Drew Hay (holding fish) originally hails from the land of the Missouri River's big tailwater trout. He spent his youth fishing the Missouri before it was cool and now you can find him exploring off the radar areas near his new home in the Bozeman area. After working in the pits of corporate America and chasing the almighty dollar bill, Drew decided he wanted to make a change. His Montana roots meant his passion for our trout rivers was big, but he wanted a more in depth fly fishing experience.
How long have you been fishing?
I have been fishing for six or seven years now.
When did you attend guide school?
I attended guide school in April of 2015. Which also happens to be one of my favorite times of the year to fish in Montana.
Why did you sign up for guide school? Did you want to be a guide when you signed up? Why?
I was not 100% sure I wanted to be a guide when I signed up. I was almost positive I did, but was unsure if I could step away from some of the security I had built for myself in life. I signed up knowing it could be an awesome job, that it would be rewarding, and that even if I decided I didn't want to be a guide, I would be a better angler after the school.
What made you want to be a fishing guide?
I was tired of my job at the time. It was not rewarding, I wasn't able to actively help people learn, and it was tough for me to put a company bottom line before a customer’s needs. Taking the guide school was great opportunity in my life to make a drastic change. I wanted to find a career that I could be passionate about, a career I could always try my best to make sure the client/customer is happy, and a career where I have the best office in the world.
What was the best lesson learned from guide school? Best memory?
It's all about attitude. If you stay happy, clients are happy. And at the end of the day, clients should always be happy. The whole experience was a great memory. Floating down the Missouri River with everybody hooting and hollering and catching fish is a day I will never forget.
How many days a year are you guiding now?
Last season (summer 2015) I did somewhere around 50-60 trips over the short summer season. It was an amazing first season, and hoping it continues to grow. The first couple seasons are all about building up the workload. I am starting at the bottom and have to earn my spot to move up. Nothing is just handed to you in this business. I also worked at Gallatin River Guides fly shop. I think that was the best way to learn more about the industry after guide school. It's a helpful tool to meet more guides, learn what they do, and learn how much work it actually is. I will continue to work in the fly shop and guide part time this summer. To me, it's one of the best ways to earn your spot.
Do you still keep in contact with friends made in guide school? Still fish with any?
I see many of them on the water. Many of came from different areas, so we don't fish much, but it's pretty cool to see them guiding!
Why would you recommend signing up for guide school?
You get to learn, have fun, and get a serious taste of the guiding and fishing lifestyle to see if its for you. Pat and his crew do a great job of creating a varied fishing program along with varied instructors—you have some that talk and joke all day, some that are very focused and methodical with their instruction, and several in between both spectrum's. Spending seven days with veteran fly fishing guides where you have their total attention is hard to come by, except when you attend Montana Fishing Guide School.