Michael Caranci of The Fly Shop has traveled the globe in search of unique experiences and fish species that most of us dream of. He has checked off many bucket list destinations and continues to travel. Caranci recently took on an interview for The Venturing Angler:
Where in the world have you fly fished?
Well, I haven’t been everywhere yet, but I’m working at it! Kamchatka, Mongolia, Argentina, Chile, Bolivia, Brazil, Seychelles, Mexico, Belize, Bahamas, Venezuela, Christmas Island, Fanning Island, Guatemala, Alaska, and all over the American West.
What is your favorite destination and why?
I know it’s a cop-out, but I don’t really have a favorite. I love going and seeing different places and cultures, and value almost above all else the things that make places unique. I love the people and randomness of Mongolia; the wild-ness of Kamchatka; the feeling I get whenever I go to Belize of being at a home away from home; the amazing color of the water in Kiribati.
What is the most memorable travel experience you have and why?
For me it’s all about the adventure, and the most memorable experiences all seem to come when something unexpected happens. If you want/expect everything to go right, you’re likely going to miss out on some of the best parts.
If I had to pick one…it would probably be the time our bus got stuck (high-centered) in the middle of nowhere in the Mongolian steppe. Within minutes several nomads showed up, one on horseback, one on an old motorcycle, and one in a dusty SUV. Rusty shovel heads jammed onto sticks appeared and we tried to dig out the wheel, while a thin wire was tied to the back of the SUV (the wire not surprisingly broke every time they tried to pull on it). Eventually they put a small carjack under one of the lugnuts on the bus’s wheel, our Mongolian driver crawled halfway under the front bumper to place the handful of small rocks we could find in the endless sea of grass around us…and somehow we got it out! All the while these two little Mongolian kids watched and laughed.
What has been the best trip so far and why?
Best is a hard term for me, as there are so many factors that can make for a great trip. Best fishing: Kamchatka is simply impossible to beat; Best scenery: Mongolia; Best overall experience: probably Tsimane in Bolivia.
Do you have any travel coming up?
A lot. I’m leaving for Cuba in a couple of weeks; then Belize shortly after; then returning to Mongolia later this year, and already plotting a return to Kiribati in 2018.
Is there a species that you are dying to catch? What is it about that fish?
Giant Trevally. I’ve been all over trying to catch a big GT, and they are my unicorn. I finally caught some small ones on a recent exploratory trip to Fanning Island, and hooked a big one but it got away. You see all these pictures of big GTs and the promotional side of things (especially with the recent impacts of Chumming in Christmas Island which I despise) gives the impression anyone can just go out and catch one of these fish…but it’s just not that easy, at least for me. I’ve had so many shots, and something always seems to happen. But I’ll get one someday!
When you are not on the water, what do you want the most out of a trip and why?
I like to see beautiful places, and to meet amazing people and experience different cultures. Fishing for me is the excuse to see these places and get to know the people who live there. I want to see how they live and play, and to eat the foods they eat. I want to look out on their city or wilderness landscapes and get a sense for the place and what makes it unique and special.
What is your dream trip and why?
I dream of going places with my wife and son. It doesn’t even really matter where, as long as we’re together and getting to make the most out of every day. We really enjoy going to Belize, it’s our favorite family spot.
If one song where to play in a video short of your most recent fly fishing trip, what would it be?
It would have to be the theme song to Gilligan’s Island. Strange, I know, but my most recent fly fishing trip was exploring the crazy remote atoll in the Equatorial Pacific, called Fanning Island. It was the setting for the island in the old TV show (just for the opening scene). It’s super remote, off-the-grid, and easily the prettiest island I’ve ever been on. We were some of the first to ever cast a fly there, so we literally felt like castaways on a deserted island at times. Very cool place!
What is the one piece of gear you couldn’t bear to leave at home?
My camera. Fish live in beautiful places, and even if I couldn’t fish I’d enjoy seeing the places behind the lens. I’m not a great photographer, but I like to try.
As you have traveled, what environmental issues have most concerned you?
The impacts of over-development. As anglers, we search for far away, off-the-beaten path places to go. But the pressure is always there to over-develop a resource, whether that pressure comes from too many lodges/anglers in an area, or too many beach-side resorts. As our global population continues to grow, it is getting harder and harder to find untouched places. And when we find those places, we need to find creative ways to keep them pristine and protected.
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