Bernie Hoene – Bait-n-Wait Fishing Charters
Most of the Guide Spotlight articles so far have highlighted prominent salmon and steelhead guides fishing the Columbia River and its many tributaries. For this edition, we are going to switch things up and head to Detroit Lake for some kokanee fishing. Bernie Hoene is the owner/operator of Bait-n-Wait Fishing Charters, based in Silverton Oregon.
Bait-n-Wait Fishing Charters is based in Silverton, Oregon.
He reached out after reading a few of my “Guide Spotlight” articles and explained that he likes to learn and improve and takes a lot of pride in how he works with his clients. As a result, Bernie asked if I would be willing to come spend a day with him and highlight him in a future edition. I always love to hear from people that the information that I provide is useful and helpful, so I jumped at the opportunity to meet with Bernie. I spent some time with Bernie and was instantly impressed. He is incredibly humble, approachable, and generous. As mentioned, Bernie focusses his time chasing kokanee and trout in Detroit Lake and Green Peter Reservoir. Kokanee may not be coveted like our beloved salmon and steelhead runs, but man does it serve as great table fare. It is also a very consistent fishery with rules that don’t change every two minutes.
I was intrigued to hear the path that Bernie took in life and how he ended up as a fishing guide. These stories never get old and no two are the same. Bernie was born in Southern California and is the oldest of four children. He spent his childhood in the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles, attended catholic elementary and high school, and upon graduation, entered the army and trained as an airborne military policeman (MP). After completion of his military service with an honorable discharge, Bernie entered the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s department where he spent 30 years as a deputy sheriff.
From an early age, Bernie spent time in the mountains of California, fishing for trout in remote streams and lakes with his father. They preferred the Northern Sierra Nevada range and spent as much time as they could in the mountains. Fishing was a love that they both shared and it was something that allowed them to connect and spend time with one another.
Bernie began flying airplanes when he was 16 and throughout his life has flown both airplanes and helicopters. He advanced and held commercial and instrument ratings in both fixed wing aircraft and helicopters. Bernie worked for two different helicopter companies in California, flying sight-seeing tours over Catalina, providing corporate transportation services, he flew photographers to film special events, and provided crew transportation to and from offshore oil rigs. Due to his experience working as a pilot and a police officer, Bernie is very safety focused, which I will address a bit more.
After retiring, Bernie and his wife, Rauna, moved to Oregon in 2012 and he continued to fly fixed wing aircraft for the Salem Civil Air Patrol and helicopters for a McMinnville airport-based helicopter company. He became involved with the Elks of Kaiser and Silverton Kiwanis, and in between all these commitments, he managed to fish a little bit at Detroit Lake. Currently, Bernie also serves as the president of a non-profit called, “Take a Veteran Fishing,” at O’Dell Lake. This annual event provides a weekend of camping and fishing for veterans at no cost.
Bernie bought a boat and began learning how to fish Detroit Lake, with the help of others he met. In time, he found himself taking “seniors” fishing because they loved to fish but were unable to get out on their own. After about two years experiencing the joy and thrill these guys had fishing again, he recognized a need to offer a safe, convenient, and low-cost service to those on fixed incomes. His boat was configured to accommodate people with disabilities, making it easier to take anyone out for a day on the water.
As mentioned, Bernie learned from others, notably Jeremy Jahn, aka, “The Kokanee Kid,” who mentored him in becoming a guide. Bernie attended an OSU course Guide & Outfitter Recognized Professional (GORP), which gave him the tools to become a better guide. He also worked with other guides who taught him the skills to fish with complete strangers on his boat safely and successfully. In 2016, after meeting all the Oregon State Marine Board (OSMB) and US Forest Service requirements, Bernie began guiding on Detroit Lake, spending weekdays every May through September with clients.
Bernie focusses his time chasing kokanee and rainbow trout in Detroit Lake and Green Peter Reservoir.
Prior to becoming a professional guide and even today, Bernie is an advocate for taking both senior citizens and veterans fishing. His client base has expanded over the years, and he is just as happy to take kids out with their families to learn the joy that fishing brings. One important thing to note, Bernie does not charge for kids 12 and under. As I mentioned, Bernie is a very generous guy and guides because he enjoys it.
Bernie loves to chase kokanee. It is arguably the best tasting fish that we have in the Pacific Northwest. According to Bernie, “Every day is a different adventure with these fish. You never know what to expect. That is what makes this fishing so much fun.” He has really dialed in his success on the water and is happy to share what he has learned with anyone. To be successful on the water, it is critical to understand the factors that contribute to getting fish to bite, starting with understanding where they will be found.
For those of you who have fished kokanee, you either know that it can be a lot of fun, or a very long, slow day on the water, depending on whether you know what you are doing. Since Bernie has it dialed in, you should not expect that you will have time to twiddle your thumbs and sit on your can. He prefers to keep his clients busy, trolling for kokanee. It can get boring just sitting in one place so Bernie trolls for fish allowing his clients to move around the lake and see what else is going on. You never know when you will see a mountain lion, bear, or elk come down and take a drink. Also, while trolling Bernie can teach his style of kokanee fishing to clients, allowing them to become better fisherman and enjoy greater success on their own.
On that note, Bernie encourages any of you who see him to come say hello. Ask him questions and if you need help, he might even jump in your boat with you to see what you are doing and how you are doing it. The result will be that he will help you dial things in so that you experience greater success.
As I generally do, I asked Bernie what he is best known for. He feels that in the guide circle, people respect him for his honesty and sincere approach to helping everyone. Bernie always tries to help the next fisherman out no matter the problem, and that includes other guides. This is a theme that you will see in those whom I interview and is a precursor towards good Karma. Bernie is very customer focused and wants to deliver a memorable experience on every trip that he makes.
Bernie feels that the things that are most important when working as a fishing guide include, treating others as you would like to be treated, approaching every inter-action with humility, and making the experience fun. Per Bernie, “I want others to know they can come to me for help or advise at any time. It is important to me to take the time to chat with someone who approaches me with a question and not blow them off or act like they are bothering me. There is no bigger thrill to me than when I have helped someone with their fishing, and they yell at me across the water or approach me on the dock and tell me how well they have done. When I have customers on the boat, I want them to feel as if my boat is theirs. I want them to do as much or as little as they want to enjoy their fishing adventure, and more importantly, become better fishermen.”
Bernie’s boat was configured to accommodate people with disabilities, making it easier to take anyone out for a day on the water.
Bernie has been complimented on how clean and organized he keeps his boat and the emphasis that he places on safety. To Bernie, the first impression is the most important, so he feels that having the safest, cleanest, and most fun boat is important. From what I saw, Bernie also takes tremendous pride in the experience that he provides. Just caring like he does speaks volumes to the person he is.
Speaking of safety, this is a topic that resonates with me since I own a safety consulting company. I have fished with countless guides and have noticed that most conduct a short briefing before we hit the water. In Bernie’s case, likely from his military, law enforcement and flight experience, he conducts a thorough pre-trip safety briefing. He wants to make sure that his clients know what to do if something goes wrong and especially if something were to happen to Bernie, such as a medical emergency. Listen up guides! Do a quick safety briefing before each trip so that people know what to do when things turn bad. Also, have people wear life jackets. They don’t do any good when they are needed and are in the storage locker or up in the front of the boat.
I asked Bernie what differentiates him from other guides and he told me that at this point he is not sure because the only other guide on Detroit Lake is Kevin Anderson. Kevin has fished Detroit all his life and is a wealth of information which he has most graciously shared with Bernie. The two have become very close friends and complement each other well, sharing fishing tactics and information which helps them with their customers.
If Bernie started over again, the only change that he would make would be to start guiding sooner, on a part-time basis. He enjoys it more than anything and really loves the interaction that it provides with other people. He loves to put smiles on people’s faces, providing an opportunity for veterans, kids, and older folks to go fishing.
Bernie really wanted me to emphasize that he is always available to answer questions year-round about how to fish for kokanee or fishing in general at Detroit Lake. If you see him at the docks or on the water, please don’t be afraid or intimidated to stop by and say hello. Ask him about his gear setup, the depth to target fish and some great recipes to cook your Kokanee when you get home. Take my advice, hire Bernie to go out with you on your boat for a day to teach you how to be a better fisherman.
Kokanee are arguably the best tasting fish that we have in the Pacific Northwest.
Bernie is a pro-staffer for the Kokanee Kid Fishing. Jeremy has been a wonderful mentor to Bernie, and Bernie is proud to represent Jeremy’s line of lures, which he has been manufacturing for years. Also, Bernie is grateful for his wife of 20 years, Rauna, who has supported him in all his endeavors, specifically working as a fishing guide. Without her support, Bernie would not be the guide that he has become and would not have been able to pursue his dreams.
To book a day on the water with Bernie, you can call him at (503) 509-3507, email him at email@example.com, or visit his website at baitnwaitfishingcharters.com.
To nominate your favorite guide or to request an interview, you can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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