Benjamin Stimson

Years Fishing?

5-10

Who introduced you to fly fishing?

Some of my fondest memories were spent outside with my dad hiking, gathering mountain mint, mushrooms, hunting for geodes, arrowheads, and shooting cans in the midwest where I grew up. Some of my worst memories, however, were fly fishing together. He enjoyed studying fishing more than the act itself. He was an armchair angler, but did attempt to teach me some casting as a boy and brought me to a stocked trout farm a couple hours away where fisherman stood over open pools with balls of trout glaring back at them. We caught some, but mostly my dad just didn't have the patience to deal with a wild child wielding a fly rod. we were both frustrated so it really wasn't fun for anyone. We didn’t make it past the snags. I tried a few more times growing up without much luck, but after college I made up my mind and spent three months fishing a small stream I knew held fish, every day, without catching a thing. Then, one day, everything just came together. As my relationship with my dad improved he visited my new home in Vermont and I showed him that same wild stretch of river where I taught myself how to fish. We didn't catch a trout that afternoon but we had found a way to be together. Not long after that visit he died unexpectedly at 58. Going through his estate I discovered during all that armchair fishing and research over the years he had purchased two of every rod in all sizes. Presumably one for me, and one for him for the many scenarios he had often read about. He imagined us fishing together and now so did I. These days I work out my problems on the river through the persistent and loving act of fly fishing. I have my dad to thank for that. He planted the riddle early, that I'm still working to solve.

Can you tell us a little about your home waters and the fish you pursue there?

I am lucky to live close to amazing and storied waters, both in my home state of Vermont along the banks of the Battenkill river, and also just a couple hours away off the coast of Massachusetts in the waters surrounding Martha's Vineyard. My home is in Southern Vermont and my favorite river is the Battenkill with its large, spooky brown trout that rise in smooth, glassy water. You can also find me in the various coves and flats that speckle the coastline of "the magical island", Martha's Vineyard, during the summer and fall. The population of the island increases dramatically during the summer and you feel it. But that's the beauty of it all. As you earn and uncover the mysteries of the island, you learn simultaneously the need to protect them. No matter where you are, in 5 minutes you can be alone, surrounded by endless, undisturbed beauty. In an island that balloons from 10K to 200K that's saying something. Imagine unmarked tiny 2-3 car parking areas at the end of dirt roads that lead to secret sandy trails through mystical forests which in an instant open up to sandy dunes that overlook calm, clear flats that always hold fish. Striped Bass are notoriously easy to catch. But large stripers on the right flat can be some of the most frustrating fish in the world which makes this relatively young niche in our sport so much fun. We still have much to discover. At least I do.

What's the height of the season for you? What time of year is your personal favorite?

I am lucky to live close to amazing and storied waters, both in my home state of Vermont along the banks of the Battenkill river, and also just a couple hours away off the coast of Massachusetts in the waters surrounding Martha's Vineyard. My home is in Southern Vermont and my favorite river is the Battenkill with its large, spooky brown trout that rise in smooth, glassy water. You can also find me in the various coves and flats that speckle the coastline of "the magical island", Martha's Vineyard, during the summer and fall. The population of the island increases dramatically during the summer and you feel it. But that's the beauty of it all. As you earn and uncover the mysteries of the island, you learn simultaneously the need to protect them. No matter where you are, in 5 minutes you can be alone, surrounded by endless, undisturbed beauty. In an island that balloons from 10K to 200K that's saying something. Imagine unmarked tiny 2-3 car parking areas at the end of dirt roads that lead to secret sandy trails through mystical forests which in an instant open up to sandy dunes that overlook calm, clear flats that always hold fish. Striped Bass are notoriously easy to catch. But large stripers on the right flat can be some of the most frustrating fish in the world which makes this relatively young niche in our sport so much fun. We still have much to discover. At least I do.

What are your favorite travel destinations? What's on the bucket list?

I was able to visit Baja last Spring. It was wild, like going back in time to golden aged memories old timers for centuries everywhere have always quietly celebrated with fondness and longing. Imagine boiling fields of Skipjack, White Bonito, and hard pulling "Barrilete" or Skipjack. We caught large Roosters from the boat or “panga”. And we even chased fast swimming Dorado from the beach. I am determined to go back to catch a Grande from the beach cruising on naturals, rather than using a boat or teasers. I would also love to go flats fishing somewhere tropical. I am dying to catch a permit and think a visit to Cuba for a cultural feast and sight fishing spectacular is in my very near future.

What you like most about Thomas and Thomas rods? Which rods do you fish?

One afternoon fishing behind my home in Vermont I ran into a nice man on the river who would soon become my dependable friend and generous mentor. He's devoted his life to finding the most difficult trout, rising in the most beautiful, secret pools you can imagine. "Stop casting and start fishing" he would tell me. "Fast water or slow water?" he'd ask. "Hurry up and wait.." I wasn't able to understand then because I had no idea. Now I do. At this point in my career I value seeing a good fish, more than just about anything. If you spend enough time on water, you're able to see amazing things, and the more you understand. He always told me to pay attention when you see someone fishing a T&T on the river, and finally, I understand why. I fish a Solar 10 weight with large permit style crab patterns for large permit style bass on the flats. I also brought it to Baja with me for throwing large spun deer hair flies to beached roosters and fast moving dorado on the outside where distance was key. That taper allows me to feel the cast deeper into the rod which I prefer. Many of the popular saltwater tapers today require you cast from the tip. I like to feel power throughout the length of the rod, but that requires special and unique tapers. That's what sets T&T apart. The taper is the single most important aspect of a fly rod. Tom's unique thinking and design is why we all value these rods so much. You can’t duplicate a genius like Tom’s. For example, on overcast days your shots will all be short and you need a rod that can roll cast a weighted fly to make pot shots with accuracy and finesse, landing heavier flies with grace. Other days you'll have fish and wind coming right at you in bright sun so you’ll need to make a long cast with power to punch through, sometimes with a light line. Between the Solar and TNT tapers I can solve just about any saltwater riddle with my fly rod.

What's your current go-to fly?

Whatever I find the fish eating is the fly I choose. I do have an affinity for mayflies and crabs. Lately it's been big lady crabs, both merkin and diablo styles with lots of movement and pretty claws. Soon it will be sand eels and bay anchovies. I am hopeful Vermont will get some water soon so we can fish tricos and flying ants. I love flying ants. Often misunderstood and sometimes undervalued(like the anglers that pursue them), these "terrestrials" can produce amazing spring like hatch opportunities in the summer and fall.

Other than fly tackle, what piece of gear do you find indispensable?

My camera. I love documenting everything. But as a person who makes money from the sport of fly fishing and in turn the natural world itself, I understand just how important it is take care to respect the paces I film. I teach all of the people that work with my film company the importance of treating every place we shoot just like it was their own favorite pool. We manage to create beautiful films filled with humanity, integrity, and wonder that help connect people, tell stories, and build brands. We make money for our clients and in turn, ourselves. And we manage to do all of it while celebrating our greatest passion and honoring the water. Oh, and I get to bring my dog to work!

What can new fisherman expect to get out of a guided trip? My favorite thing to teach a client is ...

My favorite thing to teach someone on the water is the joy and pride of discovery. Especially for the kids.. It is an incredible gift, mostly to ourselves, when we’re able to spark excitement and wonder in young people. You don't need to teach them with words the importance of giving back to the river. They understand it the moment they hold the fish in the water and watch it swim away.

What's your ideal lunch when on the water? What do you actually pack?

If you've ever seen me, or spent any length of time with me you know I love to eat. Food connects us, to one another, the environment, and culture. So my ideal lunch on the water depends on where I am. In Mexico, we had breakfast burritos and lemon peanuts. On the vineyard it's a breakfast sandwich with "the works" from Scottish Bakehouse or a local's Brazilian lunch with a Guarana(the best soda in the world.) In Vermont it’s local cheddar and maple bread and butter pickles. It’s all part of the experience.

What fly fishing blogs/magazines do you read regularly?

Lately I've been reading the book Striper Moon, by J. Kenney Abrames. The subtitle on the cover reads: "Fly Fishing Techniques and Flies for Striped Bass..." but it’s more beautiful than that. He manages to extrapolate and deliver years of experience, time on water, and useful information with poetry and warm nostalgia. He cares deeply and you can tell. Genuine, happy people are my favorite anglers.

When I'm not fishing you'll find me:

Hunting with my good dog Olive for Grouse and woodcock. The bulk of my time, however, is spent growing my business, Almost Blue, a digital media company specializing in film, video, and animation for the web. I’m blessed to work

Contact Info

Phone

802 430 4030

Email

benjaminstimson@gmail.com

Address

4418 VT RTE 30 #1

Pawlet, Vermont 5761
USA


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