Meet Ryan Poquette, an Arizona Tribe Member with a passion for chasing carp in the desert. Getting his start in fly fishing from an earlier age, Ryan has always been working hard to improve his skills to face the challenges of the urban carp fishery in AZ. We sat down with Ryan to chat a little bit about his fly fishing journey and to get some sage advice about stalking and hooking into carp! Check it out:
Postfly: Tell us a little bit about yourself, Ryan. How did you start fly fishing?
Ryan: I have grown up and spent my life in Arizona. I spend most of my time fly fishing or tying for that week’s planned adventures. I work in logistics, the ever-changing environment is something that keeps me engaged. No two days are the same, similar to fly fishing. I fill my other free time watching hockey, baseball, or football. Spending time with family and friends, eating like a pig, and quenching my thirst.
My fly fishing journey started on the annual trip my father and I took every year during my summer vacation. We would pack up the truck and pop-up camper, driving from Phoenix, AZ to West Yellowstone. Spending two weeks fishing at any and every place between Phoenix and West Yellowstone. It was on one trip when I was six or seven that my Dad and I were camped next to a man and his family. They were from somewhere in England I can’t remember where specifically. My Dad got to talking with the gentleman and he began showing us his flies, reels, and rods. We hadn’t seen anything like it nor had we ever done it. He explained the principles to my dad and the following day on the drive to the next step in the journey we stopped at a Walmart. My dad purchased two of the Martin combos, 8wt loaded with a floating line. We spent the rest of the trip waving the stiff 8 weights trying to learn the basics of fly fishing. Twenty-four years later and I am still trying to figure it out.
Postfly: Favorite fish to target on the fly?
Ryan: My favorite fish to target on the fly right now is carp. Growing up I loved chasing trout and still do. But the challenge carp present is another level. Poor man’s bonefish, pond tarpon, golden bone’s, the names go on and on.
Postfly: What fly fishing memory stands out to you the most?
Ryan: The memory that stands out most to me when it comes to fly fishing would be the first trip learning it. I will never forget standing in the Madison River just inside the west entrance of Yellowstone National Park. I was still getting the hang of casting and setting the hook. I was casting a larger size, Royal Wulff, when I was surprised with a take. I set the hook and brought to hand my first fish ever on a fly rod. A small eight or so inch rainbow trout. I will never forget the feeling, seeing the fish at first, the look on my Dad’s face. It was “that” moment. The one that hooks you forever.
Postfly: What is your favorite fly pattern to fish?
Ryan: Like most people, I enjoy throwing dry flies. Hoppers are my favorite pattern, Rainy’s Grand Hopper size 10-12 any color. But lately with my love for carp growing the way it has over the last three years. I would say a headstand style fly called the Hipster Dufus created by Daryl Angler.
Postfly: How did you start fly fishing for carp?
Ryan: I started fly fishing for carp as a release during a challenging time in life. The new challenge was a welcomed distraction that I dove into head first. I actually owe a lot of my knowledge and ability in carp to Ryan Russell. He is the local guide and probably the carpiest guy I know and have fished with. He took me under his wing and taught me it all. I can’t thank him enough and I am glad to call him a good friend. We put in countless hours on the canals and still water chasing these things. Long summer days in 110 plus degrees sweating it out. I still get a kick out of people asking “You fish for those things?” as they walk by.
Postfly: What are the 3 most important things to think about when stalking carp?
#1 – Conditions. What is it like outside? Bluebird skies? Wind causing chop on the water? All of that leads to number two.
#2 – Stalk/approach. If its bluebird skies and calm then the everything slows down to a snail’s pace. If you can see the fish then it can surely see you. Not to mention it feels your vibrations through its’ lateral lines.
#3 – Presentation. The reason why they refer to them as the golden bonefish is because they are just as hard. The cast has to be on the money and you have to grab their attention over what they are currently eating or sifting through. It’s doing just enough without doing too much. Too much and all you will see is a dust cloud from spooked fish.
Postfly: What is the AZ carp fishery like?
Ryan: The Arizona carp fishery is a hidden secret. Year-round fishing in perfect weather for most of the year. Summers are hot but the carp love it. Within the city limits of Phoenix, you can catch Common, Grassie, Mirror, and Koi. They grow into the 20 plus pound category but the number of fish around makes for busy days and sore arms. The diversity of water types also makes it so you can sharpen all aspects. With the SRP canals flowing throughout the city you have an urban river setting. The fish feed both on the surface and on the bottom year round. The carp and koi swim in just about every urban pond or canal in Phoenix. Not to mention the Salt River and its chain of lakes are just a short car ride out of town. Pretty spot to chase carp and Sonoran suckers. Those Sonorans are hard fighting fish on the fly rod and just as challenging to catch.
Postfly: What is one piece of advice you have for someone looking to start fishing for carp on the fly?
Ryan: Patience. Be patient approaching the water, I can’t count how many times I have walked up to the water in a hurry and spooked fish in close. Be patient before you make that cast to that fish. Take the extra couple of seconds to observe the fish’s behavior because that extra clue it may reveal could be the difference between a full net and a dust cloud.
Postfly: How does fly fishing improve your day-to-day life?
Ryan: It’s the release, the disconnect from the world. Everything disappears and nothing matters except for that fish and the cast you just let fly. I spend anywhere from 3-7 days on the water a week. Without it, I would be locked in my closet haha. I need fly fishing because of the challenge and river therapy. No two seconds in fly fishing are the same. The challenge you faced the last cast is different this cast. So many variables have to be taken into consideration to be successful, from the start of the cast to scoop of the net. All of this mental work which if it was related to your actual job/career would cause you grief but because its fly fishing it is the greatest thing ever. We wake up earlier for it than we do for work most times haha.
Dan Zazworsky’s passion is sharing his love of fly fishing with anyone that will listen, read or watch. You can find him exploring new waters every day while chasing any fish that will eat a fly!