Behind the scenes of On the Rise: bears, peacock bass and a ton of trout

The new season of Trout Unlimited’s television show, On the Rise, is now airing on the Sportman Channel. I had the chance to chat with the host of the show, Jed Fiebelkorn, about this season’s show and whether he really did wear in hula skirt while filming an episode in Hawaii.

What are some of the memorable moments from this season’s 13 episodes?

Jed:  This season is loaded with so many awesome memories for me. I had the opportunity to see so many new places, meet all kinds of super interesting people, and best of all, fish new water and for species of fish I had yet to land on a fly rod.

It’s really hard to narrow it down, but if I had to pick just a couple moments I would say the chance to go to the Hawaiian island of Kauai and experience the island’s amazing diversity is high on the list.  Also, my Alaska trip was incredible! I had never had the chance to fish for silver salmon prior to the trip and it was very high on my list of species to check off. They are such an explosive fish and the locations we were fishing for them were extraordinary!

Lastly, I am already scheming about getting back to Silver Creek in Idaho. I had a couple run-ins with some bruisers there that got the better of me and I want another crack at them! Although in hurts to say, I think people will enjoy watching me get schooled.

The first episode takes us to Alaska’s Tongass National Forest. Besides the extensive rains that you encountered, what was remarkable about the Tongass episode?

Jed: It’s hard to describe the vastness of the Tongass. We flew around in float planes for a few days and still didn’t even scratch the surface of the region. It is still so wild.  Fishing remote streams rarely visited by other humans and running into giant brown bears that may have never seen a human before was a remarkable experience. It definitely got my attention when our guide warned us that the bears in the Tongass are not like those in Katmai National Park, a place where bears are more conditioned to humans. The bears in the Tongass are a little less predictable.  And yes, we ran into plenty of bears! Being able to spend some time in the Tongass also allowed me to really see the how all life there revolves around salmon.

How many rods do you bring with you on a film shoot?

Jed:  Too many!  I usually bring a ton and wind up only using one or two. But I guess it’s always better to be over prepared, right? Honestly, on most trips, depending on the circumstances, I bring between three and seven rods.

This season, we move a bit beyond the usual offering of trout and salmon. What other species can viewers expect to see on-camera?

Jed:  Although I love fishing for trout and salmon, it is always fun to fish for new fish species with a fly rod, and while we were in Hawaii we had the opportunity to get out and fish for peacock bass.  They are voracious predators and the top water takes are savage! Definitely one of the best fish I’ve targeted with a fly rod and I’d recommend fishing for them to anyone who has the chance.  We were also hoping to get out and do some bonefishing while on Kauai, but one of the major rivers blew out the day before we were going to go and it spilled all kinds of muddy water out on the only flat on the island.  We were bummed because Kauai is known to have some beastly bonefish.

Will we get to see you in a hula skirt? And are there really trout in Hawaii?

Jed:  No hula skirt, but I was planning on sporting a thong while wading the flats for bonefish if we would have got the chance… I’ll do anything for ratings. Oh well, there is always next season.

As for trout in Hawaii, I’m not going to spoil the surprise just yet – you will have to watch to find out.  What I can tell you for sure is that I did indeed confirm that there is a Trout Unlimited chapter alive and well on the island of Kauai.

Where was your favorite fishing spot this season?

Jed:  This is like trying to pick a favorite child, but if I had to pick just one, it would be this spot where we fished silvers in Alaska. The whole thing was just so cool. There was a little brackish creek that emptied into a little pond that spilled out into the ocean. The cohos would stage near the mouth of the creek. When you hooked one in there, it would go screaming across the pond and then back at you a second later. One minute it was this peaceful serene little pond, and the next minute all hell was breaking loose! Pretty awesome!

When you’re not traveling to the best trout and salmon fishing spots in the U.S. for TU’s On the Rise, you’re a Montana fishing guide. What’s hatching right now?

Jed:  Things are just getting cranked up here in western Montana!  The Bitterroot River is becoming famous for its early season dry fly fishing. Along with a smorgasbord of early season mayfly hatches there is the famous skwala stonefly hatch. The ability to fish a size 8 dry fly in late March and April brings a lot of people to the area.


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