One week in a guide school in Montana

Some year ago the idea came into my head to become a flyfishing guide around the world ! After a couple years of reflection, I finally found a guide school in Montana which works with a lot of lodges all around the world, SweetWater Travel Company !

Last year I finally booked my trip to Montana for one week of guide school with Sweetwater travel guide school ! From June 28 until July 6 2013. The goal of the course is to be able to guide people on a jet boat and on a drift boat and make sure they are safe… It’s one week to learn and have a holiday on the same time.

It’s time to go ! My journey starts at Geneva friday morning 28th June at the airport for a 22h trip. After a long journey I finally arrive at Billings MT on Friday night. After visiting the city Saturday morning,  Steve from the school comes to pick me up and drives me to the camps at Fort Smith !

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There I meet the rest of the people who are taking the course. We are free until Sunday afternoon so we decide to go to the river to see what it looks like !

It’s really cool to meet all these people with the same passion as me and share with them different techniques and stories … we have a lot of fun on the river that night and catch a couple fishes on a nymph. The fish are large enough and fight really hard.

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The landscape is crazy here, it looks like nowhere else !

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Sunday afternoon we start the classes with 4 hours of fly tying ! We tie some wooly bugger, midge, pheasant tail, all kinds of fly we are going to use during the week.  It’s the same flies I usually use in Europe. After that we have a video about drift boat driving ( nap time for a lot of us 😉 ).

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On Monday the serious stuff starts ! We are going to spend all day on a drift boat and I’m a bit nervous as I have never driven that kind of boat. Callan (the teacher) explains the basis of driving this boat and off we go.

There are 4 of us on the boat : 2  guys fishing, one rower, and the teacher. The best technique to learn is to try ! I start by fishing, I catch a few fishes on a nymph and then it’s my turn to row !

Waoow, my first impression is : it’s hard to follow the river and go on the good spots with the right speed for the guy who are fishing. There are lots of things to manage at the same time ! But after 2 hour I manage everything better than I would have expected, just turning is still a bit hard.

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Tuesday we start the day with a knot class, which is good to review different knots we don’t use a lot. After  that we go out on the river with Ron (the boss of the class), we’re going to learn to drive a jet boat this time! It’s really good and crazy. We can go in really shallow waters ! This morning we decide to fish with a  streamer.

Usually I hate fishing on a streamer but it’s better here as the water is really clear and we can see when we have a chase, which is really exciting. For the afternoon we have a casting course. The teacher is a well-known guy from Montana who is also a guide on the Yellowstone river.

We learn how to cast but also how to teach people to cast, finding the problems of someone casting and finding ways to correct them ! And after (like every night) we have a couple of beers with everybody together talking about our fishing stories and techniques and laughing a lot !

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Wednesday morning we have a review of the important things we learned on the boat, the attitude to have with the client, the stuff to bring and safety things … And then we take the boat to the river, to the same place as Monday, but this time I fish with a streamer !

And I catch a lot of fish on a black zonker (with the face fucker! 😉 ). I catch my biggest fish of the week (22inches) on a flat where there is almost no water!

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To eat our sandwich we stop on a spot where we can try to catch carp ! I spend all the break trying for this carp, I loses three of them finally !  When we are back at the camp I go out fishing on what I think is a hard spot I saw on Monday !

It’s kind of a lake with shallow water but huge fish ! They are so hard to catch !! After 1 ½ hours I hook one but I lose it ! 🙁 On the way back to the camp  I see some fish rising to the surface. I can’t leave without trying them ! I get  a couple of good fishes on a dryfly then the sun is down and it’s time to go home for sleep !

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Thursday we start the day with the CPR courses ! The teacher is so cool telling funny stories, we have a dog with us and we have to throw rocks in the river for him to quiet a little bit. (sorry but the people who were here will laugh about this dog for sure 😉 )

In the afternoon we take the jet boat to go to Bighorn lake with Ron chasing for Carp on a DryFly. And that is… Incredible! The landscape around this lake is breathtaking it’s a kind of canyon and really wild.

The carpes were waiting for us. The first one we see I hook with a large cicada. They are not super big (around 3-5 Kg) but they fight hard, diving straight deep in the water. After everybody catches 3 or 4 fish we jump in the water and then we leave for the camp.

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Friday…. Last day of course! I just realize the week passed too fast. During the morning I  have to be the guide for 2 of my colleagues on the drift boat.  I have so much fun guiding them, especially Dick who is not really comfortable fishing with a streamer. I try to coach him as best as I can  and finally he catches a couple of good fishes !

I feel a big satisfaction and realize that this job is made for me 🙂 For the rest of the day Steve lends me his 2 hand rod because I have never tried it. First thing I do when I arrive home is to order a switch rod. I like it so much and want to practice more. For the last night we have dinner together, fun and drinks and we enjoy the sunset.

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Saturday morning is the last meeting with Ron, Steve and Callan. I’d like to thank them, I now know have good friends in Montana, and I will certainly go back there !

THANKS EVERYONE FOR THIS AWESOME WEEK

Rodtrip-Diplome-sweetwater

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  • De Mesmaeker Johan

    Very Nice all that !!
    A dream you realized, I hope you ll have succes with tour guiding.

    Johan

  • PIERRET Alain

    Bravo pour la réalisation d’un rêve!

    Les rêves sont accessibles, et tant mieux si de votre passion vous faites votre profession!

  • Polo

    Tout simplement magnifique bravo Xavier, merci pour le partage de ce rêve …
    J’espère pouvoir le réaliser avec toi l’année prochaine je ferai tout mon possible pour qu’il se réalise…

    Amicalement Polo

  • Aaron

    Great work! I’ve been looking into this school for quite some time. Just wondering if you’d be free to answer some questions I have on it.

    Thanks,

    Aaron

  • xavier munger

    Hello aaron!

    I can answer all your question add me on facebook!

    My name is xavier munger!

    see you

  • Chris

    Article très intéressant. Ce diplôme est il valable dans tous les Etats Unis? Je me demande comment c’est possible que par exemple en France la formation des guides dure plus de 6 mois.

    • Bonjour Chris, Oui ce diplôme est valable tous les états-unis et même plus. La formation en France est beaucoup plus spécialisée. Si vous voulez d’autre info hésité pas a me demander sur facebook ou pas message.