Angler Profile: Geoffrey Manning's Voice of Victory
Consider Geoffrey Manning of Roanoke, Virginia - the recently announced winner of St. Croix Rod's Voice Your Victory competition. His is the story of a self-taught angler who grew to love and appreciate fishing on his own terms before connecting later in life with another very special angler - the father he never knew he had.
Manning expanded his fishing horizons over time, becoming enamored with smallmouth bass, musky, and mountain brook trout. He taught himself how to fly fish and began to travel to wet a line for new and exciting species in different areas. "Fishing became less about the fish and more about the experiences and knowing myself better," says Manning, who volunteered to run a fishing program at a local camp as a teen and then moved on to direct his own fishing camp as an adult. "It gave me the opportunity to share my philosophy, hopefully helping other kids like me." He also shares fishing with his young daughter, taking her along on every adventure he can. "She could cast and reel before she was two," he says. "I'm hoping to feed that spark in her… the same one that guides me. Fishing is a communication tool. For me, it's how I communicate with nature and myself, fighting hard to understand both. Victory for me is knowing myself a little better, and fishing gives that to me."
Manning first met his dad, Wayne Cox, at Smith Mountain Lake near his home in Roanoke. "He had booked a guided striper trip for us," Manning recalls. "Figuring that he'd missed out on a bunch of birthdays and knowing that I liked fly fishing for trout, he consulted a friend on a gift for me. He brought me a St. Croix Imperial USA 5-weight fly rod with a Ross reel, because both were made in the USA. That turned out to be something that we both appreciated, and we continued to realize throughout that initial trip that we were much the same person in so many ways. Today, we have this great father and son relationship that might not be so great if I hadn't grown into a man on my own. We connect on all the levels that a father and son should but often can't. Fishing is a big part of that; it brought us together and helped create bond - a common language that has allowed our special relationship to grow. We fish together whenever possible and we philosophize over campfires and phone calls. We constantly remind each other of how similar our lives are and express appreciation for our relationship and for the human aspects of our circumstances. I'll never forget the day my dad gave me that St. Croix rod. It was the first time I didn't feel alone in my passion."
Earlier this fall, Geoff was notified by St. Croix that he had won the Voice of Victory video competition. He knew that he wanted his dad to share the spoils of his victory. The prize package included a 3-day/2-night expenses-paid trip to St. Croix Rod Factory in Park Falls, Wisconsin; a factory tour, a day of fishing with St. Croix employees; a Victory Rod for each of them (finished in person during the factory tour) with a Daiwa reel; and St. Croix Victory apparel bundle. Other supporting partners in the Voice Your Victory Giveaway were Z-Man Fishing, WileyX, Seaguar, Rapala, Daiwa, and Black Rifle Coffee Company.
Turns out that Manning found something very interesting on the deck of Teach's Bass Cat. "I've been craving a particular length, power, and action spinning rod for a specific bait presentation that I keep close to the vest on my local waters back home. I really don't want to say what it is, but there it was on Ryan's deck and I couldn't believe that St. Croix had already built it. It wasn't available on the market yet, so it was an incredible experience getting to fish with the prototype and land some hard-fighting smallies on it. The good news for anglers is that it has since been released with the rest of the new Victory 17 models on November 1, and I just bought one yesterday. Like the rest of the technique-specific models in the 25-rod Victory Series, this rod absolutely nails what it's intended to do. The Victory Series is a great example of St. Croix's constant commitment to give all anglers the specific tools they need to experience more success on the water."
Geoff's dad, Wayne, says he's grateful to have shared such a memorable experience with his son. "It was great to see where all the rods I've bought over the past 20 years were born," he says. "Watching how they were made and getting to meet the people that are actually producing them, and then to be out here with my son spending a nice day on the lake has been a great experience for both of us."
An experienced Board-Certified Master Arborist, Manning dreams of leaving his career in the trees for a new one in the fishing industry. "I plan on closing the door on arboriculture someday so I can pursue fishing full time," the part-time fishing guide says. "I'm not actively advertising for my guiding business now but am working towards that direction. Right now, Little Dipper Guide is my pet project for fishing education and outreach."
"We couldn't be happier with the way our Voice Your Victory video competition turned out and to be able to meet Geoff and Wayne and celebrate their unique story and special journey together," says St. Croix Vice President of Marketing, Jesse Simpkins. "Fishing has always brought people together, but I think the past two years especially have taught all of us in this industry how powerful angling passions really are. Geoff's story is a great one, and there are countless others out there who are connecting and reconnecting with one another through fishing. Supporting anglers to help make those connections possible while driving great and memorable experiences on the water is our victory here at St. Croix; it's what motivates us every day."