WALTER FOSTER HAS BEEN CATCHING AND SKETCHING FISH SINCE HE WAS 7 YEARS OLD. GROWING UP IN VERMONT, FISHING WAS A CONSTANT IN FOSTER’S LIFE, AND HE CARRIED A SKETCHPAD TO DRAW REPLICATIONS OF FISH EVEN AS A YOUNG CHILD.
When Foster graduated with a degree in environmental science from Southern Vermont College, he intended to “pursue a career in environ-mental science.” The occupation didn’t suit Foster. “I can’t stay in the office for more than two hours at a time. One day, I decided to go out West and be a fishing guide.”
Foster first came to Utah in 1992 as a ski racer, then visited several times with friends. In 2005, Foster and his wife Andrea decided to make Park City their home. He began guiding for the fly-fishing outfitter Trout Bum 2, while working as a server at the restaurant Chimayo.
In March 2012, Foster started his own independent guiding service, Trout Tales. His dedication to “developing relationships with clients” sup-ported a successful business launch, and by 2013, Trout Tales was Foster’s only job and sole focus. Trout Tales now has a staff of full-time and part- time guides, and takes clients out on the river year-round.
His second business, Fine Fin Art, is a natural extension of Trout Tales that started out of “necessity and accident.” When a long-term fly-fishing client simultaneously caught a 20-inch rainbow trout and a 20-inch brown trout, Foster placed both fish in a net and captured the image on his iPhone. The client asked where he could turn the image into art and Foster offered to give it a try. The commissioned piece marked the birth of Fine Fin Art.
Foster reflects, “It is so unique how things come full circle in your life through interactions or certain people. Fine Fin Art spawned out of a client and a fishing experience.”
Foster is responsible for every aspect of his Fine Fin Art creations, “I tie the flies that catch the fish, guide the client into the fish, take the photo with my iPhone, and create the drawing or painting.” In a competitive market, his work stands out. “The art element with my fly-fishing guide service is a unique combination,” he says. Fine Fin Art is what separates Trout Tales from other guiding services.
Foster uses watercolor, paint, or colored pencils to finish the scene after he completes the initial sketch in pencil. He creates a realistic depiction of the fish his clients catch with particular attention to detail and replicates the identity of each fish by accurately mimicking spot patterns.
Fly-fishing and art, the focal points of Foster’s childhood, are now the center of his existence as a business owner. Foster marvels at the cyclical nature of life. “It ties back to childhood. The two things that I fully enveloped myself in as a kid were fishing and art. At 42, I am taking those two things and making a living out of them.”