Barrett Ames

Years Fishing?


Years Guiding?


Who introduced you to fly fishing?

My Father got the ball rolling, but I pretty well taught myself to cast and fish when I was 10.

Can you tell us a little about your home waters and the fish you pursue there?

My home waters change drastically throughout the year, from winter steelhead on the clackamas river and the North Coast steelhead streams, to Summer steelhead on the Deschuttes. Mid summer, before the best of the season on the Deschuttes is spent offshore (30+ miles) looking for albacore tuna, both commercially (hook and line) and charters.

What's the height of the season for you? What time of year is your personal favorite?

The busiest stretch of the season is mid september through October. This is an almost solid period of running camp trips on the Deschuttes, with the only days off the water because of regulations on camping. February and March are the height of the winter steelhead season and my favorite time of year. Summer steelhead are great, but winter fishing is much more intense and addicting... The albacore season (july/august/early sept) is a grind with looong days on the water. The fishing can be spectacular, but it's more about the adventure of running way off shore and never knowing what you're going to see.

What are your favorite travel destinations? What's on the bucket list?

I was lucky enough to spend 13 weeks guiding in Kamchatka on the Ozernaya river.... I can't imagine there is better trout fishing than I saw there anywhere in the world. Would go back in a heartbeat! Having lived in the FL keys for a number of years, I always love to visit there too. Late spring (april/may/june) brings great potential for tarpon and permit inshore, as well as mahi mahi, sailfish, and blackfin tuna offshore. There are more varied fishing options in the keys than anywhere else I've been. Bucket list places are tough for me... most of the time if I could be anywhere at any time it would be right here on the oregon coast in march on a rainy day. However, the atlantic salmon streams of Iceland, Norway, and Russia would be at the top of my list of new places to swing a fly.

What you like most about Thomas and Thomas rods? Which rods do you fish?

The made in america pride that you can just see in every thomas and thomas rod. It's hard to look at a T&T and put your finger on just why, but they just look more handsome and proper than any other rod out there. As a new pro staffer, I admittedly don't have as much time with T&T rods as I would like to (and will shortly!). I have a sneaky feeling that it is going to be very hard to get the 1266 DNA out of my hands...

What's your current go-to fly?

Winter steelhead: simple marabou tupe fly, weightless, black or purple summer steelhead: muddler of course Albacore: rabbit strip surf candy, although the game-changer is starting to compete for top honors.

Other than fly tackle, what piece of gear do you find indispensable?

A good pair of sunglasses!

My favorite thing about guiding is:

The people and the places... There are a lot of good fisherman out there, but if you don't like to be around people and share what you love about fishing, you're going to be a very mediocre guide. I've fished all over the place, and many different ways (not all fly fishing). What has brought me back full time to guiding fly fishing is the people. The respect and enjoyment for the places we get to fish is (on average) so much higher with this group of fisherman, that it's really the only type of guiding I want to do.

From the angler’s point of view, what do you see as the main value of going on a guided trip?

Just getting to and seeing water that is off the beaten path. It can be hard as a roadside angler or a travelling angler to get away from crowds and to areas actually holding fish (especially anadromous fish). There are the obvious things as well, like improving casting and fishing techniques, but to me this goes without saying. I strive in my guiding to show people the best experience, which often means going farther and working harder to get more solitude. This doesn't even always equate to the highest odds of hooking up, but has a higher likelihood of a good day on the water and happy clients (that want to come back!). This is what it's all about.

What can new fisherman expect to get out of a guided trip? My favorite thing to teach a client is ...

...that if you're not happy in a day without catching a fish, you probably wouldn't have been happy with one. I really just like to show people how to enjoy the entire process of fishing, with as little emphasis on catching a fish as possible. Obviously it's the goal, and personally I'm not satisfied with myself without a fish or two (steelheading), but that's not how I want people to portray the fly fishing. I hope every new fisherman gets a deeper understanding of what is actually going on around them while they are fishing with a guide. This goes into the river and fish history and seasons, so that they really know what they have done when they do catch a fish.... what it really means.

What's your ideal lunch when on the water? What do you actually pack?

I like to go big on lunch! This changes depending on the water craft I'm in, but my favorite shore lunches are during the winter jet boat season. With the jet boat I am able to carry a grill and full cooler. Grilled pork chop or burgers with mashed potatoes and a side salad goes a long way on a cold day of wading. Also an essential tool to my guiding is an Aero Press coffee maker and jet boil. Sometimes forcing people to take a break long enough to have a cup of coffee and settle/slow down is all it takes to improve casting and lead to success...

What fly fishing blogs/magazines do you read regularly?

Admittedly, I stay off the blogs/chat rooms as much as possible. I do pick up the drake magazine when i come across it, and can't help but check out the photography and videos on Catch magazine.

When I'm not fishing you'll find me:

hiking with my fiance and puppy, or having a beer with them!

  • Barrett Ames
  • Barrett Ames
  • Barrett Ames
  • Barrett Ames