Upon completion of this course, participants will have demonstrated an understanding and tested competence of the following categories, including an ethical component for each. Following successful completion of the online course material, students will participate in a three-day intensive practicum experience, which will include both classroom- and field-based lessons.  At the end of the practicum, students will take a final evaluation.  Students who pass this evaluation will receive their official Guiding for the Future certification.

1. History of Conservation
  • Outcome: Understanding the broad outline of fisheries management and how that has advanced over time.
  • Content includes: North American Model of Wildlife Conservation, state management of fish and wildlife, Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program, Pittman-Robertson and Dingell-Johnson Acts, economics of fishing, role of anglers in conservation.
2. Laws and Regulations
  • Outcome: Understand why we have them, how they are established, and role of fishing guides in compliance.
  • Content includes: Basic laws and regulations that govern fisheries management and sport fishing, wild trout policy, and most common violations.
  • Montana Outfitter and guide statutes and regulations
3. Hydrology and Ecology
  • Outcome: Understand basic hydrology and aquatic ecology as it affects coldwater fisheries, water flows, and water quality.
  • Content includes: Water flow, temperature, quality, changes through time, productivity, drought, food webs, fish habitat needs, connection with “reading water,” observed changes within hydrology and ecology due to changing climate.
4. Entomology
  • Outcome: Working knowledge of macroinvertebrate taxonomy, life cycles, anatomy and physiology, and science behind macroinvertebrates as indicators of aquatic ecosystem health.
  • Content includes: Macroinvertebrate identification, macroinvertebrates in monitoring aquatic ecosystem health.
5. Fish Biology and Ecology
  • Outcome: Working knowledge of fish species, life histories, anatomy and physiology, and science behind proper fish handling and physiology.
  • Content includes: Fish identification, fish behavior, and fish physiology and handling, releasing in increased water temps in summer, fish movements, awareness of thermal refugia and how handling exacerbates issues already effecting fish.
6. Water Uses and Challenges
  • Outcome: Working knowledge of where water comes from, how it is used in the Upper Yellowstone and Upper Missouri river systems, and threats.
  • Content includes: Montana Stream Access Law, property rights, water rights, river flows, water use (e.g., irrigation, groundwater pumping, urban water supply and treatment), potential impacts to fisheries (e.g., effects of warm water temps and reduced flows and link to disease outbreaks), aquatic nuisance and invasive species.
7. Outfitters and Guides as Stewards
  • Outcome: Training in a set of river monitoring and assessment techniques that will be part of a system-wide effort which will also improve etiquette and guide-stakeholder interactions.
  • Content includes: Etiquette and behavior, improving guide-landowner-FWP relations, river monitoring and fisheries assessment techniques.
8. Beyond Flies and Drifts
  • Outcome: Gain knowledge and training in becoming a more-skilled, well-rounded, and more ethical guide.
  • Content includes: Teaching techniques, safety, tips for impressing clients, understanding the local region’s history (geological, cultural, and natural), fly-fishing history.
  • Tools or language for guides to teach about ethics, discuss ethics more explicitly.