Guide Talk

When we asked a few of our earlier guides who we might contact in Maine to fish, they all said we had to contact Bob Mallard…. so we did!  Bob is one of the true leaders in the fly fishing community having advocated for fish, clean water and better regulations for many years.  Additionally, Bob has written numerous books and articles in the fly fishing world and serves as Publisher of Fly Fish America Magazine.  His Stonefly Press books, “50 Best Places Fly Fishing the Northeast” and “25 Best Towns Fly Fishing for Trout” are among the best in the field.  His current project, the Native Fish Coalition, is “dedicated to the conservation, preservation and restoration of native fish.”

We had the pleasure of floating and wading the Kennebec River with Bob and had a blast chunking streamers to the banks, talking fishing, politics, conservation and history.  His “Guide Talk” is full of insights and thought-provoking ideas.  If you ever get to Maine, you must make sure to call Bob at Kennebec River Guides and prepare yourself for an incredible day.  We’ll be going back as soon as we can to fish the Kennebec again, but also the Rapid and several others spots Bob highlighted during our time with him.  His passion for native fish and the opportunity to fish with him for these special species is already pulling us to return.  In the meantime, please enjoy Bob’s “Guide Talk” with us on the Kennebec.

When we originally planned our trip and saw where Grand Lake Stream was located, we really weren’t sure what to expect because it’s in a fairly remote part of Maine with no campgrounds.  We booked a cabin along the “Canal” at Canal Side Cabins with John and Mary Arcaro.   John is a Master Maine Registered Guide, which is an official designation for Maine guides.  John is a “Master” because he holds guide certifications in fishing, hunting and recreation.  It turns out there are written tests, interviews and experience that factor into getting Maine guide certifications in each area.

When we told people we were headed to Grand Lake Stream to fish the river of the same name, we heard things like:  that’s really “out there”; there are 82 residents and over 50 are guides; and, make sure you go to the Pine Tree Store.  We turned off US 1 onto the one road that leads into Grand Lake Stream and drove about 10 miles to an intersection in town.  There are only 5 streets in Grand Lake Stream, all of which are dead ends.  In the middle of town sits the Pine Tree Store, which is part general store, part gas station and part diner.

When we booked the cabin with John and Mary, John told us he had a spot to park our RV while we stayed in the Spruce Cabin at Canal Side Cabins.  Our cabin was absolutely perfect for us as we settled in and got ready to fish the next day with John.

We met John around 8am and headed for a spot behind the fish hatchery in town and began our day on the Stream.  I was fishing a caddis pattern when I decided to mend my line and POW, a fish attacked my fly.  I set the hook, had a big, landlocked salmon on, and after a short battle, he broke me off.  I just shrugged as I looked over at John and Barb, who were looking out at the water and laughing.  What I didn’t realize was the fish thought it was still hooked because it still had my fly in his mouth, and was putting on an aerial display.  Barb and John had a good laugh since I never saw it.

We fished several different holes and spots along the Stream during the day, and for lunch, John took us to the counter at the Pine Tree Store.   After lunch, we landed some smaller landlocked salmon and had such an incredible time fishing, learning tips/techniques from John and listening to the most hilarious stories you can imagine.  John had us in stitches all day long.

The next night, we went to John and Mary’s home near our cabin, shared a beer or two and did our “Guide Talk” with John.  John and Mary are the most friendly, hospitable and fun people you could ever meet.  We get a lot of our guides saying “won’t you adopt us and take us with you on your ‘Ramble'”,  but for Barb and I, we wanted John and Mary to adopt us and let us hang out with them in Grand Lake Stream.

We will certainly be back to fish GLS again, and for sure, stay at Canal Side Cabins, fish with John, and share more time with John and Mary.  For now, we hope you enjoy a very funny and informative chat we had with John in the basement of their home.

 

We’ve been looking forward to fishing Maine during the fall since we first started planning our “River Ramble”.  We experienced New England, already fishing the Battenkill and White in Vermont as well as the Upper Connecticut in New Hampshire, but this was Maine.  Furthermore, our first stop in Maine was the West Branch of the Penobscot River, famed for its landlocked salmon.  But first, we had to get there.

The SaraLinda has taken us over 25,000 miles around the country almost twice now, but she’s never been on a road like the “Golden Road” from Millinocket (ME) to our campsite at the Big Eddy Campground.  You know you’re in for a ride when the address of the campsite is “Mile 28.5 of the Golden Road”.   We talked with Don at the campsite about the road and he alerted us to the fact it was somewhat potholed where it is paved and a washboard when it’s gravel.  The RV sites we’d read indicated that you’d better be ready for repairs after taking your rig on this road.  However, our guide, Greg “Boz” Bostater repeatedly told us we HAD to stay at the Big Eddy Campground.  So… we left Millinocket on a wild ride to our campsite… logging trucks beware, the SaraLinda was on the road.

When we arrived, the campsite was in the most spectacular area you can imagine.  Right on the West Branch, beautiful surrounding forests, the Big Eddy Rapid making itself known by the sounds of crashing waves and fishing right out our back door.  We were in fly fishing heaven for sure.

We met Greg, the owner and head guide for Maine River Guides right at the campground and proceeded to get in his drift boat right at the campground.  We fished the Big Eddy Pool until lunch, which was a great stream side lunch cooked by Greg himself.  Before heading downstream, we took the time to do our “Guide Talk” with Greg right in our campsite with the Big Eddy Pool in the background.

It was a great day of fishing with Greg who was not only an incredible guide, but also knew the history of the river, especially its rich history in logging.  We hope you enjoy our “Guide Talk” with Boz as much as we enjoyed our day on the river with him.  And yes, if you plan to go to this area, take the Golden Road to mile marker 28.5 and stay at the Big Eddy Campground.  Your teeth will eventually stop chattering from the bumpy road and you’ll have an incredible time.

The White River in VT is, according to our guide, Matt Stedina, the only New England fishery with wild rainbow trout in it.  As we found out when we drove its length, it’s a very diverse fishery as well, from its beginnings until it flows into the Connecticut River in White River Junction, VT.

We met Matt near our campground and headed out to fish it on a foggy morning.  We parked our car near a long, tall bridge, shuttled Matt’s truck to a spot upstream, and after returning to that bridge, proceeded to bushwhack our way down the bank to the river.

When we arrived at the banks of the White, we could look up and see traffic crossing the bridge headed to Hartford, Lebanon, Hanover, and other points as people were starting their workday.  For us, we carefully waded out into the river and began fishing a riffle/run section of the river.  The White at this point had both wild and stocked rainbows and we were lucky enough to land a couple in our first hole.  We were fishing large dry flies and seeing fish rise to hit them was so much fun.  On one cast, as I was watching my fly drift downstream, I saw a fish rise behind it, and then, BAM, it hit it with such great force, not like the trout we’d experienced so far.  As it turned out, it wasn’t a trout at all, but a smallmouth bass.  It put up a really good fight, but, I landed it and released it gently back into the current.

As we waded our way upstream, never leaving the river, the sun was burning off the fog and the temperature started getting warmer.  We gave up on the dry flies and put on a nymph rig when we got to the big hole Matt was targeting.  We were both lucky enough to catch multiple fish out of this hole before the water temps were getting too warm and we decided to call it a day.  These trout will continue to feed as the water temps rise, but hooking, fighting and landing them puts them at more risk to perish.

We bushwhacked our way up another bank to get back to Matt’s truck and found a nice spot on the river for our “Guide Talk” with Matt.  Matt is the only guide who will float the White River from spot to spot, allowing anglers to fish the best of the White River.  The water was low at this time, so our trip was purely wading up the White River from spot to spot.  Matt indicated that if you came back in late May/June, you’d be in his boat and hitting more prime fishing holes on the river.  We’ll be back, but for now, we hope you enjoy our conversation with Matt Stedina, Trout Bum Guide Service, Stockbridge, VT.

The Battenkill River in Vermont is one of those “historic” places to fish.  You have a great, wild brown trout fishery located in one of the most beautiful areas in the country.  In addition, you have a rich history of fly fishing that is chronicled in the American Museum of Fly Fishing which houses numerous exhibits sure to wet the interest of fly fishermen.  And, any visit to this area would be incomplete without a visit to the Orvis mothership location in Manchester, VT.   Want to buy first run Orvis gear and clothing… head to the Orvis flagship store.  Looking for bargains, there is the Orvis Outlet store just down main street.  Interested in how that new Helios 3 rod is made, a trip to the Orvis Rod Factory is sure to enlighten you to the intricacies of rod making and the care taken in crafting these incredible tools.  Oh, and if you want to improve your own skills, there is the Orvis Fly Fishing School right across the street from the flagship store.  It that weren’t enough, right next to the flagship store is a large field and trout pond with giant rainbows waiting for students to ply their skills, catch and release these behemoths.

But we were here to fish the Battenkill, so we embarked on a day with Orvis-endorsed guide, Ray Berumen, the owner and head guide of Taconic Guide Service in Manchester Center, VT.  Ray prepared us for a “challenging” day on the river citing the fact that in a couple of previous days, clients had not landed fish.  Undaunted, we literally dropped into the river from a high bank, crossed over to the other side and headed upstream to a riffle/run/pool section.

As I headed upstream of Ray and Barb, I was alone in this beautiful river, searching for deep, slow runs where an unsuspecting brown trout might feed.  I was lucky and hooked into a 10″ brownie on a small nymph and got him to hand (I wasn’t carrying a net and Ray was really too far downstream to call).  After I released the gorgeous fish back into the Battenkill, I continued to fish the run with no luck.  After about 45 minutes, I headed back downstream where Barb had been working her run/pool section.  She was throwing dry flies at a few rising fish.  She’d not hooked anything yet so Ray took me downstream.  As soon as we got to a spot I was going to fish, we heard Barb “Fish On!”…. and it began.  The rest of our time on the Battenkill, Barb was the “hot stick” for sure.  She landed 5 brown trout over 16″, the largest right at 18″.  It seemed like every time I looked up, Barb’s rod was bent into that taco shape with a big, wild trout tugging and pulling on her line.  Very cool.

At the end of our time on the Battenkill, Ray told us of a spot we should do our “Guide Talk” with him.  We stopped at a covered bridge, but not just any bridge, the one Norman Rockwell painted in several of his iconic works.   We set up our camera and had a great time shooting Ray’s guide talk which we know you’ll enjoy.

Urban Oasis

By TB

Through the middle of coal country, right through downtown Scranton PA, flows the Lackawanna River.  As we read the section on the Lackawanna in the TU Guide to America’s 100 Best Trout Streams, we were a bit concerned given the description of the fishery.  However, when we arrived in the area and drove to A&G Outfitters, we parked in the lot and climbed a levee to see this beautiful stream flowing right through Dickson City, a ‘burb of Scranton.   We read the Lackawanna River Heritage Trail sign at the top of the levee and were impressed with the history, and more so with the conservation efforts of two organizations, the Lackawanna River Corridor Association and the Lackawanna River Chapter of Trout Unlimited.

The next day, in that same parking lot, we met our guide for the day, Adam Nidoh.  Adam and his father own and run A&G Outfitters with Adam doing the largest share of the guiding.  We got in our Crosstrek and followed Adam through downtown Dickson City, into Scranton, parking across from a pallet company warehouse.  As before, we climbed a levee and there was the Lackawanna.   We crossed the river on an old train bridge and walked on the levee downstream a bit before wading into the river.

At river level, with the levees framing both sides of the stream, tall trees swaying in the morning breeze, we were so far removed from the city, it was truly an urban oasis.  We tight line nymphed our way upstream, picking off fish at each riffle and deep hole.  Fishing inside a metropolitan area of well over 100,000 people, we caught beautiful, wild brown trout and never saw another person.  Amazing!

For our guide talk, we went back to the river, just over the levee from the A&G Outfitters parking lot.  Adam did a great job of explaining how this fishery came to be and how TU and the Lackawanna River Corridor Assoc. continues to improve the river.  Adam is President of the Lackawanna Valley TU Chapter and is passionate about protecting this urban stream.

 

Ever since we heard Jen Ripple of Dun Magazine talk at the Guadalupe TU TroutFest about the “Driftless” area of southwest Wisconsin, southeast Minnesota and northeast Iowa, we’ve been looking forward to fishing this unique landscape.  Glacial movements missed this section of the midwest leaving a beautiful area behind with numerous drainages holding small streams with trout everywhere.  Our first stop was the West Fork of the Kickapoo River near Viroqua, WI which bills itself as “trout central”.

Jen had mentioned we should stop in at the Driftless Angler in Viroqua and say “hi” to Mat and Geri, the co-owners, so we did just that on our first day in Viroqua.  Mat shared some local flies and flavor and we were off to our campground at the Westfork Sportsmans Club.

The next day, we met our guide, Pete Cozad at the shop and headed out to the river.  We didn’t head to the section of the West Fork that runs through the campground, but took a different turn and headed further upstream.  We hiked down a bit, crossed over a large metal gate and landed squarely in a field of cattle grazing.  Skirting our way around the cattle, we made our way to the stream and began fishing.

After fishing a few sections of the river, landing some really beautiful brownies, we headed back to the campground for our “Guide Talk”.  As you watch, you’ll notice Pete’s dog, Teak, patiently watching us, waiting for Pete to throw the frisbee again.  While Teak waited, we had a great conversation with Pete, talking about the fishery, his efforts to get kids involved in fly fishing and a great “one fly” tournament he holds annually.  We hope you listen in to Pete’s “guide talk” and learn more about fishing in the “Driftless”.

 

The Bois Brule River is rich with history, having had 4 United States presidents come to fish its waters.   An outstanding article, Brule: A River of Presidents, was written about the river and its history by Judy Nugget for Lake-Link.

For our trip down the Brule, we took the “classic float” in a canoe with Carl Haensel of Namebini.  Carl has been guiding on the Brule longer than anyone and his knowledge of its history and geology made our trip so memorable.  We floated down sections of the river that resembled a small spring creek and then we’d be in a large lake before heading down a rapids section of whitewater.  The changes in the river were a part of its character and added to its mystery.  As we floated by the Cedar Island Estate, one could imagine all the titans of industry and other luminaries who’d visited here and fished these waters.  As we moved downstream of the estate, it seemed around each bend in the river, a boathouse would appear, with a rich history all its own.

Carl was an excellent guide and his “Guide Talk” revealed his passion for this fishery and area.  This is his home water and it shows in his ongoing conservation work on the river.  Carl is very active in making sure the Brule stays a top trout stream and remains as it has been for decades.

The Yellowstone River is the last major undammed river in the lower 48 states.  It flows for 671 miles from just outside Yellowstone National Park until it empties into the Missouri River in North Dakota.  We’ve fished the Yellowstone numerous times both inside and outside the park.  The three sections outside the park we’ve fished are from Gardiner down to Yankee Jim Canyon, the Paradise Valley section and the section below Livingston.  All of the sections offer great fishing and while similar, offer a bit different fishing experience.

For our “official River Ramble” guide trip on the river, we fished with Jeff Pavlovich, guide and owner of Flies Only Fishing.   We actually had a connection to Jeff via our daughter Krista who had worked in Yellowstone National Park with Jeff’s wife, Chris.

We met Jeff in the Albertson’s parking lot in Livingston, not really knowing which section we were headed to fish.  It turned out a mud plug had come out of the Lamar River in the park that muddied the section below Livingston, so Jeff decided we’d head up toward Gardiner and fish the section down to Yankee Jim Canyon.

When we put in, Jeff had a yellow bodied “Chernobyl” dry fly on my line and a brown bodied one on Barb’s.  These dry flies are mainly a couple of pieces of foam tied together with a little foam topper to help you see the fly;  nothing fancy at all.  About an hour into our trip, I’d been catching fish at a ratio of about 5:1 to what Barb was catching, so, Jeff put Barb on with a yellow bodied fly and BOOM, she was catching fish, too!

We had a great stream side lunch and when we went back to fishing, Jeff tied on flies exactly as we’d started the day… Barb with a brown bodied Chernobyl and me with a yellow bodied one.  Of course, Barb started catching fish right and left with the brown Chernobyl and after she’d caught about 4 fish to my none, Jeff pulled over and tied a brown onto my line… POOF… I was catching fish too.

The funniest part of the day occurred when we’d caught so many cutty’s with our brown Chernobyls Jeff decided we needed fresh flies and tied on yellow Chernobyls.  Immediately, we stopped catching fish… so…. Jeff asked us to give him back our torn up, ragged, brown Chernobyls and he tied them back on.  BAM… we were catching fish again.  At the end of the trip, after these brown flies had caught dozens of fish, Jeff gave them to us as a memento of our trip…. especially given that he couldn’t possibly tie them onto another clients line.  However, he did make a stop at the Angler’s West fly shop to buy some new brown Chernobyls.

We had an epic day on the Yellowstone with Jeff and really enjoyed our Guide Talk with him.  We hope you do too!

We’ve spent a lot of time in the Jackson Hole area over the years, visiting Krista (daughter) and Chris (son-in-law) who worked at Jackson Lake Lodge in Grand Teton National Park as well as at the Jackson Hole ski resort.   One of Chris and Krista’s friends who worked with them was Tim Smith.  Chris and Tim actually worked together at Snake River Angler and of course, Tim was at Chris and Krista’s wedding at the lodge.

We have fished with Tim on the Snake River before, so when we were planning our “River Ramble” trip, we called Tim to take us on a river he’d been wanting to show us for some time…. the South Fork of the Snake.  Tim guides out of the Lodge at Palisades Creek, a gorgeous fly fishing lodge property in Irwin, ID.  We headed out for the river, not really knowing what to expect.

When we arrived at the river, we were awestruck.  It was absolutely gorgeous.   Our trip involved first class fly fishing, of course, but also included incredible canyons, eagles everywhere and geologic features that were amazing, including “the air conditioner”.   We caught both Snake River and Yellowstone cutthroats, rainbows, cut bows and more.  It was an amazing day on the South Fork and our guide talk with Tim, conducted on the river in the “air conditioner” was so special.  We hope you enjoy it as much as we enjoyed our day with Tim.