With the first 2016 Montana Fishing Guide School session right around the corner, we caught up with some former guide school students to see what they have been up to since guide school and find out what guide school did for them. For part one, meet Big Sky-based guide Rick Fancher.
Rick Fancher is a relatively new guide for us here at Gallatin River Guides. You may recognize him from the shop or on the Gallatin, as thats where he spends most of his time. While Rick never intended to be a fly fishing guide, his week spent in the school turned him into a nearly full time guide, where he gets to use his teaching skills from spending most his life as a high school teacher.
Rick caught this two-footer during guide school on the Missouri River
We got Rick to take a quick break from skiing and fishing to let us know a bit about his experience with the Montana Fishing Guide School.
When did you do guide school?
In the spring of 2014 I completed guide school. It was my first year living in Big Sky full-time.
Why did you sign up for Guide School? Did you want to be a guide when you signed up?
I actually was signed up for guide school by my wife for a retirement gift. Originally, I just wanted to spend the full week fishing and get to learn more about the rivers up here. Guiding really wasn't my top priority at the time. I just thought it would a blast to fish for an entire week after teaching and coaching high school kids in Billings for the last 27 years.
What was the best lesson you took away from Guide School?
I picked up a lot of great fishing info, like how to read the water and understand the area. But, learning how to interact with all different types of clients and other guides was probably the most valuable lesson. Also, getting to build relationships with other guides has been great. Everyone is always willing to share what they know.
How many days a year are you guiding now?
I started this as a part-time job in the summer. Now, it's ended up where I'm guiding about seven days a week during July and August. I don't really keep track, but I would have to guess I guided around 80 to 100 days a year.
You're known in these parts as "The Silver Fox". With a nickname like that you must have some wise advice for aspiring guides?
There is a lot of silver going on. I'm not as sure about the fox part. The most obvious advise for aspiring guides would be to get comfortable teaching different casts and know all about flies and the rivers. I would recommend to be organized, show up early for trips, and have fun with your clients.
Any other reasons why someone should sign up for guide school?
The week was a blast. You can't beat a full week on different rivers and meeting other people with the same enthusiasm for the sport of fly fishing. As the week goes on you receive so many pointers and tips, it's impressive to see how much you improve.
Sounds like a good retirement plan to us! You never know what you might get out of guide school. A week of fishing could turn into years of a dream job. Take the first step in becoming a fishing guide right here