Fly fishing is a gift, a gift that can last a couple of days or a lifetime. For me it began a little over 25 years ago when a friend gave me this gift by teaching me, guiding me, and mentoring me. My friend gifted me the best small stream fly fishing education that anyone could ever want, taking me to just about every small stream in the mountains of Western North Carolina. I had no idea back then that fly fishing would become such and important and critical part of my life. I had no idea that fly fishing would eventually become the lens through which I looked at the world.
Fly Fishing made me move. Shortly after college I moved to Bozeman Montana. For close to two years I had the time of my life exploring rivers and streams in Montana. I got to know the Gallatin River very well, I also had my first experience fishing a tail water over on the Big Horn River. The experience was awesome to say the least, it was a time when I learned who I had become and where I wanted to go. By then that I knew I belonged outside, on a river, and I knew that I loved trout and fishing for them. I moved back to North Carolina and back to school to study Fisheries and Wildlife Management.
I got to Boone North Carolina by working for the NC Wildlife Resources Commission. I spent close to a year interviewing fly fisherman on the Watauga River, what a job right? Talking to fly fisherman about fishing and fish? I was in heaven! When my contract was up I was offered a guiding job with Foscoe Fishing Company. I was as green as the grass but once again had a great friend and mentor who brought me along and discovered along the way that I enjoyed teaching people fly fishing and watching them progress throughout a day on the water. One day while working the counter at the shop a young lady came in and brought home made chocolate chip cookies as a thank you to the owner, I assured her that he would get them and devoured the whole plate when she left (sorry Jeff). A few weeks later the same young lady was my client on a fishing trip. She loved fly fishing…To make a long story short, she became my friend, then my girlfriend, and within the next year she became my wife.
A year or so later we started a woodworking and home building company, and our building clients became our guests on the water. While I was not on the water full time, my passion for fishing remained and I still loved rivers and trout and the outdoors. Fast forwarding through two kids and a housing bubble and the Great Recession, and I began to have more time to fish and more time to be a dad on the water. In 2012 I started our fishing company, West Fork Anglers. I started the company because I really wanted to share this great gift that has meant so much to me with others. It is a lifestyle, there’s nothing like living a sport, nothing like waking up a 4 am to leave for the river, nothing like staying up all night tying flies, nothing like making lunches for your guests, there’s nothing like a day on the river with your family, there’s no peace like the peace of a river. There’s no greater gift to give anyone than the gift of a day on the river.
As a guide I have the privilege and honor to teach new comers to the sport, to start them correctly on the journey and to help them open this awesome gift. I enjoy getting to know everyone of our customers. Sometimes the learning and relationship are more important than the fish we catch. The gift can last a day or a lifetime… what’s your choice?