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Trouts Journal

Trouts Guide Spotlight: Kyle Wilkinson

Ivan Orsic / Apr 21, 2015

Trouts: Tell us a little about yourself, how long you’ve been fishing/fly-fishing and how you were introduced to the sport.

KW: I grew up in a small town in Southeast Kansas called Pittsburg. Most people don't think of fly-fishing and Kansas going together but I had the rivers of the Ozark region of Southwest, Missouri less than 2 hours away- as well as the Ozark lakes- and the White River system of Northwest Arkansas just an hour beyond that. There was actually a bunch of trout to be caught within an easy drive of my parent's house. We also have a family farm that is literally covered in water full of giant bass, crappie, bluegill and catfish. My grandparents live on Grand Lake in Northeastern Oklahoma which was also less than 2 hours away. When I was growing up it was never a question of what to do when free time presented itself. Whether it was with a fly rod or baitcaster I was just always fishing. When I was 10 years old I received my first fly rod from my grandmother. She didn't fly fish. My dad didn't fly fish...no one in my family did. For some reason though I could look at that fly rod and knew exactly what to do with it. It was an 8' 5wt South Bend 'Black Beauty' with a foam handle and a white floating flyline. I remember I caught a bluegill on my second cast with that rod. It's crazy to think how that 5" fish changed my life forever.

Trouts: Why do you love to guide fly-fishing?

KW: I love to guide for a variety of reasons, but really it can all be boiled down to the same root cause- fly-fishing is just plain fun. I love seeing the excitement in someones eyes whether they're after their first fish ever on a fly rod or their thousandth. I love teaching people new techniques, showing them new water, I love being out in nature and experiencing her elements. I love being in tune with a river and knowing her moods....I could go on forever with these examples. Some days it can start to feel like a job, but most days it's hard to call it one. Simply put, it just never gets old.

Trouts: What is the best piece of fishing advice you’ve ever been given?

KW: That's kind of a tough one and I feel like I should probably have a quick, witty answer to share. I guess it would probably actually have to be something I heard professional bass angler (and living legend in that arena of fishing) Kevin VanDam say when he was asked about catching (and sometimes losing) big fish during a tournament. He said something along the lines of "If I can make one 5 pounder bite, I can make another". It can be really easy to get frustrated when a myself or a customer loses a big fish. I always try to turn this frustration into confidence thinking, "Hey- if I can get one 20 incher to bite, there's no reason I can't make another." I like to think fishing with confidence is a strength of mine.

Trouts: Describe your guiding style?

KW: Not to copy too much off Scott's answer last month but I would say my guiding style is adaptable. I feel I'm able to adapt really well to any type of client I may have. Whether it be the beginner who doesn't even know which end of the fly rod to hold, to the customer who's more interested in learning the intricate details of exactly why we're doing what we're doing and using what we're using, to the world traveled angler who doesn't even want to take lunch and just wants to fish every second possible. I'm good with it all and love it all. That's what keeps it fun. This sport means a lot of different things to a lot of different people and I always try to tailor the day to those exact expectations and desires.

Trouts: Describe your perfect day on the water both A) guiding and B) fishing for fun.

KW: A) From a guiding perspective, I'd say a perfect day on the water is when the fish are happy and we're able to sight fish all day long- particularly with dry flies. Colorado is a great place to sight fish and there's nothing better than seeing my customer spot a fish holding in the water, make the cast, and see the fish eat their flies. B) As far as fun fishing goes, that's a two part answer- I really love floating/rowing big Western rivers- particularly in Montana where I ran my first guide trip on the Madison River nearly a decade ago. However, tell me to pack my bags right now and go wherever I want and you'll find me on a salty flat somewhere on the bow of a skiff.

Trouts: Favorite species to target on the fly?

KW: We're going to turn this into a two part answer also- favorite to target is without a doubt Permit. I've cast at more than I can count but they're still alluding me. Favorite to target that I've caught would be Tarpon.

Trouts: Favorite place to fish?

KW: I could also turn this into a multi-part answer but if I could only fish one place the rest of my life it would be the Madison River in Montana....I even named my dog after that river. It's in my blood.

Trouts: Destination to dream about?

KW: Any place that has a Permit swimming. It's easy to say the Seychelles and that's definitely up there. I've got a ton of dream destinations- Mongolia, Russia, St. Brandon's Atoll, New Zealand, Alaska, everything in Montana I still haven't fished....quite honestly, any place I haven't been is a place I dream about.

Trouts: Got any fun fishing trips on the books?

KW: Heading to Beaver Island in June to fish for 30lb carp and 8lb smallmouth with Cameron Mortenson from thefiberglassmanifesto.com and Shawn Combs from Orvis...along with a few other names you might recognize. It's going to be an unreal trip! Keep your eye on the Blog early July for the full report!

Trouts: What do you like to do for fun when not on the water?

KW: When I'm not on the water I can usually be found living the Denver life with my wife Katie and our two dogs Madison and Nelli....hiking, camping, kicking around town or sitting on a patio somewhere enjoying the 300 days of sunshine we get each year with a cold one in hand.

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