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Fly Fishing Guides on Manistee River - Wellston Michigan

Schmidt Outfitters has five full time fly fishing-only guides and provides professional fly fishing guide services on many famous Michigan rivers and streams, including the Manistee River, Big Manistee, Little Manistee, Upper Manistee, Pine River, Pere Marquette River, and more. We have operated our guide service full time since 1976.

Many anglers and guides forge relationships that last for their entire lives, sometimes the relationship is even passed from one generation to another. Why? Many believe that once the relationship is bonded, there is a special confidence that develops between the two. The angler is certain that “his" or "her" guide is simply the best and no other will do. A certain sense of familiarity exists in knowing what each other is thinking and the harmony is sometimes uncanny. This can be the way the guide moves or stops the boat, a special movement of the oars when the guide approaches a favorite spot, the increased anxiety when a “big one” is with-in range. The client just knows.

Guiding anglers is a proud profession and no one takes the job more seriously than the guide, wanting nothing more than his or her client to have enjoyed the day pursuing the fish of their dreams. At Schmidt’s we take our job as fishing guides very seriously, we want nothing more than your satisfaction.

The Guides


John Gouker

John lives in Irons, Michigan with his wife Chasity, his son Ajae, and Chesapeake Bay retriever, Baylor.

He is a lifetime angler, a professional fly fishing guide, fly tyer, and instructor in our fly fishing schools.

John enjoys chasing all types of cold and warm water species, from trout to smallmouth. He specializes in walk or float trips on the Little Manistee River and kayak-fishing the backwaters.

John fished extensively in his native Nevada, as well as northern California, Oregon, and Vancouver Island (British Columbia.) He has also travelled to fish the Patagonia region in Chile; Cabo San Lucas, Mexico; and the north shore of Lake Superior in Ontario, Canada.

Gary Melzer

Gary has been an avid fisherman all his life, but in the last 20 years, fly fishing has become a passion. He fishes all type of species, but prefers salmon and steelhead to others. He started salmon and steelhead fishing on the Pere Marquette 35 years ago. He has fished the Manistee River system for the past 10 years and has grown to enjoy it as much as the Pere Marquette. Gary enjoys tying flies as well as fly fishing, and has acquired considerable knowledge in both in the past five years.

He has been coming up to the Wellston area for the past 30 years, but moved up here permanently in 2005.

Nick Homan


Nick was born and raised in Northern Michigan and started steelhead fishing when he was 13 years old. He enjoys fishing on small rivers and experimenting with new fly fishing techniques. He has a broad knowledge of steelhead and trout species. He specializes in nymph fishing using a variety of his own tied flies. He has grown a passion for teaching others and his greatest enjoyment is seeing the look on his client’s faces when they catch their first or fiftieth fish.

He also upland hunts with his German Short Hair dog, Sage. He has 25 years of experience in hunting the northern woodlands. He enjoys watching his dog working and seeing the birds flush out in the spectacular fall colors.

He is accomplished in creating and building his own cedar strip drift boats, which he uses on his guide trips.


Matt Barthels

Matt was born and raised in Grand Rapids, but has always been drawn to northern Michigan. He has been fly fishing the Manistee River system since the age of 8, and has a deep appreciation for the Little Manistee.

Matt enjoys utilizing a wide variety of techniques to target both cold and warm water species. He has a passion for swinging flies for steelhead and streamer fishing for trout. He has a background as a fly fishing and fly tying instructor and enjoys working with anglers of all skill levels.



Brent Borcherdt

Brent started guiding here in Michigan in 2003. Since then he has had the pleasure of guiding clients on all of the premire trout streams of Northern Michigan. Brent's guiding philosophy is simple: stay on the best water possible that day, explain and teach tactics that will be used that day, and have lots of fun. He caught his first fish at the age of 3 and started fly fishing at the age of 12. Since then he has flyfished all over the United States, and guided at two of Alaska's premire fly out lodges in the Bristol Bay region. From beginner to advanced, young or old, you will leave the water a better angler with a lot more knowledge after a really fun day on the water with Brent.

Copyright 2007 Schmidt Outfitters - Michigan.