Q & A With Alaska Guide & Author Cecilia "Pudge" Kleinkauf
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One of the newest contributors to My Alaskan Fishing Trip is Cecilia "Pudge" Kleinkauf and we recently asked her a few questions to help you get to know her better. We look forward to sharing Pudge's fly fishing experience with you as she is Alaska's leading woman fly fishing instructor, fly tyer, and guide. Her extensive resume includes being the owner of Women's Flyfishing®, a Trout Unlimited Endorsed business, which provides fly fishing schools and small group guided trips focused on female anglers. Additionally, Pudge is the author of five books on fly fishing in Alaska - portions of which will be featured on this site along with her answers to your questions from our "Ask the Pro's" series.
How did you get the nickname "Pudge"?
I was a very chunky baby and my dad called me "pudgy". Turns out I was anemic and after medical treatment I got regular baby sized but the nickname stuck.
How did you get started fishing and fly-fishing?
Started after my son got started and was always going teach me but never did. Found a guide with a beginner class and he got me started.
How long have you lived in Alaska and what brought you there?
Four years. My ex-husband came up for a job.
Where do you live and how do you spend your time during the off-season?
Live in Anchorage. When not fishing I write and do the essential things for my business-Women's Fly Fishing-like renewing permits, promote my business, marketing, booking, etc. I also teach fly-tying classes and volunteer with the Alaska Fly Fishing Club on the auction committee.
What do you like to do outside of fishing and writing?
See answer to the above question.
How did you get started as a guide and organizing/running fishing trips?
I got started as an instructor and guide 30 years ago (this year) after women who saw me fly-fishing asked me to teach them.
Who taught you the most as it relates to fishing?
A fly fisher named Bob Neal taught me all the fundamentals of the sport and mentored me in the beginning. I always rely on what he called the "fundamentals"Commercial leaders, strike indicators, etc. were not for Bob and now they aren't for me.
What women were influential in your interest and approach to fishing?
Hardly any. 35 years ago there weren't many (if any) women in the sport who were influential for me because there weren't any. It was definitely a male dominated sport.
Do you have any favorite areas or bodies of water in Alaska?
The lovely Niukluk River near Nome is my favorite Grayling river. I am the author of the one and only book written on Arctic Grayling. I am also smitten by the Wulik River near Kivalina because of the huge Dolly Varden Char that spawn there.
Do you cook on your trips? If so, do you have a favorite recipe?
No, not anymore except for the Adventure Denali float tube tip. I make a really great spaghetti sauce and then we have chicken and hamburgers. Not very different.
Do any trips and/or catches stand out as being a favorite or least favorite? This could be a memorable catch or just the favorite floats/trips in Alaska that you look forward to every year.
The Situk River in Alaska is a great Steelhead River. I caught a 46-inch Steelhead there in 2003 and then a 43-inch in 2016. I miss the rafting I used to do with friends on rivers like the Goodnews and the Togiak.
Do you get many solo women on your trips or are they mostly groups?
I get a lot of solo women once I reassure them that one of our main objectives for the trips are to keep them safe and also that there will be other solo women on the trip besides themselves.
Have you noticed the environment of Alaska changing since you've been fishing there?
Yes. As Tourism increases there are more and more people on the rivers. There are more and more lodges with more and more planes that jockey for choice spots on lots of rivers.
How did you get started writing?
I got started writing by writing about the trips I was taking women on and people began to suggest that I put the stories in a book. The result was "Fly Fishing Women Explore Alaska" which won the silver medal in the Benjamin Franklin awards in 2004.
Do you write anything other than fishing related books?
Do you have any books in progress?
Yes, but not quite ready to let everyone know about it.