Who introduced you to fly fishing?
Early on in my life, around the age of two I grew up running around the small creeks of the Appalachain mountains on the Gaia Herbs farm in Western North Carolina. My Dad being the avid angler he was and remains, put a fly rod in my hands. Little did he know that hot June day would change my life course, leading me to experience foreign places, people, and fish that have shaped the outlook I have of the world today.
Can you tell us a little about your home waters and the fish you pursue there?
Although I was first introduced to fly fishing in Brevard North Carolina, it wasn't until age 9 when I put down the conventional gear and started flailing fly line around. By age 11 I was landing bright colored rainbow trout in the clear waters of central Vermont every Memorial Day, running down 30lb salmon in the fly-only section of the Salmon River, and killing time on the weekends getting humbled by the picky trout of the Swift River through West Central Massachusetts. Once my family moved further west towards the city of Boston, my casting had improved enough so I could start tangling with the bountiful fisheries of the Atlantic Ocean.
What's the height of the season for you? What time of year is your personal favorite?
Trout and Musky have taken over my list of commonly targeted species more recently, with trout taking up more time than Muskies because of their widespread introduction to our country. The seemingly warm days of early spring when big freestone trout let their guard down to high water have produced some of my favorite times in the states of Massachusetts and New York. Throughout the Summer we chase fish on the cool tail-waters of the Deerfield River, throwing big dries to rainbows looking up while suspended in foamy lines. In the fall the brown trout on the Deerfield become increasingly aggressive as they prepare for falling water temps and expending energy spawning. Then once winter comes the fishing is limited to freezing and above-freezing days. For those who can bare it, the rewards can be life-altering. Experiencing the solitude of winter fishing in Massachusetts and the transition to a spring filled with life makes the seasonal fishing so unique.
What are your favorite travel destinations? What's on the bucket list?
My favorite travel destinations so far have been Poland in 2015 for the Youth World Fly Fishing Championships, Vanuatu (Island in the South Pacific) for various flats fish, and Central New York for musky. Although I have had the fortunate opportunity to travel around the world and fish for my country, and go to school in Colorado surrounded by tons of angling opportunity, I find the most memorable times are made right here in Massachusetts in the Berkshires. A bucket list destination for me is definitely a salt water expedition to Guanaha. My good friend Noah Thompson has always talked about how remote and insane the flats fishing is there.
What you like most about Thomas and Thomas rods? Which rods do you fish?
The thing I find most connected to Thomas and Thomas by is the proximity of their roots to the roots of my fly fishing career. I've learned everything I know in the guiding business not too far from the T&T factory, and to be a part of the team of people that work to refine the gear we use in this sport, I feel like I am giving back to the area of anglers I learned from and grew up around. What I most like about Thomas and Thomas, aside from the rods I fish, is the ability to work closely with the team and have real brainstorming sessions on our local rivers. I believe this teamwork, the ability to communicate ideas, and along the expertise of the rod builders is what makes T&T the best in the game right now. I primarily fish the contact nymph rods (both models) while competing and using european nymphing techniques. When the fall comes around I target pike and musky with the Exocett and predator rods in a 10-12 weight. For guiding in Western Massachusetts I use 10'4wt Avantts, 9' 5wt Avantts, and 9'6wt Avantts.
What's your current go-to fly?
My go to fly right now has been a little Baetis nymph I tie because of the low water and winter conditions in the freestone rivers I fish that lie west of the Colorado Rockies. It's a real simple tie and pressured fish in public Colorado rivers seem to like it.
Other than fly tackle, what piece of gear do you find indispensable?
I think other than a good rod, reel, line, or fly for the situation, a good pair of glasses is indispensable since most of what we rely on to detect bites is sight (other than feel from a rod). Having the ability to spot fish because of a good set of lenses is imperative to success in the stream or on the ocean.
My favorite thing about guiding is:
There's lots to be thankful for with this profession, however the thing I find most rewarding is teaching kids how to fly fish. Seeing them progress throughout the day, finding their rhythm, and at the end of the day being bummed when they have to leave the river, but happy they learned a new skill and found a passion. By imparting this passion on the younger generation, we are creating future stewards for the resources we all share and love.
From the angler’s point of view, what do you see as the main value of going on a guided trip?
I'd say the biggest thing for most people that go fishing with us is that we can't be too worried about catching fish. It's really about learning, getting to know someone, and creating a lasting connection and friendship. This is how you get returning customers. I wake up most days to guide and expect to catch fish no matter the skill level or interest of the angler, however, what separates days and experiences with people are the memories and connections you make.
What can new fisherman expect to get out of a guided trip? My favorite thing to teach a client is ...
A new fisherman can expect a few things out of a guided trip. First of all you should expect to be humbled, as anyone should while learning a new skill. Following this you should expect to have fun and learn to laugh at your mistakes. My favorite thing to teach a client is how to set the hook because that is arguably the most fun part about trout fishing, the moment the fish bites!
What's your ideal lunch when on the water? What do you actually pack?
I don't usually indulge in a ton of food myself while on the water. Eating too much can slow me down throughout the day so I try to pack some things that give me small doses of energy like bananas, power bars, and sandwiches. A typical day includes deli sandwiches, chips, cookies, and drinks for clients. For cold spring and winter fishing I think a stovetop grill with some brats and some warmed up baked beans would be prime food for a streamside lunch.
What fly fishing blogs/magazines do you read regularly?
I pretty regularly read editions of fly-fisher magazine, The Drake occasionally, and Gink and Gasoline. I also think the Troutbitten blog encompasses lots of great ideas and progressive techniques, which I like and favor over many other magazines or blogs.
When I'm not fishing you'll find me:
You can find me skiing Colorado and Montana's backcountry and resorts in the winters, studying Natural Resource Recreation Tourism on the campus of Colorado State University, or practicing my kick-flip at a local skatepark.