Lessons of a Guide

outofthesaddle

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As someone that's newer to fly fishing, its always interesting to get the perspective of folks that have been doing it for a long time. Thanks for sharing.
 

Nonno

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This mirrors my mindset each time I'm out. Taking in the entire scene, not just focusing on catch, catch, catch! I love seeing any wildlife, geologic formations, clouds, riffles, everything.
Here's my fly fishing buds
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Acheron

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Each trip is different for me. Some are zen, some of run and gun, some are just me out wondering. I try to enjoy many perspectives.
 

jpbfly

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If you get to guide with Jpbfly, you'll likely be in Languedoc-Roussillon’s Picpoul de Pinet AOC - dedicated exclusively to crisply acidic, fresh white wine. Not to derail this thread, but, Jpdfly, I'm a fan of your Picpoul grapes and have investigated bringing cuttings of this varietal into New Zealand specifically to match with our local seafood. For the oyster lovers among our forum, Picpoul de Pinet is one of the greatest wine matches to oysters. If you have a local wine bar, go and order a bottle and a dozen in the shell ... mmmmm.
went for a walk this afternoon....here's the street ....you'll love :giggle:
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GManBart

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That's a good read!

It reminds me of a discussion I had with a friend who worked at the local fly shop and guided a couple of times a week on small water where it was all wading. He said he noted a difference between male and female clients. Guys see a fish 50 feet away and make a 50 foot cast. Women see a fish 50 feet away, wade 30 feet and make a 20 foot cast that's more accurate, easier to mend and easier to hook up. I've never forgotten that...I'm not sure he meant it as advice, but that's how it worked out!
 

proheli

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That's a good read!

It reminds me of a discussion I had with a friend who worked at the local fly shop and guided a couple of times a week on small water where it was all wading. He said he noted a difference between male and female clients. Guys see a fish 50 feet away and make a 50 foot cast. Women see a fish 50 feet away, wade 30 feet and make a 20 foot cast that's more accurate, easier to mend and easier to hook up. I've never forgotten that...I'm not sure he meant it as advice, but that's how it worked out!
In the world of aviation women are considered very good flight instructors. If you took them as a whole I'd say better than the guys. Of course guys can be excellent too, and a female can be a dud, but in a generalization that is a pretty true: the guys spend the first 25% of their energy trying to be cool, the man, in charge, a hero, etc, and once they get through all that mumbo jumbo, they get to the other 75% of actually flying. The girls start out at 100% flying and just keep it at that.
 

GManBart

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In the world of aviation women are considered very good flight instructors. If you took them as a whole I'd say better than the guys. Of course guys can be excellent too, and a female can be a dud, but in a generalization that is a pretty true: the guys spend the first 25% of their energy trying to be cool, the man, in charge, a hero, etc, and once they get through all that mumbo jumbo, they get to the other 75% of actually flying. The girls start out at 100% flying and just keep it at that.
Absolutely! I have a pilot's license and my dad is a retired airline pilot and CFII. I grew up hearing him say pretty much the same thing. I had a great female instructor early on in my training when I was living in Montana. She was an excellent instructor and was a fantastic stick and rudder pilot as well. She had a Pitt's Special she flew for fun. A few years later I did my tailwheel transition and first aerobatic basics with another female instructor who was similarly outstanding. I had a couple of male instructors along the way and they were all fine, but none were as good as either of those two women. Not only that, but the weighed less so we could fill the tanks all the way :LOL:
 

Ard

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There's so much attention given to the fish guide and I've never figured it out. I guess if I would have done it somewhere civilized it would have been easier and I would have more stories to tell. I tried taking people fishing in south central Alaska but after 6 years of that I moved my little operation to a remote area. People were catching fish in the rivers where I started but those places became more crowded every year, more guides, more residents etc. Pretty soon it didn't seem like much of an adventure in Alaska to me, too much boat traffic and some very bad actors crowding my fishermen.

I began working 88 miles from the nearest road and that took care of the problem. No more people but the amount of work necessary to establish a good came to work from was more than most fish guides would be used to.


That's a pair of 12X12 outfitter tents on an island in the middle of where no one in their right mind drives their boat for fun. The river assent to get to that spot is 18 miles of the swiftest most dangerous water I'll ever drive and what you can't see in the image are the overhead tarps with table - chairs and cooking area sheltered from rain and sun. I also had a small portable commode sitting over a deep hole some 200 feet from camp :oops:

In order to do that for three years I was hauling all the gear which included cots - pads - sleeping bags - and floor mats for the tents and enough food & water to last a week. At the end of the week a float plane picked up the 2 fishermen and dropped off 2 more and some supplies. Additional supplies needed to be flown in so I could swap out empty coolers for full ones and ice. Just take a moment and try to imagine that. Hauling all that gear, 2 boat loads! Arranging resupply via air, working 16 hour days ........ Did I mention fuel? I have a cabin 30 miles from where I put the camps otherwise none of it could have happened. I used that place as a base and sometimes had people flown there then commuted to fish

Every morning you got up and prepared breakfast and coffee as well as making lunches for the clients and stocking the small cooler in the boat. Now you are ready to drive the 3 miles to our fishing destination by 5:45 AM. Once you got there it was now walk and wade time and some days the 'walk' included a 2 mile trek to a canyon where no boat of client ever showed up. People caught fish and I never had any risk of gaining weight. The only job I ever had that was more demanding was when I worked as a commercial fisherman on long lining boats. Days started at 4 AM and ended around 8:30 PM when you brought the people back to camp and made dinner.

Sounds romantic huh? I will never be sure why I punished myself that way. Reflections? I did not have time to wax poetic over the seasons experiences, it was hard work and after three years I realized I either had to double the price or go back to the rivers where there were road access points. Through a ten year stretch I had some good fellas and only a couple disappointments. I taught countless people how to cast and fish with both single hand and 2 hand fly rods even though I am not certified by anyone but me as being able to teach anyone.

The past 2 years have been way different, 2019 we had a very bad drought and I didn't have to be a fish guide. 2020 we had Covid travel shutdowns so I didn't have to be a fish guide. Now I'll only be a fish guide when I want to be, no more advertising no more bookings and I'm back to going fishing alone when I want to fish. I'm going to have a few fishermen this coming season but I'll also have plenty of time to fish myself. All those years watching all those people fish in my favorite spots were the hardest fishing days I ever had.
 

South Fly Fishing

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There's so much attention given to the fish guide and I've never figured it out. I guess if I would have done it somewhere civilized it would have been easier and I would have more stories to tell. I tried taking people fishing in south central Alaska but after 6 years of that I moved my little operation to a remote area. People were catching fish in the rivers where I started but those places became more crowded every year, more guides, more residents etc. Pretty soon it didn't seem like much of an adventure in Alaska to me, too much boat traffic and some very bad actors crowding my fishermen.
.....
Sounds romantic huh? I will never be sure why I punished myself that way. Reflections? I did not have time to wax poetic over the seasons experiences, it was hard work and after three years I realized I either had to double the price or go back to the rivers where there were road access points. Through a ten year stretch I had some good fellas and only a couple disappointments. I taught countless people how to cast and fish with both single hand and 2 hand fly rods even though I am not certified by anyone but me as being able to teach anyone.

The past 2 years have been way different, 2019 we had a very bad drought and I didn't have to be a fish guide. 2020 we had Covid travel shutdowns so I didn't have to be a fish guide. Now I'll only be a fish guide when I want to be, no more advertising no more bookings and I'm back to going fishing alone when I want to fish. I'm going to have a few fishermen this coming season but I'll also have plenty of time to fish myself. All those years watching all those people fish in my favorite spots were the hardest fishing days I ever had.
A fantastic synopsis on the hard graft of a genuine guide, Ard. It's a fabulous trait of human nature that we are prepared to toil so hard for other's pleasure - people we haven't even met yet. Thank you for sharing this.
 

Ard

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I'm hoping you meant 'craft' not graft ;)

More people should have jumped on those trips, I was doing that for roughly $3000.00 for a five day trip for 2 people. Maybe they thought because it was so affordable there had to be a catch. There was, catch of fish. To be honest there was no real joy or fun in guiding people. There was a lot of concern and stress involved because many folks were not really up to the task. Some were not stable waders, some could not cast well enough to reach fish, it was tough. You helped people cross rivers, you taught people how to cast and remember that all this was happening where it would take a satellite call and a helicopter flight if anyone got hurt.

Just the cost of insurance and all the various permits I needed to operate totaled $2200.00 a year and I wasn't fishing unless I went between clients. The problem with fishing before clients arrived was that if I had a good day that meant I had stung many of the trophy fish those people were coming to try to catch. Another unwanted byproduct of being a guide was the cost in relationships. Lodges and lodge owners who used to be friendly to me viewed me as competition on their rivers. There was also a huge amount of ego involved with other guides who worked for lodges and I couldn't stress that enough. I'm not one much for ego, never have been. I really don't have anything to prove which you might confirm by the lack of images of me holding fish plastered all over the internet. You could say that I didn't really fit into the guide mold.
 

South Fly Fishing

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I'm hoping you meant 'craft' not graft ;)

More people should have jumped on those trips, I was doing that for roughly $3000.00 for a five day trip for 2 people. Maybe they thought because it was so affordable there had to be a catch. There was, catch of fish. To be honest there was no real joy or fun in guiding people. There was a lot of concern and stress involved because many folks were not really up to the task. Some were not stable waders, some could not cast well enough to reach fish, it was tough. You helped people cross rivers, you taught people how to cast and remember that all this was happening where it would take a satellite call and a helicopter flight if anyone got hurt.

Just the cost of insurance and all the various permits I needed to operate totaled $2200.00 a year and I wasn't fishing unless I went between clients. The problem with fishing before clients arrived was that if I had a good day that meant I had stung many of the trophy fish those people were coming to try to catch. Another unwanted byproduct of being a guide was the cost in relationships. Lodges and lodge owners who used to be friendly to me viewed me as competition on their rivers. There was also a huge amount of ego involved with other guides who worked for lodges and I couldn't stress that enough. I'm not one much for ego, never have been. I really don't have anything to prove which you might confirm by the lack of images of me holding fish plastered all over the internet. You could say that I didn't really fit into the guide mold.
Solemn advise for anyone considering guiding for a living, Ard. I've seriously considered guiding three times in my life. At each point I've wisely rejected the notion.

I used to 'informally' guide Canadian and US anglers as a teenager on my local rivers. They knew the local spring creeks were (at that time) among the best in the world. They knew that I fished them every free hour I could and therefore knew every fish's lair. It worked well as I learned far more from them than I proffered.

Your points around ego and relationships are at the heart of my latest rejection of the romantic notion of a river guide. This is not discussed enough.

Now I just take people I like to my favorite places. And catch a few fish whilst enjoying them catch their share also. It's a win-win. With no money changing hands, there's no pressure to deliver and no commercial insurances or concessions needed. The pleasure of teaching/sharing/celebrating without the angst.
 

cslyngstad

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I'm not one much for ego, never have been. I really don't have anything to prove which you might confirm by the lack of images of me holding fish plastered all over the internet. You could say that I didn't really fit into the guide mold.
I really respect this comment. Don't get me wrong, I have plenty of fish pictures of myself or my brother (my fishing partner) but the vast majority of fish caught exist as a memory in my head...for me alone to cherish. This wonderful sport exists as therapy to my soul, not as a means to brag or develop an ego, which I aim to never have.
 

markmark444

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I never really thought about it but all these years and all the fish, I have never taken a picture or asked to have one taken of a fish. As with the comments above, the memories live inside me, and sometimes in my forearms it seems, and they often come back at their own will with a depth that photos can't produce for me at least.
 

DLambert

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There are no pictures of me holding a fish. There have never been any taken.

I've taken a couple of my sons when they caught a really nice fish, but both of those that I can think of were taken when they were less than 10 years old and holding an impressive fish. The pictures weren't taken to show off the fish. They were taken to show the pride that the boys had in catching those fish.
 

el jefe

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Like DLambert above, I have some pictures of my daughters with fish they've caught. The picture isn't about the fish, it's about the memories recalled when we look at pictures from those trips. No different than the pictures of them standing in the driveway for a picture with their first bicycle--the picture isn't to show off the bike.

For myself, I don't think I've ever taken a picture of a fish I've caught.
 

Acheron

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You all must have much better memories than me. I can't remember what I had for lunch yesterday, what day it is, yup it's a good thing my head is attached. :D

I've taken lots of pics, I still do! Not much of me holding them, especially anymore, so usually it's just a quick pic in the net quickly before the release. I admit there was a time where I posted plenty of photos of me holding fish of all sizes, I suppose it was never about ego cause I'd post pics of 6" fish. However, life is not static and things change. I will say I'm very grateful to have fish holding pics of those gone and those who might soon be.

It's fun to go back and look at the individual characteristics of fish which are missed during the excitement of the catch and the hurriedness of the release. Every fish is unique, and while I don't take a pic of every fish I catch, I do tend to take a few each trip out and look back at them for missed details. I also enjoy posting them for others to see. Not everyone lives where I do or can get out to fish :)

Now that I think about it...it's become a photo logbook of sorts. Apps remind me of past catches and trips a year of 6 later, it's pretty fun to have random trip pics pop up. I've also never been good at consistently writing and recording things and I really really hate when something isn't searchable, logbooks and spreadsheets just don't cut it but the photos along with apps seem to solve this issue :)
 
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