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Interview by Mike Morris

Paul Arnold, a member of the George Grant Chapter who lives in Dillon, is the author of a newly released book, Wisdom of the Guides: Rocky Mountain Trout Guides Talk Fly Fishing, published by Frank Amato Publications, Inc., Portland, Oregon.

Since the book is done in question-and-answer format, we decided to carry that notion through to this article. Here’s how the author answered questions about his book:

Q: What’s your new book about, Paul?

Arnold: The book is a collection of interviews with fly-fishing trout guides in several states in the Rockies. I’m pretty excited about it, and it seems to be doing quite well.

Q: You have to be something of an expert fisherman to write a book on fly fishing, don’t you?

Arnold: Not this book. I’m just an average fisherman, and the guides are the expert fishermen in this book. These guys literally humble me with their knowledge and experience.

Q: Is this a book primarily for fishermen who hire guides?

Arnold: Not at all. The book is written both for folks who hire guides and for those who’ve never fished with a guide and don’t intend to.

Q: What sort of things do the guides talk about in the book?

Arnold: Basically, they’re telling readers how to improve their fly fishing techniques and how to get more out of their fishing opportunitiesr.

One important thing the guides discuss is tackle selection. Each of them also talks about what they do differently from other good fishermen when they’re on the water, their tricks of the trade in other words.

The book does cover how people can get more out of their guided fishing experiences, but probably more importantly the guides spend quite a bit of time discussing how the average fisherman can improve his or her non-guided fishing. In other words, they describe what mistakes the average fisherman makes and how to correct them. Things like stalking techniques, the importance of good presentation, landing fish and when to (and when not to) change fly patterns.

Q: Do the guides all agree with each other?

Arnold: Definitely not. I think that’s one of the most interesting things about the book. There’s a lot of disagreement, and since they discuss their reasons for their opinions I think the book’s a big help for the reader in deciding which of the guides he agrees with. On the other hand, there are some things that all the guides do agree on. So a fisherman reading all the interviews gets a good insight into separating the techniques that appear to be essential to good fly fishing from those aspects of fly fishing are mere personal style.

In other words, it’s a thinking man’s How-To-Do-It book. Or thinking woman, for that matter.

Q: All this sounds like pretty heavy duty reading, crammed full of technical information for the serious fly fisherman. Is that an accurate assessment?

Arnold: Well, it’s a book for serious fly fisherman, all right, but heavy duty it ain’t. I had a good time, with a lot of laughs, doing the interviews and I think that comes through in the book. Like the time Gary LaFontaine reported an officious client for killing a cutthroat ("Does this mean I don’t get a tip?") and the time Al Troth bet a client $50 he could make a fly from sock-raveling and catch a particular big brown on it.

Q: Are there any Montana guides in the book other than Troth and LaFontaine?

Arnold: Yes. Paul Roos (from Helena), Jennifer Olsson (from Bozeman) and Craig Matthews (from West Yellowstone) are also included. They’re darned good guides, and their local knowledge is helpful to Montana fishermen, but the guides from other states are also excellent and have a lot of helpful stuff to say, as well. The important universals of fly fishing seem not to be bounded by geography; that is to say, trout are trout no matter where they hang out.

Q: Do you have any other guide-interview books in the works?

Arnold: Well, doing this one was so much fun that it’s hard to resist doing another one. The publisher and I have discussed a follow-up focused on steelhead or on warm-water species. Maybe even salt-water. We’ll just have to see how that plays out.

Outgoing President Bill Janecke wins

Fred Carver Sportsman of the Year Award

The Montana Wildlife Federation has chosen Bill Janecke as "Fred Carver Sportsman of the Year" for 1998. This award is one of MWF's highest conservation honors, and is given annually to a person who has demonstrated a "consistent history of commitment to conservation," "has contributed to improving Montana's natural resources or the cause of wildlife conservation," and "contributed most significantly to the promotion of club activities and sportsmen's interest." Bill received his award at the Federation’s annual banquet on April 18, in a ceremony attended by the President of the National Wildlife Federation and State Auditor Mark O’Keefe.

The Wildlife Federation described Bill as "a tireless and outspoken advocate for Montana’s fish and wildlife," and praised his work on behalf of access to streams public lands. The Federation also applauded Bill’s efforts to expand the George Grant Chapter’s mission, by initiating significant projects in the Jefferson, Clark Fork, Ruby, and Rock Creek drainages.

Congratulations, Bill. You richly deserve this award for all your hard work.


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Last modified: June 10, 1998