Who introduced you to fly fishing?
I was introduced to fly fishing by my parents. Since 1982, they have been running and operating a trout camp on the upper Nushagak River in Alaska. That was where I fell in love with the sport.
Can you tell us a little about your home waters and the fish you pursue there?
I guess you could say I have two home rivers. One in Montana and one in Alaska. During the summer months, I would travel with my parents to Alaska where they ran their trout camp on the Nushagak. The "Nush" as we call it, is a wonderful, peaceful and rich tributary of the Bristol Bay watershed. It was and still is, full of grayling, dolly varden, leopard rainbow trout and of course, several species of pacific salmon. During the winter months, we lived in Montana on the banks of the Big Horn river. The Big Horn is a world renowned fishery that boasts incredible numbers of browns and rainbow trout. It's a river I spent a lot of time around and only encouraged my fascination with fish.
What's the height of the season for you? What time of year is your personal favorite?
While I no longer guide full time, summer is definitely still the height of the season for me. I manage the Alaska and Christmas Island programs for Yellow Dog Flyfishing Adventures in Bozeman, Montana so I'm constantly busy coordinating and hosting trips. The summer months are the prime season for Alaska so if I'm not in the office working on outgoing trips, I'm very likely in Alaska myself doing visitations or hosting groups. I think it's safe to say that summer is my favorite time of the year. Christmas Island is a year-round fishery so no matter the season, I'm always talking about fishing and potentially even traveling.
What are your favorite travel destinations? What's on the bucket list?
Tough question! I really love Kamchatka so for a freshwater destination, I think that takes the cake. I'm a real sucker for wilderness and untouched places and Kamchatka is all of that and then some. Always look forward to going back there! I also really love the Seychelles. That's another one of those far out and wild places so naturally, I really enjoy it. Plus all the weird and crazy looking species really fascinate me. As for the bucket list, I think it's too long to write everything out but some of my top destinations are Africa for tigers, Bolivia for Golden Dorado, Tierra Del Fuego for huge sea run browns and India for Masheer.
What you like most about Thomas and Thomas rods? Which rods do you fish?
T & T rods are built for the aggressive angler who uses rods as a tool. They're made to be used and abused by both the angler and the fish which is what the hardcore angler needs. I used the Exocett 12wt in Guyana last month targeting Arapaima and got raw introduction to handling fish that reach sizes in excess of 6 feet. I was impressed with how well these rods stood up against not only those behemoths, but the elements as well.
What's your current go-to fly?
When all else fails, go with a Dahlia Lama. I'm convinced it'll work in both fresh and saltwater.
Other than fly tackle, what piece of gear do you find indispensable?
The GoalZero Nomad Solar Panels. These babies are incredible and a great way to recharge cameras, phones, headlamps etc. while off the grid.
My favorite thing about guiding is:
Sharing and experiencing nature with others and getting to know people on a more personal level are all reasons why I love guiding and taking people on trips. I love meeting new people and sharing what I love with them. There are few more satisfying moments than watching someone fall in love with fly fishing, experience a new destination or catch a fish of a lifetime. Truthfully, I enjoy watching people catch fish more than catching them myself.
From the angler’s point of view, what do you see as the main value of going on a guided trip?
Going on a guided trip is a major advantage and that goes for both a river trip or an angling destination trip. Having someone there that has fished those waters and knows the finite details of the river or destination is almost priceless. They're there to answer any questions you may have, help with gear, casting, travel, fishing technique, get you into fish and to be a wealth of information for you. There is a huge value in having a guide or host - especially if you're going somewhere new or exotic!
What can new fisherman expect to get out of a guided trip? My favorite thing to teach a client is ...
I love being able to help anglers improve their cast or fishing technique. One of the most prominent things I hear from anglers on trips is how frustrated they are with their cast, line management or fish fighting abilities. Being able to help them with that is incredibly rewarding both for me and them. That type of instruction is something any guide can help folks with so anglers should never be hesitant to ask for help.
What's your ideal lunch when on the water? What do you actually pack?
If I'm in a boat for the day and have access to a cooler, I'll take a wide variety of things and snack throughout the day. I usually have fruit, veggies, trail mix, Macro Bars, maybe a sandwich or sandwich fixings. If I'm backpacking for a day, then I usually make a sandwich and pack along a few granola bars. Nothing too fancy!
What fly fishing blogs/magazines do you read regularly?
I read The Drake Magazine a lot. It's always fresh, blunt, funny and informative which is refreshing. Does flipping through the Yellow Dog catalog dreaming about fresh and saltwater trips count?
When I'm not fishing you'll find me:
I spend a lot of time in the Yellow Dog office so I can be found there most of the time. If I'm not there, I'm very likely to be traveling abroad or spending time with family and friends.