TROUT COUNTRY‘S “LEGENDS SERIES” IS A BLOG SERIES ON PROMINENT PEOPLE IN THE FLY FISHING COMMUNITY AROUND THE WORLD. WE WANT TO CELEBRATE THE SUPERSTARS IN THE INDUSTRY AND HELP CONNECT THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY OF FLY FISHING ENTHUSIASTS.
FOR THIS EDITION WE’RE HIGHLIGHTING JEN RIPPLE, FOUNDER AND EDITOR-IN-CHIEF OF DUN MAGAZINE, THE PREMIER FLY FISHING MAGAZINE CREATED BY WOMEN FOR ALL ANGLERS!
Every fly angler knows Jen Ripple. Jen is one of the most influential voices in fly fishing as Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Dun Magazine. She is also a member of the Boards of Directors for Fly Fishers International and AFFTA. When not on the water, Jen spends her time empowering women in fly fishing through speaking engagements nationwide and teaching fly casting and fly tying clinics.
Jen was gracious enough to give us some insight into her fishy life.
1. How did you get into fishing? Does the passion run in the family?
I started out tying flies one winter when it was really cold in Ann Arbor, Michigan. I didn’t know anything about fly fishing. Even though I had grown up on a lake in West Bend, Wisconsin, I didn’t fish. It wasn’t until that cold winter when I had nothing to do that I walked into that fly shop for the class I had registered for online. After that day, my life changed. I fell in love with everything fly-related and began fishing as soon as the ice was off the Huron River that spring.
2. Who would be your ultimate fishing buddy?
My ultimate fishing buddy would be any of my children. For some reason, I can inspire others to get into the sport in a big way, but have a hard time enticing my children, but they’re getting there!
3. What is your go-to song you repeat in your head while waiting for a fish to bite?
4. Do you fish all year round? If not, what do you do in the off-season?
I am privileged enough to be able to fish all year round. When I’m not fishing or working on the magazine, I like to participate in conservation efforts locally and one weekend a month I work at the family business – Port Pirate Fest in Port Washington, Wisconsin. It’s probably better that you don’t ask about that! haha
5. We know conservation is a huge part of this sport, what has been your favourite conservation project you were a part of?
As a magazine, we commit to 100 hours of conservation work per year. I think my favorite conservation project happens every time I go out on the water, no matter where I’m at. We always make a point to leave the water cleaner than when we arrived.
6. We all know how steelhead crazy everyone is but… what is your favourite species to fish for on the saltwater or maybe on a river in another country?
That’s a hard one. Each fishery is so vast and different that it makes it tough to pick just one, but if I could only fish in one type of water, it would definitely be saltwater because you NEVER know what you will catch or have the opportunity to fish to… and if it was only one species, I’d have to say tarpon. I know that sounds so cliche, but they’re such a challenge and I love everything about sight fishing to them, to losing them, to catching them, to standing on the front of the flats boat staring at the water….
7. Can you describe the feeling you get after you release a beautiful fish?
Exhilaration. It’s like seeing your child’s face when they accomplish firsts. First glimpse right after they are born, first steps, first day of kindergarten, graduating from high school, and then college, and then watching them walk down the aisle and start their own lives. All bittersweet moments you know you’ll never have back, but have been privileged to be a part of. That’s what it’s like releasing a beautiful fish.
8. What is your favourite part about fishing?
The amazing people I get to interact with every day because of this sport.
9. What do you do when you aren’t fishing… dreaming about fishing?
I travel to teach or speak at different fishing events. But when I’m not doing that, then I spend time with my children (who are all grown) and my three beautiful grandchildren any time I can.
10. Where is your favourite place you’ve ever fished?
I’ve been to some amazing places from Cuba to Argentina, the PNW and beyond, but my favorite place to date has been Calgary. From fishing the beautiful Bow River to the Highwood and the Old Man, the vast remote wilderness that surrounds that beautiful city is mind boggling. And, it’s Canada, so everyone is SO nice!
11. What’s your bucket list fishing destination?
My bucket list is to fish in Oman with Clare Carter-King!
12. Do you tie your own flies? What’s your favourite?
I do. I learned to tie flies before I learned to fish, so while I don’t have as much time to tie as I used to, I do love it. My favorite pattern is called the Hot Flash Minnow. My own creation that is easy to tie and works like a charm!
13. What’s your favourite fishing story your friends are sick of hearing about?
The time I was fishing in Cuba with Rick Pope of TFO. We were paired up on the boat together that day and I was up. My guide started yelling “Tarpon!” But I didn’t think they were tarpon in front of me. They weren’t… they were giant jacks! With the help of Rick and no help from my guide, I caught a giant jack. That species is SO underrated!! That was so much fun and I couldn’t have done it without the expertise of Rick who was giving me a lesson on the physics of a fly rod the whole while!
I learned so much that day, and we ate that jack for four days on the live-aboard. The big joke that trip was, “Jen, what would we have eaten if you hadn’t caught that Giant Jack?”