I have been toying with the idea of moving to Mt or Wy after school which I should be done after this summer. I am 23 and have been attempting to start a guide business which has been somewhat unsuccessful. I work in a fly shop but we are in an area where you must drive at least 2-3 hrs for trout fishing so guiding isnt really an option here. Lets say I can get on with a shop out west and get 3-4 jobs a week what kind of money can I expect monthly during a peak season? I should have a boat by then. Any guides out there that wouldn't mind telling me how they do? Thanks
Like Cliff said. You realize you would be competing with guys and gals that LIVE in the area and know the waters very well.
If you already have a foot in, it could be a hit / miss.
There are guys up at the Lodge I once guide at that work weekly, but with the economy the way it is, they have gone to other jobs.
I found a daily pay of $150. to $200. per person about average, but one month, several days, then a couple months nothing or one her and one there.
Keep in mind that most shops nowadays are using independent guides, so licensing, insurance, advertising, and other overhead items are on your end.
Here in the Sacramento Valley, I know of only two guides who are full timers. It took them several years to get established. Everyone else has real jobs to pay the bills, and they use guiding as their secondary means of income.
One spot that you could earn an extra bit of money is the educational side. I have seen more guides offer group and private fly fishing classes. One of my guide friends sells out classes (six students) at $125 per person. That is $750 per day. That is more than is normal $400 per day float.
Big Cliff spoke some very wise words. Four years of college and your future is secure. Summers can be spent perfecting your guiding abilities and, you can use the extra money to pay off your student loans.
DF 87, Amen, on staying in school! In life, the more tricks you have in your kit the better.
Consider attending a guide school too. There is more to this trade than fishin' or rowing.
Exceeding a clients expectations trip after trip isn't a slam dunk.
There are so many kinds of folks out there, that the challenge is to morph each trip to fit.
Not run, "your trip", over and over. This takes effort and experience.
Hire a great guide and study how they meet your needs, or not. Find time to shadow working guides. Read everything you can that's fishing related, past and present.
Swim with the fish and bugs. Bone up on the sciences, birds, bugs, and other critters the client will ask about.
To try to live the "guide life" is a sacrafice. You can't eat romance.
Forget about a retirement check when you can't wobble on the cobbles anymore.
Those that choose this life, generally speaking, don't do it for the money. Joni called it, a day here/there, then solid till you are beat-up, then lots of days off.
Nothing steady about guiding.
That said, I still smile, thinking about client/fish moments from seasons past. And, I can't wait for this coming season. That maybe the only real payoff.
I wanted to add that, last season, a young freind that I know, got on at a top level shop in ID. He was required to work at min. wage in the shop the first year.
Only 1-2 trips late fall. It varies a lot with different states, owners, outfitters. Not all the folks you are competeing against, for a guide spot, will be there in a another season.
But you still have to get in line.
Thanks, as I said before I have dabbled a little in guiding and have a few trips under my belt. I am going to work in Yellowstone this summer and I am going to try and become a "regular" at a few shops in West Yellowstone (my favorite place on earth). I had a new hyde drift boat and it and my car were stolen on a fishing trip so I am trying to save up for a new one. I'll try and float some rivers out there as much as possible to learn as much as I can before I try to get on with a shop. Thanks for the comments, most of them were helpful.
Wow! sorry to hear about the boat/car set-back. Like horse stealing, boat stealing should be a hanging offence.
Your approach sounds like a good one. Be constantly around shops till they put you to work. Some great water to kill time on, in the mean time.
Have a good season, and don't forget to report back, (pics too).
Take it from a guide you wont become rich by any means... Most of whats been said on here already pretty much nails it on head. I love every second of it and wouldnt go back and change anything. If money is what your after look down a different road, but if fishing is your passion its a hell of a way to do it!
Salary and guide in the same sentance?
My advice, learn the waters you intend to guide on inside out, when you think you know them, fish them some more!
Find a career and fit some guiding in around the career, i started guiding part-time for an established fly fishing guide when i was 35, started out on my own when i was 45 (still part-time), and left my full time job when i was 50 having built up my fly fishing business to an acceptable level.
I guide in the summer, and take clients deer hunting in the winter.
I will never be rich, but i dont have a boss (apart from the missus) and i can't think of a better way of life.
Cheers and best of luck for the future.