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Keith Westra

How you got started fly fishing? What were/are your strongest fly fishing Influences? What was your most memorable or first fly fishing experience?

In 1993 I started my freshman year at Humboldt State University in Arcata, CA. I noticed one of the guys in my dorm was wearing a fly fishing shirt and I asked, “Do you fly fish?” Of course he did, and I begged him to teach me. We ditched out a day of freshman orientation and he took me up to a little creek called Coffee Creek. Once I hooked my first small rainbow on a fly, I was hooked. My life long passion began.

Shortly after this experience I spent time learning to fly cast outside the dorm and even took a course in fly casting conducted by Bob Kelly, a professor at Humboldt State.

I hooked my first steelhead while fishing the Mad River Estuary. It was on a brand new 5 weight I received as a birthday gift. I was targeting smaller half pounder steelhead when I saw the flash of a larger adult and before I knew it my fly line was racing upstream. I landed that chrome 8 lb. buck on a size 12 Brown Hackle Peacock. It will always be the fish I’ll never forget.

What do you like to fish now? Explain How?

I love the fishing and variety that California has to offer. From stripers in the Delta, steelhead up north, high country goldens, to rainbows and browns a plenty.

If I’m not tromping around California I’m planning my next saltwater adventure. I truly love the salt and the tropics. Bonefish and Tarpon are my passion and life does not get much better than wading a flat for tailing bones. I’ve fished Christmas Island, Los Roques, the Bahamas, Belize, the Keys, and the Yucatan. Every year I strive to check off a saltwater destination off my list, I want to experience them all!

What is your fantasy trip? What do you see in the future?

I have a thing for Australia. I’d love to fish the Gulf of Carpentaria and spend a week (or more) aboard a Mother Ship and fish for the multiple saltwater species that abound there.

Also, I need to experience New Zealand and stalk those monster browns and hard fighting rainbows I keep drooling over. I’ve seen so many pictures and have heard a multitude of stories that I must experience first hand!

Gear. What is your next purchase and why?

I love fly reels! Currently I’m on the Hatch Pro-Staff and I’d have to say they are my favorite reels out there. I have every model but the 3 and 12 plus. I’m thinking of pimping out the 3 plus with a mid arbor in black with red accents. SWEET!

What’s your favorite San Francisco spot? Why?

I’m an East Bay guy so I don’t spend as much time exploring SF as I should. The Casting Ponds at Golden Gate Park are truly amazing and I do enjoy casting there (even though I don’t get out there as much as I’d like). Any place with good food and beer suits me just fine. Ultimately, I think it would just be hanging in the back at Leland playing pool, drinking cheap beer, and shooting the s@*t with the boys.

What music do you listen to when you hop in the truck and go fly fishing?

I love 80’s music, classic alternative, reggae, and blue grass. Anything where you can freestyle your own twist on the lyrics and make your buddy laugh as you head out fishing at 5 in the morning drinking crappy coffee and a few chocolate twists.

What’s your ultimate fly fishing travel rig? A lifted van? A Range Rover? An F-350? Why?

I love my truck (a Ford F-150 with a camper shell). Unfortunately, it’s only 2-wheel drive, next time 4 wheel for sure. I’ve got myself in a world of trouble before on the Truckee. Let’s just say some new tires and a trip to my buddy’s body shop was in order.

What do you do at Leland?

I’ve worn many hats at Leland throughout the last 10 years: Sales, Receiving, Buying, Inventory, Phone Orders, Side Walk Sweeper it seems the list is never ending.

Currently, I’m back at what I love and where my passion lies. I love working the floor and interacting face to face with my customers. Seeing people get excited about fishing and giving them solid advice and hearing there stories when they come back all really make my day. I take pride in the Leland Showroom and enjoy assisting customers via the phone and “Live Chat” as well.

Anything else we should know about you? School? Hometown? Other projects, interests, etc.?

I really enjoy shooting and then editing videos on my trips. My goal is to give the viewer the whole experience of what a particular destination has to offer: from the transportation, to the people, to the lodging, and of course, the fishing itself.

I graduated from Humboldt with a BA in Art with an emphasis on Graphic Design. I still do logo design for people and volunteer much of my time to the Fremont School District (where my wife works) in helping them with any graphic design needs.

I’m also a happily married man (sorry ladies) of almost 10 years to my Humboldt State sweetheart, Sherea. The two other sweethearts in my life are my daughter, Keira (4 years old) and my Yellow Lab, Tessa (7 years old).

I’m a California native and super proud of it! I grew up on a Dairy Farm in Ontario, CA…. Most people think of Southern California and think smog, traffic, the beach, LA and Hollywood. I lived in front of 1600 head of dairy cattle and fished our farm pond. It was a great way to grow up!

I have also been learning to play the banjo over the last year and a half and really enjoy it.

Recently, I have purchased a brand new Hoyt Bow and am hoping to get into pig and deer hunting.