2015 – A fantastic year in review
Life in 2015 was as good as I could imagine. I managed to visit three countries outside of the United States. I went to New Zealand for my third time and spent three fantastic months living out of a camper van chasing the gigantic and beautiful brown trout that inhabit those crystal clear mountain streams. I lived a deliberate lifestyle during those months and was truly content in my life. I lived day to day and had no schedule but my own, which usually consisted of waking with the sun, having my coffee then going fishing. During the day I hiked countless miles and was in the best shape of my life. I backpacked remote rivers and explored corners of the earth that few people have seen. I fell in love with trout all over again. I learned angling techniques that have refined how I fish. I have vivid memories of monster trout dancing in the current, oblivious to my presence. I was the trout king, silently stalking my prey, like a lone wolf, hungry but content.
I was only home for a few minutes when I got a call from This is Fly Magazine asking me if I would write a featured article about my recent trip to New Zealand. Of course I was honored and wrote a 10 page article about my views regarding Life, Death, and Fly Fishing and was featured on the cover as well. What a neat thing it is to be able to share my stories and photos with people who are engaged in this awesome sport!
Immediately following the Magazine cover I flew to Ireland to visit friends and squeeze in some fishing on one of the most famous trout streams in Europe. Native territory to one of the oldest strains of brown trout in the world.
I had never felt such rich history and culture as the two weeks I spent there. I was drawn to the pub culture, the dim lit backcountry pubs with heaps of fish and chips and pints of rich mouth watering black stout. The live music and genuine conversations with the backwoods people of County Cork, Dublin, Dingle and Galway. Green sheep pastures, rolling hills, rock fences, all contrasted by the raging mad Atlantic ocean, wise beyond the years. I felt comfortable there.
Im forever grateful for the lifestyle I chose. Traveling is like love, pain, anger, and sobriety, it makes you real again. Immediately following my life changing trip to Ireland I joined the boys at the annual “Carp Classic” on black foot reservoir. Although a small turnout from years past we had an unbelievable time grilling steaks, drinking whiskey, chasing tailing carp, and generally being a troop of rambunctious fishing guides in the middle of nowhere. Its always a great kickoff to the summer ahead although the weather is usually terrible.
My travels didn’t stop there. Only a week later I jumped on a plane to join my girlfriend Ashley Rice and her brother Travis Rice for a 2 week sailing trip through Tahiti. We sailed to numerous islands and enjoyed the native culture, food and of course fishing. I have never been to such an amazing place. The only thing I could compare to Tahiti was a three month trip I took to Fiji a few years ago. My upbringing in Jackson Hole is polarized by my love for the ocean. Im drawn to the electric blue underworld and the vastness of its boundaries. We ate fresh bananas every day, we caught tuna off the back of the boat, we waded French Polynesian bonefish flats and saw monster GT’s. We swam every day. We hiked to remote jungle water falls and saw freshwater eels. We sailed to Bora Bora and had a late lunch. We were living like kings again and I was OK with it. If I was bored and hungry I would roll fresh yellowfin tuna in sesame seeds and put a light sear on it and there you have it, a fresh sushi snack. Or if I wanted to I would just whip up some ceviche or ahi poke and crack a bottle of white wine, sip on it in the sunshine then go paddle boarding with my fly rod dingblast it.
Only a couple days after I got home I was lucky enough to spend a few days guiding Tom Brokaw, Carl Hiaasen, Tom Mcguane, George Anderson, Breon Robertson and a few other great guys who flew in on their private jet to be picked up by me and my fellow guides at the airport. It was not only great to spend time with such extraordinary people who have lived such unique lives, it was also great to be on my home waters again after a stellar year abroad.
And to top it all off, I won the Jackson Hole One Fly tournament in September as the top guide for Idaho and Wyoming. A feather in my cap for sure. It didn’t come easy and I truly had to guide my guys to all the fish. Luck was in my favor and even though luck does favor the prepared, the stars aligned and I was able to beat all other 80+ guides and score the most points in my boat for the entire weekend. Unbeknownst to me I have a real competitive side. I was aggressive and sometimes shouting at my guys certain instructions, I was so excited it wasn’t even funny. Life is good I thought.
I ate porridge in New Zealand, and I trout fished in a castle moat in Ireland. I ate sushi In Tahiti and had beers with Tom Brokaw in Wyoming. I won the Jackson Hole One Fly as top guide, and I made the cover of This is Fly magazine. I explored backcountry creeks on the South Island, and Spey fished in Oregon. I stalked Carp in Idaho, and casted at Salmon in New Zealand. I wandered, but I was not lost.