Along California’s densely populated southern coast there exists an urban expanse, rarely interrupted between Ventura and the Mexico border. It’s home to famously perfect weather, iconic beaches, and millions of people. But 29 short miles of the coast of Long Beach lies Santa Catalina Island. A desert oasis in the middle of the Pacific Ocean that time has seemingly forgotten, it stands out for its rugged beauty both above and below the ocean’s surface. But what makes Catalina Island most unique, is its proximity to one of the most populous areas on the continent. It’s like a secret that lies hidden just out of sight for residents of Los Angeles and Orange County.
Among Catalina Island’s best kept secrets is its offering for fly anglers. Captain Vaughn Podmore is the first—and only—guide to have committed himself to pioneering this fishery. There is a novelty to chasing fish with a fly rod, and it certainly presents a unique challenge. But, as Vaughn has found, it can be an effective and rewarding way to fish Catalina’s waters. He masterfully ties his own baitfish patterns, and a single fly lasts all day, withstanding the beating of dozens of Calico Bass, Baracuda, Yellow Tail and Bonita.
Like all great guides, Vaughn loves catching fish—whether he’s holding the rod or directing clients. And, like all great guides, Vaughn is deeply concerned about the health of the fish and the fishery. Perhaps that is both the beauty and the burden of being a fishery’s only fly guide: you have the resource and the responsibility of protecting it all to yourself. He is hesitant to harvest fish, but when he does it is done with reverence and then enjoyed with gratitude.
Armed with decades of experience and stories, Vaughn is the perfect blend of professional, precise, generous and humble. His quiet disposition, like the water he fishes, has a depth to be enjoyed by anyone fortunate enough to not overlook it.