Fishing and snowboarding; on the surface, it appears to be a strange marriage. Dig a little deeper, however, and it is obvious that the two hobbies/passions/careers are more intertwined than it may seem. The man that makes Brighton Resort run, Jared Winkler, is also the “Captain” of the Brighton Anglers crew. If you follow him, or one of a growing contingent of snowboarders who also love fishing, it is likely you have seen the Brighton Anglers brought up, tagged or just talked about on social media; they are simply a crew of guys who love to have fun and go fishing. That is the beauty of what they have created… it is passion driven, uncomplicated and has organically grown into what it is today. Captain Winkler generously took some time to answer a few questions about the crew and what they are all about….
How did Brighton Anglers get started?
It began at first as a group of employees at Brighton who like to go fishing and tell fish stories, and instead of sharing the fish stories over Facebook or social media we decided to start a blog. We just wanted the guys to share the photos as more of a social group. They are just happy to kind of, you know, get other people stoked to go fishing, and then it kind of just grew from there.
Is there any kind of cause or anything behind Brighton Anglers?
Not really a cause or anything, I mean I think we are just more stoked to, one, introduce fly fishing to skiers and snowboarder who might not have ever been fishing or know how much fun it could be. Two, we just want to keep people stoked and stoke each other out by telling fish stories and going fishing together and having fun in the mountains.
Even if you don’t catch anything, it seems like fishing is still a good time.
Yeah. Truthfully, catching fish is a bonus, and it's fun, but it's just getting outdoors and getting away from the stresses of life and just letting go of some that other stuff. Then it's cool when you can catch some fish at the same time is just bonus.
Doesn't hurt that you're usually in places that are just incredibly beautiful...
Exactly. The fun of fly fishing is the learning of locations and different skills people use and different techniques people use. It's a process of just learning more and more. It's not really a dumbed down sport where you can really master it quick. It truly takes years and years to master. You can pick it up pretty quick, but the more you learn the more fish you catch and the better fisherman you become.
Seems like you could go back to the same fishing hole three different times and you would have to use a different technique or fly each time to catch fish...
You're completely right. It's never the same. You know, you can catch a bunch of fish one day a week before and go back to the exact same spot and try the exact same thing and you won't catch a single fish. You just have to adapt to what's going on with the river and just kind of figure it out.
Interest in fishing, especially fly fishing, has grown significantly in the snowboarding community over the last few years. Do you attribute that to groups like Brighton Anglers, or just that people are realizing just how much fun it is?
Yeah, I think a little bit of both. I think that's why when you see a professional snowboarder like John Jackson or Eric Jackson catching big steelhead, you're kind of like, man that looks awesome I want to do that; they're having fun doing it. I mean, those guys are very influential people, but then you have groups like Brighton Anglers where it's more ski resort homies and friends. They're catching fish and posting photos on their thing and encouraging friends. It just works out. I mean the location for skier and snowboarders goes hand in hand. Where there are ski resorts and a lot of snow, there are mountains. The snow melts and creates rivers and streams and all those small ski towns and whatever usually have a decent river or something going through it, and you start asking yourself, why am I not recreating on this river by fishing or tubing or whatever. So it suddenly becomes a real easy fit to be into fishing, and skiing and snowboarding at the same time. Also when snowboarding season starts winding down, fishing season is just picking up. It's something that isn't mountain biking or skateboarding or whatever, it's kind of more relaxing and chill out. You can just have a beer while walking up and down the river or sitting on the shore, so it's pretty nice.
It's kind of nice to have something that isn't cranked to eleven all the time...
Exactly. You don't feel like you have to wear a helmet or pads to go fishing. You can just put on flip flops or shorts if you need to and go.
Who designed the logo for Brighton Anglers?
Parker Worthen designed the logo. We thought it was cool, so we made some stickers and patches and stuff and gave them to some of the kids. When people ask, and think it's cool we'll give them some. Now with social media and stuff, like Instagram or Facebook or something I'll get a message or comment asking about them and I have no problem mailing it out to people. If people wonder how to become a Brighton Angler, it's just friends of friends and if you're willing to share your secrets and spots, we're happy to share ours and just communicate and go from there. It's really just more a social group of people who aren't in really big competition of saving their spots or whatever, or trying to keep secrets. We're just really trying to have fun and promote the sport and keep it rolling. It's no secret and that's why we're stoked to let people have stickers and be part of this group and just have fun with us.
What do you see as the future for Brighton Anglers?
I don't know. It's kind of fun, I mean you could kind of put me as the ring leader of the group cause I'm the one posting photos and getting people motivated to go fishing and whatever. You know, I'm working at Brighton and it's kind of fun to think maybe if we grow at Brighton and maybe have more summer time activities [at Brighton] maybe we could have a social group. Maybe provide some fly fishing lessons or meet ups where we go and tie flies and teach each other how to tie different patterns that have worked for each other. With those social meet-ups also tell fish stories and show photos of fishing trips, and possibly as a group plan more fishing trips to some of those exotic locations that some of us have maybe never been to. One starting with North America, then two, just traveling as a group to more of a destination like the Bahamas or going to New Zealand; where you're just meeting people and making friends with people with similar interests like skiing, snowboarding, fishing and travel. Just going out and having fun. Who knows really, but I don't really see us trying to make it as an apparel brand or anything, you know trying to sell it like you would some other brands out there. More of being social and fun, and just grow the brand as a friendly guys that like to fish. Maybe we make some t-shirts and hats, just cause people would be stoked to wear them, but I don’t think our plan is to try to make a profit off of anything… and the thought of traveling and whatever, if we had to charge for anything it would be just to cover costs and fees and administration fees and stuff if that were even ever the case, you know?
Speaking of traveling, where has been your favorite trip that the Brighton Anglers have gone?
Yeah, so a couple recent trips we went on this year with some friends that were really fun have been, one to the Cayman Islands and we were able to actually catch some bonefish and tarpon. That’s kind of that destination, over-seas international which was really exciting to go do, but we’re not really known for that. We’re all still pretty broke kids, but we had the opportunity to use our parents’ time share and pick up fishing gear, so that was awesome; but you know, on the normal that we’ll plan monthly with the group, we like to head up to Idaho or Wyoming or even Southern Utah to explore those four or five hour drives just to different locations, and just go fishing for a long weekend or something. If we don’t even have time for that, it’s fun just to go explore the Uinta’s or just the Wasatch back, just kind of cruise around close to home.
Yeah, it’s easy to get caught up searching for that “destination” sometimes, and simply overlook the amazing places we have right in our own backyard…
Yeah, since we live so close, I mean even being at Brighton, you’ll often see Mouse or me or Parker after work, or even ditch out of work a few minutes early just to go fish Big Cottonwood canyon, the creek going down there and that’s a lot of fun. I mean there’s fishing everywhere, even here in Salt Lake. There are spots and ponds within Salt Lake that you can go fishing and just have fun.
To me, that’s a pretty obvious parallel between fishing and snowboarding in that, you can plan these extravagant shred trips to exotic locations; commission helicopters and go all Art of Flight and have an incredible time… but then you could just session a backyard rail with some homies and have just as much fun.
Yeah, you’re right. Now days you’ll start seeing skiers and snowboarders when they make that trip. Like hey we’re going from Utah up to Whistler, now it’s I’m going to make sure to bring my rod and reel just in case for after shredding I can go cast a few and maybe pick something up. Now it’s just something that you always make sure you have in your back pocket, for just another fun activity when you’re traveling to these really cool ski destinations… and now there’s even a reason to go there in the summer to.
Your biggest thrill in fishing, versus your biggest thrill in snowboarding, how does that compare, or are they totally different?
Definitely a little different, since snowboarding is more of an adrenaline rush and you kind of get up and scare yourself a little by jumping off something big, or trying something that you couldn’t do, but then working up to mastering that trick. Then with fishing, it’s more of a thrill when your fishing with someone and they don’t realize why you fly fish, and you can go and show them, or they take an opportunity and actually pay attention and they see, like, whoa you can actually catch a fish right there? Doing something that they don’t expect, like they’ve been fishing something like crazy, and you roll up right behind them and say ‘Yeah, I’ll get one, just watch’. It’s kind of fun to show your skill and expertise and knowledge to somebody who kind of wouldn’t think that something wasn’t possible. Truthfully, it’s just relaxing, the fishing part of it, and not feeling like I need to put my neck on the line.
What do you miss more; fishing in the winter or snowboarding in the summer?
It’s a pretty good mix, because I don’t do a ton of winter fishing. You could do ice fishing or you could go walk streams but its super cold. Fly fishing is tough because the water that runs through the guides on your rod start freezing and they ice over, so you have to keep clearing that. The fish aren’t as active either, you could still have fun and do it, but when it’s cold and fun, I’m usually just excited about snow. So during winter, I’m excited about skiing and snowboarding, and when the snow starts melting I start getting excited about fishing. It’s a good mix. You know, if I was snowboarding year round, it would probably burn me out, and fishing year round I’d probably burn out as well.
So you mentioned that you were kind of the ring leader of Brighton Anglers, does your Instagram handle, @captainwinkler, have anything to do with that, or is that a completely different story?
So, Captain Winkler, my personal account, is, well my wife is a doctor and it’s always been funny that we joked about with her being a doctor I needed to have a title. Coincidently, when I was young I was the captain of the football team, and then running digger crews for many years and then doing a lot for Brighton and running a lot of the show here, the nickname just kind of stuck and I just ended up putting Captain Winkler as my Instagram cause maybe my name was taken or something, I don’t know [laughs].
So as “Captain” of Brighton Anglers, are there any shout outs or thank yous you’d like to deliver?
Well, we don’t really have any sponsors; none of us are really fighting for sponsors, but there are definitely a handful of people who support us. Our wives and stuff for putting up with us getting up early and making a bunch of noise, or coming home late and missing dinner and some of that stuff; because a good day fishing, sometimes is a long day fishing also. It’s really just kind of fun, you know? We’re really stoked for all our homies working with us and having fun… just, shout out to all the peeps that like to fish!
Be sure to check out Brighton Anglers at:
Don’t forget to pick up a fishing license before you head out:
Interview by Mark Seguin
Photos courtesy of Brighton Anglers