Written by: Debra Carr Brox
The words “legend” and “dynasty” should never be used lightly. These are accolades that–because they are hard-earned over decades of dedication, and not merely handed out like a participation trophy–should be applied only to the most extraordinary individuals.
Matt P. Libby, this year’s Orvis Fly Fishing Lifetime Achievement Award winner, became a guide at 18 and a lodge owner 41 years ago. But in reality, he has been in the business since the day he was born. For three generations before him, his family had operated one of the most renowned hunting and fishing lodges in the East, Libby Sporting Camps. He carried on a family tradition that is now in its 127th year. Looking back at this history, Matt said, “It seems that we just can’t get the camps out of our blood.”
This tradition was not without its hardships. In the early years, there were no roads to the camps. When your address is T-8, R-9 you know you’re off the beaten track! To make the camps more accessible, Matt’s father learned to fly and purchased a Piper Cub J-3 float plane in the 1940s. Matt also took to the skies and continues to wow guests with scenic flights to outpost camps throughout the Maine woods. It is one of the many elements that continue to make the experience at Libby Camps unique for the region.
Over the years, with the devoted help of his wife Ellen, and his children, Libby Camps have been expanded and improved for the comfort of clients. This has been accomplished in a masterful way that maintains the rustic, authentic atmosphere that can only be achieved by caretakers who are the “real deal.” In this way, Matt has kept the sporting tradition alive, and it’s one of the main reasons the business has been so successful for so long.
Regardless of what was going on in the background, the guests felt only the beauty and peacefulness of the wilderness. The could enjoy listening to the call of the loons and watching moose feed in the ponds, enjoying delicious comfort food and camaraderie, and of course, great hunting and fishing. The motto at Libby Sporting Camps is “Catch and Relax,” and Matt and his family made sure that it rang true.
In 2007, Libby Sporting Camps was named Orvis-Endorsed Lodge of the Year and consistently garners 5-star ratings from clients, who leave comments like, “The fishing is great for brookies and landlocked salmon and the food is without peer. We fall exhausted into bed every night for a very deep sleep. Daily cares are left way behind.”
Matt has also been very active in the outdoor community. The list of ways he has given back include community service, as the go-to guy for state outdoor resource management issues. He served three terms as Maine’s Aroostook County representative on the Department of Fish and Wildlife advisory council and is a Board Member of the Maine Professional Guides Association.
Though Matt says he is now retired, he says he and Ellen, “Would like to give back to the world that has been so good to us. Mission trips to Haiti and Alaska are in our future.”
His accomplishments are many: Master Maine Guide, expert Woodsman, backcountry pilot, devoted protector of natural resources, respected member of the outdoor community, and passionate keeper of the flame.
To sum it all up, he’s a legend. We congratulate 2017 Lifetime Achievement Award winner, Matt P. Libby.