DUN: What is your most memorable guiding experience?
PS: I have had a lot of memorable guiding experiences, but the one that comes to mind was from a few years ago. I met an older lady named Brigette. She had gotten into fly fishing and was very keen on becoming a better angler, and on most occasions, she fished alone. The Bow River had been her nemesis for a couple of years, and as dedicated and determined as she was, she had yet to land a fish on this river. Knowing this, I was constantly in touch with her giving her information and techniques. One day during the winter I was on the river, saw her fishing, and decided to join her. I knew this would be a great opportunity to try to get her into a fish. I led her to a spot I knew held fish and changed up her rig. A few casts in, she hooked into a fish and was beyond excited, until the fish got under a ledge of ice and broke off. Brigette was devastated, but I was still confident we would make it happen. A few casts later, she hooked into another one and I jumped off the ice ledge into the water to net the fish before it could go under the ice. Finally, all of her hard work and determination had paid off. She had a Bow River fish in hand and tears of joy streamed down her face. Over the past years, she has booked Bow River floats with me and has caught plenty of fish, but to this day that is one of the most rewarding experiences I have ever had on the water.
DUN: Where do you guide?
PS: I guide in Alberta, Canada, specializing on the Bow River and Alberta mountain streams, targeting rainbows, browns, cutthroat, and bull trout.
DUN: Why did you start guiding?
PS: I can recall one specific moment when I decided that I was going to pursue guiding like I had always wanted to. A friend of mine who was recovering from post-concussion syndrome, something that I had also struggled with, came to me asking if I would teach her how to fly fish and take her fishing. By this point, I had taken and taught many of my friends how to fly fish, but on this day it was different. Seeing how excited she was catching fish after fish made me realize that I wanted to do this all the time.
DUN: Tell us an embarrassing thing that’s happened to you on the water.
PS: While guiding two summers ago, a client of mine hooked into an amazing brown trout, and we began the fight chasing it down river. I wanted to pull in so I could get below and net the fish on shore, so I dropped my anchor knowing it would bounce down a little bit before settling to stop. As we began to slow down, we also started to float down river. Thinking that we had just hit a deep pocket and that the anchor wasn’t catching, I stepped on the lever again. At this point, I didn’t feel the anchor rope let out, so I turned to my client in the back of the boat and asked if there was still anchor, only to hear him reply “I don’t think we have an anchor anymore.” Knowing that the front guy was still fighting this big brown, I decided we were going to have to net it from the boat. Fortunately, I was able to catch up to the fish and get it in the net. I moved the boat into the shallows and jumped out to dock. The day was saved by constructing a rock anchor, but I had my guiding friends make fun of me all day thinking I had forgotten my anchor at home.
DUN: Who has been your biggest inspiration?
PS: I would say Joan Wulff is an inspiration to me, and someone who I have looked up to as a woman angler. She was one of the first females to pave the way for women in fly fishing. I would also have to say I am inspired by my friends. We always learn from each other and feed off one another’s positivity.
DUN: Tell us one piece of advice for an aspiring guide.
PS: The best advice I can give any aspiring guide is to have confidence in yourself. If you have prepared yourself to the best of your ability, and are willing to work hard, be a teacher, host, and absolutely love putting people on fish, then you should go after it!
DUN: If you weren’t a guide, what would you be?
PS: It’s hard to think of what I would be doing if I wasn’t guiding! I have no doubt that I would still be fishing a ton. I think I would be back in school to become a physiotherapist or a nurse.
DUN: Tell us one thing no one would expect from you.
PS: I was a full-time athlete in the sport of Skeleton, training 6 days a week, for 6 hours a day, in the hopes of one day making it to the Olympics.