Middle Fork Salmon River Fishing Guides
The most important part of any Frank Church Wilderness river trips is the guides.
The hiring and employing of our Salmon River Fishing Guides is the most important thing we do to ensure a quality and meaningful experience. Solitude’s guides are experienced, happy, clean, and well-compensated service professionals.
Our excellent staff of guides work hard to ensure that our guests receive luxurious accommodations in the middle of the Frank Church Wilderness, prompt and enthusiastic service, spectacular food, and overall comfort while on our river trips.
Adam is from Maine (which he insists grows the world’s best potatoes) and has guided fishing and big game hunting in Idaho, Oregon, Colorado, and Montana. In the winter he drives a snow cat for Whitefish Mountain Resort. Adam enjoys downhill skiing, touring the backcountry, pursuing mountain lions, elk, and deer, and taking river trips with his family (which consists of 2 dogs, 9 chickens, and a lovely girlfriend).
“I got a small taste of what guiding was like, and never looked back.”
Roger has guided the Grand Canyon, the North Umpqua, and is now settled on the Middle Fork. Roger received a BS in Environmental Studies from University of Oregon and an MS in Deaf Education from Western Oregon University. During the off-season, he teaches deaf and hard-of-hearing students in Eugene.
“Wilderness is key. I like guiding because I get to show people my favorite spots on the surface of the earth.”
Jon Barker started guiding multi day trips in Idaho in 1980. He has been guiding Idaho River for 40 years! He’s worked on rivers in Africa (Zambezi) Peru, Chile, Costa Rica, Grand Canyon, and all Idaho Wilderness rivers. He has done exploratory kayaking around the world, although his lifelong dedication is to outfitting river trips and canyoneering trips on the desert rivers of southern Idaho (Jarbidge, Bruneau, and Owyhee Rivers). Barker is also one of the most acclaimed trophy Bighorn Sheep hunting guides in North America. He’s very involved in Bighorn Sheep conservation and re-introduction issues across the American west. For further information about Jon Barker, read the fascinating book “Anything Worth Doing” by Jo Deurbrouck.
“You make a special bond with the river every time you run it,” Charles says. “Every trip is different, and I am never bored of looking at some of the most beautiful country in Idaho.”
Charles is a native of Salmon, Idaho, and is currently finishing his degree in Biology and K-12 Physical Education at the University of Montana Western. When he’s not on the river or in class, Charles loves spending time on his family’s ranch at Poison Creek, Idaho.
“I love seeing little kids grow up and come back with their own kids”
Dano is a 4th generation Idaho boy; his family came to Idaho as pioneer settlers. One Great Grandfather, James Hawley, was the federal territorial prosecutor, and another one, Daniel Harrington, was a well-known frontier guide and Indian fighter. He’s been guiding since 1972, and in the winter he is a heli-ski guide at Sun Valley Heli and does avalanche control work.
This will be Bill’s 13th year on the Middle Fork, but having grown up along the Salmon and Lemhi rivers, he has been boating since he was 10. Bill’s grandfather, Walt, was a celebrated whitewater kayaker – and even helped create the sport. Bill is a graduate of Boise State University, and enjoys kayaking, rafting, steelhead fishing, playing hockey, and snowboarding when he’s not on the oars.
“My father liked to brag that he wouldn’t honor my high school diploma unless I could get him from Paradise to Leaburg Lake on the Mackenzie without getting any water in the boat.”
Mike grew up along Oregon’s Mckenzie river, the birthplace of the Western river drift boat., and built his first boat at age 11. When he’s not on the Middle Fork, he runs WyEast Expeditions, which leads school field trips; he takes nearly 2000 kids out each year. He first floated the Middle Fork in 1977, and has been back ever since.
“I started guiding in 2012. The wilderness is an amazing place because it gives you the freedom to make what you will of it. Ideally I spend my free time finding ways to access off the beaten path chunks of public land with my girlfriend and dog. More often than not though, I can usually be found coming up with new creative ways to break and subsequently fix my snowblower. My stomping grounds are central Idaho and the pacific coast. My wandering lifestyle wouldn’t have the same value if I didn’t have a home and family to come back to in McCall Idaho.”
Jon started working for a fly fishing and rafting company when he was 16, and started guiding whitewater day trips in Colorado when he turned 18. After graduating from Colorado State University he moved back to Idaho to work multi day trips on big volume rivers. In the fall after the Middle Fork season, Jon enjoys fishing for steelhead in his hometown of Riggins, Idaho. During the winter months he operates an international travel company, Inbody Expeditions, leading treks and trips to Peru and Nepal. In the spring he returns to Idaho to xplore and adventure on wild rivers during their high water and flood stages before heading back to the Middle Fork for another fun-filled season of guiding.
“I appreciate the chance to unplug from our technology laden lives and escape the stresses of our daily lives. Going into the wilderness allows us the rare opportunity to slow down and re-connect back to Mother Nature. This is a place where observing the beauty of the canyon or listening silently to the water running over the rocks takes precedence over answering an email or responding to your text messages.
“One of my favorite aspects of the Middle Fork of the Salmon (a common statement for me) is the opportunity we get to float through so many diverse ecosystems. Starting at about 6,000 feet we put on in the high elevation Lodgepole Pine forests. Up here the river appears to be a small mountain stream and in some places it does not seem possible to get our boats through (although we always find a way). Dropping 3,000 feet in 100 miles we get to experience a natural shift from the high elevation environments into high desert ecosystems with massive Ponderosa Pine stands, fragrant sagebrush bushes all the while downcutting through some of the largest rock mass exposed in the United States. The diversity everyday is truly incredible.
“This diversity also exists in the river herself. Spending 6 days fishing these wild Cutthroat waters we fish a wide variety of river structures from wide open freestone cobble to beautiful pocket water to deep meandering pools. Everyday there is different water to fish and different scenery to appreciate as we float down the canyon.
“I have been exploring rivers throughout the world for most of life. From navigating uncharted waters on first descents in many countries around the world to hooking a wild Cutthroat trout or Steelhead in Idaho, the rivers of the world have become a part of me. Studying Natural Resources Management in college, then working for the US Department of Agriculture for a number of years, I always knew I wanted to give back to these incredible places that have given me so much. I told myself I would work wherever I needed to protect these places that have become a part of me. I found that work (and continue to find it) in guiding. Everyday pushing off into the waters of the Middle Fork of the Salmon I get an opportunity to connect you to one of my favorite places in the world. Through fishing, running rapids, hiking, and talking about the natural and human history of the canyon, my goal each day is create an unforgettable experience that connects you this special place. By fostering your connection every day, by the end of your trip I hope that you feel the same way many of us do…that this river canyon is one of the most incredible places in the world and it worth coming back to experience again and again with your friends and family.”
Patrick began guiding in 1996 on the day section of the headwaters of the Salmon River in Stanley Idaho. When he’s not guiding on the Middle Fork he steelhead fishing on the main Salmon River, traveling, kayaking, rafting with friends, designing and sewing river gear, and producing artwork.
“I first experienced wilderness when I moved to Idaho in 1992 and started working for the Forest Service on a smoke chaser crew. The following year I worked with the Moose Creek ranger district’s trail construction and maintenance crew. My first day on the job I entered the Frank Church Wilderness area for the first time. The entire time I was astonished by the vastness. The feeling of self reliance and confidence was beyond anything I had seen or experienced before. There was also a calming sensation that I experienced that cleared my mind of chatter. Those feelings, that vast expanse of nature and the characters that introduced me to it all brought me to love and respect Wilderness.
“The second season I worked with the same crew. We started the season by clearing the Selway River Trail into the Moose Creek guard station and airstrip. Trail maintenance is a dirty, hot job, and after seeing rafting groups go by that looked clean, cool and refreshed, I inquired the following season, trained and began guiding the following year. As soon as I started guiding I was able to experience the Middle Fork of the Salmon River as a fill-in for dead heads. It was a particularly long, low water season and full time guides were looking for a day off from rafting. So the outfitter would pay us in a small amount of food and a free flight back to Stanley, for the experience of rowing the top of the Middle Fork. I went as many times as I could until I did my first private trip down the entire length of the river. From that point on my goal was to become a guide on this amazing river. I’ve been on many rivers throughout North and South America and the one and only that I have continually come back to every single year since that first trip is The Middle Fork of the Salmon.”
1n 1998, Shane began “swamping” and rowing baggage boats on the Main Salmon. He got his guiding license when he turned 18 in 2000. He’s been guiding on the Middle Fork since 2003. When he’s not guiding, Shane spends every second he can with his son Zane, born in 2011. His partner in crime, Kelsey, and her son Jaxson, compelte their little family and his focus is all about family and alpine skiing in the off-season. He has a B.S. in Civil Engineering from the University of Idaho, with minors in Mathematics and Outdoor Recreation Leadership. He is currently pursuing an Associate’s Degree in Paramedic Science, in hopes of forming a new career that can mesh with guiding.
“From that first trip, Wilderness had me captured. I grew up farming, and this new wonderful experience left a lasting impression that would guide many of my choices for nearly 20 years. I love the raw nature of Wilderness, a sort of existential allure. It’s not all rows and routine, like on the Palouse wheat farm I grew up with. This river thing was something familiar, small tight-knit crews working together in a blue-collar fashion; yet completely different. I explicitly remember the vivid stars and the black night, having left the strongest impression on my youthful psyche during that first trip. It was adventure I had never known, and it would cause me to seek many more mountain adventures throughout my tenure.”
Casey was raised in Idaho and received a B.S. in Fisheries & Wildlife Management from Montana State University. He took the long way around in school, also working summers and falls as a Wildland Firefighter on the Lolo Hotshots and as a Fisheries Technician in the Lemhi Valley. He began guiding in Idaho in 2014 and lives in Salmon, Idaho with his girlfriend Emerald and dog Hank. In his free time, he likes to backpack alpine lakes and fish.
Lexi began her guiding career in experiential education while attending Boise State University. She feels lucky to have spent time on Wild and Scenic rivers all around Idaho, Utah, Arizona, Ecuador and Costa Rica. She’s been guiding on the Middle Fork of the Salmon for seven years. When she’s not guiding or on a personal trip, she teaches Wilderness Medicine courses and works in an Emergency Department in Salmon, Idaho. When not working or on a personal river trip, I like to spend my time skiing, playing hockey and soaking in one of Idaho’s many super secret hot springs. She holds a B.S. in Exercise Physiology as well as certifications in EMT, W-EMT, Swift Water Rescue, Orvis Endorsed Guide, and Mid-Stream Geologist ;).
“Snorkeling the crystal clear waters and sleeping under the endless starry sky of the Frank Church Wilderness is an unforgettable experience.”
Mike “Hicksy” Hicks
“I like the wilderness because of its wild beauty. It’s a place we can’t stay long. Floating through the wilderness is special because it allows us quick access while maintaining a low impact. What’s so great about the Middle Fork and Idaho Wilderness to me is that they are still wild and unchanged. There are so few places like this left.”
Hicksy started his guiding career in 1996. He moved to Riggins Idaho on the Main Salmon to assist a friend in the day to day operations of a small family-owned rafting and steelhead fishing business that was just starting up. When he’s not on the Middle Fork he enjoys floating and fishing on the lower Salmon River. During the winter, he spends time with his wife snow skiing and ice skating on the lake when the conditions are right. Floating just about any river rides high on Hicksy’s list of fun activities when he’s not guiding on the Middle Fork.
James started rafting and kayaking as a photographer in 1982 in the Sierra Nevada Mountains in California. He started guiding in 1998. Wilderness is a refuge for James, a place that makes sense. It’s home, he says.
James values the Middle Fork for its remote, pristine and undammed qualities and says “it’s one of my favorite places on the planet!”. He loves the Native American history and wildlife throughout the Middle Fork corridor. James enjoys living like the river, endlessly driven and just getting by, always connected to your source and finish; or “Riven Livin” as described by James Snyder. In the winter he lives in Jackson Hole teaching skiing, and in the Spring he spends time surfing, fishing and lounging in Baja, Mexico.
Chuck Hansen & Zeke Smith
Experienced Solitude “guest guides”
Brooke & Huck