Traveling Angler Profile: Fly Fishing the World with Dave McCoy

Credit: Jeremy Koreski
Credit: Jeremy Koreski

Dave McCoy is an outstanding angler and photographer who has had the pleasure of traveling the world with a fly rod and camera in hand. While it is he who has enjoyed the trips, us anglers are often the beneficiaries of his ventures, as he often returns with spectacular photos and a contagious commitment to environmental action and conservation efforts. McCoy recently sat down to interview with the Venturing Angler:

1. Where in the world have you fly fished?

Wow, start off getting after it … well, here is a fairly comprehensive list:

Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Christmas Island, India, Mongolia, Alaska, Mexico, Belize, Honduras, New Zealand, British Columbia, Oregon, California, Montana, Bahamas, Florida, Hawaii, Washington, Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico … I think the list goes on but can’t recall off the top of my head.

2. What is your favorite destination and why?

This might sound a bit weird, but I enjoy the next location I have not been to yet. Every little thing is exciting, nothing is expected or remembered, you are just punch in all the senses with it.

I understand why some head to places where they have been before. Familiarity is a comfort and travel can be a challenge for some but I like new people and cultures and in each I make new friends I will keep forever and hopefully see again. But, I am a social and curious creature and nothing scratches those itches like a new destination. On the docket this next few years are Greenland, Iceland, Tierra del Fuego, Cuba, Bhutan and Africa … I can’t wait!

Dave McCoy

3. What is the most memorable travel experience you have and why?

There are several that stand out … trying to photograph the snake charmer in India, flying through hurricane Rhina out of Honduras, bear putting paw on raft in Alaska, knives and guns being brandished in Honduras, trying to get out of Florida to Brazil and biting camels in Mongolia, landing in too shallow of water in float plane in Alaska … where to start?!

I would have to go with India and arriving at camp the first evening. I was arriving from Agra having shot the Taj at night. The trip was supposed to be about 8-10 hours by car but turned out to be 16 hours as we kept getting lost among other things. When we reached the gate to the Tiger Preserve, the military guard was quite unhappy about being awoken and therefore refused to let us drive any further in. After some back and forth it was decided we would have to just hike to camp. This was an unknown distance to me at the time. All I KNEW was we were about to travel on foot through a tiger preserve at 1am with no lights, no weapons (leatherman excluded) and was told that a camp dog of about 150 pounds had been killed by a leopard the night before! My bag had disappeared with a small Indian boy into the dark 15 minutes earlier, assuring me it would be waiting for me at camp. As we crossed creeks and walked in literal blackness, I would occasionally see what looked to eyes staring at me along the way. I would try to keep up with the one other person hiking in with me but being Indian as well, he strode as if on a sidewalk. Some of those eyes would make loud quick movements in the brush and I have never had all my senses on such high alert. Pretty sure I burned several thousand calories every half hour during the hike in and I don’t fully recall but pretty sure I threw those underwear away when we finally arrived at camp. My anxiety was met with riotous laughter from the camp staff. I was then served maybe the single greatest meal of my life with a cold Indian beer and then I slept my ass off!

Dave McCoy Photographer

4. What has been the best trip so far and why?

They have all been great and all for different reasons. I have the privilege like some in our sport to travel regularly with the same people so we share all of these experiences together, remembering past ones along the way. New Zealand may have been my favorite mostly because my daughter and wife were able to join me. Watching all the wonder and curiosity in my daughter was more fun than any fish I have ever caught. Her first helicopter ride, watching her fish the challenging water, her passion for birds and the environment…it was magical. Fishing down there is unparalleled in the trout world in my opinion. There is so much water with big fish in it, access is tough in many locations and the west coast being a temperate rainforest and littered with waterfalls is visually spectacular! Sharing this with my family was quite rewarding. I won’t ever forget it.

5. Do you have any travel coming up?

Yes, as mentioned above, I have a fairly robust travel schedule this next 2 years. I leave for a month in Bhutan in mid April on a fly fishing film project aimed at socio-economic issues in that country with regards to hydropower projects coming up.

Alaska in June/July

Belize live-aboard trip in August

Floating lodge in B.C. trip in late August

Will be on the Grande Ronde in Oregon a fair bit this coming fall

Potentially Argentina in October

Cuba in March 2017

Greenland in August 2017

Tierra del Fuego in March/April 2018

Who knows what will fit in between all of that.

Dave McCoy

6. Is there a species that you are dying to catch? What is it about that fish?

A have a few, somewhat of a bucket list thing I really just want to catch to photograph more than anything.

More Tarpon
More Tarpon
More Golden Dorado
More Permit
More NZ Trout

Dave McCoy Fly Fishing

7. When you are not on the water, what do you want the most out of a trip and why?

Good question. I don’t feel when traveling to another country it makes any sense or is respectful the local people and their culture to isolate yourself from them by being sequestered in a 5 star lodge away from it all. I want to experience those people, share stories, learn some new language and come away with a better idea of what their life is like compared to life the U.S. So when possible I choose trips with these attributes closely associated with them or I plan additional time in country to help infuse those missing ingredients into the trip.

8. What is your dream trip and why?

I am looking forward to the trip where my wife, daughter and dad are able to join me so we can have that experience together. Don’t really care where it is but certainly somewhere that involves travel and exotic species. I really want my dad to have that time with his granddaughter on the water somewhere he really wants to see. I believe he deserves that after raising me!

Dave McCoy Fly Fishing

9. If one song where to play in a video short of your last fly fishing trip, what would it be?

No clue … actually it would have to be something from Imagine Dragons as that is ALL my daughter listened and sang along with in New Zealand. Seems as though the next trip will have a Jessie J anthem to it!

10. What is the one piece of gear you couldn’t bear to leave at home?

Camera, camera, camera

Dave McCoy Fly Fishing

11. As you have traveled, what environmental issues have most concerned you?

There are so many. Each time you enter another country you are typically made quite aware of some dramatic differences between there and the U.S. As you spend more time and become acclimated to this location you can begin to delve deeper into their issues and compare and contrast them with ours. I mean you can mention some unbelievable things seen and experienced in various places. Open raw sewage, garbage, overfishing, tremendous by-catch from unselective netting/fishing practices, water pollution and so on. Many of the countries I (we) travel to for our fly fishing are trying to catch up to technology and living standards and in their efforts, many are in the same place the U.S. was 50 years ago.

It is easy to be critical. But if you can keep an objective eye on these issues you realize our planet is changing. Humans are reproducing at a crazy rate, continuing to put a tremendous strain on the planet, its resources and our societies into the foreseeable future and beyond. Some of us have the luxury of knowing this and can consciously make decisions to live a simpler life while many others in different parts of the world cannot.

To check out Dave McCoy Photography, please click here.

To check out Emerald Water Anglers, please click here.

Also, Dave has numerous impressive industry honors including, Costa Steward, Rajeff Sports Pro Staff, Winston Pro Staff and Pro Photographer, Bauer Reels Pro Staff, Patagonia Ambassador, and Patagonia Provisions Ambassador.

And be sure to check out some of the organizations and companies that Dave works closely and is affiliated with:

Wild Steelhead Coalition
Native Fish Society
Wild Fish Conservancy
Save Our Wild Salmon
Puget Soundkeeper Alliance

4 thoughts

  1. Just wanted to thank Tim for putting this together and his passion for our sport as well as give credit to those who have taken a moment of their fishing time to snap a quick shot of me because I really appreciate it…Dylan Rose, Kate Taylor, Paul Moinester, Quinton Dowling and Jeremy Koreski for the images above I am grateful, thank you!

  2. Dear Dave,

    I am extremely proud of you for all your accomplishments in your many professions, however I am most proud of the wonderful dad, husband, son, nephew and friend that you are! 🙂 It has been my honor to watch you grow from a little boy to an amazing man and I’m thrilled to be your aunt! I love you so very much; safe travels, my precious nephew!

    Love and Hugs,
    Aunt Julia

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