couldn’t bear to leave at home?
Costa sun glasses. I have fished with tenkara, so I know if I have to, I can build a rod in the woods, but a good pair of glasses are indispensable. I have a pair in the glove box just so I don’t forget them.
10. Do you have any other passions?
I grew up fishing, but as a freshman in college I stepped onto my first sailboat. The sound of silence as the boat powered by only the wind glides through the waves is awe-inspiring. So when I don’t have a fly rod in hand, I love being on boats. In DC it is expensive to have a full size boat, so I now race and sail RC boats. But sailing is sailing.
Disclosure: The Catcher and the Fly is in a professional relationship with the Fly Fishing Guide Directory, LLC and the Venturing Angler. Though potentially benefiting from this relationship, we do not post what we do not believe to be true. To read more, click here.