In 2007, he went full-time as a guide.
“My business has grown every year since,’’ he said. “Last year, I did 133 days on the water. This year I’ll do that or more. In fall, I do a lot of guiding for muskies, using fly rods. But most of the year, it’s smallmouth bass we’re after.
“The way I see it, when God invented smallies, he invented fly rods the same day.’’
• • •
Greg is a longtime client of Kip’s.
The two have chased smallies in the Mississippi River from Brainerd to the Twin Cities, as well on the Upper St. Croix, the Rum and various other rivers that braid through the state.
Enchanted by the West, where he has long fished for trout in cold-flowing rivers, Greg, of St. Paul, says he feels no less at home throwing big bug imitations to warm waters.
A fish taking his fly is a fish taking his fly, after all. And smallmouth bass need apologize to no fish for the fight they offer once hooked.
“I try to get as many days on the water with Kip as I can,” Greg said. “I think I was out with him 10 times last year. And last fall he got me into muskie fishing with a fly. I didn’t get one. But I got close.”
Added Greg: “I’ve told Kip many times that when you’re on the Minnesota rivers we fish, except for the lack of mountains, in appearance there’s often not much difference between them and rivers out west.’’
Certainly the stretch of water Kip, Greg and I fished Tuesday appeared at times quite wilderness-like.
Granted, from Boom Island to the Upper St. Anthony lock, we couldn’t forget we were in the city. But even there, pieces of shoreline we cast to could have been mistaken for those that line the Upper St. Croix near Grantsburg, Wis., or even the Beaverhead in Montana.
Our first fish suckered to my fly. This was an energy-charged smallmouth that gobbled my popper enthusiastically, hooked along a piece of shoreline supported by rip-rap, or rock — ideal habitat, as Kip said, for smallies.
Soon Greg had a fish of his own, and another still.
Casting continually, we passed through downtown with its frenzied noontime pace. As we did, I recalled that some years ago I was invited to fly fish in New York City, off Manhattan, for blues, stripers and false albacore.
The trip fell through.
But on Tuesday while casting from a drift boat in downtown Minneapolis, on a day when scudding clouds splashed white against a cobalt sky, I thought: New York City couldn’t have been better than this.
Approaching and passing through the Upper St. Anthony Lock, we cast and cast some more, before entering and leaving, sequentially, the Lower St. Anthony and Ford Dam locks.