Meet the Winners of the 2018 Orvis-Endorsed Awards!

This is the easy part of being a guide: Josh Duchateau of Firehole Ranch shares in success on the Madison River. But there is so much more work, behind the scenes and on the water, that makes for a magical day.
Photo by Phil Monahan

Each year, for thirty-two years, the Orvis Company has recognized excellence in sporting experiences through its Endorsed Lodges, Outfitters, and Guides Program (ELOG). These awards are based on a number of criteria, the most important of which is customer feedback: the reviews from the customers who have experienced these operations are the ultimate arbiters of success. Also taken into consideration are the operation’s environmental commitment to and stewardship of their resource, and their partnership with Orvis in providing the finest sporting experience possible.

The winners of this year’s awards were announced at a ceremony last night, during the 2018 Orvis Guide Rendezvous in Asheville, North Carolina. Click here to see the lists of nominees for each category.

Here are this year’s winners, along with one of the customer comments that caught the judges’ eyes:

2018 Endorsed Freshwater Fly-Fishing Guide of the Year

Jenny Mayrell-Woodruff—Fly Fish Beavers Bend, Broken Bow, Oklahoma

Photo courtesy Kip Vieth

Jenny-Mayrell Woodruff has been fly-fishing the Lower Mountain Fork River for over 15 years, and she averages over 200 days a year on the water. She strives to ensure that her clients have a good time on the river and walk away knowing more about catching trout on the fly. This season, Jenny and her husband–fellow endorsed guide Rob Woodruff–will begin a new adventure, managing Blue Damsel Lodge on Montana’s Rock Creek. Here’s what one Orvis customer had to say about fishing with Jenny:

“My husband and I hired Jenny for a half-day guided fly fishing trip, and we could not have chosen a better guide. Prior to this trip, I read books and researched online about the art of fly fishing– Jenny was better than any book that I could place my hands on. She has an extensive knowledge of this sport that really impressed us. Not only was she friendly, outgoing, patient, cautious and smart, she was so eager to make our experience a first class experience. I also believe that she is the perfect guide to get more and more women involved in the sport of fly fishing because of her demeanor and grace. We are booking our next trip with Jenny today because we had such a wonderful time.”

2018 Endorsed Saltwater Fly-Fishing Guide of the Year

Capt. Jason Sullivan—Rising Tide Charters, Everglades National Park, Florida

Photo courtesy Capt. Jason Sullivan

Capt. Jason Sullivan offers year round sight fishing opportunities in one of the most diverse ecosystems in the country. Here’s what one guest had to say about a day on Captain Sullivan’s boat:

“Fly Fishing the Everglades was one thing that was on my husband’s and my bucket list. We have read and seen videos on the Everglades and wanted to experience it first-hand. The most important thing was hiring the right guide for the job. Capt. Jason is a true pro and was an excellent guide. He put us on fish all day long and really improved both of our casting. Safe to say he is a great representation of Orvis!”

2018 Endorsed Fly-Fishing Lodge of the Year

Wollaston Lake Lodge , Saskatchewan, Canada

Photo courtesy Wollaston Lake Lodge

In the remote reaches of Canada’s serene northern wilderness lies one of the best freshwater fisheries in the entire world–the incomparable Wollaston Lake. And the magnificence of the fishery is matched only by the beauty and comfort of its premier destination, Wollaston Lake Lodge. Situated at the mouth of the Umpherville River, the Lodge is a spectacular retreat. One recent customer wrote:

“This was my second trip and my father’s third. We brought my two sons, ages 18 and 15. It had been over 10 years since we had been there, and we were afraid our stories had been exaggerated over the years. We were all blown away once again by the friendly service, the quality of the fishing, great amenities, superb food. There were also little touches like being personally greeted by the owners at the dock after a day of fishing, coffee delivered to cabin every 5:30 AM, free laundry and a video in our cabin scrolling pictures from my trip 12 years ago. They have a customer service culture that rivals the best of the 5 star hotels.

The highlight of the trip was without a doubt the guides, Tyler and Dan. They adapted the days to our level of experience and never stopped trying to make each moment enjoyable. We had a lot of fun even when we weren’t catching fish but we caught a lot of fish. Each guest we spoke to had the same to say about their guides so I don’t think we got lucky…its just how everyone operates. We will be back!”

2018 Endorsed Fly-Fishing Outfitter of the Year

Wild Waters Fly Fishing, Mt. Shasta, California

Photo by Val Atkinson

Wild Waters is dedicated to the education, conservation and enjoyment of fly fishing. They guide for trout, salmon, and steelhead in Northern California and Southern Oregon. This reviewer certainly felt the staff’s commitment to their customers and their resources:

“Thanks to Wild Waters, I am forever haunted by waters. From my first day on the river with my dad, I’ve always felt a profound and deep connection to rivers. Wild Waters has not only taught me the art and magic of angling, but also share the same spiritual connection between land, water, fish and people. The skills I have built and continue to build are because of Wild Waters incredible talent and beyond excellent customer service. They fully embrace all group sizes, provide fun for the whole family, and accommodate personal preferences like no other, while also offering delicious, well-founded food and snacks (critical to river life). Wild Waters has expanded who I am and who I wish to be, both on and off the river.”

2018 Fly Shop of the Year

Unicoi Outfitters , Helen, Georgia

Unicoi Outfitters has been North Georgia’s number one fly shop and guide service since they opened on the banks of the Chattahoochee River in 1994. A long-time Orvis dealer and proud to now be an Orvis-Endorsed Fly-Fishing Outfitter, Unicoi offers both a full range of fly fishing tackle and extensive guided fishing opportunities that aren’t available anywhere else. Here’s one of their great reviews from last year:

“I have been a customer of Unicoi and I can say that they are a great resource for fly fishermen all over the south. The shop is well stocked with everything you need for a trip, and the staff is knowledgeable and willing to help. I highly recommend taking one of their guided trips, as I have learned more in a few hours with one of their guides than I have picked up on several trips by myself. Everyone at this business fishes and it shows; they always know the best places to fish and what flies are hot. We are truly fortunate to have them in our region.”

2018 International Destination of the Year

Salvelinus, Spanish Pyrenees

Photo courtesy Salvelinus

Salvelinus offers a variety of tours to Spain for fly anglers and their non-angling travel companions, including heli fly-outs, guided cultural tours, and food and wine tours. Ivan Tarin has built a unique fly-fishing business that covers more than a dozen valleys across 200 miles of mountain terrain, two high-quality lodges, and local, expert guides. You will be introduced to a new world of fly fishing as you travel back in time to explore remote mountain streams in one of the most picturesque regions of Spain. Here’s a customer review that captures the experience:

“I have fished all over the world and stayed at many lodges Salvelinus is just in a class of its own. An Incredibly warm welcome from a team of fantasticly knowledgeable people who open up all the secrets of this wonderful country. Salvelinus runs like a Swiss watch. My passion is dry fly fishing for wild trout and the fishing offered in the Spanish Pyrenees is just exceptional. To top all this off sensational food and wine served with so much attention to detail. Cannot recommend Salvelinus enough. I will be back for sure.”

2018 Endorsed Wingshooting Lodge of the Year

Joshua Creek Ranch, Boerne, Texas

Photo by Kevin Welborn

Joshua Creek Ranch, located in the beautiful Texas Hill Country, is nestled on an isolated stretch of the pristine Guadalupe River and Joshua Creek, just 45 minutes northwest of San Antonio’s International Airport. The Ranch’s diverse terrain is a perfect habitat for the best upland bird hunting in Texas, as well as decoyed mallard duck hunting and dove hunting excursions in season. Sports enthusiasts also enjoy gunning on the scenic 15-station sporting clays course, and fly-fishing on Joshua Creek. This reviewer obviously found the ranch to his liking:

“My brother-in-law and I chose Joshua Creek and arrived with very high expectations. As we approached the main Lodge and drove alongside rows of trees and well-maintained fields, we felt the stress of our busy lives leave us. The ranch is organized and thoughtfully designed. The service is warm and personal, yet professional. The guides are incredibly friendly and tremendously knowledgeable. After a long day of enjoying hunting, we came back to the Lodge to find the fireplace aglow! We highly recommend! We are definitely coming back with our families!””

2018 Endorsed Wingshooting Guide  of the Year

Mark Nissen, Classic Bird Hunts, Glendale, Wisconsin

Photo courtesy Mark Nissen

Catering to the foot hunter in pursuit of wild game birds over classic pointing dogs, Mark Nissen focuses on ruffed grouse and woodcock in the forests of Wisconsin. Here’s an evaluation from one satisfied customer:

“I’ve hunted with guides across the globe. Some have been great, some have been ok, some I won’t see again. It’s hard to say exactly what makes a perfect guide, but I think Mark sets the bar. You want a guide that enjoys the hunt, loves the thrill of the chase, could spend all day afield with you and the dogs… but also a person that realizes he and his team have a job to do. Have fun, keep you safe, find you birds, respect the land and the kill. Mark is that guy.”

4 thoughts on “Meet the Winners of the 2018 Orvis-Endorsed Awards!”

  1. Congratulations to all the Orvis Endorsed winners. Each of these people and associated businesses are the real deal. Great job everyone. We are all proud of you!

  2. Congratulations to all the guides and lodges that will work hard to provide the exceptional experiences that the rest of us enjoy so much! To the Orvis endorsed people above, Thanks for the time on the water, great food and great destinations!

  3. Congrats to all the Orvis Winners this year. It takes a great deal of effort just to be nominated and the winners are the best of the best. Great job everyone and the entire Orvis Family is proud to be associated with you.

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