JT Van Zandt is one of the most sought after fly fishing guides on the Texas Gulf Coast. His journey there has been an interesting one. As he tells it, he barely made it out of high school and stocked groceries for a year before he turned it around and graduated from the University of Texas. He took his college degree to Colorado where he was a fly-fishing guide from 1993-1996 before returning to Texas, where he guided in the Texas Hill Country and worked in wood shops. He started his own cabinet business, which did well, but he didn’t appreciate the stress. So, in 2011, he went back to guiding fulltime on the Texas coast. Now living in Rockport, he has two sons with a woman he says is out of his league. Conservation is at the heart of his approach to guiding, and he serves on the Coastal Resource Advisory Committee for TPWD.

The real reason I can’t stay off the water is the learning, it never stops. My understanding of the middle Texas Coast Fishery is my life’s work. I don’t need to catch anymore redfish. I’d rather just study them. Sharing the experience as a guide, introducing people to this fishery and teaching them to catch fish is way more exciting for me than fishing by myself.

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March 2018 – JT Van Zandt, a fly-fishing guide and son of the late singer-songwriter Townes Van Zandt, talks about the beauty and protection of the region’s wild treasures that are hiding in plain sight… When I first went down to Port Aransas I couldn’t believe my eyes. It’s so gorgeous. I walked out onto the flats, among the oyster shells, in little neoprene booties. It was a little perilous. That’s Texas, right? Everything bites, burns, stings, or breaks your heart in this state. But everything that is harsh about it is in place to sustain and protect it from overuse. There’s a beauty in that.

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