Each year, for thirty-three years, the Orvis Company has recognized excellence in sporting experiences through its Endorsed Lodges, Outfitters, and Guides Program (ELOG). These awards are based on a number of criteria, the most important of which is customer feedback: the reviews from the customers who have experienced these operations are the ultimate arbiters of success. Also taken into consideration are the operation’s environmental commitment to and stewardship of their resources, and their partnership with Orvis in providing the finest sporting experience possible.
The winners of this year’s awards were announced at a ceremony on Friday night, April 26th, during the 2019 Orvis Guide Rendezvous in Missoula, Montana. Click here to see the lists of nominees for each category.
Here are this year’s winners, along with one of the customer comments that caught the judges’ eyes:
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2019 Endorsed Freshwater Fly-Fishing Guide of the Year
Chip Swanson—Breckenridge Outfitters, in Breckenridge, Colorado
Before becoming a fly-fishing guide, Chip spent numerous years in the Arkansas valley as a raft guide, so his knowledge of reading water is tough to beat. He is a great guide for young novices all the way up to skilled anglers alike. Here’s what one Orvis customer had to say about fishing with Chip:
Chip is the epitome of blending fly fishing knowledge and professionalism with an enthusiastic flare. He shares local history, great fishing spots, was always thinking ahead and studying local waters for what might work and what does work. His positive interaction with his client promotes lifelong memories
2019 Endorsed Saltwater Fly-Fishing Guide of the Year
Capt. Duane Baker, based in Tavernier, Florida
Duane has been guiding fly and light tackle anglers since 1988. He is one of those guides who are not happy till the angler is happy. He is patient and works tirelessly for each and every client. His list of return clients reads like a list of Who’s Who of fly anglers, bu enjoys taking new clients to areas of the Keys they would otherwise miss. Duane’s reputation has made him one of the most popular guides in the Upper Keys, and has been a member of Florida Keys Fishing Guide Association as long as he has been guiding. Here’s what one client wrote in a review:
Outstanding time – completed a bucket list item – tarpon on a fly rod. this was my first fish ever on a fly! Capt. Duane knows how to get you in position and get it done – what an experience!
2019 Endorsed Fly-Fishing Lodge of the Year
Crystal Creek Lodge, in King Salmon, Alaska
Operated by same owner/manager since 1988, Crystal Creek Lodge offers guests a unique combination of field and stream diversity, and inspired lodging and hospitality. The surrounding Bristol Bay Region and Alaska Peninsula offer the most diverse and productive freshwater fishing opportunities on earth. Every part of the operation is impressive, as this customer explains:
Just spent a week with Dan, Alex, Heather, and the rest of their team at Crystal Creek Lodge, and have to say it was hands-down one of the best trips I’ve ever been on. The fishing was incredible, and every single guide was knowledgeable, friendly, and patient with all of the anglers in our group, regardless of skill level. Chef’s food, and the selection of wines pared with it, was first-rate and welcome after a long day of fishing. Lastly, the staff working the lodge were gracious and never had anything but a smile on their faces. We are looking forward to going back soon!
2019 Endorsed Fly-Fishing Outfitter of the Year
Cross Currents Guide Service, in Starlight, Pennsylvania
The home water for Capt. Joe Demalderis and his team of guides is the Upper Delaware River system that forms the natural border between Pennsylvania and New York. Rated as one of the finest wild trout fisheries in the US, the Delaware system encompasses up to 80 miles of trout water. Rivers such as the East Branch, West Branch, Beaverkill, Willowemoc, Neversink, and Delaware are the birthplace of fly fishing in America. Each guide receives great reviews like this one:
My wife and I had the pleasure of working with Anita Coulton for a day on the Upper Delaware River, and as usual the Orvis-endorsed guides continue to impress. The Upper Delaware River can be tough, and having a guide who’s patient, easy-going and a good instructor is a big help in being successful. Many thanks to Anita and Cross Current Guide Service! We’ll see you again soon.
2019 Fly Shop of the Year
Angler’s Covey, in Colorado Springs, Colorado
For the past 20 years, the Leinweber family and their top-notch staff have provided quality services, products, and expertise that enhance the experience of fly-fishers in Colorado. Their goals have always been to provide the best value possible to customers and to promote and grow fly fishing in their community. They want to invite people into our adventure and serve them in their journey. Their customers can feel this commitment:
I know that 5 stars is the highest, but I wish there was a 6th star… We stopped by the store a couple times and it was great to meet some of the staff and start learning about fly fishing. We had never been fly fishing before and this team made us feel special. Their attention to detail was just the right level for rookies and they knew just how to increase the training as we picked up some of the techniques. It was the highlight of our trip to Colorado Springs. We did the couples trip and it was so great…. We are already trying to figure out when we can go back for more fly fishing with the team at Angler’s Covey. Highly recommend this group.
2019 International Destination of the Year
Hawk Lake Lodge, in Kenora, Ontario
Carefully designed as a private retreat for twenty-four guests, Hawk Lake Lodge offers not only the wilderness and solitude you hope for but a quality angling experience topped by what many other destinations overlook… the finest in accommodations, personal service and dining as well as access to some of the best, unspoiled, light tackle sport fishing lakes in Canada. The lodge lakes have produced multiple catch and release world records including a walleye at 37 inches, and smallmouth bass at nearly 9 pounds. Here’s a rave review from a customer:
This was the 7th year in a row that our group has visited Hawk Lake Lodge. Ted and Virginia continue to add all the little amenities each year that show their commitment to the operation of a first class lodge. Facilities, boats, menus and staff all reflect their desire to provide an excellent Ontario experience… All of this is on top of a fishing experience on the best quality catch and release waters in Ontario. Portaging to the out-lakes is our reason for going. Who wouldn’t want to be the only boat on a lake in beautiful Ontario catching quality smallmouth all day long. We are already booked for next year. Keep up the great work!
2018 Endorsed Wingshooting Lodge of the Year
Southwind Plantation, in Attapulgus, Georgia
SouthWind Plantation is South Georgia hunting at its best. Envision 3,000 picturesque acres of extensively-managed wildlife habitat, home to thriving populations of deer, doves, ducks, quail, and turkeys. The varied and pristine terrain features classic South Georgia rolling wire grass, long-leaf pines, water oak creek bottoms and cultivated farm land. There’s simply no better atmosphere to test your skills. One customer had this to say about SouthWind:
There are so many good things about this experience. My son and I went primarily for the quail hunting which was superb. The guides were considerate, thoughtful, and knowledgeable. They handled the dogs with the greatest of skill. You could tell they loved the dogs and the dogs loved them. As a team they were perfect… The meals were on the 5-Star level with the most elegant at night. The settings and food were superb… Service was excellent and always on top of every situation. They were friendly, helpful, and professional… This experience was wonderful in all aspects.
2019 Wingshooting Guide of the Year
Ryan O’Shaughnessy, based in Alpine, Texas
Ryan O’Shaughnessy grew up in the safari industry in Botswana, outside of the regular quail season, he is a research biologist with the Borderlands Research Institute at Sul Ross State University. He sees quail hunting as the preserve of the double gun–a place for side-by-sides and over-and-unders. Quail hunting is a place to get away from the camouflage of the duck and deer blinds, a place to wear your quail vest and stroll behind pointing dogs while conversing with good friends. Here’s one customer’s experience:
Southern hospitality meets the luxury of an African Safari is the best way to describe hunting with Ryan. He has great leases full of birds, and watching his dogs work their magic provided a trip full of memories! From the moment I contacted Ryan to discuss a hunt until the moment we wrapped up the hunt, I was treated with absolute professionalism. He always takes the time to explain the how and why of the way we hunted, and his ability to educate allows his clients to learn as they go. First class operation!