Portland angler, artist, and dirt bike enthusiast Kayla Lockhart tells us about her recent 10-day off the grid adventure down to the border of Colombia and Venezuela with Denver-based photographer Jesse Packwood and our friends at Flylords.
While down in the remote backcountry, Kayla and the crew camped out, bushwhacked their way through dense jungle forests, and battled the wind, water, sun, rocks, bugs, and everything else the wild jungle throws at you. Keep scrolling to see more behind their successful search to land a Payara, Sardanita, and Peacock bass on the mighty Orinoco River.
Tell us a little about yourself:
I'm 29 years old, addicted to fly fishing, and sharing my passion of the sport with new people to give the resources and show them how life changing it can be. I grew up in MN and headed west in 2015. At a young age, I found fishing and hunting can be used as tool of healing mentally for me.
When I was 24 I was in a rough part of my life with some personal struggles. I discovered fly fishing and never looked back. It has created so many incredible joys in my life. Today, I'm part of the Mayfly Project teaching kids in foster care how to heal on the water with fly fishing!
Where in Colombia did you just go?
It was the most incredible remote trip I've ever experienced. I was on the border of Colombia and Venezuela where the native tribes shared their lands and waters with us so that we could access fish in the remote jungle.
What were you fishing for?
I fished for Payara "Vampire Fish", Sardanita, and Peacock bass species.
What did a typical day look like?
I woke up at 5am (which would be 2am in Portland) from my tent, where the air temp reminded me where I am: practically on the equator. We would eat a large breakfast and ran to the boat to fish for the next 10 hours of the day.
What was the most challenging part of the trip?
Fishing out of the boat - the Orinoco River (one of the largest rivers in South America) is large, fast, and scary.
I wore a life jacket the entire time in case the boat tossed me out!
What was the most rewarding experience?
My most rewarding experience was being the first woman to catch a payara on the fly with Fish Colombia and on a fly that I tied!
What was your packing list?
The bugs and sun are strong in the jungle. Where I traveled is practically on the equator so protecting my skin was very important to me. I needed to be confident that all the clothes I packed would withstand the jungle conditions and have UPF protection.
The Free Fly Bamboo Shade Hoody paired with the Breeze Pant ended up being my go-to for fishing on the boat. They kept me from getting sunburned and also cool in the hot humid weather. I was equipped with Redington 11wt Predator + fully machined Grande reel paired with the Rio Products Leviathan 400g line.
How would you compare the fisheries to your home base in Oregon?
The comparison was night and day differences, I'm used to swinging flies in the cold mountain fed rivers for steelhead or tiny mountain gin clear creeks for sea run cutties. The Orinoco is the third largest river in the world. Just riding in a boat in it is intimidating enough with massive prehistoric looking rocks surrounding it.
Where are you headed next?
In eight days I will be headed to Acension Bay, Mexico to chase some tail and fish for bonefish, tarpon and permit!
What does Free Fly mean to you?
Free Fly is all about creating a community of like minded people who are all curating their own idea of making waves.
A community that inspire others to enjoy life to the fullest by getting out there and making their own waves!
Fill in the blank, when I'm not fly fishing I'm...
Ripping on my dirt bike in the Pacific Northwest or playing my banjo + ukulele!
If you had to give one piece of advice to someone getting into fly fishing, what would you say?
To not be intimidated! It can seem like so much to learn at first, just borrow some gear from your local fly shop or a friend and take your time. Don't set too many expectations. Most importantly have fun, it will bring you to some of the most beautiful landscapes!