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Linehan receives prestigious Orvis award

by Alan Lewis Gerstenecker
| July 9, 2013 1:15 PM

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<p>Linehan Outfitting also offers upland game and deer hunting. Tim Linehan, who learned fly fishing as a boy in New Hampshire, previously hosted a Trout Unlimited TV show.</p>

Imagine fly fishing for a living. 

Tim Linehan did back in 1989, and he was only going to do it for six months — test the Montana waters, he says. 

Twenty-four years later, the New Hampshire native who heard the echoes of New Hampshire newspaper editor Horace Greeley in 1865 urging young men to head West, is not only still fishing and guiding in Montana, but he and his wife Joanne own their own outfitting company. And now, Linehan has been recognized for reaching the pinnacle of his craft.

Linehan recently was chosen as the Orvis Guide of the Year for 2013. He and other outfitters were recognized by Orvis, one of the premier outdoor supply companies, during the 27th Annual Outfitters’ Rendezvous in Missoula.

“It is a great honor,” Linehan said last week. “Yes, I was surprised. Awards of this kind are very subjective. I am grateful. I owe so much to my wife Joanne. She runs the house, the accommodations and sales. Really, I’m just a guide.”

Linehan admits he loves his life, said he’s lucky to be living a dream.

“I feel so fortunate to be able to do this for a 150 or 160 days a year,” he said. “I’m going to continue as long as I am physically able.”

Then Linehan reflected on his years of serving others.

“You know, when I guide, we’re going to catch fish,” Linehan said. “Certainly, you may catch more with another guide, but what you get with me is the knowledge, all of my accumulated experience.”

Linehan realizes when he guides, the client is often on a vacation of a lifetime, something they may have saved for a long time.

“Yes, that does make it special, and I try to make it as special as I can,” Linehan said. “Again, the knowledge. I try to give them something to take back with them besides a (trophy).”

To commemorate his honor, Orvis gave Linehan a belt buckle indicating the wearer as Guide of the Year for 2013 and an Orvis H2 Helios fly rod. 

“It’s a huge belt buckle. I don’t know that I’d wear it, and an H2 Helios fly rod. It’s a great rod, top of the line, but I need another fly rod like I need a hole in the head.”

It was then, at the banquet, Linehan took a lead from his business partner and wife.

“Joanne turns to me and says, ‘Why don’t you give the rod to the boy, Joey Maxim.’ I thought it was a great idea,” Linehan said.

Joey Maxim and his father, Joe, were guests of Orvis at the Missoula banquet. Joey, a four-sport high school athlete, was severely injured in an automobile accident, ending his playing days.

Since, the younger Maxim has discovered fly fishing, and he confesses he wants to be a guide, just like Linehan.

“It was a real tender moment when Tim gave Joey that rod,” Joanne Linehan said. “It was the moment of the night.”

For Linehan, he said it was the right thing to do.

“This kid was a great athlete whose world ended until he found fly fishing,” Linehan said. “He told the crowd fly fishing and Orvis have given him his life back. I could see receiving that rod meant the world to him — more to him than me, anyway.”

Orvis Representative Tom Rosenbauer summed up the gesture best.

“The most heart-warming part of the banquet was when Tim Linehan of Linehan Outfitters quietly presented the Helios 2 rod he won as Guide of the Year to Joey,” Rosenbauer said. 

After the banquet, Maxim received an invitation from a Canadian outfitter to guide for them, Rosenbauer said.

Linehan’s Guide of the Year honor is the second recognition he has received from Orvis. In 1998, Linehan Outfitting Co. was recognized as Outfitter of the Year at that annual banquet.

The Orvis Co. was founded by Charles F. Orvis in Manchester, Vt., in 1856. It is America’s oldest mail-order outfitter and longest continually operating fly-fishing business. Privately owned by the Perkins family since 1965, today Orvis is an international, multi-channel retailer with more than $340 million in sales (2012) and approximately 1,700 employees. 

In addition to Linehan being honored as Guide of the Year, Orvis recognized Camp Bonaventure of Bonaventure, Quebec, Canada, and Firehole Ranch in West Yellowstone, Mont., as Fly-Fishing Lodges of the Year. Pine Hill Plantation of Donalsonville, Ga., was honored as Wingshooting Lodge of the Year, and Fortress Lake Retreat of Alberta, Canada, offered the Expedition of the Year. There was a tie for Outfitters of the Year, as Lopstick Lodge Outfitters of Pittsburg, N.H., and Breckenridge Outfitters of Breckenridge, Colo., shared the honor. The Orvis International Destination of the Year award went to El Pescador Lodge at Ambergris Caye, Belize.

The final award went to John Kowalski of PRO Outfitters of Helena. Kowalski received the Orvis-Endorsed Guide Lifetime Achievement Award. 

Since its beginning, Linehan Outfitting Co. has provided fly-fishing adventure packages. Located near Troy, Linehan Outfitting’s home waters are the Kootenai and Clark Fork rivers. Both the Kootenai and Clark Fork rivers offer tremendous angling adventures throughout the season, he said. 

Linehan said this area offers some of the greatest wilderness-style small-stream angling on Kootenai tributaries and float-tubing alpine lakes in some of the most spectacular scenery in the West.

Looking back, Linehan has found his niche in paradise, doing what he loves.

“We were going to come for six months and just never went back,” he said.