The dream is in the drift: Cast Hope brings the Fly Fishing Film Tour back to Nevada City |

The dream is in the drift: Cast Hope brings the Fly Fishing Film Tour back to Nevada City

Cast Hope guide Chuck Ragan celebrates a catch by one of the kids participating in the program.
Photo by RA Beattie


WHAT: The Fly Fishing Film Tour 2019 WHERE: Nevada Theatre, 401 Broad Street, Nevada City WHEN: Saturday, April 6, Ddoors at 6 p.m., show at 7 p.m. sharp INFO: or

AFTER PARTY WHERE: Coopers Ale Works, 235 Commercial Street, Nevada City WHEN: Saturday, April 6, doors at 9 p.m., show at 10 p.m. INFO:

Hogan Brown is an only child. Growing up in Penn Valley, his parents owned 20 spacious acres which he would explore and roam on his own, often trekking down to the Yuba River to teach himself how to fly fish.

Through the years his interest in fishing would wax and wane, until he found himself working in a local fly fishing store, and after a time was offered a guiding position. For a teenage boy with few interests other than being on the water, it was a dream come true.

“When I graduated high school, the owner (of the angler shop) asked if I wanted to guide, and I said yeah,” Brown said. “So I got a guide license and started guiding. Eventually I moved to Chico to finish school. I have guided out of Chico ever since and guided full time until I was about 31, then I started teaching high school. Now I work for Cast Hope and I guide about 100 days a year.”

Cast Hope is the nonprofit organization Brown started with his good buddy Ryan Johnson which provides kids with the opportunity to explore the great outdoors, from hiking to camping, with their emphasis placed on fly fishing. The mission in Cast Hope isn’t simply to share their love of the sport; they want to make a lasting impact not only on the kids but on the Earth and its resources.

“We started by taking one or two kids fishing per month on our own,” Brown explained. “We took a day off a month and thought, ‘we’ll take this kid from this youth group’ and take them out fishing. Kids spend more time staring at a screen than they do looking out in front of them. We knew that fly fishing was a way we could share the outdoors with kids and get them outdoors.”

Brown and his colleagues are the first to acknowledge that their idea isn’t exactly original; they know there are other organizations that do what they set out to do. However, Cast Hope’s approach is different in several ways.

“There’s a lot of organizations that take kids out one time,” said Brown. “The issues we saw in modern culture are not addressed by one-time experiences. You don’t go fishing one time and think, ‘oh, that’s awesome, I want to do this.’

“There are huge economic hurdles, informational hurdles, so out of the gate we (knew) we’d have to walk people along this. This is not going to be McDonald’s with 25 billion served. We looked at pairing up with kids and mentors.”

As such, Cast Hope works with organizations that match youth with adult mentors. That way, the child already has a bud (at least) of a relationship with his or her mentor before they hit the water. Both kid and adult go along on the trips, enjoying special time together that, according to Brown, will hopefully turn the child on to nature and all of her glory.

Brown said: “We looked at it and realized simple things like, if kids don’t value the outdoors they won’t recycle. It wouldn’t mean anything to them. People are selfish. They’ll protect what they care about or derive pleasure from. Ryan and I are strong believers that you either complain about something and do something about it, or you don’t get to complain.”

Rather than settle for anything less, Cast Hope seeks some of the top fishing guides to lead their ventures, a move which may not be frugal but provides the youth with the most stellar experience possible.

“It’s somewhat counter-intuitive to some people but when we’re putting our kids and mentors in a boat with a fishing guide 12 to 20 times a year, the fishing guide becomes a mentor to the kids too,” Brown explained. “If you want the best fishing guides they are not going to give you 20 days for free.

“We book 30 guides some 500 days a year. No one is donating that. These guys have families to feed and we want the best. We want the cream of the crop, the best examples and the best human beings.”

Brown admits that part of what compelled him and Johnson to launch Cast Hope was that no matter which fishing function they attended, they rarely saw people their own age.

“When we started in the fly fishing industry, we were the youngest kids in any room. We were the youngest guys at the fly shows, the youngest guides at the boat ramp. We sat down when we were 27, 28, about to get out of grad school and we were like, we are still the youngest people in the room and we’ve been doing this a decade. That’s a real problem.”

The future of fishing and thusly conservation, they realized, was suddenly in jeopardy of dying out with each passing generation.


Like any other nonprofit, Cast Hope needs money to thrive. The Fly Fishing Film Tour, presented by Costa sunglasses, boasts fishing and outdoor films by professional filmmakers, and Brown is proud of its reputation for excellence.

The Fly Fishing Film Tour will take over the Nevada Theatre this Saturday, with all proceeds going to Cast Hope, save for the costs of the film tour and the venue.

“It’s a fairly well-rounded film tour in the sense that it’s not just two hours of rock music and fish jumping all over the screen,” said Brown with a laugh.

Aside from fishing, Brown will incorporate one of his other interests into the event: a longtime musician, Brown’s band Royal Oaks will perform at the film tour’s after party at Coopers Ale Works immediately following the screening.

Joining him will be Chuck Ragan, who is a Cast Hope guide as well as a formidable musician in his own right. Ragan has found success as a solo artist as well as with his band Hot Water Music, who this year celebrate their 25th anniversary.

Wolf Creek Boys and Hannah Jane Kile round up the after party line-up.

Ragan heads up the Nevada County chapter of Cast Hope, the only town or area to have its own flagship in the organization. Brown said he wanted his home town to especially benefit from what Cast Hope provides.

“The event is awesome,” said Brown of the Fly Fishing Film Tour. “I hope people will come out and get exposed to what is a big part of the historic culture of the area. There’s a lot of us in the fly fishing industry who came out of that little town. I would really hope people learn more about the opportunities that we are trying to provide for the youth of Nevada County.”

“Just making people aware that we are there, we are servicing the community,” he continued. “The event goes directly into that community because that’s where I come from. I want kids to have the same opportunities that I have.”

Jennifer Nobles is the features editor for The Union. She can be reached at or 530-477-4231. Andrew Murdoch contributed to this story.

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