Updated: Dec 10, 2020
Next up in our Ohio Guide series is Nate Miller with Steelhead Alley Outfitters!
Nate’s story starts at the age of eight. In his budding ages, he admired to be like his
grandfather and relentlessly pursued being dropped off along the banks of the Grand River in Ohio. The result has been a lifelong quest for fish that eat flies. Born in Northeast Ohio, the surrounding area inherently lent itself to the pursuit of steelhead and smallmouth bass in and around Lake Erie and its’ tributaries. This pursuit is accountable for numerous miles along interstates and dirt roads throughout Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York.
Nate began his guiding career in 2004 while working on a degree in business from
Cleveland State University. Since the completion of that degree, he has gone on to become a registered nurse. His schedule allows him to put time in on the water to keep a pulse on the local fishery. Nate’s days on the water are more than a day at work. Being a husband and
father, he understands and has experienced himself the bonds and memories that can be
created during a day of fishing. Like the rest of the SAO staff, Nate is a pro-staff member of
several of the finest manufacturers in fly fishing, promotes conservation through his affiliation
with local metro parks, and is a steward of our resources and just plain loves to put fish in the
How long have you been fly fishing? How were you introduced to the sport?
I have been fly fishing since I was eight years old. I was introduced to the sport of fly fishing by my grandfather and remember learning on a vintage Martin automatic fly reel.
When did you start guiding and how did you get into it?
I began guiding in 2004 when the opportunity found me. My phone number was given to a fly shop owner who contacted me. After we fished together a couple of times I was asked if I was interested in guiding. I remember thinking, “I can’t believe I can earn a paycheck doing this!”
Where in Ohio do you guide? What species do you usually target with your clients?
I guide most of Northeast Ohio. Northeast Ohio provides many opportunities to fish larger
tributaries of Lake Erie and the smaller tribs off those. Our area provides opportunities to fish
multiple types of water with steelhead and smallmouth being the primary species I personally guide for.
What is your guiding style like?
I consider my guide style to be education based. Obviously this depends on clients for the day. Some don’t want any education and just want pointed in the right direction but most are open to learning. A day of guiding provides no shortage of opportunities to educate. Location, water conditions, temperature, season, gear, and fly presentation provide a few of the many opportunities to educate while on the water for the day.
If there is one thing you wanted clients to know before going on a guided trip, what
would that be?
Ohio fishing guides are excellent anglers. They adapt to situations, push the limits to overcome challenges, and are often rewarded by consistently hooking fish. I wish clients knew the amount of work and experience guides have before even setting foot on the water for the day. I often wonder how much experience on the water is equivalent to a college degree.
Throughout your years of guiding, what is your most memorable experience/story with a client?
Two stories…. On a serious note, I had captured an exhausted kingfisher with a wing injury while guiding and carried it several miles back to the truck. Our guide coordinator at the time, Tim Hess, picked the bird up from us and took it to a rehabber to be cared for and released back into the wild.
On a lighter note, I will never forget the two daughter’s responses who watched their father flip over a rock backing up while fighting a fish and completely submerge himself. And I mean he went ALL the way under. So far his hat floated to the surface and floated downstream. He did keep the rod tip up and never lost that fish! Both of his daughters landed fish that morning and he called the day a little early. It wasn’t so much that he fell that was funny, it was more of their response to it. I trust they will never let him live that down
If someone wants to go on a guided trip with you, how can they get a hold of you?
They can reach us through our website www.steelheadalleyoutfitters, or call SAO at 1-888-453- 5899.
What is your favorite species to target?
Migratory fish. I’m particularly interested in fish that migrate from Lake Erie into our tributaries.
If you could fish anywhere in the world, where would it be?
New Zealand and The Seychelles, for obvious reasons.
If you were stranded on an island and could only have one fly to fish with, what would it
Wholly bugger, hopefully with the option of two different sizes and a variety of colors!