In continuing a long standing tradition of drowning in sarcasm I’d like to submit my latest installment. I’ve been guilty of all the rules at some point and likely all together a time or two. I stand behind none of this.
Lessons for the “Rook”
1. Guides aren’t cool. Before you get started its important to realize that nobody thinks fishing guides are slick except other fishing guides. Not girls, not buddies, not strangers and especially not resident anglers… maybe your parents friends but still iffy. Even though you think it will fast track your super angler status, it’s like that “experience” you gained over 9 months in Thailand- better not to share.
What’s the difference between god and a fishing guide? God doesn’t think he’s a fishing guide!
2. Be calculated about your online presence. People only want to see your fish pictures when you suck. Once you get good your hero shots will receive comments like “how much is too much?” or “do you ever work?” Use my foolproof algorithm calculated over many years dodging haters: maximum of 1 fish pic for every 4 on a feed.
Instead try duckface near the ocean, a post about Darfur, a cute pic of your dog or a paragraph of adoration for your mom. Oh and remember the mantra…
“Being the coolest angler is like being the coolest guy at a star trek convention” ~ Me
3. Everyone is tired. Nobody cares. We all work the hours when there’s the opportunity. In 2 months we’ll all be restless sitting on the couch watching reruns of Fresh Prince (it’s on Netflix now) so while the suns shining….
4. You’re babysitting. Seriously though this is hospitality and you need to know that going in. Ice water with no ice or a burger with no onions but onion rings on the side are real requests I’ve had. It’s your job to read your audience and ask questions if you don’t know.
I once had a client bark “what the f*&k is as-eh-go?” I responded to his 3000th complaint rolling my eyes “it’s asiago and it’s a kind of cheese.” He fired back “not where I’m from it’s not a kind of cheese.” Texas. It was Texas.
5. You’re not always right. In fact even when you are you’re often not. We get people who swear by a line, or fly or hook or special fluorocarbon or god forbid some fancy long belly euro line. I’m not even sure I can teach you to cast a short line but it’s my job to entertain you because you saw Goren Anderson on a video in Sweden throwing lasers with this very head. At least entertain the ideas a while.
6. You need to be forceful when the moments right. There’s a balancing act between not being abrasive but trying to be effective. We’ve all been in situations where we know our clients decisions are costing fish and sometimes you just have to let it be… but only to a point. The 14lbs fluorocarbon you swear by is shit. Sorry. Oh and fish have pea brains.
7. Get the language right- here’s a few highlights.
Unicorns– this is a spring chinook. They often appear in otherwise desolate rivers like apparitions. Steelhead are not unicorns- they are steelhead.
Bucket– this is the part of the run fish typically occupy. It’s your best bet for the actual lie. It’s the spot within the spot.
Jiggly Water– this is the small chop steelhead love. Also called tity water by the politically incorrect.
Beaks– Never heard this? You might be the beak.
Nuggets– these are boulders.
Slab– like it sounds. A large fish.
Horse– also a large fish.
Toad– also large fish. Caution: using this word (or playing Pearl Jam) will get you b water in my boat.
8. Be overly prepared- this is my serious piece of advice for all guides. Starting your day off properly will absolutely change the whole atmosphere. 30 mins early means you’ll be wadered up, sipping coffee, everything looking good before the clients even arrive. It’s an instant confidence boost for you and for your guests.
For comparison watch the late guy fly into the parking lot doing 90, one foot in his waders, pile driving spey rods into the back of a truck, frantically trying to get out on the water. That day will remain as behind as it started and will be pretty tough to recover from. Fake it till you make it.
9. Numbers do Matter. We all know that old crusty guide who’s in it for the experience and doesn’t care about catching fish. He says something like “it’s about the journey grasshopper not the destination.” While easy to poke 1000 holes in that statement (I’d love Chile without 18 hours flying??) he’s allowed to say that with old guy status.
Old guy status is the same thing that lets your grandpa get away with that one racist joke he tells, or how people tolerate your dad in public with crocks- these are unwinnable fights and they wouldn’t listen if you told them otherwise.
As the rook you have yet to receive the guide pass and you have some proving to do. The best new guides are the ones clients feel like will always go the extra distance to provide a quality outing. Sorry but fish do count towards that.
10. Treat the fish with respect. We all like to be top dog and when you’re hitting them out the park you need to remember it’s all about the fish. Keep them in the water, if you do remove them please make it super quick, fight them quickly on appropriate tackle and take your time reviving them.
A couple things to remember :
- Kill shots are lame. Blood pouring down your arm isn’t cool and you don’t look tough. You outsmarted a fish and at this point it’s still hard to see how you did it. Kill em, bleed them and respectfully take a pic.
- The double grip and grin shot looks nothing but staged. In keeping with treating fish well we all know it was rodeo all the way to the shutter snap. They didn’t become subdued at exactly the same moment and it all looks so forced.
- Holding the fish out of the water like a shotgun pointed at the lens is not only is unnecessary air exposure but perhaps the least cool look there is. The fish is harmed, size and condition unexposed and it’s not tough like you might think- guns shoot holes through objects, fish swim in water #notgangster
- Conservation is sexy. Natalie Portman has received environmental protection awards, Jessica Biel thinks “mother nature is a G” and for the ladies Magic Mike guy is in trying to keep the Amazon XXL.