First off, go Beavers. I know you are currently a student at Oregon State – Cascades and take your involvement with the campus very seriously. Can you tell me about your educational goals and involvement with OSU?
I am currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Tourism and Outdoor Leadership with a minor in Business and have considered pursuing a Masters in Counseling after completing my undergraduate program. One of my main educational goals is to graduate at the top of my class and to give the student speech at commencement. I am very involved with the student body at Central Oregon Community College and Oregon State-Cascades. I started the Veterans Club at C.O.C.C. which has sustained as a club and I am now currently serving on the student government as the Activities Coordinator at OSU-Cascades.
When did you get into fly fishing and how?
I got into fly fishing several years ago. I always had an interest in fly fishing but never mustered up the courage to go purchase a setup. But I woke up one morning and decided to buy a fly rod, and the rest is history. I caught the bug and discovered that fly fishing was my true passion and has changed my life for the better.
A day in the life of Kyle with a beautiful Rainbow (left) and some friendly advice at Fly & Field Outfitters (right).
Thank you for your service in the military, can you tell me about your experience?
You’re welcome! Yes, I sure can. I enlisted in the United States Navy at 17 years old as a Hospital Corpsman. My journey began on September 24th, 2007 and ended on August 15th, 2012. During my time in the Navy, I served with the United States Marine Corps. The majority of my time was spent in a Marine Corps uniform. I was stationed in Illinois, Okinawa Japan and North Carolina. I also took part in one combat deployment to Afghanistan in 2011-2012. My entire enlistment is something I will never forget and something that I constantly look back on, it was truly a once in a lifetime experience and I would not have traded it for anything.
How long ago did you move to central Oregon and how have you been involved in the fishing community since?
I have been fortunate enough to have lived in Central Oregon for just over two years now. It is truly the best place I have ever lived. I have become quite involved with the fly fishing community here in Bend. I was lucky enough to score a job at Fly and Field Outfitters, where I spend most of my time talking about what I love to like-minded individuals. I also serve on the Board of Directors for the Bend Casting Club. With the Bend Casting Club, I have been able to assist in planning monthly rallies, conservation efforts and the First Annual Bend Fly Fishing Festival.
Kyle showing the Bend Casting Club Daily Tube (left) and displaying some Fly & Field Outfitters gear (right)
What is one of your most memorable fishing experiences?
I would have to say that one of most memorable fishing experiences was while I was still stationed in North Carolina. One of my closest friends and I fished for nearly 48 hours straight on no sleep with a Waffle House for most meals. We fished everything in that time period. Spent a full day on the ocean, spent the night catfishing, the next day bass fishing, the next night catfishing and the last full day was spent at this place called the Rock Quarry. The Rock Quarry was private property so we had to sneak in on a Sunday morning when we thought no one would be there. It was well worth it, we caught largemouth bass, stripers, pickerel and small mouth bass. We also saw baby crocodiles skating across the surface. It was a very unique place and I will cherish that forever.
I know you enjoy our products for fishing as much as we do. Which one is your favorite and why?
Hell yes I love your products! My favorite is definitely the blue camo Daily Tube because it reminds of some the military uniforms I was issued back in the day… I would like to see some Marine Corps patterns come out, sure beats the hell out of the Army. I love my Daily Tubes or Daily Hoods while on the water, I never fish without one anymore. The best part is you can dip them in the water and stay cool for an hour or so. Also, I can clean off my sunglasses and not damage them. I really love my polarized BlackStrap sunglasses, not only do I look awesome but I am pretty sure they are a top secret product.
Getting the opportunity to get to know you since adding you to the team has been a privilege and if there is one thing I have learned about you, it’s that you are a pretty ambitious dude. What are some goals that you have for the future in your professional, as well as, fishing career?
Well, I appreciate that and it has been a pleasure getting to know and fish with the dudes at BlackStrap. If I decide to pursue a Masters in Counseling, I plan on opening a non-profit for disabled veterans (specifically with PTSD) and their spouses to go on fly fishing and yoga retreats here in Central Oregon. I personally have learned and experienced the healing aspects of fly fishing and I would love nothing more to facilitate the healing of other veterans. If pursue the graduate program, I would be a Mental Health Therapist and could run a legitimate wilderness therapy program. As far as my fishing career, I just hope to stay on the right track as a steward of our fisheries and I hope to fish around the world. I do plan on venturing into the guiding side of the industry. I love what I do now and I hope to continue down the same path for the rest of my life.
You truly are a forward thinking, bright individual who has grasped a firm presence in Central Oregon. Your fishing skills are apparent as well as your willingness to give back to your community. Everyone at BlackStrap is extremely excited to have made your acquaintance and we are looking forward to many fishing adventures with you, Kyle. Welcome to the team!