Do You Have the Chops to Be a Guide? Joey Maxim Does.

Not long ago I shared with you the story of Joey Maxim and how fly fishing has aided in his recovery from a terrible automobile accident. Getting to know this young man and his father Joe had a profound impact on how I view the sport I have enjoyed for most of my life. But there's more to the story...

I met Joey April 18 at the Orvis Guide Rendezvous in Missoula, Montana. Joey had written Orvis' Tom Rosenbauer to thank him for the books he had written, which have played a key part in Joey's comeback. Tom was, naturally, so moved by this that he continued corresponding with Joey, and through that correspondence learned Joey had an interest in being a guide himself. So Tom arranged for Joey and his dad to attend the Rendezvous and rub elbows with some of the best guides from throughout North America. What's more, Tom, Joey, Joe, and I spent a day fishing the Blackfoot with John and Kurt Herzer who are two of the best guides I've ever fished with, period.

All the guides at the event, upon learning more about Joey's story, embraced the Maxims in ways that reflect the true character of the guide community. Tim Linehan of Linehan Outfitting won the Orvis Guide of the Year award. Minutes later, he presented Joey with the new Helios 2 rod he had received for that honor. Dave and Amelia Jensen, who won Orvis Expedition of the Year for the trophy brook trout trips they run in the Canadian Rockies stood up and offered Joey a chance to apprentice guide with them someday.

Now I'm not suggesting that Joey is going to dive right into guiding. Goodness knows, he has a lot to tend to as he continues his own recovery. But I am quite certain he can be a great guide if and when he wants to try that.

After all, in all my years of fishing and doing some guiding myself, I've learned that the key to great guiding has very little to do with rowing boats, tying knots, and scooping fish with a net.

It starts with conveying a genuine appreciation for the sport of fly fishing. Joey has that. It builds with a genuine affection for the fish, and the places where you find them. I saw that in Joey too. Great guides have great stories to share, and by the way, the best stories don't always revolve around catching fish. Check that one off for Joey also. Lastly, the best guides are able to inspire people to appreciate their time on the water. He has that ability in spades.

So if and when he becomes a guide, I'll gladly pay for the opportunity to fish with him again.