Keep Your Fire Stoked

It was early, meeting at the boat at 5:00 am, about a half-hour before the sun would break past the horizon. The brisk October morning meant there was a thin layer of sea smoke billowing from the surface of the water. We made our way past the break wall, heading south towards the point. Rumor had it the false albacore would be making their last appearance before disappearing for deeper waters.

The plan was simple, find the fish, hit them hard, and quench our Alibie fever. Joining the rest of the fleet along the west wall, we looked for boils marked by crashing birds and chaos on the surface. Spotting the first bit of pandemonium just south, we raced to the boil, John with his rod in hand and ready on the bow. One, two, and three casts into the boiling water and the line was tight! The fish fought hard on light tackle, making for a good fight, one that any angler in the northeast knows all too well. Blood hit the deck as the tiny torpedo came over the gunwale, viciously moving its tail in an effort to escape. We paused briefly for some much-needed pictures and an exchange of a high-five, John sent the little tunny nose first back over the side, letting it join the blitz yet again.

Stoked, John had finally landed his first False Albacore and an additional Bonito, early that morning. His reaction was priceless, and his Albie Fever was at an all-time high. For John, fishing is a moment of pause and a chase for something more significant than the nine to five. However, this isn’t his first endeavor, nor will it be his last.

Growing up in Maryland and moving to Vermont for college, it was no surprise that he grew close to the outdoors. Climbing, cliff jumping, hiking, surfing, and of course, fishing became apart of his daily existence. Camera in hand, John maneuvered his way through the throws of life, always taking the time to pause for a good adventure. As a kid, John was influenced by drawing and painting but later would find photography the most fitting.

His camera became an extension of himself, documenting his adventures to share his favorite moments with those that don’t know what it’s like to reel in a trout from the middle of nowhere or hike the white mountains for sunrise. For John, these are the moments that he looks to capture. Like many, putting food on the table and paying bills often takes over after college and the times spent exploring are often narrowed down to the weekends and holidays. It’s an unfortunate progression, but usually, a means to an end. Finding your passion is a blessing, but capitalizing on it is often the challenge few can conquer. Fortunately for John, he is pretty talented, and before he knew it, companies were contacting him for product shots and friends for something special to hang over their mantle. The ball has started rolling, and he is far from finished, creating authentic photos true to his style; authenticity first, and everything else comes second.

“My big aha moment was being myself, going out and shooting what I think is cool - photography is a portrayal of one’s self.”

John has been fortunate to work with companies such as Atollas, Drift Dog, and Built to Cast, all of which have been built by like-minded outdoorsmen. On any given weekend, you can find John looking for that next hole to pull a salmon out of, and of course, a camera close by and at the ready.

Stoke seems to be a theme in John’s journey to becoming a full-time content creator, photographer, and a professional version of himself, doing what he loves and going after it day in and day out. It’s something that we all have, whether it is training for a competition, writing, reading a book, or spending time with loved ones. Having that “craft” that you can come back to every day. ensures that you are doing good, capital “G” good. It’s progress and In honor of progress and all the challenges we face, I ask, what is your stoke?

If you’d like to learn more about John, check out his photography, or get in touch about some product shots, check him out on Instagram @john_isola and his website

- The Crew at Along the Keel

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