Meet Matt Mendes, a Native American fly fishing guide located on the Deschutes River in Central Oregon. Matt is a passionate fly fishing guide, spey caster, hunter, father, husband, and conservationist. His heritage on the Warm Spring Reservation, allows his guide service to operate on a private section of the Deschutes River where he targets the native redband rainbow trout and summer steelhead. We were lucky enough to spend a day earlier this year with Matt on his home water. Check out the full interview below!
Flylords: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your guide service?
Matt: I’m a steelhead and trout guide on the Warmsprings Indian Reservation in Oregon. Our company Spin The Handle provides a unique fly fishing experience on the Deschutes River on over 20 miles of pristine tribal land. I have been around folks in the fly fishing industry most of my life and have always wanted to be a two handed casting instructor and steelhead guide from a young age.
Flylords: What was your journey to becoming a guide?
Matt: I started Guiding in 2005 as a Sophomore in Highschool with my grandfather Al Bagleys company River Bend Guide Service. He was the first Native American fly fishing guide in Oregon & we worked together for 11 years before I started Spin The Handle in 2016. We have been guiding private water along the Deschutes river since 1996.
Flylords: What is so special about guiding on the Warm Springs Reservation?
Matt: Being an enrolled tribal member with the Confederates Tribes of Warmsprings means the world to me. I am proud to be a member and to be able to enjoy this incredible place I call home. I want to do my part as a Native American by being a steward of the land and resource by not only being responsible and respectful but to influence younger tribal youth to love and appreciate what we have here. I hope to share with people the beauty of being outdoors and how important it is to respect Mother Earth. We truly are blessed to live in such an amazing place that brings joy to folks from all over the globe each year.
Flylords: What conservation issues are you passionate about? Are there any organizations you see making a difference in your fishery?
Matt: What’s most important to me as a guide and conservationist is protecting our wild summer steelhead that return to the Deschutes River each year. I have led several riparian projects and efforts over the last few years including designating wild fish sanctuaries, litter removal, and tree plantings to keep our river cooler. Native Fish Society has played a huge part in our efforts over the years and I have been the river steward for Warm Springs for 5 years now. Thank you Tom Derry!
Flylords: Tell us about your rig?
Matt: The rig I guide out of is a 2016 Dodge Ram 2500 6.7 Cummins Turbo Diesel. The truck is tuned with Ezlynk and has a SB intake. I have a full Thruen lift and Suspension with King Shocks and components. I am running 37.5 Toyo MTs on 18s.
The Truck Bed is Decked out with a full DECKED Drawer System and DECKED Tool box with the ladder. My vehicle is everything to our operation.
Flylords: The roads are pretty gnarly on some parts of the river road, how important is your truck for your guide service?
There are not many places you can reach without 4-wheel drive, especially on our clay roads. I like to think it’s more like a jet sled running up and down the river chasing steelhead, our 4×4 program is next level.
Flylords: Why did you choose the DECKED System for your truck?
Matt: I chose the DECKED system to stay more organized to store all of our necessary spey/flyfishing/hunting equipment neatly and still have the use of a truck bed. The toolbox upgrade has plenty of room for my chainsaws chains and heavy tools. The ladder feature makes it really nice for reaching in and grabbing what you need without any trouble.
Flylords: What is one random item that you will always have in your truck on a guide day (not fishing related)?
Matt: I use the DECKED Piecekeeper inserts on one side of my drawer system and I keep my Shotguns and ARs ready for chukar and Bull Elk hunts. Lots of ammo of course…
Flylords: What is next for Matt?
Matt: I have plans of purchasing a piece of property along the river and starting a spey fishing lodge in the near future.