I had the privilege of meeting and fishing with some future fishing guides over at South Fork Lodge the last two days. South Fork Lodge is amidst their annual Five Day Guide School. I was invited over Tuesday night to give my talk “The Evolution of a World Traveling Fly Fisherman” then today I helped with a couple classroom discussions before we all hit the river together.
This five day course teaches the skills needed to be a fishing guide. Everything from boat safety to people handling along with fish catching techniques and best ways to instruct fly fishing are taught from veteran fishing guides of the South Fork Lodge staff. I came in after day three and I must say that the students already impressed me with not only what they’ve learned but also their eagerness to gain knowledge of more.
Today after morning classroom discussions all students and instructors headed for a float on the South Fork. A surprise snowstorm rocked Swan Valley all morning but by the time we hit the Slide Boat Ramp around 1 PM the squirrely weather turned pleasant. Temps rose to jacket shedding comforts and our fly rod guides stayed clear of ice.
We had five boats including nine students and five guides. That left me a seat and I got to fish while at the same time critique and add input as to what I expect out of a guide. It was really nice visiting with those I was able to.
The fishing started slow but ended excellent. I’m not sure if my rusty three-fly-stroke with slinky kinked fly line from four months of no use caused me havoc or if the fish really weren’t hungry at first. It certainly wasn’t my student guide Allen because he displayed instantly that he’s had some previous rowing and water reading experience.
My first fishing partner was South Fork Lodge friend and manager Ian Malepeai. Ian insisted I take the front of the boat, a spot I’m unfamiliar with as I like to keep an eye on things from the back. Nonetheless I took the bow with a smile and our fishing went from the occasional small cutthroat to some rod jolting rainbows like this one pictured with Ian and Allen.
The big fish while fishing with Ian and Allen was this robust net stretching brown trout. As you know from this blog, off season on the South Fork is one of my favorites. I often post quality browns but this chunky trout was a lot fatter and larger than most.
I ended the day riding with longtime friend Zach Peyton and student Brandon Stickley. I’ve known Zach since before I even knew he was a top fly fisher and fishing guide – at least 15 years. Zach really knows his stuff and I cherish the few times I’ve actually fished from his boat.
Brandon is entirely new to this type of fishing and grabbed it by the horns. He heads back to his home and office position helping with bookings for Natural Retreats in Virginia on Thursday. Let’s just say I suspect it will be a long flight and a return to Idaho for Brandon is in the near future. Brandon not only tossed nymphs like a true professional and landed several nice trout, but he also posed for me with his first quality mountain whitefish. Whitefish are not desired by many pro fly fishers, but I can appreciate a true Pinocchio nosed whitey!