Trouts Journal

Trouts Six Pack with Austin Campbell of Community Fly Fishing

Ivan Orsic / Jun 23, 2023

On a recent fishing trip, Trouts Guide Austin Campbell and I were waiting out the rain in his pickup - chewing the fat and theorizing about the window of fishing ahead of us after the rain stopped and before the sunset. As Austin listed off all of his ventures - including Diverse Talent, Community Fly Fishing, guiding, and brand ambassador for a handful of brands - I couldn't help but think of an old hustle-and-grind proverb "Every millionaire has seven streams of income."

"Austin...what are your next three streams going to be?" I joked (sort of).

There is no doubt that Austin, who just recently graduated from Penn State, stays busy and he's making his mark on the fly fishing industry and beyond. For the purposes of this blog, we wanted to focus on a cause near and dear to our hearts as fly anglers. That cause is Community Fly Fishing, a non-profit that Austin started recently whose goal is creating opportunities for individuals who do not have equal access to the sport and the outdoors.

While we've been happy to help support and host some recent Community Fly Fishing events, we wanted to dig a little deeper and take a moment to learn more about Austin and Community Fly Fishing as Austin answers a Trouts Six Pack of questions!

Trouts: Let's start with the basics...At its core, what is Community Fly Fishing?

Austin: Community Fly Fishing is an organization that creates access for people who are looking to experience the outdoors through the art of fly fishing, taught by those who reflect our country's demographics. Community Fly Fishing offers free 101 courses, guided instructional trips, and guide school to those who traditionally do not have equal access to the outdoors. We are dedicated to providing an inclusive space for those in the outdoors and believe that the outdoors is for all.

Trouts: What was your inspiration for starting Community Fly Fishing?

Austin: The inspiration for starting community fly fishing came from conversations with anglers in our community and want to provide more for those who lack equal access to the outdoors. We started in 2020 as instructors, guides, and anglers from our community who wanted to provide more and give back. CFF started in parks in the Denver area as we taught the basics, casting, knots, and aquatic entomology. With the help from our sponsors, we have been able to get our community deeper into the outdoors and provide instructional trips on the water while partnering with other fly shops, nonprofits, and folks that want to push the needle.

Trouts: What about fly fishing do you want to share with people the most?

Austin: For me, fly fishing is a time to get away and relax, a time to sign off on the phone and truly be present in the moment. I hope that more people can experience the outdoors and the mental effects of disconnecting and spending time in beautiful places.

Trouts: What is your fly fishing origin story? When did you know fly fishing was going to be a big part of your life?

Austin: I started fly fishing when I was around 8 years old when my parents moved my family from the Kansas City area to Colorado. My family has always had deep roots in the outdoors whether we are on the farm fishing for bass, catfish, and crappie, bird hunting, or foraging for mushrooms - spending time outside was always something my parents pushed on my brother and me as kids.

Once we moved to Colorado we still wanted to be present in the outdoors and noticed that our conventional tactics of fishing on rivers were not as effective. I started watching videos on Youtube, purchased a cheap rod and a few flies at Walmart, and went to our neighborhood pond to catch a few bluegill and other panfish.

Seeing the dry fly hit the water and 6-inch bluegill flip out of the water in order to eat the fly had me hooked. That's when I knew I wanted to take this sport as far as I could. In high school, I would sleep in the back of my car while driving to the river to fish for the weekend. I then was able to secure a track and field scholarship at Penn State University and spent time experiencing fly fishing on the east coast at your classic fisheries like Penn's Creek, Spring Creek, and the Little Juniata to name a few, and learning techniques from fly fishing legends like George Daniels and Joe Humphries.

During the summertime, I would go back to Colorado and teach kids how to fly fish with the Lincoln Hills Cares Program and through other Denver-based non-profits. Upon graduating and moving back to Colorado I wanted to continue to progress my fly fishing career and was able to secure my fishing job as a fly fishing guide.

Trouts: What's your most memorable fly fishing experience?

Austin: One of my most memorable experiences fly fishing was on the sea of Cortez, outside of a small town called El Cardonal in Baja California. In Baja, we were targeting multiple species from the boat and on the beach, but one, in particular, was a Roosterfish. We started our day riding ATVs down the beach to the location we had identified that had numerous bait balls within about 50 yards off of the beach. We fished for hours and only came up with a few needlefish as the day was ending.

After a few drinks around the fire we started packing up and a good buddy of mine, Eeland, and I ran back down the beach to get a few pictures so we could at least say we tried. Eeland said to do a quick blind cast for a video, I cast a few yards and sure enough, as I was stripping in a juvenile rooster fish smashed the fly.


Trouts: How would you describe the importance of community engagement and outreach in promoting and growing the sport of fly fishing?

Austin: Community engagement and outreach are very important for growing a wider audience for fly fishing. Fly Fishing among other outdoor activities has many barriers to entry, my goal is to break down those barriers so that more people can have the same access and share the experience of the outdoors.

Trouts: What's your long-term vision or plan for Community Fly Fishing?

Austin: My long term vision for Community Fly Fishing is to grow into other states and create a platform that is truly built for the community to increase access to those who lack equal access to the outdoors and fly fishing. This would allow folks from all backgrounds, socioeconomic statuses, and ability to see mental health effects and relaxation one sport can bring.

Trouts: What do you think the keys are to fulfilling that vision...and with that - how can people get involved (either as a participant or an instructor)?

Austin: The key to creating this change will be continuing to partner with other nonprofits and programs that are pushing the needle of changing the demographics in the outdoor world not only in my community but other communities around the United States.

If you or anyone you know is interested in becoming an instructor or participant in community fly fishing reach out via email at or see our website for additional information HERE.

Follow us on Instagram for updates: @communityflyfishing

Many thanks to Austin for answering these HARD-hitting questions as part of this most recent installment of a Trouts Six Pack. Follow Austin HERE and for more information on Community Fly Fishing, click HERE.

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