Chasing steelhead, shredding pow and cranking Dolly Parton. An interview with Simms Guide Ambassador Mia Sheppard.
It has been reported that you were attracted to your husband Marty Sheppard after seeing him cast a spey rod. Is it possible casting a fly rod won your heart? Yes, casting a spey rod did win my heart. Well and Marty’s charm!
Would he say the same thing? No, I won his heart in the Ratskeller Bar, kicking ass at pool. We were in our 20’s, living the snowboarding dream in Government Camp, Oregon.
One day, one river…what would you fish and why? I would fish the John Day River. I’m so in love with the that river. It’s a desert river in the middle of nowhere. Very few people fish it. The smell of sage brush fills my lungs and the steelhead are wild and beautiful. It’s a very special place. The third longest free flowing river in the Lower 48, without a hatchery.
Secret Hollywood crush (and we won’t tell Marty). Kenny Rodgers, the gambler, he was a stud!
What’s the one thing that frightens you about the future of fishing? One thing that frightens me is lack of education for healthy natural resources. People get caught up in their own little bubbles and it’s hard to put energy into protecting a resource you’re not familiar with. Also, our education system is so focused on academics – they are forgetting about the environment in which kids need to play in.
What’s the one thing that gives you hope about the future of our fisheries? What gives me hope is having dedicated individuals and non-profits like Native Fish Society, Wild Steelhead Coalition, TU and Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership (TRCP) that are working to have a voice for our fish and wildlife and healthy rivers.
If I were to check out your iPod, or iPhone, what music would I be surprised to see? It’s all over the board! Dolly Parton to Supersuckers.
You are competing in the Jimmy Green Spey-O-Rama World Championship in a few weeks. What is it about competitive casting that you enjoy (outside of being good at it)? I grew up with three sisters and I guess we were always competing for things – mom’s attention or who was getting the last piece of cake. I like getting better at the sports I do and competition and competing against other talented women drives me to get better. Competition also pushes a sport to make better lines, faster rods and pushes us to excel.
Are you calling your shot right now that you are going to win this thing? After yesterdays practice, I need to practice more! Anyone can win this, all the women are capable of casting 150 feet and that is the distance I’m foreseeing it will take to win this event.
If you do win, have you ever thought of pulling a Brandi Chastain from the 1999 Women’s World Cup? I didn’t watch the World Cup in 1999 but I’ve thought about doing a little dance.
Two foot powder day or three foot steelhead day…what do you choose? That is a tough one….If the scenario is that I can ride two feet of powder all day and let’s say I’m heliskiing Valdez, then I might take the powder day. But if it’s a Dean River fish, I would have to take the Dean fish. Those fish are heart breakers.
What organizations do you support? I support the Native Fish Society, Casting for Recovery, TRCP, the Oregon Heritage Foundation and the Deschutes River Alliance. For the Spey-O-Rama this year I’m putting on a pledge drive to raise awareness for women with breast cancer. This is the 4th year I will be holding this pledge drive.
Better angler…you or Marty (at least I didn’t ask who’s a better parent!)? I have to admit Marty is a better angler but I’m a better caster! He’s like a steelhead whisper.
If you could go back in time to your youth and fish-bummed somewhere, where would it have been? I would say British Columbia. So many rivers up there with fish that will take dry flies with endless steelhead water to fish and yummy Tim Hortons.
What’s the one thing the fishing industry could do to get more women involved? It’s funny, but the women I talk to who don’t like fishing, it is because they don’t want to hold a slimy fish. This might sound like an oxymoron, but try taking the fish out of fishing. Women like to enjoy the surroundings and don’t necessarily need to catch the fish (unless you’re me!). I think putting a hookless fly on the end of the line and watching the take of a rising fishing or feeling the tug on a swung fly — that would be enough to keep her going and forget about the numbers. Also, get kids stoked on fishing and being outdoors, then their parents gotta learn too. As for industry folks, maybe less focus on the grip and grin hero shoots with big bearded men?
Mia Sheppard guides the best rivers in the Northwest and can be reached online at Little Creek Outfitters.
Here are some shots from a Simms photo shoot with Mia Sheppard.