One of our favorite parts of Fly Fishing is the wonderful community that has grown up around the sport, and the angling community in Aspen’s Roaring Fork Valley is no exception! We are planning a series of articles highlighting our local mix of anglers — each representing a different cross-section of our amazing valley. With the X Games wrapping up, and the 2022 Winter Olympics on the horizon, we caught up with former competitor and hometown hero Jordie Karlinski! Jordie is a retired pro snowboarder, successful entrepreneur, Snowmass local and avid angler!
Jordie Karlinski started snowboarding through the Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club when she was seven years old. She made her professional boardercross debut in the 2005 X games at just 15 years old. After competing in the X Games, Gravity Cup, World Games and many others, Jordie got noticed by the US National team and, “transitioned out of boardercross to focus solely on slopestyle,” competing for the US slopestyle team from “2011 when it first started until 2014 when I essentially ended my professional snowboarding career.” We talked about her athletic career, the X Games, mindfulness and of course Fly Fishing!
Aspen Outfitting Company: “What was it like to compete in the X Games as someone who grew up in the Valley?”
Jordie Karlinski: “It was really special! I remember a bunch of my friends and classmates were able to take the day off to watch me compete which was really cool! There was a ton of support from the community and around school from friends and classmates which was a really special thing. Just having the hometown energy and even the comfort of staying at my own house made me have a different comfort level and ease going into it.”
AOC: “But weren’t you nervous?”
JK: “It’s definitely a nerve wracking event! It’s on one of the biggest stages besides the Olympics, and it’s an event that most snowboarders early on would value over the Olympics because there’s a ton of credibility that comes with the X games. So there’s a TON of pressure! I do think just being in my hometown eased that pressure a little bit, and knowing that I had a ton of support was amazing. The hometown energy helped balance the nerves, and made a more relaxing environment for me.”
AOC: “What are you most excited about for this year’s X Games?”
JK: “I’m so excited to watch Hanna and Alex compete – I love supporting hometown athletes! I’m especially excited for Hanna this year for getting the invite as such a young competitor!
After retiring from professional snowboarding, Jordie started her own business focused on mindfulness coaching for athletes. She wanted to help athletes overcome challenges on and off the slopes, and focused particularly on the struggles of transitioning into retirement.
AOC: “What motivated you to work with other athletes?”
JK: “The transition for me personally, and I know for many others, from being a professional athlete to finding another career is actually very challenging. I felt that there was a need for more athlete support, and I gravitated towards mindfulness because that present moment awareness, and process of getting to know yourself better on a deeper level had really helped me through the transition. I’m a big proponent of mindfulness to help ease stress and ease all of those thoughts about the future, so I went the mindfulness coaching route and really enjoyed it.”
Though she has started a new career in real estate now, mindfulness still plays a huge role in Jordie’s life and the way that she fishes!
AOC: “You’ve moved on to a new career. Do you still use mindfulness practices?”
JK: “These are practices that I personally use everyday that are really helpful. That’s why I like fly fishing so much, because it brings you into that present moment where you’re kind of focused and relaxed at the same time.”
AOC: “Tell me more about why mindfulness and Fly Fishing go hand and hand!”
JK: “The river in itself is a very therapeutic place for me… especially when I’m a little stressed out. I know some people might think of tangles or not catching a fish, and that all could be very frustrating. But for me, if my line gets tangled or whatever it is, over the years I’ve learned to actually enjoy those moments. I feel like they are opportunities to learn patience, and to realize it’s not always about catching 25 fish. It’s just about being there and being able to do it, being outside.”
Jordie was introduced to fly fishing about eight years ago while she was still competing professionally, but she said, “it wasn’t something that I was doing on my own all of the time. I definitely needed some help and I was just going out when I could. When I retired it still took me probably a couple of years to really get into it.”
AOC: “How did your relationship to Fly Fishing change after retirement from snowboarding?”
JK: “Fishing has opened my eyes up to what else is out there in terms of recreation in the valley. I’ve been snowboarding for a really long time so for me it’s nice to have another hobby that I’m really passionate about and so i’d say they both have their place in my life now.”
From her background as a professional athlete, you can tell that Jordie is a really competitive person, but she told us that taking a step back from that mentality can be really rewarding and helpful.
JK: “Most of my life I’ve been doing “extreme sports” and even in the valley, everything is so next level: how fast can you skin Tiehack!? How fast can you skin AJAX!?. There’s so much competition within our community, and especially in the extreme sports and the disciplines I did. I find that doing a complete 180 with something that is so chill and zen is amazing, and I gravitate towards Fly Fishing when I’m feeling stressed out.”
Though it might be a “180,” it’s clear that Jordie hasn’t lost her competitive edge.
AOC: “What challenges does Fly Fishing present to you? As a competitive person, how do you approach those obstacles?”
JK: “Fly Fishing is a really hard sport to learn, and getting into it can be very frustrating. For me there’s almost a challenge in that, I really like the persistence it requires, and when you’re rewarded it’s great! When you put on the right bug for the first time and say, ‘Oh my god, it worked!’ Or then you catch two fish, and say ‘hey that’s better than last time!’ The small wins in fly fishing are huge for me, and that’s what keeps me coming back. If I go out one day and I get totally skunked I need to think ‘Ok, what can I do better?’ And I really love the challenge of it!”
Though snowboarding and Fly Fishing are very different in many ways, Jordie offered insight into the mindful state that both put you in.
JK: “I do think they both offer almost a slow state of things, that really present moment to me they both share that similarity.”
For many people that get into fly fishing, it’s a gradual process! There is a lot to learn and it doesn’t always come easily, but persistence pays off and it all clicks! We wanted to know if there was a moment when Fly Fishing really became important to Jordie, and she told us that like many people, the pandemic catalyzed a change in her life.
AOC: “What made Fly Fishing click for you?”
JK: “Honestly the biggest breakthrough for me was in the spring of 2020 when things were shut down, I always loved it but for some reason there was a turning point for me where I became almost obsessed with it. For the last 2 years or year and a half I really crave going out on the river!”
AOC: “What advice do you have for people that are looking to have that ‘breakthrough moment’ with fly fishing? What resources helped you build confidence?”
JK: “For me, learning the hatches and being a student of what bugs live in our rivers and when they hatch made a huge difference. I think really learning that helped a ton, but finding charts online, reading fishing reports and trying to get in tune with local knowledge was a huge help. I go into guide shops and ask what’s working and what’s not. I’m not afraid of that by any means.”
We loved that answer, because Aspen Outfitting Company shops are known for being approachable and knowledgeable — and we’re always here to help! Finally, we had to know what Jordie’s favorite way to fish is…
AOC: “If you could go out and absolutely slay fish on the Roaring Fork; at any time of year, with any fly — how would you want to slay?”
JK: “Oh man! Early on when I was a beginner, I really liked the visual aspect of streamers and dry flies — and watching fish eat your flies is still so fun! My ideal day on the river is crushing fish during a huge Green Drake lightning round! It doesn’t get any better than that, and I would do it all of the time if I could. The bigger the dry fly the better!”
THANK YOU JORDIE, we had a ton of fun talking to you, and hearing your amazing story!
We hope that this interview gets you excited about all that our community has to offer and shows that each of us has a unique relationship and perspective when it comes to fishing, being on the mountain and self discovery.
Thanks for tuning in, we’ll see you out on the river!
Written by Cian McGillicuddy, Photos by Jordi Karlinski