A Non-Traditional Interview with a Non-Traditional Angler

Normally, I try to write an introduction that will keep you reading. On this interview with Jeremy, just trust me. It is not your traditional fishing interview but you want to read it to the end.

When we discussed doing this interview, you described your approach to fishing as non-traditional. What do you mean by that?

Fishing for me isn’t just an experience I have in life, my life experience happens through fishing. It’s a constant, it’s with me everywhere. My next hour on the water happens after the events of my life bring me into it. My experiences are what brought me to take fishing to the level I’m at and on further. I fish because of who I am, anyone who’s fished with me can tell you that. It’s ingrained and a part of my blood. It, like the rest of my life, will always be a part of me.

When I started fishing as a kid, the sparkly boats, sponsor laden jerseys and southern personalities of the Bassmaster series enchanted me. I thought that’s what the pinnacle of fishing was, ripping fish into a boat, throwing them into a tank and swinging them around by the lip in front of cheering fans.

From age 12-17 I fished like this, I’m fortunate to have a supportive and well off father who bought me a little 14′ V bottom to turn into a bass boat when I was about 12. He really wanted to nurture the passion he saw in me with a rod and reel. We kept fish a lot. We kept trout almost always. I thought catching also meant keeping.

I moved away from home at 17, I started going to school and quickly dropped out. I met some really great friends but I was blinded more by drinking, girls and trying drugs to really take advantage of my new life in bass-rich California. I got arrested a bunch, spent a month in a county jail and decided to move home. I was sort of just floating around, selling weed and doing nothing.

My father got married when I was 21. The day of my birthday our newly blended family took a trip out to Nantucket Island to celebrate. Reluctantly, I went. On the beach at Great Point…unbeknownst to me, one of the most coveted fishing spots on the Atlantic…my new step brother handed me an eleven foot surf rod. I cast a Hopkins into the wind and landed about 10 bluefish. My passion had come back.

I had missed out fishing the past four years and I had to make up for lost time. I bought all new gear, got my act together and moved to New York, quit the substances for a while and got a great job in Construction Management. While visiting home one summer, my step mother’s father took me to a private trout club in the northwest corner of Connecticut. He got a fly rod back in my hands. He was 92 at the time.

I caught a few nice trout, kept one for out table and the man who nobody could impress was really taken with my ability. He told me to keep at it, so I did. That day I learned two things. One; I wanted to pursue fish almost exclusively with a fly rod and two; I liked watching a fish swim away rather than on my plate.

I raided my dad’s old fly boxes in the garage, grabbed an old bamboo rod and plastic reel and I started fishing for largemouth in Central Park after work. I spent about $3,000 at Urban Angler, a great NYC shop. Fly fishing saved my life. It gave me purpose, or as much as I needed to hold me over until my daughter was born two years later.

I realized any fish could be caught on a fly rod. Sometimes, you need to borrow technique and theory from the gear guys and the old school but a fly rod is the way for me. I discovered the “big fly” not long after, and that was that. Currently, I’m working on a triple articulated 14″ eel skin fly for Striped Bass at night. When I say “non-traditional”, that’s what I mean.

img_9383What is Yard Goats Fishing?

Yard Goats Fishing is my answer to the pretentious sticker and performance shirt companies that call themselves “teams”. If you fish our area, you know exactly who I’m taking about.

My good friend Elliot Thomas (@elithebeerguy) fished under a team name at the Ditch Pickle Classic, Lake Champlain’s catch and release fly only tournament, in 2015. We were encouraged to represent a brand neither of us believed in for a couple of free hats, that we never got.

This year we needed a new name. Hartford Connecticut, where we both live next to has a new baseball team called the Hartford Yard Goats. We stole the name to represent our capital city, and we’re sticking with it. We are hard-working men and women who work to support our families and children. When it comes to fishing we encourage each other to work even harder. We sleep out there, or don’t sleep at all. We are all about time on the water and off the phone or laptop. We help each other push limits.

No marketing strategy, no stickers, no “sponsoring”, no “regional team captains”. If ANYONE wants to represent Yard Goats Fishing just get in touch with us and unless you’re a total knob, you’re in.  Just guys who care about fish and fishing 365 days a year. Christmas afternoon is one of my favorite fishing days. That’s how hard we are working at this.

jeremy-c-02I love the multi-species gallery aspect of your Instagram page. What’s your favorite freshwater species to target and why?

It’s funny you ask about freshwater because my favorite species to fish for is in our water as I type this, the False Albacore. That being said my very close second is the Brown Trout. I love them. The aggression, power, intuitiveness and color are why.

Chasing Albacore beach to beach, peeling line off a jetty or running-and-gunning them in a boat sometimes don’t compare to a quiet, snowy November day when the big Browns strap on the feed bags and eat everything in sight. I’m a streamer guy through and through. Recently I’ve gotten into euro nymphing, which is absolutely deadly but there’s nothing I’d rather do than double haul articulated flies into a pond or River. I fish this one pond many times a year…if you know me, you know where…and there are legit 30 inch Browns in it and it’s about 100 feet deep. Swimming a triple articulated 10 inch all white fly across the surface and watching a 25 inch brown slam it out of the tannic colored water, is unlike any other fishing. Even a drag screaming Albie.

jeremy-c-03What has been your favorite fishing moment?

The 41 inch Striped Bass I just caught at 11:15pm on a Friday night was amazing. Even still, that’s not it. My favorite moment this year was my win at the Ditch Pickle Classic.

As I said before its this really awesome fly only, catch-photo-release tournament on Lake Champlain. It’s grown and a ton of people fished it this year close to 200. People use boats and paddle. We choose to fish it out of our Hobie mirage drive kayaks. Elliot Thomas is a master of digging up information online. He pours over maps, charts, forums, articles and videos to find out everything he can about the water we compete in. I typically just show up with a ton of flies. The Classic has a category for Top Paddler using a boat with no motor. Due to Elliot’s insane amount of knowledge collected, our new electronics on the kayaks and my flies, WE, I say that because we definitely did it together, took home the top kayak award. It felt great posing for those photos, I’ve been working towards a win like this for years. I believe was 7th individual angler overall. We worked for it and brought our skill up north. Neither of us had ever fished a lake that size until competing last year.

jeremy-c-04Looks like you are fishing out of a sweet looking Hobie. Which model is it? And what is your review of the kayak for fishing?

The sweetest Hobie you see me in is a Limited Editon Hobie Outback that Elliot won in the Three Belles Outfitters Trifecta tournament. Pretty insane moment for the Yard Goats this year. I have a Hobie Revolution 11 which is also a mirage drive boat. It’s fast, light and so much fun to be in. After fishing the Hobie’s I wouldn’t ever use anything else. In my opinion no other brand can hold a candle to Hobie. The mirage drive is a pedal driven system allowing for truly hands free fishing. It’s incredible. Save your lunch money kids, and buy a Hobie. If anyone from Hobie is reading, please send me free shit.

How do you define a great day on the water?

Any day that I watch a fish swim out of my hands is a good day. I practice catch and release exclusively and it’s such an amazing part of my life. I’ve come a long way from keeping fish, I live in a town with two Whole Foods and if I want fish, I’ll go there. I truly believe it connects nature and I on another level. I respect nature beyond all else and I want to protect all of its creatures. I love returning a fish home and I really love catching them twice.

The 41 inch Striper I just caught was an incredible experience, but I had to keep it. It swallowed my hook and couldn’t swim away. We tried. It made me happy because I got to share it with my friends and family but it made me sad that I had to paddle back with it. It was an awesome creature to interact with and I’ll never forget it. It was my first big bass and it actually started converting me to fishing for stripers on spinning gear as it is sometimes a more effective method. In any case, I would have preferred to watch it swim back into the abyss and continue its journey down south but so goes our sport. Fish sacrifice more than we do.

jeremy-c-06I saw you are teaching a beautiful young lady to fish. What is your approach to introducing your daughter to fishing?

If you’re still reading this interview, you don’t have a problem with a long winded answer. So here goes another one. Fishing, my daughter Eva and I have a very special connection. Eva was born by c-section at just 27 weeks old, she came out at 2 pounds 2 ounces. It was scary, powerful, happy and gut-wrenching all at once. She was about three months premature. We kept her in the hospital for about four months.

It was long, and to be honest I didn’t handle it the way I should have. It was difficult to be supportive to her mother. We both experienced the trauma in a different way. I knew in my heart that any kid of mine was going to make it. What was I to do with the stress, well, fish more. I found a wild trout stream close to the house I was renting. It was quiet and nobody fishes it. I started going out after hospital visits, in lieu of, or before heading in. I caught massive Browns and some nice brook trout. It was all mine.

Once Eva came home, I decided to start sharing the place I found with her. One day I put her in a carrier on my chest, she was maybe 8 months old. I faced her out so she could watch the fish. We immediately hooked a perfect 9 inch wild brown. I sat down on a rock and held it up in front of her. She reached for it and touched it’s adipose fin and giggled. Tears started to pour down my face. I kissed her on the head and said “thank you”. The doctors saved her, and just like fly fishing she was saving me.

I’ve never told this to anyone. She gave me focus and purpose and motivation to start a business. Now she’s 4 and doesn’t have a scratch on her! She’s perfect. She doesn’t quite get the fly rod yet, we’ve tried, but she’ll get there. We’ve gone back to good old digging worms and learning about the habitat. She has my sea legs, that’s for sure. I know that fishing will be something we cherish doing together. Every single day I’m able to fish with her and wade our favorite secluded stream, I will. Fish or no fish, her spirit on the water is exactly like mine. I’ve also been trying to get my girlfriend Kaitlyn out here and there, she has a really cool relationship with my daughter. It’ll be fun getting the three of us out next spring, I’m really looking forward to that.

You fish all year around. Where will we find you fishing when the weather turns cold?

The Farmington River and my secret pond. Both are my favorite to fish in winter. I almost don’t fish them unless it’s fall or winter. Now that I’m into saltwater pretty heavy, I sometimes forget my roots. However, when the leaves change color it reminds me to return to them. Hunting my Browns. Some of my favorite people to fish with head out with me; Michael Leibin of Stix Hunting and Fishing, Shawn Britton of Flies by Britton and of course my “teammate” Elliot Thomas have formed some really great memories at these places. Although this year, you might see me dropping lobster traps off myHobie in Long Island Sound.

First of all, you can follow Jeremy through his Instagram account.

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More importantly, I want to sincerely thank Jeremy for this amazing interview. His honesty is nothing short of inspiring. All of us go through challenges in life, none of the us the exact same. But if you are reading this, I know you share the power of fishing to help us through all seasons of life. Make sure to share that power with others, even if it is a slightly non-traditional approach.

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