I am writing this account as a service to all the fishermen I see come in and out of the shop each season. Many, many beginners, some intermediate ability people and a good number of guys with experience. There is no need to go out to SanFancisco and pan for gold! I know of a gold nugget right here in the East, right under our noses. His name is Walt Geryk.
I met Walt one day at the Eastern Guide Rendezvous, a once a year event sponsored by Orvis, in Millbrook New York at Orvis' world class Sandanona shooting grounds. In a room full of professional fishermen, I found his down to earth attitude put me at ease and we made fast friends. He came down to the shop in Avon to visit one day and was impressed with the store and invited me to go fishing with him on Cape Cod. I had only fished the Cape one other time and decided to go with him. We had a ball, and I have to say I actually learned some things while fishing with Walt. I was reminded to be more patient. Often times, changing my fly wasn't the answer. Working it correctly was. Of course I ignored him and brought the tackle I thought was right for the job. In retrospect I wish I had listened to the voice of experience. I could see the several advantages his rod/line/reel combination provided, and the sum difference was night and day between my tackle and his. He knows how to do the job. And he is realistic. Many guides put too much pressure on a client, or are so annoying you want to throw them in halfway through the day. With Walt I just had a great time and walked away rewarded with a learning experience. Not only did he introduce me to a fishery I had never seen before, but I felt a little better about my "A" game. I can place Walt in a handful of fishermen that have made me better. I have quite a bit of Eastern Striper fishing experience, but Walt hooked and landed fish with me in ways that improved my overall catch ratio and he got me to focus not on the thousand plus flies I was carrying, but on the fish right in front of me. We went back a few more times last season, and I really loved fishing with Walt. So much so, that I just wrote Walt recently and asked if I could write this article on his web page.
Of course, I jumped at the chance to book Walt again, and secured him for a fall Salmon trip. This I thought would be right up my alley as I graduated from Oswego and know the fishery well. We enjoyed two great days of fishing and I was absolutely beaming with joy showing my friends the pictures of all the huge King Salmon I caught with Walt. Needless to say, I again learned a great deal. This time I listened to him and brought the exact tackle he suggested. And the flies too. And boy was I glad. I had an absolute ball while fishermen all around me were for the most part miserable. At one point, I cast a Chartreuse Steelhead Hammer into a feeding lane and a monstrous male King salmon slammed into it and shot across the river, jumping into the air and splashing two onlookers on the far bank. I ran after the fish, down the riverbanks and into and out of some rapids. I worked the fish to the bank and Walt netted it, what a pretty fish it was. We released it together and Walt gave me a high five and asked if I wanted to take a break. I didn't, and within minutes I was in the same spot and into a beautiful female fish. What fun! As I look back on the season, I almost don't believe all the fishing I did. But I have to say; several of the fondest highlights were with Walt. And a good deal of my learning came from days spent with him as well. I want to touch on why for a moment. I am skeptical of guides by nature. I don't know how many readers share this phobia.
I have always had a policy of endorsing only what I know works well. Things I believe in. Both as a person, and as a Fishing Manager with the Orvis Company. Long before I worked at Orvis I found Orvis equipment to be trustworthy and reliable. To me, those are the two best things I can say about Orvis. It was a natural fit for me to become an employee at Orvis. I am the type of person who wouldn't work for a company I didn't believe in. Being with Orvis now for several years has only deepened my respect for the company. Many things make Orvis a trusty and reliable company. But at the core are our Rods, and our Guides. We have the best guides on the planet earth. Period! In my opinion, Walt is in an elite class of guides. Why? It's very simple. He covers a tremendous range of territory in terms of where he fishes. He fishes constantly, day in and day out. He targets and catches big fish better than anyone I have ever met (and that is saying something by the way). And above all, his is exactly what you would want in a top-notch guide. He is fun to hang out with, he jokes around a little, and he helps an angler get better. A day with Walt is an investment in many more ways than one. How many fishermen can say they caught big Rainbow and Brown Trout, huge Stripers, big Blues, mean Cohos, prehistoric sized Kings, Steelhead and even lake run Brown trout (taken in a river) in a single season. This guy has quietly been doing this for over 35 years.
I honestly believe there is one thing that makes him the embodiment of what an Orvis Guide ought to be. He has fished so hard, for so long, that at this point in his life he gets more pleasure out of helping you catch a big fish than he would catching it himself. The challenge is greater than if he were to just go after a fish by himself. From time to time Walt made me feel like I was his rod. I most appreciated that he did it in a relaxed way that had plenty of room for me doing my own thing. He even let me goof up on occasion when I was determined to do something he knew of a better way to do. And his pride is genuine and written from ear to ear by his grin. If you want to get into some serious fun, I recommend the following course of action. Take a trout-fishing trip with him on the Deerfield. Go for stripers on Cape-Cod in the early fall. Go for Salmon/Steelhead/Browns in the mid to late fall. And finally, go for Steelhead in the spring. By the time you accomplish all these things, in a single season, you will look back and realize that you are a much better fisherman. What a wonderful education his services offer. Thanks for reading this friends and I am going to leave you with a final thought. I called my cousin Todd who lives in East Yellowstone Idaho and told him about my season over the holidays. I then emailed him some pictures. He called today to let me know he was coming for fall King Salmon fishing and to book Walt in advance. He is coming from a super fishery out there for a reason. He recognizes the magnificence of what we have right here. No one has ever really promoted it right, and I am confident things will remain marvelous for many years to come. And I have let you in on my little secret. It isn't the fisheries either. It's Walt Geryk.
Editors Note: Walt Geryk owns and operates Northeast Fly Fishing Guide Service based in Hatfield Massachusetts. He can be found teaching his skills to novice and advanced fly fishers on gems of Massachusetts throughout the trout season, During the summer months on the Massachusetts coast and once fall and winter arrive, look for Walt almost any day of the week chasing the monsters from the Great Lakes.
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