We had the good fortune of connecting with Kelley Ruppert and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Kelley, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
In 2019, feeling burnt out and no longer progressing in my career in dentistry, I quit my job to purse my dream of working in the fly fishing industry. I landed a job at a lodge guiding and teaching new anglers. Less than a year into this new endeavor, Covid 19 arrived in our lives. I was let go from my dream guide job under the fears and uncertainties that Covid presented. Unwilling to give up on my new path, and with the support of friends, family and other guides, I started my own free-lance guide service.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I take people fishing. Sounds pretty simple but it isn’t. Sometimes the fish don’t cooperate, sometimes it’s the weather that doesn’t cooperate. There is scouting to be done in the days prior to a booked trip. Rods need to be rigged and lunch has to be packed before an early morning meeting clients at the river. As a female guide, I do feel a higher level of pressure to get my clients on fish. I feel under the microscope from fly selection to knot tying. Once the first fish is in the net, I start to relax.
Fly fishing has traditionally been a male dominated industry. While that narrative might be changing, the majority of women are still on the river because of their male counterparts. Women can now seek out a female guide to learn from. I don’t take that task lightly. I have heard too many stories from ladies who say they can’t cast or can’t learn and who have had negative experiences fly fishing. To change those thoughts and watch confidence build, is one of the most rewarding aspects of guiding for me.
I want to be known for helping anglers grow their skills on the water and help them to figure out what works for them as individuals. Every angler is different, with different goals and experiences and each needs to be celebrated as such. I hope that I can help people reconnect with the outdoors in a new and rewarding way. I hope that they, in turn, inspire others in their own lives to be outdoors and maybe catch a beautiful fish.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
We would obviously have to check out the local rivers, hit the local coffee shops and bakery, ride the train and hike along the Continental Divide Trail.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My family and friends have a huge support role in both my life and business. My husband does my accounting and helps me with keeping the business organized. My younger son guides anglers along side me, keeps the clients laughing and always catches the biggest fish. My wonderful friend helped create my website and continues to create content for Instagram with her outdoor photography. My sister edits my web site content and my brother-in-law has his hand in web site and logo design. It’s a team effort for sure. I also have to shout out my clients, who have trusted me and are so eager to learn and grow their skills on the water.
Brittany Ference Thomas Houser