Here are the Nominees for the 2015 Orvis Endorsed Awards!


Written by: Phil Monahan

2014 Endorsed Fly Fishing Guide of the Year (East): Patrick Fulkrod.
Photo courtesy Patrick Fulrod

For more than twenty years, the Orvis Company has been recognizing excellence in sporting experiences through its Endorsed Lodges, Outfitters, and Guides (ELOG) program. The winners of this year’s awards will be announced at a ceremony during the 2015 Orvis Guide Rendezvous in Missoula, Montana, on April 23. Here are this year’s nominees, along with photos of last year’s winners:


2014 Endorsed Fly Fishing Guide of the Year (West): Pat Kane.
Photo courtesy Pat Kane

2015 Fly-Fishing Guide of the Year Nominees:


2014 Endorsed Fly Fishing Lodge of the Year: The Lodge at Palisades Creek, in Irwin, Idaho.
Photo courtesy The Lodge at Palisades Creek

2015 Fly-Fishing Lodge of the Year Nominees:


2014 Endorsed Wingshooting Lodge of the Year: Flying B Ranch, Kamiah, Idaho.
Photo courtesy Flying B Ranch

2015 Wingshooting Lodge of the Year Nominees:


2014 Endorsed Guide Service of the Year: Freestone Outfitters, Denver, Colorado.
Photo courtesy Freestone Outfitters

2015 Guide Service of the Year Nominees:


2014 Endorsed Outfitter of the Year: Ugly Bug Fly Shop, Casper, Wyoming.
Photo courtesy Ugly Bug Fly Shop

2015 Outfitter of the Year Nominees:


2013 Expedition of the Year: Fortress Lake Retreat, of Alberta, Canada. (There was no 2014 award.)
Photo courtesy Fortress Lake Retreat

2015 Fly-Fishing Expedition of the Year Nominees:


2014 International Destination of the Year, The Boat Company, of Southeast Alaska.
Photo courtesy The Boat Company

2015 International Destination of the Year Nominees:


2014 Lifetime Achievement Award: Doug Gibson, Three Rivers Ranch, Irwin, Idaho.
Photo courtesy Three Rivers Ranch

Lifetime Achievement Award Nominees:

  • George Hunker, based in Lander, Wyoming
  • Capt. Larry Kennedy (ret.), of St. Simonds Island, Georgia

45 thoughts on “Here are the Nominees for the 2015 Orvis Endorsed Awards!

  1. Bob Triggs

    Three big cheers for nominated guide Dave Barron!

    And a special note of gratitude for the recognition of Captain Larry Kennedy, of St Simons Island Georgia. There is not enough time, room or ink to outline the deep contributions that this man has made to our sport and to conservation. This one is so richly deserved.

    Reply
  2. Lane Mortensen

    Happy to see Worldcast Anglers nominated. I had such a great trip with them last year on the South Fork that I moved my family to Idaho.

    Reply
  3. Kevin Emery

    Come on George Hunker. He’s such a great, patient and talented person. A lifetime achievement award for him is long over due.

    Reply
  4. Jeff Butterfield

    Libby Camps. After visiting their lodge, meeting the Guides and enjoying all their amenities, I have found a new passion and will be working for them. I couldn’t be happier!

    Reply
  5. Jerry Haack

    I is great to see Kip Vieth nominated. I spent three
    days with him fishing for Muskies last year. I had a great time and booked two three day trips for this year. Kip is the real deal, works hard to get you on fish and truly loves watching his clients catch fish.

    Reply
  6. Renee kerr

    The Pere Marquette River Lodge was the best lodge and outfitters I’ve ever been to. From the lodging to the guides were top notch and handled every detail. Highly recommend this outfitter for your next excursion. Frank Willetts and his staff are top notch.

    Reply
  7. Dave

    Congrats to all on the nominations. A lot of hard work on site and all the logistics, communications, and details go into it all. 🙂

    Reply
  8. Eric Halloran

    Congrats to all your endorsees! Rosenbauer’s podcast is consistently on the mark. Here’s a tip: for the best fly fishing themed music get Pete Huttlinger’s Catch and Release – he took the National Finger-style Guitar Championship with a tune called ‘Brown Bomber’ in 2000. He is an avid fly fisher and outstanding entertainer – you guys might want to endorse his work!

    Reply
  9. Ted Putnam

    We are honored to be among all of these exceptional operations. From all of us at Hawk Lake Lodge, thank you!

    Ted Putnam
    Hawk Lake Lodge
    Ontario, Canada

    Reply
  10. william geller

    fly fishing along side of grizzly bears on the brooks river through Crystal Creek Lodge in alaska was the most spiritually exalting experience of my life!….

    Reply
  11. Stan Hayden

    So pleased to see 2014 Endorsed Fly Fishing Guide of the Year (East): Patrick Fulkrod a 2015 nominee again. I absolutely love fishing with Patrick and look forward to our next float in a couple of weeks. If you’re planning a trip to the South Holston area, book this great guide and all around great fellow. Once done, you’ll understand what fishing with the best is like.

    Reply
  12. Troy Runyan

    A well deserved nomination to Patrick Fulkrod. He has a passion for his craft and goes to great lengths to make sure every trip is one for the scrapbook…memorable. You’ll never meet a more affable person, always eager to do whatever it takes to put you on the fish. Anyone wanting to book a float on the South Holston or Watauga rivers need look no further than Patrick.

    Reply
  13. Anne Perkinson

    Congratulations to all of the nominees. It is an honor to share our lodge’s nomination with such an elite group of guides and lodges from around the globe! Cheers, guys!!!

    Reply
  14. Jennifer

    We are honored to be among the nominees for this year’s awards. Based on the comments above all of the nominees are well recognized!

    Thank you to our guests who took the time to fill out surveys to help us continue to improve the experience offered at Greystone Castle Sporting Club!

    Jennifer Miller
    Greystone Castle Sporting Club

    Reply
  15. Brian Wade

    Libby Camps, There is no other place like it! The atmosphere, the food, and of course: Matt & Jess! You couldn’t ask for a better home away from home! It’s a yearly trip for our family.

    Peter Kutzer, if you haven’t been there to fish, you haven’t been fishing!

    Reply
  16. ladyflyfisher

    I love seeing Chuck Page nominated as 2015 Fly-Fishing Guide of the year. Any day spent on the river with Chuck is a good day. I’ve been fortunate to fish with him many times. Chuck gives 100% all day. He knows where the fish live and what they will eat. Good luck Chuck! I know you’re in good company, but no matter how this turns out, in my eyes, you’ll be Guide of the Year.

    Reply
  17. Carol Jo Williams

    I am so pleased to see that Chuck Page has been recognized as a guide worthy of your consideration for 2015 Guide of the Year! I have had the pleasure of fishing with a number of wonderful guides on the Big Hole out of the Big Hole Lodge and none are better than Chuck Page. I have said many times that Chuck seems to approach each fishing day with the attitude that he is going to make the day the best one the folks in his boat have ever experienced…AND… he achieves that with the experienced fisher to the beginner.
    Chuck is #one in my book.
    cjwms

    Reply
  18. Pingback: Tippets: Hatchery Kill, Over-Lining Rods, Orvis-Endorsed Nominees | MidCurrent

  19. Gary S

    Good luck Dave Barron. I’d like to see him win, but then again, it might make it tougher to book him. Great guide whether wading or float & a great guy.

    Reply
  20. Ken Gangler

    I have been on the outfitting business for over 30 years with my own fishing lodge in Northern Canada. In that time my family and I have hosted over 12,000 guests with some repeating with us over 25 years. We have hosted many of the top fly-fishermen in the industry. I am also an avid fly fishermen who has fished lots in Northern Canada , Florida, South and Central America. I am only sharing this to qualify how strongly I feel about my recommendation. One of my all-time favorite places to fish is the Pere Marquette River in Michigan. My son and I travel there twice a year and delight in its unique fishery. We would never miss it ! A HUGE part of our trip is fishing and hanging with Frank Willets and his staff at the Pere Marquette Lodge in Baldwin MI. These people ‘get it’ as much as anyone I have encountered in my career. Their enthusiasm is infectious and they boast years of guiding experience. All of Frank’s guides (including Frank) have incredible skill and knowledge yet are humble as pie. I always feel pumped and invigorated after being around them and it is a joy to watch my 13 year-old son now do the same. Whether it is being in the fly shop, at the lodge, or on the river , it’s always fun yet informational too. Their fishing lessons are invaluable and their knowledge of the water is uncanny. Our top day with them was 25 steelhead hooked for 2 anglers. We are always chomping at the bit to go back there. I know all of the candidates are very deserving but you simply can not get anything better than the Pere Marquette Lodge in Baldwin MI.

    Reply
  21. Bill Fettis

    Just a note to congratulate and wish Frank Willets much luck on his nomination of Outfitter of the Year!
    Frank, and his sidekick, Uber, are the best, and provide the very best experience possible on the Pere Marquette River, up in Baldwin, Michigan. They are based out of the PM River Lodge, are experts at what they do, and are a blast to fish with.

    Congrats and good luck!!! Much deserved!

    Bill

    Reply
  22. Jason

    Four thumbs up for the Pere Marquette River Lodge!!!! My son and I go there as often as we can. The shop is great, the guides are great. The PMR is not an easy river to fish. You HAVE to be on your game!!! However, snag a trip with Frank or Uber they make it seem easy! If you’re looking for a weekend of fishing, you can’t beat the cabins or the lodge. We only live 45 minutes away and still stay a few weekends a year. Perfect place to be right on the water. Do yourself a favor and give PMRL a try!!!!

    Reply
  23. Casey L

    Congratulations to the entire team at Pere Marquette River Lodige for their nomination, Outfitter of the Year!! So much deserved. Frank! You and Uber lead an incredible team both in the shop and on the river. Its no wonder that our group gets bigger and bigger each year we hold our annual Swervefest!..Thank you for always providing us First rate service and accomodating us regardless of who forgot or broke what throughout our weeklong annual adventures! You guys are the best! Thanks for helping us share our passion with our kids, brothers and brothers from another mother…Cheers Dawg!

    Reply
  24. Steve Cohen

    I was a novice when I was brought along on a fly-fishing trip 8 years ago. We checked into the Pere Marquette River Lodge in Baldwin, Michigan. There, I met the proprietor, Frank Willets, and his ace guide, Uber. They set me up in gear, and showed me the art and science of fly-fishing. The lodgings had every amenity, but still rustic, and true to their surroundings. The gear was top quality…from the waders, to the wind and rain protection, to the boats and fly rods, right down to the polarized lenses. Now, I am a doctor, and I can tell you that science can be taught, but art is to be observed and appreciated. These guys are truly zen masters at fly-fishing. They taught me the science, and then let me “paint my own canvas” on the river, year after year. I live in Toronto, Canada, and I know there are places up here….but this is my spot. This is my destination for a true fly-fishing experience, and I look forward to it every year. Good luck, my brothers on the river. A nomination well deserved.

    Reply
  25. Chris Hayano

    WOW! Congratulations to you Frank and to your incredible team and superb operation on the midwest’s finest fly fishing river. You are the best of everything up there and it comes as absolutely no surprise to me that you have been recognized as one of the finest outfitters. It will also come as no surprise to me when you are chosen as the best of the best. You simply are and you deserve all of the success that it affords. I have and will continue to recommend anyone to your operation. All of us have appreciated your passion for fly fishing and your love of the river but you also have set a standard for an operation the PM that is commensurate with the quality of the fishery – class – all the way.
    I am honored to have shared many incredible days floating with you. And as one of your many endorsers, it’s been a complete pleasure to know you. Best wishes, many fishes, and I look forward to hearing about you capturing of the award the THE BEST OUTFITTER!

    Reply
  26. Alan Graham

    Many Congrats to Frank Willets-Chris “Uber” Raines-and the PM River Lodge and staff in Baldwin MI-on the nomination for “Orvis Outfitter of the year” :):):) First class people first! I have spent many wonderful days on the PM with Frank and his trusty vessel “wood is good!” Top-notch knowledge of a top-notch fishery-blue ribbon all the way… Thank you boys-congrats again-and see you soon! -Alan

    Reply
  27. Mike Cook

    I wanted to give my Congratulations to Frank and staff at the PM River Lodge. We’ve been going for several years now and each time gets better. Honestly, we started out as really beginners. I think Frank and Uber might of recognized that right away. 🙂 Because they’re so good at what they do, we’ve gotten pretty good. From the beginning, they set us up with all the gear and thankfully top quality rain protection. You know Frank says, “There are no bad days on the river, just bad dressers”. It feels like home when you stay there. The lodge’s great room as great place to hang out after day on the river. Congrads and until next time. Mike

    Reply
  28. David Ruimveld

    Congratulations to Frank Willet, Chris Raines, and the staff for the well deserved nomination.

    During my career of 25 plus years as an Angling & Sporting Artist I have had the pleasure of meeting many Fly Fishing Lodge Owners, Outfitters, and Guides in the Fly Fishing Community. I have had the good fortune of working with the Pere Marquette River Lodge since the very beginning of this adventure as an artist 25 years ago.

    I met Frank Willets when he became one of the owners of the PM Lodge. We talked Art – Fly Fishing – Bird Hunting, and shared our stories of where we have been and where we would like to go. Frank is very giving of his time and knowledge of fly-fishing to everyone who he comes into contact with. It does not matter if they are well seasoned or new to the world of fly fishing. His staff and the guides have these same qualities as they interact the many clients they come in contact with.

    Going above and beyond!

    It was during their peak season with all the guides and boats being booked already for the following weeks. Keep in mind that they have been working 16 plus hrs a day. I wanted to take my daughter fishing the very next day. Frank informed me that he was already booked with the many business commitments the following day, but… if I could get to the Lodge by noon he would take us out for my daughters first Steelhead on the fly. Frank made it happen with a smile on his face.

    Summer of 2014’ – Frank & Chris Raines are headed to the Bighorn River for some well deserved R&R. Frank finds out my wife and I will be out there the same time visiting the fly shops and galleries in Montana. They invite us to float the Bighorn with them for a couple of days. They make room for us in their boats and go above and beyond create many great memories.

    Wishing you the best of luck – you deserve to win.

    David Ruimveld

    Reply
  29. Scott Severson

    Frank and his team at PM River Lodge not only taught my two daughters and wife how to fish but how to enjoy the fishing experience. Franks team helped me understand that women approach a fishing trip differently from men and showed me how to make fishing fun for my girls. The result – My girls love to go fishing with me. Thanks to Frank, I now have three lifelong fishing partners.

    Reply
  30. Mark LaRose

    Big time cigarets to Frank Willetts and the whole gang at the pm lodge, especially top guide chris “uber” Raines. My first fly fishing adventure was with these guys for the fall king salmon run on the pm about ten years ago. Frank and all of his guides are patient, knowledgable, and provide top equipments , drift boats, and a lot of adventure and fun on the river and après fishing. Frank took me and my wife to Alaska to fish for great trout and salmon in the grizzly bear Capitol of the world. Awesome— I truly believe he would have stood his ground with a bear if need be to protect us. I fish all over the country and in several other countries regularly . I never miss the spring and early winter steelhead at pm lodge with frank , uber , and the boys. I never hesitate to bring new victims along so they can learn fly fishing from Frank and Uber. I have four or five guide outfitters across the country that I consider to be good friends. Frank Willetts is one of them–Ubie too. Thanks Frank for my fly fishing addictions—you’ be cost me only around 100k in gear and trips in the last ten!! Hears to at least 20 more. Best of luck with the nomination— you deserve it. Marky Mark

    Reply
  31. Mark LaRose

    Ps with Frank and Uber , chuck and duck is a team effort— I chuck and they duck!!! Thanks again boys and I hope you have been able to dislodge that hook fron your scalp from Easter weekend steel heading. 36 degrees water temp 18 degrees air temp , snow , steelhead. Perfect! Thanks again boys. You’ve already won the award for putting up with me and my various trip mates. For ten years. Mark

    Reply
  32. Kurt J

    Frank and Uber, of the PM Lodge, are top notch guides, hosts and stewards of the river. They are generous with information and advice, patient in instruction and professional in their conduct. The same can be said for their staff. Two years ago my wife and two children attended “Trout School” at the lodge. I went along for the ride, skeptical that I’d learn much from the “young punk” instructors, Casey and Jake. Everyone in the family became a better fly tyer and caster, with a greater understanding of the sport thanks to Casey and Jake’s knowledge paired with their ability to teach.

    Everyone at the PML seems willing to go above and beyond, even in matters unrelated to fishing. Last summer my wife and I stopped at the lodge on our way up to the Grand Hotel on Mackinaw Island. In talking with Frank, I discovered that the evening dress code required that gentlemen wear ties, which I did not pack. Frank offered me my choice of Italian silk ties: souvenirs from his life in the corporate world. From piscatorial to sartorial, the PML has it covered.

    Reply
  33. John Wise

    I have utilized the Pere Marquette River Lodge numerous times over the past decade. From fishing schools to lodge stay’s to use of their guides. Each and every experience has exceeded my expectations. Frank Willets works very hard to ensure all his guests have what they need to have an Orvis level quality experience. As a guide Frank is exceptional. His fishing and river IQ is off the charts. I would, and have, recommended his lodge and him personally to friends of mine, all of whom have thanked me for the reference. I therefore endorse Frank and the PMRL for the appropriate award.

    Reply
  34. keith scott

    The pere Marquette. River lodge is a hands on fishing destination, the shop is first class and the lodge is wonderful to stay in, if you want to catch trophy fish on the pere Marquette go see frank ,Corey and the rest of the great Staff!!!

    Reply
  35. Frank Willetts

    On behalf of the staff, guide service and partners we at the Pere Marquette River Lodge are very humbled and honored to be nominated for this award.

    It is because of our awesome clientele/friends and support from the Orvis team that allows us to reach such achievements.

    We are truly blessed to be able to do what we do and still call it work.

    Sincerely,

    Frank Willetts

    Reply
  36. J. Nevins

    The Pere Marquette River Lodge in Michigan is hands down the best overall outfitter and fly fishing experience I have had the pleasure of participating in. I have experienced both on-site and planned excursions – all of which were professionally executed and flawless. The background and skill of this shop is the best I have ever experienced, and they have a blast doing it. When I came to this sport I knew little about the proper gear and approach to fly fishing. Frank and Uber of PMRL openly shared their knowledge and techniques helping me become a life-long fan. This shop is the perfect mix of professionalism and passion. If you have not experienced the PMRL you need to! Congratulations on the nomination guys!

    Reply
  37. A. Roberts

    I am honored to say I look forward to my stays at the Pere Marquette Lodge. The entire staff at the Lodge and the Fly Shop have been amazing! Not only is the Lodge gorgeous but the hospitality is fantastic. I came in knowing nothing and the entire staff has been eager to teach me, not only are they knowledgeable and helpful but they love it and always have a smile on their face. A big thank you to Frank Willets for teaching me the beauty of fly fishing! Congratulations to the Pere Marquette for a nomination well deserved!

    Reply
  38. KynsLee of Blackfoot River Outfitters

    On behalf of Blackfoot River Outfitters, we thank you all and appreciate the support. We are working very hard to provide a top notch experience and are striving for excellence. We hope 2016 is the year of BRO and we are honored to be in the running with such outstanding folks in the industry.

    Reply
  39. Pingback: Congratulations to the Winners of the 2015 Orvis-Endorsed Awards! | Orvis News

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