It's a beautiful thing when work is not work at all, when you get to practice your passion every day. That is the case for one man who has made his whole career fly fishing.
On any given day in the Smoky Mountains, you can find Rob Fightmaster fly fishing.
"When you get out here on a stream and you're fishing, everything else goes away. You're not thinking about the mortgage. You're not thinking about the economy or gas prices. You're concentrated on catching a little fish," says Fightmaster of Fightmaster Fly Fishing.
Rob didn't grow up fly fishing as a child in Kentucky. "To be honest, fly fishing in general just bored me as a kid. I was into Star Wars figures and sports and you know all that," says Fightmaster.
But that all changed as he got older. "Got into fly fishing more in late high school, early college and I've been kind of ruined ever since," says Fightmaster.
Turns out he was on the right path. After college, he decided to pursue fly fishing as a profession, but to do that he had to leave Kentucky, it was between places like Montana, New Zealand, Alaska and Knoxville.
"I had already spent a lot of time down here fishing, just traveling, camping, fishing in these mountains and fell in love with it and I don't know if I picked it or it picked me," says Fightmaster.
He ended up at Little River Outfitters and soon Blackberry Farm came calling. "Had an opportunity there to create a fly fishing program, from the ground up which was a lot of fun. That was everything from hiring guides to starting a fly shop to restoring a trout stream," says Fightmaster.
It became an award-winning venture. "Was fortunate to be awarded Orvis' Endorsed Lodge of the Year, which is a pretty coveted thing in this industry, did that two years in a row," says Fightmaster.
Now he is out on his own. He started Fightmaster Fly Fishing and now guides people from near and far.
"The Smoky Mountains is a very visited national park so I get folks from 26 different states this year. Some of them are beginners that I introduce to the art of fly fishing, some veteran anglers who want to learn more about the area," says Fightmaster.
His fly fishing experience includes a homemade lunch. "I have one person from Ohio that comes and fishes with me once or twice a year and I'm pretty sure he comes just for this sandwich. I don't think he cares anything about the fishing, but it's a smoked trout club sandwich. It's got all your East Tennessee favorites, Benton's bacon on there, smoked trout then there's spicy mustard and a basil pesto," says Fightmaster.
Rob is happy to be right where he is. "Probably the best thing is the office I get to work out of every day. I mean who could beat this scenery. I'm just really passionate about fly fishing. It's been good to me and I love to share it with other people and share their excitement," says Fightmaster.
Rob Fightmaster, a master fly fisherman with a love of everything nature and everything East Tennessee.
"I fell in love with these mountains a long time ago. I don't know if I could put my finger on exactly what I love about these mountains, but I love them," says Fightmaster.
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