From Gridlock to Oar Locks: Montana Guide School "Parker Redmond"

From Gridlock to Oar Locks: Montana Guide School "Parker Redmond"

Parker Redmond fly fishing guide

Parker Redmond (in sunglasses and holding the net) grew up addicted to fishing. So why not turn his passion into a career? It took him a good bit of his adult life to gain the courage to give up the conventional life and chase that dream. From a successful business in southern California to now guiding for Montana Trout Stalkers and working for the Madison River Fishing Company, Parker has done more than cracked his teeth in the fishing biz, he's carved out a pretty dang good lifestyle for himself. 


How long have you been fishing?

Thanks to The Bill Dance Show, I've been addicted to all things fishing since I can remember.


When did you attend guide school?

Spring 2015


Why did you sign up?

I've first wanted to be a fly fishing guide when I was 12 years old. I never lived in an area where I could make it my full time profession though. It took me until I was 29 to decide that I wanted to pursue my desire. Luckily, my wife supported me and said I should look into guide schools. I eventually signed up for the Montana Fishing Guide School after researching every option out there. 

It was Pat and Garrett who took the time to talk me through my plans of rearranging our entire life. It wasn't easy either because I was running a successful small business and my wife was grinding out a solid 9 to 5. My conversations with Pat and Garrett had more of a counseling session or a job interview feel. They asked me why I wanted to do this. They informed me of the difficulties I would face in my transition. And eventually they felt I was inquiring for all the right reasons and that they would welcome me if I decided to sign up.

Looking back, they displayed some of the most common personality traits of an effective fly fishing guide. They were patient, understanding of my unique situation and offered the appropriate support.


Why be a guide?

First of all, don't be a guide simply because you love fly fishing. You're not alone, a lot of people love fly fishing and most of them would be terrible guides. I feel that in order to be a fly fishing guide you absolutely need to have an advanced understanding of all things fly fishing. After all, you're supposed to be an expert. 

There are a few personality traits that are essential as well. Patience, an ability to adapt communication and teaching techniques, and a well timed sense of humor are key. If you've got all of this combined with the physical stamina to provide a safe and enjoyable experience, then why wouldn't you be a fishing guide? You're getting paid to take people fishing. I'm not sure it gets better than that!


What was your biggest takeaway?

My biggest takeaway was the confirmation that I could eventually be a successful fishing guide. I left the school with confidence which motivated me to convince my wife that dropping everything to move to Montana was the right thing to do. I wouldn't live here right now if I didn't attend the school. 


Favorite memory from guide school?

My favorite memory from the guide school isn't really a good memory. In fact it was an instance of failure. The last day on the Missouri I had Pat sitting behind me in the boat. Pat had told me that the best thing I can do for the day was to get my client on a fish early on. Not far from the put in was a long run that held a bunch of fish. That was my going to be my first chance at a fish. With a strong cross wind, I failed to position the boat correctly and ended up floating right over the fish. I rowed back up numerous times to have another go, but I eventually gave up.

In retrospect, I should have kept trying it until I did it right, but we had to move on. Pat's critique was harsh, but he knew I could handle it. Basically, I blew it. It bothered me for a bit because I had done well leading up to that point. After lunch, I was determined to pay more attention to my rowing technique and eventually earned compliments from the angler and guide in the boat for getting them on some fish. This is my favorite memory of the school because I was able to identify some of my weaknesses in the boat. That experience continues to motivate me when I'm on the water because sometimes mistakes are the only way to learn something new.


Are you guiding now?

Yes, I guide for Trout Stalkers in Ennis, Montana. I also work full-time managing the website for Madison River Fishing Company.


If you are guiding now, what was your biggest challenge in getting started? Did guide school help with that?

The biggest challenge for me was confidence. I felt like I needed to act or do things a certain way to fit in. But I realized that a more effective approach is to just be myself. Fish the way I fish, and teach the way I teach. I find that if I'm passionate and sincere, things seem to work out. We touched on this a bit in the school but the only way for me to realize this was through trial and error. 


Do you keep in touch with or fish with any friends made through guide school? 

Not too much, but I'm not hard to find. Let's go! 


Why should someone sign up for guide school?

If there is anyone out there that is in a similar situation to the one I was in, just go for it. By the end of the course you'll know whether or not you'd make it as a fly fishing guide. They'll tell you! Looking back, my decision to take a 180 degree turn in life was risky. People thought I was crazy. But it was the right choice in the end and it all started thanks to the Montana Fishing Guide School.


Click for more Where Are They Now profiles.


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