Episode 76: Capt. Rick Ruoff – The Nineteenth Pole
Rick Ruoff’s infectious personality could calm the roar of a lion. The first time I met this gregarious man, I knew instantly he was my kind of people. I’d see him every morning at the Lorelei restaurant similar to a seawall egret greeting everyone who passes. He’s tall and lanky – always sporting a grin under a herculean mustache. Ego and vanity are foreigners to this man’s easy going demeanor. He’s the type of person who understands the greater aspects of life and how we should all conduct ourselves. Rick is a man younger guides and outdoorsman aspiring to make a living on the water or in the woods should aspire to emulate.
Ruoff has been a fly fishing guide in the Florida Keys since 1970. He was the 19th skiff guide in Islamorada. He was among the early pioneers who refined the art of saltwater fly fishing. He wasn’t (and still isn’t) comfortable with chasing world records or tournament wins. He is overwhelmed with competition and those who have fished with him know he doesn’t need to prove anything to anyone… Rick is one of the greats of our sport! As a marine biologist that has pushed his skiff 16 feet at a time for 50 plus years, it’s safe to say this guy has seen a thing or two.
Many also know that Rick flocks to Montana when the summer heat in Florida becomes unbearable. He is an avid trout fisherman and upland bird hunter who can be found sleeping on the river bank or picking vegetables in his garden to accompany the Hungarian Partridge for supper. Rick is an old school, traditionalist – a true classic gentleman in all aspects. It’s an honor to know him and a privilege to call him a dear friend.