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Joe Cummings - Missoula Fly Fishing Guides Profile

Joe Cummings (owner)

Missoula Fly Fishing Guides Profiles – Joe Cummings

Click Here to go to all Missoula fly fishing guides video interviews.

Joe Cummings is the outfitter and owner of the Montana fly fishing lodge Missoula River Lodge.  Joe is in his 19th season of guiding in Missoula Montana after starting this operation when he was 26 years old.  In the early days it was just Joe and a single boat, but Missoula River Lodge been able to grow over the last two decades into an established staff of veteran Missoula fly fishing guides.  Please take the time to meet each staff member via their video interviews below. We strongly believe that anglers should have the opportunity to meet their fishing guide before putting together a trip.

Profile photo Joe Cummings fly fishing guide

Missoula Fly Fishing Guides – Joe Cummings

Missoula Fly Fishing Guides – Video Profile Interviews Link

We have selected this group of Missoula fly fishing guides following a strong pattern of working with hard working, patient, friendly guides who know their water intimately. Please view the included videos and see both the guide’s on the water personalities and off the water accomplishments.

Fishing Guide History – Joe Cummings

Missoula River Lodge owner Joe Cummings is a 4th generation Montana native who has spent his life either working on the Stevensville Montana family ranch, crashing around football fields, or with his feet wet guiding the waters of Missoula Montana.  After Joe spent 5 seasons playing professional football, he came back to Missoula and opened up his own outfitting business. Joe is a graduate of the University of Wyoming.

He has spent two decades of seeing our area in every fly fishing condition. From stalking the giants of the Bitterroot, to the massive pods of the Missouri and Clark Fork, Joe loves to feed dry flies to rising fish. He is friendly and patient, and relishes the drama that comes from hunting wild trophy fish. Joe is proud to introduce all of our Missoula fly fishing guides staff to new anglers that want to experience everything that is our home waters of the Bitterroot River, Blackfoot River, Missouri River, Rock Creek, and Clark Fork River.

How I choose Missoula Fly Fishing Guides : Joe Cummings’ Criteria

If you are on this page then then you are looking to put together a day on the water with a professional fishing guide in Missoula. I have been doing exactly the same thing for the last two decades.  As we add or subtract guides from our in-house roster of professionals I have to make decisions about the personalities that I believe are able to put together successful days on the water. In building our guide staff these are qualities I look for in Missoula fly fishing guides.

1. Excellent Attitude

At it’s most basic level time on the water should be fun and about the guest.  The day is a team effort dialing in the expectations and trip goals of the guest.  Western Montana is a beautiful multi-layered place blessed with great water. Find a guide that won’t ruin that with an intense pushy atttitude.

Missoula fly fishing guide holds up brown trout

Missoula Fly Fishing Guide – Evan Philipe

2. Work Ethic

We expect our fly fishing guides staff to show up on time, have a clean boat, bring a great lunch, work to find solitude in our large drift area, and fish a full day. When these fundamental building blocks are put in place daily the odds of succeeding on the water rise tremendously.  The ability to execute on fishing guide basics is a sign of other facets of the guide’s performance also being in order.

Missoula fly fishing guides

Working Guide and Guest on Bitterroot

3. Fishing Talent

Just like in any other profession there are those that perform at a higher level. The band of top guides is a narrow. They catch more fish, they know more water, and they re-book at a much higher level than the run of the mill fishing guide. This is the hardest skill to find and quantify.   You really only find it out by working with a guide as he navigates all the changing conditions of the season.  If I could boil it down to two characteristics that define the top guides – 1. A constant curiosity about how to leverage what the rivers gives each day. 2. A competitive drive to improve themselves while keeping their boat atmosphere calm and focussed.

Fly fishing Missoula Montana Blackfoot River

Sunrise and Bent on the Blackfoot River

4. Missoula Fly Fishing Permits

This is so basic, but has become increasingly more important as the State of Montana has put in place access restrictions on much of our water. We are the only outfitter in Missoula who owns the full suite of permits to be able to float all sections of our area waters.

Rock Creek is the most limited access river with only three float outfitting permits available. It is a unique ecosystem that has many protections in place that have kept it pristine in every way.

The Blackfoot River also requires a permit whose enlightened fee structure uses those funds to help in habitat restoration and resource maintenance.

The Bitterroot River has two permits; one on the West Fork and one on the mainstem. They limit use and provide for an effective system that generates a great deal of solitude and productive fishing.

You can book the best missoula fly fishing guides, but if they don’t have access to our rivers your trip options can shrink quickly.

Missoula Fly Fishing Guides: The System and Brand

We are not the only fishing guides in Missoula, but after two decades of triumphs, mistakes, and constant drive to learn and improve we have come up with a criteria for choosing our staff. If you are looking for hard working, friendly, patient, and ultimately successful fishing guides to spend a day with on Missoula’s waters we are choice we encourage you to investigate.

Enjoy the included videos and meet our Missoula fly fishing guides staff!

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Carrie Nowlen (Executive Chef - Named to Top 100 Chefs in America)

Carrie is our Executive Chef at Missoula River Lodge. She was named to the list of the top 100 chefs in America by a team from the Washington Post in 2017 and featured in the book “America the Great Cookbook.” She specializes in Authentic Missoula Montana Farm to Table dining.  Her creativity in combining locally acquired and grown ingredients creates a refreshing, healthy, and distinctly fun dining experience for our guests.  Carrie’s cooking knowledge is shared freely with our guests in a unique presentation of courses throughout the evening.  Her skill can produce dishes that range from freshly prepared Lamb to traditional Vietnamese fare.  We are fortunate to have such a talented lady running our menus at the Lodge, because the overall experience she gives to our guests creates a layered dining experience that puts the sheen on the fishing day.

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Evan Phillippe

Evan Phillippe

Evan grew up fly fishing ‘back East,’ cutting his teeth on the limestone spring creeks and mountain brook trout streams of the Appalachians. When he was twelve his dad made the mistake of taking him fishing in Montana, leading to an immediate change in priorities and an eventual move West following high school. Evan began guiding fly fishing during a five year ramble around Colorado and has also guided in southern Chile. By 2003 the pull of the Big Sky proved too much and Evan moved to Missoula to immerse himself full time in the freestone rivers of western Montana. Evan is a graduate of the University of Montana School of Journalism and hopes to one day be able to add “freelance journalist” to his resume with a straight face. In the off season he spends his time swinging Spey flies, chasing birds and dreaming of the next tropical flat.

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Ryan Geiges

Ryan Geiges

Ryan is a veteran guide that has guided across the US and South America. He was the head guide for the Delaware River Club on the Delaware River in New York for seven seasons. During that stint he also ran the successful Al Caucci Fly Fishing schools. Before he made Missoula his permanent home he guided in South America. An exceptional teacher as well as fine angler, Ryan is well rounded and thoroughly versed in the fly fishing game. He is our most meticulous fly tier and an outstanding stream entomologist, so when he ties on a fly, its worth a second look.

If you are into pushing dry flies only and having a fun time on the water, then Ryan’s guiding style is just the ticket.

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Caleb Garrett

Caleb has been with Missoula River Lodge several years, and has built a loyal clientele because of his willingness to go the extra mile to ensure guests have an excellent trip. Whether he is chest deep in the water pushing his boat back upstream to hit a productive spot again, or sliding his raft off a steep embankment into a little known stream, he will do everything he can to provide the best possible day on the river. His passion for trout on the fly is infectious, and has taken him all over the West. Even on the rare days off during the season he is out testing fly patterns fresh off his vise from the night before. If you want to chase trout that will make your reel scream, Caleb is your guy.

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Nate McDonough

Nate hails from Alaska via Eastern Washington.  He is a second generation guide with his first shifts at the age of 15 years old as a camp hand in Alaska.  He was a manager at Bristol Bay Lodge for 9 seasons before we lucked into grabbing him for our staff.  Nate also is a full time Olympic Peninsula fly fishing guide January – April.  He is a true professional fly guide you will be hard pressed to find a longer resume in the fly fishing business.  Nate is known for his work ethic, patience, and depth of angling credentials.

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Brooks Jessen

Brooks Jessen is one of the true veteran guide pillars of the Western Montana fly fishing community.   He has been the top day producer – over 160 guide days per season – for us for over a decade.  Guides that have put in that much time on the water tend to have a crusty jaded manner that may not fit all guests and be disliked by other guides. In Brooks‘ case the opposite holds true, he still is friendly and patient while maintaining a focus to consistently produce trout for his loyal following of regular clients. I don’t know of anybody in the fly business that doesn’t enjoy his laid back personality and extremely diverse fishing knowledge base.  He took a sabbatical to spend a summer with his family in 2014, but now is back in a fresh out of retirement status.  If you can get him, he is a pleasure to spend a day with on the water catching trout and sharing the history of Western Montana.

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Patch Godown

Patch Godown

Patch Godown grew up the youngest in a family of deer hunters and fisherman, so was schooled at an early age in the outdoors. His fisheries were the Delaware River, its tributaries, and the branches of the Raritan river. Montana fly fishing drew Patch to Montana MT in 1992. Patch spent years constantly fishing Western Montana before he found a home on A Classic Journey’s staff in 2011. Patch has a great combination of experience, enthusiasm, and work ethic. Although he is the newest member of our staff he immediately stood out as a highly requested guide and we look forward to many more seasons with him guiding our clients. To quote Patch – “Showing people a good time in a great place is truly living the dream. Fly fishing has connected me with some great people and started a lot of great friendships.”

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Jacob Hensley

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Chris Webber

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Aaron Bonsall

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Curt McChesney

Curt is a Missoula native fly fishing guide that has spent a life time Fly fishing  the Bitterroot River, Blackfoot River, Missouri River, Rock Creek and Clark Fork River.  His previous career was as a Smokejumper and Fire Management officer for the Forest Service.  His water knowledge runs deep as well as his life perspectives.  Curt is known for a cool headed intensity, work ethic, and fun educated boat conversations.  He is a multi-layered renaissance man that all ages and levels of guests enjoy.

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James Whitescarver

James grew up in the state of Washington where he began his career in hunting and fishing as a young boy. His college days were spent at Central Washington University, where the Yakima River rainbow fishing and superb bird and big game hunting made it hard to find time to go to class. While in college, James started guiding for fishing on the Chosen River in Alaska. In the four summers of guiding on one of the top rivers in the world, James’ knowledge and love for fishing grew with each cast. After graduating from college, James moved to Montana to further his career in fishing and hunting. He has been a top hand on the river and in the field which comes from his his patience and work ethic.

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Josh Ziegler

Josh is the newest member of the Missoula River Lodge fly fishing guide team. He is from Florence Montana and grew up on Bitterroot river. Josh is rich in life experiences with a career in teaching, writing, and guide experience ranging from Alaska to Montana.

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