A Retrospective Look at Manny Chee Outdoors
After an amazing launch of the website and incredible support of the facebook page, I have been overwhelmed by the network of people behind me. It has led me to think in retrospect of the people that have been instrumental in creating the fishing machine that is Manny Chee Outdoors. Of course, the first people that come to mind are my father and mother. I was very lucky to be born to a family of hunters and anglers with a cultural belief that children come first. Thanks mom and dad!
When I was young and riding my bike with kids from the neighborhood to the local urban ponds I got the idea that I needed an inflatable raft to catch fish. This idea led to the eventual purchase of the family’s first boat, a 365V Ranger Bass Boat. This heavily glittered boat took my father and I to the amazing lakes in the Southwest Desert of Arizona. My father was an accomplished wingshooter and big game hunter, but fishing for bass in Arizona was brand new to the both of us. Luckily, a good friend offered to mentor me at a young age and taught me how to fish our lakes. Mark Edelman was a local tournament angler and a great power fisherman. He showed me how to run reaction baits at San Carlos Lake, flipping the trees at Lake Pleasant, and the great excitement of topwater fishing with poppers among many other techniques. I look up to Mark as a great teacher and a guide. From him, I got the idea that I wanted to one day teach someone the art of fishing for bass. Thank you Mark!
Fast forward to a time after high school, I was now behind the wheel and able to take the family boat out on my own with other novice friends. I was lucky to have a great information resource at Waterdog Willy’s in Tempe. Ron was the man, a friend of Mark’s and also an old school tournament angler. I would spend hours and hundreds of dollars at the store. I was always given details of how and where to effectively target fish. I knew it was all coming together during one summer week where I hooked and lost a fish over ten pounds on a deep rock wall, then a few days later I landed a nine pound largemouth off of deep structure. I did it all by myself, but of course, the crew at Waterdog Willy’s were instrumental in the building of this knowledge base. I was sad to say the least when Waterdog Willy’s closed its doors, and will always remember those days and the community of anglers it created. Thank you Ron and the crew at Waterdog Willy’s!
In this community, I met another passionate angler that was into fishing local tournaments, Scooter Griffith. We starting fishing together after hanging out at Waterdog’s and instantly connected. We both had a hunger for knowledge and would hit the local lakes hard and often. Many times we talked about how great it would be to share our fishing with other people in the form of guiding. I knew Scooter had a big heart, understood customer service, and was a class act; someone to look up to. He convinced me to fish a few tourneys with him and I can remember always finding fish during prefish, but the day of the derby would come along and we seemed to not find them anymore. I blame my own karma for this as now Scooter is one of the most successful tournament anglers in Arizona with many plaques and accolades behind him. The fish Gods have allowed me to be successful in guiding and in fishing but I think the minute money becomes involved, they shut me down, and it seems to be my tournament story to this day. Scooter is now the co-owner of the mighty Arizona Fishing Guides, and is still an inspiration and role model. Thank you Scooter!
After figuring out that tournaments were not my can of worms, I got the crazy idea that I should start something completely new and chase bass with a six weight Orvis fly rod that my dad’s friend had gifted me. I asked Ron where I could find some flies for catching bass; he pointed me down the street to Arizona Flyfishing. Bob Willard and John Rohmer were the owners at the time and once again, hundreds of dollars and hours were spent trying to figure out the art of flyfishing for bass. By this time I had a good knowledge base in the conventional world and would talk to John and Bob about the current techniques of bass fishing and how to emulate them on the fly. They only flyfished and I think they also enjoyed a new perspective on targeting bass. It was here that I realized the way to become a more complete angler was to know and understand all the disciplines of fishing. Things really got serious after John and Bob convinced me to take a beginning fly tying class, I took off with it and have now created my own techniques and patterns that stomp bass on the fly. A great community was created at this store and I met some amazing anglers there. Thank you John and Bob!
One of those anglers that I met at Arizona Flyfishing was a gentleman by the name of Terry Lancaster. Terry was among many things, an ex-proffesional tournament bass angler of the elites level. He was also instrumental in the beginnings of swimbait fishing and to this day holds personal friendships with the biggest names in the industry. This was proven just yesterday when a few boxes came to his house with the words “Merry X-mas Terry, from Butch Brown”. I hold dear the memories of long nights spent on his couch learning about an advanced tactical approach to fishing for trophy largemouth bass. I think Terry saw a little of himself in my passion and fire for fishing, and to this day, he is an incredible mentor to whom I owe so much. We didn’t only talk about fishing, as by this time I had finally graduated college and started to find my way in the fishing and outdoors industry. As with any industry, there are people who will love and follow you, and there will be people whose hate and jealousy do not allow them to see the good in others. Terry has been a life coach through some hard times when fabricated rumors and lies where being spread about me. The successful launch of the website and my new guide business proves that with Terry’s help, I have risen above the haters. We left them in our wake Terry, Thank you!
To finish my degree in college, I was lucky enough to spend a summer internship with Buzz and Rose Cox of the High Lonesome Ranch in Colorado. Buzz is originally from Maine and carries a stoic persona, along with a professionalism that I had never experienced before. I was able to learn what it meant to be part of an Orvis endorsed lodge and he cemented a passion for customer service. My time with Buzz was short, but I learned valuable lessons that I hold close to this day. Thank you Buzz and Rose!
Now a college graduate, (and we won’t talk about how many years that took), I returned to Arizona and through Scooter I was put in contact with a young, savvy business owner named Ben Koller. Ben had started a small guide service named The Hook-up Outfitters. He also had a passion for service and an incredible knowledge of fishing. Ben is also an angler that appreciates all disciplines of the art. He was not only guiding bass anglers, but also growing a fly fishing guide business. He had an impressive local knowledge of our fish and I had the ability to create flies that could target these fish. I take great pride in saying that I helped Ben create the valley’s first Orvis endorsed guide service with a specialty for bass on the fly. Today Ben is the co-owner of a very successful tackle store with a strong online presence, and the head of a team of guides for whom I have the utmost respect. I’m lucky to consider the whole team as my friends. One specific technique that Ben introduced me to was frog fishing. I can’t thank him enough as I have now created a unique technique for targeting shallow water big bass on my own frog fly creation. Thank you Ben!
One more person for whom I have great respect is a local artist and professional BMX rider, KC Badger. I have now had the chance to be his mentor in flyfishing, and lately even got him into the world of swimbait fishing. It is a great feeling to see his fishing knowledge and passion grow, along with a great picture collection that has been well earned. KC was instrumental in teaching me the art of video editing and utilizing this new world of social media. A marketing genius, I would not have experienced such an amazing launch and support for Manny Chee Outdoors if I could not consider KC a close friend. Thank you KC!
So as you can see, Manny Chee has never been alone. I have an amazing network of people that stand behind me and keep me striving to be not only the best fishing guide, but also the best man that I can be. Today I look back and realize what a gift and blessing I have received. From the bottom of my heart, thank you all. To the people that I will meet in the future: I look forward to the never ending process of learning and sharing that we call life.