DUN Feature - Feature articles in both print and digital editions of DUN

Most women you meet in the Fly Fishing Industry are beautiful, petite badass women who work hard & photograph great ...

I am far from petite, I have a cricked smile, my boobs are too big, and I only look good in pictures when I am holding a fish. It has taken years for me to accept me as I am. I’ve never quit pushing forward to do what I want to do in this life. I have been told I was too fat and too old to be a guide by a fly shop owner. I had just been offered a shop job by his manager, that was revoked.  It turned out to actually be beneficial to me, in a weird roundabout way.

“Things” happen for a reason. Sometimes those “things” suck really bad.

But, I’ve seen fantastic doors open after some have been slammed in my face.  I have finally made it, I am a Guide in Montana. My home base is on the Bighorn River, in Fort Smith Montana.

Oh I have made my share of mistakes along the way. I just try to wake up and do a little bit better each day than I did the day before. I think in every person, especially a woman, there is a driving force that pushes us forward to achieve success.  Family, school, relationships, work, etc. I want to succeed in the fly fishing world in every which way I can. In hindsight, maybe I should have worked to be the better at some of my past relationships.

photo courtesy of - Shelly Ehmer

Another life maybe.

photo courtesy of - Shelly Ehmer

Last season’s Guide Day routine would depend on which river I was working on.

I went back and forth between the Missouri River and the Bighorn River

Missouri River - Craig, MT:

We camped at Mid Cannon; I slept in the back of Burb, my 1995 Suburban. In the mornings, the guides meet up at the fly shop, pick up our clients and hit the water.  After our workday, we would all meet back at the campground. With the campfire going, the 6 of us laughing about the day, the beer and vodka went down a little too easy. Bath time was jumping in the river and floating down a mile or so while the sun set with a cocktail in hand.  Life vests were worn to have hand’s free floating. We’d pass out and do it all over again the next day.

Bighorn River - Fort Smith, MT:

Waking up here in my Fort Smith Ghetto Guide Trailer, if it is shaking, I know it will be a ‘windy bitch’ for work in the morning. Regardless of weather, sickness or fatigue, a guide has zero choice but to go in to work. Calling in sick just does not happen.

You would be slitting your throat and news travels fast in the guide world.

With the coffee pot on, I jump into a hot shower to shake the cobwebs out, kick a stray out of bed if needed with a kiss and maybe a broken promise of something for the future, find a shirt that isn’t dirty and then microwave a frozen burrito.

My checklist starts with an inspection of Ginger, my boat, for left over beer bottles and trash from clients, wishing I would just do this at the takeout like a good guide would do to be ready for the next day. Rods need to be rigged. The Yeti needs to be iced up. Grab client lunches and drinks, check the weather forecast and river flows.

photo courtesy of - Shelly Ehmer

My first client.

Ready set Go ...

photo courtesy of - Shelly Ehmer

Meet clients, smile, entertain and catch fish

A few things I have learned here in the Fort:

1: Always carry bug spray and Alka Seltzer for the nasty hangover days; one to cover up the fumes you are sweating out and the other to prevent puking up whatever you drank at last night’s guide bash.  This is where we discuss our success or failure and shenanigans of the day ... Coffee IV drip please.

2: Never Ever date a guide you work with on the river.

3: Stay out of fly fishing politics and drama.

4: Living on the Bighorn River is truly an awesome experience, even if it means living in a ghetto guide trailer, driving an old suburban and being poor.

5: I get to fish year round … Tailwaters are awesome!

Enter your email to sign up.