Tag Archives: angler

The Gurus: Bob Rees

Guide, conservationist, fisheries advocate – there are many pieces to the subject of this month’s feature in our continuing series on all-around Northwest anglers.
By Andy Schneider

God, no, I’ve never looked back!”
So exclaims Bob Rees, the executive director of the  Association of Northwest Steelheaders, Northwest Oregon and Columbia River guide, and fish and fisheries advocate.
“Besides my gray hair, I’ve got no regrets,” he says. “I owe my entire life to salmon. The best lesson my dad ever taught me was to get a job you love. It’s been a wonderful journey, meeting some incredible people and having some incredible opportunities.”

IT’S THE LAUGHTER coming from Bob Rees’s boat that usually gets your attention. Rees has a way of trolling right up behind you without attracting much attention – that is, until the laughter breaks out. You glance back and see Rees standing at the tiller making minor adjustments to the motor, while leaning in and telling his clients something that sets them off laughing again. As you think to yourself that it’s good his clients are having so much fun but they must not be taking the fishing too seriously, someone hooks one almost on cue to a punchline of a joke just out of earshot and the entire boat erupts in uncontrollable laughter again.
Fish around Rees enough and you begin to see the pattern: This guy is having a good time, and it’s infectious to his clients.  At first encounter with Rees, you wonder if it’s just a show that he puts on to be a good businessman; no one could be that easygoing, quick-witted and fun all the time, could they? Well, I hate to break it to you, but yes, Rees is the real deal. He truly loves  what he’s doing and is glad to share his good fortune with pretty much everyone.
“People come out fishing to have a good time,” explains Rees. “And I can easily accommodate a group of folks looking to have an enjoyable time on the water. It actually makes my job pretty easy. Sure, I’ve been stuck on a sandbar or two – or three – but those are usually the highlights of the trip!”

GROWING UP, REES was lucky that a friend of his father’s was a good fisherman and willing to share his knowledge.
“No one in my family really fished, so when my dad’s friend Gerry Lake took me salmon fishing for the first time, I was pretty ecstatic. It was early September and I had just started eighth grade when Gerry took my dad and I fishing out of Astoria. It was one of those flat-calm days on the ocean and when the rod started bouncing up and down, Gerry told me to just keep my hands off it. It didn’t take long before that rod started bucking and I thought for sure it was going to break in half. But with Gerry’s advice I was able to land my very first salmon. We only caught three that day, but I couldn’t keep the lid on the fish box – I just wanted to look at them all day.”
With the flame kindled, Lake fanned Rees’s fishing passion by taking him down to Diamond Lake fishing many times.
“He was my hero. Gerry was my gateway to sport fishing in Oregon, there’s no doubt about that. I now take his four daughters fishing on a regular basis; they participate in the Buoy 10 Challenge every year. Even though Gerry has passed away, it’s evident that he made a strong connection to fishing with his daughters and me.”
Rees believes that it’s extremely important to pass on your knowledge and passion for fishing to the next generation, whether you have children or not.

Rees credits Gerry Lake, a friend of his father’s, for getting him into fishing when he was in eighth grade and fueling his passion for the sport (BOB REES)

Rees credits Gerry Lake, a friend of his father’s, for getting him into fishing when he was in eighth grade and fueling his passion for the sport (BOB REES)

“If parents don’t support that passion, that energy is going to go somewhere else, and not necessarily good,” he says.
When we talked in late February, Rees had just wrapped up a  new two-day event put on by the Steelheaders. Called Family Fish Camp, it was held near Rockaway Beach for families wanting to find out more about the sport, or if they’re already anglers, how to refine their skills.
“We had over 100 anglers and 30 volunteers in attendance –  not too bad for our first year,” says Rees. “Saturday was some classes and then fishing for trout. Sunday was trout fishing, breakfast and then more trout fishing. Everyone really liked being able to go out and catch some fish.”
“One of the great moments of the camp for me was watching a 12-year-old, who incidentally has caught way more steelhead than me this season – way more. Anyway, he really wanted to help other kids catch fish. It was pretty neat watching this young angler in action and already passing on his knowledge.”
By building the next generation of anglers, Rees believes you also recruit the advocates who are going to fight for the future of our fish.
“We didn’t know where to start, so Family Fish Camp was a start,” he says. “And it turned out great – the thirst is definitely there. Sometimes parents just don’t have the time to invest in learning  a new hobby. We hope we can jumpstart everyone’s passion and create future foot solders for salmon advocacy.”

REES’S INTEREST IN fish increased in high school, when he contemplated running a guide business from shore. But he really got serious when he entered college and got his fisheries degree.
Shortly after graduating he got a job as an Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife fish checker in Astoria.
“I started meeting guides and talking with them and realized that was the direction I wanted to go. I never thought I was going to be rich enough to be able to buy a boat – thank goodness for credit!”
“I’ve since graduated towards fish advocacy and it’s been the exclamation point on my career. Working for the Northwest Steelheaders  has been great and I’ve got a very understanding board of directors that still allows me to guide (northwestguides.com). I wake up pretty excited everyday to go to work and get a chance to work on some challenging issues. Northwest Steelheaders is 56 years old and stronger than ever before. I’m really excited about the direction we are heading.”
His career so far has provided some very rewarding moments.
“The most memorable fishing trip was when I took Governor Kitzhaber fishing in Tillamook Bay, October 23rd, 2002. The governor was considering closing salmon hatcheries due to budget cuts and deferred maintenance costs. That day the governor got his limit of salmon, one even being a hatchery fish. The day perfectly demonstrated how much local communities depend on commerce that comes from having salmon to catch in our oceans, bays and rivers.”
“Oh, and it was my very first freshwater double on salmon – that made it pretty memorable too.”

Rees is very active in fish and conservation issues, not only as the executive director of the Association of Northwest Steelheaders and holding a Family Fish Camp this past winter, but helping out at the Northwest Sportfishing Industry Association’s annual Buoy 10 derby, which raises funds to advocate for fish and fisheries. (BRIAN LULL)

Rees is very active in fish and conservation issues, not only as the executive director of the Association of Northwest Steelheaders and holding a Family Fish Camp this past winter, but helping out at the Northwest Sportfishing Industry Association’s annual Buoy 10 derby, which raises funds to advocate for fish and fisheries. (BRIAN LULL)

But even more important than standout days is the graduation of fishermen Rees has seen over the years.
“Anglers who I took out fishing for the first time caught the bug, then started buying their own boats and now show up at meetings fighting for salmon restoration. Looking back, you see this change in folks from not just being a consumer of the resource, but a steward. That is one of the most rewarding things to have seen in my career.”
Still, there’s work to do, and Rees is willing to do it.
“As humans, we truly don’t know what is possible. We thought  that a human couldn’t run a 4-minute mile, but we are doing it. We never thought we would see salmon runs top 1 million fish, but  we’re doing it. How many fish is our ecosystem currently capable  of holding? Can we have 2 million fish this next fall? I think our next big step will be seeing a 12-month consumptive Chinook fishery on the Columbia – is it possible? I landed my first triple just this last fall. With good fishing like we’ve had, it feels like we are making progress. Oh, and let me tell ya’, a triple sure helps get a six-fish limit in a hurry!”
As much as he enjoys battling for the resource for all of us, fighting fish is just as important to Rees.
“I’m heading to the Wilson tomorrow to see if I can enjoy some of the great run we’ve been having. Work has been busy this winter and I haven’t been too disappointed missing the steelhead season so far, but I’m really looking forward to tomorrow.”
We all should be with angler-conservationists like Bob Rees  working for the fish and fishing opportunities. NS

Bob Rees, here with “Salmon” Sue Cody of The Daily Astorian and a Buoy 10 Chinook, says fish advocacy has been “the exclamation point on my career.” (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

Bob Rees, here with “Salmon” Sue Cody of The Daily Astorian and a Buoy 10 Chinook, says fish advocacy has been “the exclamation point on my career.” (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

Jack Glass holding a large fish

The Gurus: Jack Glass

Our series on some of the best all-around Northwest salmon and steelhead anglers continues with guide from the Sandy.

By Andy Schneider

“When I first started guiding, I was almost always the youngest person in the boat,” remembers Jack Glass. “But now, I’m routinely the oldest person onboard – not always mind you, not always …”

His name is among the most recognizable in the Northwest fishing world, among those so frequently associated with our waters that they become part of the angling environment and experience. You begin to look for these anglers when you are on certain rivers and find reassurance when you encounter them. While success rates may differ dramatically, just knowing they’re sharing the same water as you gives you the confidence that you made the right decision on where to fish.

Jack Glass holding a large fish

Few anglers know the Sandy River better than Jack Glass, who began fishing the Oregon tributary in 1964 with his father, from whom he inherited an old sled and the idea of going into guiding. (HOOKUPGUIDESERVICE.COM)

Glass has been a recognizable figure on the Sandy River almost since he first started fishing it 52 years ago. But his recognition isn’t limited to just this small Oregon tributary of the Columbia River. With his trademark mustache and often wearing a black cowboy hat, he’s known from Astoria to the Siletz and many waters in-between. But Glass didn’t become a figurehead of good river etiquette, stewardship and providing quality fishing experiences overnight. His constant presence on the river, involvement with resource managers and willingness to share his knowledge has earned him status among the elite. It began when he caught his first steelhead.

“I WAS FISHING the Sandy at Gordon Creek back in 1964 with my father. I remember my father telling me how the channel had changed after the big Christmas flood and we were fishing in a completely new channel. I was using an Okie Drifter and a double-hook rig with a nightcrawler. Back then, it was either nightcrawlers or eggs, but as the water warmed up in March, those fish ate those nightcrawlers really well. That was all my Dad used back then, either nightcrawlers or eggs, and I just so happened to be using a nightcrawler that day. I’ll never forget this fish, it was 14 to 15 pounds, just a big beautiful fish. While they had hatchery fish back then, they didn’t clip them like they do now. But you could tell that by the size of this fish, it was a native, just a perfect specimen.”

Growing up, Glass went to Reynolds High School in Troutdale, played sports and was just like most kids. But unlike a lot of his classmates, Glass got a lot more opportunities to go fishing. His dad took him on trips to the Deschutes, Clackamas and Sandy just about every weekend.

“We were primarily shore fishermen, even though we had a drift boat. In 1967, when I was 10, my Dad built a sled. We would launch it at Lewis and Clark Park on the Sandy, when there wasn’t much of a boat ramp there at all. But rarely would we fish out of the boat; we would just use the boat for transportation. We would anchor the boat and fish from shore or fish standing in the boat. It was all casting and drift fishing back then.”

“One time my Dad and I were fishing on the Clackamas River. We were standing on shore, like we usually did, and looked downriver and saw this boat out in the middle of the river. And he’s catching fish, one right after the other. We were wondering what the heck he was doing. My Dad said that he thought it was Jim Conway in one of those fancy new aluminum sleds. It looked like he was running some sort of plug out in the middle of the river. My dad and I had never seen that technique before. My dad went down there and talked to Jim and he showed us these Hot Shots he was using. That night, we went to Fosters Sporting Goods and bought a bunch of new Hot Shots. We fished them a couple of times, but we didn’t catch anything on them, so Dad lost confidence in them and we just decided to keep drift fishing like always. Then one day, we were anchored up in shallow water eating lunch and I decided to hang one out the back of the boat and I catch one! And I realize they actually did work!”

“ONE DAY DAD and I were thinking how cool it would be to live on the water and be a fishing guide. So my father got his guide’s license in ’67 and he maintained it through 1975, when he moved to back to Texas where he was born and raised. But I stayed here because I was so passionate about fishing and continued fishing just as much. I got a job and worked for the next eight years, then I decided to quit and became a fishing guide. With Dad’s old sled, an aluminum drift boat and a wife who thought I was nuts, I was going to try and make a living doing this. But my wife (Shelley) still wasn’t onboard with the plan, so we had to do some marriage counseling classes. Our counselor liked to fish and told her to let me try it for one year. If it doesn’t work, then we could go back to what we were doing. Next thing I know, it’s five years later and I’m as busy as I could be. Add two kids to the mix and I felt I was pretty fortunate.”

Jack Glass and a young man with a fish

Glass isn’t content just helping clients harvest the resource – he’s also active in river stewardship and represents sportfishing interests too. (HOOKUPGUIDESERVICE.COM)

“I made the Sandy as my home river and made my reputation on it. I saw Bob Toman do it on the Clackamas; he was highly visible and well known, running four people in the morning and four people in the afternoon. So I tried to match his success over here on the Sandy. Soon I realized that a lot of my clients were making more money than I was. Anyone who gets into this business thinking they are going to make a ton of money, think again. It takes a passion to stay with it. But you have got to admit that it’s a pretty low stress occupation, if you let it be. You see some folks take it a little too seriously out on the water, getting into conflicts with other anglers. But there is no need for that; there is room for everybody to enjoy the resource. And that has always been my message, I want everyone to enjoy the waterways as much as I do.”

To this day, Glass’s enthusiasm is still strong. Even after spending a long day on the water with clients, his passion for showing anglers the bounty that these Northwest waters can provide is evident. It’s not very frequently when someone is lucky enough to make a living doing what they love and keep loving it so many years later. It’s hard to imagine Glass doing anything else in life, as he seems so at ease on the water.

As steelhead season transitioned to spring Chinook, Glass remembers some of his first springer seasons on the Sandy.

“In 1982 and ’83, the Sandy had a really good spring Chinook run. I was on the water a lot, back-trolling, back-bouncing and running plugs. They were releasing almost 500,000 spring Chinook smolts at that time, creating a real robust run, which only seemed to get better and better, with our peak year around 2004. I think that year we had a return of around 14,000, which was a huge return. That year, I remember seeing schools of spring Chinook moving upriver. It was those years of good runs that really built my reputation on the Sandy. It didn’t hurt that when I first started guiding on the Sandy for spring Chinook that we had a lot of summer steelhead at the time. So no matter if salmon fishing was slow that day, we would always be able to catch a summer-run or two.”

MAKING A CAREER as a fishing guide takes a lot of work throughout your career. It’s not something that comes easy. It takes being able to manage money, a good personality, marketing strategy and – of course – good angling skills. Then it takes lots of work and perseverance to keep successful as a entrepreneur for over 30 years.

While Glass has all of these attributes, his passion and enthusiasm for the sport is often his most memorable trademarks. And as he looks to the future, he is still enthused about the direction angling is going.

“I’m still exited about the fisheries. Just like this year’s winter steelhead run, it’s been amazing. I don’t remember anything special three years ago about the spring run-off – pretty average. But this year’s run has been anything but average. Why did all the stars line up for this great season? Whatever happened, it should lead to another great season next year. I’m pretty optimistic the Columbia is going to maintain good fishing. Management practices have improved and restoration efforts have made a difference. I’m really optimistic about the future, as long as we don’t have any sort of catastrophic events, I think we are going to see good runs and good fisheries around for some time.”

Jack Glass speaking at a trade show

In addition to salmon and steelhead, Glass is one of those rare guides who also targets walleye and bass, and he often speaks at meetings and seminars, including the Pacific Northwest Sportsmen’s Show last month in Portland. (O’LOUGHLIN TRADE SHOWS)

Glass looks at he and son Brandon’s guide service, Team Hook Up, not only as a business and but as a way to create future stewards of the rivers. If you’ve ever talked to the Glasses on the river, at a Steelheader’s meeting or at a Sportsman Show, where they’re regular seminar speakers, you know how approachable and willing to share information they are.

“Anyone can get out and enjoy the resource. If Brandon and I can help improve techniques and tactics for anglers so they can be more successful, well, we have done what we set out to do. We are real advocates for getting the younger generations out; they are the future of our resources. It’s important to get them involved, be patient with them and get them excited for our resources.”

Spending time on the water with friends and family is something pretty special. Many of us are out there so often that we forget how much of a novelty it can be for the majority of Northwest residents and how much they appreciate someone taking the time to take them into the outdoors. As our lives get busy, school activities become overwhelming and work drama gets consuming, we lose track of how important it is to take a step back and take the next generation of anglers to the rivers and show them what healing powers they can provide. Taking the time and being patient enough to teach them is not only is rewarding, but a way to ensure that the sport will survive for generations to come.

“I’ve had a lot of great moments over the year guiding, so many in fact it’s impossible to single out any one day or time on the river,” says Glass. “But I’ve fished with so many great folks over the years, and now some of them are gone. I’ve been to several funerals where there were pictures of me and that individual in the service or at the wake. It took me a while to realize that I was providing one of the greatest moments and a true highlight of this person’s life. I don’t ever want to forget that, that I made such a memorable impact in someone’s life.”