Writer’s Correction, posted Aug. 5:
Scott went from Chile to Argentina with Greg Henderson and Paul Cohen, fishing chocolate glacier melt. When Scott was with John Griber and Andrew McLean, they got back from skiing Antarctica, then chased giant brown trout from Ushuaia to the Rio Grande camping in Patagonia for four weeks.
Scott Flint is half trout bum and half gentleman. Where did he inherit such traits? From a week of instruction at the Clearwater Lodge Guide School. As Flint and I stood on “The Toilet Bowl” (the very first part of the East Walker River where it begins its descent at the controlled flows of the Bridgeport Reservoir through California and into Nevada), Scotty told me that within 15 minutes of attending the Clearwater Guide School, a few years back, he realized that he “needed to run to the store and buy a whole bunch of $80 shirts.” It’s that proper look which tells high paying clients that you are a profession, a gentleman of sorts, and a man of your trade. As a fly fishing guide, it’s the look Scott shines off brightly. “Most clients want that look in their guide. They are paying high end dollar —$400 for a day on water. Most of them expect professionalism.” Half trout bum, half gentleman. A golden pair of character traits. Flint arrived on the doorsteps of Clearwater Lodge with the reputation of trout bum. He left with neatly pressed Patagonia attire.
Going back several months, as I was out casting flies with “Powder Dan” Molnar one summer afternoon, I mentioned to Dan that I wanted to start writing a “People Who Fish” series, to bring a different perspective to the fishing tales of this small-town, world-class newspaper. Without hesitation, Dan instructed me to “Call Flint.” Several months, and countless trout later, that time finally came. I pulled up at the East Walker River one late afternoon to find Scott free to chat for two hours between his morning guide trip and commute back to his digs in Truckee. As he was rigging up his gear, he offered me a beer. I politely declined, continuing, “Drinking is the only thing that I ever quit which I was really, really good at.” He smiled, stating that he had to ask, and we walked to the river. Rod in his hand. Pen in mine.
Scotty started fishing at age 8 or 9 in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. He spent plenty of time with his grandfather in field and on stream, simply mentioning that his grandfather never bought his own meat, and that there was always meat to eat. Scott ended up in our part of the world for the first time for the winter of ’79 – ’80. I was four years old. He instructed skiing at Mammoth Mountain back in the days for a good seven years. In ’87, Scott calculated that he wanted to find more gainful employment, and he beelined it to Fontana where he worked as an aircraft electrician for two years with the U.S. Air Force, always feeling “really sad,” as he put it, that he was so far from the mountains. One winter day in ‘87, he showed up to Snow Summit to ski. His official reason for being present that day on the slopes was to attend a ski instructor tryout program. In his words, he just wanted to ski, and ended up AWOL from the group. Summit’s clinicians hunted him down, and took him under their wing as an instructor for two years, which led him to an even greater leap to Squaw Valley where he has spent every winter since ’89. He now directs the Masters Free-Ski Program at Squaw. For a ten year period, Flint spent his summers at Saddlebag Lake where he ran the boat taxi, trained for ultra-endurance runs, and “fished the loop.” Another “come for the winter, stay for the summer” story. A bit further north, Flint ended up learning how to fish and guide everything from Tahoe to Bishop. He has currently been with The Troutfitter for 13 years. The very day of this interview, he told me that he put his client on a brown trout “as large as your leg which was sipping four-inch perch the same way most trout sip mayflies.” I don’t doubt him. Scott figures that he spends about 200 days a year skiing and 200 days a year fishing. Living the dream, ‘cause that means 35 days a year, he is doing them both.
People who know Flint know that he has fished all over the world. A great story to hear is his adventures to the Seychelles, where he caught 50 different species of ocean fish in a week. He said it was like fishing an aquarium, as you dropped your flies off an underwater ledge, and you had no idea what you’d dial into. Big fish. Small fish. Colorful fish. He caught them all. Flint was told by the locals not to wade any deeper than your knees, unless you intended on becoming shark food. The trip included a stop in the United Arab Emirates where he got some turns in on the sticks on snow in an indoor ski area found inside a shopping mall. In the last six years, he has had about 15 international fly fishing trips. His favorite was a two-week trip scouting backcountry skiing terrain with world famous climbers Andrew McLean and John Griber. They spent two weeks on horseback crossing from Chile into Argentina, looking for ideal heli-skiing terrain. They rafted down the Rio Teneo in uncharted waters, and they uncovered virgin rivers to fish for trout, where the local fish have never seen an angler before. He got into 15-inch trout fishing 15 feet chocolate snowmelt water. Not as large as some of the monster browns he has caught over other parts of South America, but definitely an experience which will earn you an Eagle Scouts badge.
A bit closer to home, Flint spends a lot of his time on The East Walker River. This is the river which comes to my mind when Scott’s name is brought up in fishing conversations. The EW is a fishery that I am only truly beginning to understand. Flint paid his dues a few years back, spending four days a week in summer upon its waters to get to know it. He has no website for his guiding, but is booked on an almost daily basis. He readily shares that he gets along well with fellow East Walker River guides Scott Freeman and Andrew Sears. When I asked Scott to describe his work, he stated that he is not here to get people fish, rather to teach them how to fish. Scott doesn’t consider himself a “guide” rather a “fly fishing instructor.”
As Flint and I parted ways, he told me to give him a call to get on the water at some point, an opportunity that I am sure to take up soon. It’s like having Glen Plake ask you to take some turns with him. Flint knows his stuff. Before he left me on the East Walker to fish it alone, I told him that I was going to flick big Size-8 Crane Fly Larva. He told me it would work for sure. I didn’t nail quite as many trout as he did tossing his Orange BH Woolly Bugger, but, he was right. I landed fish. It was great fun being on the East Walker River that late afternoon. It was more fun listening to the stories of a seasoned fly fishing instructor of the Eastern Sierra.
Leonard guides for Kittredge Sports. Call 760.934.7566.
Photo courtesy Flint