Jeremiah Houle is an Oregon-based steelhead guide who lives to swing. In addition to guiding, Houle is a pro for companies such as Loon Outdoors. Houle recently took time to interview with The Venturing Angler:
Why do you guide where you do?
I guide in Central Oregon, mostly on the Deschutes for many reasons, but to narrow it down, the two main reasons are how beautiful this area is, specifically Bend. The town itself is amazing and a great place to call home. The next reason is because the Deschutes is not easy. We work hard for our fish here. We can’t fish out of the boat here, so if my client can’t make a 30 foot cast, I have to instruct them, guide them, to help them cast that distance. When we have an 18” Redside that rips backing, I can’t chase that fish in a boat, so I have to make sure my clients know what to do in that situation. People come away better anglers after a few days on the Deschutes.
What is your favorite fish species?
My favorite species, by far, are steelhead. I have spent countless days trying to figure out why steelhead do what they do, and while I like to think I’ve somewhat patterned them in, they constantly do something so strange and out of the blue that it keeps me on my toes.
What is your favorite thing about guiding?
My favorite thing about guiding is getting to share the rivers and lakes in our area with people that appreciate them. The fishing, the scenery, the bugs… all of it. People that fall in love with our water, much like I did, have a voice for these rivers, lakes and public lands that allow us to fish them.
What is the most memorable trip you’ve guided and why?
This is a tough one. At the end of the year I always reminisce about my memorable trips, and the ones that always stand out are the youngsters getting into the sport. Sure, the day we rise a few steelhead on a dry will be up there, but seeing the light bulb go off in someone when they’re exposed to their new passion is unforgettable.
What is the funniest thing you’ve experienced while guiding?
I tend to joke a lot on trips so there are always laughs on the water, but some of the questions you hear make the top of the list for me. One of my favorites that happens more often than you’d think is on a multi-day trip after several class III and IV rapids someone will ask, “So, when do you start rowing back up to the put in?”
What makes your guide service great?
There are two things that I am constantly impressed with in our team. The first is the passion. All of us are die-hard fish bums. Day off? Fishing. Half day trip? Fishing afterwards. Our guides have their own gear and boats because if they weren’t doing this for a living they would still be doing this any chance they could. The second, and most important to me, is out team work. Everyone on our crew is constantly helping the other guides, ensuring everyone who takes a trip with us is getting the absolute best day on the water.
If you had only one day off all year, where would you fish and what fish would you target?
When I close my eyes and get to my “Happy Place” it’s on the North Umpqua, swinging one of the famous runs for those beautiful wild steelhead, ideally on the surface or with a muddler just below, pushing water. That river holds a special place in my heart. If I had a second day off I’d have my 8wt single-hander and be on a boat in the California Delta stripping flies for Striped Bass.
What are your favorite three flies?
#1- Green Butt Un-Skunked. This is a simple variation on the famous green butt skunk. I tie in a black wing instead of the traditional white, use golden pheasant tippet dyed red for the tail, green holographic tinsel for the butt and black UV uce dub with pearl tinsel for the ribbing. The collar is schlappen tied in after the wing, this gives you that small, sexy head steelhead flies are known for.
#2- Pat’s rubber leg. Enough said.
#3- Any Mike Mercer fly. Any of them. Poxyback PMD, Missing Link, Psycho Prince, Micro May… well, you get the idea…
What is the one piece of gear you couldn’t bear to leave at home?
My Rogue Hemostats are constantly on me. I am naked without them. As a guide, you always need a third hand. Being able to hold a fly in the jaws and clip the carabiner to me when I need a quick extra hand is unbelievably useful. I use them to tie on flies, pinch barbs, cut tippet, remove flies, all that good stuff. They make my life so much easier!
Do you have any other passions?
Being in Bend, we have any outdoor activity at our back door. This tends to lead itself to too many passions, not enough time! I keep it somewhat restrained to mountain biking and waterfowl hunting with my pup, Rogue. So if I’m not on the river I’m either in a duck blind or on one of our many mountain bike trails around the area.
To check out more from Jeremiah Houle, please click here.