LFFE Alum Making a name for himself in the Fly Fishing Industry

Matteo with a beautiful brown trout caught while filming a movie for Trout Unlimited.

I’ve always been okay being that “fishing guy” pretty much everywhere I go because after all, that’s’ who I am. 

I didn’t grow up on the deck of a boat, on the banks of a river and my dad hasn’t a clue about fishing, but, being out on the water has taught me some of my greatest life lessons. 

Ever since my uncle introduced me to fishing, I haven’t had a second go by when I don’t think, speak or dream of fishing. For me, fishing is the glue that has brought all of my passions in life together—writing, photography/film, conservation and storytelling. As I sit here on the side of a river bank in Vermont, days away from starting my second year in college, I couldn’t be more grateful for the role fishing has played in my life.

At Middlebury College Matteo takes advantage of every opportunity to explore Vermont’s native brook trout streams.

After participating in my first Lillard Fly Fishing Expeditions trip, a whole new realm of fishing was opened up to me—one that is so beautiful I would consider it an art in and of itself. I went on to explore all the different avenues fly fishing could take me, which brings me to where I am now. I am now an Intern Leader on the very trips I went on a mere 4 years ago, the President of Middlebury College’s Fly Fishing Club, a Content Writing Intern for Postfly Box, a producer of a documentary for Trout Unlimited, and a lot more. However, while fly fishing is constantly taking me one step closer to my dream of being a nature/conservation photographer and storyteller, the most important thing about it is that it allows me to breathe. In a world where so much pressure is put on young kids and adults to be perfect in all aspects of their lives, fishing is not my escape, but rather the mindset, act and place where I feel I can let my soul be at peace. It’s a truly amazing thing to watch trout rise, to feel cold water between your toes, and to sit next to a river and actually feel like you are a part of it, grounded by it. 

Matteo joined the Colorado Rocky Mountain Expedition as a LIT in 2018. He took advantage of the opportunity to capture some stunning photos like this one.

Fishing is as much about the people we meet, the places it takes us and the memories we make along the way as it is about the beautiful creatures we chase. It’s about the entire experience as a whole: hugging your best friend after a catch, getting cut up and scraped while hiking high into the mountains, resisting the itch of what seems like a thousand mosquito bites just to drift that perfect run one last time and having stories to tell for the rest of your life.           

A stunning cutthroat captured by Matteo on the Rocky Mountain Expedition last summer.

Now I might not be the best fisherman or have the coolest gear or get to fish in crazy places, but I find joy in fishing regardless. I learned that it doesn’t matter so much where I am, or how expensive my fly rod is or how big my personal best trout is because the reward of being out on the water and learning to explore, to fail, to be patient and to experience excitement, pain, and the beauty of a naturally patterned fish, is the greatest toolbox life will ever give me.

I cannot wait to see where this lifelong adventure fishing has started will take me; and, while I’ll never know what is going to come next, I know that wherever I am inwherever I am in this world all I’ll need to feel at home and at peace with myself and nature is a fly rod, a camera and a willingness to always keep casting. 

Lillard Fly Fishing Expeditions was started in 2010 as a graduate thesis for my Master's Degree in Environmental Conservation Education at NYU. The operating premise was simple - by coupling amazing wilderness fly fishing camps for teens with environmental education and service learning we can help inspire future generations of fly fishing conservationists. We have been growing our unique list of trips and experiences ever since.

When it comes to choosing a summer program for your teen the options are endless. For the teen who loves to fish, be outside, and has a strong sense of adventure we have made the choice easy. We are the leader in teen fly fishing adventures and are dedicated to providing the best backcountry fly fishing experience with opportunities for teens to engage in leadership training, community service, and backcountry camping.


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Will Lillard, Founder/Director/Guide

Contact Us

[email protected]

Lillard Fly Fishing Expeditions
2540 King Road
Pisgah Forest, NC 28768

(828) 577-8204