On the next installment of Worldcast Anglers Front Porch Happy Hour we sat down with another one of our head guides, Derek Hutton. Derek lives in Teton Valley with his Margaret and their two sons, Reed and Ryan. He spends his summers guiding on the South Fork of the Snake River and his winters at Grand Targhee Resort in Alta, Wyoming. The outdoors is Derek’s office and the mountains and rivers of Teton Valley are where he feels at home. We asked Derek all sorts of questions about work, travel, his favorite gear and more. Here’s what he had to say.
How did you end up in the Jackson Hole/Teton Valley region?
I first came out to study the geology of Yellowstone NP and Grand Teton NP in 1992. I loved the landscape, expansive spaces, rivers, mountains and wildlife. I continued to visit and explore the rivers and mountains and introduced the area to my wife and young sons (hiking and skiing the Tetons at 3 and 5 years old). When our two sons were old enough, Margaret and I moved to Teton Valley. This winter will be our 10th winter. We measure time in winters.
What’s one piece of gear that you can’t live without on a daily basis as a guide?
Well it is more than one. My eyewear and boat net. Kaenon Klay black polarized glasses for bright days and Kaenon Klay Copper for low light days. Guide vision is essential. We need to read the river and see the fish! I also have a Ranger extendable, large boat net. The size of the basket makes landing easier, handling and resuscitating less stressful on the trout. I am convinced it also increases the number of fish in the net!
What’s your favorite fishery in the Jackson Hole/Teton Valley area and why?
Hands down the South Fork of the Snake Canyon. It is float in only, no roads, no homes on the river, it is pristine Idaho back country. The canyon supports a huge bald & golden eagle population, significant numbers of moose. I have also seen black bear on the bank and swimming across the river and once I saw a mountain lion early in the morning as I left our overnight camp. It is extraordinary. The trout fishing in general and even sight fishing to browns, rainbows and native cutthroat is amazing. I also love the Lamar River and its tributaries in the North Eastern corner of YNP. Wade fishing for native Yellowstone Cutthroat in the midst of bison, antelope and wolves is spectacular.
What new piece of gear are you really excited about for the 2014 fishing season?
I have a new Helios 2, tip flex 6wt. It is a great rod for the South Fork, big foam, streamers and nymphing big stone flies and tungsten droppers, it can do it all. The quintessential South Fork rod.
If we handed you a free plane ticket to fish anywhere in the world, where would it be, and why?
Well, I just bought a plane ticket to Mongolia, for a trip this October. If I could get a free ticket it would be Bolivia or somewhere else in the Amazon. I have a goal to pursue indigenous fish that are hard or impossible to find outside their home range. Taimen, Golden Dorado, Yatorana or perhaps one day an Arapaima, these are the species that I want to hold in my hands.
You stay pretty busy in the summer guiding for WorldCast Anglers. What keeps you busy in the winter months?
I am the Ski & Snowboard Manager for Grand Targhee Resort in Alta, WY. I supervise the daily operations of our on mountain guiding, programs, all lessons, and mountain hospitality tours. It is a day of adventure on the mountain and like guiding rivers you focus on safety, the experience and the friendships.
Every guide has a favorite fishing technique and style. Dry, Dry-dropper, full nymph rig, small technical dries, streamer? If the perfect angler showed up on the perfect day, what would that day entail?
I like it all. I nymph, throw big dries and small dries almost everyday on the river. I want my clients to be well-rounded anglers. The perfect or best angler to me is simply the one having the most fun. My favorite situation is sight fishing to a suspended fish on a gravel bar or in an eddy, but I also love the thrill of a huge fish chasing a streamer.
What’s your take on fluorocarbon vs mono. are there times when you prefer one over the other?
Well fluro is much stronger. I use it for nymphing and streamer fishing. I still use mono for small dry flies, because it floats better. Do not try to splice fluoro & mono, if the knot is stressed the fluoro will cut the mono and the knot fails. Make sure you know what your client’s leader is made of before you add tippet.
You currently serve as President for local conservation group Friends of the Teton River. Tell us more about what you think fishing guides and outfitters can do to secure and protect the resources that we all love and enjoy.
I am currently the Board President for FTR and I believe I have a responsibility of stewardship for the health, cleanliness and biodiversity of the river environment in which I live, love and work. As outfitters and guides we need to spread the message of river conservation, rehabilitation and protection. Pristine mountain rivers with abundant wild and native trout are national treasures, we should respect and protect them. Live water is important to all, especially guides and anglers.
You spend over 300 days a year on the water. What is one piece of advice for those interested in starting a career as a fly fishing guide.
The days are great, but they are long and physical. There are only so many days in the season to guide and the trout season usually doesn’t last all year, so have a down time or off season plan. There are many aspects to the fly fishing industry, if you are committed to fly fishing, you will find your way. Follow your heart and your passion, but use your head along the way. There is a difference between being a great angler and a great guide. A great guide facilitates the success of others, your knowledge and skills are not kept secret, but shared and taught on a daily basis. The relationships and friendships with clients and other guides are much more important than the number or size of the fish, but you have to catch fish!