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Date Posted: 09/11/06 12:42am
Casting a Web over where they bite
Bob Rees of Tillamook isn't quite ready to bring along a laptop computer when he hires out his services as a fishing guide.
But he can row and talk on a cell phone at the same time -- and even chew gum once in a while if the river is calm and the fish aren't biting.
Rees, 37, is hooked on high tech.
The Portland native is the mastermind and traffic controller behind The Guides Forecast, a Web-based Internet fishing forecast that also has a version published each Thursday in The Oregonian.
Every Sunday evening, Rees sends out e-mails to each participant in his stable of 19 other fishing guides, anglers and trusted sources around the Pacific Northwest.
He said he typically gets half or fewer of them to respond.
"Sometimes I have to call them on the phone," he said. "A lot of guys don't type, so I just call them up. They're much happier to do it by telephone."
Rees is revising his own free short version as late as Wednesday night for the Web site and expanding on details -- specific catches, how-to, tidal information, best-baits and lures, etc. -- for an expanded version sold to 4,000 paid subscribers. It's on the site by Thursday morning.
Rees contracts for help from another angler, Michael Teague of Tualatin, an outdoor writer and property manager, who helps gather information and write reports.
The Internet connects him closely with a third partner, his brother, Doug Rees, a technology guru and health-care administrator in Olympia, Wash.
They started the service eight years ago, but Doug Rees doesn't fish as often as he did then.
"We put it together and Doug makes it all happen on the Web site," Bob Rees said.
Rees sells both his long forecast subscriptions and a series of how-to reports he's written, but said the income isn't much.
The anglers and guides aren't paid to contribute their information. The guides get exposure and, sometimes, overflow bookings from each other and Rees. His friends simply contribute for free.
"Bob [Rees] is a good guy. I went to college with him," said Trygve Klepp, an Oregon State Police fish and wildlife trooper in Astoria who sometimes tells Bob about conditions and where the fish are biting ("But I never talk with him about cases," Klepp said).
[Believable? I don't know, what about you?]
Rees said many other guides ask to help out, but that it's hard to get some of them to stay committed to the weekly grind.
His hand-picked forecasters know better than to embellish local fishing with a glossy report when it's not good, Rees said.
"They have the integrity to realize that always putting out a good fishing report isn't the way to go," Rees said. "It can put pressure on them to produce results and that kind of backfires.
"Of course we don't always get the forecast section of our reports right, but our readers often share with us how we have helped them catch more fish."
And that, said Rees -- who also lobbies tirelessly for fish and their habitat -- can only be good for the future of fishing in troubled times.
"Hopefully, it turns more anglers into advocates," he said. "Armchair politicians are no longer cutting it."