I love my job. I’m a professional fly fishing guide in the beautiful Roaring Fork Valley…Angling on the Fork, The Frying Pan River, The Crystal River and even down on the “Big Muddy” aka The Colorado river. as my mentor, John High use to say. We have so much access within an hours drive, no matter what direction you point.
We are lucky.
During the high season, many of us guides are on the water from 7 am until dark, 6-7 days a week, by choice. As the saying goes, “Make hay, while the sun shines” or something like that. In short, we need to work all we can, it will ineveably slowdown and guide work will dry up. But the inevetable will happen as summer passes by and the days get hot, we all start to get crispy, grumpy, short, sarcastic or more fishing appropiate, salty.
Just the other day I was out with some great people, some neverevers, but still nice people. Our day was strong, really strong, however that caused me undue stress and my temperment to be tested. Trust me, I was pleased with our success, but what triggered me was that the clients thought that this was the norm. They began to make it a compitition with total disregard for the fish and the art in which it took to catch them.
Nothing will set me off more than that. So I bit my tongue and tried to educate the newbies that we’re out here for more than numbers and a InstaGram photo.
This bring me to why I wanted to write a post on the 10 things I believe that all of us guides need to remember. So here we go:
Always be educating all aspect of our sport from technique to etiquette, habitat to knots.
Remember it’s a day of fishing for you, but it’s the clients “big trip” they may only do once a year. They are paying real money for your full attention.
We are to be the example of what our sport coveys: Tradition, Awareness, Problem-Solving, Beauty, Stewardship
Treat the fish with care and respect. They’re not disposable entertainment, they are our business partners
Try to limit photos. There is no reason to take pics of every fish. Truthfully, if you do that it’s kinda sad really.
I love this one. Think of how many “family memories”, stories, photos you’re part of. Daunting if you think about it. We are many peoples “life highlights”
We are ambassadors out there-act like it. Don’t be a dick.
Let things go, literally and figuratively, Release the fish quickly, let go of conflicts, don’t get agro if someone snakes your water, don’t get angry with lost fish, bad clients always go away.
Try to get away from “numbers” as an endgame. Fact is, if you condition your clients to count fish that make it to the net and disregard the ones that “long distant released”, their next trip may not be as successful due to a number of varibles, so it will never produce enough as last time. Remember why your out there. Catching fish is awesome but a memorable experience and leaving happy far surpasses the count.
Be a class act, we have a great job, the best job, that many people wish they could have..
No matter what Sport you decide to take up, it all requires stuff, stuff you need, stuff you want and stuff that just gets in the way. This article is about the extras, the add-ons, the things you buy because you think you need it but find it a year later in the gap between your car seats. It’s OK that you do that, I do that. Sometimes it’s cool just to have those things, This blog is only meant to bring it to ones attention, not divert your American right to buy anything you please. So read on…
Newer is not always better. That widget may be the newest tech in the coolest colors but that does not make you any better of an angler, it makes you a chaser. Get good enough to need the latest.
Don’t fall in love with shiny things. This is a hard one for anyone, pretty things are just that, pretty. I have dirty waders, a vest, spooged with floatant and whatever else. Hey, I still catch fish. Also, $150 anodized clipper to cut 5x tippit seems more of an ego boost than a necessity, for that price it better cook me dinner.
If it’s sitting at the Point Of Sale, it’s a want, not a need. Yes, things at the counter are things you might need but you should already have. Remember they call it a POS for a reason.
Don’t try to keep up with the fishing Jones’s. We all have that rich friend or obsessed friends who gets everything and goes everywhere. That’s cool as long as you can pay that credit card bill at the end of the month. If not, do what you can do, don’t go to the poor house because you want to live someone else’s life.
Rooftop Rod Holders. Again, these things serve a purpose, for some. But most people, it’s a way to brag, showboat, set your “rig” apart, whatever. It’s nice to have as a Guide but as your average Joe driving around the city with it and you only fish twice a year…you’re selling an image instead of filling a need. AND why would you want to invite a possible thief? Dude, if I was a dishonest chap, I would look at that Rod carrier as a reason to look in that ride because, man, this cats got some good stuff I might want.
A leader straightener or any other weird things to clip onto yourself. Tippit, clippers, hemostats and maybe a knot tool, That’s it!
Any Gimmick. If it claims to be Hi-Vis, “Fool any Fish”, Celebrity endorsed gadget, avoid it like the plague. If you do buy it, I have some top secret fish attracting stank to sell you as well as an affordable property on the Frying Pan.
Any Fly that your brothers best friend’s uncle says is guaranteed! This is the best way to burn through your fly budget a buck or two at a time. Listen to the shop guys, local fishing report or what you hear Guides talking about at the bar that afternoon.
Guide Beers. Truth is that guides like their beer and they like their shots, and some don’t, but most do. You may think it’s a way to get free advice and/or make a new friend to shoot the shit with… that can happen. But don’t count on it. Guides are good people but also keep things close to the vest. Not that they don’t want you to have success but we want to be an “active” part of your success, aka make a days wage and hopefully a good tip. To make this point more relatable, would you go up to the Golf Pro at your country club and ask him to give you free tips on your golf swing? Just say’n.
Don’t be egotistical. Everyone is out there for the same reason, you weren’t born a Fly Fishing prodigy when you came screaming out of your mother so lighten up and be humble.
I am sure that you might call BS on some of these items on my list and others you might agree with, that is what makes this such a great sport, we all are in our own world and make our own decisions. Decisions like putting on a BWO emerger instead of an Adams Parachute like your buddy did with no success.
So if you want a machined aluminum tie-dyed autographed leader straightener with a web-enabled automatic blood knot tying feature, have at it, more power to you. I’ll stick to my years of diligently practicing my knot tying for the sheer joy of mastering a beautiful skill.