In which, “What, you want me to teach you how to cast too?”
And then there are the bad ones, the guides who caught a few trout and girlies in high school and figured that they were destined to be rock stars.
I recently read a fly fishing novel in which the guide protagonist’s real job is babysitting his daddy’s McRanch and the spring creek that flows through it. Some stuff happens, don’t remember the details. Reason being, it’s a masochistically bad book (I read the whole thing), though in a way it’s as honest a treatment of the guiding profession as Miles Nolte’s Alaska home run. Enjoy, reader, this tasty snack:
“OK,” Marshall said, struggling not to sound patronizing, “here’s the thing; when you have clients in a boat, well, most clients can’t cast more than thirty feet. It’s stunning how bad these people are.”
“They pay all that money and they can’t fish?” Kyle asked.
“Right. If you can’t actually fly fish well enough to catch fish on your own, you spray four hundred bucks on some guide and think he’s supposed to do the work for you.”
It’s an unfortunate truth that in the minds of many trout guides who’ve never worked in a fish camp, fly shops suck, other guides suck, Californians, Texans, East Coasters, wives and kids suck. Tell me who doesn’t suck and I’ll answer that he’s not a client. Common whines are that clients can’t cast and are either too stupid (though smart enough to earn enough money to spray at fishing guides) or spastic to set the hook. Clients talk too much, own too much, think too highly of their own fishing ability and too lowly of how masculinely their guide is floating them down a spectacular Rocky Mountain stream. Whatever the case, they certainly don’t deserve a lot of effort for the huge tip their guide expects from them.
Too many guides carry an inflated notion of their own guruness and therefore don’t understand that when someone pays you fairly, they expect you to endure whatever it takes to get the job done right. Untangle their tangles, share heartily in their triumphs and disappointments, partake of their friendship and hard won wisdom (ever notice that your clients are somewhat older than you?). Who knows? Someday you might want a job wherein you don’t remove musty work pants and gag on the smell of pickled rat corpses. A sympathetic client might be able to help you with that
I definitely had the rock star fantasy myself. Then I began guiding and realized that rock stars not only made a lot more money than guides but had to possess real talent.
It might surprise you to read that you can get into guiding without knowing much about fly fishing. It doesn’t take long, however, before you will either conclude that you like it or you don’t. If you don’t like guiding, you will eventually stink at it, a fact that will become increasingly difficult to hide. If you do like it, you probably see the work as a reasonably challenging way to suit your desires and temperament (subjectively speaking at least, I must say that the average day of guiding is plenty fun). And yes, people will hire you for the exact reason the protagonist in the crappy fishing novel I read says they shouldn’t: BECAUSE THEY HAVE DIFFICULTY CATCHING FISH ON THEIR OWN; BECAUSE THEY WOULD LIKE YOU TO DO THE WORK FOR THEM.