UPDATE II: A Profile of a Young Fly Fisherman on the Rise

Written by: Phil Monahan

Matthew casts for cutthroats on the Crystal River.

photo courtesy Will Lillard

[Editor’s note: Young Matthew Owen’s fly-fishing career has already generated a lot of interest here on OrvisNews.com. We were first introduced to him when blog reader Joe Milner sent us a picture of Matthew with a fine brown trout caught on a trip to honor his late father. That post inspired Matthew’s fishing buddy, Walter Haze, to nominate Matthew as a “Trout Bum of the Week.” And finally, the leader of fly-fishing expeditions for teens offered Matthew a scholarship for a trip to the Rocky Mountains after reading about him here.

Now, that expedition leader, Will Lillard, has sent us a great profile of Matthew from the newsletter of
Lillard Fly-Fishing Expeditions

A large part of what makes the LFFE experience so amazing is the other students you share it with; that is why we take our application process so seriously. Our participants come from all across the country, some have not fished a day in their life, others have been fly fishing for years, but one thing they have in common is character.

By the age of 17, Matthew Owen had already been named Orvis “Trout Bum of the Week” and started an “Angling Society” at his high school. However, it is not his previous fly fishing credentials that makes him such a perfect example of what we look for in our students. Read our Interview with Matthew and you will get a sense of the character and charisma that make the LFFE experience so much fun for other participants and trip leaders alike.

LFFE Profile
Name: Matthew Owen
Hometown: Memphis, TN
School: White Station HS
LFFE Trip: Colorado West Elk ’12

How did you learn to fly fish?
I was around the age of nine the first time I was introduced to fly fishing. My uncle took me to the Little Red River in Arkansas one weekend and I’ve never been right since. The biggest memory I have from that trip was when my uncle and his buddies were out on a shoal and I had tangled up my leader so horribly my uncle told me to go sit down on the bank; this was by no means the first tangle I had that day. I sat down on a boulder by the bank, and although I was not fishing, I was so content just being a spectator to the beauty that surrounded me. I believe all true fisherman fall in love with nature before they do fishing. God forbid there comes a time in my fly-fishing career when I’m not content to just be out there and thankful for it.

How do you feel fly fishing has impacted you?
Fly fishing has given me a deeper and more profound appreciation for nature. It is something that has helped me grow and mature more as a person and has expanded my perception of my own potential and what I’m capable of. It also helps keeps me out of trouble, which is pretty important, I guess.

Matthew Owen ties up some flies for the next day’s fishing.

photo courtesy Will Lillard

Tell us about how you have helped teach others about the joy of fly fishing and importance of stewardship?
My junior year, I founded the Angling Society at my school. The club has been a great way to connect to others who enjoy the outdoors and help nurture their passion for fish. I also love to take my friends fishing because watching them catch their first fish on a fly and seeing how excited some of them get is what gets me going! I believe that taking people fishing is one of the best ways to allow them to connect to nature and instill within them a love for the outdoors. That love and appreciation for the river and the fish is what leads to responsibility and a sense of stewardship which ultimately leads to conservation and a better future for the environment.

What was your favorite part of your LFFE experience?
The amount of time, effort, and planning that the LFFE crew puts in to give you the best experience possible definitely showed during my time in Colorado with them. It’s hard to pick out a favorite part because each of the places we visited had its own uniqueness that made it special and unforgettable but if I had to pick one, it would be the two or three days we spent at Crystal Creek. The hiking wasn’t too bad, and the fishing was more than incredible—not to mention it was one of the prettiest places I’ve been in my life. You could walk along the creek and watch huge cutthroats an inch under the surface slurp mayflies off the water and actually cast specifically to them. Watching them arch up to your dry fly and sip it in was one of the coolest and things I’ve ever seen, and catching them was super rewarding. I’ll definitely be back to that place.

What is your dream job?
I hope to be a fly-fishing guide one day. I’m not sure how sustainable that lifestyle is, but with the right people and circumstances, it would be wonderful to have my office be a drift boat and my lunch break on the banks of a beautiful river. But in reality, any job that allows me to enjoy my passion for fishing and take care of a family one day, I don’t think that is too much to ask.

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