For more than twenty years, the Orvis Company has been recognizing excellence in sporting experiences through its Endorsed Lodges, Outfitters, and Guides Program.
Each year representatives from each of these categories are nominated and ultimately one is chosen for the best of the year. These awards are based on a number of criteria, the most important being the voice of the customer; the feedback we receive on these operations from the customers who have experienced them for that is the ultimate arbiter of success.
Combined with that is the operation’s environmental commitment and stewardship to their resource and their partnership with Orvis in providing the finest sporting experience possible for the Orvis customer.
The winners of this year’s awards were announced at a ceremony during the 2014 Orvis Guide Rendezvous in Missoula, Montana, on April 4.
Here are this year’s exemplary winners:
Orvis-Endorsed Guide Lifetime Achievement Award
Doug Gibson, Three Rivers Ranch, Irwin, Idaho
There are few people lucky enough to be born into great trout country. An even smaller, fortunate few are able to remain in that land for the rest of their lives. Doug Gibson is one of the few.
Born in Newdale, Idaho, Gibson has been fishing for more than 56 years. Currently the head guide for Three Rivers Ranch in Warm River, he began his guiding career in 1972 and, as the saying goes, has not looked back since. He has received the Guide of the Year Award from Orvis in the past, a testament to his expertise, experience and knowledge on the water. As a true native of the area, he possesses a wealth of knowledge of Idaho’s flora, fauna and fisheries.
A true gentleman, he is well respected by fellow guides and adored by clients who return, year after year, to fish under his guidance.
2014 Endorsed Fly Fishing Guide of the Year
Pat Kane, Missoula, Montana
Pat Kane has been a fly-fishing guide in western Montana since the mid 1990’s. Growing up watching his dad fish the great rivers of Northern California and Western Montana, he had his first experience with a fly rod under the Big Sky in 1982. The challenges inherent to guiding keep Pat loving what he does as much today as he did in the 90’s. Customers respond his enthusiasm and, appreciating the great work he puts in day in and day out, return year after year.
To quote one of Pat’s clients, “Even though the fishing conditions weren’t the greatest or easiest (water starting to drop and 90F+ air temps) our guide worked his hardest to put us on fish and give us a truly great experience. Pat was great with the both of us, letting me roam and enjoy my solitude, while spending the extra time giving my wife the extra pointers and instruction to help her become a better angler.”
2014 Endorsed Fly Fishing Guide of the Year
Patrick Fulkrod, Bristol, Virginia
A Bristol local, Patrick has been fly fishing since he was 10 years old. His resume reads as a lineup of credentials and accomplishments, including national recognition as a 2012 Orvis-Endorsed Guide of the Year Finalist, a 2006 graduate of the Western Rivers Professional Guide School, Orvis-Endorsed Fly-Fishing Guide since 2007, and a ClackaCraft Pro Staff member. For years customers have been raving about the services Patrick provides; his return clientele is a testament to his riverside manner.
One of Patrick’s customers commented, “I have tried a number of guides, but Patrick is hands down the best. All guides know their water, but Patrick’s attentiveness, pleasantness, and professionalism stands out. If you want a guide talking in his cell phone, go somewhere else. If you want a guide who will take a swim to make sure you land your fish, call Patrick.”
2014 Endorsed Fly Fishing Lodge of the Year
The Lodge at Palisades Creek, Irwin, Idaho
Located at the confluence of Palisades Creek and the South Fork of the Snake River, The Lodge at Palisades Creek is Orvis’ only endorsed destination lodge on this prolific tailwater, arguably the finest dry-fly fishing river in all of North America.
Guests feel at home in quaintly rustic, yet luxurious private cabins nestled along the meadow overlooking the South Fork. Prestigious Jackson Hole-inspired cuisine and a variety of imported wines and spirits ensure proper relaxation after a day on the water. Each member of the carefully crafted team of guides, each with an average of 10 years fishing on the South Fork, knows the river throughout its seasons. And the fishing speaks for itself.
One guest commented, “I’ve had the pleasure of staying at the Lodge at Palisades Creek and fishing with their guides twice: once with another guy that is a hard-core fly fisher, and once with my wife who is learning the sport. Both trips were excellent, and the guides were top-notch. I must say that the Lodge is probably the nicest place I’ve found to spend a few days fishing with my spouse. The accommodations are wonderful, the food outrageously good, the staff is great and the fishing is memorable. We’re looking forward to another trip.”
2014 Endorsed Wingshooting Lodge of the Year
Flying B Ranch, Kamiah, Idaho
Nestled in Lawyer’s Canyon in northern Idaho, the Flying B Ranch has a wide variety of species to hunt, terrain to explore and hunting styles to accommodate any sportsman. The 5,000 acres ranch and 14,000 square feet lodge are located just outside the small town of Kamiah, Idaho, and are the results of continual efforts to build a gundog program, refine habitat and keep a quality staff over the past 25 years.
Here is what a recent guest had to say, “Every trip to the Flying B Ranch is exceptional. I’ve been bringing clients for many years and the guides, dogs, staff, and lodge is always first class and an experience of a life time for clients and myself.
“It is very hard to come by one great worker, or group who you feel loves their work. The crew we had made this place, and made me feel like I was family. I enjoyed talking and being around every one of them. Thank you to all.”
2014 Endorsed Outfitter of the Year
Ugly Bug Fly Shop, Casper, Wyoming
Since 1983 The Ugly Bug has supplied fly anglers in Wyoming and around the country with the best in gear and advice. Anglers stop by often to check out new specials, talk shop, and learn of current conditions around Wyoming.
The full-service fly shop is joined by a strong team of guides with years of experience guiding the North Platte River, long recognized as a blue ribbon fishery. The shop’s favored beats include Grey Reef, Fremont Canyon and Miracle Mile.
A recent customer said, “I’ve been using the Ugly Bug for float trips for several years now. EVERY single time I’ve fished with them has been a treasured memory. 2013 is no exception!”
2014 Endorsed Guide Service of the Year
Freestone Outfitters, Denver, Colorado
Freestone Outfitters is dedicated to introducing the lifelong sport of fly fishing to new anglers, growing skill sets, and expanding the horizons of beginning, intermediate, and experienced anglers, all while fostering angling ethics and responsibility for the future of our watersheds and ecosystems.
A recent customer noted: “I wanted to treat my father to a great day of fly fishing. Fortunately for us, we hired Freestone Outfitters, and had a really great guide, Dave Lovell. Dave really worked hard to make sure my father had a great day, and he did! We caught a ton of fish, got some great instruction, and had a lot of fun doing it!”
2014 International Destination of the Year
The Boat Company, Southeast, Alaska
Incorporated in 1979 by the McIntosh Foundation, The Boat Company is the only non-profit educational organization offering luxury eco-cruises throughout Southeast Alaska. Through over more 30 years of work in the wilds of Alaska, The Boat Company has reinvested between $25 and $30 million into local conservation efforts. Known for their flexible, spontaneous spirit aboard ship and a ratio of two crewmembers to one guest, the organization prides itself in making each trip the experience of a lifetime.
One guest commented, “I cannot begin to tell you how incredible our week on the Mist Cove was – all eight of us oohed and ahhhed all week, and pinched ourselves to realize this was really happening. Everything ran like a Swiss train schedule, meals were like a five-star restaurant, lectures by the naturalists oozed with passion for the environment. They conjured up whales, sea otters, bears with cubs, salmon, bald eagles and seals. The glacier was truly magnificent and the calving majestic. Blue, blue icebergs; I hope I never lose that color in my mind… It was a magical trip!”
Congratulations, as well to all the nominees.