Schuyler Marshall has traveled to numerous global fly fishing destinations in search of a range of species. And now working in the Travel Department at Tailwaters Fly Fishing Co., Schuyler has his sights set on many more. Schuyler recently took on an interview for The Venturing Angler:
Where in the world have you fly fished?
Colorado, Wyoming, Oregon, Virginia, New Zealand, Argentina, for trout; Alaska for trout, salmon, and grayling; Texas for bass, redfish, and tarpon; Louisiana for redfish; California for corbina; the Bahamas, Mexico, Belize, Venezuela, and Cuba for permit, bonefish, tarpon, and snook.
What is your favorite destination and why?
Every place and every experience is too unique to pick a favorite. That’s a good thing because it would defeat the point of travel and exploring — if you have a favorite, why go anywhere else?
That being said, I was blown away by Los Roques, Venezuela for the unbelievable marine life, and of course incredible fishing. The water is so clear that the shallow bonefish flats appear not to have any water at all. As the depth changes you see every shade of blue down to deep cobalt, and the flats are a collage of red starfish, black triggerfish, coral in many colors, off-white sand, conch, rays, etc. — a riot of colors. The political situation there right now is killing me!
What is the most memorable travel experience you have and why?
I’m glad you used the word memorable because a while back I stopped measuring my fishing trips by numbers or size of fish, and instead by memories seared into my brain. Although lots of moments stand out — many of them not related to fishing or hunting — I’d have to go with my first big tarpon because of the insane, debilitating adrenaline rush. My fishing partners were wading a flat so I was alone on the boat. I had a cheapo reel on my 12 wt and I was blind casting to bait, wakes, any and all movement. Towards the end of a long retrieve, a silver streak flashed through the water, eating the fly angling away so all I had to do was hold on. She came out of the water four times at about 40 feet, 80, 120, and 160, and continued on a straight line like a torpedo. The fish was about 140 or 150 lbs and I knew that I would be spooled if I didn’t do something. I palmed the reel as best I could as my backing was disappearing. Then everything went slack. I frantically reeled in hoping maybe the fish turned, but no, the fly line was gone. The Bimini twist must have slipped in the gel-spun backing.
After that sunk in for a second, I had the unmistakable and crippling feeling of adrenaline draining from my veins, and I collapsed on the front of the boat. I’m not exaggerating this — I could not get up for about 30 minutes. At first I could only wiggle my fingers and toes, then after a few more minutes I could move my limbs. After about 15 minutes I could sit up if I braced myself with my arms. After about 20 minutes I could get on my hands and knees. Only after 30 minutes or more could I stand, and even then I was shaky for a long time. I’ve never experienced any rush like it, and I guess that’s what I’ll be chasing the rest of my life.
Whats funny is that of my top five or ten “most memorable” fishing experiences, most or all of them involve fish I didn’t catch.
Do you have any travel coming up?
Palometa Club for a permit tournament in April. Then, Bolivia and Brazil for golden dorado and peacock bass this fall — I’ve got jungle fever and can’t wait!
Is there a specie that you are dying to catch? What is it about that fish?
Golden dorado. They are described as the ultimate predators, aggressive, powerful, and grow to over 30 pounds, but also can be spooky and require skill to catch. They live in some gorgeous waters and can often be sight-cast to. (I am addicted to sight-fishing.). And, they live in remote, pristine jungle; I love to explore and I can’t think of a wilder place than the Amazon.
When you are not on the water, what do you want the most out of a trip and why?
Good food, natural beauty, getting off the beaten path away from tourists, and camaraderie with guides and other fishermen. Also, ideally a taste of the culture to get a sense of place — in other words, not just the flora and fauna but people too. Good guides are some of my favorite people on the planet; they tend to be the most capable, the most in tune with nature, happy and fun to be around. Hanging with and making friends with guides is usually a highlight of my trips.
What is your dream trip and why?
Seychelles. Everyone who’s been describes it as exceeding the highest expectations, like a fisherman’s nirvana. Diversity of species, big fish, lots of fish, incredible beauty and remoteness.
If one song were to play in a video short of your most recent fly fishing trip, what would it be?
Anything by the Wrinkle Neck Mules.
What is the one piece of gear you couldn’t bear to leave at home?
I tend to travel light, but I’ve learned a few lessons the hard way. A few years ago I was goofing off on the boat and knocked my sunglasses into the water; now I always have a backup pair.
As you have traveled, what environmental issues have most concerned you?
Unregulated and/or unenforced regulations on commercial fishing. I believe that over-harvest puts the most direct and immediate pressure on wild fish stocks. The frustrating thing is that there are countless examples of the human race over-harvesting wild creatures, but we are glacially slow to learn from those disasters.
Incidentally, this is one more reason I love fly fishing. Since its virtually 100% catch and release, becoming involved in fly fishing tourism gives local people a 100% sustainable alternative to commercial fishing — and one that is much more fun.
To check out more from Schuyler Marshall and Tailwaters, please click here.
Disclosure: Tailwaters Fly Fishing Co. is in a professional relationship with 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.