Raised in western New York, Ryan Shea developed a strong connection to fishing at the age of 4 when his grandfather taught him to cast off his dock on Cayuga Island. It has been his passion ever since. With his brothers Tim and Todd and his closest friend Nathan Carr (Nate), Ryan spent much of his spare time through his teenage years fishing the Niagara River and going on summer trips to the Georgian Bay region of Ontario, Canada. However, like many kids raised in Western New York, after graduating high school Ryan developed a wanderlust and desire to experience new challenges.
After earning his BA from the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill, Ryan also earned a commission as an officer in the United States Marine Corps. As a logistician and project manager, he served his country on multiple deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan and executed nearly a dozen moves throughout the country – fishing where and when he could (but mostly working his ass off) along the way. Somewhere in the middle of all this, Nate picked up fly fishing and showcased his skills to Ryan.
Like relationships between most close friends, there is always an undercurrent of competition and Ryan couldn’t let Nate beat him at something new. However, competitiveness was just the spark – it took only one outing with Nate for Ryan to begin to appreciate that fly fishing is an art. It was beautiful to watch the tight loops of a line well casted and to see the gentle rise of a trout to the fly. It was a completely new world of angles, ecosystems, terms, and personalities. It seemed in many ways to be a more challenging, yet more effective, way to fish than conventional methods. So, with all the time and money he could muster, Ryan threw himself into fly fishing and never turned back.
Armed with a pile of new equipment and facing the challenge of teaching himself how to fly fish, Ryan dedicated nearly all his spare time to the pursuit of this sport with the intensity characteristic of most Marines. Although moving all the time posed numerous challenges to the learning process, the nomadic lifestyle of an active duty service member had a silver lining – it afforded Ryan the opportunity to travel extensively and to develop his skills on some great water across the country. Not being able to grow roots anywhere for more than half your life often causes people to cling tighter to their passions and start to view the world as their home. It is from this mindset that Ryan formed one of his life’s goals – to catch a fish on a fly in all 50 states and 10 Canadian provinces (the bucket list keeps growing though) – and he is nearly halfway there.
After spending more than half his live on the move, the idea of “home waters” started to sound appealing. With a desire to grow roots, provide stability for his family, connect with community, and teach others the joys of fishing and importance of preserving our natural resources, Ryan got together with his friend Nate and started Brookdog Fishing Company back where it all began – Western New York. With knowledge gained from numerous trips with leading guides from across the U.S. and Canada as well as the leadership and organizational skills developed over nearly 2 decades of service, Ryan challenges paradigms every time he wets a line. Passion, intensity, organization, professionalism – all subdued by a laid-back demeanor and a need to play outside.