Traveling Angler Profile: Fly Fishing the World with Garrison Doctor

Garrison Doctor is a traveling angler who has traveled to some of the world’s most exciting fly fishing destinations and has caught some impressive fish along the way. An artist and co-founder of RepYourWater, Doctor also has a passion for combining his loves for fish and art into beautiful artwork. He recently sat down for an interview about his travels:

Where in the world have you fly fished?

In the United States I have fished across the West, Pacific Northwest, Florida, a bit on the Texas coast, and North Carolina. Globally I have been fortunate enough to fish in New Zealand, Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Costa Rica, Mexico, and I am leaving for Iceland later this month.

What is your favorite destination and why?

Chilean Patagonia is near the top for me. I absolutely love the landscape, people, and the climate. There is also such varied water in such relative proximity — from spring creeks to huge glacier-fed lakes in the temperate rainforest. The trout fishing possibilities seem near endless. I also love wild brown trout, and Chile has a lot of them!

What is the most memorable travel experience you have and why?

Tsimane, Bolivia. Everything about the fly fishing experience on this trip was new and different: the clear jungle rivers with their deep pools and fast rapids, sight fishing for pacu, learning a little bit about the Tsimane Indians, and of course the golden dorado themselves. I still remember some of the eats and fights from this trip like they were yesterday. However, I think what really sticks with me about this trip is fishing a river where the whole watershed, from the headwaters many miles away, to far, far downstream are still untouched by modern human infrastructure. Just incredible. 

What has been the best trip so far and why?

Corinne and I (the other half of RepYourWater) hosted a trip to Jurassic Lake Lodge in Argentina with an absolutely stellar group of anglers, all of whom are now friends, and some of whom have been friends for many years. Having such an awesome group of people all together at an intimate lodge with epic fishing so close at hand was just the best. Lots of Malbec, huge chrome bright rainbow trout, laughs, and orange/magenta sunsets over the Patagonian steppe.

Do you have any travel coming up?

Internationally speaking, we are scheduled to be in Iceland in May/June and then back in Bolivia in August. We are planning to be back in Patagonia (both at ChileTrout and Jurassic Lake Lodge) over the holidays.

Is there a species that you are dying to catch? What is it about that fish?

Roosterfish. I have had multiple roosterfish on my fly, like following it just inches away the whole second half of the retrieve, and they never ate. Those refusals are still with me, especially since the water was beautifully clear, so I could see the fish so clearly — the stripes, the comb, the whole deal. I would love to hold one at some point.

When you are not on the water, what do you want the most out of a trip and why?

I do not need a ton of luxury or amenities on a fishing trip, but I do appreciate a shower and a good, fully-leaded beverage. I am an avid birdwatcher, so I love the opportunity to go for a walk with my binoculars/camera and check out a few unusual birds if possible. I also am a huge fan of local food, whatever that happens to be, so a nice meal with some local ingredients is always enjoyable.

What is your dream trip and why?

My dream trip would be Cosmoledo Atoll in the Seychelles. The incredibly remote setting and hopefully shots at huge GTs put it on the top of my dream list. As long as we are dreaming, I would also love to explore some of the top Russian taimen rivers like the Tugor, where you could realistically tango with a taimen over 5’ and over 100lbs.

If one song where to play in a video short of your most recent fly fishing trip, what would it be?

My most recent trip was some pretty slow stillwater trout fishing here in the mountain west, and I have Iceland on the brain right now, so I am going with Svefn-g-englar by Sigor Rós.

What is the one piece of gear you couldn’t bear to leave at home?

I am a reel nerd, pun intended, so I would not want to be on a trip without a solid reel and a line I know. I am a fan of Seigler Reels for bigger game species or larger trout. The lever drag system makes applying pre-determined max drag easy and smooth without switching hands and then it is easy to back the drag back off to casting/stripping levels.

As you have traveled, what environmental issues have most concerned you?

Unfortunately this question could garner a very long list answer, but I am going to focus on Patagonia. In southern Patagonia the effects of climate change are very apparent and changes are happening very fast. The glaciers are retreating at an incredible rate, the small “laguna” lakes and estuaries that are critical bird and wildlife habitat are shrinking or disappearing and the snow pack that fuels the Patagonian Steppe is less and less. 

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