Each year, for thirty-seven years, the Orvis Company has recognized excellence in sporting experiences through its Endorsed Lodges, Outfitters, and Guides Program (ELOG). Awards are allocated 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 resources, and their partnership with Orvis in providing the finest sporting experience possible.
These awards were handed out last evening at the 2023 Orvis-Endorsed Partners Meeting in Manchester, Vermont. It was wonderful to get everyone together to recognize these incredible guides and operations. Click here to see the lists of nominees for each category.
Here are this year’s winners, along with customer comments that caught our eyes. Click on the highlighted name of the guide or the operation to learn more about each winner.
2023 Endorsed Fly-Fishing Guide of the Year
Matt Miles, based in Lynchburg, Virginia
Capt. Matt Miles grew up in Lynchburg, but right after high school he moved to Colorado to live out his dream of becoming a fly-fishing guide. In 2003, he decided to move back to guide his home waters, where he now runs Matt Miles Fly Fishing, fishing for muskies, smallmouth bass, trout, and striped bass. Matt’s guided trips are run on the James, Smith, Jackson, and the Roanoke Rivers, to name a few. Matt loves guiding, teaching, being on the water, and tying his own flies. Here is what one customer had to say about time on the water with Matt:
Matt gave me the option of driving a little longer for better fishing. I’m glad I took his advice. We caught a lot of nice fish with some nice big ones (up to 19”) mixed in. These were wild trout on public water, so he knows the spots and how to get them to bite. On top of that, he brought a generous lunch and met the time constraints I was under. It was great day and Matt will produce the experience you ask for.
2023 Endorsed Wingshooting Guide of the Year
Jon Hubble, based in Lometa, Texas
Jon Hubble operates Premier Wingshooting in central Texas. What sets Premier Wingshooting apart is its ability to expand or contract the hunting area in relation to a wingshooter’s preference and ability. For those looking for a “boots on the ground” experience, their larger courses require hunters to hike and earn those flushes. For those wanting a more refined experience with lots of action, there are smaller courses to keep the wingshooters in the bird while not taxing physical abilities. With grand vistas of rolling hills of native grass, you’ll swear you’re in Kansas, but with a central Texas locale. Here’s what Here is what one satisfied bird hunter had to say about time in the field with Jon:
What a fantastic experience! Every aspect from our arrival to the departure was first class. Jon and his team have thought of everything and provide the best upland bird hunting experience I have ever had. The scenery was gorgeous, the dogs were fantastic, the birds were sporty, and the guides made the experience even more exceptional. The post-hunt stories back at the camp were especially memorable. Thank you to Jon and his team for having put in all the hard work to not miss any of the details. I am already planning my next hunt.
2023 Endorsed Fly-Fishing Lodge of the Year
North Fork Ranch, in Shawnee, Colorado
The North Fork Ranch is situated in a picturesque setting in the mountains of Colorado. It has served as a dude ranch for 30 years and a fishing lodge for more than a decade. The North Fork Ranch legend begins with a unique combination of ambiance, world class fishing, and unsurpassed hospitably. Guests can spend a day on the legendary river at the ranch, explore other premier private waters in the valley, or cast a line on public water in the South Platte River drainage. One guest was astonished by every part of the experience:
Had an incredible fishing trip at North Fork Ranch…the property was absolutely beautiful, and the accommodations were top notch. Literally one of the best fishing days I’ve had with guide Justin Schlosser. Highly recommend!
2023 Endorsed Wingshooting Lodge of the Year
Flint Oak, in Fall River, Kansas
Flint Oak Ranch is the only Orvis-Endorsed Wingshooting Lodge in Kansas, making it an excellent destination for the upland enthusiast. With over 6,000 acres, you won’t hunt the same piece of property more than once during your stay. More than 15 guides lead their field hunts, lasting three hours behind four of the 100-plus dogs of Flint Oak. Flint Oak Ranch also offers six different “Europeans,” or driven pheasant shoots. One guest felt that every hunter should experience what Flint Oak has to offer:
Flint Oak is the best hunting lodge I have been to. This makes my 4th trip, and I would absolutely recommend a visit to both beginner and expert hunters alike. There are many things to do from Field hunts, Duck hunts, Skeet, and Shotgun games, to Fishing. They also boast a world class chef onsite who provides some amazing cuisine. Flint Oak is certainly a place to put on your bucket list.
2023 Endorsed Fly-Fishing Outfitter of the Year
Lopstick Outfitters, in Pittsburg, New Hampshire
The headwaters of the Connecticut River offer some of the finest fly fishing in New England and the East, offering good accessibility and a variety of fishing opportunities. The trophy stretch of the Upper Connecticut River, a short distance from our shop, is 2-miles of fly-fishing-only water, where you’ll find native landlocked salmon, brook trout, rainbow trout, and brown trout. If you prefer to float, the Connecticut and Androscoggin Rivers offer great fly fishing and Lopstick offers drift-boat guide services on both. Here’s what one satisfied guest had to say:
Lopstick Outfitters are top notch, always providing a first-class experience. They are customer focused, flexible and knowledgeable. Drift or wade, the guiding is geared to your level of experience and objective. They know the waters, the options, and how to make your time on the water enjoyable. The fishing was great; the lunch amazing; the staff friendly and accommodating. Great memories of being on the water in the Great North Woods.
2023 International Destination of the Year
Blue Horizon Lodge, in Placencia, Belize
Founded in 1997 by legendary Belizean fly-fishing guide Lincoln Westby, Blue Horizon Fly Fishing operates inside the protected waters of the South Water Caye Marine Reserve, in an area known as “Permit Alley.” This epicenter of flats fishing is known for some of the finest permit fishing in the Caribbean, attracting anglers from around the world to our fabled flats. For decades, Blue Horizon Lodge was known as the destination for hardcore permit anglers attempting to catch their first or hundredth permit. The Lodge is located on the exact same footprint that Lincoln established his original Lodge those many years ago in order to maximize being on the flats during the best tides, with the best guides, during the best times of the day. This reviewer was certainly impressed:
Property is beautiful, guides are stellar, lodge staff is friendly and accommodating. Food is delicious. If anyone wants a chance to land the holy grail of saltwater fly fishing, this is the place!
2023 Lifetime Achievement Award
Thomas E. Baltz, Mount Holly Springs, Pennsylvania
Thomas Baltz has been honored to guide fly-fishers for just shy of 50 years. He was a contributing instructor in one of the first US Fly Fishing Schools (Letort Limited Flyfishing School) in the 1970s. Instructors included such pioneers as Tony Skilton, Ed Koch, Ed Schenk, and Joe Humphries. Tom became an Orvis Endorsed Guide in 2000, and in his first year won the Guide of the Year award. The primary reason was the number of feedback reports that indicated just how much clients learned and enjoyed their time on the water with Tom. Over the years, Tom has pioneered four patterns that were adopted and sold by Orvis, including the ICSI Midge, Paranymph, Mudbugger, and Hatching Nymph. Tom has enjoyed a distinguished history of involvement with the Cumberland Valley Trout Unlimited chapter, serving as a board member, president, and active leader in conservation projects throughout the region. His dedication has resulted in him becoming the only CVTU member to ever win each of the following awards:
- Limestoner Award – For his leadership in conservation & chapter functions
- Rising Trout Award For his works in promoting and educating fly fishing in the Cumberland Valley
- Order of the Hat Award – For his articles and works as a contributing author to The Mid Atlantic Fly-Fishing Guide
We are very excited to add the 2023 Orvis Lifetime Achievement Award to Thomas’ long list of accolades and accomplishments.
2022 Orvis Conservationist of the Year Award
Jimmy Bryan, Prairie Wildlife, in West Point, Mississippi
Over 86 years, Jimmy Bryan has watched land-use practices in his native West Point, change dramatically. “At one time we did nothing for quail,” Bryan says. “It was a natural habitat and the birds were here, and they co-existed with land practices.” Changes in agricultural approach and efficiency over the course of Mr. Jimmy’s adulthood, however, made for a rapid decline in wild quail populations. Jimmy’s love for wild birds, dogs, and the outdoors compelled him to take action: with the help of Mississippi State University, Mr. Jimmy set about auditing farming practices across his 5,000 acres at Prairie Wildlife, re-establishing native Black Prairie grassland habitat and re-introducing populations of Bobwhite quail. His work is a labor of love, and a commitment to future generations. The model Mr. Jimmy has implemented for wise land use is one he shares enthusiastically, proof to other landowners that significant positive impact on wildlife populations can be accomplished alongside productive agriculture.
4 thoughts on “Meet the Winners of the 2023 Orvis-Endorsed Awards!”
Well deserved win Matt Miles! Trout, smallmouth, striper, musky, the guy can do it all. Looking forward to getting on the water with you this summer.
Great choice with your selection of Matt Miles. I have always had a wonderful experience fishing with Matt over the years. Congratulations Matt!
So happy when. I read about Tommy Baltz’s Lifetime Achievement Award ! Such a Gentleman, great guide , terrific tyer
And even better person . Congrats Tom !
Great choice and congrats, Matt. Matt Miles is my go to guy for cold and warm water species. And even for striped bass once a year. With limited time to get on the water, Matt makes my outings count. And a thankfully patient instructor.