Before we get started, what's your name, where are you from, and how did you get there?
Tyler Coleman - Born in Chicago but spent almost my whole life in Arizona and now I call Logan Utah my home. After a short move to Michigan my wife asked what I thought about moving to Utah. She was attracted to the state for its abundance of public lands, mountains and central location to a bunch of other awesome states. I went and fished the Utah Cutthroat slam with my friends Anthony Guerrero and Ricky Furbee, which had me totally convinced. I wanted to do more for native trout conservation so I applied for Utah State University's Fisheries program and after being accepted we made the move.
What's your favorite turkey call?
After striking out on my first Turkey season I would say none of the ones we used. Haha
Tell us about fly fishing in UT vs. AZ, what's unique about it?
Arizona is the first place I ever casted a fly rod. Locally we had urban ponds full of carp so that's what I cut my teeth on. Many summer days of dehydration, sunburn and getting skunked taught me patience and a ton about fish behavior. The trout streams almost take you to another state with the cooler temperatures and mountain views. You can pretty much carry two fly patterns and catch fish year round there. The average size fish in Arizona is much smaller than Utah but the rare species make it completely worth it. Not all fish out there are small but I spent a lot of time on tiny water with a glass 3wt. Utah has been incredible. We have the small backcountry streams I love everywhere. So plentiful that I fished the Logan Canyon the whole first summer we lived here without ever driving 20 mins to another canyon that is equally as amazing. We have 4 subspecies of Native cutthroat, tons of wild Brown Trout water, wild Rainbows, Mirror Carp, Tiger Musky, Small Mouth, high elevation Brook, Golden, Grayling and Cutthroat Trout water, and more.
What's the same?
Trout still live in beautiful places
Who is your favorite person to fish with?
My wife is my main fishing partner and puts up with all my crap. Long walks back in the dark on cliff-sides, my frustration when I lose a good fish, break a rod or lose flies, when we got stuck in the mountains due to snow, or the days when we catch some good fish. She has been there from the start of my fly fishing and jumped right on board, wanting to learn too, so it's been awesome seeing her progression and all with our son on her back more often than not.
What is the worst fishing trip you've been on?
I've been on trips where things didn't go as planned, like tripping and breaking some ribs, hiking long distances in poor conditions that I was not prepared for, cars breaking down or getting stuck etc., but with all that, I still have had way more good times than bad. An author I respect a lot often talks about how there has to be a certain level of suffering to make an experience really memorable. Overcoming a challenge and finding success even if it's another day makes it worth it. The days that everything goes perfect are great but we wouldn't appreciate them as much if we never had the days that weren't.
What is the most dangerous outdoor experience you've had?
Riding BMX... haha. Still feeling some of those injuries so I need a lot of cold water treatment (fly fishing) to keep them feeling good.
What is it about fly fishing that captivates you?
Seeing some of the places that Native Trout have somehow survived all this time. Learning about migratory species and how far they can travel to spawn. When I first heard that they have tracked Steelhead 1500 river miles during migration I didnâ€™t believe it. We have adfluvial and fluvial cutthroat species in and around Utah that have been tagged in one location and then caught in a weir 80 miles away a week later.
What's the farthest destination you've fished, intentional or otherwise ?
I haven't really had the opportunity to travel places I would like to. I made the trip from Michigan to Utah, Colorado and back to Arizona. If all goes to plan I should be in Belize this spring to work with a new conservation organization working on sustainable guiding operations. If anyone needs another fly fishing bum for some trips feel free to contact me haha.
Pizza or tacos?
I'm a big fan of both but it would depend on where it's from. If I had to choose, I would probably say pizza. Great pizza and great tacos are always a good idea though.
Name your top 3 famous people dead or alive who you want to fish with and why?
John Gierach, The Meateater crew (Steven Rinella, Ryan Callaghan and Jays Putelis. Yeah I cheated) and April Vokey. All of these people are some of my favorites to listen to or read about their outdoor experiences and I think they would be a blast to fish with. I'm sure I could think of another 100 people but this is who came to mind while driving down to do a guide trip on the Provo River. I listen to a lot of podcasts on my 2 hour commute. Plus I'd love to see my wife swing up one of those huge BC Steelhead with April one day.
Tell us a bit about the Western Native Trout Initiative and your involvement with the organization? How can people get involved?
Well first let me give you the official language about Western Native Trout Initiative.
The Western Native Trout Initiative (WNTI) is a public-private Fish Habitat Partnership that works collaboratively across 12 western states to conserve, protect, restore and recover 21 native trout and char species. Formed in 2006,Â WNTI provides a new perspective and impetus to improve the return on investment of the time, money and manpower dedicated to native trout conservation. WNTI is an project of the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, and also recognized as a National Fish Habitat Partnership by the National Fish Habitat Action Plan.
Covering over 1.75 million square miles of public and privately managed lands, WNTI and our partners combine science-based assessments with expert and local knowledge to establish joint priorities for native trout conservation at a landscape scale. Since its inception in 2006, the Western Native Trout Initiative has directed over $4 million in federal fish habitat funds leveraged to $14 million public and private matching dollars for 113 priority native trout conservation projects.
For more information, click here.
My passion for native trout brought me to the Arizona Native Trout Conference where I met WNTI coordinator Therese Thompson. Shortly after that day I started volunteering to help reach out to the fly fishing and conservation communities to spread the word about our native trout species. From that position I was able to obtain a contract to manage social media and brand relationships for WNTI which has now led to being contracted to co-manage the new Western Native Trout Challenge. This program is something I am truly passionate about because before learning about programs like this on a smaller scale I had no real knowledge of our Native Trout. The desire to complete the Arizona Wild Trout Challenge has led me down the path of working with WNTI, some great fly fishing brands, enrolling in the Watershed Sciences program at Utah State University, meeting some amazing people and having great times with friends and my family outdoors. People can donate or support our mission by supporting state fish and wildlife agency efforts to do habitat restoration projects for these cool fish. WNTI does not have local volunteer opportunities but I encourage people to contact their state fish and wildlife agencies, US Forest Service, Â BLM, or groups like Trout Unlimited and Backcountry Hunters and Anglers for opportunities to volunteer locally. Get involved, pick up trash and be a good steward of our community.