Dave Brandt talks Minipi

Expert fly-tier and casting instructor Dave Brandt visits Coopers’ Minipi Lodges regularly. Dave sat down to speak with our media editor Mandy about his love of fly-fishing and his first ever trip to Minipi.

At what age did you begin fly-fishing, and what inspired you to begin the sport?

I was about 20-21. I had fished for trout anyway, with a spinning rod for quite a few years. A buddy and I had seen it, we just thought it was a wonderful way to go. It’s like watching someone ride a bicycle when you’re three and they’re 15, and you think ‘oh my god is that ever beautiful’ and you think you must have to really be something to do that, but little did we know how easy it was.

When did you begin working with the Wulff School of Fly-fishing?

This year was my 28th year.

What would you consider to be a milestone for you in your years working with the Wulff school?

That’s really tough to say. I occasionally think about what those years have meant to me, the whole darn thing is just wonderful to have had. One thing that surprised me, was that Joan was well aware of everything that went on.I mean, a lot of us that were there, Eddy or myself, or Tony, to hang around with Lee Wulff! To talk with, and bullshit with, and talk about fishing with whenever we had a moment when we weren’t on tap right then, right there. A lot of times we might rather escape from what Joan might want us doing when she in fact did it while we were off with Lee. I didn’t realize that she was well aware of all that *laughs* She was jokingly talking about it with someone a few years ago!

What do you enjoy most about teaching those eager to fly-fish?

I don’t know what I like most about it, but I do know that I like it. And thanks to Joan, really, I know that.

Is there any type of person in particular that are easier to teach than others? Like kids for example?

Kids are, and women are. Joan used to suggest that early on, and it wasn’t a joke or it wasn’t anything she was biased enough to say, I definitely understood that. Guys are just too macho. I used to hate it when a guy would bring his wife to the school and try to be with her to help her correct her and show her what he knew about it. This was a problem, we learned early on the separate the loved ones. The girls were more open. They were able to power through anything that was bugging them. Women understood from Joan it was a timing thing, and a speed thing, not a power-macho thing.

When was your first trip to Labrador? What were your thoughts on the area (including Minipi).

I believe it was 1981. I was disappointed for maybe half an hour. Not in anything that could have been done differently on this end! When I first read about the Minipi it was Lee Wulff’s articles, when I went back and re-read some of that, and I do that occasionally, I can see that there wasn’t any vast amount of missing or wrong information there. I had in my head something almost being like in the Beaverkill, being in this big river and wading a lot, and finding these wonderful brookies. The fact that I was going to be in a boat 90% of the time if I was hoping to catch the larger brookies vaguely disappointed me but not for long.
I was with Bernie Broomfield. Bernie was one of the ‘real’ guides. Bernie was great. We were at the outlet of Big Hairy, there was something like a large raindrop and I said to Bernie, “What’s that Bernie?” and what I meant was, was that a little fish or a big fish. So Bernie says, “That’s a fish sir, a brook trout.” And moments later I caught that trout and it was 5 or 6 pounds and all I could think was WOW. When you encounter 6-7-8 pound fish you’ll probably be in a boat, and that’s fine and dandy, that’s wonderful.

Do you have a favorite spot you like to fish on the Minipi Watershed?


Any advice for those hoping to pick up fly-fishing?

I probably should tell them to look at the Internet but I won’t. One of my gripes is how to separate the good stuff from the ‘crap.’ I can’t really advise that, there’s lots of help printed and otherwise out there. If it’s someone from the States, I’d say find the closest Trout Unlimited chapter. I know they have similar here in Canada too. I’d be surprised if they didn’t offer a beginners fly-fishing class. The biggest thing I would say is don’t just think about it, it’s going to be easy for you to find someone you know who fly-fishes, just do it. I tell people, it’s like typing or fixing a spinning reel or shifting an automobile if you’ve never done it. How would you know if you’ve never done it? Show me and then in 5 minutes I will know. Don’t let the casting thing confuse you, they think you must have to be an artist to do it but that’s just not true. It’s really a lot simpler than most people realize.