Angling host not out to be one of the guys

SUNDAY, JAN. 30, 2011

Trout TV host Hilary Hutcheson of Columbia Falls, Mont., casts while filming an episode on the North Platte River in Wyoming.
Trout TV host Hilary Hutcheson of Columbia Falls, Mont., casts while filming an episode on the North Platte River in Wyoming.

Hilary Hutcheson brings a fresh face with no baggage to regional outdoor TV programming.

“I don’t even watch a lot of fishing shows because I’d rather be out doing things,” said the co-host for a new regional fly-fishing show called Trout TV.

“This is absolutely my dream job away from my other job. I really love to fish, and I love rivers and meeting other people who know their stuff. Most of all, I love learning from them.”

At 33, Hutcheson’s résumé includes whitewater rafting guide for Glacier Raft Company, a job she started as a high schooler growing up in Columbia Falls, Mont. She advanced to fly-fishing guide.

After getting a broadcast degree at the University of Montana, she worked eight years as a television reporter and anchor in Missoula and Portland before returning to Columbia Falls to start a public relations company called Outside Media.

“Hilary is exceptional,” said Bob Asbury, Trout TV producer who lives in Liberty Lake. “She’s an excellent fly fisher and she also can deliver lines on camera. That’s a rare find.”

“I don’t think of myself as being young or being a woman in this role,” Hutcheson said. “I focus on the passion and fun of fly fishing and getting out on the river.”

In one episode, Hutcheson fishes for cutthroat trout on the Elk River with British Columbia guide Becky Clark.

“This wasn’t about two women in a boat,” she said. “It was two people who were having a blast fishing and forgetting everything else while they’re on the river. I’m sure things will have to be edited out of that one.”

While fly fishing is a male-driven industry, Hutcheson said, she doesn’t set out to prove she can do everything men can do.

“Getting more women into fishing is more about getting them out and letting them fall in love with being on the water,” she said. “The next thing they know, they’re good at it.”

Hutcheson said she makes a point of avoiding top-of-the-line equipment. “We use affordable rods and gear that gets the job done,” she said. “I’ve been fishing all my life and I’m still a hack and I always will be. I go into every trip excited to learn something new.”

The term “hack’ is an exaggeration, but it helps her make a point.

“A lot of people are intimidated to go into a fly shop and ask the right questions,” she said. “That’s not a good bridge into the sport.”

While she has fished from the wilderness waters of the Flathead’s South Fork to the Patagonia region of Argentina, she said her role on Trout TV already has opened her eyes to the fishing within a day or two from home.

“I’ve had multiple 100-fish days on mountain trout, but our trip to the North Platte in Wyoming blew me away with big, big rainbows. I probably caught 25 fish in a half a day on a Red Rock Worm and all of the trout were 20-25 inches.

“The fishing was so good, we split it up and made two episodes,” Asbury confirmed.

“I fish an aught-weight rod in alpine streams, but the guide on the North Platte wouldn’t let us fish out of his boat with anything lighter than a six-weight. It was sensational.”

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