Photo by Chad Brown
When United States Navy veteran Chad Brown tried fly fishing for the first time, it changed his life. “I felt the air rushing across my cheek [and] feeling in my face,” he says of the moment his surroundings in a lush Oregon forest broke through the struggles he was facing due to mental illness. “The only thing that spoke to me and made me feel alive was fly fishing.”
Accepting an art director position in Portland, Oregon, after finishing graduate school in New York City, Brown began his battle against anxiety, memory loss, and anger, which were linked to post-traumatic stress disorder from his time serving in Desert Storm and as part of Operation Restore Hope in Somalia. A friend took him to a nearby river, telling Brown how fishing helped him process his recent divorce. Hooking a jack salmon, Brown says, woke him up.
Chad has used his experiences to support others, founding two non-profit organizations revolving around bringing fly fishing, veterans, and youths together to create community, relationships, and healing. His current work also includes documentary-style portraits and adventure photography, and he serves as a creative director and conservationist, advocating for threatened wild spaces and under-served voices of all kinds.
Brown’s Instagram profile features his 2021 2.3-liter Ford Bronco Badlands, topped with a Yakima rooftop HD tent, awning, and a set of Rigid under-body rock lights. Whether driving to his favorite fly fishing spot or road-tripping in Washington, Oregon, or Idaho, the build instills the freedom to roam without fear.
In this video of the week, Chad talks to Snowpeak USA about the healing power of nature and its impact on his mental health, creativity, and his mission to empower others to be leaders for environmental justice.
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