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Mark Stangeland - NUFlyGuide
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Confessions of a part time guide

Posted by Mark Sunday, June 20, 2010

A recent discussion on speypages got this thought process started and I realized I could become part of the problem if I don't change my priorities.

I have been thinking long and hard about the whole guiding gig and this and here is what I have come up with.

It take a special person to be a guide.
Not everyone is cut out for it.
There are guides that guide for a living and there are guides that guide for fun.
There are guides that are good for the river and there are guides that are bad for the river.
There are guides that are mentors, teachers,friends, and stewards.
There are guides that are selfish, and make the river a battle ground.
There are guides that are friendly and helpful.
There are guides that are mean and nasty.
There are guides that need to catch fish to pump their ego and there are guides that don't need a fish everyday to tell them they are doing their job correctly.
There are young guides and there are old guides.
There are knowledgeable guides and there are guides that have no business being on the water.

Let me give you some back round on me. I have been fishing for over 25 years on the North Umpqua. I have learned the river from a guide and one of THE fishiest guys I have ever been around. (Tony Wratney)Also from some others like Brian Jones and Jeff Carr who also know the river very well and are great friends.I have spent a considerable number of years during that time learning the river for myself as well. I love and cherish the river as much as anything in this world besides God, and my family. I recently(last year) got a chance at a permit for the fly water. I had been on a waiting list for years. The main reason I decided to go ahead and get the permit was to tie it up so that someone else didn't. Keep it in the family so to speak.There are some young hungry guys who would have snapped it up. The North Umpqua is a small river and Tony was for years the only guide that was actually scraping out a living on it. He is darn good at it and has developed a close knit group of people that come back year after year.There is obviously not enough room for 10 guides to make any kind of a living of the river.He is an amazing guide and knows the river like no other.  New guides that have not been around long and do not know the magic of the river will hurt this river more than help it in my opinion.

I never wanted to guide for a living. I still don't. But now that I have a permit, and 4 of my friends do we have 5 of the 10 permits in the fly water in our little group. We are all on the same page and can discuss where the others fish so we stay out of each others hair....a very nice thing. We work together well and know where the others like to fish and keep out of their way. A rare thing on rivers of this size. The rest of the guides(except one) are not doing a ton of days. I don't expect to do very many days myself but that's fine. Just enough to keep the permit and I am happy. The cool thing is after this year the permits will go to a 10 year renewal instead of a yearly renewal..

The reason for this blog was at first to try and lure a little business. Now I think my focus will change. If I get a little business through the blog and website fine. But I want to talk more about the river and it's beauty,allure and mystique. The fishing, techniques,casting etc.I will talk about issues, conservation, and trying to keep the river the awesome place it is.

The last post was a fishing report of sorts and the more I think about it, not really what I want to focus on. Sure people love pictures and reports but I think those will become few and far between. I may throw up a few here and there but don't expect a blow by blow, day to day report from me. I don't want to become a Look At Me guide on the river. The river doesn't need any more publicity of that kind and I was starting to get sucked into the whole internet driven craziness. I apologize for that. I apologize to the river for thinking that I could just waltz in and start making money. What was I thinking?I may make some someday,maybe not.

A great tool the internet but I don't want to be the one that brings undo pressure to the river. I would like to see people that were already planning to come to the river to fish hire me if they want. I don't want to market the river like so many have done, guides and non guides alike. I would rather get clients through reputation and word of mouth than someone who saw a cool fish picture on my blog. If I get no one to hire me at all so be it. I would rather do the minimum amount of trips and pay my insurance every year to keep my permit than bring myself a ton of business from people who don't care about the resource.

Maybe not the most brilliant business plan but that is what I feel called to do at this point.

I want to show people that care about the river all it's beauty,and tell them the history and fish it the way that I was taught to fish it. Single hand rods baby! I want to kick it old school!!!

I will be a part time guide and a full time advocate for all that is good on this river.

I would rather be the least known guide on the river and a great steward than the other way around.

Regarding rivers we love, let's all take a step back and think about why we do what we do, I know I have.



  1. Mark:
    Your sincerity and stewardship of the NU (not self-promotion) is what comes through on here. Pics and fish stories are part of the fun, no harm done there. Nice to hear a fly I tied was part of your success story by the way. I think you are doing a great thing here, you are entertaining and educating with what you are posting.

    When folks hire you, they will know what you are all about and they will leave the river with much more that a few fish stories.


  3. Mark,

    I love your educational approach and "Zen" type of philosophy! There are many directions to help our river and all conservation related issues... but most importantly is the self-awareness you have stated here! I think this is a great start to protect the precious water and habitat, also influence other people to have the same attitude. Thanks for sharing your thought... looking forward to read more!


  4. Mark Says:
  5. Thanks guys!

  6. Millsy Says:
  7. Absolutely love the blog. I'm adding it to my blog roll. Hopefully someday I can come fish with you!

  8. Mark Says:
  9. Thanks Millsy!


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