In our line of work, as producers and hosts of The New Fly Fisher television show, we have been fortunate to fish with a great many guides throughout North America. Most of these impressed us with their skill, passion for fly-fishing, knowledge of their waters, and ability to communicate these. A few were outstanding.
Success as a professional fishing guide comes with dedication and sacrifice. It’s not an easy way to make a living, particularly for those who choose to specialise exclusively in fly-fishing, restricting themselves to a niche market. But the best of them command 80 to 90% client return rates. There are a few of this calibre in Ontario. One of them is Mikey Metcalfe.
I first met Mikey on the banks of a southern Ontario river in the spring of 2013, through the recommendation of a mutual friend. It was opening week for trout and he had invited us to fish some of his home waters. We were on the hunt for the post-spawn steelhead which southern Ontario is famous for. During the trip, we became fast friends, and we still fish together today.
Back then, Mikey was not a professional guide, just a keen and skilful fly fisher. He worked for a multi-national company which made huge demands on what should have been free time—keeping him away from the river which he loved. Eventually, he accepted that he had to make a change. After a number of consultations with friends and family, he made the decision to leave the corporate world and follow his passions. He took the plunge and, after qualifying as a certified fly-casting instructor with the Federation of Fly Fishers, became a full-time professional fly fishing guide.
Mikey’s new office is the Grand River and its tributaries around Fergus, Ontario. The wonderful thing about this place that Mike has chosen to guide is that there are fly-fishing opportunities for both warm and cold water species throughout the year. Not only has he been fishing the area for years so that he knows the fishery inside out, he is also a very accomplished technical dry fly fisher for trout, as well as an expert on effective techniques for smallmouth bass and steelhead. Both fall and spring seasons quiver in his presence. Whatever his clients’ level of expertise, Mikey is accomplished in catering to them.
This summer, Mikey and I spent a few days doing what he loves best, a walk-and-wade guided trip for brown trout on the Grand River. Hatches are the name of the game on the Grand, whether you fish them with dry flies and terrestrials on the surface, or streamers, wet flies, and nymphs sub-surface. Mikey has the experience to dial you into exactly what is happening week to week, day to day, even hour by hour. It’s not uncommon to fish with Mikey for the early morning hatch and, after enjoying a few hours off the water relaxing, return to the river for the evening spinner fall.
But don’t take my word for it. Do it for yourself. Drop Mikey a line and book yourself in.