In the heart of Oregon’s Steelhead Country, Steelhead Outfitters was born. Steelhead Outfitters was formed in 2011 when Sam Sickles bought Riverborne Outfitters, a Deschutes River business he was a partner in. The new business was all about Steelhead, Jetboats, Spey Rods and the Deschutes! Today Steelhead Outfitters is the busiest fly-fishing guide service in the Columbia River Gorge. The heart and sole of our business is Jet boats, fly-fishing, Trout and Summer Steelhead. We aim to blend the best guided fishing experience with top notch instruction. In the end our wish is for clients to have a great time, learn a bunch, enjoy the experience and look forward to their return.
Sam Sickles My passion for the outdoors has been the driving force in my life for as long as I can remember. I’m a Beav’. I went to Oregon State University in Corvallis, Oregon, where I was born in 1970, and graduated in 1994. In 1994 I met Mike Gorman at the Scarlet Ibis Fly Shop in Corvallis and he told me, “If you can’t catch a steelhead on the Deschutes, then you can’t catch a steelhead.” Being heavily infected with the fishing disease I checked it out. I scratched that itch. I taught myself to row a drift boat, to cast a spey rod and to drive a jet-boat on the Deschutes. I did it the old fashioned way with some bumps and some bruises along the way. Since then I’ve fished a lot of rivers and been a lot of places and the Deschutes River is still my favorite; it’s my home. You will find me trout fishing or chasing steelhead year around!
My first time in a jet boat was in 2006, it was on the Deschutes and I was the pilot. I had a buddy who was gonna show me how to drive it but he never showed, we went any way. I became a Deschutes jet-boat guide in 2009. The lower D is arguably the nastiest place on earth to run a sled and I had zero guiding experience. This was a chance encounter that led to a very rare opportunity to guide the best river on the planet…and to do it out of a jet-boat. I learned a lot, logged a lot of days, quit a good job, and caught some of steelhead, but what I’m proudest of is earning the respect of my peers that includes dudes that started guiding the Deschutes in the 1980’s and they are not fly-fisherman. That took a while.
My journey has allowed me to work with some of the best outfitters in the business, but my program and my philosophy are my own and it goes something like this; I run the best boat on the river, I put people in the best spots at the best times, I make people better, I respect the rules of the road, I only fish elite equipment, I have fun and we catch fish. I am honest and exceptional at what I do but fishing guides are not gods, we are guides. I love what I do and where I do it and people who fish with me do too.
I hold a current US Coast Guard License, two Special Recreation Permits through the Bureau of Land Management: One to operate on the Deschutes, one to operate on the John Day River. I am a licensed Oregon guide and outfitter, have current First Aid and CPR training, I’m heavily insured and bonded, and I look forward to meeting you!
With close family ties to Sweet Creek and Mapleton, Oregon, Marni Sickles is the real deal original Oregon girl! ”Marn” was pretty much raised in a tent. Her people are loggers, commercial fisherman, crabbers and more than a few hippies. Yep, a native and an endangered species. More importantly, Marn’s in charge of everything that matters and is our camp host during steelhead camp. Last year we missed her on a trip and the first thing out of the clients’ mouths was “Where’s Marn?” Obviously, we won’t do that again! Aside from all that, Marn loves to swing flies and has been nicknamed, among other things, the “Hoover”, because she vacuums up all the fish in a run. But seriously, we are glad to have Marn around to keep us straight. If you get a chance to spend some time with her, you’ll get used to it, then expect it and be disappointed when she’s not there!
This is our camp dog Boone. If you are lucky enough to camp with us in the summer when Marn isn’t teaching third grade you’ll meet Mr. Boone, AKA Booneski, AKA DumDum. He’s quite the dog.
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