Office with a View
By Samantha Bixby '95
Based in Jackson, Wyo., Mike Janssen '93, Mike Dawes '96 and Dan
Oas '00 of WorldCast Anglers greet each day and each client with the
vim and vigor of the rivers on which they spend their work days.
Mike Dawes '96, shown
with a steelhead on the Clearwater River in Idaho, and the
other Laurentians at WorldCast Anglers have competed in the
ESPN Outdoor Games, ESPN Team Fly Fishing Challenge and Outdoor
Life Network's Fly Fishing Masters, and have appeared on
ESPN's "Fly Fishing America.” CREDIT: Peter Corbin, courtesy
of Mike Dawes ‘96
For Janssen it was the urging of a fellow student, Matson Rogers '92,
that lured him to the Western Rivers Guide School to try his hand as
a fly fishing guide. For the five years following, Mike and Matson
were guides together at what was then called Bressler Outfitters in
Jackson. Matson has since opened his own outfit, Angler's West Guide
Services, in Bozeman, Mont.
Dan Oas arrived in Jackson just days after graduation. Having grown
up fly fishing in New Hampshire , and in the Adirondacks while at St.
Lawrence, he knew what he wanted to do. Dan attended WRGS, then was
invited to join the ranks as a professional guide.
With previous guide experience, and a lifelong devotion to the sport,
Mike Dawes was in search of a management position in the fly fishing
business. After receiving an MBA in Marketing from the University of
Denver , Mike became a partner and COO of the newly renamed WorldCast
Anglers in November 2001.
Except for one year, the three did not overlap as students, and never
knew each other until they found themselves working, by chance, for
the same outfit. Still, there is a sense among them of “old college
Mike Janssen '93 and
author Sam Bixby '95 on the Snake River , Wyoming . Bixby
explains, “This is my first fish caught on the
fly--a cutthroat trout.” CREDIT: Dan Oas '00
In late September 2003, Janssen and Oas took me into Wyoming 's Snake
River Canyon for my first fly fishing lessons. My goal was to catch
a fish, but I had no business waving sharp objects through the air.
My fears were put to rest with a casting lesson on land and quick success
in the water. The smooth navigation through the whitewater, and my
guides' inherent tolerance for being caught on my fly many times, demonstrated
their patience and enthusiasm for their jobs. As they took turns rowing
and reeling in cutthroat trout, they instructed me where to cast my
line, with the right balance of praise and coaching. They made it look
effortless on this near-perfect autumn day. I was beginning to understand
the fascination with the sport.
Over an onshore lunch, when I could stop concentrating so intensely
on catching fish, the discussion turned to St. Lawrence, and how they,
as teachers and guides themselves, had benefited from their education.
Dan remarked that the enthusiasm of his professors for their work was
something he could relate to as he taught and passed on his love of
fly fishing to his clients. It was taking a pastime and turning it
into a career that I found so noteworthy about these three. I asked
if it ever grew old; they said it does not. I asked what they did on
their days off; they fish. I asked where they went on vacation since
their careers are in recreation; somewhere else to fish. I asked what
their advice was for others who wanted to make their passion work for
them. “Persistence,” they told me.
This does not come without its hard work, of course. Now 10 years
on the job, Janssen is the head guide for the outfit as well as director
of the Western Rivers Guide School . Each guide is required to go through
intense instruction in geology of the riverbeds, entomology, casting,
guide/client relationship, business, rowing and rescue techniques before
being handpicked to guide for the company.
Dawes, as COO, works as a guide as well as behind the scenes in the
Orvis Store-based office. For four weeks in the winter you can find
him at WorldCast Anglers' Las Torres Lodge in Chile , offering guided
trips in Patagonia . As with any job, there are good days and bad days,
he told me, but reaching goals requires taking risks. It was clear
to me the payoff has been worth it for these Laurentians.
It's just a typical
day at their workplace (the Snake River , Wyoming ) for Dan
Oas '00, front, and Mike Janssen '93. Oas guides year-round
in Wyoming, Idaho, Utah and Costa Rica; Janssen is a heli-ski
guide in the winter and has competed in several extreme skiing
world championships. CREDIT: Samantha Bixby '95
At the end of the day, as I admired their ambition to go out each
day to teach and share this sport they love so much, we made our way
through the Class III rapids of the Snake River . The orange and yellows
of the peak fall foliage high above us on the canyon wall, the scent
of crisp mountain air, a bright blue sky and the sound of whitewater
whirling around us caused me to realize this is about more than the
fish; I found in this a metaphor for fine living.
You can read more about the trips WorldCast Anglers offers on their
Web site at www.worldcastanglers.com .
From her office in Manhattan , Class Reporter
Samantha Bixby, who works for UBS Investment Bank, confesses to being
just a little bit envious of “the guys out West.”