JENN

This month we partnered with Jenn and Max of Trout Bandits to bring you their unique artwork.

I grew up in Campeche, Mexico, a small town on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico. My family immigrated to Denver, Colorado, when I was 16, and it has been a journey since then. I decided to pursue an education in a place where I could live up to the ‘Colorado’ lifestyle. Fast forward to graduating college and ski bumming, I have now lived in the Roaring Fork Valley area for over 7 years and call Basalt, a community within Roaring Fork Valley, my home for over 5 years.

I have always been around fishing. Growing up in Campeche, Mexico, I would take day trips with my family on fiberglass boats to catch fresh fish for ceviche, a popular Latin American seafood dish. Fly fishing was a non-existing thing down there, so it was not until I met and starting dating Max that I was introduced to it. I decided I might as well give it a shot, and after many good-bad-terrible fishing dates, I dialed it in and it has now become an addition.

Got to love seeing that indicator dip and a quick flash with the hookset. Photo: Maxim Rand

When I was learning, I started to understand where the trout would be. When you make the switch from off-shore fishing to fly fishing you began looking at the water differently and truly understand the different types of environment. Yet, there are times where I get surprised by finding trout in the most unusual places. The thought, “Can’t believe there’s trout in there”, always runs through my head as I laugh it off.

All of these memories and experiences of camping, hiking, fishing and enjoying the simple things inspire my artistry. Close friends and family also influence my artwork. Out of all the things I draw, nothing takes favorite over the others. It’s just whatever comes to mind, and sometimes it really depends on my state of being and how the fishing has been going.

High country camping in Colorado for cutthroat trout. “Wild stars, Wild Places and Wild Fish…” Photo: Maxim Rand

Each piece is a combination of photos and memories all spliced into one. Sometimes we have the photos we need to piece together our vision, however, it can take some considerable planning. For specific pieces, we need to be prepared for a quick photo of the right fish at the right time. In fact, Max and I spent a whole summer chasing brookies looking for that perfect one to make artwork with. Even after countless brookies and backpacking trips, we didn’t have the photos to fulfill our vision.

We ended up finding it close to home at the end of the fall season. But, once we have the right photos it usually takes me a week of splicing and endless tweaking to finally put something that ties everything together.

So, the more we fish the more we have to work with, there are occasions when we leave the camera behind just to enjoy the pleasure of just fishing. Our artwork comes on its own time. We also work full-time jobs, so it’s something of a hobby and a passion.

MAX

I was born and raised in Warwick, a small town in New York about 90 miles northwest of New York City, which I suppose you would call upstate. I attended a small college further upstate in the Adirondack Mountains, and once graduated I packed my bags and decided to take a Forest Service job in Colorado. Five years and several other jobs later, I now call Basalt, Colorado, my home.

I did not start fly fishing regularly until I moved to Colorado, thanks to our now good friend Kyle. There was a time in college where I chased brook trout with my roommate, who thankfully had a spare rod. However, my father and grandfather have always been avid anglers. They would take my sister and me to fish in rivers, troll in lakes, and cut holes in the ice to get a tug. I am so grateful for the traits and passions that were passed on to us that have made my sister and me who we are today.

When I moved to Colorado, I saw so many people on the river with fly rods — that’s when I knew I had to learn ‘this fly fishing thing’. I picked up a Walmart Cortland rod and paired that with my grandfather’s reel. The next evening I grabbed some flies and went down to the Colorado River. So, let’s say I had never seen nymphing or knew what it was at this point, but it was the lightning hour and fish were slamming the surface.

I actually managed to catch two but lost all my dry flies in the process. Because of that experience, I stuck to using dry flies for a while. It wasn’t until I met Kyle that I thought, “Ohhhh that’s what I was doing wrong last summer — who knew.”

Introduced in 1872 to Colorado, brook trout can be found in high mountain lakes.

After that, Kyle taught me everything I know about fly fishing. We happened to work together one summer and he took me fishing once runoff receded. He taught me how to nymph, toss streamers, present perfect dry fly casts, and how to properly lose fish and flies in trees with dignity. Kyle showed me why the Roaring Fork River is one of most untamed rivers to fish, and, still, 4 years later and I cannot put the fly rod down.

My father and grandfather inspired me to fish regardless of the type of rod, and, of course, my friends and family that got me to where I am now. I, also, can’t forget to mention my girlfriend! When I was teaching Jenn how to fly fish I learned a great deal about what fly fishing actually means to me, and I realized how it has become a major part of my life. It’s awesome seeing her passion for art, fly fishing, and the outdoors come full circle.

While I do love to draw, I do not get to often. From time to time, I will get out my pastels and sketch some trout, but my creativity shows in my fly tying. It may not be drawing but it’s a type of art, right? There is so much room for creativity when it comes to fly tying.

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