I have been fishing with Stan Stanton for about 5 years now. On my first trip with him I said, “I want to catch a steelhead on a fly.” Stan rowed out into the middle of the river, set the anchor and in his quiet manner said, “Let me see you cast.” I attempted what I called a cast. In response to my effort I heard “Can I show you something?”. I sat down and watched as Stan made several beautiful casts that were accompanied by excellent instruction on the art and science of fly-casting. It became immediately clear to me that I was not only in the presence of a master but also an excellent teacher. I should know something about that because I have spent 30 years teaching in universities myself. Over the years I have come to realize that Stan would win teaching awards for his style of instruction if he were teaching at a university. He shows you how to do something and lets you try it yourself enough so that your brain and muscles can get on the same page. He does not harp at you when you do not do it right but will occasionally remind you of the right way. You have time to learn. Oh and that steelhead I wanted to catch – I did and many more thanks to Stan.
Fishing with Stan has not been just about steelhead. Add Chinook salmon, several kinds of trout, chub and small mouth bass to our target fish. And we did not always use flies. Stan knows fishing and will do what ever it takes to see that the people in the front of the boat catch fish. I have learned a lot of techniques from Stan that result in a call of “Fish on”. I have never been on a trip where that goal was not met and I have been fishing with Stan one or more times each month of the fishing season (March through November) for the last 5 years. When you experience the rush a 30-pound salmon on the end of your line and a feisty trout on a 4-weight fly rod in the same month you know you are in fish heaven.
A trip with Stan is not just about fish though. He has taken me to many of the most beautiful rivers in Oregon. Since a drift trip can cover eight to ten miles of river the scenery is always changing. We have fished in that famous Oregon rain but most of the trips have been under blue skies with varying degrees of cloud cover. The rivers themselves are a large part of the beauty. They are almost always crystal clear. You may go through a stretch of rapids (which are skillfully maneuvered by Stan) and end up in a serene part of the river that overwhelms you with calmness. The view downstream may look like an oil painting with stately trees lining the riverbank and evergreen covered mountains rising along the far horizon. If you look up an osprey nest may be found in the upper branches of a distant tree. Circling overhead is the nest’s owner look for the same fish you want to catch. No worries though because there are plenty of fish in the river for all.
There is nothing more thrilling than seeing an osprey fold its magnificent wings while 40 feet above the water, diving head and talon first in to the clear, cold water below and then break the surface of the water to fly triumphantly off with a fish clutched in its talons. Incidentally after they have reached a height of 15 feet above the water they shake off water like a wet dog. I recently witnessed an osprey methodically drive one turkey vulture after another off a sand bar until it could take the food that held the vulture’s interest. When I looked up into the sky there were about 20 vultures circling the sight. I have also seen bald eagles engaged in territorial battles with the ever-present osprey or just look like our national symbol as they majestically hunt the river.
This was not the only wildlife activity I have been able to see while fishing with Stan. A deer swimming across the river in front of us, a beaver making a home and river otters at play are just a few things I can add to my nature sighting list. It is clear to me that a drift trip with Stan is a whole lot more that a fishing trip.
I whole-heartedly recommend a day on the river with Stan Stanton. You will not be disappointed. It is a trip to remember.
Dr. Marvin L. Olmstead
Some 17 years ago when I was salmon fishing in British Columbia I was fortunate to become good friends with the excellent chief guide at the lodge, whose name is Bill. I once asked Bill if he could recommend a good salmon and steelhead fishing guide in Oregon, where Bill came from. “Sure” Bill said, “I can get you the best fishing guide this side of the Mississippi.” Since Bill tends to talk in such an expansive manner, I did not take the comment too seriously but was confident that any guide Bill would recommend would be good. Bill recommended Stan Stanton with whom I have now fished for these past sixteen years, and I can say without the least hesitation that Bill’s description of Stan was by no means an exaggeration.
I always fish at least one three-week period a year with Stan, generally in the Spring, and for several years I made another trip in the Fall. I have had a number of guides during many years of fishing and almost all of them were good but none approached Stan because they all lacked one or more of the traits that I consider desirable in a fishing guide. Stan lacks none except for one.
Stan is a true professional. He takes fishing very seriously and consequently everything in his boats and truck are always well prepared, clean and well organized. He is very safety conscious and considerate of others and anxious to please his clients. Stan has an enormous knowledge of fishing techniques and knows just which one to use in any particular situation.
The old saying that “95% of the fish are in 5% of the water” is not correct for the Oregon rivers we fish. There 99% of the fish are in 1% of the water and Stan knows exactly where that 1% is located and he spares no effort to get you into a position to fish exactly in the right spot. At times, I have to plead with him to give up a spot he wants to fish because when the water is up and the current strong he almost kills himself to get the drift boat in the right location.
Stan ties the most fantastic flies for Steelhead, Trout and other fish of any I have seen. In fact, he set up and owned a fly factory for a number of years. But, what is even more remarkable about him is that he always knows exactly which fly to use on a particular stretch of the river under particular water, light and weather conditions and he will spare no effort to change your fly every couple of hundred yards on a trout fishing drift if it is necessary. At the beginning I used to be skeptical of this and if the fly was catching fish and he anchored the boat to change my fly I would say “Hey, why bother, this fly is working fine” and Stan would reply “But it won’t on the stretch coming up.” When I said I wanted to try it anyway he would change the fly on his rod and when we went through the stretch he would catch fish and I would not.
I had been taught a fly casting method in Scotland years ago that depends on wrist action. It is really not very good except with very small rods on small streams. Consequently, I switched over to the much better method used in the US but it was hard to get out of the wrist action and other bad habits and a few instructors I had didn’t help me much. So when I started fishing with Stan I was a real messed up and inexperienced fly caster. It took a while but Stan got me to cast properly, at least good enough to catch two steelhead on the fly this last trip. Stan is by far the best fly caster I have ever seen including the so called pros at fishing fairs. But more important for his clients is that he is an excellent fly fishing instructor, and everyone who has fished with him says the same thing. One of the main reasons he is so good is that he can immediately see what you are doing wrong. He can then demonstrate it to you, show you how to correct it and finally explain precisely why it has to be done that way and why the way you do it does not work as well. I have several times seen him tremendously improve the casting abilities of fisherman with average casting abilities in one trip on the river. They are always amazed at how quickly he did this. He told me that he has even helped some very skilled fly casters and they told him he was the best fly casting instructor they have known.
What is particularly remarkable about all of this is that these expert instructions are given free by Stan as a part of the trip. There are many fly fishing instructors who charge much more just for a few hours of mediocre instructions than Stan charges for a whole day of guiding. And with Stan a whole day of guiding is much more than just 8 hours. He does not include driving time, even when this may involve 4 or more hours to and from a particular river, and I often have to tell him it is time to quit since he will fish well past the 8 hours if the fishing is good, and also if it is not to good, in the hope that things will improve.
As you know, there are always long periods without action even when the fishing is good. So if your guide is not a pleasant person and you can’t have an interesting conversation with him much of the fun in fishing is gone, no matter how good a guide he may be from the technical standpoint. Stan is a real fun guide. He knows a lot and is the only guide I have met who does not BS. In fact he is the only person who fishes who I have met who doesn’t exaggerate buy instead often goes the other way. As an example, he will call a 20 lb salmon a 15 pounder when people ask about our catch. I have had a lot of great salmon, steelhead, trout, smallmouth bass and shad fishing trips with him. We both like to fish the Santiam River for salmon and steelhead. We take the boat out at farm where we have gotten to know the farmer well. He of course always wants to see our catch and many times he is amazed at what we have because he will have had a number of boats take out before us and many times when we have taken a limit, or close to a limit, he tells us that all the others had nothing or maybe only a few fish.
Stan is very pleasant to be with because he is intelligent and very considerate. He knows a lot about the outdoors, and what he tells you is always correct. I have learned a lot from him over the years. Unlike other guides he does not hesitate to tell you he doesn’t know something. He has a very good sense of humor but he doesn’t fool around too much as some guides will do to the point where it becomes tiresome.
Perhaps his most unique attribute, which in part explains why he is such a good guide, is that he has a genuine love for fishing. He often fishes even if he is not guiding. In this way he continuously expands his fishing knowledge which of course is of great benefit to his clients.
Well no one is perfect, and this also applies to Stan Stanton. He has one very serious fault from my point of view, and that is, that he does not mix a really good dry martini. So I recommend Stan to you without the least hesitation but if you like a dry martini at the end of the day, as I do, then you had better know how to mix it yourself.
Harold P. Klinger MD, PhD
Professor of Molecular Genetics
Albert Einstein College of Medicine, New York
Harold passed away in 2004; he was a friend to all in the fishing fraternity around Eugene and up the McKenzie River. He enjoyed fly fishing for Trout and Steelhead and catching spring salmon on his Billy Pate fly reel. He will always be missed
Stan Stanton has taken our valuable customers fishing for years. When we fly our national customers into Willamette Valley, a fishing trip with a true professional like Stan is a must.
It’s a great opportunity to be with your customers other than in an office setting, to enjoy the beautiful rivers we are surrounded with here in Oregon, and build a relationship with customers beyond a product and price. Our customers always remember beyond a product and price. Our customers always remember the business trip to Oregon Lox and our products – thanks to Stan Stanton and great fishing trips on the river
Stan Stanton has an exceptional reputation as a guide and as a tackle expert. Stan and I have fished together in many areas both foreign and domestic. In addition to Oregon, these places include Florida, Alaska and Canada – on salt water and on fresh water trips.
I have admired his expertise hr more than twenty years. He has complete knowledge of tides, water levels, knots, tackle, fly tying, hatches of insects, fish habitat and best time of the year for best results.
He keeps his boats clean, well-maintained and comfortable. The same thing with his fishing equipment – he uses the best. Stan himself is a personable, down-to-earth fellow who is easy to talk to. He’s a good teacher, patient and understanding. He shares what he knows, and he knows a lot.
In my opinion, there is no better-informed fishing guide in Oregon. If there is a fish there, he knows how and where to catch them.
“I am proud to call Stan Stanton my friend”
William (Bill) A. Nelson
Bill passed away in 2012. Over the years I learned a great deal about fly fishing from him and we fished Alaska, Christmas Island, Florida, and rivers in Oregon and Washington.
Jerry caught a bonefish
“Stan, this Christmas Island Bonefish was a direct result of your pre-trip help on casting techniques. In less than an hour, your drawings and instructions gave me wonderful insights into improving my fly presentation. Self taught like most of us old timers were, I never had the basics to improve my casting”.
You are a great teacher and I hope you get many opportunities to spread your message to others like myself.
Stan Stanton, thank you! – JERRY OLSON of Eugene, Oregon
Jerry passed away in 2012. He was a good friend and my dentist for 30 years. I know very few people who enjoyed fly fishing as much as Jerry Olson.