Tom Mahan

Spey Guru

Favorite Fish:  NorCal Wild Steelhead, Kvichak River Rainbows

Home Water:  Trinity River, CA – Smith River, CA

I was born and raised in Northern California about 2 hours away from where it all started. I grew up on a property with two ponds and a creek with world class Smallmouth Bass. As a youth, I was shipped to Alaska in the summer time to fish with my Aunt and Cousin. While there, I maximized my time by fishing dark to dark.  Between Alaska and my home property, Fishing has been the center of my world since I could walk. I was a multi-sport athlete my whole life; but fishing… fly fishing, was my jam.

There was a span of my life as an adult where I joined an elite crew of wildland firefighters known as HotShots. I also spent a season as an aerially-delivered fire fighter working out of a Super Huey helicopter for the Shasta Trinity Fly Crew out Lewiston, CA.

I would fight fires all summer/fall and guide people onto Steelhead in the winter/spring. It was because of fighting fire I became a full time guide. I can remember in the gnarliest of conditions when things got intense, I would just think of chasing down Steelhead on the Trinity river and it took me to my happy place. Fly Fishing… and its there where I solidified what I was going to do for the rest of my life.

when I realized that there was opportunity to guide full time in Alaska in the summer and not get beat up by fires, I resigned from my adult career and followed my heart. Since then, I have guided kings (on the swing) on the Alaska Peninsula and currently guide for the baddest Rainbow Trout in the world on the Kvichak River in Alaska. I am the Owner of Swingwater Fly Fishing based out of Northern California where we specialize on the Trinity River and Norcal coastal rivers for Steelhead. Trout, Bass and Carp are on the menu as well.

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