Featured Guides: GS Outfitting & Harrison Anglers
By James Hamilton | Tuesday, June 30
Two fly outfitters, one fly trip.
Some businessmen take their clients golfing, our friend Hunter Nadler from Silicon Valley Bank takes his fly fishing (protip: do this & we will work with you) Macgill and I had the pleasure of taking a late May float trip with Hunter, Dylan Schmitz from Badfish, and Zac Sheffer from Elsen. The guides for this ecclectic start up group were GS Outfitting and Harrison Anglers, two outfits that know how to do the float trip right in Western Massachusetts. Eric Gass of GS, and Dan Harrison of Harrison Anglers were both born and raised on the various fisheries throughout the western and central parts of the state.
After a great float down the Swift River, filled with Bud Lights, deli sandwiches, and more trout on the fly than you can shake a rod at I got to sit down with Eric and Dan to talk fishing, hunting, and making a living in the outdoors.
GH: Dan, you and your brother Tom have had super interesting careers in fly fishing. What's the story behind your career and what led to you both coming back to Massachusetts and starting Harrison Anglers together?
DH: I went to NOLS in college and then to Sweet Water Travel Guide School with Ron Meek. I got a job for Tom and I working for Glacier Anglers and Darwon Stoneman in west glacier Montana. We were doing fly in trips to the upper middle fork of the flathead possibly one of the most beautiful rivers on earth. During that same time we did a few winters in South America in northern Patagonia. I and back here and decided to try a season in western mass and was amazed at the fishery we had right in our backyard. Lots of wild fish. So Tom came back and we started up. That was 10 yrs ago.
GH: Eric, tell us a bit about your journey and what led you to start GS Outfitting - I'd love to hear about both the fly fishing and the wing shooting (Eric's Hunting operation can be found here)
EG: The journey that lead me to start GS Outfitting began when I was working a career that I knew wasn't for me and I was not very happy doing it. After graduating college with a degree in finance, I got a job in Boston working with an investment firm as an analyst. I hated it. I hated being inside all day sitting at a desk. I thought about my passions in life and the ole' cliche of what would I do with my time if money wasn't an issue. The answer was fly fishing and hunting. My passion for the outdoors was instilled in me early in life by my father and grandfather. My dad loved to fish, and more importantly he loved to take me fishing, some of my best memories are fishing with him. I grew up hunting birds on the wing with my grandfather over Brittany Spaniels- he always had Britts. I fell in love with fly fishing and wing shooting and became obsessed and deeply passionate about them both. My passion lead me to guiding- I love sharing experiences with people on the water and in the woods. When I was young we also had Gordon Setters, I fell in love with the breed and always said I would hunt over them, hence the name Gordon Setter Outfitting.
GH: For both of you - What's your favorite thing about the fisheries and rivers of Western and Central Massachusetts?
EG: Two of my favorite things about our Massachusetts freshwater fisheries are: the diversity and the ability to fly fish 12 months a year. When I say diversity, man I really mean it. I can float the lower Deerfield river In May and June and have a chance at catching over 7 different species on the fly. The next day I can drive 40 minutes east or west and have a good shot at trophy sized Brown Trout. We have amazing cold weather fishing opportunities because of our tailwater rivers. The Deerfield and the Swift rivers are two notable, absolutely great 12 month fisheries I guide on. There is something about boating a 23 inch brown in February really lights me up.
DH: Favorite thing about western mass is the variety of different trout fishing. From small swift river sight fishing to big tail waters and giant winter Browns. Western mass really has it all in the way of trout fishing.
GH: For both of you - On our float trip the other week, we stopped at a great spot for beers and lunch. Go to sandwich and beverage on the river?
EG: Sandwich: Hagers chicken salad club. Bevy on the river: Summer Shandy.
DH: Sandwich: Harrison Club! Bevy on the river: Corona.
GH: For both of you - Funniest thing to happen while out with a client?
EG: One of my funniest client moments (there are many, we always have a good time) was while guiding upland birds. I captured a total meltdown on camera after a double miss on a once in a lifetime straight away clear shot on a grouse. A lot of expletives and some awesome gestures, it made for a good laugh.
DH: One of the funniest things I've seen on the water was a fly wrapped in a tree and a raccoon grabbing it and running away with it. He got away unharmed (laughs).
Now you know a little more about two great outfitters less than two hours from Boston. Plan your next trip with GS Outfitting or Harrison Anglers on GuideHire today!