TEN QUESTIONS WITH YELLOW DOG’S CAMILLE EGDORF

You work with our Alaska, Kamchatka, and Christmas Island programs, and have quite a history with Alaska. Tell us a bit about how you grew up.

I spent my first summer in remote Alaska at 6 months old. My parent’s Dave and Kim Egdorf have owned and operated a guided trout camp on the upper reaches of the Nushagak River in Bristol Bay since 1982 so as you can imagine, I was raised in a fish camp surrounded by guides and fishermen. During the off season, we traveled to Montana where I went to school. My parents had a lodge in Montana as well, where they guided big game and upland bird hunters and anglers fishing the Big Horn. My entire childhood revolved around the outdoor industry and I loved it. I wasn’t the typical girly girl growing up. I’m an only child and entertained myself by playing in the dirt, chasing grasshoppers for fishing bait and of course, spent hours upon hours with a rod in my hand trying to catch a fish. I was a tomboy through and through. 

What got you into fishing?

I truly have no idea. Bizarre answer I know but I can’t pick out a single moment that is the trademark reason for my love of fishing. My earliest fishing memory takes me back to an ice fishing trip my dad and I took with friends. All I remember is sitting on a bucket, looking down a ice hole with my tugboat bobber bobbing between chunks of ice. While the other girls my age got bored after 10 minutes and began playing in the snow, I stayed on my bucket for hours! I don’t recall catching anything but I don’t doubt this was the trigger for my love of the sport. I was a toddler when started begging my dad to take me fishing; whenever my grandpa came to visit I begged him and any free time I had, I always sneaked away to the marina in Alaska where I pestered stickleback minnows. Get this, the only video game I had was called ‘Ultimate Bass Fishing’! I’m not sure if you can be born with a fishing addiction but it seems it could have been the case for me. Maybe, I had an experience with it before I was capable of collecting memories which influenced it, but either way, I’ve always love to fish and it’s definitely going to stay that way for the rest of my life. 

Alaska camp life can get pretty entertaining. Any good stories?

This question brings back a lot of memories, good and not so good. If I had a penny for every interesting, funny and weird moment I’ve had while in camp, I’d be a rich woman. I’ve been witness to and involved in several boat crashes (none of which I did), chased off numerous bears, helped guests to their bunks after a few too many drinks and watched anglers catch their fish of a lifetime. There are a few moments that stick out however, one of which took place when I was very little. We had a client in camp by the name of Bill. Bill loved to hike and one afternoon decided to go for a hike up the hill just downriver from camp. After about 3 hours everyone began to worry and radioed my dad who was flying in from Dillingham to drop off supplies that Bill was missing. He flew over the hill and found Bill (who was wearing a bright red jacket) nearly 6 miles away from camp. He was waving his arms, obviously in distress. My dad buzzed him several times in the direction of where camp was. After about 3 more hours, Bill comes over the hill and walks back into camp. He walked straight to his cabin without speaking a word to anyone. From then on we called him, ‘Over the hill Bill’. 

You can pick one place to fish for the rest of your life. Where do you go?

Tough question. I grew up surrounded by freshwater and if I were to choose a destination that was saltwater, I know after a certain amount of time, I’d begin to miss it. So with that said, I’d rule out any saltwater. Alaska is definitely close but I’ve spent my entire life there already so that rules it out. This past August, I had my first experience with Kamchatka and it struck a chord in me that hasn’t quit humming. It’s hard to put into words but Kamchatka is by far one of the neatest and most awe-inspiring places I’ve ever been. Imagine a place where there are more bears than people, more rivers than roads, more trees than farm ground, more bear dogs than lap dogs and fishing so good, you feel as though you’re fishing a river for the first time. Pretty incredible, right? This is why Kamchatka would be my choice. I could spend the rest of my days exploring the vast wilderness searching for new rivers basically untouched by man. Oh, and also catch rainbows over 30 inches…on a mouse. Sounds pretty good to me!

Women in fishing… are you seeing any interesting trends?

Definitely! The industry is becoming saturated with women! Well, maybe not saturated but I’m constantly seeing and hearing about more women jumping into this sport. For such a long time, fly fishing has been dominated by men and for most women interested in the sport, that’s a very daunting and intimidating situation. But as the industry has grown, more and more women are coming out of the woodwork and seriously kicking ass at what they do. They’re legitimate (most of them anyway) and work very hard to make themselves reputable and recognized as professional anglers. 

This leads me to a trend that has me worried. There are too many legit women do who don’t get recognized for the things they do. I’d love to see the women who seek to make the industry better and stronger, the women who teach others about the sport, the women who grind through day after day of guiding, the women who stand in freezing water to catch a steelhead, the women who put others first and ultimately the women who are in this industry for the right reasons get the recognition that is deserved.

What’s the one fly you always make sure is in your box?

There are three actually, each for three different types of fishing. A San Juan worm, Dali Lama Streamer and a Chubby. These flies work almost anywhere and at all times of the year. The Chubby is mostly limited to the summer and fall months but fish can’t resist it. The Dali Lama is likely to be the most versatile streamer I’ve ever used. I haven’t tried it in saltwater yet but I have no doubt it’d work. 

Favorite species, and why?

I’m fairly certain I have an unhealthy relationship with Giant Trevally. There is nothing more exciting, visual and scary as a GT running down your fly and eating it at your rod tip. They are the apex predator of the flats and you won’t truly understand that until you have an 80 pounder engulf a fly just feet from you. I got to swim with a school of GT’s while I was in the Seychelles this past October. Some were bigger than me and I’ve never felt so vulnerable. It wasn’t until one grabbed my foot before I realized I was over stepping my bounds. I still have teeth marks on my hard-soled shoe. 

You’re packing for a trip. What five items are always in your bag?

1.) Passport/Visa
2.) Cash
3.) Delorme InReach GPS
4.) Clothes (obviously)
5.) Any equipment I need

If you could tell a new traveler one thing, what would it be?

Relax and enjoy the experience. Be willing to go with the flow since rarely things go as planned or as scheduled. Keep all of your cash on your person, same as your passport. That’s your ticket home so it’s imperative that you keep track of it. For anyone going overseas or to a remote destination, do yourself a favor and purchase travel insurance and a Global Rescue Plan. The chances you’ll need to use either are small but if you need to, you’ll be glad you did. 

So what’s next—what’s on the docket for 2016?

Nothing big is planned, yet. I plan to return to Alaska for a couple weeks to host a couple groups at my parent’s camp on the Nushagak. I’d love to return to Christmas Island or visit a new destination such as Belize or Mexico but no plans yet. Kamchatka is on my brain so I may give that a go.