Where Are They Now? Meet Lew Poage (with beard).
Montana Fishing Guide School Graduate, makes it happen in the real world.
Lew Poage came to us from Georgia, via Bosnia, Afghanistan, Iraq, and lots of places in between. After an exciting, and at times dangerous, career in the US military special operations, Lew can now be found a-stream chasing fish and creating smiles.
Lew attended our June 2016 session. He wasn't sure if being a fly fishing guide was going to be the right choice, but, by choosing to take the Montana Fishing Guide School, he was hoping it would offer some insight.
Here's Lew's profile and what he's doing now.
How long have you been fishing?
I started fishing conventional tackle at the age of five. I switched to strictly fly fishing about 7 years ago.
When did you attend the Montana Fishing Guide School?
June 2016. We fished out of Big Sky and Bozeman on the Gallatin, Madison, Yellowstone, and some private creeks. It was awesome.
Why did you sign up?
I was coming up on retirement from a 24-year-long career in Naval Special Operations. I had obviously seen a lot and done a lot over that span of time. Having only known military life since the age of 17, my wife and I saw guide school as an opportunity for me to decompress a bit, take in some beautiful natural scenery, while also capitalizing on the possibility of honing my fly fishing passion into a second-career.
What was your biggest takeaway?
Catching fish is super important, but I don't think it's the most important thing when you are a guide. A major takeaway from school was learning to provide the "experience." A lot more goes into a guided trip than just making sure people catch fish: doing the pre-trip preparation work, making sure the client is happy and safe, and doing my homework goes a long way to making the overall experience rewarding for all of us involved. Fishing will come. I learned from Pat and Brad how guides can layer in other facets of the day in order to be successful and build a return clientele. You can control being on time, having a great lunch, keeping things safe; but you can't control the weather, the fish bite, and the attitude of your clients.
Favorite memory from guide school?
Spring Creeks and smaller waters! I'm a wading guide and Pat and his staff went out of their way to get me days on water similar to the type I would be working on.
Are you guiding now?
I am. You can find me exclusively at Blackhawk Flyfishing on the Soque River in Clarkesville, Georgia.
If you are guiding now, what was your biggest challenge in getting started?
When I started guiding, fishing came fairly easily. Some of the challenges that had to learn to work through were understanding clients needs, restrictions, and safety. I have clients that range from seven years old to 80+ and that makes every day different. You may be able to fish the same conditions from a fishing perspective several days in a row, but not from a wading level, experience level, physical restrictions, or even what they desire from the day. I've had to take on each day with fresh perspective and that has made me a better guide. My clients at Blackhawk enjoy our time together, as do I, and that is what it's all about.
Did guide school help with that?
Guide school helped immensely with this process. When I went to guide school I just assumed I would become a better angler, which I did, but I wasn't thinking of all of the other things that go into a successful day. The school taught me how to think about preparation for every individual client on every single day. The Montana Fishing Guide School definitely gave me an incredible leg up in becoming successful.
Do you keep in touch with or fish with any friends made through guide school?
I do keep up with a few of my classmates, primarily through social media. We can't ignore the role e-communication plays in building our businesses, marketing, sharing trophy fish pics, etc. I am most active on Instagram and you can find me at troutchronicles.
Why should someone sign up for guide school?
At the very least, guide school is an opportunity to learn something new about fly-fishing or perfect the groundwork and skills already learned. The staff are attentive and professional, the environment is beautiful, and if you really want to take your game to the next level- there's no place better than the Montana Fishing Guide School. In fact, I plan on attending an advanced class there this year.