Meet Chloe Nostrant. She's a fly fishing pro, photographer, artist, and a powerful writer. Her work revolves more or less around one thing: Telling stories of The American West.
One late-Summer evening I hopped in Chloe's truck and followed her and Hiatt to a beautiful spot on the river. With my camera in tow, I watched and listened as Chloe cast into the water. I understood very little about what she was doing, but enjoyed watching her master the craft.
One of my favorite things about being around Chloe is that she always has a good story to tell. Often precarious scenarios that always have a sweet ending...
Wet pants, sunburns, George Strait, and s’mores…
It’s cold, it’s raining, and the top half of me was just about soaked even though my rain gear. I wished I would have put on that extra layer after all. The bottom half of me is soaked thanks to a pin-prick sized hole in my waders. I strip in my line and cast again, maybe this will be the one. I flip the spey rod around into a snap-t and send my fly across the river. My fly swings out in front of me, hopefully past a fish– a hungry one preferably. I feel a bump and wait for another… nothing. Must have been the bottom again. I knew this sink tip was too heavy for this spot. The little black and white tube fly reaches the end of the drift and hovers in the water at the end of my taught line. I sigh, strip in again and repeat the process, this time taking a couple steps down stream. “Are fish even real?” I ask myself as I shake rain off of my hood, “I am not so sure.”
It’s hot, blazing hot, and I am definitely getting sunburnt. We stand on a cliff looking down on the upper Yellowstone River. We had hiked a couple miles to get back here in hopes of catching the early end of the salmon fly hatch. We shake our heads– it’s high and fast and not quite clear. Spring runoff hadn’t cleared out as much as we had hoped. Billy goating our way down into the canyon, we decide we have to at least try. We kick up salmon flies as we walk through the willows and pray we don’t kick up a bear. The wind picks up and with that we finally admit defeat. We climb back up to the top and we see where that wind came from– a thunderstorm was rolling in quickly across the plateau we were on. Thunder rumbled in the distance, we looked around and realized we were the tallest things out there and we were holding nine-foot long graphite rods. We took off across the plain, taking off jewelry and stashing it in fly boxes ready to be thrown away from us along with our rods in the event we saw lightning.
It’s warm and sunny, a can of Lone Star beer sits at my bare feet and George Strait plays softly in the background. “One o’clock, 30 feet” the guide on the poling platform calls out. I pick up my line and make a cast, my crab fly landing about two feet in front of a school of tailing redfish. I give it a couple of strips and the fish turns and looks at it. I strip faster and harder until the fish lunges forward and inhales the fly. Rod tip up and the fight is on. The fish thrashes his stout body in the warm water of the Texas coast. He runs for the grass and I turn him, trusting my tippet will hold up and my knots are good. I get him to the side of the boat and scoop him up in my hands over the side of the skiff. A quick picture and I lower him back to the water where he takes off, kicking up mud and water. “Now that’s a fish” the guide remarks as we high-five and prepare to do it all again.
It was a beautiful day, but it was the Fourth of July in Yellowstone and I was prepared for the worst. Visions of horrible crowds, long lines, crowded streams and traffic jams fill my mind as I drive through Yankee Jim Canyon. My clients, a nice family of four from California, are in their Suburban driving behind me. We drive under the Roosevelt Arch, and to my surprise we don’t even wait in line and the even more surprising, driving to the creek we didn’t even see another car. I am shocked. We pull up to the creek and start setting up rods. Slowly making our way upstream, we tell lots of stories to give the animals warning of our presence. The kids cast, surprisingly well for being 6 and 4, and within a few minutes were hooked into little eager trout. Squealing (me mostly to be honest), we net the first one. After admiring his spots and wishing him luck on his adventures, we release him back home. For a few hours we repeat that process. Mom, dad, sister, and brother all were happily plucking these feisty little fish out of the creek. At one point, the dad tries to get the son to come fish by him to which the son replies “No dad you go. I am going to fish with Chloe, she’s my fish girl.” After we leave the Park that afternoon, I pull off at a campsite outside of Gardner. I bring out all the fixings for s’mores and we gathered around the fire pit and try not to burn our marshmallows. Kicked back in a sugar coma with a pair of my too-big-for-her sunglasses on and face covered in chocolate, the little girl looks at me and said, “I think I will be a guide some day. I like fishing.”
Keep up with Chloe on Instagram @chloenostrant, and browse her body of work on her website.