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A Complete Education in Fly Fishing

When it comes to fly fishing schools and instructional programs, there are plenty of offerings out there.  Some are casual, some are short, and in the end, most aren’t much more than a glorified guide trip.  Very few are based on the concept of a comprehensive fly fishing education; that is, the creation of the complete angler.  At the Angler’s Academy, we have designed a school that teaches all the key elements that will improve your ability as a fly angler.  In the end, students will understand what a mechanically sound casting stroke looks and feels like, they’ll know how to control their line, leader, and fly, and most importantly, they will know exactly how to analyze and correct any casting mistake. The Academy will hone in on all of the important aspects of the sport to ensure that no stone is left unturned when it comes to a thorough and well-rounded curriculum.

Our professional staff holds over 300 years of combined experience in teaching folks how to become better anglers.  Our goal is to help you achieve total command of the sport so that when you head out on your home water or travel to a destination, you’ll be equipped with the skills and knowledge you need to make every on-water adventure successful, fulfilling, and enjoyable.  

The inaugural session of The Angler’s Academy will take place in Last Chance, Idaho. This unique community is arguably the epicenter and birthplace of fly fishing in the Western United States. There’s no destination that can boast a richer or more illustrious fly fishing heritage than the Greater Yellowstone area.  Some of the sport’s most well-known characters cut their teeth on the famed waters of Yellowstone National Park, the Henry’s Fork River, and the nearby Madison River.  It’s only fitting that your complete education would begin right where it all started.

What You'll Learn

The Angler’s Academy is a school designed by anglers for anglers, with a curriculum that addresses fly casting techniques, angling terminology, fisheries biology and conservation, water types, gear and equipment, lines, leaders and tippets, line handling and management, knots, fishing ethics, rigging, hooking, controlling and playing fish, handling and releasing fish, insects and fish food, reading water, approaching water, dry fly presentations, drag-free drifts, nymphing and streamer techniques, choosing the right fly, fly construction, basic photography skills, fly fishing history and so much more.

Who Is This For?

The Angler’s Academy is for all fly anglers who wish to deepen their understanding of the sport, develop a sense of autonomy on the water, and gain knowledge from a renowned lineup of professionals. The ideal student is the individual who understands that the more they know about fly fishing, the less they actually know about fly fishing; in other words, their thirst for new knowledge is insatiable.  The Angler’s Academy offers the passionate student a rare chance to spend four days with pioneers of the sport and experts in the field on one of the most famed trout fisheries on the planet. 

Location, Dates, Package Rate

Elk Creek Ranch – Island Park, Idaho  

August 14 – 19, 2021 

5 nights / 4 days is $4,495.00 per person (based on double occupancy)

Limited to 12 students 

WHAT’S INCLUDED:  Five (5) nights of lodging at Elk Creek Ranch, four (4) full days of professional instruction, four (4) evening presentations by some of the most well-known names in fly fishing, all meals, house wine and beer.

WHAT’S NOT INCLUDED:  Transportation to and from Elk Creek Ranch, additional nights at Elk Creek Ranch, additional guided fishing trips, liquor, fishing equipment, fishing licenses, gratuities for lodge staff.

ELK CREEK RANCH
Elk Creek Ranch is located in Island Park, Idaho, on a quiet and secluded 500-acre property with its own private lake.  The ranch is positioned near some of the best fishing in the West, from the legendary Henry’s Fork and South Fork of the Snake, to the Teton, Madison, Gallatin and the many catchments of Yellowstone National Park.  Elk Creek Ranch has historically served as a venue for other fly fishing schools in the past, including the famous Mel Krieger School along with Andre Puyans’ School.  The lodge and its nine guest cabins have been remodeled over the years, but each retains an authentic and rustic feel that honors its historic beginnings. Each cabin has spectacular views and offers quick access to the lake.  Guests of Elk Creek Ranch enjoy three meals a day, starting with a hearty breakfast, followed by a delicious lunch to be enjoyed out on the river, and ending with a family-style dinner back at the lodge in the evening.  Dinner features a rotating menu that includes prime rib, baked salmon, turkey with stuffing, BBQ pork loin, grilled beef tenderloin, and more — all of which is offered with home-cooked sides and a run through the salad bar. 

HOW TO GET THERE
Elk Creek Ranch is located in Island Park, Idaho.  There are a number of airports (listed below) to fly in and out of that offer car rental services.  We recommend renting a car so that you have the flexibility to stay in the area longer in order to enjoy the local sights and experiences such as Yellowstone National Park, additional guided fishing, and DIY fishing opportunities. Airport shuttles can be arranged for an additional fee.

Airport Options / Distances (and Drive Times) to Elk Creek Ranch in Island Park, Idaho
Yellowstone Airport in West Yellowstone, MT (WYS) / 30.5 miles (33 minutes)
Idaho Falls Regional Airport (IDA) / 80 miles (1 hour, 15 minutes)
Jackson Hole Airport (JAC) / 108 miles (2 hours, 15 minutes)
Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport (BZN) /  118 miles (2 hours, 15 minutes)
Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC) / 294 miles (4 hours, 7 minutes)

The Staff

John Hudgens (Director, Instructor)
John began his career in the fly fishing industry at the age of 16 when he was hired by Bob Jacklin to work at Jacklin’s Fly Shop in West Yellowstone, Montana.  He has guided fishing in Montana, Idaho, and Yellowstone National Park since 1998.  John has a B.S. degree in Wildlife Biology from the University of Montana and worked for Idaho Fish and Game as a junior fisheries biologist.  John won the Simms Guide Olympics (“Ice Out”) in 2013 and is a member of the pro staff for R.L. Winston Rods and Hatch Reels.  He guided fishing in Chile for many seasons and has worked for Yellow Dog Flyfishing Adventures as the South American Program Director since 2010.  John started The Angler’s Academy because he wanted to create an opportunity for others to experience the privilege of learning from some of the most famed personalities of fly fishing in a setting that would instill a sense of respect for the rich traditions that underpin the sport while also cultivating a deeper understanding of all the other elements of fly fishing that make it such a special pursuit. 

John Juracek (Head Casting Instructor)
John lives in West Yellowstone, Montana, and was a partner in Blue Ribbon Flies for over twenty years.  He has a degree in Fisheries Biology from the University of Wyoming and worked in that field for several years.  Over the years, John has published many articles related to fishing, and his photographs are widely used in calendars, websites, and publications.  John is also a writer and authored his own book, Yellowstone: Photographs of an Angling Landscape, and co-authored three books (with Craig Matthews) Fly Patterns of Yellowstone, Volume One, Fishing Yellowstone Hatches and Fly Patterns of Yellowstone, Volume Two.  John has been teaching fly casting for 40 years, privately and at well-known fishing schools. 

Bob Lamm (Instructor)
Bob has been guiding the Henry’s Fork River since 1974 and was awarded “Guide of the Year” from Fly Rod and Reel magazine in 1993.  He was featured in the book, CastWork: Reflections on Fishing Guides in the American West. “Lamm”, as he is known to most everyone, served two terms as a board member for the Henry’s Fork Foundation and has worked as an instructor and guide for the famed Mel Krieger fly fishing school as well as for Andy Puyans’ fly fishing school.  Lamm has been a mentor to many of the young guides in the industry and stands out as one of the most well-known and respected trout fishing guides in the American West.  

Alice Owsley (Instructor)
Alice has been guiding fishing in the Greater Yellowstone Region since 2001.  She’s an accomplished fly tier, a terrific instructor, and a skilled caster who has won several casting competitions.  She’s a field advisor for R. L.Winston Rods, a member of the Simms Fishing Products Pro-Team, and an ambassador for Scientific Anglers.   

Jonathan Heames (Instructor)
Jonathan Heames is a co-owner and senior guide at Big Sky Anglers in West Yellowstone, Montana.  Jonathan has been in the fishing industry for nearly three decades, getting his start in West Yellowstone under the guidance of Bob Jacklin in 1994.  Since 2004, Jonathan and his wife, Sarah, have managed a fishing lodge in Chilean Patagonia during the winters.  Jonathan is an Ambassador and Field Tester for Simms, a Hatch Reels Pro Staffer, and ranks as one of the top guides in the Greater Yellowstone Region.  

John Cochran (Instructor)
John began his guiding career on the rivers near Vail, Colorado. In 1994 he founded Gorsuch Outfitters, which became one of the largest guide operations in the country, and which he ran until 2007. Since then, he has managed and consulted with several large fly fishing retail and outfitting services in the mountain west and has trained hundreds of professional fly fishing guides. John is recognized as a leader and innovator in the fly fishing industry and has been a presenter at the AFFTA/IFTD industry trade show. He currently works as a business consultant to the fly fishing industry with his company Outdoor Recreation Strategies, LLC. Over the past 25 years during the winter months, John and his wife spend time in the Florida Keys.

Simon Chu (Instructor)
Simon is a passionate angler and native of New Zealand.  A member of the New Zealand Professional Guide Association, Simon started guiding his first anglers in 1989.  While his primary career was focused on education, a deep love for fly fishing kept his foot in the door and had him guiding part-time and writing articles for Fly Life magazine.  In 2018, Simon returned full-time to the fly fishing industry when he moved to Montana to work for Yellow Dog Flyfishing Adventures as the New Zealand, Australia, and Cook Islands Program Director.  He is an ambassador for The Manic Tackle Project in New Zealand and spends his time writing, guiding, and teaching streamcraft in Bozeman, Montana.

Bob Jacklin (Speaker)
Bob founded Jacklin’s Fly Shop in West Yellowstone, Montana in 1972.  He was the President of the Rocky Mountain Council of the Federation of Fly Fishers (FFF), and one of the first certified Master Casters in the country.  In 2004, Bob was inducted into the Fly Fishing Hall of Fame.  Bob is an accomplished fly tier, author, and is considered to be the preeminent living historian of the fly fishing industry.  In fact, Bob will be releasing a book this summer about the history of fly fishing in the West Yellowstone, Montana area.   

Mike Lawson (Speaker)
Mike founded Henry’s Fork Anglers Fly Shop in Last Chance, Idaho in 1976.  Mike is a noted author, fly tier, and lecturer.  His book, Spring Creeks, has already become a classic and his most recent book, Fly Fishing Guide to the Henry’s Fork, is a must have for anyone planning to fish these storied waters.  Mike is a founding member of Henry’s Fork Foundation and founder of the Upper Snake River Fly Fishers.  

Jim Klug (Speaker)
Jim Klug is the founder and director of Yellow Dog Flyfishing Adventures and co-founder of Confluence Films.  In 2017, Jim was awarded the American Museum of Fly Fishing’s “Izaak Walton Award,” given out once a year to honor and celebrate individuals who live by ‘The Compleat Angler’ philosophy.  In 2018, Jim was awarded the annual “Lefty Kreh Industry Leadership Award” by the American Fly Fishing Trade Association (AFFTA).  Jim’s writing and photography appears in numerous magazines and publications in several countries.  In 2014, Jim released his first full-length book project, Fly Fishing Belize.  Jim has been a fishing guide, a sales rep for fishing gear, a travel coordinator, and has fished in over 50 different countries during his career in the industry.  

Mike Bias (Presenter, Entomologist)
Mike holds a Ph.D. in Wildlife Ecology from the University of Cal Berkeley and is the Executive Director for the Fishing Outfitters Association of Montana based in Twin Bridges, Montana.  Mike has been a licensed Montana Fishing Outfitter and guide in Idaho since 1997.  He has several published papers in various scientific journals and has authored over 30 scientific presentations on wetland restoration ecology, wildlife population and habitat ecology, and aquatic entomology.  

Rob Van Kirk (Presenter, Scientist)
Rob is a Senior Scientist with the Henry’s Fork Foundation, a nonprofit conservation organization in Ashton, Idaho, and has been fishing the Henry’s Fork since 1977.  Dr. Van Kirk has been active in collaborative fisheries and water-resources research and management in the Snake River basin since 1994.  He has authored or co-authored 35 peer-reviewed publications and dozens of technical reports and has received numerous awards for his research and contributions to conservation.  Rob has a B.A. and an M.S. from Humboldt University, and holds a Ph.D in mathematics from the University of Utah, where he focused on the mathematical modeling of fish and wildlife populations.  

Bryan Gregson (Presenter, Photographer)
Bryan is an accomplished outdoor photographer and angler and has traveled around the world fishing and shooting photos.  He has worked with Yellow Dog Flyfishing Adventures, Patagonia, Scott Fly Rods, Hatch Outdoors, TroutHunter Lodge, Casa Blanca and Playa Blanca Resorts in Mexico, Las Pampas Lodge in Argentina, Rainy’s Flies, William Joseph, Trout Unlimited, Scientific Anglers, The Drake Magazine, The Flyfish Journal, NW/SW Fly Fishing, and dozens of other brands and conservation groups.  Bryan’s work has become almost ubiquitous within the world of fly fishing. 

FAQ's

Does the ranch have Wifi? How’s the cell service?
The ranch has Wifi available in the main building, but Wifi is not available in the cabins.  There’s a Verizon cell tower nearby and Verizon’s cell coverage is good at the ranch.  Other cellular carriers offer more limited service in the area.  

I’m a beginning angler. Is this the right class for me?
The Angler’s Academy is designed for folks that have already been introduced to fly fishing and are curious and eager to learn more.  This school does delve into advanced topics and will skip over some basics.  We do encourage the course to students of all levels, but we’ll likely offer a 101-type course for true beginners in summer 2022.  

How much fishing will I do?
We’ll be on the water every day, covering a wide range of topics. Students will do some fishing with the instructors, but those short fishing sessions will be focused on the lessons and techniques of the day rather than on catching fish. If you’re hungry for more fishing, we recommend staying additional days afterward either at Elk Creek Ranch or elsewhere in the surrounding area in order to explore some of the best public fishing accesses available to a wide variety of rivers and lakes.  

Do you recommend staying additional days in the area to fish on my own or with guides?
Absolutely!  There are incredible wade fishing opportunities in the immediate area and some excellent fly shops that offer guiding services.  Rivers that we recommend fishing in August include the upper sections of the Henry’s Fork, Madison River, Gallatin River, Slough Creek, Lamar River, and the Yellowstone River in the Park.  There are also some excellent stillwaters to consider fishing that will likely have good hatches for dry fly and sight fishing such as Hebgen Lake, Quake Lake, and Henry’s Lake.  Rivers to float with guides include the Henry’s Fork,  Madison, Teton, and the South Fork of the Snake.  

How is the fishing in the area at that time of year?
August is an excellent time of year to fish and explore the Greater Yellowstone region.  There are good hatches on certain river sections in the mornings and evenings, and plenty of hopper and terrestrial action in the afternoons. The crowds are generally lighter in August compared to June and July, and the water temperatures are typically better due to cool August nights.

I already know how to cast. Do you think I’ll really gain much from casting instruction?
There’s no question that everyone can improve their casting stroke with professional instruction.  We can assure you that the Academy’s instructors are incredibly accomplished fly casters, and they have a lifetime of experience teaching in a clear and understandable manner that will benefit anglers of all skill levels.  Experienced casters will refine their technique, and gain a thorough understanding of the mechanics and principles of high-level fly casting.  

How much time will be spent indoors vs. outdoors?
The first three mornings include 2.5 hours of presentations on various topics in the conference room at the ranch.  Otherwise, the group will be outside every day from 10:30 AM until the end of the day.  On the final day, the group will spend the entire day on the water, using all of the new skills acquired throughout the week. 

I have a dietary restriction. Is the ranch able to accommodate special requests?
Elk Creek Ranch will work with any and all dietary requirements.  Each student will receive a pre-trip questionnaire to fill out so that we can learn about your dietary needs, condition of health, favorite drinks and any other concerns,  to make sure that the lodge is equipped to accommodate everyone’s unique needs. 

What sort of equipment should I pack?
Rods:  9’ 5 wt. and 6 wt.
Lines: Floating Lines
Leaders:  9 ft. 3x – 4x tapered leaders (3-5 of these)
Tippet: 1x through 5x tippet spools (1 of each)
Nippers / Hemostats
Polarized Sunglasses
Hat
Bug Repellent
Sun Block
Rain Jacket
Backpack or Daybag (preferably waterproof)
Waders and Boots (rubber and felt are both acceptable, as are studs)
Outdoor clothing and layers for sudden changes in temperature. Quick dry is good.
Wading Staff (optional)
Fishing vest/hip pack/shoulder sling (optional)

What fishing license do I need?
Students will need an Idaho fishing license valid for four (4) days: August 15, 16, 17, and 18.  There are several fly shops in the nearby area where you can purchase a license in person before arriving at Elk Creek Ranch.  Alternatively, you can purchase a license online in advance and print it out before you arrive. 

Will I have the chance to meet and spend time with the instructors and presenters on staff?
Yes! Everyone listed above will be present at varying times over the course of the four days  Most of the staff have written books, tied famous fly patterns, work as artists and photographers and all will be available to meet and chat with students.  Books, flies and artwork will be available for purchase with the opportunity to have the work signed just for you!

Is this school available for everyone?
This course is for people from all walks of life that love to fly fish.  

Is there an age limit for The Angler’s Academy?
Yes, the minimum age is 14 and students between the ages of 14 – 17 will need to be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian. 

What will you have to drink?
Beer and wine will be provided after 5 PM.  If you prefer something else, you’ll want to bring it with you.  There’s a liquor store just down the road if you need to make a last-minute run.  Whether you’re drinking whiskey or water, the cocktail hour will be a nice time to relax, unwind and reflect on all that you’ve learned over the past day with instructors and fellow students. 

Are there any additional costs that I should know about?
No.  The rate includes lodging, all meals, wine and beer, and all instruction.  We do recommend bringing some cash ($50 – $100) to tip the lodge staff at the end of your stay.  There will be an opportunity to purchase books and art directly from the instructors if you wish–cash only.   

Is there a laundry service at the ranch?
There’s not a laundry service at the ranch, but if anyone needs something washed the staff is happy to take care of it for you.  You’ll want to pack enough clothes for the five nights / four days.   

What is the appropriate attire for the fishing days and what do I wear in the evening?
August days are generally warm (80’s and 90’s) and then it cools down at night (40’s and 50’s).  We recommend long sleeved, lightweight fishing clothing, along with a hat, rain jacket, fleece or light puff jacket, and something to wear under your waders.  We will likely be in waders everyday.  The evening dinners are not formal, and most folks will continue wearing their hats and fishing gear, possibly a pair of blue jeans or khakis.  

Is a Covid vaccine required?
Yes.  

What if I have to cancel my spot?
A 50% deposit is required to confirm your spot and the remaining 50% is due by July 1st.  All payments are non-refundable, but if you must cancel your spot, we will do our very best to find a replacement student so that we can reimburse you in full. Please note that The Angler’s Academy only accepts checks at this time.

If I’m coming alone, do I have to share a room or are single cabins available?
Single cabins are available, but limited.  

Will instructors have first aid kits and/or epi-pens on them during the day?
The instructors will have first aid kits and are trained to administer first aid.  

Will we be using boats?
We do have a short session scheduled to talk about boat fishing, but we will not be fishing from boats.

How much walking do we do? Do I need a wading staff?
We will be walking and wading every day, but none of the locations require long walks to or from the river.  If you normally use a wading staff, we suggest that you bring it.  

If I break a rod will there be extra gear available to borrow?
Absolutely!  We suggest that you pack your own rods, reels and equipment, but we will have lots of gear available to demo and borrow.

What, if anything, can I do to prepare myself for The Angler’s Academy?
Be prepared to have fun and learn a lot! We plan to cover all topics in a clear and easy-to-understand manner.  We’ve put a lot of time into thinking about these topics and how to relay the accumulated knowledge of many years guiding, traveling and fishing into a format that is both comprehensive and interesting. We would bet the farm that you will walk away a better and more complete angler after attending The Angler’s Academy.

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