When I close my eyes or stare off into the distance, I can still see Kea and laugh out loud. There are so many memories, but one will forever be ingrained.
We just finished our third surf session south of Pacifica, close to Santa Cruz. It was dusk and we put a full day in on the waves. True to Kea’s form; he knew of a place we might bunk up for the night but didn’t have all the details. He was driving his suburban, tricked out with a bed in the back where we could switch out sleeping on the long trip out.
Eric, his brother joined us and sat shot gun. As we left the beach parking lot at dusk, Kea spotted a California Highway Patrol officer watching us. We were one of the last cars to leave that evening. Kea threw the suburban in park right at the exit/entrance to the parking lot, not considering he was essentially blocking the exit and didn’t allow space for anyone else to get around. Fortunately, the beach was almost desolate.
In a plume of green smoke, he stepped out of the suburban and waltzed to the Highway Patrol car in the style of Tom Petty taking the stage. He was wearing a brown pair of ladies Uggs, his wet suit rolled down to his waste, a brown robe draped over his body, a pair of reflective sunglasses that resembled Axl Rose of the 80s, and a Daniel Boon raccoon skin hat, complete with tail, that we found at a gas station in Utah. Kea went right up to the parked California Patrol Officer and said, (in a real surfer’s tone) “Excuse me officer”….
That was all we could hear and his conversation with the Patrolman went on for a ten-minutes. I thought for sure we would be bunking at the police station that night. Both Eric and I worried what is he doing? I laugh harder when I think about what the Patrolman must have been thinking as Kea approached.
Kea lived with no concern of what others thought. He was always putting together the most elaborate fishing, skiing and surfing adventures he could conjure. His spirit was non-stop “go”, even in the face of warning signage of a recent shark attack. He was truly not only fearless…but pushed the envelope. He was very smart, and extremely intelligent about many things. It’s a shame he died young.
Kea, unhappy with the way the profession had changed, started Proudline Fly fishing to reincarnate a fraternal order of fun guided fly fishing. Tony Fotopoulos, who founded and started Alpine Angling in Carbondale, successfully recruited, taught, and helped steer Kea out of trouble and into a lifetime on the river. Tony is also to thank for making me into an incredible fly-fisherman, angler, oarsman, and instructor. Tony is one of the most knowledgeable fly-fishing instructors I know, and I know a handful of other guides who also attribute their love of fishing to Tony, including Kea.
I spent 2002-2014 guiding for Alpine Angling. Each year logging more than two hundred days on the rivers. I won a few accolades, including Champion Guide runner up in the 2011 Redbone tournament, 2nd to Dustin Harcourt. But as Kea would say and I agree: fly fishing is not and should not be a competitive sport.
Outfits like Alpine Angling have helped many become better over the thirty-years they’ve been in business. I guide alongside some of the arguably best guides of the valley including Tony, Kea, Dustin, Michael Shook, Greg Di Julio, Steve Avery, Jeff Dysart, Hutch Hutchinson and several others not to mention other local top flight crews.
I was probably one of the driving forces behind now what is the Roaring Fork Guide Alliance (at least according to their first meeting where my name came up more than once.) Which was a way for the understaffed Colorado Parks and Wildlife, to have a more concentrated voice from local guides, fly shop owners, and members of the fishing community; that could be heard, addressed and coordinated into plans of actions. It was an attempt to stop the flood of phone calls, concerns, and complaints. Although I have still not joined the Roaring Fork Fishing Guide Alliance, it doesn’t prevent me from calling CPW or picking up river trash on my own.
I love fishing. I’ve fished a lot of different places around the globe. I host at least one trip a year somewhere awesome….and I don’t tell many about it, because I don’t like the internet and social media invading our pristine and sensitive planet.
Here is my outdated website, soon to be made hotter: www.globetrotteradventures.com
Here is another business I started in the Valley: www.jpscleanwindows.com
Here is my most recent assault on Tarpon– keep it on the down low will ya! Tarpon Fishing from my SUP. PR 2021
“Fare thee well, fare thee well, I love you more than words can tell. Listen to the river sing sweet songs to rock my soul”.