Locals We Love: Shyanne Orvis on Moving West, Fly Fishing and the Power of Nature

By Stio Mountain on

Photos by Jesse Packwood

Where do you live and how long have you lived there?

I currently live in Basalt, CO, a small town just outside of Aspen. I've lived here for about 6 years now.

How did you choose to live there?

When I was 17, I had a friend who worked in Aspen/Snowmass and it inspired me to stray from the college norm and spend a winter in the mountains pursuing my passions. I remember looking around at the life I was living, and longing for more. I decided to take the things I was passionate about and pursue those adventures somewhere new. I left the small town of Flint, Michigan and set out for Colorado. At the time, I thought I was going to do a gap year before attending college, but I fell in love with the mountains, rivers and wildness that Colorado provided and never left.  Like you hear in so many mountain towns, "I came for the winter, stayed for the summer and then never left."

What do you find special about living there?

The Roaring Fork Valley feels unlike anywhere I’ve been. The sense of community, local passion and opportunities here are endless. It's a place of inspiration and growth within our hobbies and within ourselves.

What are some of the greatest challenges you’ve had to overcome living there?

Living in a beautiful place like this comes with its challenges, and some are easier to overcome than others. I'd say the biggest hurdle has been to become financially stable. Small mountain towns are typically very expensive to live in (especially ones like Aspen) and most people have to work multiple jobs just to make ends meet but I can honestly say, it's worth it.

What is one of the most memorable experiences you’ve had fly fishing?

Some of my most memorable experiences come from the time I spend guiding others. I love fly fishing, but sharing that passion with others is always the most rewarding. One recent experience that stands out is from the time I've spent fishing with an 8 year old girl from the Aspen community. At this point, she could probably out fish me, but being able to watch the sheer joy and excitement for fishing ignite within her and sharing my passion with the next generation of anglers is so inspiring to me.

Do you have any defining childhood memories from the outdoors that have influenced where you are today? 

As a little girl, I was always roaming around outside. I didn't grow up with much, so it was my imagination and love for exploring the woods and water that impacted who I am now. I'd spend countless hours barefoot in the woods, catching critters and looking for fish. It provided me with an appreciation for the outdoors, for our fisheries and about the need to both promote and protect them.

What role does nature play in your life and how do you choose to connect with it?

Nature is my entire life, and I connect with it through fly fishing. Fly fishing has given me a tool to continue my passion for exploration and adventure. The thrill you feel from pursuing and targeting a fish on the fly is one of the best I know. Through this connection, I’ve realized the importance of protecting the resources that we all love and cherish.

How has your day-to-day changed amidst the current climate?

My day-to-day during this time of uncertainty, looks quieter than usual. I've always been relatively introverted, so finding solitude alone in nature isn't something new for me, but eliminating the option to socialize when I choose has been challenging. I'd like to think that while this time has been difficult for us all, it's also given us ample time for self-reflection and perhaps an appreciation for the stillness.

What do you do to help get women into the sport of fly fishing?

My primary focus within the fly fishing community has always been to inspire women to experience the sport. A few years ago I decided to create a ladies specific event series that would facilitate a comfortable learning environment for women to pick up the fundamentals of fly fishing. It would give them the skills they need to take to the rivers themselves and the confidence to do so. The primary goal is to get more women into the sport, but more importantly, to create a community of women who can support and encourage each other in their river pursuits.

You mentioned protecting wild places, what are you doing to assist in this effort?

Conservation, protecting our public lands, fisheries and watersheds has become extremely important to me. As an outdoor enthusiast, it's important for me to be a voice for the resources I so dearly love. As an advocate for our land, I can use the resources around me to become more informed and raise awareness for them. Over the past two years, I've become involved with Fish For Change, a non-profit international student program based around fly fishing, community immersion and conservation projects like mangrove restoration, the kick plastic campaign and eradicating invasive species among many others. Being an advocate for the outdoors is vital, and there's an abundance of organizations that have inspired me to attend climate rallies and participate in petitions that can have a direct impact on our public lands. Collectively, we can make a difference.

What was it like traveling to South America with Fly Lords? Where did you go? How was the fishing?

Traveling to South America on a Fly Lords project was the highlight of my year. I had the opportunity to travel to Argentina and target the elusive Golden Dorado on the fly. This is a dream for many anglers and I'm humbled I got to experience it. We stayed at a working gaucho ranch, rode horses, lived on wine & steak and spent the majority of the day casting big streamers on the Parana river. Following that trip, we continued our adventure in Chile. Pancho, guide & lodge owner of Chile Trout Patagonia, provided the ultimate Patagonia experience. The rugged mountains and wild landscapes provided the most surreal, untouched place I've ever visited. We spent an entire week sight fishing for big, wild brown trout. The experience is one that I dream of often and I can't wait to go back.

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