Thursday, September 26, 2013

Q&A with Cortland Line Pro-Staffer, Charles Card

Cortland Line takes an in-depth look at Utah native and fly fishing fanatic Charles Card's past, present and future.  Fresh or saltwater, Charles has had countless trophy fish in his hands, so lets find out what this family man and conservationist is all about in our Q&A.

Charlie, what started your passion for fishing?

I am the first USA born of three older brothers, followed by one younger brother.  I am from Utah, and was introduced to bait fishing by my father and family. After swearing off anything but fishing with my self-made flies at age 11, the chickens around the yard and the muskrats in the swamp nearby became much more worried.  Since then, I have become even more addicted to the pursuit of any handy fish species, and the less willing of these, the more fun it becomes. Trout are the staple, but I don’t mind trying to outwit a wily and highly evolved carp now and then.  

Who has been your biggest influence in fly fishing?
There are a few.  First of all, the local fly shop owner in Vernal Utah, was named Lori Batty, who is a master at fly tying and rod building.  She hired me on the spot around 13-14 years of age after seeing a few of my flies. I would walk to the fly shop after school and run Big Foot until my father finished his work day.  Lori helped my fly tying in a production and quality standpoint more than anyone.  Second, I bought a drift boat when I was 14-15 years old from Dennis Breer.  He owned Trout Creek Flies guide service on the Green river.  He gave me work as a swamper when I was too young to guide, which gave me an excuse to live in the pygmy forests above the Red Canyon rim in my parents tent trailer for the summers between high school.  Setting up camps and cooking/cleaning for the Denny’s guides gave me a chance to learn from working anglers. He used to employ around 20 guides those days, so it was always a smorgasbord of intel, and I tried hard to soak it up.  Third, and probably the first in my fly fishing progression, was the local library.  Vernal Utah had an amazing selection of fly fishing books for the actual fly fishing populous.  Since no family member or friends knew fly fishing, I had to read about how it was done.  I feel it was a blessing to learn the sport from those good enough to have books published on the topic.  Most times, I didn’t comprehend what was being written about, but later  onstream, I would have those light bulb moments frequently.  My absolute favorite author was Dave Whitlock. I really enjoyed the simplicity of his writing and the colorful and masterful artwork that accompanied most of his work.  At age 17 and then at 18, I had the privilege to guide Dave and Emily on the Green River. One of the best compliments I have ever received as an angler was tying flies with Dave one night, and him turning to me, asking to trade one of his deer hair matuka sculpins fresh off the vise for a stonefly pattern I had just tied. He looked over the fly and then said to me, “Charlie, I’d swap flies with you anyday.”  Others I considered great were Ernest Schwiebert, Vincent Marinaro, Gary Borger, Joe Brooks and Joe Humphries.  
How have you been involved with Trout Unlimited?
I remember getting the occasional letter in the mail from Trout Unlimited, and I always enjoyed that it came from Wolley Bugger, WV.  Once as a teenager, I had enough money to buy a membership, and got the sticker and calendar.  There was not a chapter in my area, so I didn’t really understand what TU was all about, but just through my reading, I was semi-educated on conservation work.  I remember that it was a ritualistic event with a couple of my fishing buddies to stop fishing in the heat of the day, every time out, and build a fish fun park as we used to call it.  We would take a bland stretch of stream and start piling rocks from the streambed into a series of pools, making one spot deeper, and urging flows to push against that deep bank, or create a current break here and there.  I know now that it was probably illegal to be altering the streambeds without the proper permits, but the next time we would fish those spots, they always held a few fish, and because we designed and made them, we knew where the sweet spots were.  Maybe that’s not so much conservation work, but we felt we were making fish happy habitat in our local creeks.  It wasn’t until I was asked by Trout Unlimited to work for them in 2011, that I really understood how encompassing Trout Unlimited is as an organization. The leadership in TU is really focused on keeping the good torut streams what they are, and improving and restoring the ones degraded and ruined as trout streams.  I think it’s a remarkable and valiant effort, but could not be done without the army of volunteers that is the heart and soul of Trout Unlimited.  These local connections are the eyes, ears, persuasion, muscle power and will of getting things accomplished for the betterment of great fishing opportunities in this country. I think that this also benefits the industry surrounding fishing. Without places good enough to have good fishing experiences, the shops and sales will suffer.  Most days, I wonder why Trout Unlimited wanted me to be on their national staff.  The quality of the other staffers I meet are far superior to my nimble self, but I very much enjoy working with and being part of this great organization.   

Give us a little background on what you're fishing for most of the time? 
What's you favorite species to target?
Living where I do, I usually drop into the water of a very high profile trout stream known for its outstanding trout population density after work a few times a week.  The Green river is only over a mile as the crow flies from my home in Dutch John, Utah. The biologists say there are over 20,000 fish per mile in the river right now.  The river has a growing population of Pike, and I have enjoyed fishing streamers for these toothy critters.  I love to fish stillwater lakes and reservoirs, both cold and warmwater, and learned much of my angling on small trout streams flowing off the Uinta mountains which hold small Brook, Rainbow, brown, and the native Colorado Cutthroat Trout.  My father who had a hobby of sailing, would take me to the San Juan Islands and the shoreline of British Columbia as a kid, where I fished for many different species of bottomfish, salmonids, and other saltwater fishes. I really enjoy steelheading in the northwest, and have spent many month long treks in their pursuit with spey rods.  I have also had the lower Laguna Madre be my home for a couple of winters where the species of fish you can catch may far outnumber the Mexican restaurants  in that area.  I recall a fishing trip to the Yucatan peninsula over the 4th of July with some guiding friends from Utah, where we set a new lodge record for the most grand slams caught in one day (4 slams on the 4th) and then my good friend Tee Clarkson landed the first fly caught sailfish with Boca Paila Lodge.  It was funny that the day before I landed that first grand slam, I saw my first Bonefish, cast to, hooked and landed it, kind of yawned as I asked what next, and then the next day, I had a Tarpon and Permit under my belt by 10:am, and then proceeded to spook nearly every bonefish out of the territory! Day in and day out, it’s all about trout, but if I had more resources and time, I’d fish a bit more in the brine.   

Looking ahead, what are your plans for the future?
A tough question.  Looking ahead, I really hope to enjoy more great fishing trips with my family and friends, wherever it may be.  I am still at the point where I long for a great take, whether it’s an inconspicuous slurp of a wily trout to the dry or an explosive slash and burn ripper from snook in the jungle, and the ensuing strong tug that is the drug of fishing, and hope this current step in the progression to the complete angler doesn’t wane quickly to the next step, but I am already feeling the complacent satisfaction of just being where great fishing is found and don’t necessarily have to be the one with the soggiest line all day…Who am I kidding? Yes, I still do!  I just hope that I can be an asset to the angling world and overall be instrumental in introducing the next generation of anglers into the sport and educate them on the importance of being an active part of ensuring that there are opportunities for great angling experiences for generations to come in this great nation.  

Thanks for your time, Charlie! 
Thank you very much.  I am very fortunate to have this opportunity, and I hope that I can contribute something valuable to Cortland Line Company. 

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