Huge Photo Essay: 2014 Orvis Guide Rendezvous and Down the Hatch Fishing Festival!
Written by: Phil Monahan
The first weekend in April, the sleepy city of Missoula, Montana—which was enjoying a week of calm during spring break—was invaded by hundreds of fly-fishing guides and Orvis employees for the 2014 Orvis Guide Rendezvous and Down the Hatch Fishing Festival. What followed were three great days of networking, learning about new products, discussing best business practices, and most importantly, having a great time.
This was the largest OGR ever, as we maxed out our limit of 500 attendees—both Orvis-endorsed and non-affiliated guides from around the country. Here’s a motherlode of photos to help give you a feel for the event, which received rave reviews from attendees.
The whole thing kicked off with a big cocktail party in the atrium of the hotel on Thursday evening. But first, lots of Orvis folks and other vendors had plenty of setting up to do. And once the bar opened, it was a blast to reconnect with old friends and make plenty of new ones.
Orvis associates start the long process of getting everything ready for kickoff. Photo by Phil Monahan
The room started to fill up, as many folks came off the water to attend the cocktail party. Photo by Orvis Bellevue
Soon, it was shoulder-to-shoulder, and everyone had fly-fishing on their minds. Photo by Els Van Woert
Tom Rosenbaur took a little time to talk to the camera. Photo by Kathleen Moore
Orvis Adventures’ Reid Bryant (left) accidentally(?) dressed just like Orvis vice chairman Dave Perkins. Photo by Kathleen Moore
Friday morning started bright and early with the official welcome and a series of presentations on new Orvis products, how the Orvis brand is evolving, and best business practices.
Western ELOG Director Tom Evenson warms up the crowd on Day Two. Photo by Kathleen Moore
Product developer Tim Daughton (far right) runs down the features of the new Silver Sonic Guide Waders. Photo by Jess McGlothlin
After the presentations, there were Q&A breakout sessions. Here, Chrissy Penn, Shawn Combs, and Tim Daughton field questions. Photo by Kathleen Moore
Friday night was the main event of OGR14, the Orvis-Endorsed Awards banquet. This was a must-attend event, and the room was packed with folks eager to learn which lodges, guides, and outfitters would achieve the highest honors. But first, there were a few great speeches.
Yes, there are tablecloths, but the awards banquet is no stuffy affair. Photo by Jess McGlothlin
Tim Johnson, of Falcon’s Ledge, sports his own custom-made cap. Photo by Tom Rosenbauer
Doug Gibson and his wife were all smiles. Photo by Tom Rosenbauer
The Orvis News editor (left) joined the crew from Lopstick Lodge, located in his home state of New Hampshire. Photo by Tom Rosenbauer
Tom Bie, editor of The Drake, gave a hilarious and inspiring keynote. Photo by Kathleen Moore
2013 Guide of the Year Tim Linehan spoke powerfully about what it takes to be a great fly-fishing guide. Photo by Tom Rosenbauer
The handing out of the awards is really a celebration of the Orvis endorsement program, and everyone in the roomwinners, nominees, and rookies alikewas excited to cheer as each award winner was announced.
Lifetime Achievement Award recipient Doug Gibson poses with Perk and Dave Perkins. Photo by Tom Rosenbauer
Co-Guide of the Year Pat Kane is flanked by Tom Evenson and Dave Perkins. Photo by Tom Rosenbauer
Co-Guide of the Year Patrick Fulkrod accepts his award from Eastern ELOG Coordinator Scott McEnaney. Photo by Tom Rosenbauer
The crew from Ugly Bug Fly Shop displays their Outfitter of the Year Award. Photo by Tom Rosenbauer
The Boat Company was named International Lodge of the Year. Photo by Tom Rosenbauer
Freestone Outfitters chose a “grip-n-grin” pose to show off their Guide Service of the Year plaque. Photo by Tom Rosenbauer
Flying B Ranch took home top honors in the Wingshooting Lodge category. Photo by Tom Rosenbauer
The Lodge at Palisades Creek took top honors for fly-fishing lodges. Photo by Tom Rosenbauer
Saturday morning featured more presentations, on topics as diverse as conservation and social media.
Kirk Deeter, editor of TU’s Trout magazine, presents a conservation award to Dave Perkins. Photo by Tom Rosenbauer
Dave found one attendee with a unique purse that could help take the edge off all the presentations. Photo by Tom Rosenbauer
Orvis social media manager Kathleen Moore walked the crowd through the best ways to reach new audiences. Photo by Tom Rosenbauer
Meanwhile, outside the hotel, the Guide Olympics kicked off. The event pitted guides and others against each other in four separate skills, from casting accuracy to rope throw.
Recent Trout Bum of the Week Maggie-Mae Kuhlman takes on the casting challenge. Photo by Tom Rosenbauer
Accuracy is difficult when your peers are watching. Photo by Tom Rosenbauer
Some serious concentration is required to hit the rings. Photo by Tom Rosenbauer
The rope throw flummoxed many of the guides in attendance. Photo by Tom Rosenbauer
By Saturday afternoon, it was time for the grand finale: the second annual Down the Hatch Fishing Festival in Caras Park, right next door to the hotel. We had great weather and a big crowd was on hand to watch the Guide Olympics finals, to check out new fly rods, and to listen to Missoula’s own Lil’ Smokies, who laid down some great bluegrass.
Everybody was excited for DTH14 to get underway. Photo by Kathleen Moore
The Lil’ Smokies tore it up for the second year in a row.
Caras Park was packed with fly fishers and their families. Photo by Simon Perkins
Lots of folks took advantage of the opportunity to test-cast new rods. Photo by Jess McGlothlin
The folks from Hog Island Boat Works demonstrated how tough their drift boats are.
Shawn Combs made a grand entrance in an Orvis-wrapped Adipose drift boat on the Clark Fork. Photo by Jess McGlothlin
Will this young lady one day row a boat like that one? Photo by Jess McGlothlin
There was even a dance contest, with some great prizes awarded.
As darkness started to settle, everyone headed inside the historic Wilma Theatre for the Down the Hatch Film Fest. A packed house hooted and hollered through the first half of the show, and then emcee Pete Kutzer and friends gave away dozens of prizes.
Shawn Combs wades through the crowd at the film fest. Photo by Tom Rosenbauer
Those in the balcony cheer for prizes to be thrown higher. Photo by Tom Rosenbauer
Pete Kutzer kept the show moving with style and humor. Photo by Tom Rosenbauer
But the big star of the night was the Man Himself, Hank Patterson, who was pure genius. Photo by Tom Rosenbauer
At the end of the film festival, folks stumbled out into the chilly night air, eager for more fun. Missoula is a good place to find it. The next day, many of us headed up to Craig, Montana, for a Sunday float on the Missouri River. Then, it was a final dinner in Craig, and folks started heading home. The best part is that we get to do it all again next year! Stay tuned for details. . .
Scott McEnaney was feeling the exhaustion on Sunday evening. Photo by Phil Monahan