“Fishing is not an escape from life, but often a deeper immersion into it.” – Harry Middleton
“This Harry Middleton quote really sums-up fly fishing for me,” says Jason “JB” Balogh, founder of Fish the Fly Guide Service. JB has hundreds of miles of rivers and creeks in his head from his 21 years of fly fishing and guiding in and around Jackson Hole. “Fly fishing takes me away from the world—in a good way—more than anything else I’ve discovered,” he says.
“In the mid-summer I love to walk-wade backcountry creeks in the Gros Ventres,” he says. “Some solitude in nature has always kept me centered. I believe in the power of Wilderness and its ability to restore the soul.” It’s no accident that Fish the Fly holds rare permits to guide fly fishing trips on waters that are designated Wild & Scenic in and around the headwaters of the Snake River. “Showing a backcountry creek to clients is pretty amazing, especially when there are kids in the group. They’ve grown up in such a digital world, they’re sometimes not aware that the possibility to unplug like that exists,” JB says.
JB grew up spending summers spin casting on the lakes of northern Minnesota with his grandfather. Shortly after arriving in Jackson Hole in 1997, he and one of his friends took a trip to the Green River, south of Jackson Hole at the foot of the Wind River Mountains, and a bucket list destination for many fly fishermen. “We went down there and camped; we were learning how to cast and totally got skunked. We didn’t catch a thing,” he says. On the drive back to Jackson, the friends stopped in the Hoback Canyon to try their luck on a different river (the Hoback River). JB caught one fish. He says, “I was hooked from that point on. Fly fishing was my new passion, and now that I’ve been doing it for as long as I have, I know that it’s always teaching you something. It’s very engaging in that sense.”
As important as catching a fish was to igniting his passion, now that he’s been at it for 21 years JB says, “I don’t really need to catch a lot of fish anymore. For me personally, it’s more about being outside and unplugged.I love being on the water and sharing it with others,” he says. “That’s where the joy for me is now. I still love catching fish, but this broader perspective helps with passing it on to others.”
That said, “I love fishing the Green [River]—it’s mostly a trophy trout fishery, so I go there when the hunt is on,” says JB, who has long-ago gotten over his first unproductive trip to this river. “Sight fishing to the trophy trout there really gets me going.”
Prior to founding Fish the Fly, JB ran the fly fishing program at the famed Crescent H Ranch, south of Wilson. When the Crescent H closed to commercial operations, JB bought its permits, and has added to them in the ensuing years. Some of the areas JB and the other Fish the Fly guides can take clients are exclusive to them. “We’ve got permits to areas that no one else does,” he says.
These permits include the Snake and Green Rivers, Yellowstone National Park, backcountry creeks in the Gros Ventres, and new for 2018, rivers and creeks in the Black Rock Ranger District of the Bridger-Teton National Forest. The latter is in the far northern part of Jackson Hole and includes the Buffalo Fork of the Snake and Pacific, Spread, and Black Rock Creeks.
JB’s passion for sight fishing has led him to chasing saltwater game fish. As a result, he now acts as a booking agent for eco-lodges in the Caribbean, specifically in Mexico and Honduras.
Get to know JB and book your adventure with Fish the Fly by contacting: