John Roggensack – Guide

How long have you been fishing?

Since I was 3.5 years old! 

How long have you been fly fishing?

Since I was 9 or 10.

How long have you been guiding?

More than a decade

Why and how did you get started in guiding?

I was spending so much time on the water it just made sense to start guiding. I tend to row most of the time even when play fishing, and prefer to put people on fish over catching fish. Being on any water puts me in my happy place, and guiding keeps me on the water. In the first few years I started guiding I worked for a bunch of different outfitters, but quickly figured out Fish Tales was where I wanted to call home. 

Are you a fly tyer?


Favorite pattern(s)?

Freshwater- Swishers’ Dancing Caddis, any Hopper that floats right and turns over, Black and White Clouser, a skinny leech....

Saltwater- Bunny Gotcha, Ververka Shrimp, whatever Crab the Permit ate last, whatever Craft Fur Baitfish the last GT ate...

What do you row? Why?

I row a Hyde XL Low Pro. It is the Cadillac El Dorado of drift boats. It is big, roomy, and super comfy… and it's bright Yellow so nobody can say "oh sorry, didn't see you there"...

Favorite fishing technique? 

Personally: Sight Fishing. I am a sucker for sipping trout, so if they are looking up…. It is going to be a dry fly. I like the hunt. I really just want to see fish eat the fly all day.... freshwater or in the salt. 

With Clients: I guess that depends on their ability and what the fish are doing. If the fish are looking up, it is great to see people catch trout on the dry. That is too much fun!

Do you prefer guiding experienced anglers or beginners?

They both have their perks. Beginners are fun because their energy and enthusiasm is infectious, and when they get a fish on, they freak right out and scream like a kid. This will never get old for me. It is also fun to have someone that is a good rod…. either way we'll make it a great day. 

Your strengths as a guide?

I row the same for clients as I do for my best friends. I work hard to get into fish, and if we miss fish, we'll go back up and we’ll do it again. I never leave fish to find fish. I've been getting more into "keep 'em wet" type pictures of trophy fish, which makes for a nice keepsake. I'm never late, keep my truck and boat clean, tie good knots, love a good challenge of untangling knots, and do my best to make sure clients have a great day on the water. 

What do you do to add to the experience on a slow(er) day?

Usually I add lead or some other form or weight to whatever we are fishing, maybe lengthen your leader, maybe add an indicator. Lol! I know clean jokes, dirty jokes, one liners... 

Favorite guide-related memory?

I used to love the stories of kids out-fishing parents, or wives out-fishing husbands... but I'd have to be honest that in more recent years my favorite days are the days my face hurts from smiling and laughing with clients that are more like old friends. 

Embarrassing anecdote (something that happened while guiding)?

Geez... I don't know where to start... losing anchors, breaking oars, drain plugs coming out, losing an oar and jumping in the river after them, going to grab a clients hat in the wind and splitting a pair or pants, underestimating flows and having to walk a portion of a channel, losing my footing and going for a swim, having my boot caught in an oar lock as I jump out of the boat and ended up getting dragged in the water, lost a bet and had to eat a stonefly, lost a net, forgot a net, lost a bet and had to eat a hopper, taken a hook out of a clients backside... what doesn't kill you makes you stronger. However... I've never forgot to call a shuttle. 

This is seasonal work…. What do you do in the off-season?

Well, I have two loves. The first is fishing… anywhere. The second is music. I play jazz saxophone professionally and have made it my living since I was in university. I perform regularly around Alberta. Much of my time is also dedicated to music education and am an active clinician in schools and run a workshop program at Mount Royal University Conservatory. 

Given the opportunity who would you choose to fish with? Or someone who has inspired you as an angler/tyer/teacher/guide. 

  1. I like spending time with my Dad. It is fun to row him down the river and watch him try to catch fish... even if I'm yelling at him all day. I owe him for getting me into fishing. We spent lots of time in the summers growing up exploring the trunk road and fishing almost every drainage from Grand Cache to Waterton.
  2. I love taking my girls out... I have 2 wonderful daughters and a very tolerant, beautiful bride. My girls are very much into the sport and can stick fish. I might row hardest for them, maybe one day they will row me. 
  3. I really love fishing in the Bahamas. I am always in awe of my favorite guide Whitney Rolle. His ability to find fish is incredible, he stays cool 100% of the time, and always finds some Permit. 
  4. I have a list a friends I play fish with... they know who they are, and we have fun. Lol

Back to Guiding  |  Terry Johnson  |  Matt Chatani   |  John Roggensack  |  Blair Yerxa  | Paul Grindlay |  

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