So vast is the popularity of the Guide Interrogation series, this is the third installment in three weeks. After today’s guest, no doubt the popularity of this blog will diminish. The hot seat is filled with another vagabond fly anglerguideman who clearly has a shady past fraught with questionable antics, which explains why he has lived in 10 states. It’s hard for the authorities to track you down unless you remain in one spot for a length of time, and to this day he never stays in one place for more than half the year. He keeps a blog that nobody ever reads (Mysticwaters.com) and runs a guide business in Alaska that cannot put a single client on a brown trout (Mysticfishing.com).
(For those of you with only primary school educations, Mystic is defined as “Enigmatic, obscure.”; Mysticism as “Vague, groundless speculation.” You get the idea. Or, maybe you don’t)
RH-B: Where are you from and where do you live now?
I emerged from the womb and began haunting waters from the equator to the Arctic Circle. I have lived in nine states with brown trout and one without. I hate to tell you, but I really love the one without. I currently reside in Montana, with five months of Alaska on the side.
It’s no great secret why there are no browns in Alaska: if there were, people would have no reason to go all the way to Patagonia to fish for searun browns. No doubt the nancy-boy rainbows up north are glad for the lack of Hawg Browns.
RH-B: How did you get into the guiding game, and how long have you been at it?
I managed to talk my way into an internship for 12 college credits with an outfitter in Alaska. Fish guiding was not part of the curriculum plan, but after a couple weeks on site, I was licensed and running fishing trips. This year marks my 24th season as a licensed Alaska fishing guide and my 13th as a business owner. I’m also now licensed as a guide in Montana. How do you feel about that?
Last I checked, I was the one asking the questions here.
RH-B: Do you remember your first trip as a guide? If so, what made it memorable?
I could not believe how much the guests were paying (the outfitter) for their trip, and was sure they would know I was a rookie. I had little frame of reference for the productivity of the river, because it was all new to me. I was also concerned about timing my progress to the boat landing for the appointed pick up. I managed to bluff through my inexperience and the three anglers each caught enough fish. They said they really enjoyed the trip and then asked how long I’d been guiding. I said, “All season and today was opening day.” Then they tipped me. That tip was the clincher, misdirecting me from the pursuit of any mainstream jobs.
So, what you did was prove that guides don’t really know what they’re doing. Perception is everything and bluffing isn’t just for poker.
RH-B: Have you ever put a client onto a hawg brown, and if so, how big?
The answer is no. Alaska has no brown trout. I have guided a few trips in Montana and they have all been on the Missouri River. The MO has plenty of 16-22” browns. I have thus far landed one 24” brown on the MO, which I consider to be a Jr. Hawg Brown. The problem with the MO is that hundreds of rainbows get in the way. Before my guiding career took me to Alaska and all over the West, I grew up in Wisconsin. Lake Michigan and the many tributaries had no shortage of Hawg Browns back in the 80s. It was almost too easy and it’s been so long, that I’m scratching those fish off my record. I am now on the quest for a Montana 30” or larger Hawg Brown. I know a few places where you live. It’s only a matter of time.
Alaska needs browns. We need to move past the whole “native species” thing. Eventually browns will inhabit all reaches of the earth. Once you humans are gone, the Earth is ours.
RH-B: What’s your favorite color?
Wise guy, eh?
RH-B: As a guide, what do you do on your day off?
I make a list of all the things that I need to get done. I stare at the list while drinking my first cup of coffee. I decide not to put off until tomorrow what I can put off until the end of the month. Then I go fishing. I recently drove 80 miles to a stream where you had been sighted. You were hiding that day, but I’ll be back.
I’m always here, waiting. I never hide because there’s no reason to.
RH-B: What’s the biggest brown you’ve ever caught?
I don’t know. I do remember this old photo my dad took of me wearing a black and yellow In-Fisherman trucker hat, while holding a fish that’s tail was dragging on the ground.
That might be impressive if you weren’t only 18 inches tall in the photo, which I have to assume to be the case since you did not provide a photo.
RH-B: Dry, nymph, or swing meat?
When it comes to Hawg Brown, I’m a purist. Hawg Brown only counts on a fish imitation streamer or a large swimming rodent pattern. To catch Hawg Brown on a nymph is just a hunting accident. On a dry fly, it’s simply improbable. On an egg pattern or bead, it’s merely too common. The short answer is fake meat.
This is the answer I was seeking, but it doesn’t change my opinion of you.
RH-B: Do you see yourself guiding 10 years from now?
Yes. Maybe not as much, but I don’t see how I will ever stop because I’m currently taking bookings for 2022. If anyone would like to send me a deposit, there are still a few prime dates available.
Thinking beyond December 21, 2012 is a bold move. I’ll still be around, but according to the Mayans you humans probably will not.
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 recently started fishing an 8wt Sage One. It’s the bomb diggety. It’s Hawg Brown worthy. I have lots of reels including Nautilus, Ross and Sage. The reels are all good and I just pick the one that is carrying the right line. I throw a Rio Clouser Taper for a floater sometimes, but choose a Rio Streamer Tip (Clear Intermediate) most of the time. If I need to dredge, I pull out the old Teeny T-200, T300 or T350. I also swing with my Sage 6119 TCX and a variety of MOW tips. I buy and fish the best of the best, because I deserve it. I also write it all off as a business expense and thus let my clients use any of it they need. That part of it often leads to painful results and many $50 charges from Bainbridge Island, WA. I’m currently working up a new streamer pattern. The early results are very promising on Jr. Browns. They especially like the one that is colored like a rainbow trout. When I tie one big enough…look out.
I like 8 weights because they provide a false sense of security for the foolish anglerman. I’ve been hearing much about this One rod. I expect to own at least one by the end of this year–maybe yours, if you can find me before you run off to Alaska to chase stupid rainbow trouts.
Back in my early Wisconsin school days, most of the kids on the playground called me the Salmo Trutta Lacustris Kid. Now, years later as a guide, some clients call me the Jedi. One calls me Sensei. Most just call me Fred. With a name like Fred, I really don’t need a nickname, but I think some of the guides on the Kenai River have other names for me. On the web, I often go by Mysticfish, because my business name is Mystic Waters, and I have domains named mysticwaters.com and mysticfishing.com, and Mystic and Fish just seem to fit together.
Sounds an awful lot like self-promotion to me, which is frowned-upon here.
I am Roderick Hawg-Brown, and I speak the truth.