Thursday, December 18, 2014

On the Hook, Tom Rosenbauer

Tom Rosenbauer, host of the Orvis Fly Fishing Podcasts, has been with the Orvis Company over 30 years, and while there has been a fishing school instructor, copywriter, public relations director, merchandise manager, and was editor of The Orvis News for 10 years. He is currently Marketing Director for Orvis Rod and Tackle. As merchandise manager, web merchandiser, and catalog director, the titles under his direction have won numerous Gold Medals in the Annual Catalog Age Awards. Tom has been a fly fisher for about 50 years, and was a commercial fly tier by age 14. He has fished extensively across North America and has also fished on Christmas Island, the Bahamas, in Kamchatka, and on the fabled English chalk streams. He is credited with bringing Bead-Head flies to North America, and is the inventor of the Big Eye hook, Magnetic Net Retriever, and tungsten beads for fly tying. He has over 15 fly fishing books in print and was named Fly Rod & Reel magazine's 2011 Angler of the Year. I met Tom at ICAST and noted what a down to earth guy he was. Later, he had time to answer a few questions.

Tom, first of all, thank you for talking to me. I know you are a very busy guy. For over 30 years you have worked at Orvis in a storied career. What would you say is the single greatest event in your career?

There are lots of things I am proud of, but if I had to name one, it’s probably being named Angler of the Year by Fly Rod & Reel Magazine. It was in recognition of the culmination of many years teaching people about fly fishing. My wife and coworkers were very impressed for about 2 hours.

You have been fly fishing in some pretty incredible areas. Where was your favorite place and why?

That would probably depend on salt or fresh water. For salt water it would have to be the Bahamas. Grand Bahama specifically. It’s a beautiful island and I know it pretty well. I mainly fish for bonefish there, and sometimes get a shot at tarpon or permit as well. And triggerfish. Triggers are tough and lots of fun to catch. Freshwater would be the many trout streams in the U.S. Not really any particular one, I like all of them.

Tom's Albie
Considering all the places you have been where is the one location you haven’t been that you want to go and fish?

I would love to go fishing in New Zealand for trout. That’s really the Shan gri la for trout fishing. I have friends who have fished there and tell me it’s really great and that’s the type of fishing I am really in to. There is very clear water, excellent for sight fishing. I would definitely have to say New Zealand.

What is the largest fish you have caught on fly?

I think that would probably be a 100lb tarpon. Maybe not quite 100lb, but close. I don’t think I have reached that 100lb’er yet, but it’s something I am working on and I want to get to someday. But, to me it’s not about how big, but how interesting. The most interesting fish I have caught are bluefin tuna. I have had several break-offs from some big ones, and have landed some in the 25-30lb range. I think they are way more interesting than tarpon.


Do you use a kayak?

I do sometimes fish from a kayak. I own a Native Ultimate 14, and I love it. I mainly use it to get to the flats or areas I want to wade fish, but it’s also really easy to stand and fish in. It’s easy to stand and sight fish and it’s a very comfortable kayak. I also use it to fish for bass with my son.

You are a Show Host, Outdoor Writer, Marketing Director, Editor and a host of other titles, in which role have you found the most enjoyment?

The TV shows and videos were a lot of fun. You know how grueling it can be Bob, but they are very fulfilling. Not only did I get to go to some really cool places, I learned a lot from writing script to directing to rough editing. I learned new skills and that can be very interesting and rewarding. I don’t like writing at all. I do it when I need to because I can, but I would rather not.

What is your favorite all-around fly fishing rod and reel combo?

Well, that really depends on whether you are fishing salt or fresh water. For fresh water, I would recommend a 9 foot 5wt setup. It’s long enough for trout streams just about anywhere you go, and also great for bass and bluegill. It’s by far the most popular freshwater rod. For saltwater I would say a 9 foot 9wt combo. With a 9wt, you can cast tarpon flies further and can land tarpon as well. With more spooky fish like reds and bonefish, you can add more leader for a softer presentation. On the Orvis website, you can chat with our techline and get custom recommendations for what kind of fishing you want to do. These guys aren’t just salespeople, they can help you pick the right rod and answer any questions you may have about fly fishing.

What is your favorite species on fly, and why?

For freshwater it would have to be brown trout. They are much more difficult to stalk and catch. When they eat, when they go after the fly, they really smash it. They don’t mess around. They are also great fighters. As far as saltwater, I love anything in the tuna family, including mackerel. Tuna or kingfish are such hard fighters, really fast and exciting fish. False Albacore, I think you call them Bonita, are excellent as well. I don’t really know why they aren’t considered a sport fish.

Tom, the Chocolatier
What is the most interesting thing about Tom Rosenbauer that everyone should know?
This will probably shock and surprise people. I am an authentic, bean to bar chocolate maker. I roast the beans, grind them, temper the chocolate…everything. There is only one place to get quality cocoa beans in small orders, that’s I make it in my kitchen and only use quality cocoa beans and organic sugar. The beans are grown all over the world and depending on where they are grown, the flavors can be different. My coworkers love that I make chocolate as well.
After 30 years at Orvis, Tom doesn’t show any signs of slowing down. Check out his many videos and podcasts at and don’t forget to sign up for their email series on how to fly fish!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

An Average Glades Adventure

Always an advocate of everyday adventures, I was excited when Glen Pla, the Host of Average Angler Adventures, asked me about fishing in the Everglades. It’s “no secret” that I love the Everglades and I wouldn’t miss a chance to share it with anyone, so plans were made to meet up and film an episode of Glen’s popular fishing show.

We met up at Port of the Islands Adventure Resort and didn’t have to go far for our first stop. Adjacent to the Resort is a small landlocked pond that houses some respectable fish. Through the early morning fog we could see tarpon feeding just out of casting range. We launched our kayaks and began our hunt. It was a cool morning and the action was a little slow. I didn’t have any luck with topwater lures so I switched to live bait. Glen was using a soft plastic mullet. I managed a gar on a shiner while Glen jumped two tarpon on artificial. Lesson learned, I switched to a Vudu mullet and landed a nice largemouth on my first cast.

Morning action
Just before leaving the pond, Glen was working the edge on the way back to the launch when his lure was slammed by a sizable fish. Our excitement grew when the bucket sized head of a giant snook broke the surface. In such a small landlocked body of water, we expect a few small snook, but this was the king of the pond! After Glen skillfully landed the beast the fish posed for a few photos before swimming off to fight another day.
Glen's morning monster
The fog began to dissipate and we began the long drive into the Everglades for exotic fish. I have wrote about and filmed my favorite spot for exotics in the Everglades for many years, always just stopping short of saying exactly where it is. I always thought people could figure it out, it’s not that big of a secret. While talking to Glen on camera, I finally let the cat out of the bag as to the exact location. We drove to the Collier-Dade Training Airport just off of US 41. Just south of the airport there are large borrow pits created while digging fill dirt. These lakes are very deep and are full of largemouth and peacock bass as well as other exotics.
Looking for exotics
We walked back to the lakes carrying only the essentials. We opted for live shiners because the peacock bass seem to be a little harder to entice with artificial bait when the temperatures are lower. We immediately began catching fish. They were smaller, average sized peacocks and largemouth. Glen caught and landed his first oscar and had a shot at a few more. We moved on to hit a few other hot spots where we caught varying sized peacocks and largemouth bass. By the late afternoon, the bite shut down and we made our way out of the back area. We caught many fish but the cooler weather kept the largest of the peacocks away.
1st oscar
Back at the resort we finished up with an ending interview sequence. Glen and Producer Grant were quick and professional and we were done in short order. We had a great time, caught lots of fish and hopefully got enough video for a compelling episode of Average Angler Adventures, exclusively seen on Bright House Sports Network. The latest episode can be seen every Sunday at 7:00 p.m.