Updated: Dec 10, 2020
We are excited to feature Jeff Liskay of Great Lakes Flyfishing in this week's Ohio guide series! Jeff Liskay has been a self-admitted steelhead junkie for nearly four
decades. From his home base in northern Ohio, Liskay has fished across
the entire Great Lakes and is now reaching into Alaska, Oregon,
Washington, British Columbia, and beyond. He is well recognized for both
his two-hand casting and fishing skills and is a regular on the Spey
gathering circuit as both an observer and a presenter.
Liskay spends the warmer months prowling Great Lakes shoreline areas
chasing warm-water species on the fly, but as the weather cools steelhead
take over. He is considered one of the top guides on Ohio’s Lake Erie
tributaries and is also in high demand as a Spey casting instructor. He is
an established speaker and presenter, giving numerous club and show
programs each year. Jeff is also a talented fly tier- his creations are
generally simple, functional, fish catchers.
Liskay is a Patagonia Fly Fishing Ambassador and a Pro Staff member for
a number of companies, including Scientific Anglers and Scott Fly Rods.
He has been featured in books and magazines, on television, and in
podcasts for his angling skills. Liskay owns and operates Great Lakes
Flyfishing that provides angling adventures on Lake Erie, Lake St Clair and
the inland lakes and waterways of Ohio. He also operates Silver Fury
Guide Service and Schools, where he focuses on the use of two-hand rods
and swung flies for migratory fish.
How long have you been fly fishing? How were you introduced to the sport?
My journey started on Michigan’s Au Sable river in the mid 70’s chasing trout based out
of Graying, so I’m not great at math but thinking it’s been over 40+ years…Haaaa!
When did you start guiding and how did you get into it?
Well, that would be the late 70’s that I started getting paid once in a while to take anglers
I started out as a hard core gear angler first mating on charter boats and taking clients
and friends out on wade river trips for steelhead and salmon on Ohio rivers. That really
gave me the building blocks for understanding fish behavior and leap frog my angling
skill sets for what they are today.
Where in Ohio do you guide? What species do you usually target with your clients?
I cover a wide range of waters to keep things fresh and interesting starting with Lake Erie
and its tributaries, inland lakes and there connected waterways and waterways that
connect to the Ohio river.
In Michigan we cover Lake St Clair, St Clair River and Detroit River.
I also host trips to Alaska, British Colombia and the Olympic Peninsula.
I hope for a twelve month year but end of December and January is sketchy. My best
game and what I’m noted for is chasing steelhead over the years but I’m not bad at the
warm water game chasing walleye, reef donkeys (drum), SM bass, LM bass, carp, musky
What is your guiding style like?
Great question! I love wading, there’s nothing like feeling the heartbeat and sole of a river pushing against your body and sharing slipping on the rocks under your feet with your client. That being said I have five floating fishing platforms to guide off of, starting with a big
lake boat down to rafts and even paddle boards.
I really try and engage with my clients to work on their skill sets and give them the
confidence they need to take it to the next level from casting to presentation.
If there is one thing you wanted clients to know before going on a guided trip, what
would that be?
As a guide are report card is the grip and grin photo of a trophy fish or is it?
Look at a guide trip as an adventure and learning experience, then the trophy fish will
come. Also make a list of goals for your guide to follow, like casting, reading the water,
presentation, target fish species and of course epic giant fish.
Remember to pick a guides personality that flows with yours, you do have to spend the
day with them.
Throughout your years of guiding, what is your most memorable experience/story with a
I have lots of fish stories but nothing compares to watching kids catching fish and
interacting with their parents, the grins, smiles and laughter never get old because fishing is
If someone wants to go on a guided trip with you, how can they get a hold of you?
What is your favorite species to target?
Humm, not sure I have a favorite as long as it has fins and a tail but summer run BC
steelhead ranks up there.
What is an interesting fact about yourself?
That I still get just as excited today to be on the water as I did when I first started my