Christiaan Pretorius is a friend of the Venturing Angler and is someone who has impressed us with his extraordinary life of fly fishing the world’s most exotic saltwater and freshwater destinations. Christiaan recently took time from his current base camp in the Bahamas to take on some questions for The Venturing Angler:
Where in the world have you fly fished?
When I started guiding I made it my goal to move and see as many places as I can when I finished school. Obviously I didn’t expect for things to fall in place that fast, but I am super stoked that it did. Over the past six years I have been traveling pretty much nonstop and currently have three passports in my name to make it possible to apply for various different visas at the same time. Is it legal? Probably not, but that is what I had to do to make it work.
I would have to say the first big destination was the Indian Ocean. I have now fished and guided St. Brandon’s, Alphonse Island and Astove. The second big one for me was Kamchatka in the Russian Far East guiding for freakishly large rainbow trout. Other destinations that I have fished include, Guatemala (sailfish/marlin), Nicaragua (tarpon/jack/snook), Austria (grayling/trout), Kola Peninsula (Atlantic salmon), Bahamas (bonefish/tarpon/permit), Poland, Slovenia, Norway, Czech Republic, Portugal, America and all over the continent of Africa.
What is your favorite destination and why?
This is one of those super difficult questions that is just impossible to answer. In all reality, I truly enjoy them all. If I had to name one I would have to say the Seychelles. As far as saltwater fly fishing goes, nothing comes close …
What is the most memorable travel experience you have and why?
My last trip to Nicaragua was a tough one between cancelled flights, delayed flights, visa issues, etc. All these travel difficulties definitely contributed to the story and I would go back in a heartbeat. In fact I am going back in 2018. Nothing beats fishing for 200lb tarpon in a jungle setting.
What has been the best trip so far and why?
What is up with all these difficult questions? I would have to say my entire guiding career has been one hell of a trip. The people that I have met along the way that have helped me out so much, the destinations I have been able to see and fish, and all the trophy fish I have witnessed over the years. To single out one trip is just not possible.
You take a number of exploratory trips. What about the nature of such trips appeals to you?
I have always had a great passion in preparing for any fly fishing trip. I have always made a point in saying that the more prepared you are for a trip the more you will enjoy it. In saying this there is nothing better than traveling with a group and making sure they have whatever they need and also make sure they are taken good care of. One of the other very important things for me is good quality pictures and short videos. There is nothing better than sending your guest home with videos and pictures that will last a lifetime. Hosting trips also takes me to many new destinations so they are always a rush whether new or old.
Do you have any travels coming up?
I’m in great place in my life at the moment managing Abaco Lodge in the Bahamas with my girlfriend, Lindi. However this does limit the amount of time I can travel in a year. I have recently signed as a travel ambassador with The Fly Shop and I will be hosting a couple of very exciting trips throughout the year. End of January I will be doing an exploratory trip to Fanning Island in the Central Pacific. February I will be going on a crazy mission to Galapagos Island to target monster marlin on fly. June I will be heading over to Kamchatka for three weeks. September I am hoping to make my way over to Tanzania for the super aggressive tigerfish and then off to Mexico. Who knows I might just try and sneak in a couple of other trips in between …
Is there a specie that you are dying to catch? What is it about that fish?
I have been super fortunate to travel to many cool destinations in search of many cool species, but in all honesty my list is still super long of species I want to target:
Golden dorado: Because just look at them. They are big, beautiful, aggressive and they are found in some of the most exotic settings.
Arapaima: Here you are fishing for the biggest freshwater fish you can possibly target on fly. These fish can grow to freakishly big sizes of up to 400lb+. That is enough to get me excited any day of the week.
Peacock bass: Another one of those exotic fish that one can target in the jungle. Not the most difficult to catch but as far as beauty goes they are right up there.
Roosterfish: Now there is a bucket list trip right there. This has been something I’ve been wanting to do for years. This is probably number one on my bucket list!
When you are not on the water, what do you want the most out of a trip and why?
I am a very passionate photographer as well as filming in the few recent years. There is no better way to try and explain to people what you do than with the support of some quality pictures and videos. If I’m not on the water I love to tie flies and just prepare for any upcoming adventure. I get the same kick out of preparing for a trip than the actual trip itself.
If I am not on the water I absolutely love bowhunting and have been doing it since a young age.
What is your dream trip and why?
Over the years social media has become a very important tool in what I do. It has given me exposure to the world out there as well as like-minded folks around the globe. One of my dream trips will have to be to getting a good group of buddies together that I have met over social media but never in person and just doing a bucket list trip. I think it will be pure carnage and loads of fun. The group that I want to fish with is pretty big but I would have to say that is a dream trip for me. All honesty the specie doesn’t even matter.
How is life in the Bahamas?
It’s pretty damn good. It’s something completely different to full time guiding but the learning curve is great. It’s exactly what I signed up for. It’s also great to be able to do it with my girlfriend by my side. It’s such a comfortable setup here and to be managing a lodge for Oliver White and Nervous Waters is a great privilege. I am going to take in as much as I can in the following years to be hopefully be able to incorporate it into my own lodge one day.
If one song where to play in a video short of your most recent fly fishing trip, what would it be?
Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros – “Man on Fire”
What is the one piece of gear you couldn’t bear to leave at home?
As you have traveled, what environmental issues have most concerned you?
The increasing number of people on this planet is the problem. The planet is just too small to accommodate for all the people. Coming from South Africa our coastline has been destroyed by not incorporating the right laws to promote sustainable fishing. It’s the sad truth but most fisheries on the planet are slowly going downhill and it’s up to all of us to do our part in protecting what we have. There is no other way for me than catch and release. Now we have to travel further than ever before to find those special fisheries where in the past they were our home waters.
To check out Christiaan Pretorius and his adventures on Instagram, please click here.