The Ultra Experience

Here's to the adventures of my life which are usually ultra marathon trail running or fly fishing but may include other trips, experiences, thoughts, opinions, or pretty much whatever I want. As co-founder of Altra Footwear my life and adventures seemingly revolve more around developing and promoting the best footwear in the world...and I love it!

Sunday, February 12, 2017

UltraFishing Part 2. Gear

So the gear for ultra fishing is a weird combination of trailrunning, flyfishing and fastpacking gear.  I'll highlight the primary gear I use as well as other alternatives.  Its important to note that wilderness skills are not just important but mandatory.  Risk is inherent in most things but ultrafishing takes this to an extreme.  Prepare, train accordingly, be safe, and have fun!

Recommended Gear List-- Don't cheap out too much.

  • Backpack 
  • Fly Rod- Two options
    • Tenkara- Tenkara is a Japanese style of flyfishing that uses a extra long and flexible rod without a reel.  Its incredibly light, compact, and affordable.  It does have some downfalls.  It's limited in its casting ability in wind and distance.  Without a reel it also will struggle to catch the big fish.  Otherwise its perfect and I highly recommend this style for most people.  I have the Tenkara Sawtooth which costs $180 for everything. Tenkara Rod Co
    • Traditional- I'm not most people.  Traditional weighs more, is larger in size, and is more expensive.  But it is way more versatile and can catch the local lunker.  A 6-8 piece 4 weight is recommend as well the lightest reel possible.  3 weight can't cast in the wind on lakes and a 5 weight is too much rod for most of these fish.  I also recommend shortening your line and put minimal backing on.  A premium set up will cost you a $1000+ although you get get a decent setup for $300-400.
  • Fishing Equipment 3.5oz
    • This is always a balance.  Too much equipment is unnecessary weight and space.  But you didn't run all that way to not have what you need.  Flies are light, take more than you need to have the right selection.  Fly boxes can also be very light and I always support healthy catch and release fishing so bring some forceps.
      • Umqua Boxes, flies, tippet, forceps, etc!
  • Clothing- 32oz
    • Stay warm and safe.  Don't skimp!
      • Altra shoes, shorts, & Tech T.
      • Performance Socks- I use Drymax Max Pros or Farm to Feet
      • Waterproof Jacket- OR Helium II is awesome but the Altra Wasatch Jacket is coming in Fall 2017!
      • Wind/Water pants.  Mosquito protection & warmth.  I usually go with wind pants as they are only 3 oz but for longer trips, higher chance of rain or colder weather I'll go with a waterproof pant.
      • Thermal top- Depending on weather I'll usually take a Smartwool 250 wt top although on warmer trips I'll take a Howler Brothers fishing shirt
      • Hat AND Beanie
      • Sunglasses- polarized so you can see the trout
      • Optional- Gloves
  • Safety Equipment 10oz
    • Survival Blanket
    • Small first aid kit with bandages, blister kit, and pills.  Take extra might need it on a slog out with a rolled ankle.
    • Knife.  Get a small light one
    • Matches.  If you get stuck...stay warm.
    • Headlamp
    • Optional
      • Tin foil.  With the knife and matches you can always have a snack on your way out. 
      • Mosquito repellent and/or mosquito headnet
      • Trekking Poles
  • Food 
    • Take more then you think!  I lean towards fatty and salty food with selective carbs.  Plan on 200+ calories per hour.  12 hours will be 2,400 calories!
  • Water 4oz + weight of water
    • If you are fishing you should be able to find lots of water.  Take 32-64oz with you of carrying capacity and bring along a some Aquamira.  As I prefer two 16oz chest bottles I take a Platy Bottle.  It's an ounce and packs super small for loading up on water.
Good things happen to those who go the extra mile!  Enjoy and be safe.

UltraFishing Part 1. Genesis

I started fishing when I was 5 years old with my family.  Each summer we would go to the Uinta Mountains in Utah for a week of camping and backpacking.  I dreamt about that week all year.  In my zeal my mom began driving me to the mountains for the day and my dad would squeeze an extra weekend to teach me how to backpack by going deeper in the mountains.  It was my favorite thing in the world being in the Uinta's.

Moving into adolescence I was convinced I wanted to move from regular fishing to Flyfishing.  So my parents gave me my greatest childhood gift I've ever received when I was 12...a flyrod!  It was harder then I thought but thanks to the local library and a dozen VHS tapes, I began the arduous process of learning the art of fly fishing.  The Provo River was 1/2 mile from my house and I began riding my bike to the river as often as possible.

By age 16 I was very proficient and in the summers I began ever deeper adventures into the backcountry with friends while the weeklong trip with my father stayed an annual tradition.  I explored nearly every major basin in the Uinta's as well a trip into the Wind Rivers of Wyoming.

I had also began dappling in track and crops-country.  I was a natural runner and found a fondness for trail day.  Over the next few years my focus went from fishing to running.  I was highly competitive and loved the feeling of churning out the miles.  Back and forth my focuses went.  Desert backpacking, Alaskan summers, a NOLS course, and going farther in the mountains. Regardless I was meant to be in wild and remote places!
Ultramarathoning was in its infancy in 2005 when I ran my first ultra, the Goblin Valley 50k, at the age of 23.  I was immediately hooked!  By 2008, when my first child was born, I'd run 15 ultra's and a year later I started Altra!  Life was getting busy.  Too busy for a young father and entrepreneur.  I just didn't have time for 3-8 day backpacking trips, 30 mile mountain runs, and fly fishing all my favorite places.

The same year Altra launched, 2011, I was swamped.  I hadn't done a race the entire year and hadn't been flyfishing once.  I was stressed and had a family reunion in my favorite place, the High Uinta's! I took my running stuff and my fly fishing stuff.  Somehow I threw them together on the final day and went out.  It wasn't the first time I'd done a long run in these mountains.  In 2007 I'd run the entire 70 mile Uinta Highline trail in one go.  But it was the first time I'd taken my flyfishing gear.  On a 27 route that previously had taken me 4 days, I did it in a single day.  And caught about 40 fish in the process!  3 weeks later on a business trip through Idaho, I did the same thing in the Sawtooth Mountains.  When people asked me what I was doing I responded unknowingly...ultrafishing.

Since that date I haven't done a backpacking trip!  I still run and fish in isolation but the combination has opened up a whole new world.  With 3 kids and managing a rapidly growing business my time is more squeezed than ever before.  So I've been forced to prioritize my hobbies.  Ultrafishing is my way of combining 3 of my favorite things- trailrunning, fly fishing, and backpacking.  It's not uncommon for me to head into the mountains at 5am for 25+ miles and catch 40+ fish while getting home by midnight.  It makes for some long days but talk about adventure!  I now know that several other people do something similar.  I'm sure I'm not the first person to go for a run and take a flyrod but as far as I know I'm the first to use the term ultrafishing as well as one of the first to promote this unique adrenaline filled activity.

Ultrafishing/ ul-tra-fish-ing / noun

1- Running a substantial distance and catching fish throughout the run.
2- The greatest thing in the world

So yeah I guess I started a thing called Ultrafishing.