My name is Jack Shirk. I am the owner of Tri-City Troutfitters. Tri-City Troutfitters is an outfitter running guided fly fishing trips on the South Holston & Watauga Rivers in Northeast Tennessee. Currently, I am operating as the sole guide for TCTF with plans to open a fly shop in the Tri-cities area in the near future. Fishing has been a lifelong journey for me, starting at a very young age and only getting more intense. I look forward to the opportunity of sharing my passion with you and helping you achieve your angling goals, whatever they might be! Check out my bio below if you’d like to learn a bit more about my life & angling journey.
My angling career started while growing in West-Central Pennsylvania. Fishing, specifically trout fishing, runs through my blood and has always been a family tradition. I can remember my Dad and I’s annual fishing trip for the opening day of trout season every spring to northern PA. This was really where my love for fishing began.
Around the age of 14 is when I would say I went off the deep end and became obsessed with fishing. I had found the sport of bass fishing and was using it as an outlet for my other passion, baseball. It wasn’t long before I had half of my room turned into a tackle room and had saved up enough to buy a small bass boat. Any time I wasn’t on a baseball field honing my skills, I was on a lake with my buddies trying to catch big ones. I have extremely fond memories of my life at this time and still have life long friendships that were cultivated. I can remember fishing all day with my buddies, then we’d all jump in the car, and go play our baseball game, somehow finding a way to perform after baking in the sun all day and not eating anything, ha, good times!
I fished my way all through high school, and of course, playing baseball as well. I was fortunate to earn myself a Division 1 baseball scholarship at Marist College in New York. Even while I playing baseball in college I found time to find a few honey holes near campus, which ended up coming in handy when I suffered a season-ending injury after playing the first 6 games of my freshman year. I eventually found my self back at a school close to home playing baseball, Pitt-Johnstown. This is where my fishing career took a big leap thanks to a good friend.
One of my good friends on the team invited me to go fly fishing. It was a tradition in his family that was passed down from his grandpa and father to him. I had never been fly fishing for sure but my grandfather had left me a fly rod and I figured what better chance to give it a go. In short, that was a defining moment for me thanks to one of my best pals that changed my life and angling direction. It didn’t take long before we were both totally hooked on fly fishing and tying flies in dorm rooms. I wish we would have take more pictures back then, it’d be pretty cool to look back at some of these moments.
In short, we both jumped into the rabbit hole, and before I knew it I landed in Colorado. In part for fly fishing, and in part to work for my brother who had recently started his own company based out of Denver. Those two things were the perfect storm for me and after spending my junior year summer in Colorado I quickly moved back out full-time after graduation. This is when things began to really speed up.
I was fishing a lot. Every moment I could. Traveling all across the state and experiencing every river I could, learning everything I could. A few sets of tires and a lot of miles later I was starting to figure out the Colorado fly fishing game. I eas spending most of time fishing tailwaters and chasing a the biggest fish these ecosystems had to offer. Rivers like the South Platte, the Taylor, the Yampa, and the Blue were I spent of my time. Of course, Ill also frequented COlorado’s best fresstones like the Colorado and the Eagle as well. This was a period of crazy growth for my angling skills. I consuming every peice of knowledge I could and putting it to use right away. From here, I also started booking guide trips with famous guides like Pat Dorsey. Pat’s knowledge of bugs, his river system, and his tactics was something that really took my game to the next level. Even as a seasoned angler, booking guide trips with experts in your region can be a cheat code for success.
After that, I continued to hone my tailwater skills but also began to explore more stilllwater (lake) fly fishing opporuntites, especially in the alpine chasing cutthroat trout. Stillwater fly fishing is a totally different game but I truly enjoy it. It requires a different skill set and a different method of thinking, and an added bonus is that the fish are generally bigger. Overall, my biggest goal in fly fishing is versaility, I think it is the ultimate measure of an angler of guide. Can you catch more species, in multiple enviremoments at different times of the year, that is what I chase in my angling. So ending my colorado journey with an emphasis on stillwater and high alpine lakes seemed fitting.
Leaving Colorado after four and a half years was not easy but about year ago I moved to Tennessee to pursue chasing big brown trout. The tailwaters here provide ample opportunities to deploy a plethora of tactics to chase everything from brown trout to smallmouth and musky. My most recent rabbit hole has been streamer fishing. Tying and big fishing flies is visual way of fishing and can result in some of the most vicious eats on a fly rod. If you made it this far, I appreciate the support and if you’re looking to ecperience Tennessee with a fly rod in your hand, give me a shout!
All the best,