Back in 2003, the BDN began a marketing promotion designed to introduce its new outdoors writer — me — to those who have turned to these pages for generations in order to find out what’s happening in our woods and on our waters.
The idea: Find one of the state’s top guides, get them on board, and give away a fishing trip to one lucky angler.
The catch: I’d tag along to document the day.
For the past 12 years, we’ve called it the “Win a Drift Boat Trip with John Holyoke” contest. And since its inception, I’ve realized that while that self-promoting title did what it was supposed to do — introduce me to folks who might not know me — it was also lacking in one huge way.
It doesn’t mention Dan Legere, the guide who has taken us on the water for more than a decade.
Today, with this year’s drift boat trip a little more than week away, I’m happy to report that our longtime guide has been honored with a pretty important award.
Back in May, Legere was named the 2015 Wiggie Robinson Legendary Guide — an award that is handed out by the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife at the Maine Professional Guides Association banquet.
According to the press release announcing the news, winners of the award must have held a guide’s license in Maine for at least 20 years, and must have actively guided for at least 10 years
Legere is not only the owner of the Maine Guide Fly Shop, but also serves on the Moosehead Fisheries Focus Group and previously served on the board of the Forest Society of Maine.
He has taught fly tying to local children, and has donated his time toward programs that help veterans enjoy outdoor pursuits, including Project Healing Waters and the Wounded Warriors Project.
In that release, registered Maine guide Ian Cameron, who has worked under Legere’s tutelage for years, gave a glowing recommendation of his mentor.
“Dan has taught me more about fly fishing than I will ever remember,” Cameron said. “He is a gifted teacher, a wonderful mentor, and an extraordinarily marvelous example to the public of what it means to be a Maine Guide. He is what all the rest of us in the profession aspire to be. Dan is, simply, the guide’s guide.”
That about sums it up, I supposed. Still, I feel obliged to add a bit more.
Over the course of a dozen years, I’ve had the privilege of sharing a boat with Legere on an annual basis. That day of fishing — almost always in mid-June — has become one that I look forward to for months..
During some of those trips, Legere has hosted contest winners who have never held a fly rod in their hands. During other adventures, we’ve had very experienced anglers in the boat.
No matter the angler, Legere has shown an amazing ability to adapt his teaching style to the student he’s addressing.
And make no mistake of it: His drift boat is a classroom, whether the students realize the lessons they’re absorbing or not.
Always calm and frequently funny, Legere praises when appropriate, corrects flaws with a gentle touch, and has taught each of our contest winners plenty about the fly-fishing game.
Day after day, from spring until autumn, he sits in his drift boat, rows the same stretches of water, and helps his clients catch landlocked salmon and brook trout.
And nowadays, when the weather turns cold, he packs up for Florida, where he shares his talents with anglers looking for a different type of experience.
For years, I’ve told others that the quickest way to fly fishing proficiency is pretty simple: Hire a good guide for a day, and throw yourself at their mercy.
And for years, those who’ve taken the time to hire Legere have come back to me with an equally simple testimonial.
“He’s the best,” they say, time after time.
I agree. He is.
And now, thanks to his most recent award, you can even call him “legendary.”