Who introduced you to fly fishing?
My Dad introduced me to fly fishing along with our shared passion for hunting. I really took fly fishing to the next level when I hit my teens and could drive myself to explore new waters on my own. I was hopelessly addicted from the get go.
Can you tell us a little about your home waters and the fish you pursue there?
I feel really fortunate to live at the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in North Georgia, an area with a number of diverse fisheries. Simply put, I have a lot of what I consider to be ‘home waters’. A short drive north and you will find the fantastic wild mountain trout streams of the Cohutta Wilderness and Blue Ridge Mountains, full of brown, rainbow, and brook trout. My favorite time to fish and guide these waters are October-May. When spring rolls around you can find me on the Etowah River below Allatoona Lake guiding anglers for Striped and trophy Spotted bass from a drift boat. The Etowah is one of the most beautiful and unique fisheries anywhere I have fished. Guiding and fishing for river Stripers and our indigenous bass species on fly are what I am most passionate about. I also find great pleasure in guiding folks on our area trout tailwater fisheries such as the Chattahoochee River… an amazing river which produces brown trout up to 18 lbs!
What's the height of the season for you? What time of year is your personal favorite?
The height of my trout guiding season is October-December and then again in the spring from March-May. June-October I spend every day I can on the Etowah pursuing Stripers, Spotted, and Redeye bass. I have many personal favorites… June for Stripers, the fish are really aggressive and the opportunity for top water activity is high. For trout, I love fishing in the dead of winter. The solitude and cool temperatures often produce the biggest fish of the year in the Southern Appalachians.
What are your favorite travel destinations? What's on the bucket list?
I love exploring many of the different fisheries we have here in the Southeast, from the rivers of East Tennessee down to the Florida Keys and over to the Redfish flats of Louisiana. I do have a passion for travelling out west particularly to my old stomping grounds around western Montana and Wyoming. My bucket list is always evolving, as soon as I cross one off the list, I add two more. High on my bucket list are places like Patagonia, the Seychelles, and Golden Dorado in South America, Steelhead as well as the great Striper migration up North.
What you like most about Thomas and Thomas rods? Which rods do you fish?
The craftsmanship and pride of being made in the USA. Anyone can pick up a T&T and appreciate the character they exude. The passion shows from the attention to detail given to every rod. In today’s world of mass produced fishing gear it is refreshing to be behind a company that takes pride in their product. I am really excited about the path T&T is headed on.
What's your current go-to fly?
Whatever the fish like!
Other than fly tackle, what piece of gear do you find indispensable?
A pair of premium polarized sunglasses are crucial to a productive day on the water.
My favorite thing about guiding is:
Teaching and sharing my passion for the sport. I love teaching newcomers to the sport. Seeing the progression of a client from beginner to accomplished, competent fly angler. Guiding has brought so many interesting and special people into my life that I wouldn’t have met any other way.
From the angler’s point of view, what do you see as the main value of going on a guided trip?
The local knowledge of the water a guide provides is such a valuable resource to have.
What can new fisherman expect to get out of a guided trip? My favorite thing to teach a client is ...
I want my clients to have more than just the experience of catching fish with me. I thoroughly enjoy teaching folks the ins and outs of my methods. Anything from rigging to how to read the water. The most magical times on the water for me are when my clients and I are totally tuned in to our surroundings, that’s when everything falls into place…then we start catching fish!
What's your ideal lunch when on the water? What do you actually pack?
A fresh streamside made deli sandwich or wrap with fresh veggies and Oreos or a Nutty Buddy bar for dessert… That’s typically what I pack along with some good cold beer… gotta eat decent out on the water!
What fly fishing blogs/magazines do you read regularly?
Gink and Gasoline, S.C.O.F. (Southern Culture on the Fly), The Drake, and Eastern Fly Fishing.
When I'm not fishing you'll find me:
Working or hanging out at Cohutta Fishing Company or out in the field hunting whatever is in season.