A Second Career for a Navy Vet

by Angler Staff

Blackhawk Flyfishing owner Abby Jackson invited the Angler Magazine staff to meet her new head guide and spend a day on the beautiful Soque River with him and trying our luck on the giant trout that live there.

Enter Lewyn Poage. As a guest at Blackhawk Fly Fishing on the Soque River in North Georgia, we were introduced to the Head Guide by the name of Lewyn.  I was really drawn in by the fact that he was calm and easy but had an undercurrent that was moving quickly. He had a plan for the day but let us decide when to start things. As it was still pretty cold out, we decided another cup of coffee and some conversation was just what we needed before hitting the river.

We talked about guides, what was good and bad about them.  Some yell, some leave you alone and others micromanage your day.  Others just claim to be guides with no formal training or real skills.  So I asked Lewyn how did he land at Blackhawk as a guide. Lewyn said he came to fish at Blackhawk last spring and check out every outfitter around. He decided Blackhawk is where he needed to be. Lew then went to Bozeman, Montana to be certified as a professional guide and started full-time at Blackhawk last September.

As a retired naval officer and having been through multiple combat missions, Lewyn brings a unique perspective to his new career. He was in infantry school at age 17 which required his mother’s signature due to his being technically underage. He spent the last 17 of 24 years in the United States Navy in Naval Special Warfare. “Those years constitute the most meaningful and greatest experience in my life,” said Lewyn. “I am shaped today, both personally and professionally, by the honor of serving alongside America’s most elite warriors through indescribable loss and victory alike.”

Fly fishing has allowed Lewyn to continue to lead, educate and problem-solve in a healing environment. His new second career has supported his transition to civilian life. It is important that transitioning veterans, especially those with combat experience, actively seek out healing and self-care resources. For Lewyn, fly fishing has become an integral part of his transition to civilian life.

On the river, Lewyn reads people as well as he reads the water.  He was never intrusive and could tell when I wanted to try and figure out the water. He knew when to break a casting streak that just wasn’t going to produce, but he made me feel like it was my idea to move on. Lew’s success, in my mind, was based on how he made me feel.  I felt like it was all about me and my fishing buddy. It wasn’t a show, but more of a day with a friend that had a really good fishing spot he wanted to show us.

When I asked if there would be any advice he would offer any of his guests, he said, “Be honest with your guide. Let them know if you are sick or hurt, wanting to be coached or left alone.” That’s good advice for all of us. It can save the day or even a life.

My goal for the day was to get a little information about the new Head Guide at Blackhawk, do a little fishing and write an article about the experience. I think I may have done more than expected. I met an incredible man who served his country with the most elite forces, endured the horrific experiences of combat, and has now transitioned to civilian life as a fly fishing guide on the Soque River. Most importantly, I made a friend in Lewyn Poage.