Trouts: There’s not really much other way to start these things out- who is Maddie Brenneman? Tell us a little about yourself. How did you get your start in fly-fishing and what do you love about this sport so much?
MB: I grew up in Denver, Colorado and spent my summers in Canada, spin fishing from a little dock with my sister. I loved putting a worm on a hook and filling up a bucket with little fish, dumping it out, then doing it all over again (I thought I was really good!). I met my boyfriend Nick when we were both wearing braces and in high school and he is the one who taught me how to fly fish. His entire family loves to fish and they shared this wth me over the years, kindly taking me around the world to fish before I really even knew how to cast. I was pretty spoiled! It’s been 11 years now and during that time, Nick and I moved to the Pacific Northwest for college, then to Santa Fe, New Mexico for our first jobs and now we are happy to be back home in Colorado.
Trouts: Tell us about the moment when you decided that simply fishing wasn’t enough and that it was time to make the move to guiding?
MB: I was ready to leave Santa Fe and curious about what I would do next. I thought about what I really enjoyed and loved and the answer was fishing. Becoming a guide seemed intimidating but also like the right next step for me. I had worked at a ranch, The C Lazy U, when I was in College, so I reached out to them to see if they needed a guide and it worked out that they did. I was lucky to start guiding for a property that I loved and one that felt like home already.
Trouts: What do you love most about guiding and why?
MB: I really love people and talking with them. I get so much enjoyment out of spending time out on a river talking about trout and fishing. I could spend a day listening to other people’s fishing stories and I often do. I love to see the learning process that hopefully leads to a fish and the accomplishment people feel afterwards. Most of all, I like being out in nature all day and I especially like seeing the rivers change from season to season.
Trouts: What’s the weirdest/funniest thing that’s ever happened to you on a guide trip?
MB: One time I was guiding this sweet older gentleman and it was his first time fly fishing. I kept saying strike but he wouldn’t set the hook. Finally, about halfway through the day, he looked at me and said, “oh strike? This whole time I just thought you were burping!”
Trouts: Favorite river in Colorado? Favorite river in general?
MB: My favorite rivers in Colorado are probably the Blue River and the Rio Grande. My favorite river in the world is the Rough River in New Zealand.
Trouts: Describe your perfect day on the water A) guiding B) fishing for fun
MB: Perfect day guiding for me would involve taking a beginner that starts from scratch and at the end of the day, they may have caught some fish but most likely are just happy and realize how much they learned in just a couple hours, and hopefully want to go again. On my own? I would be fishing with Nick and our dog, on a clear river in the fall with a shot at big fish.
Trouts: You’ve got a decent amount of travel under your belt with a fly rod in hand- where is your favorite place you’ve visited so far? Where can you not wait to get to at some point?
MB: I loved New Zealand and I would go back every year if I could. I would still love to go to Mongolia and Slovenia for Marble Trout. I also love saltwater and would love to do Reds in Louisiana and Tarpon in Florida.
Trouts: Favorite species to target on the fly (and why)?
MB: Right now it would be trout in New Zealand. I love the sight fishing aspect and how challenging and nerve-racking that can be. I have been really close to snapping a rod over my knee there…
Trouts: And now on to my personal favorite question- what’s the best piece of fishing advice you’ve ever been given?
MB: “Don’t try to be the best because you’re not the best. Just be you.” I will be the first to say that I have a lot to learn and will try and learn from everyone I spend time on the water with, whether it be a seasoned guide, a beginner or even when i’m by myself. The second you stop learning, you stop growing.
Trouts: If you’re not out on the water, what are we likely to find you doing?
MB: I enjoy cooking and good food. I love hiking with my funny dog, Tuco. I like art and making jewelry. I especially like finding cool cabins and off the beaten spots explore.
Trouts: If we were to get in your car right now, what tunes would we hear coming from the speakers?
MB: Such a mix probably, right now, Chance the rapper, Shakey Graves, Sturgill Simpson are all on the same playlist… Shakey Graves is my all time favorite.
Trouts: Tell us something readers might be surprised to know about you.
MB: I’m pretty quiet and soft spoken, I’m not sure I have the ability to yell, I’m kind of a night owl but can fall asleep anywhere at any time and sleep through a fire alarm. I’m a terrible public speaker, a clean freak, afraid of weirdly textured foods, love to give gifts, and could live on salt and vinegar chips.