Pat’s experience as a fly angler goes way back. His first memories of fly fishing were on the Kings River in California, when he took out his dad’s fly rod and automatic reel and thought fly fishing consisted of pulling all the line off of the reel (to the knot securing it to the arbor) letting it swing downstream and then retrieve by pulling the lever on the reel.
But when he was about 14 years old, he worked all summer mowing lawns and cleaning pigeon lofts to save enough to purchase a real fly fishing outfit. His mom drove him down to the Millpond in Los Gatos, and he purchased a Sage 8’9″ 7-weight (fiberglass) rod and a Shakespeare multiplier reel. He immediately started fishing the outfit for bass, bluegill, and pumpkin seeds, and he never turned back.
Pat came to The Fly Shop® a little more than 20 years ago in 1996. He first met Mike Michalak, the owner of The Fly Shop®, while guiding in Alaska in 1986. He crossed paths with Michalak again some years later fishing the flats of the Mexican Yucatan and kept in touch with Mike after that meeting. A few years later, Pat and his wife Lisa decided to give up their office jobs. He had been working with Fishing International as a travel specialist, and Lisa was making movies for George Lucas at Industrial Light and Magic. They set off from Petaluma, California, and took a month to drive north for a stint in Alaska, where they helped get a remote fishing lodge up and running. They, along with their Chesapeake Bay retriever Maggie, lived in a Yurt on an Alaskan beach. Pat was involved with marketing the new lodge and was guiding again for some of the best silver salmon fishing on Earth, and Lisa was chief bottle washer (kind of gives you the idea of what type of trooper she truly is). By the end of October, they were out of the wilderness lodge business and looking for their next venture. Pat was still in touch with Michalak and soon made the best business decision of his life: accepting a position at The Fly Shop®.
He arrived with what seemed like a hundred years of fishing, outdoor, and business experience packed into a man in his mid-30s. Some of his experience includes a Bachelor of Science in Recreation Administration with a minor in business from California State University Chico, but the bulk of it comes from hands-on, in-the-field training. He truly loves talking with fishing travelers and putting together the trips that only first-hand experience can provide. Pat is the director of The Fly Shop’s International Travel Department. He is highly respected by the staff in the department not because he is the boss, but because he leads with the confidence of experience and is still willing and eager to learn. At work and play, he is organized and determined but not with blinders on. He is open to new ideas and solutions to old problems.
What does fly fishing do for you that keeps you coming back for more?
For me getting outside on the water with friends and family is what makes fly fishing special and has me coming back for more. Since I do quite a bit of international travel for fly fishing, it’s also meeting new people, making friends, experiencing new cultures, and seeing some amazing country. Fish don’t usually live in ugly places.
Favorite fish to pursue?
Saltwater – big tarpon – the only fish that has made my knees shake!
Freshwater – steelhead or Atlantic salmon – they are amazing creatures.
What fly fishing destination is on your bucket list?
Oh man, that is a tough one … New Zealand, Cuba, Africa — the list goes on and on! People ask me all the time what my favorite place to fish is, and I tell them: Where I am going next.
Favorite fly rod and why?
Probably my Scott Radian 12’6″ 7-weight double handed rod. This rod is so comfortable to fish, has never let me down when I need to punch a long line to hit a lie, and is just a great tool. Right behind it, and in some cases before, is The Fly Shop’s 13′ 7-weight double hander. This is the one of best Spey rods I have ever fished and an incredible value. It can hold its own with any rod out there.
Favorite reel and why?
I fish a lot of different brand reels, but my go-to is various Nautilus NVs in different sizes. These reels have been great tools and have never let me down. And I like that they are made in America by a good bunch of guys.
Favorite fly and why?
Paul Miller’s Predators/Intruders/Phantoms/Super Speys. These are the most amazing anadromous fish flies ever tied, and they are by our good friend Paul Miller. I have a few in my box and still fish them on occasion.
What is your greatest fly fishing extravagance?
My Farlex reel – 4″ S handle raised pillar click and pawl reel. This reel is amazingly beautiful, handmade and bomber. Nothing sounds like this reel when a fish is running — it wakes up the entire river!
Which living or non-living fly fisher would you want to spend a day Fly Fishing with?
Hmm, that’s a tough one, but (in no order of importance) Lee Wulff, Theodore Roosevelt, Winston Moore, and Mike Mercer.
Who are your favorite writers?
Cormac McCarthy, Larry McMurtry, Conn Iggulden, Jack London, Robert Ruark, Ernest Hemingway, Nathan Jorgenson, John McPhee, the list can go on and on…
What single issue in fly fishing do you feel has the greatest adverse potential?
Pebble Mine. NO PEBBLE!
What is your most memorable fly fishing trip you’ve taken?
WOW, this is a tough one. I have had so many memorable trips, but two come to mind. One is when I was guiding in Alaska, and my dad and younger brother came up, and I got to guide and fish them for the entire week. We had epic fishing, but more importantly, we had a great time. These memories will last a lifetime.
The other was a two-week float on the Sedanka Spring Creek in Kamchatka, Russia, way, way back when. We had a great group of folks, the fishing was amazing, and the two weeks allowed everyone to get in a groove. The second week was pure bliss. I wish we still did two weeks on the Sedanka — it gives you time to get into the rhythm of the river.
Which talent or natural gift would you most like to have?
To be able to play a musical instrument and sing
Who are your heroes in real life?
My dad, my mom, my wife Lisa, and my son Aidan
What is your fly fishing pet peeve?
Anglers who show little or no ethics or manners on the water
What do you most value in your friends?
Loyalty, honesty, compassion, and forgiveness
If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be?