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 Jake Ricks

Jake Ricks Fly Fishing in New Zealand

A few years ago my mom asked that I come move a bunch of my forgotten crap from the closet in my old bedroom. Moms deserve occasional requests like that, so I went and started sorting through a bunch of stuff from childhood.

Tucked into the pocket of a yellow school folder, with a titled cover sheet stapled to a few pages of wide ruled paper, an old elementary assignment called out to curiosity. Some pencil-sketched illustrations had been carefully crafted, the kind I used to do almost daily, planes and nature mostly. The texts were scrawled in heavy practiced cursive. I instinctively knew that this little assignment had once been a big deal. It needed to be read. I had a lot of stuff to move, but couldn’t resist taking a minute.

It was from 3rd grade. The assignment seemed some sort of self-discovery exercise asking us to predict what our future would be. I had written out my life goals/predictions under the title: “Who I will be in 20 years.” I hadn’t remembered doing this at all. The story it told about me was interestingly insightful.

Who I will be in 20 years:

“Be a fishing guide”

“Run a lodge for fly fishing or hunting”

“Have a hunting dog”

“Tie flies for money”

“Probably get married”

“Write fishing stories”

What is wrong with me? I didn’t want to be president? Or a doctor making a bazillion dollars? No mansion? No pro sports career? Or at least a hovercraft?

Nope. I’m fish-obsessed to a fault, and apparently always have been.

I’m extremely lucky I got the marriage part of that oddly prophetic 3rd grade assignment in the books. My wife counteracts many of my innate bum-like tendencies. She inspires me to be better, encourages real jobs, keeps me sane and ensures I maintain a reasonable state of hygiene.

Thank you, Em.

As you have guessed, today I am a fly tyer, a fishing guide, a writer, a dog owner, who ran a lodge and even became a husband. I didn’t have much choice; my destiny was foreshadowed by a #2 pencil when I was 9.

And it has been amazing.

Having checked off all these boxes over the span of this so far incredible life, I’ve learned that there is one of these goals that won’t ever be totally complete.

There are always more stories to write.

Read Bumpy Water


  1. Hello Jake, Truly enjoyed your New Zealand article, thank you! My wife and I fly fish MT, WY & CO 60-70 days a year. We live in AZ golfing the other days. We are heading to NZ for our first time this March for 3 weeks. Fishing the South Island only. This is a DYI trip which we prefer, however, we do have three guide days set up in Te Anau, Wanaka and Nelson. We always hire a guide for the day when new to an area and then fish on our own from there. Any chance you’d be willing to be a bit more specific with the actual rivers you fished while in NZ with your buddies? As you mentioned in your article we are trying to do all the necessary lead work before heading out. Cheers, Tight Lines!

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