Cheeky Fishing sat down for an interview with our ambassadors, Kelsey, Hannah and Charlie of the Fishin’ Physicans.
CF: Let's start off with something fun - what’s something not everyone would know about you?
Charlie: Hmm. I caught a wahoo on a handline while living aboard a sailboat in the South Pacific for 2 months!
Kelsey: I lived in a tent for 2 summers as a raft guide.
Hannah: I’m also a pilot!
CF: Could you tell me a little more about how you got into Fly Fishing?
Charlie: Mine’s pretty simple! About 10 years ago, I was working on Martha's Vineyard during a college summer. I noticed a lot of people fishing – and not just typical guides, but everyone, from toddlers to men in their 90s, to women my age, and I thought, “This is something I can do.” So I went into Coop’s Bait & Tackle, and it really took off from there. Fast forward a decade to today, the fishing community on the island is my second family, as it is for so many other fishermen who have been lucky enough to spend time fishing these waters.
Kelsey: So before medical school, I actually was a whitewater junkie, used to be a raft guide, and hadn’t fly-fished. I had some friends who fly-fished, and I would go on overnight whitewater trips with them and watch them. One of my first exposures on a trip like that was on the Salmon River in Idaho on a 10-day float. It was whitewater during the day, then after setting up camp, they would start fly fishing in the eddies around our campsites. I took note and listened as they were teaching each other how to fish better and cast better – it was interesting but looked really hard, so I never picked it up until medical school!
When I started medical school in Maine, there wasn’t much whitewater around me, and I needed a way to decompress that wasn’t adrenaline based. Or at least less adrenaline based! I was looking for more intentional time with myself while also being outside and surrounded by nature. One of my core values is being able to spend time in nature.
Hannah: I grew up fishing in the Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri, but my first exposure to fly fishing was in Wyoming when I was a Wrangler. I was guiding horse pack trips at the time, and a few of my clients taught me how to cast. When I moved to Maine and met these two ladies, I quickly jumped into saltwater fishing – and shortly thereafter, our little group was formed!
CF: Tell us how the Fishin Physicians came about!
Charlie: We are in the same medical school class and were fortunate to meet pretty early on. Hannah and I were partners for classwork, and we met Kelsey on an orientation trip – she was a super cool rafter!
Kelsey: I was looking for some more girlfriends who did outdoorsy things, and Hannah knew that Charlie fished, I knew that she fished, and we were all looking for other women that enjoyed the outdoors – it all lined up.
Hannah: Early on in our first year of medical school, I planned a multi-day island hopping kayaking trip in Casco Bay with the girls, and they brought all their fishing gear. This was our first real trip together, and we realized we all matched up so well. I tend to be somewhat entrepreneurial-minded and when the idea of calling ourselves the Fishin’ Physicians came up, I ran with it and started to grow an Instagram account.
Charlie: From then on, we started fishing all throughout medical school – the beaches and flats of southern Maine. I lived in this tiny little beach shack on a remote peninsula. I would watch the fishermen outside in the middle of topwater feeds from my studying spot. We got to wake up every day to the ocean and people fishing in the summer and would find time to put in a couple casts each day, even if just for 10 minutes some days. It was a pretty incredible place to learn medicine.
CF: So you're called the Fishin' Physicians - could you share a little more about the 'Physician' part and where you are in your medical journey?
FP: So getting here starts with four years of undergrad with requirements like organic chemistry, biology, and physics, then the medical college admissions test, and then four years of medical school. We all spent time outside of academics in between those years – Hannah completed a master’s degree and runs a successful non-profit, Charlie moved to Uganda to work in health equity and then worked in research, and Kelsey worked as a nursing assistant. For the first two years of medical school, you have didactic classes and then two years of clinical rotations, with national licensing board exams at the end of each year. We just finished four years of medical school! We will start our jobs as resident physicians this summer!
Fun fact: All 3 of us took wilderness medicine courses in our 4th year, which is practical for field medicine during our fishing adventures.
CF: Congratulations on finishing medical school! Where will your residencies take you now (aka, where can we expect to see you out fishing!)?
Charlie: I am thrilled to be heading to the Upper Valley on the New Hampshire and Vermont border, where I will complete a 4-year anesthesiology residency at Dartmouth. Rumor has it that there are fellow fly fishermen and Cheeky fans in my residency program!
Kelsey: I’m in Denver now! Doing internal medicine for 3 years, then on to 3-year fellowship.
Hannah: I’m heading to Georgetown in Washington DC, for four years of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (PM&R) residency. PM&R is the field of medicine that takes care of anyone with a disability such as a stroke, spinal cord injury, amputation, and much, much more. I’m really looking forward to working with my patients outside of the hospital in adaptive sports, including adaptive fly fishing!
(L-R, Hannah, Charlie, Kelsey)
CF: We haven’t really talked in depth about the deeper purpose behind Fishin’ Physicans, beyond just friends & fishing – could you share a little more about that?
Charlie: For the past couple of years, we’ve continued to partner with Health Goes Global and are particularly focused on bringing and maintaining clean water in other countries. We have all seen firsthand the impacts of not having clean water, for animals, fish, and humans alike. We are so fortunate to partner with folks in the fishing community and organizations who also understand the importance of healthy ecosystems -- this community has been incredible in supporting our sanitation and clean water initiatives with Health Goes Global. To sum it up, the deeper purposes of Fishin’ Physicians are connecting with an incredible global fishing and medical community and contributing to important causes through partnerships.
Kelsey: Medicine & the environment are so interconnected – even if we have less time to get out and fish than we’d like, we’re still focusing on the importance of our environment and how we play a role in it. As well as continuing the focus on clean water and health.
Hannah:Aside from the incredible humanitarian work we have been able to do through the group, a deeper purpose of the Fishin’ Physicians has also been to demonstrate that fly fishing is for everyone. It can be an intimidating and seemingly expensive sport to get into, but we have encouraged women, in particular, to give it a try and continue to make affordable gear recommendations.
Kelsey: Hannah is actually the executive director and co-founder of Health Goes Global! The organization does work in Panama, Nepal, Senegal, and Uganda. Uganda is where the primary focus is on clean water.
Charlie: After undergrad, I moved to Uganda and worked at a healthcare clinic for 10 months. I was seeing patients coming in daily with preventable diseases, which often stem from a lack of clean water. Clean water is such a low-hanging fruit of how to keep people and ecosystems well. There are a lot of preventable diseases that all trace back to clean water. The partnership between Fishin’ Physicians and Health Goes Global is a no-brainer with the alignment on sanitation and clean water.
Hannah:I feel very fortunate to be blending so many of my passions in life, bringing the fishing community and Health Goes Global work together!
CF: That's great! Now of course we need to ask - what's your favorite Cheeky Fly Reel?
Charlie: I absolutely love my Limitless 425! From schoolies in the spring to albies in the fall, this reel can handle it all.
Hannah: My favorite Cheeky reel is the Launch 400 because of its versatility and affordability. I am a true believer that anyone of any ability can go fly fishing without breaking the bank, and this reel is how to make that happen!
Kelsey: I love cheeky reels because the retro colors bring a special stoke to the water. The Limitless 425 fly reel has landed me my best fish!
CF: And if you had to pick - what would your favorite fish be?
Kelsey: Rainbow Trout
Hannah: Not surprisingly, my favorite fish is the Striped Bass. This beast of a fish now needs our conservation efforts.
Charlie: Also Striped bass, they’re smart, dynamic, and challenging - what is there not to love?!
CF: What’s up next for your fishing adventures?
Kelsey: We have plans for fishing trips, and we are starting to figure out how to get together and go visit everyone in different places! Fishin’ Physicians will stay together! I’m getting out in my new state of Colorado on day trips, as well as heading to Martha’s Vineyard to fish with Charlie and Hannah.
Charlie: Well, the Striped Bass just arrived on MV, so I’m staying put right now! Once we have our schedules, we plan on coordinating a trip, whether it’s back to Maine to our roots, the Bahamas, or Hawaii.
Hannah:If any of our vacation time intern year aligns, that's a given that we’ll be meeting up. But, being in DC, I’m excited to fish the Chesapeake Bay. 70-90% of the Atlantic striped bass population uses the Bay to spawn!