Meet Curt Hamby: Howler Ambassador

Posted on February 9, 2018

Although a native of Texas, Howler Ambassador Curt Hamby spends half of his year as a fishing guide for WorldCast Anglers on the rivers of Wyoming and Idaho and the other half he works as a member of Ski Patrol on the Jackson Hole Mountain - one of the most diverse and treacherous mountains in the lower 48.  On river and on mountain, Curt is a long time member of the Howler inner circle and an early adopter of Howler gear for his daily life. We caught up with Curt for a few runs and a couple cold ones in Teton Village and picked his brain about a few things. Here’s what we found out…

So, what’s scarier, tossing bombs into avalanche zones or the client that shows up and says “it’s my first time fly fishing?"
Definitely the scarier of the two is the one who comes out fly fishing and says it’s their first time and they brought bombs! No, but half seriously on the one hand you take a client fly fishing and you are teaching a craft, something they can enjoy over a lifetime.  On the other hand you have explosives performing avalanche mitigation, and it requires all your knowledge of snow metamorphosis, the weather, and the precipitation index for that day.  You have a big responsibility. Hopefully the end result is what you expect, then go ski some powder snow! Both fun!

Tell us what a day is like on the patrol when you get a big dump of snow overnight?
A big snow dump usually results in a sleepless night due to the wind pounding the house.  In the morning I get up and catch a fishing show, drink a lot of coffee, check the weather stations data, drive over Teton pass, and clock in around 6 am. I can be one of the crew that prepares the charges for the workers depending on the snowfall and wind, or I could be running my hand charge route. Occasionally throughout the season we have an avalauncher that we shoot, so I’m on that crew as well. The goal is to get the mountain safe and standing tall before 9am.  It takes a lot of people to accomplish this and a lot of noise if you live near the village. So that’s before 9, then there is the daily work of cleaning up rope lines, picking up and skiing around as much as possible, responding to an incident or injury, and maybe even roping up and doing a rescue if there is a person in a precarious situation. If there is a response out of bounds, I’ll go there. We sweep the mountain at the end of day and go down to our bar and share stories and a brew.

Seems like you have a pretty good balance between working the rivers and working the mountain, but I imagine they are both taxing on you. What season are you most glad to see come to an end each year?
That’s an easy one. Old Man Winter! I have a super supportive wife and daughter, so they let me leave patrol late March and I spend a couple of months in the Bahamas hosting bonefish trips and hanging with my crew down there working on a tan and a double haul. I get to miss the mud season.

Last year, you spent some time in Bhutan. What was that all about?
The trip of a lifetime! I was invited to be part of a group supported by King 5 and the Prime Minister of Bhutan to teach a local Bhutanese group all the skills of fly fish guiding: casting, rowing, river safety, fly tying and knots, etc. The goal is to create a fly fishing destination and have the local Bhutanese do all the jobs any destination travel business would do including guiding, cooking, managing the lodges, and facilitating transportation. The travel in Bhutan is crazy. The straightest road is the Paro airport, so driving is tenuous. Bhutan hosts the revered Golden and chocolate Mahseer, a cross between a carp, snook, and a tarpon. Mahseer spawn in the main rivers and tributaries of some serious whitewater. Bhutan is about the size of Oregon and the gradient north to south is from 23,000 ft to about 900ft, so the runoff is huge during the monsoon season. You can imagine how hardy and strong these fish can be. Currently sport fishing is illegal, but the government is interested in fishing tourism, and we were there to promote safe fishing practices. Hopefully in the near future the infrastructure will happen and we can get some groups over there. It’s super hard fishing with heavy grains and heavy flies for big fish that are super elusive! That aside, the people, the culture and the geography were beautiful. Riding elephants, fishing with Golden langurs in the trees and Great hornbills flying around, and seeing leopard tracks were all pluses! The Bhutanese students start talking about the tigers when you're rowing down the Manas River - that got my attention!

What do you miss most about Texas?
Well all my family is still down there... and quail hunting!

George Jones or George Clinton?
I’m more of the George Jones genre!

Rainier or Maker’s Mark?
Do I have to pick one!? Actually, though, I’m more of a Tito’s and Deep Eddy guy.

You adorned yourself in Howler since the day we started. Besides making you look like a bad ass, what do you dig about our gear?
The short answer is I like to support a grassroots company. You guys have a great vibe, a cool laid back culture, and my kind of style. I contacted Mason early on about the company and the product. He had spent some time in Jackson and he was stoked to get some Howler gear in our area. I had some prior experience with small apparel companies and I was psyched to support. You guys at Howler Brothers and my friends at Yeti are both Texas based companies, both started small. As a Texas teleskier at JHSP, it kind of all makes sense in my mind... and look at you now! Thanks Andy, Chase, Mason and Howler crew! You guys keep up the cool art, cool styles and cool culture!