Guide, instructor, angler
What waters do you call “home”?
I grew up on the banks of Big Fishing Creek in Central Pennsylvania. I now guide on the waters that I cut my teeth on in my youth, including (but not limited to): Spring Creek, Penns Creek, Big Fishing Creek, and the Little Juniata River. During the summer through early fall, I call Southwest Montana home -- on the Ruby, Beaverhead, Madison and Jefferson Rivers. During the winter months, I spend considerable amount of time in Chilean Patagonia, fishing and hosting guided trips in the Aysen Region.
When/how did you start fly fishing—and why is it such a significant part of your life?
My father is largely responsible for initially exposing me to the sport of fly fishing. I can remember throwing rocks in the water (to his dismay) while I attempted to follow him along the banks with my black “fireman” boots on.
Fly fishing is the only thing in my life that hasn’t gotten old. I’ve been fishing since I could hold a rod in my hand and its appeal has never been tarnished. What once was just a passion has since evolved into a passionate profession.
With regard to fly fishing who have been the biggest influences for you, and why?
I hate mentioning names because it detracts from all the anglers who have selflessly shared their knowledge. But I’d say my core group of friends and fishing companions whom I travel, work, and interact with on a frequent basis are the most important to my continual growth as an angler and guide.
What is one thing our sport can do without? One thing our sport needs more of?
We could do without the Debbie Downers who knock other anglers for acting or dressing different OR for approaching the sport from a “non-traditional” angle. Let’s face it, the sport is evolving and the more friends the fish and our waterways have, the better off we will all be in the future.
We need more kids involved with the sport of fly fishing (and not just the “well-to-do” ones either!).
Your favorite quarry to chase and preferred set-up for chasing them?
Brown trout and muskie are at the top of my list. In most environments, these fish are at the top of their respective food chains…hence the personal appeal of capturing the ‘apex’ predator in a given body of water.
Trout tactics: Sight nymphing in low water with a long, light line rod (I’m using a custom 10′ 5wt. Horizon II) and a long leader — all of the skill sets are tested and every fish is rewarding-regardless of size!
But when the streamer bite is on, trout fishing doesn’t get any better. 7, 8 and 9 weights, sink tips, rabbit, bucktail and 20 lb. seagaur….bring a helmet!
Musky: 10-12 weights (the 9′ 11wt. Horizon II being my go-to), 350-450 gr. sink tips, 80 lb. bite tippet and some double and triple beaufords…just add water and a well-conditioned arm!
What other interests/hobbies/passions do you have outside of fly fishing?
I like cold water and cold beer. I love taking photos of anything worthy of a digital memory. I’m passionate about convincing my 5-year old daughter that there’s more to life than rap music and cheerleading!
Wild-card: Are you the plan-in-advance type or drop-of-a-hat when it comes to your own trips?
I like doing my own thing on my own schedule. My experiences lend me to believe that the best things happen unexpectedly. Our best fish come from our worst-planned casts!