Meet Fly Fishing Legend Scott Baker-McGarva

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.

THIS WEEK WE CAUGHT UP WITH LOCAL LEGEND SCOTT-BAKER MCGARVA.

Scott Baker-McGarva is well-known around these parts… and many others. He has over two decades of guiding experience and is also as a fly shop manager, fly casting and fly tying instructor, commercial tier, outdoor writer, TV personality, movie consultant, motivational speaker and all-round fishy dude.

Scott was kind enough to play along and give us his insights and some stories for our Legends series.

How did you get into fishing? Does the passion run in the family?

I was introduced to fishing by all the dads and grandpas in the family. My paternal father, his father, and my mother’s father all took me fishing regularly from the time I was 5. My mother tells me I fished the creek behind the childhood house with a stick and string while still sporting diapers.

All the men on my dad’s side of the family were crazy about angling going back three generations and my great-grandfather was a noted Vancouver guide and angler who has pools on the Capilano River named after him.

Photo: Deneki Outdoors

What does your ultimate fishing date look like?

Well, at this point in my life my ultimate fishing buddy would be my son Grayson! He is keen but only just getting into it, although he already caught some fish by the time he was 4! He’ll be 6 this summer.

What is your go-to song you repeat in your head while waiting for a fish to bite?

My go-to song? Hmm, I have a pretty varied musical taste…so it changes! Lately I hum a lot of Chris Cornell and some The Band tracks from the Last Waltz soundtrack… plus my usual assortment of metal \m/ !!

Do you fish all year round? If not, what do you do in the off-season?

I do fish year-round if I can… living in Squamish makes that possible! Back when I was guiding three seasons a year, I was kinda burnt out on fishing and got back into skiing 30-50 days a winter… then junior arrived and changed that lifestyle!

Photo: Whistler Fly Fishing

We know conservation is a huge part of this sport… what has been your favourite conservation project you were a part of?

I’ve supported a number of conservation efforts for both steelhead and salmon. I held the position of Steelhead Society of BC President at a time when weird fisheries politics and personality conflicts just about killed the organization. Several directors and myself hung on and survived that era… thank god too, because the SSBC is resurrected and doing fine work! Some of our biggest accomplishments include the many restoration projects throughout Southern BC, many responsible for the continued rebound of wild salmon and steelhead in rivers like my home waters in Squamish.

A number of us also opposed the GAS (Garibaldi At Squamish) project and its attempts to develop the Brohm Ridge area, thereby threatening the unique Brohm Creek steelhead spawning and rearing habitats, just so we could have more golf courses and a poorly situated ski hill.

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?

If I could just fish one place other than a steelhead river it would be a tarpon flat…tarpon fishing will change your life!

Photo: Whistler Fly Fishing

What is your favourite part about fishing?

For me, releasing a fish is definitely euphoric, but it’s hard to describe it outside that… sometimes I reflect and sometimes I just get after another one. It seems to depend on the moment and the chase.

You get a lot of time to think when fishing…I like that and the quiet babble of the river. But I also don’t mind social aspect of some fisheries… lake fishing generally is a fun, social thing to do.

What do you do when you aren’t fishing… dreaming about fishing?

If I’m not fishing these days, I seem to be working, which at least it’s in a similar field! But if I’m not angling and have a choice to do something else, it’s usually up a mountain skiing, hiking, running, hunting…or napping.

Where is your favourite place you’ve ever fished?

My favourite place to fish is a toss up between the Dean River for steelhead, or a flat somewhere warm, with really agro giant trevallies (GTs), happy tarpon or big bonefish… I’ve never done the “permit thing” too earnestly; I had some shots in Cuba one trip, but I’m told it’s addictive by guys I trust.

What’s your bucket list fishing destination?

My bucket list destination is the Marquesas Islands off Florida or some atoll in the tropics swarming with GT’s. GT’s are insane… the only fish I was ever scared to actually hook. They are ANGRY!

Scott on YouTube awhile back…

Do you tie your own flies? What’s your favourite?

I used to tie tons of flies – thousands in fact – commercially and for personal use. But these days I just don’t get the time… but I miss it. It’s a very therapeutic hobby, plus it’s creative, so I should get back at it. I used to love tying steelhead flies and bass bugs actually…and then streamers. Spey flies would also rank as a favourite.

What’s your favourite fishing story your friends are sick of hearing about?

Oh, my favourite fishing story? There are probably so many, but I would think it was the time I was tarpon fishing. The guide was standing right behind me, and when the fish took 10 feet in front of the boat, the guy stopped his feet on the cooler he was standing on to make the fish turn, but I wasn’t ready for it and it scared the living daylights out of me! But I managed to hook the fish and eventually landed it!

You can get in touch with Scott on his Facebook or Instagram or LinkedIn, or you can shoot him an email.

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