About Us

Together we (Alan Youell and Cheryl Forner) bring a unique set of experiences and professionalism to our partnership in On The Water Fly Fishing Travel. In the 1990’s Cheryl spent the decade working as a travel consultant with various full service travel companies in Western Canada. During the same period Alan worked in the sporting goods retail industry as a store and district manager as well as a buyer. He also spent time working at one of Calgary, Alberta’s premiere fly shops, working in sales in the shop, guiding part-time on the Bow River and tying commercial and custom flies for sale. Both of us acquired strong business skills and exemplary customer service values and expectations during this period.

In the late 1990s, we both found ourselves looking for new challenges and adventures and ended up at the University of Calgary in the Archaeology Department working on undergraduate degrees. It was there that our individual stories joined to become one. In 2003 we both began our Master of Arts degree studies in the Archaeology Department at the University of Saskatchewan. By 2005, degrees in hand, both of us embarked on careers as consulting archaeologists. Our work took us across Alberta and Saskatchewan and, for Alan, across Canada’s northern and arctic regions. Through a series of twists and turns that also found Cheryl exploring her passions in Anthropology she began working with Aboriginal Communities in Canada recording traditional knowledge and managing environmental services Aboriginal partnership companies. In the meantime, Alan moved into the related field of project management and planning in environmental services.

Throughout we have supported each other with our individual and common goals. Working hard and playing just as hard; taking every opportunity that we can to find ourselves out On The Water, rod in hand. We have both been fishing since early childhood. Alan started exploring his fly fishing passion in 1986 and introduced Cheryl to the sport in 2000.

At On The Water Fly Fishing, we combine the skills that we each have acquired along the way, including experience in the travel industry, experience in the fly fishing industry, project and company management, experience tailoring travel to individual needs, a passion for fly fishing and exploring our world – local and distant, along with training and experience in the cultural sciences that we apply to understanding local cultures and different ways of doing business. Together, we bring to On the Water Fly Fishing a unique perspective on fly fishing travel, individually customized packages, hosted trip travel, couples travel, group travel, corporate trips and we have personal experience travelling to remote and out of the way locations.

Please, give us a call or send us an email so that we can start helping you to embark on your own fly fishing adventures and realize your dreams On The Water.

The Story of Pesca

In 2011 we embarked on a trip to the Isle of Youth (also known as Isla de la Juventud or Isla de Pinos), Cuba to chase giant tarpon with a fly. We planned to arrive at our destination several days early so we could explore the local culture and cuisine (Stone crabs are yummy!). As we are both formally educated archaeologists we were especially excited to get the opportunity to explore one of only a few recorded pre-Columbian rock art sites in the Caribbean. While little is known of the pre-Columbian history of the island, a cave complex in the Punta del Este Ecological Reserve preserves over 200 ancient cave drawings (pictographs) made by the archaic Guanahatebey people.

The Guanahatebeyes settled along the western coast of the Island of Cuba and on the Island of Youth. They were hunter-gathers and their main subsistence activities were platform fishing and coastal food collecting. They developed techniques to make instruments out of marine shells and preferred to live under the open sky and in caves; they made no free standing dwellings.

After securing the proper Reserve entrance permits we travelled with a local driver, a guide, the guide’s girlfriend and one of the bartenders from the fishing lodge out to Punta del Esta with enough lunch and rum for everyone packed into the back of a van. This is when we learned that very few people undertake the trek to Punta del Esta and since we had an access permit for the day we became an expedition! After many miles of rough road in a van that eventually caught on fire, and several tense moments during an inspection at a military checkpoint we finally arrived at the Reserve. In awe, we were shown hundreds of works of ancient art covering the ceiling and walls of the large main cavern. Once we had attempted to view every inch of this location our guide informed us that he would take us to a smaller and not often viewed cave located nearby. Ducking low we entered this cramped space to find that it only contained two pictographs and an ancient conch shell. It was here in the darkened space of this Cuban cave that we first laid eyes on Pesca a hand painted work of art that may be as old as 4500 BCE (Before Common Era).

The ancient artist who painted Pesca was obviously a fisherman and we felt very honoured to be in his house, photographing his masterpiece, especially after so many years had passed since it was originally applied to the rock wall with an ochre covered thumb.

When it came time to design a logo for On The Water Fly Fishing Travel we turned to our photographs from this adventure and with the help of some friends created our logo, which we have named Pesca (Spanish for Fish). For us Pesca embodies the sense of adventure and exploration that has taken us around the world exploring our passions for fly fishing and culture, both in the past and into the future.

On your next hosted trip with us be sure to ask us to tell you the rest of the story. We can give you all the details about the van fire, the search at the military checkpoint, push starting the van and the cave bats. We will also let you try and guess the ratio of rum to food that had been packed for us and our new friends!


The Main Cave


Pesca - The drawing that inspired our logo

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