This year has been my most rewarding year on the water. As my family grows (in age and by numbers), I appreciate my time on the water more and more. Being a guide allows me to do more of this, and as much as I love a tight line on my rod, I'm beginning to enjoy the experience through others even more. I know what you're thinking "Yeah, you're a guide so you like making money" but watching friends, family and complete strangers catch fish because of my advice gives me a sense of pride that I don't feel when I fish on my own. I've spent a lot of days on the water the last twelve years, like many of you, and it's so much fun to share those experiences with others. Don't get me wrong, we all like our fishing spots and not seeing anyone in those spots, but sharing your love of the sport and letting them see why you love what you do is very rewarding, as well. It's true what they say about fly fishing being a lifelong sport that you'll need master. The hunt and the curiosity for what I'll learn next is all the motivation I need to do crazy things like spend 7 hours standing in a river in January or driving 3 hours to fish for 3 hours and then drive back home 3 hours in time to pick my daughter up from daycare. Just think about all of the nutty things you've done just to wet a line.
I don't post pictures on here often. I have my own blog that I like to keep up. But after talking with Kevin recently, he's right. It's about all of us posting frequently that keeps this great resource going. Besides getting out on the water and trying things out, I've learned more from you all than any other resource. Magazine articles and videos just don't explain things in the way that many of you do. When I arrive at a river and see Maine Fly Fish stickers on trucks, I know there are some people out there for the right reasons. It's definitely a comforting feeling.
Here are some of my favorite memories from 2017.
Opening Day 2017
No fish, but fun to see those early black stoneflies coming off and watching fish rise on April 1
First Client of the Year
First Client Fish of the Year
Man I can't wait to get her on the water someday soon
First Smallie of the Season (caught by my friend Vince on my birthday!)
River, my black lab, enjoying his first ride in the drift boat
My first "PD" day
I'm a huge trout and salmon angler, but I've been spending more and more time chasing green fish in the summer. I got to spend a day with Kevin and learned a lot that of things that helped make me a better fisherman and guide. Some people who guide frown upon it, but going out and fishing with the best guides give you more tools to put in your toolbox. Period.
The Year of the LL
These guys were constantly in the net this year. I don't know if this is a good or a bad thing, but as much as I love brookies and browns, it's hard to get mad at the show a salmon gives you. I had a salmon jump onto the shore from 10 feet away and another land on my head downstream from a client. Those are things you don't forget!
Favorite Fish of the Year
I'm starting to appreciate scenery, conditions and fishing with good people. This wasn't the largest brookie caught this year, but the take on a damselfly dry was epic. If my brain could produce film clips of some of the takes this day I would have some great videos! I have a TON of appreciation for people who are out there getting good content when fishing or guiding. When instructing somebody, talking them through each part of the cast, how to fish the fly, hook it and land it, taking a video is the last thing on my mind. I believe the memories in our mind are what keep us going back again and again, not living through someone else's photos/videos.
My 8 month pregnant wife
Eight months pregnant, high sticking dry flies on an 80 degree day. These usually aren't hip waders!
Potentially my last fish of 2017
It's hard getting out there with a full work schedule, coaching basketball, the holidays and having two small children at home. Like I said, I'm blessed for every day that I'm able to get out there!
My last client of the season
This is my favorite memory of the season. This is not a paying customer. It is my hardworking father-in-law of 8 children. He's a regular spin gear bass fisherman, so getting him into his first trout on a fly rod and sharing my passion with him was a real cool moment.
Take a moment every now and then to think about the great things in your life, the hard times that you've experienced and your passion for fly fishing. We're all here for the same reason. We love this lifestyle. Do your best to make good ethical decisions, help others and be a steward for the waters that you want to preserve. I've been on this site for a while and know a few members, but I'd love to meet more of you. You've made a positive impact on my life. I'm thankful for the conversations and information I've picked up from people on MFF. I'm hoping to spend more time at TU meetings and events, the Freeze Up and awesome event that Eldredge Brothers puts on every March. Cheers to '17!