SULLIVAN COUNTY, Tenn. - Serenaded by the song of Canadian Geese, Patrick Fulkrod casts his cares to the wind, working on the fly.
"I got my first fly rod when I was ten years old," Fulkrod said. "I was always the backwards kid. When everyone else had the Mickey Mouse rod, I had the fly rod."
Winning over a cast of candidates far from watered down in the thousands, he's been named the Orvis National Fly Fishing Guide of the Year. "I'm 28 years old, and it's basically my career goal," Fulkrod said. "It's very humbling and I feel honored, lucky, all of the above. It's amazing."
The reel key to being an award-winning guide: people. "I like talking to folks," Fulkrod said. "I guess I'm also half-decent at telling bad jokes."
And yes, he's good with a line, preaching patience. "[It's all about] patience, you know. These trout are tricky," Fulkrod said.
And a persistent arm pattern. He says a good cast is not all in the wrist. "It's more of an elbow," Fulkrod explained. "I'd say hammering a nail would be more accurate."
So maybe it's not just a coincidence, the last three letters of Patrick's last name are r-o-d. There's the 'f' and the 'l' in there, too. Maybe he was meant to do this. "I need to change it but my wife probably wouldn't like it too much," Fulkrod laughed. "But it feels pretty cool. I would totally change [my name] if my wife agreed. Fly Rod, I like it I think it's kind of catchy."
But no matter what name catches on, you can call him the National Fly Fishing Guide of the Year. And he's hooked. This is his idea of net income. "I've got to say it's a pretty good office environment," Fulkrod said. "I couldn't imagine being stuck in a big city inside an office on the tenth floor. I mean, this is the way to do it, and I'm happy."
If you're interested in taking a fly fishing excursion with Patrick Fulkrod, just stop by Mountain Sports Limited at 1021 Commonwealth Avenue in Bristol, Virginia.