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Guides Life

A Black Wolf, Ava, Madoff and a Grizzly + Sam McGee

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A few short years ago, aside from the steelhead fishing while guiding at Damdochax Lodge under the supervision of Hannah Belford some noteworthy incidents occurred.  The experience, probably one of the most physically demanding guiding jobs of its kind was right down my alley although i admit some of it put me to the test.  When the helicopter arrives it lands at the bottom of a steep hill so all of the gear is hand-bombed to the cabins not to close-by.  Most of the week is hiking up or down river which is better than being in a boat all day. During each week i was involved in one or two raft/heli escursions to the Nass or hiking upriver where the heli had dropped off a raft.  It was all good!!

The confluence of the Nass and Damdochax is loaded with bears and they made it clear that, Ava,...

Guide Talk

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There is a lot to know about fishing for Steelhead but you do not have to know it all otherwise this person would not have survived 37 years on the Babine River! How the fisherman rates his guide is what matters.  It would be interesting to hear their view of what constitutes the “perfect” guide.  My hunch is it might be quite different from the guides’ view of themselves.  A guide first should realize the client knows his capabilities and his expectations coincide with his knowledge.  He or she may even be happy with one fish for the week whereas others go for the big numbers.  I like to give everyone their space allowing them to do their own thing then diplomatically give a bit of advice here and there if needed instead of like this:   YOU are wading where you should be fishing!  And,...

A Steelheader goes Tarpon fishing

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For most of us serious fly fisherman there is nothing more exhilarating in this world than chasing silver, chrome fish that bite a fly and jump like hell. I can’t say a day on the ocean can match a day swinging flies for wild steelhead, however I am hard pressed to remember anything that caused the type of adrenaline rush that occurs when you see giant tarpon surfacing. There are many unbelievable places to satisfy the tarpon urge but for us, heading to Pine Key in Florida was an easy choice.  

It has been the landing point for many guides I cut my teeth with in Alaska.  It was in many ways going to be as much as a reunion with great friends as a fishing trip.  Old school Alaska Rainbow Lodge alum Ryan Phinney and Brandon Sharp have both been guiding in the keys for many years now and live year r...

Dominatrix Guide listings

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As I sit here packing for my trip to the florida keys next week I quickly realize I may not have everything I need.  I have heard the stories of tarpon guides tearing strips off rookie fisherman who just cant hit the casts in a timely fashion.  If my guide is female she would surely be a dominatrix.

I decide I need to reach into my sadsim and masochism Mr Dressup ‘tickle trunk’ and be completely prepared for total guide domination.

In all seriousness, it is an interesting dichotomy of how some guided anglers actually enjoy the stark remarks of an over the top agro guide.  Some of the very best in the industry like Scott O’Donnel used to come up with some of the funniest lines I have ever heard a guide utter to a guest and it would be taken with humour (usually).  

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Fisherman's 5 with James Reid

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James Reid is a highly respected bamboo rod builder from North Vancouver, British Columbia. His rods have been described as "the closest feeling to graphite out there" which despite them being all wood and proudly so, is a testemant to the ongoing research and development he has put into hollow built bamboo. We are no longer surprised at the number of his rods that come through our lodges as everyone seems to be in line for the next one.

 

Question 1: Where did your love of bamboo grow out of?

A: Well…. Once upon a time…. Nope, it’s not that good of a story! The dirt most likely….. no, no seriously. I would say that my love of fishing with bamboo came from the very first vintage bamboo rod that I ever cast. I had built...

Fisherman's 5 with Sean Johnson

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The Fisherman's 5 is a new series we are running here at Epic Waters, so keep your eye out for it in the upcoming weeks.  We will be asking folks who have been in the fishing industry for many years 5 questions to answer honestly.  Expect to hear from guides, marketing experts, casting champions, rod and reel builders and much more.  Our industry has changed a lot over the last decade and many of these people have been leading the way. 

Our first guest in the fisherman 5 is Sean Johnson who lives in Bend, Oregon and has been in the fishing industry for over 25 years.  

Sean and I guided together in Chile in the early 2000's and after that he spent many years as head guide at Kulik Lodge in Bristol Bay, Alaska. Currently Sean specializes in helping companies with...

Fishing a Short Line

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Many accomplished spey fisherman love to cast long, tight loops that sail across the river while the sun glimmers off the shimmering long belly line.  Perfect posture, effortless strokes while activating their glutes like the finest Tiger Woods golf swing in his prime.  This scene with the right light is a photographers dream.  However when the steelhead see this they typically snicker in delight.

Fishing a short line is an art form all to itself, and if you can do it correctly it will greatly diminish the amount of times someone picks your pocket in a steelhead river.  To start, its always a good idea to start a couple steps higher than you think.  The hardest part for most is that first cast.  No one likes dropping just the fly and a few feet of line out, but when you factor in the th...

So you want to guide steelhead….

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Fly fishing guides are always attracted to the job initially from the misconception they will be able to fish the best and most productive waters of the world.  Although you may hear about them often from your guests, you will be hard pressed to access them yourself.  Although I did once train a guide on the Alagnak in Alaska for a 7 day float trip in which he fished the entire time instead of working.  The last day he caught a 28 inch rainbow and quit the next morning claiming he just wanted to come see the river.

Time and time again I see new guides that take every opportunity to get out and fish while guiding, and each time I shake my head in dismay.  As a guide you have to look at your job differently than you would going fishing on your own, and this is the biggest and most difficult hurdle...

Don’t fish a bad cast

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Warning: This post is bad advice for beginners.

In the guiding business patience is a virtue.   All guides have there own variety of “go to” phrases that flow out so naturally and often you don’t even notice them being said.  Should of been here yesterday, never leave fish to find fish, A bad day's fishing is better than a good day at work. All of these can be heard echoing along every river system in North America daily.

However there is one phrase I am trying to put a stop to and that’s “fish every cast no matter how good or bad it was, steelhead don’t care if it was a pretty cast or not.”  I feel the opposite.  Just like Pavlovs dog I don’t think people who are interested in improving should get a taste of cheese for a poor cast and inevitably a poor presentation. This equals poor condition...

Pinky Out Steelheader

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My buddy Lightnin' always says that when someone is being uppity or sophisticated that they are carrying themselves with their "pinky out". It is a reference to the posh tea drinker that sips all snooty like, with one pinky out, straightened and off the handle of their cup. There are many things besides tea drinking that one can call someone out as being pinky out, but only one that I will proudly claim I am dead guilty of.

I swing flies for steelhead. Period. There is no other method of fishing I will consider to target steelhead, ever, but the swing. I don't nymph, I won't throw bobbers, and I sure as hell ain't stooping to any lesser forms than the fly. In this regard, I am a pinky out Steelheader. Swing only, nothing else is worth my effort, I just can't be bothered.

I came about this elevated attitude...

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