Backcountry Favorites

Life as a Fly Fishing Trip Leader

By Carly Chanatry February 20, 2023

Wilderness Adventures offers such a wide variety of activities on our trips. Few WA trips, however, do such a deep dive into one specific activity. Our fly fishing trips are a great example of this type of programming. For the past couple of years, I have had the privilege of being a trip leader for these niche adventures. While these trips still adventure in iconic outdoor destinations, they also allow for more time to focus on a specific activity. The goal of these trips is to advance the fly fishing skills of each student regardless of the background that they come in with, which leaves the students feeling even more empowered and ready to transition their new skills back into their everyday lives. 

Whether Jackson Hole Fly Fishing or Montana Fly Fishing, the backpacking destinations bring the group to world-class fisheries. Picture yourself standing in front of a high alpine lake holding a monster rainbow trout, or wading in a pristine river, far from the beaten path in Yellowstone, with a herd of bison in the backdrop. In the backcountry, life is pretty simple: eat, sleep, and fish with your new group of friends from around the world. Everyday there is one goal: to enjoy and explore the place you are in with a wonderful group of people, and to try and catch some fish along the way. There are few other ways to have such an amazing adventure that is also so rewarding. 

Like on every other trip though, at the end of the day it is, above all, about the community. There is no other feeling like seeing the smile on a student’s face when they hook into a fish, and hearing the encouragement and cheers from everyone else in the group. The moment when it all comes together– when a student uses their newly learned skills, puts in all of their effort to lure in the fish, and is pumped up by a group of friends all working toward the same goal– is the moment that makes our fly fishing trips so special. It is the moment that, as a leader, I look back with the most fondness and pride, because I know that the campers will be able to hold onto those memories forever. 

These trips are about so much more than just catching a big fish, though. Yes, the students will be able to go home and tell their friends and families the story of landing “the big one,” but they will also go home with lifelong friendships, a set of skills that they could take with them wherever they go, and a confidence in themselves that comes from achieving goals and gaining new experiences in such unique settings. 

Maybe that moment of catching their first fish on a WA program will hook them on a lifelong journey in search of wild trout, or maybe they will continue to grow into people with a craving for exploration and adventure because of their newfound confidence. It is wonderful to be there for the students in this moment, and to know that the Wilderness Adventures trip that we all went on together will impact them for the rest of their lives. 

If you are interested in fly fishing, want to impact the lives of students from all over the world, and have a desire to travel into the serene, remote wilderness of Montana and Wyoming for the summer, then reach out to us and let us know! We are always looking for great role models to join the WA team