Name: Kc Badger
Hometown: Scottsdale Arizona.. now Tempe
Occupation: Professional BMX rider, artist, retail and food service slave.
Favorite waters:Local : Black river RIP, Chevelon lake, Sunrise lake, Reservation lake, Upper Lake Mary, Saguaro, Pleasant. Non local : the entire island of Kodiak AK
Accomplishments/ tournaments: I smile everytime I catch a fish.
Future endeavors: Continue to travel and Fish as much as possible. MT WY UT NM CO are all in the cards this year.. as well as mako sharks on the fly in SD
Tips for fishing Arizona: Utilize Any and all information you can about where, when, and how you are fishing.. the internet is an amazing thing. Fish as much as possible, and dont be scared to try things that noone else is using/ doing.
BMX, fishing and Art, that’s a diverse lineup. You’re sponsored for BMX riding; do you sell your art? Is tournament fishing something in your future?
Yeah I guess it is diverse… but in all honesty, I’ve just been extremely lucky in that I have been able to make somewhat of a living doing the things that I love. I was raised with the philosophy that money doesn’t make you happy, it helps, but doing what you truly love and are passionate about will bring you the most joy in life. We’re only here for a short time in the grand scheme of things… why not make the most/best of it?!. BMX was my first real passion in life… I started racing when I was 8, and it completely took over my life, and has really made me who I am as a person today. Because of it I have traveled the world, made the best of friends, learned about life, love, business, and everything in between. Art came second. To me BMX riding from an early age was a form of creative expression. From the way we dressed, to physically creating places to ride in the desert, which were almost sculptural in dirt jumps… to looking at something that the average person would walk on , next to, or completely ignore and think of ways to ride my bike on it and do tricks. Art was a very natural progression. As I graduated High school I found myself beginning to travel extensively and going to College at the same time. The freedom that I was getting while traveling really opened my eyes to what else was out there, culture, religions, and that translated back into what I would study in college. I took a lot of everything but the classes that really seemed to stick with me were the creative ones so after too many years juggling being a professional BMX rider and a college student I graduated with a Bachelor of fine arts from Arizona State University.
Lastly came fishing. Fishing was always something that my father and I would do growing up. Taking trips to the White Mountains, Lake Powell, southern Utah, were all things that seemed to happen on a weekly basis when i was a child, but as I grew up and BMX , and then art took over my life... fishing seemed to fade into the background. It wasn’t until a camping trip a few summers back that I rekindled my love for fly fishing, and now I spend every waking moment trying to figure out ways to combine all of my life passions and still be able to pay rent! I have shown and sold art through Galleries in the past, and am open to that in the future as well. But lately I have been experimenting with wildlife painting in a contemporary form. When I see paintings of fish, and wildlife, for the most part they all follow the same guideline... Paint in oil or watercolor, as close to realism as the painters skill-set allows and that’s it. With a few exceptions it seems that there really is a niche in wildlife painting that hopefully I can figure out how to fill with a different aesthetic that most people in this field haven’t seen. And! It’s a great excuse to combine two of these passions! As far as tournament fishing is concerned... I’m really not that competitive by nature. I have done competitions on the BMX, but it’s not the part of the sport that I really enjoy, or excel at. The same would go for fishing. I don’t fish so that I can get a big trophy, bragging rights, etc. I fish because I simply love the feeling of casting in the AM, looking around and being in the mountains, the desert, or sometimes in the middle of a suburban neighborhood, seeking the feeling of something else pulling on the line. I crave the tug-of-war fishing provides, and knowing that I am slightly higher up on the food chain! haha. And more than anything I can’t stand that tournament fisherman wear Nascar jerseys!
another fish illustration .. manny chee. saguaro lake, 4.75 LBS largemouth on the fly
Why Arizona? Was there someone in particular that turned you on to fishing AZ?
-Az because its where I grew up. Where the love started, its familiar, it brings back joyful memories of my youth. But more than anything it’s because this is where my heart is. I have traveled to and even lived in some of the most prestigious fishing cities in the world, Seattle, Portland, South island of New Zealand, Alaska, virgin islands, to name a few. But Arizona is home, and a mentor of mine always says " if you can catch fish in AZ, you can catch fish ANYWHERE in the world." So far.. so true.
Many would not consider Arizona a place for fishing, what would you tell them if they asked “is there fishing in there”?
-Depends on who it is.. if it’s a bait chucking fish killer, I’ll say “nope.. no fish here!” But if its someone that understands what a fragile fishing ecosystem this is, I would say yes! You can catch a vast variety of fish in this state. Everything from monster northern pike, to trophy large and smallmouth, to native trout that are only found in this state… we really have a bit of everything. And we have a bit of every kind of fishing you could want, from extremely technical small stream fishing, to big water rivers, to about every still-water situation your heart could desire. Pick a species you want and water you want it from, and somewhere in AZ has that for you!
Fly rods are usually for cold water fish such as trout aren’t they? I see a lot of largemouth pics with a fly rod, is there something the rest of us are missing?
-That’s probably the best misconception of fly fishing, is that it is only for trout and small fish. Sure the fly rod has some disadvantages to conventional gear in some situations, but in others it can blow conventional out of the water (pun intended). There really is something that big warm water fish love in a big baitfish fly that undulates in the water the way that a soft plastic, hard plastic, metal lure cannot. And the fight on a fly-rod compared to a conventional rod is night and day… you really are connected to the fish with a fly-rod. there are people out there (myself to hopefully be included soon) that target big ocean game fish strictly on the fly, Sailfish, dorado, tarpon, shark. Also, a rule that my father taught me growing up was don’t ever let what you are using dictate what you can do with it.
I hear you do a lot of traveling; do you bring your fly rod? Is it hard to make time for fishing with BMX and everything else you have going on?
-When I go on BMX trips I don’t bring my fly-rod, and on every BMX trip I bitch about not bringing my fly-rod. I always say that im on these trips to ride my bike. That’s why the company has sent me out, to ride, to promote the product, not to sneak off and catch some fish. But it seems like on the last few trips I wouldn’t have to sneak off, there is downtime, I would just have to use that downtime to fish… not rest.
But, I am currently planning a trip that will combine fishing and BMX. Working on doing a trip this summer that starts out in Montana and ends here in AZ, fishing and riding the BMX along the way, shooting photos and filming the entire time. Something I have dreamed about for years.
What do you see in the future for Arizona Fishing? Is there any advice you can give to reader to help preserve our fisheries?
-Man, I could ramble on forever on this subject. I’ll try and keep it short and sweet as possible… Arizona fishing is in a peculiar place. The state is out of money, and the little money the state does have to allocate towards fishing has demands for put and take fisheries, not an emphasis on blue ribbon trophy rivers and lakes. And then on top of that, arguably the best of both worlds (trophy and put and take) the black river, burnt to a crisp in last summer’s wallow fire, destroying both an economic tourist draw, and one of the best fisheries in the state.
On the upside there are a few private organizations that are working w/ AZGF to create and manage more trophy waters in the state. Namely the WMLF ( http://wmlf.org/) is a non- profit foundation that is helping through donation to provide the white mountains with sustainable trophy fishing waters. They have been involved in Becker lake, and within the last few years it has gone from a put and take lake w/ the average size stocker rainbows ( 12"), to consistently pumping out big healthy bows in the mid 20"s. It isn’t out of the question to catch 5 pounders in there this year... and i wouldn’t rule it out as a place to catch 10 plus's in the next few! Its people like the WMLF and the fisheries they help create, that bring in tourists and their money from states away. It is a numbers game, and I understand you can’t make everyone happy, I’m just thankful that there are people like this that realize there is a demand, as well as an economic benefit to trophy fisheries, which we most certainly already have, and can obtain more of in the future in AZ. Thanks to organizations like this, the future looks bright for many AZ fisheries, support them! They support people like us with bigger healthier fish!
Thank Yous: thanks to my dad (r.i.p.), for showing and teaching me to fly-fish at such a young age. Thanks to all the homies that I drag to the mountains in the summer while I escape and fish all day! Ha, Thanks to my G/f Jen for allowing me to be selfish and understanding that I really need to be in the mountains fishing whenever I have the chance, for both of our sanities! Hah, and special thanks to Manny Chee for being the best Fly fishing teacher anyone could ask for, taking me fishing , showing me the ropes on catching fish, tying the flies that catch ‘em, and everything that fly fishing encompasses. YOU ARE THE MAN. And look for Mannychee Outdoors in the future!