Guiding Scared

Starting up my own thing as a freelance fly fishing guide working for multiple outfitters is a new and understandably scary feeling but I haven't guided with fear in quite sometime.



So I show up to the boat ramp on river 1A recently and immediately swallow my chew once I realize what shit storm I am about to float around in. It has been a while since I felt this way. It has been a while since I felt a little anxious on a trip on my favorite river on the planet during my favorite time of year. My mouth was dry and the taste of fear was on the back of my tongue. It tasted good.

Getting out of the truck to see 3 legends of the guide game about to put on the same stretch of river with me, all with single, super experienced ninja clients didnt exactly make me feel confident even though I had a stick for the day too.  So here I am number 4 out of 4 boats in seniority and about to be last in line sweeping up scraps from some very big dogs in the guide world, guides who have taught me most of what I know about this game, Bill Perry, Brody Henderson and Kevin Wildgen. I felt like a rookie again and I knew I needed to be better than ever. I was guiding scared, not scared of guiding and at this point in my game that feels great. Long story short my stick ended up being the whole tree and we clobbered it. I know the three boats in front of me did also because the 8 boats behind us later that day reported they had a miserable day following us.

So one month into my new venture I find myself humbled by what mad experience this valley has as far as guides and outfitters are concerned. I have gone from the big dog in the yard to a puppy waiting its turn at the bowl and it feels wonderful. I have been excited and almost relieved by the level of experience I am now surrounded by. Having the owner of a fly shop behind the counter at 5:30 in the morning answering questions with mad experience not just trying to sell, sell, sell about made my head pop off, then he went and did casting clinics........astonished. Having weekly conference calls with three lads with about 60 years of combined experience to discuss how everybody is doing and what we can do to get clients in the best situation to succeed has been refreshing also. Working with several shops can be complicated and being legal in all of these situations can be a trick and I know it, but every single one of them has been one step ahead of me making sure I am in a position to just guide, not only legally but comfortably. Thank you Pete Mott, John Packer and Thomas Schnieder to name a few.

Is your guide scared of guiding or guiding scared?
There is a huge difference.

In the some what wise words of Ryan Hemkins, "it's just fishing" and while some butterflies in the pit of your guides stomach is a good thing, full on shit your pants fear isnt helping anybody catch fish.

Carry On

Catch more fish using a Bobber




So........Things change.

 I am very excited to announce that I will be doing my own thing with a little co-op of very experienced guides at Trout Trickers; as well as working with my friends at Fly Fishing Outfitters again. I am working on relationships in Summit County, the Roaring Fork Valley and Wyoming also, hopefully making it easier for all of my fishing friends to customize their trips. For now I am bumping around the same incredible rivers that have put huge smiles on so many faces with the same passion for a sport that has given me so much over the years.


Looking forward to many days on the river with Chef Mazza. 

The opportunity to work with my old friend Pete Mott at Trout Trickers has been a dream for both of us for a long time. Once he added my good friend Anthony Mazza to the crew it was an easy decision and I look forward to growing my own little gig along side these guys now. I am also very excited to be part of the Orvis family again. I always enjoyed my time working with Orvis and all the great people that work for the company. John Packer and all the guides at Fly Fishing Outfitters remained friendly after I left back in 2009. I never lost sight of that and I appreciate John's willingness to work with me still. I need to be challenged and I look forward to having  guides with 20 plus years experience on the water with me, pushing me and my program to get even better.
                                          

   
                                              FLY SHOPS DON'T PUT YOU ON FISH  
                             

GUIDES DO.



MOST ANGLERS DON"T REMEMBER WHO THEY PAID 


THEY REMEMBER THE GUIDE


THEY REMEMBER THE FUN


THEY REMEMBER THE EXTRA MILES,


THE EXTRA EFFORT,


THE EXTRA HOURS,


THE TIME SPENT WITH FAMILY


THE LASTING RELATIONSHIPS


AND MOST IMPORTANTLY THE FISH



SO AS AN ANGLER ARE YOU PROPERTY OF A  FLY SHOP?


OR ARE YOU FREE TO BE A FAN OF YOUR GUIDE?

Over the years I have managed to get real lucky with a few of you and I look forward to doing my job at the highest level possible, on the river, at the vise, with the camera and with my boat. Nothing's changed, it's still a proven fact you catch more fish using a Bobber. Just sayin.



We've already found a 3' Lizard together so there is no telling whats next.

Tons of more stuff to announce including our hosted trip to Belize in April 2017, The World Championship of Fly Fishing as well as some very exciting news to announce soon in the fly tying world! 

Carry On

Ready or Not


Flows are still high in the neighborhood but on the drop and clearing. 
Getting ready for fun time.


Jig that Flying Ant.
Lots of these giant buzzers in early summer. On windy days on the Colorado River they get blown into the drink and often lay in the film like a spinner.


Jig this stuff too


#20-#22 PMD nymph with a dash of Mike Mercer


#20-#22 PMD Softhackle with a dash of Bobber


Stillborn, cripple, spinner? 
Needs a tungsten bead


Don't forget Mr Caddis.


I'm Ready.

You ready?

Get ready, almost prime time.

Carry On






A letter from THE Eagle River

I get the craziest things in the mail.
Had to share....

Dear World,
My name is The Eagle River. In September of this year I will be one of the host rivers for the 36th World Championships of Fly Fishing and I was hoping to introduce myself  to all the teams before you arrive.

I am the pulse of an ancient valley and an important artery to the heart of the Southwestern United States, THE Colorado River. I represent strength and constant change for withstanding the test of time and all that mother nature could think to torture me with.  I am the pulse of life and necessary to all of mother earths many creatures; most recently you strange humans. Man and all it's selfish ambitions have frightened me since we were introduced' so understand my hesitation in welcoming so many of you "pros" near me. In the short time I have been charged with your care you have managed to almost kill me more than once, completely eradicate the native trout population, and divert and divide me to death.

Now you come to compete for medals of metal, dug from places like me that you ruined in the process. Even my cousins the stars are puzzled by your ironic foolishness.



Thankfully, I don't see all of you negatively and my Nature requires I  always go with the flow and let you "civilized" beings do what you may. Some humans have taken the time to heal me and many of them in this valley spend everyday caring for me, gaining my trust again. I truly try and bless those who love and care for me when they stride through me or ride my waves.

Most men who love me do not want you to come and take advantage of me. Truth be told; I don't want or need you here either, but I know you are going to do what you want and I am tolerant. So with apprehensive, yet open arms I am welcoming all of you to enjoy my fruits, but I must warn you all, there are rules to follow. Cosmic rules and Rules of Men.

Leave me better than you found me or I will steal more than your treasured little "flies". Try me.

Understand that I have no borders or boundaries, I am everywhere and I can communicate with all of my sister rivers and lakes across mother Earth. Disrespect me, my flora, my fauna, my people or my trout and I will curse you and your fishing success for eternity. Leave one piece of garbage, one cigarette butt or one little bit of your fluorocarbon/ tungsten/ UV sorcery and I will be in the back of your mind every time you lose a fish.

I expect that you all will honor your people and your nation by conducting yourselves in a dignified manor. Last year during the Youth World Championships a smaller representative thought maybe he would call a female VOLUNTEER a very nasty name in his native tongue. She understood. So did I.

Please don't mishandle my fish. They are more than a stat on the score sheet, they are my friends. They are alive and they are here to bring kind people joy. Trout don't breathe well in the air so please use those fancy nets for the good they were designed for, keeping fish not only alive but healthy enough to fight another day.    

My people have rules also. They have said you seek help with understanding my friends and I before you come. They say that you seek help from other anglers, guides and competitors from outside of my valley and not all of them have permission to show you my secrets. You can only pay someone to guide you that is permitted on the water you are fishing. Make sure you are legal, I see all.
Disobey the rules and you and that cheating pirate of a guide might find yourselves in actual legal trouble let alone suffering my eternal curse. I understand there are people within 2 hours of me who fish more like you do but the guides and outfitters that call me home know me better than they do. Look my people up, there are four incredibly knowledgeable and experienced guide services that have contact information on those fancy new age tablets you created.

Remember, "Discipline weighs ounces and regret weighs tons".

You will be held accountable whether you believe in the power and Karma of water or not. Hopefully you will look back on the time you spend with my friends and I fondly and with a clear conscience. I hope you leave here a better person for not only competing fairly, but for the overall experience that only the special places on Earth can provide. I hope you experience joy for the sport and the places that provide your trivial pursuits with the passion you had when you first found your love of fishing.

 Leave me and my friends better than you found us and you and your kin are welcome back for as long as I am healthy.

Sincerely,
THE Eagle River






Lincoln Westby's Water


"Permit Fishing is a challenge" is the greatest understatement in fly fishing.

These fish are the masters of their universe and have a Doctorate in not being caught. They not only have giant eyes that can see you pee yourself at sixty feet, but it would seem the whole Ocean is on their side and warn them when the clumsy trout fishermen are there.  To catch one of these sneaky little leprechauns of the flats not only do the stars, moon, tide, food, wind, voodoo and your poo poo need to be right, but you also need serious professional local help.You need someone who knows the water as well as the Permit. You need a great guide.


The teacher, Lincoln Westby

There is a certain cosmic force there between you and those tails, it feels like your heartbeat is coming from your temples. Unless you have hunted Permit, it is hard to describe the spiritual tension and nervousness that comes over you when you know you are close. I would love to say everything gets quiet, slows down and my eyes become one with a skillful stroke of the rod but I don't, my knees shake, I go blind and it feels like I am being pounded with waves of gamma radiation as I turn green. Now imagine that is only half the pressure, because Permit master Lincoln Westby is poling the boat and looking right through your soul at his beloved Permit and the shot you are about to screw up. No big deal.

Lincoln Westby is a big deal, he is a great big deal. He is a one of a kind big deal like Gretzky, The Babe, Sweetness or Ali.


The student, Anthony Mazza

If you are a golfer imagine teeing it up in front of Jack at Augusta for a couple of rounds. You would try and not embarrass yourself, quietly and respectfully listen to all the knowledge being dropped and try to stay the hell out of the way and not be "that guy". That is a lot like being guided by Lincoln in his beloved Permit Alley. We were all over come by a strange sense of responsibility when we were with him; we just didn't want to let him down.

Over 2000 Permit have graced his presence. There is no good analogy for that.

After 40 years of guiding he has earned the right to guide and teach however he wants. He has earned his right to be salty and hard after years of teaching people who don't hear so well.

He is anything but that.

Lincoln is one of the kindest and most patient people you will ever meet. He has a way of handling the hand grenade in the baby carriage that Permit fishing can be, with a calm and gentle manner. His quiet laugh instantly brings things (you choking) into perspective. We never failed with Lincoln. When you listen to him and you are able to tune into the surreal vibe around his guiding style, you understand there really is no failure in Permit fishing but there are a ton of real feelings.


Fly tying night in Belize

Lincoln Westby has cared for Belize and it's incredible water his whole life. He is a great ambassador, conservationist and the epitome of a steward to mother nature. Most importantly to all Permit fishermen is he is a teacher, a great teacher who is still learning. He told G and I of the days he and Will Bauer would snorkel the flats instead of fishing them. He wanted more at a time when he was already the king of Permit Alley which says a lot about the type of person he is. At a time when he could have rested on his already strong rep he chose to get even better. He chose to become the Master. Will Bauer went on to catch over 160 Permit in the Alley.


Some passion hanging on the wall of the old Blue Horizon Lodge

Lincoln is known as the Legend or Master in the world of Fly Fishing and they are well deserved but I got the feeling those were probably just words for a humble man like Lincoln. My favorite of the many nicknames Belize has for him was Palinc. A local told us that it means father or dad and to many of the people of Belize he was looked at that way. You see a little bit of all the wonderful people of Belize in Lincoln and in the kind loving friendly yet low key spirit of the people, you see Lincoln.
From a fisherman's perspective, from a client's perspective there is so much knowledge being passed on you almost start to think of him in a fatherly light also. He deserves that.
How must it feel to come  to a point in a career of guiding where the client cares more about the guide's feelings than his own?????


The lucky One

I started day dreaming about this blog about 5-6 weeks ago when The G, Kitty and I began planning our trip to Belize. Truth be told I imagined I would be writing about my good friends Scott Thompson and Anthony Mazza and the exciting new adventure these Colorado guides have started with Blue Horizon Fly Fishing Belize. I quickly understood they had been whacked with a stick from the humble tree also after they explained the true focus of why they were there, away from children and loved ones and their American creature comforts. They are there to help Lincoln.



As my years fly by, who I fish with is becoming more important to me. Love these gents.

It takes a few (minutes, hours or days) to understand Lincoln. He is soft spoken and his mix of English and Kriol sometimes leaves you guessing. When you are in his boat you will hear his line, "It's not the best fisherman who catches the fish, it's the best listener" and it's true and yes I wish I could use that gem with my clients. But after spending time with him experiencing moments that will take a lifetime to fade I wonder if he is really talking about fishing or life.



Lincoln is where he wants to be nowadays, teaching, guiding and fishing his beloved flats. He is 73 years young and closer to his horizon than anybody dares to think about. I miss him already and can't wait to see him again. You owe it to yourself to experience this place, this fishing, these people and Lincoln Westby's water.




We (The G, Kitty and I) will be hosting 8 lucky anglers (non angling boys and girls are also welcome as there is lots of other stuff to do) April 18th- April 25th, 2017. Please get a hold of me for pricing and details, it's going to go quick. Can't wait!!!!

Carry On

Squirmy goes to Belize

As the resorts in the Mountains of central Colorado close for skiing, the work load slows down for a piece, opening the doors for some fun time and after a busy first quarter I sensed the team could use a much deserved break..........In Southern Belize.



Gonna force feed these to a baby Tarpon or two......in theory.

Two of my best buds, Scott Thompson and Anthony Mazza have left Minturn Anglers to pursue a dream in the salt water of Belize. These two fine gents are putting the work in for Blue Horizon Fly Fishing and I am taking the big show on the road next week for a visit with Kitty, The GJMac and yes, I am taking Le Squirm on a vacation. Hope he doesn't melt.


I'm paying Sam to make legs and claws next time.


The fishing with Blue Horizon includes all  equipment as well as flies but you know we couldn't just go empty handed. So after several weeks of sniffing super glue while banging out "BauerMcMerkenToadSliders" and "CrazyGotchaBunnyDecievers" it's time to pack it all up and go for it. 


As with any destination fishin mission,chances are not one of these bugs will be "proper" and we will just end up using the guide's flies but turning a $100 Hareline Order into $500 of worthless Shrimpsicals was super satisfying. 

Time for some Permit.
Wish us luck

Carry On

Fishing with a Yeti

In April 2000 an Eagle Colorado man discovered Bigfoot tracks along the Eagle River while fly fishing. To be honest I am surprised more sightings are not reported by fly fishermen, I always see Yetis and Leprichans on the river.
Read all about it

My friend Yeti Joe showed up in the Meadows the other day for some dry fly fishing (says he will never be caught dead with a bobber rig) and told me that Eagle story was just a big hoax Vail Resorts drummed up. Always trust a Yeti.


Since we were already pillaging his hole he decided to help me guide for a minute. 


Sightings 15 years ago were always during warmer months when Sqwatch was comfortable wet wading. Recently the Ol Fella has been seen during colder weather thanks to his new Simms waders and boots from Minturn Anglers.


Get your kids off the couch and maybe experience something REAL for a change.

Thanks Yeti, great seeing you again, till next time you hairy bastard.

Carry On