I am certain the title fly fishing GUIDE describes who I am and my goals for RISE Fly Fishing Advice from the Guides. No matter where you are in your life's journey I want you to have the opportunity to spend time in a river. I want you to experience that peace and confidence for yourself and share that with your friends and family.
I came to fly fishing in the early 1990s through hiking and backpacking in the Great Smoky Mountains. Somewhere along the way I saw a trout in a stream and thought it would be fun to catch one. Next time I took a spinning rod without any success and a retired neighbor down the street told me fly fishing was how you catch trout. He went in his garage and brought out an old fly rod that he hadn't used in many years and told me he was never any good at fly fishing but I was welcome to take his old set up.
I spent the next year and a half trying to learn the intricacies of fly fishing through books, Saturday morning outdoor shows, and more trial and error than anyone should endure. I finally cracked the code after about 18 months, but it was only after spending time on the water at least three days a week. In the spring of 1995, I started guiding fly fishers in the Great Smoky Mountains and saw how with just a few hours of instruction on the water I was saving new anglers countless hours of the frustration I had experienced. In subsequent years I began guiding from a drift boat on large East Tennessee rivers and traveled outside the area to fish. These experiences led me to help anglers in areas outside of the Smokies.
Charity and I have hosted fly fishing groups in Montana, Idaho, Belize, and the backcountry of the Smoky Mountains. It's extremely gratifying for us to see people experience what may be the best week of their year. In several instances we have been told their time with us was among the best days of their life. Fly fishing is a vehicle that can take you away from the troubles of your daily life and find peace and enjoyment in the great outdoors.
Fly fishing is the linchpin of my life. I met my wife in a fly shop, together we pay our bills by guiding fly fishers, and most of our pleasure time is spent on the water here in the Southeast or far away. Some of my most memorable life experiences come from fly fishing. I've seen grizzly bears in the backcountry of Yellowstone, camped among alligators in the Everglades, rowed a drift boat in a snowstorm with lightning and thunder in Montana, waded a reef in Belize, made room for a moose in Maine, not to mention my daily experiences in the Smokies. By the age of 5 years old both of my children had seen black bears along streams in the Smokies and moose on rivers in the Rockies. It's important to me for my children to experience the wonder of creation.
Guiding is a calling for me and I love exposing people to the wonder of the natural world every day. You may have heard the old adage "you can't fool mother nature", but a successful fly fisher will do just that through observation and interpretation of the world around them. Wild trout are true survivors so it's a major accomplishment to make them betray their instincts and take a lure. Holding a wild trout and seeing its beauty up close are your assurance of success.
Few things hurt my heart as bad as hearing that someone had a bad fly fishing experience. Some days there will be more fishing than catching for anyone, but I never want anyone to experience frustration with the most basic aspects of the sport. There will always be a few fish to elude you, but you shouldn't go home exasperated because you didn't know how to cast properly or choose a good fly.
My goal has always been to help people enjoy fly fishing and teach them something regardless of their experience. Fly Fishing is a mindful sport done in beautiful places. I love helping people experience the beauty of nature through fly fishing in my work. I have written books that have helped many people, but RISE allows me to clearly illustrate techniques with video instead of the written word and photographs. RISE will help more people enjoy this sport with far less frustration than I endured and I can help more than just one or two people at a time. Not only do I want to see people follow in my footsteps to mastery of the sport, but cut down the amount of time and frustration it took me.