GET TO KNOW YOUR GUIDE
When did you learn to fly fish?
I first fly fished the day of my seventh birthday, on a guide trip with former Reel Life guide Karen Dennison that I asked for as my birthday present after becoming increasingly frustrated with the limitations of spin fishing after a few years of targeting trout with Fireballs and Pistol Petes. I got a starter fly rod and reel combo the same day, and targeting fish with flies has been my passion ever since.
Why did you become a guide/ where are you from and how did you end up guiding at TRL?
As I grew up in Santa Fe, guides and guide culture became a huge part of my life. I spent every minute that I wasn’t at school or on the water in the fly shop, and formed friendships with former Reel Life guides that have lasted until the present. Whether I was learning to get the proportions on my nymphs right behind the counter or out in the parking lot working on my double haul with an 8 weight I couldn’t afford, I was doing everything that I could to absorb knowledge from people who were, and still are, my role models and friends. I knew I wanted to guide for The Reel Life by the time I was eight or nine years old, and getting to do that a decade later is something I give thanks for every morning I step in the shop.
What is your most memorable experience as a guide?
As much time as I have spent teaching clients on guide trips, I’ve also learned from them. The relationships I’ve formed with clients on past trips are easily the most memorable aspects of guiding for me, beyond a particular fish or day. One client in particular stands out. Although I won’t mention him by name, I have guided him on multiple occasions, and each time is something special. Although old age and lung damage limit his ability to function at high elevations, he never lets it stop him, relying on only my patience and the occasional arm to get through long days on the water. He’s traveled all over the world throughout a long military career and years of pursuing big game hunting, and the stories he tells me while we watch his flies drift by always run through my head for weeks after. I sent him a picture after getting my first Tarpon on the fly last summer, and he was just as pumped as any of my other friends or fishin’ buddies were. The fact that we can relate as outdoorsmen, despite the large age difference and backgrounds, is quite special to me and definitely something that I cherish.
What is your goal when you take clients on a trip?
I always make sure to remind clients at the beginning of each trip that today is their day on the water. As much as I love catching fish, I’m always happy to adapt the day to include a longer lunch, bird watching breaks, more emphasis on photography, etc. I feel blessed that I get to spend my summers working in beautiful places outdoors, and my goal each day is for each client to feel some of the appreciation of and love for the places we fish that I’ve had my whole childhood and adolescence to develop. Whether we achieve that by grinding into the fishing and landing as many fish as possible or simply enjoying some of the most stunning places in the Southwest is all up to the personal preferences of the guest or group each day.
What is your favorite river to guide and why?
My favorite river to guide is the Brazos at Corkin’s lodge. Although it is probably the toughest wading in the state and even the trail along the side of the stream can be precarious, the Brazos box canyon is easily one of the most stunning places I’ve ever explored. In terms of special moments in Northern New Mexico, it’s hard to beat watching a wild brown trout float to the surface of a deep pool to take a dry, light up by the thin line of blue sky separating thousand-foot cliffs that tower within casting distance to each side.
What are your top five go-to patterns?
What do you love about fly fishing?
Honestly, I don’t even know how many times I’ve spent the drive back from a day on the water trying to answer this very question for myself. Although I haven’t come close to describing it perfectly, I do know that every single day I’m grateful that I picked up a fly rod when I did. I live two different lives, one among friends and family that floats between school in Colorado Springs and my house in Santa Fe, and one that takes place in mountains, always near water with a fly rod in hand. Each puts the other into perspective; drama with friends feels insignificant when I know that fresh fish are running the Dream Stream, and a tough day on the water is less painful when I return to the “real world” and remember that fishing is simultaneously all that matters and completely pointless. In particular I love chasing trophy trout, because no feeling parallels holding a fish you’ve wanted for weeks or months or years, a moment you’ve dreamed of after countless days of defeat. That being said, some of the best days of my life have been spent walking up a tiny creek with a friend, tossing dries to Brookies or hungry little Cuts. Obviously, I’m not great at explaining my love for fishing, but it’s a love that has meant everything to me for the majority of my life.
What is the one place that you want to fish before you die?
I don’t think there’s any trip I want to do more than a few months of exploring backcountry in Patagonia. That would be epic.
What do you enjoy doing when you are not on the water?
When I’m not fishin’ I spend my time working on school (I’m currently at Colorado College and plan on majoring in Environmental Science), tying flies, reading, and staying fit. I also love hiking and photography, and write in my free time when my boxes don’t need any bug refills.