Get to know Free Fly Co-Owner, Austin Elliot, dad to Sutton and Reeves, and resident kickball connoisseur. (At 6’6” his arm span is a force to be reckoned with.) Hailing from the Pacific Northwest, he grew up exploring the boundless and misty outdoor offerings of Oregon—camping, fishing, and catching stoneflies with his brother. Now, he hopes to share his love of the outdoors, along with a few traditions, with his own family.
Best outdoor memory from growing up with your own dad?
Every summer we’d go camping for a week on the Metolius River in Camp Sherman. We obsessed over catching stoneflies (we called them “dudes”) along the bank. We’d collect them in a mason jar and take them to some of the big holes on the river—where we’d watch them get huge raises out of some monster trout. The biggest trout would never take our flies, but always rose for the “dudes.” One of the most memorable things my brother and I did with my dad.
Which outdoor traditions are you most excited to share with your kids?
Camping, hiking, and fishing. I was fortunate to grow up in Oregon where there were endless places to explore (often in isolation), so I want to help my boys find those same types of opportunities and be removed from all the distractions.
Best road trip snack?
Trail mix and jerky. A classic.
Most memorable outdoor “first” with your kids?
When our oldest was around 5 years old, we took a trip to a little cabin in the Pisgah National Forest. Turkey Creek ran through the back and on one bend there was enough clearing to teach him how to do some “basic” casts on a 3 weight fly rod. Having the patience to leave the fly and let it float was a tough concept to follow, but he managed to land his first little trout!
Any advice for new dads hoping to get their kids outdoors?
Lead by example. They want to do what you’re doing, so making it a priority to get outside and explore will develop that desire for them.
Most epic family adventure to date?
I went to Alaska with my dad and brother six years ago. We stayed in a cabin along the Kenai River, and we did some guided float trips and hiked to areas where grizzly bears were grabbing spawning salmon out of the air. We were completely removed from everything. Even growing up in the country, I’ve never felt so isolated before (in a good way). I was completely in awe of the beauty Alaska has to offer.