John, tell me about your history with fishing.
I come from three generations of fishermen. My granddad introduced my father to fishing and my father introduced me. I grew up on the Long Island Sound so fishing was always on my mind but not always my greatest passion. I picked up a fly-rod when I was 10 years old, but I fished mostly freshwater for stocked Trout. I focused more on conventional athletics like most kids. Once I entered high school I started imitating my father more and wanted to be more like him right around the time he was getting into the saltwater fly game. On my 15 birthday I got a 9-weight but fly fishing still took a back seat to athletics. At the start of my Junior year I had Mono and Lyme disease simultaneously and was out of football for the majority of the season. However, the doctor didn’t tell me I couldn’t fish. This is when I really dove into fishing and the fall run in the Northeast. Once I got the time to fish after school there was no looking back and it completely redefined who I was. Fly Fishing became my "thing" and I couldn’t be any happier for that.
You went to the University of Vermont, which is a notoriously outdoorsy school. How did this experience mold you as an individual?
Collage was initially an uncomfortable environment. I had no idea what I was doing. Not just in a fishing sense since my freshwater experience was limited, but in terms of being in college and all of that. Fred Polemus, a good family friend who lived near Burlington brought me under his wing and became my mentor. He is the one who really taught me how to fish a dry. In Vermont I realized I was surrounded by people who were just as passionate about fly fishing as I and that's who I chose to surround myself with; Kids who didn’t care whether it was 20 degrees, windy, or raining. We just wanted to get out on the river and be in nature. It has always been just about getting out there, no matter where there is, and exploring. During my junior an senior year I became very involved with running the UVM Fly-fishing club, which was kind of the gateway into guiding and wilderness education. It really opened up my passion for the sport and for getting other people fired up to fish.
You frequently are featured in top fly-fishing publications and clearly have a knack for writing. What’s your goal with this?
My writing is largely shaped around fishing in the environment. I studied Environmental Studies at the University of Vermont where I started to develop my writing around the natural world, so I guess it is just an organic extension of my education. It is a passion of mine to share a story, all of its intricacies, through words.
What does it all mean to you? What’s your connection to nature and to passion? What else is there that pushes you like fishing?
I am always be immersed in nature. Nothing makes me feel quite like when I am on the water or in an old growth forest. It’s grounding and magical at the same time. There is something primitive about exploration. Snowboarding comes next to fishing for me. Flowing through the woods or being on some gnarly terrain takes you out of your comfort level. Seeing the world in a blur as you move fast through the woods on a board or a bike is something special. You don’t have time to think about anything except what lays in front of you. It's up to you to stay in control and there's no looking back; No outside forces, no rules. Fly-fishing is the same way for me.
John spends his summers guiding week long float trips for Wild River Guides in Bristol Bay Alaska. He spends his time in the wild Alaskan wilderness targeting Salmon, Trout, Char, Grayling and shares his love for the wilderness with each of his guests. John also operates saltwater charter trips for Striped Bass, Bluefish and False Albacore in Connecticut's Long Island Sound in shoulder seasons. Thanks for your stoke John!