Stephen Nance has guided fly fishermen to success on many of the famed streams of California, Colorado and Pennsylvania.
Lately, he's been taking clients to a water less known — a section of Slough Creek within Sedgwick County Park that is stocked with trout.
Business has been good for the guy who's probably the only trout guide in Kansas.
"It's been amazing, the interest," Nance said. "It's been split down the middle between fishing and casting lessons. Most times we do both."
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Guiding at the park is a homecoming for the Wichita native. It's also a continuation of a dream.
Three years ago, the Newman graduate had a good job and promising career in business. And he was bored.
"I wasn't happy and I realized the secret to happiness is finding your passion and sharing it with others," he said. "I knew fly fishing is what I wanted to do."
Already an accomplished fly fisherman, his first chore was to become a certified casting instructor.
He spent the summer of 2007 guiding for trout in Yosemite National Park and 2008 guiding fly anglers on Pennsylvania streams.
Last summer he guided near Estes Park, Colo.
It's a lifestyle only those passionate about the sport could endure.
He loses his job every fall and has no days off in the spring and summer.
When not fishing with clients, he explores new waters and checks the conditions of ones he knows well.
"There have been times when I've lived out of my truck for days," Nance said. "A lot of people couldn't handle my lifestyle. I guess I probably couldn't handle their lifestyle, either."
He's living with family in Wichita and working at Gander Mountain when not guiding. In the late spring, he'll head back to Estes Park.
Someday he hopes to own a fly shop. But for now he's happy to guide local trout anglers on Slough Creek and the stocked seep stream below Kanopolis Lake.
His time on traditional streams east and west serves him well. He said most local anglers aren't aware how actively Kansas trout feed on tiny aquatic insects.
Last Sunday, Nance guided Bruce Garren on Slough Creek when the river was low on trout because of delayed stockings and high on fishing pressure.
At first, Nance and Garren struggled.
Late in the trip, Nance tied a special rig of a small streamer and rice-sized wet fly to his client's line.
Garren caught four trout in 30 minutes and lost several others. He also learned things that will help him on future trout trips. And he paid far less than for a guided trip in traditional trout hot spots.
Nance charges $50 for two hours and $85 for four hours.
"I'm there to make a little bit of money," Nance said, "But most important is to show somebody my passion and have them latch on to that passion. I really care about the teaching."
For more information go to www.kansasflyfish.com.