The first installment in this series was so successful that fly angling guides are clamoring at my Cut Bank, begging pathetically to be put in the hot seat and tasked with answering 11 questions. With rivers running a bit high due to runoff, I’ve got time on my pectoral fins so how could I refuse?
In the hot seat today is Jay Dixon, proprietor of Dixon Adventures, based out of the Bitterroot Valley in Montana. As an outfitter and guide, Jay will gladly accept money from any fly anglerman foolish enough to part with their hard-earned cash. But enough about the character flaws of Jay’s clients, let’s move to the questions and get through this as quickly as possible.
RH-B: Where are you from and where do you live now?
I was born in Philadelphia and grew up in my adolescent years in Columbus, Ohio. I currently live in Florence, Montana just south of Missoula.
Oh, this is a heartwarming, living embodiment of someone who heeded the call to “Go West, Young Man!” Isn’t that precious.
RH-B: How did you get into the guiding game, and how long have you been at it?
I started fly fishing when I was about 6 years old and my roots are in the Adirondacks in upstate New York. This is my 21st year guiding this year.
For some reason you didn’t really address the the first part of the question. I don’t recall asking how old you were when you started waving a fairy wand, I asked how you got into guiding. Shifty, and evasive. Clearly you’re not someone to be trusted.
RH-B: Do you remember your first trip as a guide? If so, what made it memorable?
I certainly do remember my first trip as a guide and I am still fishing with the client that I did my first trip with. I was low on the guide list as a rookie and I got the trip that was a wade trip up Rock Creek during salmon fly season. I remember teaching Denny how to cast and I put the fly out there and a big brown came up for the fly and I pulled it out of the water before the take. I then handed the rod to Denny and he cast into the same spot and caught the trout. The most memorable part of the trip is that when I got home, Denny called and wanted to float the next day! I was so excited about my first return customer on the evening of my first trip.
So this Denny character is superior as a fly anglerman to you, the man he paid to show him how it should be done? I reckon it’s true what they say: “If you can’t catch fish, guide.”
RH-B: Have you ever put a client onto a hawg brown, and if so, how big?
Yes I have put clients into hawg browns many times on many rivers. I just had my client catch a 23 inch brown 2 days ago. My record big brown day is 8 over 20 inches in one day and 2 of them over 24 inches. The biggest brown I have had a client catch is 26.5 inches and I have had 2 browns at about 28 to 30 inches right by my net that still won the battle!
28 and 30 inch fish that you got to the net but weren’t able to officially land? Weak wrists will do that. You realize that there are countless fly anglermen who hail from the AuSable that are laughing at you right now, yes?
RH-B: What’s your favorite color?
I had such hope for you, Jay Dixon. Obviously I continue to over-estimate you professional fly angling fools. The correct answer is, of course, brown.
RH-B: As a guide, what do you do on your day off?
If it is between March and November I do a number of different things on my day off and most of them involve fishing. The list is: take my family fishing, test a guide, fish with my best friend, tie flies, work on my business website, go fishing by myself, and more. If it is after November I try and ski with my wife and my family as much as I can.
It’s hard to fault a man for spending time with his family, but clearly you’ve got issues because your life is dominated by a silly activity like fly angling.
RH-B: What’s the biggest brown you’ve ever caught?
And you admit this openly? Are you sure you don’t have those numbers transposed?
RH-B: Dry, nymph, or swing meat?
A terrestrial dry fly that I tie and has 6 legs.
A dry fly. But of course! Why am I not surprised?
RH-B: Do you see yourself guiding 10 years from now?
I’m sorry to hear that.
RH-B: If you’re targeting Hawg browns, what is your setup? Be specific with your choice of rod, reel, line, etc. And why do you choose this gear, specifically? (good warranty? Cost? Reliability?)
I am not a gear guide, in fact I have basically never had a pro deal or been decked out with all kinds of equipment in my career ever. I actually wear waders I bought at Costco for the last couple years. I do prefer some stuff though. I am a big GLX fan and I also had the privilege of doing a TV show with Tim Rajeff, so I also like his Echo rods. I love reels that easily take up line when you hit the knob, like a Galvin. There are plenty of times I am using cheaper equipment like temple fork rods and cheapie reels. The gear does not make much of a difference to me, it is how you use it! I like using Ridge line, or Scientific American lines, but I really don’t care. I can usually cast an entire fly line on any rod even if the line and the rod is not very good. It is all about technique, proficiency, and efficiency.
Not many would admit to wearing Costco waders. You might take that into consideration. As a side note, no matter their affordable price tag, “Temple Fork” should still be capitalized.
RH-B: Do you have a nickname, and if so what’s the story behind it?
The question about my nicknames. Well my most widely used nickname that I like is “Coach.” I used to coach high school basketball, but I have become a well known instructor and love teaching the sport of fly fishing. I have other nicknames, but they are ones that have been givin me that would be bragging about myself, which I do not like to do. Example: Jay Don Rooney, the Godfather of the lower river. One of the many pet peeves I have in this industry are guides and fly fisherman with big egos that basically insult the sport and what it stands for.
That was clever: to state in one sentence that you do not like to brag, and then tell us in the next sentence that one of your nicknames denotes an air of superiority. Again, there’s reason not to trust you. Moving on, what does the sport stand for?
Oh, look at that–we’re all out of time, fortunately.
I am Roderick Hawg-Brown, and I speak the truth.