Keith Rose-Innes is that guy. The guy catching the fish you dream about. The guy who travels to the places you would give a nut to visit if only there was a market for such things (your nut). The guy you thought you might want to be if only career counsellors had been a little more open-minded. Keith is all those guys and more. But first and foremost he is a fisherman. Many of the species we now see as standard flats targets were made popular by either him or one of the earlier Alphonse guides either when he was with FlyCastaway or more recently under Alphonse Fishing Company. Many of the world’s premier saltwater destinations – Alphonse, Cosmoledo, Astove and Poivre are destinations which make up the Alphonse Fishing Co portfolio. That’s his office.
To make things worse, he’s also friendly and approachable.
He makes me sick.
Not all jobs are created equal. At least that’s how it seems. Quite often what you want now is incompatible with the career path you chose then. For every guy wondering whether he should have studied a B.Com instead of a B.A and dreaming of diving into vats of money a la Scrooge McDuck, there’s another guy wondering if sifting through Excel spreadsheets and waiting for that annual week in a time-share at Plett was what he was put on this planet for. For every person thinking they should have taken that job offer even if it meant moving to another city, there’s another one debating whether they compromised on their quality of life. Sometimes it feels like we’re in some kind of whack-a-mole zero-sum game where the moment you give more to one area, another suffers. Most of us are balancing scales and spinning plates on some kind of multi-armed treadmill hydra of affluence and poverty, ambition and stress, time off and fuck-all time at all.
Most of us.
If you’re a fly angler with even the vaguest interest in salt, you’ll have seen Keith Rose-Innes before. He’s there at launches, at the film fests, in the adverts and in half of the videos of extreme guides in extreme destinations. To most of us Keith Rose-Innes looks like the guy who has it made. The guy who makes you question your life choice, damn your luck and ask the Flying Spaghetti Monster for a Mulligan. Sure, there may be issues in his life that are nobody’s business but his own (ed; I bet he cries in Rom-Coms), but from the outside things look peachy because he has one of THE most enviable jobs in the fly fishing world. Or maybe it’s more about what the job sounds like. For most of the year he lives on Alphonse Island in the Seychelles, one of several pristine outer atolls in one of the most beautiful countries in the world… He runs a bunch of island lodges and atolls, including Alphonse, Astove, Poivre and Cosmoledo, overseeing one of the biggest and most professional fly fishing teams on the planet.
Chatting to him, not only did I develop massive life envy, but I found it next to impossible to avoid an alternate commentary developing in my head. Why? Well, it’s hard not to when you listen to what he gets up to.
“The owner of the Ponoi is a good friend of mine, a Russian guy who I guided while working out there and who ended up buying it (as you do). Very wealthy guy (no shit). We do these wacky trips every three years. We’re going to Siberia. He’s got a 200ft vessel, has 9 Kevlar jet boats and a helicopter on the roof that he has sent up for us (I need to reevaluate my friends). He pays everything, business class flights, jets, about 100 staff looking after us (I really need to reevaluate my friends). He invites you because he wants to fish.”
See what I mean?
Friends with benefits aside, on the surface Keith is just another dude. His life is just like yours and mine, save for a few major differences in environment and application. But, through a serendipitous combination of luck, timing and fishing genes and an ability to take advantage of opportunity, it’s as if the entire trajectory of his life, each twist and turn, event and even setback, was pre-ordained to be as fishy as possible.
For the rest of this story, get stuck into issue 1 of The Mission, the very first magazine we ever put out. Sniff.
Portrait photo by Ben Bergh Photography.
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