Guided by Ellis Ward
In Ellis' own words: "I am a full time, year-round fishing guide in Johnson City, TN, specializing in Fly Fishing and Light Tackle, with a emphasis on angler education, casting instruction, streamer fishing, and dry fly fishing. I tie all flies used on our trips, and I fish those same flies when I am out on my own. Other job titles: Dad, fly designer, commercial tyer, bucktail processor
While the Watauga Tailwater is just down the road, I am not much farther from Boone Lake, South Holston Tailwater, Holston Proper, and mountain streams. Within an hours drive, I can find good musky fishing, and within two hours, I can be on some of the premier Musky fisheries (Melton Hill in TN, New River in VA) in the Southeast. I am constantly exploring this area and everything it has to offer, and I enjoy nothing more than sharing it with others.
I was born and raised in Cincinnati, though the bulk of my fishing took place on Torch Lake - about 45 minutes from Traverse City, Michigan - where my family would spend a few weeks every summer.
I went to school at Vanderbilt University, and after graduating with a degree in Physics, I worked in the Washington, DC area for over 10 years. While my job titles changed, I focused primarily on data analytics, corporate finance, and healthcare economics. As odd as it may sound to those not familiar with the mid Atlantic, it was during this time that I started tying, picked up a fly rod for the first time, and quickly discovered the diversity of species and watersheds that were within a two hours drive. The two types of fishing that really sunk their teeth in were 1) wade fishing schoolie striped bass coming in from the Atlantic and staying for the summer, and 2) the variety of brown trout fisheries from south-central PA to southwest Virginia. Before that fully took off, I had started to poke my head into the local shop, District Angling. The crew there and community fostered by the owner, Richie, continues to influence how I operate both on and off the water. After enough of those puzzle pieces were in place, I knew I wasn’t going to be in an office until retirement age, and in 2019, I managed to get out.
After moving to Johnson City, and prior to beginning my life as a full time guide, I spent in excess of 400 days not just on the water, but actually fishing the water. The goal with this up front investment was to gain an understanding and perspective of these rivers and lakes that cannot be attained when the goal is to have someone else catch fish, or even to catch fish myself on many days.
I have been afforded amazing opportunities, knowledge, and experiences through the fly fishing and tying community, and my goal is to contribute, share what I love, and educate anglers and tyers - new and experienced - where possible.
If you've been looking for a truly exceptional day on the water, go no further. Ellis is a fly-fishing expert, and we would argue that there are few better guides east of the Mississippi. He offers trips tailored to the local waters around Johnson City, Tennessee, and his goal is to tie, fish, and guide in ways that are perfectly suited to the rivers that you'll be fishing. Trout are fishable all year long, but other freshwater species are more seasonal. Just ask Ellis and he can tell what will be biting when you want to fish. The options are endless, whether that's casting for Musky in the fall and winter, streamer fishing for Trout year round, hunting rising fish on dry flies, going after Stripers on both fly and conventional tackle, mousing for big Browns, hitting Carp on the lake, or enticing big Smallies. With Ellis as your guide, you'll be able to try your hand at all of these kinds of fishing, and aim for a wide range of freshwater species. He's fished this water obsessively, putting in long days in every season and every kind of weather, and he knows the best spots like the back of his hand. Ellis will provide everything you need for an amazing day on the water. He ties all the flies used on his trips, and his care and expertise are evident as soon as you step onto the boat. All you need to bring is a good attitude, proper clothing, sun protection, and a pair of polarized sunglasses. You'll also need a Tennessee fishing license! Book a trip to see what fly-fishing in East Tennessee is all about! Read More
Super fishy with a dialed in program and was a great time on the water, cannot recommend enough. I would absolutely book another trip again, after 9 years of fly fishing one of the best trout experiences I’ve ever had.
As a seasoned spin/baitcaster with zero fly experience, fishing with Ellis was a very educational and fun day. From my first communications with him, the primary discussion was around goals – of which mine were nebulous. Learn everything there is to know about fly fishing, and also catch some fish. Tall order, but he delivered. I was able to try out tons of techniques, get coached on the few I found most interesting, and also catch a healthy trout on the local bite of the day – which, from my experience, is knowledge that only the better guides in a given area are able to actively source. Ellis taught me how to throw dry flies and streamers, on both floating and weighted line, as well as a few other techniques I forget – but all in all I learned a ton and had a blast. I have lots of experience on 'traditional' tackle, and I could tell that while of a different stripe, Ellis is a strong fisherman and even better guide. Looking forward to booking him again and catching even bigger fish. …
Did a full day of learning to fly fish with Ellis Ward today. I knew NOTHING about fly fishing. Ellis is a tremendous instructor. He taught me everything about casting, technique, flies, lines, reels, etc. We spent at least 5 hours in the boat teaching me more about where the fish are, what they strike at and how to be a fisherman. He’s humble, knowledgeable, patient, witty, and kind. I highly recommend him as a guide. …
Brown Trout, Hybrid Striped Bass, Muskie, Rainbow Trout, Striped Bass
Artificial Lure Fishing, Fly Fishing, Light Tackle Fishing, Sight Casting, Topwater Fishing
2306 Abbott Dr, Johnson City, TN 37601, United States | Bodies of water fished: Watauga River, Holston River