Interview with Wesley Hodges of Wesley Hodges Fly Fishing Guide Service
Wesley Hodges, Owner of Wesley Hodges Fly Fishing, is a Texas native turned mountain guide and operating in northwestern Virginia. Wesley is an army veteran, lodge owner, fly fishing river guide, and upland bird guide. Wes’s passion for the outdoors has helped form his skill of coaching and teaching. Wes, and his team of guides, are top tier outdoor professionals, specializing in making outdoor experiences that are once in a lifetime.
Q: Did you grow up fly fishing?
A: No, I started fly fishing after my time in the military. Being born and raised in Texas, there wasn’t a lot of opportunity. I also didn’t have a lot of money growing up, and fly fishing was expensive. The first time I fly fished was at a Boy Scout camp in Colorado. I was 13 years old, and I always thought back to that time. So, when I got out of the military I started fly fishing in western North Carolina for trout. While I was at VT(Virginia Tech), I started fly fishing the New River and then got asked to help row a boat and start guiding.
Q: How long were you in the military?
A: 7 years. I was stationed in North Carolina at Fort Bragg.
Q: Why Virginia Tech?
A: I didn’t know shit about college. I started looking around when I got out of the military. I was naive and everyone told me I needed a college degree to get a job. I was living in Virginia at the time, so I applied to VT and UVA(University of Virginia). I got into VT so that’s where I went.
Q: What was your major?
A: Double major in Spanish and International Studies with an emphasis on International Economy.
Q: So, when did you start guiding?
A: I started guiding during my first year at school. I learned how to row a boat, and then started guiding for a local guide in the area.
Q: Was your plan to start guiding after graduating?
A: Nope. My plan was to go to work for the government. I had sent in an application, but I pulled my packet and decided to start my own fishing business.
Q: When you started guiding, what was your favorite thing about starting that business?
A: No one was telling me what to do. I grew up being directed by my parents, then the military, and so this finally gave me my own freedom.
Q: What was your focus when you started guiding?
A: Smallmouth bass, and it is still smallmouth bass. I also enjoy guiding for big wild trout! I love every aspect of guiding. When you’re in a raft or out fishing for the day, you talk way more about life than you do fishing. I like the opportunity to break someone out of their shell. I don’t give a shit about titles. You may be a CEO, a lawyer, a doctor, a successful business owner, but fishing levels the playing field. It’s neat to see people in my boat who reconnect to who they were as a kid. There is a moment where they realize what they lost as an adult. In 13 years of doing this, I have never woken up and dreaded my day.
Q: When did you start offering hunting trips?
A: 8 years ago. Hunting was my personal passion. And so the more I did it, I started being asked to teach clients. I saw an opening, and no one around me was doing it so I found the time and did it. I don’t like to tell people no, and I want to share what I know.
Q: If you had one day to go fishing for yourself, how would you spend it?
A: It would be between September 1st and 15th, when the rivers are low and gin clear. I’d sight cast a yellow Boogle Bug or Bass fly to huge smallmouth bass on the James or New River.
Q: And what about a day of hunting?
A: A day in January, high on an Appalachian Ridge, running my Lewellin setter/pointing dogs hunting Ruffed Grouse.
Q: How many guides do you have on your team?
A: We have 8 guides.
Q: And what types of trips do you offer?
A: Float trips for smallmouth bass, trout and musky. We offer wade trips for trout, and I guide upland hunts for Grouse, Woodcock, & Quail.
Q: In addition to trips you also have a lodge. What accommodations do you offer?
A: I purchased the lodge 4 years ago. It’s a great location, right on the headwaters of the James River. The lodge can accommodate 8 guests, and we have 4 glamping tents on the property that can house 2 guests each. We offer fresh home cooked meals for breakfast and dinner for our overnight guests, or you can utilize the outdoor kitchen and cooking spaces at the tents. We run 365 for fishing trips and guests to stay, and upland trips are from October to March. We can host corporate events, bachelor and bachelorette groups, and weddings. The experience is catered to the individual or the group. We make an effort for all guests to meet the owner and our guides, to meet other guests, and we all can share meals together.
Q: Do you have a momento you carry with you out on the water or in the woods?
A: A silver medallion given to me from a friend hangs on my GPS tracking collar for my bird dogs. My most prized possession is a picture of my daughter. It’s on my phone, and I look at it every day throughout the day. I could lose everything: rods, boats, guns. But that picture of her is all I care about. I could show up to the ramp with no boat, no rods, no lunch. My client would probably be pissed, but screw it. I can leave and just go back home and be with her. That’s what matters most to me.
Q: You are very passionate about your business, and you are a great guide. Why does this mean so much to you?
A: Man, when I started the business it was all about me. But if I could give advice to a kid today, including my daughter, I would let them know that when I started this dream everyone told me I was crazy. And if people in your life are telling you that you can’t do something, cut them out. I’m working towards a genuine and pure life! Every day I get to come back home to my daughter. I love what I do, and I love going to work every day. I don’t feel like most people can say that.
For more information about Wesley Hodges and Wesley Hodges Fly Fishing and Guide Service, visit https://wesleyhodgesflyfishing.com/ or look up Wesley Hodges on Instagram @wesley_hodges_fly_fishing