John Sherman is a California-based photographer who is also a sales representative for Hatch Reels and Simms. Sherman has traveled extensively, taking on some of the most exciting fly fishing destinations in the world, and he recently took time to interview with the Venturing Angler:
1. Where in the world have you fly fished?
I’ve been very fortunate to fish in many places all over the globe:
Australia, Argentina, The Amazon, Bahamas, Belize, Baja, Christmas Island, the Yucatan, Arctic of Canada, Arctic of Alaska, Bristol Bay AK, British Columbia, Gaspe Peninsula, Indonesia, Saskatchewan, Iceland, Russian Far East, through out the Pacific North West and the Rockies, Florida, Louisiana, South Carolina, California, Arizona, Nevada, and Hawaii. I think that’s it … But I’m sure I’ve missed something …
2. What is your favorite destination and why?
I would have to say the Skeena region of British Columbia. I make a point of always trying new destinations, but I will always go back to BC. When I graduated from college in 1999, I spent two months up there basically being a steelhead bum. The beauty of the land, the lack of fishing pressure and the world’s largest and most aggressive steelhead all make it at the top of my list. I feel so strongly about that place that I’ve named both of my kids after Skeena River tribs.
3. What is the most memorable travel experience you have and why?
Has to be my encounter with swarms of bumblebees in the Amazon. I’ve had a life long battle with stinging insects and on this trip every time the boat wasn’t running we were being accosted by swarms of bumble bees. They would land on our hats looking for the salt in our sweat. I have a shaved head and could feel the tongues of the bees licking the salt off of my head through the mesh on my trucker cap. At any given moment there would be 3-30 bumblebees on my body, mostly on my hat. It was unnerving to say the least. The hum of bees lasted for weeks after the trip. I was stung nearly 10 times and made it extremely difficult to focus on the fishing. Unfortunately, this memory will last along time!!
4. What has been the best trip so far and why?
I would have to say my best trip was my first. It was to Lake Clark in Alaska. This was a high school graduation present from my parents, and I went with my dad. He wasn’t and still isn’t a passionate angler, but we had a great time and it really kick started my love of fly fishing travel. It also helped show me what was out there beyond my home waters in Central California.
5. Do you have any travel coming up?
I do … This summer I will be going back to the Russian Far East chasing the world’s largest Cherry Salmon, Sea Run Taimen and Kundzha. I’m finalizing a photography book on fly fishing the world’s Sea Run Salmonids and the Cherries and Kundzha are the final two species I need to catch and photograph.
6. Is there a specie that you are dying to catch? What is it about that fish?
I’ve been fortunate to catch most of the fish species I’ve really wanted, but there have been a few I have yet to target.
1) Musky (I’m all about the fish of 10,000 casts.. Big flies and shots at big fish).
2) Black Bass in Papua New Guinea (I would love to see if the stories are true of how hard they pull).
3) Arapaima. Giant jungle tarpon like creature that is hard to hook and then land. I’m all over that.
7. When you are not on the water, what do you want the most out of a trip and why?
For me it’s all about going to a place for the first time – there’s nothing like that exploration aspect of a trip and the “figuring it out” component. I love being wrapped up in new cultures, trying new foods and learning how to feed a fish for the first time. For me, once a destination becomes “popular” it looses a lot of its luster. So I’m always looking for off the radar locales.
8. What is your dream trip and why?
I would say my dream trip is the Seychelles. This has been high on my list for many years, just has been cost prohibitive. Some day I’ll make it there. Sight fishing for GTs on the flats is one of my favorite types of fishing. And it sounds like the Seychelles are probably the best place in the world to do it.
Close second would be the Yokanga River in Russia on the Kola Peninsula. Having a shot at the world’s largest dime bright Atlantic salmon is about as good as it gets.
9. What is the one piece of gear you couldn’t bear to leave at home?
For cold destinations it would be Simms Montana wool. This stuff is so comfortable and it keeps you warm and dry, and most importantly it doesn’t stink so you can pack much lighter than with synthetic tops.
And the second is a Simms Sun Gaiter. I wear this in all climates, I hate lubing up with sunscreen on my face and this eliminates the need for that, meanwhile it protects you from the wind and sun and some insects.
10. As you have traveled, what environmental issues have most concerned you?
Working on my Sea Run book project has really opened my eyes to how we as humans are impacting all Sea Run fish. From destroying their habitat, to commercial harvest in the ocean, to gill netting their rivers we are continuing to destroy these amazing fish returns. Every Sea Run Salmonid is being interfered with by humans in some way.
I live on the banks of the San Joaquin River in California, which historically was home to the world’s largest spring and winter run Chinook salmon returns. Now those fish are all but extinct because of water diversion and habitat destruction. This is ground zero in the California water war. Not enough water flows through the estuary to the ocean for sea going fish. Water quality is on the decline and now with a historic drought water is even more at a premium. American Rivers rated the San Joaquin the most endangered River in the U.S. in 2013. To learn more, go to www.restorethedelta.org
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