GUIDE'S CORNER- "Guided by my mentors" by Josh Gallivan

My love affair with the One Fly began years before I ever had the opportunity to guide it. I was just a young high school kid when Jeff Currier hired me to work at the legendary Jack Dennis fly shop. At the time, I was naïve but incredibly fortunate to work alongside a team of fly-fishing greats. These included Scott Sanchez, known as "Chezwick," Andy Asadorian, or "Ace man," Evan Schwanfelder, "Schwanny," Micah Kruger, who we called "Meeks," and Mark Kuhn, nicknamed "Milkfish." I was especially lucky to share two consecutive days off each week with Jeff Currier, famously known as "The Governor." Nicknames were a big part of our culture in the shop, and one day, Currier came up with mine—"Sicket."

The shop was a fun and inviting atmosphere, perfect for an impressionable kid like me. Despite the playful environment, we were expected to work hard. After all, we were one of the most renowned fly shops in the world, attracting guests from all over the globe. I even had the chance to sell a pair of Simms pants to the Vice President of the United States one day. The work was intense but incredibly rewarding. My time in the fly shop was an education in itself, more valuable than any classroom lesson.

From the very first day, I was immersed in the world of fly fishing. I learned to rig a Bimini twist on a saltwater rod, and outfit guests with flesh flies for Alaska. I confidently assembled boxes of permit crabs for trips to Mexico, tied fly orders, and booked guided fishing trips under the expert supervision of Bruce James. I taught casting lessons and walk-in trips and occasionally, I got paid to visit clients' homes before their international trips to review their gear and practice casting in their backyards. Each evening, guides would swing by the shop to prepare for the next day's adventures. I envied their sunburnt faces and tired yet satisfied stories from the water, solidifying my desire to become a guide someday.

As September approached, the buzz about the One Fly competition grew louder among the guides and fly shop employees. To me, the One Fly was still something of myth and legend. Participants would come in to purchase practice flies and ask for suggestions. I watched in awe as Currier would grab a handful of mahogany duns and toss them onto the table. The flies that landed hook point down were deemed winners, while the rest were returned to the fly bins. If only it were that simple Jeff.

Back then, fly shop employees were also invited to the One Fly banquet. Those evenings were nothing short of magical. We cheered on our favorite guides and reveled in the camaraderie, all while enjoying the free wine left behind on the tables by Jackson Hole Winery. It was a time of celebration, learning, and dreaming, and it cemented my passion for the sport and the guiding life.

A couple of years later, I began guiding. What I lacked in experience, I more than made up for it with hustle and a positive attitude. I washed my boat and truck every day, served the best lunches, and often kept guests out until dark. Thanks to the advice from Paul Rice and Tom Montgomery, I sent Christmas cards to every single guest that year. I never took days off and was as happy as could be, living my dream of fishing every day. Sunburnt, tired, and loving every moment of it.

My love for this sport is rooted in those foundational years. I’ll never feel good enough for this job. I’ll never feel good enough to guide in the One Fly, which by the way is still something of myth and legend. I’m always thankful I get to work on the river. In a way, this is both a love letter and a thank-you letter. A thank-you letter to my mentors who guided me along the way and still do, and a love letter to fly fishing and the opportunities it has brought into my life. Thanks to my formative years in that fly shop, where Jack Dennis would walk around unknowingly with his pant leg tucked into his sock, where we had weekly whiffle ball games at Currier’s house, where Larry Bashford smoked his pipe while walking around the shop, and where a picture of Adam Cohen in his hospital bed giving a thumbs up hung proudly. It was in this environment that my dream became my reality, and for that, I am eternally grateful.