One look at Big Dave Manners, and you know you…
We first heard about Dustin Stansbury and his Down to Fish Guide Service when Rod bought a guided fishing trip at a charity auction in St. Helens, Oregon.
“Who is this kid?” I asked Rod. “What do you know about his guiding skills?”
“All I know is, he works out of Rainier and St. Helens,” said Rod. “He’s trying to get his business started. Wants to take us to Bouy 10 on the Columbia.”
Oh great, I thought. A rookie, taking us out on big, dangerous water. But a guided fishing trip is a guided fishing trip. I started packing.
We met Dustin and his boat at the Astoria launch around 5:30. That’s a.m.
Dustin was punctual, waiting for us with his boat clean and orderly and gear stowed neatly. We were sailing across the Columbia River well before dawn, ahead of the Bouy 10 crowds and mayhem.
There were four of us in the boat. Dustin had us all of us rigged, baited and fishing before we could pour a cup of coffee.
And we started catching coho salmon. Within an hour, we had four or five hook-ups with two fish in the boat. The growing armada around us seemed very quiet in comparison.
As we fished, Dustin was on his phone with other guides in the area, getting and sharing info. This is the new generation of guides, connected by cell phones and texts. I remember the days of the guide barking at a scratchy radio, or yelling across the water.
When Dustin wasn’t on the phone, he was changing our bait to make sure it was fresh and spinning in the most enticing way. “It’s the little things,” he said.
The bite subsided mid-morning, giving us a chance to learn a bit more about this young guide who was working his butt off to get us into fish. He was just getting started, he said, admitting that we were one of his first gigs. He lived in St. Helens with his wife and two kids, and he worked for Beaverton School District. He guides on weekends and vacation days, and also indulges his other passion, bowhunting in the fall.
So when does he find time to spend with his family?
“Fortunately,” he said, “my wife and kids like to hunt and fish.”