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Meet our ambassadors - Chris Heiser

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Meet our ambassadors - Chris Heiser
Ambassador Chris Heiser has made a name for himself as an outstanding fly fishing photographer, both above the water and below. We sat down to ask him a few questions so you can get to know him better. 

1. How did you get introduced to the outdoors? Was there a particular moment when you realized 'This is the life for me?'?

When I was in grade school, my best friend and his family took me on a trip to a small lodge in northern Arizona. We fished almost the entire time, and I had such a blast fishing spinners for stocked rainbow trout in a nearby creek. I grew up in Phoenix with little exposure to woods and outdoors, so this trip to the forest created a lasting memory and I’ll remember it forever. I visited that same spot last year. 

2. What is it about fishing that you enjoy so much?

There’s a sort of “mindlessness” to fishing that I love. I have a tough time slowing down and relaxing sometimes. In normal life, I’m always thinking about things I need to get done, and it’s a constant stream of doing tasks. There’s certainly technical parts to fishing, but sometimes sitting on the bank or casting into the same spot for 15 minutes is my favorite time to think about absolutely nothing.

 3. Is there a particular style of fishing that you prefer? What is it and why? (More than just fly vs conventional)

My ideal fishing is on rivers. Bonus points for small meadow streams or medium sized rivers. I find dry fly fishing to be the most exciting, but more often than not I’ll end up nymphing since I’m more productive that way. 

4. If you could visit any destination to fish, where would it be? What is your dream species to pursue? 

If I could fish anywhere, I’d like to explore New Zealand. I’ve wanted to go there long before I started fly fishing, so fishing there would be a plus. My dream species is the Arctic Char. 

 

5. What are your dreams and goals when it comes to fishing? A grand slam? Catching a fish on a certain fly? 

My goal is to catch as many species as I can while visiting as many places as I can. I go through phases of which species is currently at the top of my list, and right now that is the Apache trout. I’m working on my Arizona Trout Challenge, and that’s the last species I need.   

6. You've become quite the master at not only fishing photography but also underwater photography. Tell us a little about your equipment, your process when it comes to shooting and maybe some advice for those looking to get started. 

Underwater photography is the best! Currently I use an A7R II with a 18mm lens inside a SeaFrogs housing with a dome port. The goal behind underwater photos is to protect locations, get better lighting and colors, and keep the fish wet for a safer release. There’s so many nuances and caveats to underwater shooting, but the important piece of the process is to have the camera settings set before a fish is caught. Getting the settings right takes time, especially when learning. I check settings throughout the day as the light or water changes. 
For anyone looking to get started in underwater photography, I’d recommend starting cheap and lightweight with an action camera or underwater phone case. Learn the basics, get a feel for it, and then move into better equipment as you deem fit. 

 

7. With many threats facing the outdoors, be it global warming, loss of habitat, mineral extraction etc, What worries you the most? Are you involved in any conservation groups or movements to oppose these things? 

From my own experience in places I fish, the things that worry me currently are warming waters and low water levels as a result of climate change. Climate change has a big worldwide destructive potential. But let’s get real, there’s a growing list of different issues all interconnected that need to be addressed. Single use plastics and a deficient recycling infrastructure, a garbage patch in the ocean, Red Tide becoming increasingly worse, overfishing oceans, and the unrelenting Pebble Mine. I’ve donated to some groups like Native Fish Society, Project Healing Waters, and donated photo prints to raise money for various causes.

8. If you could fish with any celebrity, alive or dead. Who would it be? 

A very tough choice, but I’d likely go with David Letterman. Maybe Vince Vaughn or Dave Chappelle.

9. What is your favorite piece of RepYourWater gear? 

I have a few favorites, but the Colorado Hunt, Fish, Camp and Spring Creek Brown Trout mug are some of the best!

10. Tell us a little more about yourself, where did you grow up, where do you live, any family information you'd like to share etc. 

I grew up in Phoenix, AZ and now live in Flagstaff, AZ. I lived in Bend, OR for a couple years and that’s where started getting heavier into fly fishing and fishing photography. I’ve been into photography since high school; mostly shooting landscapes. Every so often I’ll try to put my photos in local shops or sell some photo prints and stickers, but the true goal is for others to enjoy the photos as much as I enjoy taking them. I studied Computer Science at NAU and work as a Software Engineer. I live with my amazing wife, dog, and two cats. I’m fortunate to have many friends and family in my life that support me and keep life interesting.

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