Traveling Angler Profile: Fly Fishing the World with Bryan Gregson

Bryan Gregson, Fly Fising Photography

Bryan Gregson is an outstanding photographer whose work has appeared in countless fly fishing magazines, catalogs, and more. His diverse portfolio reveals that he is not only an adventurer but also an artist. Gregson recently took on some questions for The Venturing Angler:

How would you describe yourself and how you came to love travel?

I’m a skeptic and a bit of a loner at heart. I don’t like crowds, not a fan raw cauliflower and I have a zero tolerance policy for bullies. I do like crisp mornings, predawn light, and I am a big fan of a HOT cup of coffee. I have lots of scars, many broken bones, one life changing surgery and my dimple was created from getting stitches. I’ve been traveling with a backpack since I could remember and I am by far my worst critic. I was raised in the Rocky Mountain West until moving to a tropical island. At a young age, my mother allowed me, and trusted me, to explore on my own. I was instilled with a backbone and a voice, which has gotten me into trouble at times, for better and for worse. I got to where I am today by the absolute unconditional patience and support of my family, friends and colleagues and many whom I’ve never met, but all encourage me, believe in me and hold my feet to the fire. Each has played a significant defining role in my life. I am forever indebted to each of them.

Where in the world have you fly-fished?

I’ve been fortunate to fish in many places, all across the Lower 48, Alaska, Hawai’i, Canada, Argentina, Chile, Bolivia, Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico and Cuba to name a few. Lately I’ve spent a lot of time in Central and South America. I see a common theme between different waters. They are all extraordinary in their own way. Each deserves to be respected, protected and preserved. Sooner or later, every body of water will be under threat, including the ones in my own backyard.

What is your favorite destination and why?

That’s a tough one. I really don’t have a favorite destination. I really try to enjoy the experience, the moment. I’m amazed by every place I’ve been. I know this sounds like a safe answer, but it’s the truth. I’m of course very partial to my own backyard. It would take many lifetimes to fish it all. I think that is a part of the beauty and magic of fish and water, it’s all endlessly remarkable; you don’t need to travel across the globe to have a prized piece of water that means something to us. My home water shaped my spark and motivation to peruse fish; it will always be a favorite.

Bryan Gregson Fly Fishing

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

Backpacking to remote watersheds in my youth ranks at the top of the list. It was a crucial period that shaped who I am today. During a tough time in my life it taught me to deal with everyday struggles while seeing the beauty in all things. But the older I get, the more I am learning that all of it, the journey itself, is my most memorable experience. Life happens so fast. It’s really hard to slow down at times. I find myself remembering all the great moments, and the not so great moments, when I’m sifting through images for various submissions or projects. I feel very lucky to be able to see it then and now.

What has been the best trip so far and why?

The best trip is the one I am currently on or just got home from. I would have to say that the Bolivian jungle ranks up there with a best trip. It was totally out of my realm. The jungle was a totally difference experience than anything I’ve experienced. Everything was totally new. It was like being a child again, curious to everything. Every creature, plant, and culture was new to me. I was shocked how quiet it was in the day. A call from a macaw and heron periodically was about the only thing you would hear when the sun was up. But at night it was unbelievably loud. Sounds I’ve never heard, sounds that made me wonder about the strength of a very thin canvas wall that separates me and whatever is freakishly screaming in the dead of the night. I felt very small and understood a little more that it truly is a big small world. I felt very fortunate to be a tiny insignificant part of it all. Time happened so fast and before I knew it, I was home. It’s a place I would love to return to someday.

Do you have any travel coming up?

I work as Yellow Dog Flyfishing Adventures’ Director of Photography, which keeps me in the field shooting on assignment on a regular basis. I’ll be heading to St. Brandon’s Atoll, Alaska, Canada, Louisiana, the Yukon, Northwest Territories and Kamchatka over the next few months. I never really know when my next trip will be so my camera bags are always partially packed. I need to be ready to go anywhere in the World at a moment’s notice. Often I only have a few days or less than a week’s notice for a project. When I got the call to go to Bolivia, I had 18 hours to pack and get on the plane. I like the thrill of the spur-of-the-moment.

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

I would like to meet the people and see the places where Taiman are found. The culture really intrigues me. Arapaima and New Zealand trout are on the life lists, followed by remote jungle fishing. For me, it’s more about the journey to the fish rather than the fish itself. It’s always been that way.

Bryan Gregson, Fly Fishing Photographer

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

I am looking for something interesting within place and culture. I’m very interested in the local environment. I want to learn and see new things. For me, it’s the essence of any trip or great adventure. The amount of fish caught is such a tiny part of the overall trip. The older I get and the more I travel the more I realize this to be true.

What is your dream trip and why?

A truck, gear, maps, and long summer to explore New Zealand. I want to see the countryside and meet the people. I’ve wanted to go to NZ since the first magazine photo I saw as a kid over 30 years ago. That is a dream trip for me. One day I’ll make it there.

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

Something from Bob Marley – in every region of the world everyone knows his work. His message is timeless and universal. Everyone, no matter the language or culture can feel love, motivation and determination. It makes people happy, and it makes people think. The fish seem to like it too.

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

I couldn’t ever leave my Canon 70-200mm 2.8 lens at home. We’ve become great friends over the years. It’s shown me a different way of looking at things.  It has the ability to give you a great perspective.

As a photographer, what are the challenges that people don’t see?

Maintaining proposals, ideas, gear, emails, editing, submissions, working relationships, is all a juggle for a single working full-time photographer. As with life, there are challenges and sacrifices to be made in order to achieve certain goals and progress, everyone has to make them. My life is no different. Sure, some days are better and run smoother than others, but that is life in general. Everything is give and take. I’m very lucky to be doing something that I love everyday. To me, it’s not really work, its just what I do and who I am.

Where do you see yourself as a photographer in 10 years? 

I see myself looking for ways to use my camera to help make a difference. Capturing unique images that make people take a step back and think. And doing more commercial work that tells a story.

To check out more from Bryan Gregson, please click here.

And for information about Bryan’s upcoming photography workshop in Belize, please click here.

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