Hogan Brown is a Northern California fly fishing guide known for targeting bass on the fly. He also recently took on a marketing role for Loon Outdoors. Between days on the water and hours at the desk for Loon, Brown sat down for an interview with The Venturing Angler:
Why do you guide where you do?
I spend 95% of my time on the Lower Sacramento River guiding for resident and migratory Striped Bass. I spend the rest of my time on Lake Oroville for spotted bass and largemouth as well as the Lower Yuba River for tail water trout and steelhead. Occasionally, I will also load up the two-handers and fish the Feather River for spring steelhead. Over the years though I have guided all over Northern California and recently have really trimmed it down to stay closer to home.
What is your favorite fish specie?
Striped Bass. Everything else is bait.
What is your favorite thing about guiding?
The Hunt and anticipation…I spend so much time guiding for striped bass and one thing about stripers on the waters I guide is on any cast a 6” striper or a 50lb striper can eat your fly… Of course there are all sorts of size in between that eat your fly but there is no fishing I have ever done where the fish vary so much in size…. Guiding for trout a trophy is like 22-25” and a good fish like 18…that is not even a sub sandwhich in length. Where stripers you can catch one the size of your sand which for lunch or bigger then your average toddler….. there is a constant anticipation and hunt for “the” fish…You see them everyday and figuring out the intricacies, feeding patterns, presentations, and just habits of these fish is SO ADDICTING!!!
What is the most memorable trip you’ve guided and why?
Wow…I have a lot of memorable trips but the ones that carry on in my mind year to year are not necessarily the “fish tales” or even trips of my own, but stories that clients tell me while we are on the boat. I rarely tell a story about a “memorable trip” to be totally honest BUT I always tell stories clients have told me from their life or some other fishing trip. When you get people in a boat and start jiving and talking, the best stories always come out…most are inappropriate, horribly comical, and many times just leave your sides hurting. I would have to say the best one lately is the Jalapeno seed story…I’ll save it though for when you get in my boat.
What is the funniest thing you’ve experienced while guiding?
Oh man again… the stories would have to be it …. That said when I look back over 22 years of guiding there is some funny stuff that happened. Most of it is when I was younger and super eager to please and cutting my teeth…I remember one time I had a client who brought her little shiatzu dog fishing on a walk and wade trip… Long story but she made me carry it across the river when we were crossing. It started to freak out and bite me like mid river so I just hucked it at the bank. I ended up throwing it at a rock wall and it smacked the rocks…it was stunned or knocked out for like a minute or two and the lady … and I …. thought I killed…SHE WAS FREAKING OUT!!!! Screaming and yelling at me and then all of sudden the dog just popped up and was fine – It was pretty funny and at this point in my career I would of just said carry your own dog but I was eager beaver back then.
What makes your guide service great?
I think my demeanor and just all my experience, I have spent my life on the water and that translates to all sorts of things that are great in guide … I think in general I am pretty easy going but in reality I don’t jive with everyone and may not work for all clients…that said what makes it I think truly unique is the fisheries I guide are one that most fly anglers have never been on and they are fisheries that I pioneered. Clients get to do something completely different that they have never done before usually, and can only do with me based on the need for a jet boat and access. Put that together with the fact that most anglers on a given day will hook one of the biggest, if not the biggest, fish they have ever hooked on a fly rod and you got a pretty great guide service I must say…oh and my charming personality, affinity for comic books, Notre Dame Football, and obscure indie rock and you got a real winner!
If you had only one day off all year, where would you fish and what fish would you target?
I honestly would not fish…I would take my two boys fishing the week before the full moon of July, August, or September on the Lower Sacramento River right by our house and fish for stripers AND hopefully watch them hook into the biggest striper of their lives.
What are your favorite three flies?
Clouser Minnow, Clouser Minnow … and Ryan Williams my buddy ties a pretty good striper fly I like.
What is the one piece of gear you couldn’t bear to leave at home?
Oh … my trolling motor remote … that is deal breaker on a trip.
Do you have any other passions?
I love music and I love playing music with my band and buddies…but my family is my number one passion and sharing my passion for the river and fly fishing with them is probably the thing I am most passionate about. There is something about putting down your fly rod and making “fishing” not about you but sharing it with your kids. When my boys were 4 and 6 I decided to just start taking them out every week or chance I had… I made the trips about them and what they wanted to do. Now at 10 and 12 I basically guide my boys when we go fish OR if one is busy I take the other and we fish together. There was a lot of days where I could of gone fishing on my own but I took them instead and made the day about them for a number of years. I kind of feel like I am finally reaping the benefits of that investment now.