About the Honoree

Andy Mill has led a sporting life with few contemporaries. Beginning his outdoor career as a downhill ski racer, Mill was a member of the U.S. Ski Team from 1969 to 1981, competing in two World Championships and two Olympics. He was internationally ranked as the number-one American downhiller six separate times and launched this success into a prolific broadcasting career, first in ski-racing coverage and later in fishing.

He brought the competitive spirit born on the mountain with him into a fishing life. No angler has won more tarpon tournaments than Mill, who has twelve first-place finishes, including five Gold Cups. His dedication and athletic mentality were a novel approach to competitive fly fishing, and he is famously known for lifting weights in his garage with a fly rod to check knots, rod strength, angles, and approaches for quickly fighting and landing fish.

Throughout these accomplishments, Mill has been a storyteller. It is for this work especially that the American Museum of Fly Fishing is honored to present Andy Mill with the 2023 Heritage Award.

As the host of Sportsman’s Journal on the Versus Network, Mill produced and hosted ninety-one fishing programs, which have been aired in dozens of countries worldwide. His book A Passion for Tarpon ignited the hearts and minds of tarpon anglers worldwide and set the stage for countless contributions to the conservation of this special fish.

Most recently and importantly, Mill has been cohosting Mill House Podcast with his son, Nicky Mill. Flip Pallot comments that, “It takes the likes of Andy to recognize and to connect with individuals who have woven the fabric of the outdoors mantles . . . and to draw from them the experiences and tales that kindle the spark of adventure in all of us. When the narrative is led by a person with Andy’s credentials, the effect of a Mill House Podcast is a foregone conclusion . . . and the long list of such podcasts represents a stellar report card.”

With more than eighty episodes released to date, Andy and Nicky have memorialized some of the great fly-fishing guides, luminaries, and figureheads across the country and the world. Their podcast preserves stories not just of how things used to be, but how we got to where we are now. Mill House tackles issues of conservation, innovation, and strategy both on and off the water, all with the classic style and grace that has come to define Andy Mill.

Andy Mill, seated on a bench affixed to a boat, leans back as he attempts to reel in an unseen saltwater fish. Given the deep bend in his rod, it's clearly a sizable catch.

Highlights of the Night

The American Museum of Fly Fishing hosted its Heritage Award event honoring Andy Mill on October 19 in New York City. The Heritage Award was established to honor and celebrate individuals and organizations whose commitment to the museum, the sport of fly fishing, and the conservation of our natural resources sets standards to which we should all aspire.

More than one hundred guests gathered on the water at Chelsea Piers to celebrate Andy Mill and a life spent outdoors. During a cocktail reception overlooking the Hudson River, artist Mark Susinno went to work at his easel to create a piece for the live auction while guests greeted old friends and new. Dinner kicked off with a tribute video narrated by Nicky Mill, Andy’s son, which is available to view above.

Under the gavel of newly minted auctioneer Alec Griswold, the evening moved into an electric live auction, a resounding success for the museum’s fundraising initiatives. Enthusiasm was high when Andy’s longtime friend and 2021 Izaak Walton Award recipient Captain Paul Dixon took the stage to introduce Andy. By random draw, Paul’s commemorative YETI rambler held the winning door-prize ticket for a day of bluefin tuna fishing donated by Peter Jenkins. Paul paid it forward by trying his hand at live auctioneering, selling his door prize and raising additional funds for the museum.

AMFF President Fred Polhemus then presented a one-of-a-kind VK Steelworks–made Heritage Award to Andy. Val Kropiwinicki’s incredible artistry was apparent as he explained how he tied in both Andy’s love of tarpon fishing and his Olympic skiing history. Andy in turn made donations to the museum’s permanent collection: one of only two copies of his A Passion for Tarpon book manuscript, the fly stretcher used for all his tournament wins, and one of the reels he had on the boat for all of those wins. He delivered a rousing and emotional speech to a standing ovation before Monte Burke joined him on stage for an insightful interview that reminded guests of the most compelling episodes of The Millhouse Podcast. The work Andy has done with that podcast, chronicling fly fishing’s most iconic luminaries and guides, is among the many reasons he is our Heritage Award recipient.

AMFF would like to thank our Leadership Circle Donors: Mark Comora, Andy Mill, Johnny Morris, Briggs Forelli, Gary Grant, Captain Robert L. W. McGraw/The Donald C. McGraw Foundation/Black Rock Foundation, Rob Oden, Papa’s Pilar Rum, Fred Polhemus, W. Dodd Russell, Paul Segal, Adelaide Skoglund and Bill Legg, Richard Tisch, Charles Thacher, Tom Weber, and Chris Wittman.

We are grateful to our auction donors: Arms Reach, David Atwood, Battenkill Preserve, Bear’s Den, Scott Biron, Bob’s Maple Shop, Bromley Mountain, Chandler 4 Corners, C. D. Clarke, Tom Colicchio, Mark Comora, Frank Conroy, Peter Corbin, Costa, Harry Desmond and Berkshire Rivers Fly Fishing, Derek DeYoung, Paul Dixon, Duck Camp, Equinox Resort and Spa, Chris Evert, Fishewear, Fishpond, Tadd Fore and Ozark Water Fly Fishing, Pat Gerschel, Guy Harvey Foundation, James Heckman, Kerry Heffernan, Inn at Manchester, Peter Kaminsky, Richard Landerman, Ted LeBow, Liberty Skis, Carmine Lisella, Annie Margarita, Walter Matia, Patrick McEvoy, Andy Mill, Chris Miller, Mulligan’s of Manchester, John Mundt, Old Custom Sports, Papa’s Pilar Rum, Fred Polhemus, Poncho Outdoors, Justin Rea and StingRea Charters, REC Components, Mike Rice, Abby Schuster and Kismet Outfitters, Scientific Anglers, Scott Fly Rods, Simms, Smuggler’s Notch Distillery, Solo Stove, Soul Fly Lodge, Rich Strolis, Mark Susinno, Tamarack Preserve, Temple Fork Outfitters, Three Forks Ranch in memory of the late Foster Bam, Richard Tisch, VAER, Vermont Teddy Bear Company, VK Steelworks, WhiteRoom Skis, Yellowfin, YETI.

And to all those who attended the event and supported the auctions, we thank you.

The Heritage Award fly, Connected.923.SSP, created by Val Kropiwnicki.

Strip, strip, strip, wiggle, bump, bump, bump, feel it. Set! Launch! You’ve connected, you’re connected..again..to a fish..to 100+ pounds of prehistoric energy, tumbling through the air with one thing on its mind—to lose any hint of having ever been connected to you.

Game on! That’s the scene, depicted here—in stainless steel, feathers and fur, tinsel and floss. It honors Andy Mill and his life’s work, anchored in the sport of fly fishing. Set on a TIG-welded stainless steel tarpon-shaped frame, antique silver twisted tinsel braids criss-crosses over dark green peacock dubbing symbolizing the brutalistically elegant scales and coloration of the tarpon. Peacock herl tied in at the fins conjure the beds of Florida Keys seagrass. A chartreuse tarpon toad stays fast to the tarpon’s jaw. Surrounding the tarpon, formed stainless steel wires invoke the fly line and the ripples in the surface of the sea. Within, these wires are an homage to Andy’s life at 80 mph while locked into hard-edged skis. Also the colors representing the national flags from Mill’s World Cup and World Championship top 10 finishes. The wire directly left of the tarpon traces the course line of the 1976 Innsbruck Olympics Downhill as it was printed on a 1976 Innsbruck Winter Olympics Ski Run Poster Map. The starting gate and finish line are indicated in the colors of the Austrian flag. The award writing to the right of the fly is set with red, white and blue matting, in recognition of Andy’s years as a member of the U.S. Ski team.

Val Kropiwnicki