On The Fly With Lance Kittel: Are freshwater and saltwater anglers two different breeds? | Shaped by the Sea
Inland Ocean Coalition brings ocean issues to the heartland
Lance Kittel isn't just a freshwater fishing guru; he's also a passionate ocean advocate. Lance blends work with play in his position at the Inland Ocean Coalition, engaging landlocked audiences on marine conservation and policy issues. All rivers lead to the ocean (well, most of them) and the state of the coastal environment is closely connected to riverine health. On this Episode of Shaped By The Sea, Brian Yuasits sits down with Lance to discuss why ocean health matters to everyone, no matter where you live. And, they dive into the world of fly-fishing to discover how folks can connect with the outdoors and learn from the conservation ethic that's deeply ingrained in this sport's culture. So, tie on a fly and enjoy this episode of Shaped by the Sea. Only on ASPN.
Brian Yurasits 0:00
welcome to another episode of shaped by the sea the podcast where we explore the perspectives of ocean minded folks from all walks of life to learn something new from their unique aquatic experiences today i'm joined by lance kittel and avid fly fisherman from colorado and the associate director at inland ocean coalition so welcome to the show lance it's a pleasure to have you here
Lance Kittel 0:25
yeah thanks brian it's always great to chat with you i know we do a lot of chats off air too so it's great to be on the same wavelength with you today
Brian Yurasits 0:33
so you're you're the perfect person for this this show which is going to be all about fly fishing and how folks who live more inland can get involved in ocean conservation so i was curious if you could just give a little background about yourself and the job that you do right now with inland ocean and how did it all start for you
Lance Kittel 0:53
yeah for sure so so again my name is lance kiddle i'm the associate director here at the inland ocean coalition i've been here about two years now so i've been working on ocean conservation issues since about 2019 but before that you know i was in grad school i did the whole thing i got my master's in global sustainability and it really ties into the daily operations that i work on here at the inland ocean coalition whether that be connecting people from the inland to the coasts which is kind of implied in our name to volunteer and community engagement all the way up the scale to policy and legislative activities as well
Brian Yurasits 1:34
nice and and where did you start fly fishing
Lance Kittel 1:38
yes so i am a born colorado native so i'm a bit predisposed to having fly fishing in my genes i feel but i started fly fishing when i was about 10 years old and even further back i mean i was regular spin fishing since the time i could hold a fishing rod right so fly fishing really picked up for me at about 10 years old and it never really went away it's a bug that is really hard to shake once you catch it
Brian Yurasits 2:08
yeah did someone teach it teach you how to get into it or like were you just fascinated by it you know and and had to had to kind of teach yourself
Lance Kittel 2:15
yeah so my dad definitely started me out with fly fishing i remember he bought me i think it was a walmart rod i mean you can't trust anything expensive with a 10 year old anyway at the time so yeah he picked up a walmart rod and he took me out to the local ponds and i don't even think i was catching fish at the time but it was just so much fun for me because fly fishing is a very active form of fly fishing or just fishing in general sorry yeah so yeah from there i mean i was i was fishing with my dad for a good while and then as i kind of got a little bit older into my 20s i really started picking it up for myself and exploring new means and methods of fly fishing so it was it was started by my dad and it just kind of catalyzed through not only my education out here in colorado but just my personal passion for being outdoors as well
Brian Yurasits 3:09
yeah that makes a lot of sense and i mean i want to talk on this episode a lot about like the comparisons between fly fishing and spinner fishing or like bottom fishing because you know i grew up here on the in the northeast and really like my family taught me we would take the boat out on you know in the great south bay in new york and we would go bottom fishing and that's that's like what i learned how to do and was kind of taught how to do but there's there's a ton of differences between like the fly fishing community and the saltwater recreational fishing community and like first off i mean is is how you do it how you get into it and just as a whole like there to just entirely different monsters in themselves you know what i mean so i was curious like i have a bunch of questions asked you but first i was i was curious like do you think that fly fishing is is like a tough kind of community to get into like is it very niche or is it you know kind of open to really like anyone you know what i mean
Lance Kittel 4:12
yeah yeah so i think if you would have asked me this question five or 10 years ago the answer would be completely different than what it is today and it's it's really moved in a positive direction which i'm happy to say because more people are getting into fly fishing and some of the historic and barriers for fly fishing are starting to kind of crumble away and really reveal fly fishing as a more inclusive sport that should be accessible for everyone fly fishing really kind of it's derived from from trout fishing right and a lot of people have asked majority of fly fishers are going after trout that doesn't mean everyone definitely yeah especially at this point but but You know, trout fishing is kind of this. It's this connection with being outside. And I think that with more people looking to be outside, especially at at our current moment, in the current day, fly fishing is being transformed into this means of connectivity with yourself and your surroundings. So, very fortunately, I think it costs less money to get into fly fishing, it's easier to educate yourself on how to fly fish. And there's a broader community to connect with, if fly fishing is actually something you're interested in.
Brian Yurasits 5:35
Yeah, that's, that's really interesting. Because I've, I've always felt like, like, almost like, like spinner fishing from shore, right. And in saltwater areas, like kind of any, anyone really can do it. And it seems it's, there's not much of a cost in most places, like coastal, to get a fishing license, it's pretty minimal cost, you know, there's not really much that you have to go through. And it's almost like, like any, it's almost like anyone on their mother can go, you know, get get a spinner rod, like you said, from Walmart, or really anywhere and just fit and just start, like, get that first experience and fishing. And that's, that's what I was, for me at least fly fishing. Oh, it always was, like, it seemed like you had to have someone teach you how to do it, you know, but but now there's YouTube videos, like I've, I was, I was talking to you about this earlier that, you know, I I'm, I'm classically like, I've always used the spinner rodder, or, you know, bottom fishing rod. And I want to, I've been spending more time up in the mountains than I ever had before. And, you know, I see all these lakes and streams, and I'm like, I got to teach myself how to fly fish. Because, you know, especially in those stream environments, like it's, you'll, if you're using a spinner rod, you'll just get snagged on anything. But um, and it seems like a whole different experience. Like I've seen, I always see guys out there in, you know, in the White Mountains, where I'm at, you know, fishing the rivers, and there's a lot of places where you can only fly fish, you can actually use a spinner rod. So I was wondering if you could talk a little bit to that, like, is it? Is it? You know, is it tough to teach yourself how to fly fish nowadays?
Lance Kittel 7:15
You know, that's a great question. Because there's so many levels of fly fishing, you know, you the way that you mentioned it was was a great kind of entry point into fly fishing in a similar way as an entry point into spin rod fishing, right. So you could grab a fly rod and you can go down to your local park and you can shake it around and get your cut yourself caught and all the trees and bushes and all that. And so there is a little bit of technique that I think you pick up over time. But the best way to learn how to fly fish is just to get outside and take your fly rod and try to learn how to cast YouTube. Another thing you mentioned is a great tool and a great asset to learn the do's and don'ts of fly fishing, how you can set yourself up for success when you go out to those streams and lakes, and how you can advance yourself at a pace that's fitting for you. So when I started fly fishing, like I said, I started on the local ponds where they were, you know, bass and some of the smaller pumpkin seed fish. And I really wasn't trout fishing at the time, I was just learning the motions of how to use a fly rod correctly, and how to set myself up for success when I enter some of those areas where the fishing can get quite good. Right, so so people have so many tools at their disposal to learn how to fly fish and how to properly fly fish as well. And a big part of learning how to fly fish is how to handle fish in themselves.
Brian Yurasits 8:44
Yes, that's very true.
Lance Kittel 8:46
Yeah, it's a whole nother beast when you're trying to, you know, pull a huge hook out of a saltwater fish. But how do you translate that into dealing with a brook trout that's significantly smaller, it's significantly more delicate. And it has different responses to being pulled out of the water to have that hook retrieved. So there's a lot of different nuances that that I encourage people to learn if they're interested in learning about fly fishing. But I definitely think that it's an easy sport to get into if you have a little bit of time, dedication and respect, mostly for the environments that you're going to be in.
Brian Yurasits 9:26
Yeah, definitely. And that's that actually that word respect, I think is is something I want to talk about next because you know, every flyfisher that I've ever met had they have this knowledge of the environment right they're very conservation minded they, at least in my opinion, you know, they they really want to minimize their impact on the on the on the fish on the fish itself and on the environment that they're fishing in. And I'm just curious like compared to a lot of saltwater fishing like the I know a lot of a lot of guys go out saltwater fishing to put Meet on the boat right? Or you know to get to get there the bloody decks right you know that's that's you know you had a good day out fishing yet the decks are all bloody you got you know you caught your keepers and you have some some meat for the fridge, but it's fly fishing is like way different you're not going out there to catch fish to eat, you know what I mean? And and the regulations are definitely a lot tighter it seems. So I'm, I'm curious if you can speak to that, like, as a whole, do you think that that fly fishing is or fly fisherman and woman are more conservation oriented?
Lance Kittel 10:35
I totally think so. And I think that stems from a better understanding of the experience, and more so seeking that connection that I spoke of earlier. Fly fishing in itself is a very conservation minded sport, just because you have to understand the fish, you have to understand the environment, the conditions that you're fishing that day, and what is happening to ensure the longevity of the population of fish that you may be fishing for. Right. So a lot of fly fishermen practice, catch and release, which I definitely fall into that category, where we're using lighter tackle, especially for trout. And through this podcast, I'll probably be referring mostly to trout in terms of freshwater species just because that's what I have the most experience with. But when you're fly fishing for trout, you're usually not always, but you're usually in an area of some natural beauty, right. So you may be in a forest, you may be in the mountains. Definitely not limited to that though, I do have some friends who love urban fly fishing, which is something that I have yet to get too far into and experience. But you know, the natural beauty of the area speaks volumes for itself. And so when you're standing on that Creek in the middle of the mountains, and you're catching these tiny brook trout, or rainbow trout or brown trout, or cutthroats, even here in Colorado, yeah, you're really experiencing something and you're building that respect. So it's, you're not looking at a resource as something that you can tap into, you're looking at the resources, something that provides value to you. And I think a lot of great organizations back that up and really try to put that message out there that catch and release fly fishing is so much more rewarding when you see that fish swim away than if you were to pull the fish out of the water. And if you were to keep it, you're looking quite literally at a tangible show of how you're affecting the population, especially for gout and some of those more sensitive freshwater species.
Brian Yurasits 12:44
Yeah, that's, that's a really good point. Because, you know, when you when you're, when you're fishing in salt water, it almost seems like it's a vast pool of, you know, unlimited fish, right? Like, it's tough, it's tough to really like, fathom, that, me pulling out three or four fish to keep and, you know, for myself, is is taking away from this almost seemingly infinite pool, which obviously we know is not infinite. But when you're in fresh, when you're in a stream, you realize you're like, there's only so much water and and, you know, it just seems more limiting almost like that, that, that if you take this fish, you know, away from away from this mountain environment or away from whatever coastal environment that you're fishing in that you know it, you see the impact, right? Like you, you you have that sense. And I this actually leads well into what I want to talk about next is to like why, why it does cost more to fish to actually get a freshwater fishing license in most states, as opposed to saltwater fishing licenses. So I know that I mean, from from my knowledge of it, it's because up here at least in New Hampshire, in the northeast, they do a lot of stocking of some of these, you know, the the lakes, the some of the streams, they stocked them with with trout quite often. I'm wondering if that Do you know, like, what, what is the reasoning behind those increased costs?
Lance Kittel 14:13
Yeah, well, I don't know for sure. What all of the factors are that kind of go into the increased price for a freshwater fishing license? which you're totally right. A freshwater fishing license typically does cost more than a saltwater fishing license.
Brian Yurasits 14:27
Lance Kittel 14:27
but I think it you know, there's probably a couple indicators that kind of show us why the cost is is higher and in the first kind of goes right back to what you were just saying about stocking lakes and stocking streams. You have to as an angler, support the initiatives that are providing you with the resource you're experiencing. So in this Yeah, in this sense, freshwater fishing, right. So you have fish hatcheries that are rearing fish that are raising fish and that are deploying fish into these areas and that obviously costs a good amount of money but the other reason that i think there may be an added cost is because of the size of the water that we're fishing so you set it perfectly brian you see the ocean as this huge vast expanse and within the ocean there is plenty of habitat for fish to spawn and raise broods and so there's there's a lot more than just physical area in the ocean but when we're talking about these three to four foot wide creeks in our mountains we're really looking at a very finite resource that we have to pay attention to and that also similarly needs a lot of energy time and money to protect the resource in itself so yeah again i'm not 100% sure of all the factors that go into this but i think the the stocking aspect as well as just the limited amount of area definitely lend to that raised cost for freshwater
Brian Yurasits 16:03
yeah definitely and and to me i mean it makes sense why it's more money like i know heat for example here it's i think it's something around 70 plus dollars for a freshwater license and it's i think only five or $10 for for a new hampshire saltwater fishing license but big difference yeah it oh it's huge what how much how much does it cost out in colorado
Lance Kittel 16:27
so we've got a couple different levels of fishing licenses that you can actually acquire obviously we don't have any saltwater licenses out here yeah but we do have resident versus non resident i think resident license comes in around 40 but if you're an out of state license it comes in i believe around 70 or $80 so almost double the price yeah but then we have you know like your single day your three day and then your annual so there's always different yes but it seems that people who are out of state are paying almost two times of a premium for that same license than someone who is a resident of colorado
Brian Yurasits 17:05
definitely definitely and you know this something that i find very interesting about my experiences my experiences fishing in freshwater compared to salt waters that fresh a lot of i've when i've been fishing in salt water i think once in my whole life have i ever encountered a wildlife officer who actually like asked for my license right like it's it's fairly it's fairly unenforced you know it depends on where you're at but there's you know in a busy like for example on a busy summer day you know you're out on the water there's tons of boats out and it's it seems to me that it's tougher to enforce saltwater fishing regulations as opposed to freshwater because you know if you're fishing at a lake or a stream there's very specific access points and you know i've definitely definitely been approached by wildlife officers asking for my my fishing permit and then my license and i was curious you know your your perspective on that like have you ever encountered wildlife officers just enforcing the law while you've been out there and why you think that freshwater fishing regulations are like more and more commonly enforced then then salt water regularly yes
Lance Kittel 18:20
yeah well out here in the west you know we definitely see all of our freshwater species as a very valuable asset and resource to our state economy so i've been approached here in colorado a good handful of times asking for my fishing license and also when i efficient utah and new mexico i see it enforced quite often as well so i always try to stay as close to up to date with my fishing license as possible and if i don't have an active fishing license i don't fish the fines here are are pretty heavy and you don't want to be in a situation where you're paying you know 500 to $1,000 for a ticket when you could have just bought your fishing license right so so it's very enforced out here and i think it's because of how important angling is in terms of an economic asset to us and i guess i could see you know with saltwater you have not only commercial fishermen occurring on a more frequent basis but you're also having people who are just sitting on boats too so it may be harder for the wildlife officials to kind of judge how to go about a situation but you're in colorado if if you have a fly rod in your hand it's pretty obvious that you're fishing right so you should have your fishing license
Brian Yurasits 19:40
exactly i just find that so interesting because in you know in in saltwater environments like illegal fishing is a huge concern and it runs rampant in certain areas and you know it's definitely a problem for different all different kinds of species people fishing with traps for like crabs and lobster fish stuff like that too to just fishing you know recreationally from from shore for striped bass for example um you know i've definitely seen people sneak a couple undersized fish into their coolers you know while i've been out fishing for stripers you know at my local you know the surf casting spot but it's i just find it so interesting because it completely doesn't seem to be an issue with with freshwater fish or as big of an issue you know if you see if you see someone with a fly rod for the most part you know that you can kind of assume that they're they know what they're doing they have their their permits and they're they're like respect pretty respectable of the environment
Lance Kittel 20:35
right yeah and and i think we're also talking about two different means of engaging with our bodies of water right so here in the west a lot of people come here to catch those trophy trout but they don't keep them right yeah as if you're talking about a salt water environment very similar to where you're at brian i think people are more inclined to just keep their fish as we've been talking about throughout this episode so you know with people who are coming out to experience what we have in terms of just like physical engagement i think there's less of a desire to illegally fish and more of a desire to protect the resource to protect the species and ensure that the future generations of those species have the same resources and care provided to them that the current waterways are experiencing so yeah in terms of longevity i think you know the west has a pretty down pat and people are respectful of that which is great i mean our resources are so important to us out here especially water i mean you know how dry it gets out here in colorado so when water comes you know we want to protect it and i think everyone just has that inherent desire to take care of our water sources not saying that we're we're a shining example of water protection and water equity for the folks downstream but we do take it seriously enough that we want to protect and preserve our resources
Brian Yurasits 22:04
definitely so it seems like the value really is in the in maintaining that experience for people to be able to come out and enjoy actually yeah so that's that's awesome i definitely i wanted to get your experience on that but that also leads me into another question i have for you which is have you so since since the pandemic started have you seen more people out by you in colorado participating in fishing like have have the the streams and the rivers and lakes become more like more crowded with fishers or or is it kind of has it kind of been the same
Lance Kittel 22:41
yeah so the pandemic definitely had an impact on our waterways and the people who are coming out to experience them for sure i've seen a lot more fly anglers in the past year than i have previously and i think that was just because everyone was sitting at home bored and needed something to do but i will say that colorado has been pretty inundated with anglers from you know all across the world for quite a while i mean we have a lot of gold metal water out here for trout and we do have some areas where you can catch some really big fish not only trout but pike as well so with everyone coming out to the rivers and streams here in colorado we do see a little bit of inexperience or yeah you know maybe not inexperience but just a bit of an i hate to say it but cluelessness yeah as people approach the water because they it's a new area for them they're not fully aware of kind of the the unspoken rules of fly fishing on our rivers and streams but yeah the crowds out here and some of the more popular stretches are usually pretty packed in gosh i i try to stay away from the crowds and get to some of the more remote places but i mean you can't go wrong with a day of fishing regardless so you know i'm not trying to knock anyone for trying fly fishing but i do think that some some simple education whether it be through youtube or checking out some of the state resources or even just talking with someone else on the water can provide miles of experience
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Brian Yurasits 25:14
so i'd confer this is funny i compare it almost to like surfing lately and i'm curious i have two questions for you so one of them being like what were some of those unspoken rules that you mentioned right and and also like do you do you like does the fly fishing community have like a word for newbies right like when when when when you're surfing like you we call them kooks right like everyone and hey everyone was a kook at some point in their life right that's what i always i always tell everyone so like you you don't you're not too hard on them but you teach them right like so they don't hurt so they don't hurt anyone whether at the surfing and i'd imagine it's probably similar like you know it's definitely similar with fishing where you know if you see someone new who doesn't know like a lick of what they're doing you want to tell them or kind of educate them in a way that that doesn't deter them from the sport but it gets them to not mess up when they're around you again or when they're around anyone else right so right that's curious what what are some of those little tricks that that that you see out there
Lance Kittel 26:20
yeah yeah well obviously catch and release is one of our our biggest unspoken rules you know when you're angling for a sensitive species you want to treat the species with respect but i mean that can be applied to any species you can catch a fish and put it back like that simple as that and if you're careful enough with the fish and you're delicate enough with the fish the fish will go on to live a great life and potentially provide another angler with the opportunity of of catching that fish yeah so that's probably one of our biggest ones you know alongside that fly fishing has really taken off in social media and that's an entirely different conversation we could go on for hours about the implications and impacts of social media on our natural resources but one of the biggest things that a lot of fly anglers kind of kind of look or they frown upon it i would say is is like geo tagging your posts yet on instagram so kind of we call it spot burning yeah
Brian Yurasits 27:25
yeah so it's it's the same with surfing yeah same thing
Lance Kittel 27:29
right so you put the location and then you put it out there for the world to see and then someone sees you having this awesome epic time and they want to go and do that too well you never really understand the snowball effect of what those posts could actually cause to that that watershed right so so spot burning definitely something that a lot of people don't like to do and it's actually funny we a lot of folks combat that with geo tagging funny places you know like oh is that white castle and i caught this 26 brown trout but in terms of new anglers being on the water we don't really have like a term for that per se i just look at new anglers as people who don't thoroughly understand all of the the energy in the end the time and again the respect that go into fly fishing so it's more an opportunity than anything to educate people on you know how to handle a fish properly that's another big one right now actually is how people handle some of these sensitive species like trout because you see a lot of people gripping them by the jaw which trout having credibly sensitive jaws so the proper way to hold a trout is just to place one hand under the belly of the fish and then the other hand by the tail but but then even at that point you know we have pretty big issues with tailing gloves which are gloves that people use to hold the fish for their catch and release picture right yep but the the tailing gloves actually remove a bit of a slime from the trout and so they end up with some sort of fungal infections or some other even deadlier types of diseases later on down the road like whirling disease which doesn't necessarily tie into tailing gloves but is a huge huge factor for rainbow trout out here in the west too so you know just to recap kind of the things you should consider if you're thinking about fly fishing is to keep your spots to yourself there's obviously some great resources that will point you in directions of where the fishing can be good you know not not treating the trout disrespectfully and really just showing it some love and compassion keeping them in the water is always a great thing to do with fish i mean that's where they come from so we try to reduce the amount of time that fish are out of the water and just understanding that the use of some materials Like tailing gloves is is a really in just practice when it comes to the entirety of fly fishing, you know, so if you want to take a picture with a fish, you can leave it in the net, you can take a picture of it in the net, if you do want to hold it, hold it with your bare hands that you've wet in the water, so you're not pulling any of the slime off the fish, and just again, really treating the resource the fish the area with the respect that it deserves.
Brian Yurasits 30:29
Yeah, and you can really tell like, that's, that's awesome, because that was the question that I wanted to ask you was, you mentioned social media being such a huge thing with fishing. And, you know, that's, that's something that crosses saltwater and freshwater berries is you catch a fish, everyone wants to take a picture of it, right? Like,
Lance Kittel 30:46
Brian Yurasits 30:46
it's a very common thing. And people have been doing it for you know, forever people have been since since we've had since fishermen have had cameras, we've been taking pictures. Right? So we're so we're not just going back to the bar afterwards and say, Oh, look, the you know, the one I got was about this big, you know, holding out, pulling out your arms at like, you know, three feet or so whatever, you're exaggerating it. But um, but that's definitely, especially with social media, it's a huge thing is that everyone wants to get a picture. So I think those tips are, are definitely very helpful for anyone that's out there who wants to see you know, who, who wants to share this info with new fishers or is a new Fisher themselves. And also, what I found super interesting, was really about that geo tagging. Because that's, that's something that that crosses, it's really any outdoor recreation activity. That's kind of like an unwritten rule whether you're hiking, definitely if you're surfing, and then fishing for sure, like I've seen with with saltwater fishing, like people fishing from short. I've seen people actually crop their photos of fish they've caught to blur the background, so that way people can even like tell where they are, you know, people take those like drastic steps to protect their spots, but it's definitely a thing. And, and I'm curious also with fly fishing, do you do have you seen like a level of localism in fly fishing? Like is there like this is my spot kind of a vibe when when you're fishing on public public lands? Or like, you know, a spot that really anyone could get to it? Are there other guys that are kind of, you know, that that determine, like a localism, it's deterring new people or people who don't live there right from from participating?
Lance Kittel 32:34
Yeah. Unfortunately, I do think that this is something that the fly fishing community is particularly prone to experiencing or dishing out, there have been a good amount of times where I've been waiting in the rivers out here, and a guide comes by with, you know, his drift boat and his clients from whatever state they're visiting from. And I mean, in theory, the guide should be the one respecting the person who's waiting in the river because they have a boat that they can either move out of the way, or they can just zip by really quickly. But I've been in areas where, you know, there's a particularly good fishing hole. So it's like a deep hole in the river, or the riffle is slow. And I've been standing there, just, you know, doing my thing fishing, and a guide boat will come up to the top of the hole, drop anchor and just let the clients hit the same hole that I'm trying to fish. And I don't particularly appreciate being invaded upon. When I'm fishing. It's Yeah, it's really my practice of getting away and enjoying the solitude and serenity of nature. So yeah, unfortunately, localism is a bit of an issue in fly fishing. And not only that, I think there's a bit of sass that comes from each individual state, especially out here in the West, claiming we have better fish than Colorado does, or, you know, Utah has been fishing good. But Wyoming is just garbage, you know? So, yeah, outside of just like your local watershed localism, we do see it state size as well.
Brian Yurasits 34:08
That's really interesting. Yeah, it's, I mean, with any of these sports, it's like, Wait, where you have to be, you do in a way you have to be protective of like, if you have a good spot, you know, you want to make sure that it stays good. And that and that, you know, people who are making money off of you know, these tours and all that kind of stuff aren't going to blow it up and you know, ruin it for you and for you know, whoever else locally is fishing but so that's that's an interesting point that I definitely transcends fresh and saltwater boundaries. But but for leading from that I do I do have a couple questions about more specifically about conservation with you. And so I know like obviously fly fishing is a great way to get outdoors and you know, fishing in general, especially independent in these times of pandemic and quarantine like Tons of people have just bought a rod and started going outside. And I'm curious what your experiences are like, what conservation issues generally do? Does the fly fishing community care most about? You know, and I'm going to lay out five of them for you here. So climate change, overfishing, pollution, invasive species or habitat loss, would you Wow. Of those? What would you say? really like the the fly fishing community relates to most most closely or like cares about most closely?
Lance Kittel 35:34
Yeah. So it's, it's funny that you bring up those five points, because I would say honestly, the fly fishing community takes all five very seriously. Yeah, from invasive species to to watershed protection, right. So even here in Colorado, you know, rainbow trout, brown trout, and brook trout are not native to our waters. And yet, they're some of our biggest angling opportunities out here as well. So yeah, here in Colorado, we've been working pretty hard to restore native habitat for native cutthroat trout like the greenback cutthroat trout, for example. And that, that kind of leads into some of the other points like watershed protection, like if you're going to restore a habitat for a greenback cutthroat trout. That means that the watershed was either infiltrated by an invasive species, or there was some anthropogenic impact on that specific waterway. So it could be mining, mining tailings affecting the quality of the water, it could be bank destruction, it could just be overfishing itself, too. So So we work on all of these pretty equally, I would say, I think another one to add to your list is the process of building and removing dams. I mean, I'm sure you've heard of the line in Alaska. And that's kind of the poster child of how a dam can affect the natural movement of fish. But even a small dam that's created by you know, someone hanging out in the mountains on a small creek and they build a dam of rocks can adversely affect a watershed, right, so. So I would love to say that we care about one thing more than the other, just to be able to emphasize the importance of it. But really, all five of what you just said, are extremely important to not only maintaining the health of our waterways, but also the health of any aquatic organisms that are in those ecosystems and, and we could even move away from trout for a second and talk about just the the insect species as well. Yeah, and if you're affecting a body of water by doing something like rock stacking, right, where you build those towers of rocks, you're you're really adversely affecting the ecosystem. So you're taking the river rocks, and you're stacking them up, but you don't know what insects could be lying under those rocks, what, what is going to be the effect of creating that rock stack. I know it sounds trivial, right? Like, oh, I'm just putting a couple of rocks on top of each other. But when every single person has that same mentality, it really does create an adverse effect for some of these ecosystems. So, you know, in order to, to mitigate oneself from some of these issues, I think it's really just important to have respect for the area, allow it to exist without your interactivity or your interaction in terms of, you know, creating a rock stack or kicking some dirt into the river, right, just just being respectful and and reducing your impact. But also just helping others understand that oneness small step in a wrong direction, especially and this goes back to social media, if you post yourself doing something that could be considered harmful to an environment, but your followers don't know that. So they go out and recreate that same scenario, we're looking at a huge snowball effect of, of environmental degradation from anthropogenic effects, as well as just just not properly respecting the areas that we're all trying to enjoy. So if you're not doing it for yourself, do it for the seven year old who's out on the river for the first time that day or for the older gentleman who's trying to recreate some of his most favorite memories from 4050 years ago, you know, it's it's bigger than all of us and we can take that that bigness and reduce it into actions that we either take or don't take that that really help us protect these environments. Dude, wow.
Brian Yurasits 39:54
Wow, that you You said that perfectly man. Like I I'm gonna have to quote you on that.
Lance Kittel 40:03
Go for it. No, no, you
Brian Yurasits 40:03
doubt that you hit the nail on the head there. And that's, you know, anyone anyone who's listening can understand that like you there's a real there's reasons that we protect it and it's it's obviously for the for the ecosystem as a whole but it's it's for the future generations of people who can enjoy this these places like like you said that seven year old kid, the the older fellow who's you know, trying to relive and just find joy in you know, what is always given them joy, right, like, that's that stuff, it hits home with that human element. And also, yeah, yeah, definitely knock over knock over those stacks when you see him.
Lance Kittel 40:41
But couldn't agree, couldn't agree more.
Brian Yurasits 40:44
No, but but that does, it is interesting how like, it, I come down to a few big differences between saltwater and freshwater fishing and like, and really like it comes down to when you're fishing in these freshwater environments, it feels like to me that they are just inherently more fragile than you know, than they are. When you think of the ocean obviously the ocean, what we what we do on the ocean does have that yo and very, you know, long lasting impacts. But it's when you're when you're on a lake or in a in on a stream. Like it's just, it's a less vast of an elven environment like you can you can physically see the impacts as they pretty much happen, like you said, with these dams. And it's like, it doesn't take years to see that impact. Like, I'm sure in the case of like, a lot of the habitat loss. It's it's fairly fast moving the impact. Yeah. And but that's, that's really like, what I'm kind of taking away here is that, that these freshwater environments are like, it change happens a little bit faster than it does there that compared to, you know, the, the open ocean and, and the resources there are, you know, they're definitely valuable, but they're also close. They're closer to, you know, our own developments. They're, they're closer to all these other anthropogenic impacts that can affect them, whether it's pollution, you know, development, all of that. So, yeah, I, I mean, that's, that's kind of like what I really have been taken away.
Lance Kittel 42:18
Yeah. And I think there's, you know, there is a bit of responsibility that all of us have, whether we're fishermen or not to respect our waterways and to treat just our natural environments with respect. But you know, how we talked about how social media can have a very negative impact on on some of these areas, it can also have a really positive impact. And there's some people who are taking some really awesome strides and moving the dial towards, it's really cool to protect your areas and to care about them rather than I'm just going to show up and take my you know, take my resources and and call it good, right. One of our shining stars out here in the West is Elan Stribling. And he is a gentleman who is bringing not only comedy into some of these conservation talks, he's great, you'll have to check him out. I'll send you a link but but he's also bringing a lot of diversity and equity into the sport as well. So you know, he's connecting directly with women. He's directly connecting with our bipoc communities. And he's just setting a great example of how to just completely deconstruct the the privilege of a sport and really offer it up to everyone in an equitable solution. And then, you know, outside of these individuals, we see organizations like the mayfly project, who are connecting foster children to fly fishing and their natural environments and showing them that the sport is not just a sport, it's a means of connectivity. It's a means of balancing yourself and feeling that you have a purpose and a place, especially in these natural environments. And it's it's just so cool because as fly fishing grows, yes, we are seeing some impacts. But we're also seeing a lot of people who are are taking the initiative to show the entire world no matter what your background is that you have access to this resource, you have the ability to enjoy it, but you also have the ability to protect it right? I mean, if you're not able to make it to a mountain stream, there may be a pond to close to you. And while you're out there fly fishing for whatever fish may be in that pond, you may see like a great blue heron or a bald eagle flyover and, and there's just so much more to it than these these single focuses of I'm going out to catch a fish and I think fly fishing does a great job of not only expanding people's views of what the natural world can provide for them. But also how you can interact with with the natural world and, and one of my favorite quotes and I'm sure every angler is going to sigh when I say this because it's been beaten to a pulp. But the saying goes, you know, a bad day of fishing is better than a good day at the office. Oh, yeah, I won't speak to that, because I'm on company time right now. But, you know, that's how it goes. And I see a lot of value in people seeing seeing that as a great means to connect as well.
Brian Yurasits 45:30
Oh, yeah, no, you hit the nail on the head there. It's it's, I I'm not gonna lie. I use that quote, almost weekly. Whenever I see someone in the parking lot. I'm like, yeah, if the waves are kind of smaller. Yeah, but it's better than day in the office. Right? Yeah, exactly. That day serve bad day fishing, bad day surfing way better than a day in the office any day. But, and no, but you're you hit the nail on the head. They're like, the more people. And it's like a bounce, the more people that we can get outdoors and experiencing, you know, nature firsthand, through and fishing is the perfect vessel for that, the more that they connect with their natural environment and want to protect it like it's, it's pretty, it's a pretty simple equation, you know? And, yeah, and you know, all of those first time fishers like, you're, obviously people make mistakes, for sure. But everyone learns from them. And you turn into that lifelong advocate who, like you said, you're eventually everyone has that that first time fishing and eventually they end up that that 70 year old, you know, that's coming back to their childhood fishing spots a catch to catch a fish again, and you know it and relate to that feeling that they had all those years ago because it's it's like a universal language fishing it just like you know, it spending any amount of time outside. It's all universal language that everyone can understand for sure.
Lance Kittel 46:47
Yeah, I couldn't agree more with that. And just to tag on to that really quickly, I think that fly fishing is probably our best means of conserving species. It's the least invasive means of fishing, there's barbless hooks, we're not going out with waited treble hooks and snagging fish, you know, you're you're fooling the trout into thinking that it's eating what it already eats, right? So you're not introducing a foreign substance or a means of fishing that isn't natural to the fish. So you're really connecting on that natural level with the fish as well, by understanding, you know, this fish at this time of year is going to eat this bug. So that's what I should put on. My Tippett, right. Whereas sometimes when more commercial fishing vessels go out, there's obviously not that connection of how do I trick this fish into thinking it's eating something that's natural to it, you're really trying to just bulk up on the amount of fish you're catching? Right. So So in terms of the the most natural means of connecting with a fish, I would say fly fishing is our best example. Oh, yeah,
Brian Yurasits 47:57
a hot 100% 100% I definitely agree with you there. And, and so Lance, one more question for you here. I was just gonna say. So you, you work, you do a ton of great work with inland ocean coalition. What do you find is like the biggest reason that that inland communities want to engage with ocean conservation work. And you know, like, what, what would you say is like the a great step for someone who's who like, is listening to this and wants to get more involved in in conservation work and learn about how, you know, the streams connect to the ocean and how all this is, is really one big picture. What What would you suggest is a is the best way for them to go about that?
Lance Kittel 48:38
Well, that's a great question. Because, you know, as an inland person, I don't see the ocean every day. And as a matter of fact, the majority of our nation really doesn't see the ocean every day. But that doesn't mean that we don't have the ability to connect with the ocean, even if it's not in front of us, right? The idea that you don't have to see the ocean to protect it is kind of one of our mantras with the inland ocean coalition. And it it really speaks volumes about what we just talked about in terms of, you know, the resources that that affect us positively the most, or the resources that give us that feeling of peace and serenity or maybe you'd look at it through a faith based lens where you see you know, our natural surroundings is one of God's greatest gifts. I mean, there's there's a lot of ways to connect right and so the ocean is our lifeblood for the earth. I mean, the ocean provides so much more than we will ever know. And that same lens can be looked at that same trout stream in the mountains right that moment that you think you don't even have to be there. You just think about it and you can picture in your head. What you know, the trout stream looks like the the fresh smell of pine or whatever trees right and just that feeling of serenity and the calling to protect that so that not only you can enjoy it but again the the future generations and even some of our past generations can continue to enjoy these resources for what they are not not affected by manmade obstructions or by anthropogenic effects just simply allowing it to exist is one of the biggest things that i see people connecting with some so if if you are in an inland state and you do care about the ocean definitely reach out to us here at the inland ocean coalition we've got all sorts of fun ways that you can work either individually or with your community on some of these issues and solutions fortunately we were really running into a situation where we are progressing our conservation efforts and we need as many people who are interested in conserving our resources as possible to be able to back this up and really keep pushing that dial forward so obviously reaching out but if you're unable to reach out just simply take five minutes go outside don't wear your air pods you know just allow the natural world around you to create your own soundtrack and and just connect with yourself on on the level of i enjoy where i am and i value what is around me and i respect that and i want to continue that outside of my own realm and and just tried to try to engage people on that too
Brian Yurasits 51:36
definitely definitely and i think that's a perfect way to end this this episode here lance thank you so much for taking the time to share your insight on fly fishing and inland ocean concert inland ocean coalition knowledge at with our audience and i you know i know i know i learned a ton about this i'm about to go out to to my local fishing store grab a grab a nice fly rod for this season and i'm gonna give it a go for sure i may have to transitioning you should yeah you're
Lance Kittel 52:06
gonna have a great time and thanks for having me brian it was awesome to chat with you