Being a guide

Discussion in 'Fly Fishing Forum' started by Whitey, Mar 18, 2014.

  1. Means a lot more then being a good fly fishermen. I see a lot of kids trying to be guides and it makes me wonder. I didn't start guiding until I was almost 30 years old because I didn't think people would take a 20 year old guide seriously. I see these 20 something's trying to guide rivers they have no business guiding. They have no Intimate knowledge of the river. How can you guide a river you have no experience on? It's mind blowing. A lot of people have shitty experiences and think the river their on is crappy. No, your guide is crappy. Yeah, but he did a nice lunch! ;)

    I have a million stories and examples of this, but this one sticks out. Kid wants to be a guide, kid is a fantastic fishermen. This does not translate into being a good guide. Just because your good yourself, doesn't mean your going to be good at guiding other people. It takes time, experience, learning a lot of other skills. I tell the kid he needs mentoring, a few years hanging out with real guides, learning different skills, etc. Sort of an apprenticeship program. Kid doesn't want to hear this, he wants it now! He go's and talks to ___________, tells the kid sure! sky's the limit, 100 trips immediately......

    Kid flips the boat on his first trip guiding a river he's never fished, let alone having "intimate knowledge".

    Luckily no one was hurt.

    This year, wdfw changed the rules, making it harder to get a guides license. You know what changed for me?

    Nothing. I already had insurance, a business license, CPR/first aid. Any serious guide would too. Other states I've guided in, it was way way harder to get started. As it should be.

    I retired from guiding steelhead in 2011. I have my reasons, but part of it was because a saw all these jack asses claiming to be guides, with no experience what so ever. It makes all guides look bad because the general public can't tell the difference. They still can't. Anyone can get a license, build a website, claim to guide this river or that river and take people's money. I see it all the time. I retired from fishing for steelhead too.

    You know how real guides know each other? They keep seeing each other on the river!

    I love and respect all guides out there, you are my brothers. We need to work together to make things better.

    Thank you!

  2. well put. i'm not a huge fan of guides pimping rivers and never doing a thing to help the fish, new generation of guides seem very selfish. some do it right, but very few.
  3. To be a guide you need to be a steward of the watersheds you fish. Heck, to fish a watershed you need to be a steward of it!

    I'm not perfect, I've made my share of mistakes along the way. I was lucky to be mentored by guides with more experience. I've had numberous people help me along the way. I would have never got this far without it.
  4. I once thought about being a guide because it's fun to teach people about fishing. Then I realized that life is too short to watch other people fish when I'd rather be fishing myself, and I couldn't or didn't want to afford the pay cut.

  5. 100% true Salmo g, as usual. Everybody thinks it's "living the dream". In some ways it is, but you better work you ass off to get there. I could make more money doing something else, without question, but would I love it as much? Probably not.

    How do you make a million dollars in fly fishing?

    Start with two million.
  6. i understand what you are saying but i'm not sure age should be a determining factor. i agree about experience, but you should know from experience yourself how you have to actually guide to get better at guiding.

    i think one problem is that there are loads of guides with guiding experience elsewhere but with zero steelhead experience who decide to jump right in without learning much. nymphing tactics have made this far easier now than in the past. i met a guide who was taking people spey fishing who had never himself caught a fish on the swing. bullshit will get you through a lot, especially beginner anglers who don't know better, but imo it is bad for the sport and those same beginners.
    speyfisher, Whitey and Brett Angel like this.
  7. I've seen "guides" online asking for advice on what kind of drift boat to get, then a couple months later they're booking trips on peninsula rivers.
    Bob Triggs, fredaevans and Whitey like this.
  8. Dude

    *high five
    Bob Triggs and Whitey like this.
  9. Do guides ever go fishing after work? I always have. I've thought about becoming a guide, but I worry that it would be shitting where I eat. Fishing is way too big a part of my life to ruin by making it my job. Maybe I'm wrong.
  10. ENCORE!!!!
    Whitey likes this.
  11. I felt guilty reading this. I'm not a guide, but I'm definitely smack in the generation and culture you're talking about. And it's not the first time on this forum that this generation of fly fishermen has been lamented. But I think it's bigger than fly fishing. My explanation is this:

    Our parents saw unprecedented economic and cultural growth. They started with nothing, and ended up with a lot. When they had us, we wanted for nothing and were told "I was never given the means to succeed, but I went out and did it anyway. You'll be twice as successful as I am. You can be anything you want to be." And so we grew up thinking we were going to be doctors, engineers, UN ambassadors, painters, musicians, and architects. By 25. We believed we had inherited an upper-middle class social status and there was nowhere to go but up.

    The problem is, there's a whole lot of us that grew up with the means to succeed, especially in Washington. Colleges and student loan companies have preyed upon us, building new schools, admitting more students, and jacking up tuition. All the while, the number of job opportunities stagnate and our parents' generation are too fit to retire, especially after watching their aggressive retirement accounts tank. We work at restaurants and retail stores and hang our degrees in the bathroom of our apartment, unless we still live at home. Having the degree isn't enough anymore. Now we're told that if we want to succeed, we have to set ourselves apart from the millions just like us. We attend blogging and networking seminars to find out how to cheat the system, since it seems that's the only way to succeed. It's not about what you know and who you are, but who you know and what image you can market. We pound the internet with high res, filtered pictures and fish-eye videos to project the lifestyle that we want to live. If we haven't become who we want to be, we can at least look like we have on the internet, and Best Practices say 'Fake it 'til you make it.'

    Honestly, I think what you're seeing is a generation that's scared to death because we aren't able to live up to the life we were born into, let alone the expectations of our parents and ourselves. If we aren't able push through to the life that we want, we either have to give up or push harder.
  12. Listen to the children. There is real wisdom here.
    Lugan, jake-e-boy and fredaevans like this.
  13. I don't think it's about youth, I think it's a Wal-mart mentality of trying to serve everybody that want's to fish. Back in the day we use to say put the right people in the boat and the rest with a lifejacket.
    Whitey likes this.
  14. Damn that's some dark and cynical shit...but pretty accurate. Hell I just talked to my buddy from school and he is a CPA that is working as the mascot at a Red Robin trying to pay off 100k+ of student loans (he wears that bird suit).

    Best thing I did was get off Facebook when I graduated. Its turned into who can post the most pictures portraying a life that is way above whay they have. Now all my friends are getting married and blowing tens of thousands on the weddings, partly motivated by the need to post new pictures on Facebook that make their wedding appear better than the last chick who posted wedding pics.

    Well said man.
  15. I fished with Yt before he was a guide. He was alright as a fly fisher and he seemed to know what he was doing when I fished with him. But he doesn't know to much about combination locks.:p:p
    flybill and Whitey like this.
  16. I've been asked by my non-fishing friends, why don't you guide Bill? My main answer is I would rather spend my time on the water fishing! However, the real reason is that if I was looking for a guide, I would want someone more experienced than me. I don't specialize in one river or drainage. I'll teach you how to cast and present, and I'll even fish with you, but I don't want to be responsible for you catching fish or whatever it takes to make you happy on your fishing trip!

    I've fished all over and like the diversity of the places I've fished! Washington, Montana, Idaho and Oregon.. Once in Hawaii off of the Big Island.. As a guide you have to specialize in somewhere and really, really know it! I still have too many places I want to go!

    So YT, when are we fishing again? I'll be over at the WA FFF Ellensburg event.. let's do it if you have time!! Nice post!
    Bob Triggs and Whitey like this.
  17. I guided in Colorado (South Platte and Arkansas) and then in Montana (Missouri, Blackfoot, Smith). As an Independent Contractor guide, I worked with lots of guides, outfitters, and several shops.

    I didn't start guiding until I was 40 and by then I saw the world very differently than I did when I was a kid riding my bike down to the Arkansas River that ran through my home town.

    I'm not sure I have an exact list of what makes a good and/or sucessful guide. There are outfitters/guides I know who have all the trips they can book who yell at their anglers and have done it for 30+ years. I've known guides who didn't know a cased caddis larvae from a hexagenia nymph.

    After reading Whitey's initial post, I found myself nodding my head in agreement with much of what he wrote. I think like many other jobs some people fall in love with the "idea" of being a guide instead of dealing with the reality of actually being a guide. When I taught new guides I told them mostly they'd love all the stories they could then tell their friends. I have lots of them. Some are pretty funny like the time I guided a woman who had never even bait or gear fished before. When she stood in the knee brace of my driftboat with her feet going up and down like race car pistons screaming "It's PULLING!" And I yelled "Set the hook!" and she said "What?" I repeated "Set the hook!" and she screamed "What the F*&K DOES THAT MEAN?" I jumped out of the rowers seat and lifted her rod, then, seeing all the slack line on the water, said "STRIP, STRIP!" To which she replied, "I don't think so." And then the repeat client I had who had brain cancer which eventually took his eyesight. We'd float down the river and I'd tell him "11 oclock. 35 feet. Put a serious reach cast into it." The guy grew up casting in the Florida Keys so he could really throw some line. I'd say "FISH!" and he'd set with the prettiest and most perfect hook sets you ever saw. I finally got a really nice letter from his wife Shirley telling me he died. "His last few years all he talked about was fishing the Missouri with you."

    My point is, and Whitey's too, was you don't do it for the money. You don't do it because you'll fish more.

    You do it for the stories.

  18. Hey Whitey, I make a damned good client....;)
    Whitey and flybill like this.
  19. I certainly didn't go to graduate school with a plan to be a guide, but over the 17 years I toiled in the corporate world I learned and experienced quite a bit. Some of those stories come in handy with a CEO on the boat for the day, because we have a common language and it translates into my philosophy on the water. It's also quite satisfying to introduce a new angler interested in the pursuit, so conservation and ethics are the cornerstones of the day. It is certainly a benefit to be wiser in the ways of the "real world" when guiding. The young person who takes his first guiding job quickly realizes how the game works, and that's often enough a spark towards two decisions - I'll be satisfied working for someone else, or I want to make the decisions, take on the responsibilities, and work on my terms. That spark is the money issue; how do I live doing what I love?

    It is difficult to succeed in any industry to the degree that most of us want, or are "trained" for. As Ryan points out, those of us already exceeding the legal expectations of the WDFW won't see much change, but the clients who hire guides certainly will.

    I much prefer the boardroom discussions on the river, solving problems that really matter. Great post Ryan.
  20. I'm pretty sure the key to being a successful guide is marrying well. ;)

    I'm sure it varies, but my experience with real guides is that they love it so much that they'd row people down the river for free if they weren't guiding, are out fishing for fun in their free time and all vacations are based around tides and fishing seasons.
    John Hicks, dfl, Bob Triggs and 6 others like this.

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