I grew up surrounded by fish, flies, and water. The summer of 1972 found our family standing on the banks of Squaw Creek in Montana’s Gallatin River drainage. As my father surveyed the creek, he spotted the tell-tale flash of a nymphing fish. Handing me his rod, he pointed out the location and told me to cast. My two-handed, two-year-old compliance was not exactly graceful, but it put the fly where it needed to go. The fish moved again, my father shouted to set the hook, and soon I was clutching my first trout on a fly rod, a 13-inch rainbow. From that point on, fly fishing was always a part of my life.
As I grew up, I also got a formal education in fly-fishing, listening in as my father taught his schools across the country. Watching him teach, and listening to his lectures, instilled in me a desire to pursue fly fishing as a profession.
My father published his first fly-fishing book, Nymphing, when I was nine years old. Seeing all of his long-hand and typewritten effort bound so neatly into 192 pages inspired me to want the same. Four years later, my first real article was published in “Fly Tyer” magazine. That article started me on the road to regular writing and illustrating.
Around the same time as that first “Fly Tyer” article, my father produced the now-classic instructional video, Nymphing. Seeing the 16mm cameras, the boom mics and the hotel-room dailies, I knew that I had to do something like that. My desires became reality in 1986, when my father and I hauled our Video-8 equipment out to Montana and shot The Fabulous Bighorn, the tape that kicked off the Skills of Fly Fishing series. Such productions continued through my high-school and college years, ultimately driving me to study film as my major.
My educational backgrounds in both fly fishing and film melded in 1991, when I worked on Robert Redford’s silver-screen adaptation of Norman Maclean’s famed novella, A River Runs Through It. The film brought me almost full-circle—the main fishing-scene locations were only a couple of miles from where I caught my first-ever trout on Squaw Creek.
After River, I moved to Los Angeles to work full-time in the film and television industry. Some of the projects during that time involved fishing to a degree, and other projects, while far removed from angling, introduced me to good friends who also shared a passion for the fly. I loved my time working with film, but left LA after five years to pursue fly-fishing endeavors more deeply. Since my days in LA, my life has been focused on fly fishing in one way or another.
In 2002, my fly-fishing focus was widened when I married my wife, Kelley. Kel also caught her first trout on a fly in Montana, and we said our vows on a mountainside near a rushing stream. Our lives together have seen many angling adventures, and my new-found role as Kel’s “ghillie” has made being on the water even more of a pleasure.
Throughout my life, fly fishing has taken me to the most wild and beautiful places, and shown me the deeply involved rhythms of water, land, and fish. Fly fishing has been a way in which I could lose my sense of time, but also a way to challenge myself so intensely that a second ticked by like a carefully watched hour. Fly fishing has been with me as long as I can remember. Fly fishing is part of who I am.