What Makes a Good Fishing Guide

Category:
Fly Fishing, Planning, Fly Fishing for Beginners
Added Date:
Friday, 4 Mar, 2016
Summary
I’ve been a fishing guide all of my life, and I love it. It is what I was meant to do. Earning a living as a fly fishing guide may sound glamorous to an outsider, but in fact there is a high rate of burnout. It takes a lot of toughness, both mental and physical.
 
Content

I’ve been a fishing guide all of my life, and I love it. It is what I was meant to do. Earning a living as a fly fishing guide may sound glamorous to an outsider, but in fact there is a high rate of burnout. It takes a lot of toughness, both mental and physical. A good guide has to remain positive, stay in the game and always be ready for whatever opportunity or challenge mother-nature offers up. Most fishing guides only stay with it for 3 or 4 years, and in my opinion, many stay in the profession longer than they should. So what’s my advice? Look for guides that are not only knowledgeable but are also enthusiastic about the work they do.

What Are the Red Flags



Burnout is one thing to consider when selecting a guide. Another is the young, overconfident guide. In my experience, a cocksure attitude tends to be a cover for the exact opposite - a lack of confidence.  I have mentored a lot of new guides knowing that they often get their ass kicked during the first couple of seasons. It takes a while to develop a unique style that works for both you and your clients. The guide that cowboys up, admits defeat and asks for assistance, is the one who ends up succeeding. The mark of a good guide is the willingness to keep learning and to remain open to new information about bugs, destinations, techniques and equipment, or anything else that may contribute to making him a more qualified professional.

Give-Fishing-Gift

The last thing to watch out for is the rigid “my way or the highway” guide. I find this type of guide is often very good at what he does (catch lots of fish) but insensitive to what his clients want or need to have an enjoyable day. I think sometimes guides forget who pays the bills. A good guide has to be a chameleon. One day he may be fishing with a 10-year-old trying for his first fish, while the next may find him fishing 2 “guns” with small dries a half-inch from the bank.

What Happens When the Storms Roll In

I have always said that it’s easy to be a good guide when everything runs smoothly. The real test is when things get tough - tough fishing, bad weather, rough waters - whatever the case may be (we've seen it all here on the Madison). But a good guide has to be with his clients in the moment, despite adverse conditions. After all, come rain or shine, they’re on vacation and every day counts!

Whether you're a beginner fly fisher or more advanced in your skills, you need to find a guide that is right for you. Here at Red Mountain we have a host of different guides and all are passionate about what they do. Just let us know what you want most from your fishing adventure. We’ll do the rest, selecting the best possible match just for you.

Read More Planning the Perfect Fly Fishing Trip to Montana

 

 
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Destinations
 (2)
This is a small town with a big heart, a veritable fisherman’s paradise. Located near the fish-filled Madison River, and surrounded by the waters of Ennis Lake, the Ruby River, Hebgen ... moreLake, Quake Lake, Henry’s Lake, the Big Hole River and scores of smaller streams, the town boasts what many consider the best trout fishing in the world. As well known for its wranglers as its anglers, Ennis has succeeded in maintaining the look and feel of its original, gold town roots. Warm and hospitable, the area offers a wide variety of accommodations ranging from simple campsites, rustic motels and gracious hotels, to full-service, luxury resorts. Fly shops are numerous, stocked by local experts ready to advise and assist, while guides can be booked for trips throughout the area.

Boredom is the only thing unavailable in Ennis. Throughout the summer season the city hosts a series of events, including its renowned 4th of July Celebration Parade and a genuine, old-fashioned rodeo. In August, fly-fishing luminaries from around the US, flock to Montana to compete in the Madison Fly Fishing Festival. Athletes also find their way to Ennis to compete in the city’s Madison Trifecta, two shorter races followed by a full Marathon at 9000 feet, the highest elevation run in America. For the true sportsman, October falls in with the annual Hunter’s Feed. What’s caught, typically elk, moose deer, pheasant and bobcat, gets cooked on the streets and served up to hungry spectators.

Flanked by three grand mountain ranges, The Tobacco Root, Gravelly and Madison, Ennis is scenic and entertaining – truly an authentic, fly fisher’s haven.
Fishing Waters
 (5)
The Madison River is arguably one of the best trout fishing rivers in all of southwest Montana, if not the entire world! It’s certainly the most talked over, written up and frequented ... morein the state of Montana – which is considered by some the capital of fly fishing. Anglers will find plenty of great access sites to wade or float along the Madison’s banks and reservoirs (including Hebgen Lake and Ennis Lake). Rainbows, browns, cutthroats, and more abound in this majestic fishing stream.

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The Madison begins its course almost twenty miles into Yellowstone National Park. Within the Park, fishing rules apply: no live bait and catch and release only. Once outside the Park the river meanders past working ranches, stately conifer forests and cottonwood lined banks, interrupted by riffles and quiet runs that contain large rainbow and trophy brown trout. Flowing alongside Yellowstone’s West entrance road, the river enters Hebgen Lake, created by Hebgen dam, until it reaches Quake Lake, a bit downstream from the dam. At this point the river is commonly called either the Upper Madison or the Lower Madison, although in fact, they are one and the same.

Upper Madison – Quake Lake to Ennis Lake
Directly below Quake Lake the river roars into 5 long miles of Class V whitewater with steep gradients and large boulders along the way. As the rapids decline, the magic begins. For the next 53 miles, often referred to as the 50 Mile Riffle, the cold river runs north and the fish jump high. Annual runs of spawning trout make their way from Hebgen Lake, rainbows in the spring and browns in the fall. Known the world over for its “hard fighting” trout, it’s not unusual to pull a 25” brown from these upper waters. In deference to the purists and fly-fishing enthusiasts, it’s wading only from Quake Lake to Lyons Bridge. Boats may be used to access the river, but if you’re going to fish, your feet must be on the riverbed. Fortunately, the Hebgen Dam releases water throughout the year, leveling its flows and relieving it of spring runoff issues and summer shrinkage.

Lower Madison – Ennis Lakes to Three Forks
A short section of the river between Ennis Dam and the power station maintains relatively low water levels and provides wonderful opportunities for wading. Past the power station the river regains its muscle and for 7 miles winds through Bear Trap Canyon. Hiking trails offer the only entry, great for those that like to walk and seek the solitude of a designated wilderness area. Floating is permitted but requires a lengthy shuttle and the ability to work through Class III-IV whitewater. Once out of the canyon the river flows in shallow riffles until it reaches Three Forks and joins the Missouri. From Warm Springs to Greycliff, the river is easily accessible for drifters and wading.
Trips
$
1,625
-
$
1,925
/ Boat
Capacity:
1 - 3 anglers
Days:
Daily
Duration:
5 days
 (1)
Experience the Madison River Like Never Before Learn the best spots on the Madison River with 5 great fishing days with Red Mountain Adventures. Eric Shores, with over 35 years of ... moreexperiencing guiding on the Madison River will take you down a journey of the best places to fish.

The journey starts on the Upper Madison River on a guided float trip covering about 8-11 miles of premier fly fishing water. The following day includes a recipe (location flies, and technique) on a do it yourself wade location near the fly fishing town of Ennis. The third day moves you on to where the Madison River dumps into Ennis Lake for a full float day stalking the giants. The following day provides instructions again for a do it yourself wade day. Location will depend on the hot locations during your visit. The final day is another full day float day on the lower Madison River. All together, you will experience the Madison River like never before by true expert.

Note: The order or location may change based on where the best spots are at the time.
Outfitters
 (10)
What do you think of when you hear "Montana?" Small towns? Cowboys? Cows? BIG TROUT?! The answer is D, "All of the above"! Montana is still the place it was 80 years ago, where a man's ... morehandshake means something and big trout thrive. Located in the "Trout Mecca" of Southwestern Montana, our location and our guide's experience allow us to guide on a number of world class rivers; the Madison, Jefferson, Ruby and Yellowstone rivers are arguably the best trout streams in the lower 48.

Whether you have never held a fishing pole in your life or if you've been fishing since you could walk, the versatile, select guides we employee at MFFT all live on, and spend all they're free time on, these select rivers. They know how satisfy ALL of our clients, from novice to pro.

But Montana is so much more than just a trout haven. With picturesque mountains, abundant wildlife and under a million people, you actually have to try to not enjoy our beautiful state. As longtime client and friend Don Patton once wrote me after a trip, "fish count is only one criteria, there are many more markers for success. We hit them all." Here at MFFT we strive to give our clients much more than just a fishing trip, we want to share our passion for fishing and our love of Montana with all of our guests and new friends.

Charles P. Graham

Owner-Montana Fly Fishing Trips

Montana Fishing Outfitter#10349
Type:
Fishing
Centrally located in Ennis, Montana near many blue ribbon rivers, T Lazy B Ranch is a full-service fishing lodge for people looking for an authentic montana fishing experience. ... more

Our full-service fishing guest ranch offers meals, lodging, and guide service with other activies for family members. With over 40 years of guiding experience, we offer guided float trips on the Madison River, Jefferson River, and Yellowstone River, as well as private fishing on Jack Creek, a creek that runs through the ranch.

T Lazy B Ranch History
Founded in the late 1800's, the T Lazy B Ranch was one of the first ranches homesteaded in the Madison Valley. For years it was a working ranch for sheep and cattle. In the mid-thirties, a lodge and three log cabins were added for guests and the ranch took on another dimension.

Authentic Lodging Experience

Our rustic and cozy cabins are located in an alpine setting on Jack Creek. If you have four or more in your group you will have exclusive use of the ranch. Each cabin sleeps two to four people with a maximum of eight guests. There is a modern, spacious bathhouse within easy walking distance of the cabins. Delicious home-style meals are served in our lodge at fishermen’s hours. Lunches are prepared for your day on the river. After dinner, you may want to relax around the fireplace and discuss plans for the next day.
Type:
Fishing
 (1)
Welcome to Southwest Montana's finest fly fishing adventures. Blue ribbon trout water is literally steps away when you visit us in the picturesque town of Ennis, Montana. You may spend ... morethe day on our home river, the world famous Madison or drive to one of our other local rivers such as the Big Hole, Beaverhead, Ruby or the Jefferson. Whether you are a new angler or an old pro we have the expertise and patience to make your time on the water chasing wild trout a success.
Type:
Fishing
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