If Austin Orr is the future of fly fishing, the rest of us can take the rest of the day off and hit the river--the dude is a passionate ambassador of the craft, annoyingly likable and perhaps the most gifted young angler I've ever crossed paths with. If he were fishing insurance, we'd all be in good hands.
And, as you'll see for yourself shortly, he's thoughtful, articulate and funny (are you listening, ladies?) Perhaps his only fault is that he wants to work in the fly fishing business for the rest of his life, which amounts to taking a vow of poverty--but it would be poverty for a good cause, perhaps as good a cause supported by those silent monks high in the Italian Alps.
I first met Austin on a little fishing adventure we concocted on the Texas Gulf Coast last spring (you know, when you absolutely must get out of Idaho for a week or so). "We" included Brandon Robinson, Jen Kugler and Mike Sepelak--a more motley group of anglers has never been assembled. Austin came along to lend his expertise--and there is expertise to spare within this young man. He's got impeccable Texas manners and a patient approach to the craft that most guides would do well to emulate. While on the coast, he assisted a hopeless trout bum with his saltwater cast and helped the lot of us work through several cases of iced Lone Star.
I like the guy, and I'm proud to call him a friend. More importantly, Austin brings out the optimist from deep within. If a smart young man can apply so much passion to fly fishing--and all of its trappings, which include vital components of being "the complete angler," like a solid conservation ethic and a desire to share knowledge and experience--our craft might have a bright future after all.
Take the time to get to know Austin yourself--I think you'll be inspired ... just like I was. On with the questions.
On a calm morning just before the sun peeks above the horizon to shed light on the water, a giant (insert species) tail suddenly breaks the surface of the water at 60 feet, quartering slightly away…
What is your greatest fear? Alzheimer’s.
Which historical figure do you most identify with? Whoever the first guy was that snuck away to go fish when the tribe already had plenty to eat …
Which living person do you most admire? I really admire my father. He taught me the value of hard work, and that you can overcome the odds no matter how they seem to be stacked against you.
What is the trait you most deplore in others? A complete willingness to be unhappy. There are so many people that could be perfectly happy, solid members of society but they choose not to be. Happiness is a choice, and a good attitude will brighten even the worst of days.
John Shively, and he's, um, interesting... -ed)
What or who is the greatest love of your life? I would have to say teaching – I love to pass along my hard-won knowledge to people that are genuinely interested.
Which talent would you most like to have? The ability to instantly make friends with anyone I meet.
What do you consider your greatest achievement? Becoming an FFF Certified Casting Instructor
If you were to die and come back as a person or thing, what do you think it would be? A 7-weight rod lovingly crafted and taken around the world in pursuit of fish.
What is your most treasured possession? The first thing that comes to mind is my first fly rod that my grandfather gave me – a 6/7 eagle claw fiberglass.
Where would you like to live? Well I haven’t visited everywhere yet but so far a few front-runners include Oahu or the Bahamas. Or perhaps just a van down by the river.
Who are your heroes? Everyone who gets up every day and goes out to do what needs to be done, not for themselves but for someone else. That is a true hero.
How would you like to die? Fighting for something I care about. Like staying behind as the rear-guard against the zombie horde while my family gets to safety. You know, the usual.
What’s on your iPod? Mumford and Sons, Merle Haggard, Led Zepplin, Bleu Edmondson, Basshunter, Skrillex… a little bit of everything. Not much rap though.
What would your profession be if you couldn’t do what you do now? Ideally, teaching kids to fish.
Which actor/actress would play you in the movie about your life, and why? Matt Damon. He has the same unassuming, open-minded attitude that I try to cultivate, and can be focused to the point of blindness to all else.
What’s the closest you’ve ever been to dying? I’ve had to run (drive really fast) from tornados a couple times, almost got struck by lightning once, and almost slid off a cliff in Hawaii.
BONUS QUESTION: If you could go back in time, what year would you visit first? Assuming I got to travel with some kind of dino-proof bubble, I’d love to go back to the late Jurassic Period and see all of the creatures that were alive then. If I got to bring a rod, I’d stick an ichthyosaur and just listen to that reel scream. (This may be the best answer to this question ... ever. -ed)