Join us this week as we talk with Kyle Wilkinson. We wanted to highlight a first year river guide, learn what he had to do to become a guide, how he's feeling going into the game and what he's hoping to learn. We're going to follow up with him later in the season to see how things are going. Excellent interview!
"My name is Kyle Wilkinson. I’m a sleep-deprived full-time college student, obsessed part-time fly fishing guide, and a podcast/blogging junkie. If I’m not in school or on the water, I’m at the tying bench listening to podcasts or I’m on my computer writing and reading blogs. I enjoy taking pictures of my outdoor adventures and dipping my toe in videography and editing. Everything I do is in preparation for my next experience on the water. I’m always growing and learning more about the sport that I didn’t know before.
I grew up on a small farm with a creek in my backyard, a tiny trickle of water where my fishing gene became fully expressed. As many do, I began fishing with a spinning rod and reel chasing all manners of trout and warm water species (something I still do from time to time), and eventually found myself with a fly rod in my hands. After a vacation to Yellowstone National Park with my father at the age of 14, there was no turning back. We caught loads of trout on flies and had a blast doing it. You could say, dare I mention such an overused cliche, that I was “hooked.” Since that time, I’ve travelled across the state of Washington and even across the country in pursuit of my passion for fly fishing. Although I am also an archery hunter, backpacker, and biker, I’ve spent most of my free time on a variety of challenging and intriguing waters to broaden my knowledge on the sport of fly fishing. There is just something in pursuing a fish with a fly that I am drawn to. I look forward the next step in my angling career as a fly fishing guide.
I had the pleasure of watching one of my best friends, another one of the guides at Ellensburg Angler, grow as a fisherman through his experiences guiding last year. He and I have fished quite a bit the last couple seasons, and earlier this year the head guide at Ellensburg Angler asked me if I would be interested in guiding with them part time. I jumped on the opportunity and have been training with the guide crew ever since. All of the guys have decades worth of combined guide experience under their belts, and it’s been a privilege learning from all of them. It’s been an eye-opening experience learning from the guys who spend so much of their time on the water. The way I fish, everything from line and leader setup, reading water, timing hatches, and tweaking fly patterns to become more productive on the water, has completely evolved as result from sharing a boat with these guys. Each of the guides has their own way of fishing and guiding, and I try to incorporate all of what I learn into my own fishing and guiding. Ellensburg Angler received the Orvis Endorsed Outfitter of the Year award in 2016, a testament to the awesome staff that I get to work with.
My original plan going into college was to become a high school teacher, like my father, in order to have enough time to hunt and fish on weekends and during extended breaks. I thought this would be a great fit for me, having so much free time to pursue my passion. But as I progressed through my first year of post-high-school education, I realized teaching, specifically in the sciences, just wasn’t for me. I didn’t have enough interest in the teaching itself and had difficulty staying engaged in my classes.
Halfway through my second year at my local community college, I decided to change my major from education to digital journalism. This change was possibly the greatest decision I’ve ever made in my education career. I’m enjoying my classes more than ever before, and find ways to implement what I’m learning in the classroom into my passion outside of school. I’ve tailored my classes to benefit my future goals by taking digital photography classes, extensive writing courses, and blogging/social media courses. I have dreams of writing for fly fishing publications, and have already spent time working on my blog, Kyle in the Outside, and on social media outlets under my alias, flybum_101. I hope to continue to blend my education and fly fishing and eventually form a career where I can feel like I’m not even working.
I doubt I could have the opportunities I have today without the support from my family, my girlfriend, my close friends, and mentors. Everyone has always been helpful and positive, never telling me I couldn’t do it. I appreciate everyone’s enthusiasm for me as I approach these next steps in my education and angling career."