Off The Board: Silas Baxter-Neal

Cast it, reel it in. Skating must be a lot like fishing for Silas. At least it looks that way—simple, relaxing. That’s because he’s had practice.

Directed & Edited by Suziie Wang. Words and marquee photo by Dave Chami. For more Off The Board videos click here.

Music: Songs, B to B
Boulder Hoppin’ And Brush Poppin’
I grew up in Eugene, Oregon, surrounded by rivers and mountains. My dad would take me out hiking and fishing, and we would just park our car and hop from rock to rock and smash through the brush fishing along the way. Hopefully, we’d catch some fish and then hike back to the car doing the same thing. That’s still how I like to fish today—hiking around and trying to find spots where fish might be rather than just choosing one spot and hoping the fish will come to you.

Reel ’Em In
I practice a couple of methods of fishing: spinner fishing and fly fishing. The main difference being the rod and reel you use. For spinner fishing you use a casting reel that has an arm that locks over the line keeping it from pulling out, whereas with fly fishing you use an open reel and control how much line you let in and out by hand. Also, when spinner fishing, you use a sinking lure that looks like a small fish, but with fly fishing you use a floating fly on the end of your line that looks like a bug. Spinner fishing is a little easier to master, but I do like the challenge of fly fishing because there’s a lot more technique involved.

Release Or Eat
If I’m fishing in a nice clean river, I’m definitely fishing to catch and eat. If I catch a fish that’s undersized, I’ll release it, or if I’ve already caught a couple, I’ll release whatever I’m not going to eat. If I don’t really know the area or how clean the water is, then I’ll catch and release too. That’s the reward of fishing, fish all day and hopefully catch something, then go home and have a nice dinner.

Googly Pet
I was fishing one time in Chicago and a guy near me caught a huge goldfish, it was one of those ones with the big googly eyes. Someone had obviously gotten tired of it as a pet and had released it into the river and it had gotten really big, it was pretty funny.

Fishing Tour
On skate trips there generally isn’t time to fish and you’re often in cities away from good fishing spots. For the past couple of years, Habitat has done these really loose camping trips where we just camp everywhere and do a couple demos. Last year I got a chance to do some fishing out near Mt. Hood in Oregon and caught a few rainbow trout that I cooked for everybody.

Getting Started
You need to find a good river, bait and tackle shops will get you set up though people are often protective of their best fishing spots. A huge part of fishing is just exploring the rivers, walking up and down and finding good holes. A lot of times you don’t catch anything, so it’s important to just enjoy being out in nature. You eventually figure out where the fish are and what equipment to use at certain times of the year. For me it’s a really great way to start the day, get up early and fish, hang out in nature, then still have a full day to go skate.