Women of the Water
Captain Sarah Garner is much more than a guide, she is a fly fishing extraordinaire and she is a valued member of our In-Shore fleet. Captain Sarah was so young when she started fishing, she says she can’t remember not fishing, it’s always been a part of her existence. She has fished the world over in her 20+ year career and has some amazing accolades to her credit, including being an ambassador for companies Sage, RIO Products, Patagonia, and Jones Brothers Marine. Captain Sarah takes her Jones Brothers boat and works the waters off North Carolina’s coast from north to south, settling down in Harker’s Island running charters in a typical Outer Banks off-season. When asked why she prefers coastal North Carolina, she replies, “I just love being here. The moderate climate allows for a long season and the variety of saltwater fish keeps the trip challenging and fun!” But, she doesn’t stop there. Captain Sarah hones her skills in a variety of waters from Baja, Mexico to Costa Rica to Guatemala. This summer, she experienced the thrill of long range bluewater flyfishing in Costa Rica and caught multiple billfish during that trip! Her days of IRONMAN training came in handy wrangling those epic catches!
Because Captain Sarah loves being outdoors and enjoys teaching, she realized being a guide was a natural combination to join those two passions. She started the process of getting her captain’s license in her early 30’s and she wouldn’t change a thing! She says, “I meet some great people and they become family. This has been an amazing 20+ year career! I’m not getting rich and it’s a physically demanding way to make a living, but it’s very rewarding. I love guiding in the “open” boat class, because we have a lot of latitude in where we can go. Sometimes, I’m back in the sound fishing around marshes. Other times, I’m in the ocean. Anglers get to cast in the open boats, which is a more active way to engage the anglers than trolling. Small boats and light tackle are also kid friendly and a half-day trip in the sound is an amazing way to introduce a youngster to fishing! I love working with kids and they’re always an exciting part of the trip!”
When asked how she felt knowing that she might be regarded as a role model for some of the younger female anglers, she replied, “It’s an honor to be considered a role model. I try to make my gals feel that being on the boat is totally normal for a gal. For many, it’s new and sometimes a scary situation, so helping them feel comfortable and safe enough to learn how to fish is a big deal. I also like to point out first mates Zoe Smith and Vivian McPherson to the gals on my boat. More positive role models!” She also says, “I’m really proud to be a co-instructor at multi-day women’s fly fishing schools, hosted by Black Fly Lodge in the Bahamas. These schools are really intensive so gals go home with great fly skills, love for a great sport and new fishing buddies.”
Captain Sarah recounts the many trips she’s had over the years and finds them all memorable. She says, “It’s never just about the catch. There’s a memory in every trip and having anglers who appreciate special non-fishing moments as much I do is a treat for me.” She also recounts those trips where she was able to guide an angler from struggling with the process to catching fish and she enjoys their reaction. “I love it when my anglers catch "the big one" and achieves their personal best."
Captain Sarah believes a sense of humor is a must for a guide, too, and she finds humor in everything, so she’s certainly a good fit for the job here at Oregon Inlet!