Gone Fishing

Leslie Ajari '08Leslie Ajari ’08 sees the four seasons differently than most people. As a fly-fishing guide and blogger at galgonefishing.com, she follows the steelhead. Summer is spent on the Klamath and Deschutes Rivers; fall is for fly-fishing on the Trinity; winter sees the coastal streams of the Pacific Northwest and spring is for competition. Last year she took third place in the World Championships of Spey Casting—a fly-casting technique that originated on the salmon-rich Spey River in Scotland.

What spawned this 28-year-old’s enthusiasm for fly-fishing? It started at age 10 on Martis Lake near Truckee. Catching one fish after another she loudly proclaimed, “Dad, I’ve already caught two! How come you haven’t caught any yet?” It was a quiet lake and she remembers, laughingly, how her voice carried.

This isn’t Ajari’s only fish story. Her blog and Instagram (@galgonefishing) sites colorfully document her expeditions—both solo and with friends and clients. She uses her writing and multimedia to advocate for both conservation and the fish. In one instructional video, she advises viewers to “wet your hands before you touch a fish,” adding that steelhead require special care because they’re heading upriver to spawn.

“Taking a fish out of the water after you catch it is like if you were just running a marathon and someone put a paper bag over your head,” she said. You can get that big “grip-and-grin shot” while still keeping the gills at least partially in the water, she said, and then reviving and releasing the fish quickly after the photo.

Ajari majored in cultural anthropology, a degree that helps her understand and communicate with everyone from the liberal San Francisco businessman to the conservative Idaho angler.

“Having a great education has helped me communicate,” she said. “It’s helped me become really adaptable.” And Seminar, she added, vastly improved her writing skills.

Ajari’s goal is to guide, fulltime, in three to five years. To her, it’s the perfect way to make money and meet new people—even if she’s not always fishing herself.

“I get to be on the river every day and kind of fish vicariously through everyone else,” she said. “It’s just so much fun.”