Barry and Cathy Beck are two anglers and photographers who have made a significant impact on fly fishing. The Becks have traveled the world for many years and have been to just about every fly fishing destination imaginable. As pro team members for Sage, RIO, Smith, and Tibor, they’ve chased numerous species in distant lands. And as photographers, their work has been published countless times and has truly inspired fly anglers for decades. The Becks recently took on an interview for The Venturing Angler:
Where in the world have you fly fished?
Barry: With Cathy we travel the world for Frontiers so I am embarrassed to say that it’s more like, “Where haven’t we fished?” Actually we’re looking forward to 2019, when we take a group to Slovenia for our first trip and we are looking forward to both the fishing and the photo opportunities.
Cathy: We are lucky to be trip hosts for Frontiers, International, so while our home water is Fishing Creek, in Pennsylvania, we take our clients to all the best trout places in the world and to all the flats fishing destinations in saltwater, and once a while we add a dorado or peacock bass trip.
What is your favorite destination and why?
Cathy: Well, aside from our home stream which is where the heart is, I’d have to say Argentina. It’s still very much like our American west was 100 years ago, it’s safe, easy to get to, and the fishing and hospitality is off the charts.
Barry: For years it was New Zealand. But I find myself drawn to Argentina more and more. There is just so much fishing there and I’ve fallen in love with both the country and the people. If push came to shove and I only had one day left to fish, I’d like to spend it on the Rio Malleo.
What is the most memorable travel experience you have and why?
Cathy: We’re lucky to travel a good part of the year and we have many travel experiences, most of them good. On a very early trip to New Zealand many years ago, an immigration agent there asked in a very gruff New Zealand accent, “Do you have any neets?” We looked at each other with no clue as to what was being asked and replied, “We don’t think so..” The agent asked again in a louder, more irritated voice, “DO YOU HAVE ANY NEETS?” Someone in the line behind us shouted up, “They want to know if you have any nets.” The New Zealand accent took some getting used to.
Barry: Truthfully for this we didn’t have to travel very far. Watching Cathy catch a bluefin tuna on a fly rod with guide, John Ford, was something that I will never forget the rest of my life. The tuna broke one rod, we re-attached backing to another reel and she continued to fight the fish on the second rod. The battle itself was out- of-the-box exciting. It ended successfully but Cathy was totally wiped out.
What has been the best trip so far and why?
Cathy: That’s a tough question because trips are what we do, but I have to say any of the trips when we were able to sneak away alone on a road trip. Usually that’s in the direction of New England for stripers or albies.
Barry: Laguna Verde, nick-named Jurassic Lake, in Argentina. I’ve never seen so many big trout in such a strange, stark environment. I loved it and will be returning in February, 2019.
Do you have any travel coming up? Cathy: Next week, Argentina.
Barry: Next week we have our annual trip to Estancia Tres Valles, Argentina.
Is there a species that you are dying to catch? What is it about that fish?
Cathy: No, not really. My thing now is watching our grandsons catch bluegills in our pond.
Barry: Again, I apologize, but I’m very blessed to be happy to fish for just about anything that will take a fly.
When you are not on the water, what do you want the most out of a trip and why?
Cathy: Good travel, good weather, good company, good food. Because these things can make or break a trip.
Barry: I want to know more about the local people and their culture. I especially enjoy the kids whether it’s in Africa, Argentina or Mongolia. Kids are just kids and they are simply great and I’m always looking for a new photo opportunity.
What is your dream trip and why?
Cathy: This will sound funny, but my dream trip is being able to load up the car and drive to Montana and just hang out on our favorite rivers and camp with no agenda. We used to do this trip every year (many years ago) and it would be fun to do it again.
Barry: The dream trip, regardless of where it is, would be perfect weather, rising trout, and a group of friends who all want to have fun.
You’ve both been around for some time. What keeps the spark going when it comes to fly fishing travel? What excites you about your work?
Cathy: Thanks for the careful wording on that. The components are always changing (destinations, people, weather, fishing) so it’s always fresh and new. That’s the thing about fishing trips, no two are ever the same.
Barry: I grew up in the fly fishing industry and what I like most about the sport itself is that there is always something new to learn.
What is the one piece of gear you couldn’t bear to leave at home?
Cathy: This is a tough question. As a fly fisherman there are lots of pieces of gear, but I will say that it’s important to me to have the very best gear possible and to have it in the very best of shape for the trip, any trip. You’ll have a much better trip if you have the right gear and have it in good working order.
Barry: Can I choose two? Because I never go anywhere without a camera, and it’s always a Nikon. And where fishing is concerned, there’s always a Sage rod in my hand.
As you have traveled, what environmental issues have most concerned you?
Cathy: Water quality. Everywhere we go in the world there are water quality issues. It might be climate change, deforestation, aquatic disease, water temperatures, development, dams, etc. It seems like every body of water from small to big has something threatening it.
Barry: Truthfully, the scariest thing that I can think of is the possibility of the Pebble Mine. Cathy and I have worked in and out of Alaska for over 30 years, and it’s an unbelievably beautiful place that belongs to all of us and it’s our responsibility to hold stewardship and make sure that Katmai and Bristol Bay are protected so that our children and theirs can enjoy it.
To check out more from Barry and Cathy Beck, please click here.