Finsights #12- An interview with Sascha Clark Danylchuck
KWF- Give us a brief bio, background including why you are focused on fish, fish habitat and conservation.
SCD- I grew up in a family where my parents were in constant disagreement about the ideal vacation spot – one preferred the mountains, the other the beach. We were lucky enough to spend time in each setting and it was mostly through those experiences that water, and nature in general, became deeply ingrained in my identity.
I didn’t really start fishing until after college when I moved to the Turks and Caicos Islands to work as a research assistant at a marine science field station. My brother built me a fly rod, and I taught myself to cast with flies I tied myself. Needless to say it was many months before I caught anything, but wading flats gave me a whole new perspective and appreciation for the ocean, and I was smitten.
While I knew that I wanted to pursue a career focused around science and water early on, my focus has shifted within those boundaries over the years. I’ve come to realize that a multidisciplinary, multipronged approach is necessary to make a significant difference when it comes to helping recreational fishing become more sustainable.
KWF- What's your favorite fishing memory?
SCD- Watching my daughter out-fish her older brother, my husband, and myself on the Madison. She claims it was due to her “good luck shorts” (which have fish on them), but she’s developing into a badass little angler.
KWF- How about your bucket list trip or fish species to catch?
SCD- Arctic grayling. I recently spent time in a remote corner of Argentine Patagonia and it renewed my excitement about salmonids. I’d love to head to the other end of the Americas to fish for grayling.
KWF- Tell us about your most recent fishing trip.
SCD- I just returned from seven months of traveling. My husband had a sabbatical so we pulled our kids out of school and took off on a three-part Fish Mission. We started in Argentina living in a 400 square foot cabin for two months. We spent time hanging out with the phenomenal crew from Las Pampas Lodge and fished some of the most beautiful water I’ve ever seen. I landed my personal best rainbow, a 24-inch beauty, on a day so windy that downwind was the only direction I could cast (not that I’ve ever been skilled at casting into the wind).
Next we were in the Florida Keys for a couple months. I lived there almost 10 years ago and it was fun to visit old haunts and see friends. I still, however, have yet to land a permit…
The final part of our Fish Mission was a three-month camping trip from Florida to Massachusetts the long way – first heading west to CA, then north to British Columbia, and finally east back to New England). I designed and my husband and I built a trailer that had a kitchen, but we tented it the whole time – even in 19oF thundersnow (yes, it exists) at the Grand Canyon, which is not an experience I feel the need to repeat anytime soon! We had planned to do a lot of fishing along the way, but the huge snowpack in the west last winter meant that many of the rivers were still too high to fish well. Getting to spend so much time outdoors, however, made up for the fishing we missed.
KWF- Why volunteer with KWF? Hopes for the future of the movement?
SCD- There is a fracture between science and conservation in recreational angling, especially when it comes to best practices. I believe that anglers want to do the right thing, but I don’t think that they always get a clear message from scientists about what exactly the right thing is. KeepEmWet is the much-needed link that can engage anglers and scientists directly, create information flow in both directions, and move all of us towards being better stewards of our finned natural resources.
KWF- If you were a fish, what species would you be and where would you live?
A bonefish on the flats, of course. My happy place is wading a tropical flat, it makes no difference whether it’s in the Caribbean or the Pacific – it’s always where I would rather be.