Wendy Williamson

I am a 4th generation, middle child of 7, born and raised in Hayward, Wi.  My paternal grandfather Ole (Wilhemsen) Williamson came here from Norway with his 3 brothers.  My grandmother Hilma was born here in 1884 and is recorded as being the first white female birth in Sawyer County.  Her Swedish parents, Troed and Christine Monson, are known as being the first Scandinavian marriage in the town of Hayward.  I guess you can conclude that I am deeply rooted in this part of the Northwoods. My father owned and operated Hayward Wood Products, which was located on the banks of the Namekagon River, North of Hayward, across from the airport. In 1949 my mother stayed at a cabin, on the other side of the bridge across from Dad’s business, the weekend they first met. Three of my uncles and their families lived on this river.  My connection to the Namekagon was a part of my childhood.  It became even more special to me when I learned how to fly fish.  In 1995 I got a call from a friend of mine who was doing photography to promote a new fishing lodge, owned by Henry Kravis in Meeker, Colorado.  He said that they were looking for a woman guide and that he told them they should hire me.  Even though I had no idea where Meeker was, who Mr. Kravis was and had never guided before, I called the contact he gave to me.  Two weeks later I was learning how to be a guide at 7-Lakes Lodge on the White River in Colorado.  While I was there at the lodge, the owner came to his ranch down the valley, and I found myself thrown into the mix of his seasoned guides helping with his guests. It was the girl stranger from Wisconsin among 16 accomplished male guides who knew exactly how this was done.  One of those guides was Larry Mann, who was very good at clever kidding, but was most instrumental in teaching me the ropes.  Fortunately, I made the cut and would spend 10 summers guiding for trout in Colorado.   My father passed away in 1997 and my mother was alone for the first time in her life. I made the choice to come home to help her adjust.  Larry came with me.  The short story is that we ended up staying, getting married, buying my parent’s/grandparent’s house and eventually teaching and guiding fly fishermen for warm water fish, not trout, on the rivers.  In 2004 we bought a turn of the century building in downtown Hayward and started our own business the Hayward Fly Fishing Company.  It grew from just Larry and I guiding and running the shop, to us being joined by 4 additional fulltime guides and a helper in the shop. We sold the business in April of 2021 to one of our guides.  The first river outing Larry and I took that Spring was on the Namekagon near its headwaters North of Hayward.  We packed a lunch, but no fishing gear.  It was the perfect float for our next chapter.  We both loved the teaching, guiding, our shop and all of the friends that came our way on and off the river.  But we were smacked by memories of the river time we spent with those people when it was more than catching fish.  It is the river itself that is so special.  Together we decided that we might be done with the shop and the guiding, but definitely not done with the river!  We are delighted to announce our new venture Acme River Rides.  Acme (A Comfortable, Memorable, Experience).  We will use our Mckenzie style Drift Boats, usually associated with fly fishing, as the ideal vessel for floating and viewing two of the first Wild and Scenic Rivers.  All you will need to do is sit back and enjoy the ride.

larry and wendy

Larry Mann

Born and raised in Western Kansas, I chose Colorado for my college pursuits.  College days were interrupted temporarily by the Viet Nam War.  After my tour in Viet Nam and college studies completed, I worked as a CPA in Denver before heeding the siren call of Colorado’s mountains.  As an avid fly fisherman, I found Steamboat Springs to be the perfect landing spot for me.  I taught at Colorado Mountain College and guided fly fishermen all over western Colorado, eastern Utah and southern Wyoming.  In 1995, while guiding near the Flat Tops Wilderness Area near Meeker, Colorado, I met a woman from Hayward, Wisconsin—Wendy Williamson.  She had come to Colorado on something of a lark to guide at the ranch where I was guiding.  Little did I know that meeting Wendy in Colorado would alter the trajectory of my life.  We fancied ourselves as living the dream at the very top of the fly fishing food chain.  However, Wendy’s dad passed away in 1997 and we packed our belongings and headed to Hayward to help Wendy’s mom as she adjusted to her new life.  We quickly settled into our “forever home” and set about  and immersing ourselves into the beautiful and magical waters of the Northwoods.  Guiding and teaching fly fishermen was a logical extension of our prior Colorado life.  In 2004, we opened the Hayward Fly Fishing Company, a full service fly shop and guide service.  Business was good and we each found ourselves on the water guiding more than 100 days per season.  Our non-guiding days found us on the water, fishing for fun, exploring new waters and just enjoying the beauty and serenity of the rivers.  We always looked to the rivers to get us recharged and ready for more guiding.  In 2021 , one of our guides “made us an offer we couldn’t refuse” and we sold the shop and guide service.  We enjoyed our first season away from the shop doing what came natural—floating and fishing for just us.  As the 2021 season came to a close, we realized that we weren’t done sharing the bounty of the Northwoods and Acme River Rides was born.  We can now spend our days floating the rivers with no agenda other than enjoying a boat ride—no fishing, no pressure, no time limits, no work—just a boat ride.  Join us!!