Jackson Hole, Wyoming
Growing up in Tennessee farm country, Carter Andrews spent long days on the local ponds with dreams of becoming a tournament bass angler. Plans changed when a fellow angler put a fly rod in his hands. Soon after, Carter moved West and quickly made a mark on the fly fishing scene. He landed in Wyoming where he worked as a guide on the lakes and rivers of the Rocky Mountains. In short order, Carter built a hall of fame caliber resume with three wins of the Jackson Hole One Fly, a keystone spot on the U.S. Fly Fishing Team, and countless magazine covers. On a trip to the Bahamas in 1992, Carter was introduced to the world of destination saltwater angling and his world got a whole lot bigger. He's spent the years since targeting the full spectrum of saltwater gamefish in Florida, Panama, or wherever they're biting. He's on the water more than 300 days each year, but Jackson Hole still feels like home to Carter, his wife, Heidi, and daughters, Haley and Payton.
What's the worst day you've had on the water and why?
Carter: I do my best to stay optimistic, and any day on the water is tough to beat. That said, everyone has bad days. When I was working as a trout guide in Wyoming, I typically did float trips but had a father and son team who asked for a remote wade trip. I took them to one of my favorite creeks in the Wind River mountain range. It’s in the middle of nowhere. After a two-hour drive, we’re setting up the rods and I realize I left my tackle bag in my boat, full of all my flies, dry floatant and leader. As I was panicking, I took my hat off to wipe the quickly-forming sweat and saw the dozen or so flies in my hat. Problem 1 solved. I used some lip balm as dry-fly floatant. Problem 2 solved. Fortunately, I had enough leader laying around to get started. We had a great morning, both father and son catching wild trout in a wild place, but we ran out of leader by lunch. We drove up the creek about a mile and I set up my standard lunch. While they ate, I went hunting and spotted a fly caught in a tree with about 3-4 feet of leader hanging from it. It was on the other side of a huge pool so I had to swim across to retrieve it. By the end of the day, we had a great day of fly fishing, with the least amount of gear ever, and the father and son never had a clue that I forgot my gear.
How much preparation goes into a day on the water? Do you have a checklist or is it automatic at this point?
Carter: Many of the places I fish are so remote that if I miss something, I know I won’t be able to grab it on location. That really keeps me on my toes. I’ve prepared for so many different trips, both domestic and international, but it’s not automatic. I have a checklist, kind of in my head, and I get ready the night before to give myself more time to cover everything.
Is there one thing you’ll never leave home without?
Carter: I rarely leave home without a can of Snus and a YETI full of ice. I often trailer my boat, and I’m usually towing it for long distances. I’ve learned to always have tools for changing trailer tires.
You’ve caught just about every species of gamefish, right? What’s your favorite to target?
Carter: I’m sure there’s a species I haven’t caught yet but I can’t think of anything off the top of my head. I’ve been fortunate enough to travel and fish in the some of the most remote places but it’s still tough to beat a smallmouth bass. Giant Black Marlin in Panama, 100-lb. grouper in Mexico, and 7-ft. arapaima in Brazil aren’t far behind though.