Being a guide

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

  1. Rick Todd

    Rick Todd Active Member

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    Having just had yet another great day on the river with YT, I can say that fishing with a true professional guide is one of life's great pleasures. I've actually been guided everywhere from Ascention Bay to the Bahamas, New Zealand to Montana and parts in between. Do I need to get a guide? Not really as I'm a pretty good fly fisher and fly caster. I am almost never skunked and fish a lot on my own. But even though I've been at this sport for over 30 years, a good guide (and in all those days of guided fishing, I've personally NEVER had a bad guide and I have thoroughly enjoyed meeting each and every one of them) will always show me ways to improve my skills and will locate fish for me that I wouldn't otherwise know are there. To me guided trip is one way I like to spoil myself, and I always feel like I got excellent value for my money. Ryan-thanks for another great day together and I really need to take Kaari with us for a hunt! Rick
     
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  2. royalcoach

    royalcoach Active Member

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    I guided in NH for 5 years or so ....

    Never forget my first trip .... it was an all day river wade with three guys who had minimal experience.
    I busted my ass hopping between the three of them .... changing flies, and giving casting tips, and netting fish.
    Shore lunch was venison on a propane grill.
    I think my fee back then on that day was $300.00 .... I got a $100.00 tip...the whole day was awesome.
    Went home and crashed on the couch hard, to do it all over again the next day.

    I never did it expecting tips.... I really even wasn't in it for the money ... but as I got busier the money did make a difference.
    Some would tip .... some would not ... usually most did and it was usually good money.

    This one trip... I had this guy who booked the resort for 30 days.... he drove a Bentley and his wife drove a Rolls.... It was hard to ignore the smell of money off of this guy.
    Took him and his son and his sons friend on a kayak bass fishing half day.
    One kid fell out of the yak fooling around after I told them to quit the shit.
    The dad .... he didn't help me "learn" the kids to stop fooling around....
    Then he told me he had never seen a moose before and asked if we would see one....
    I told him it was doubtful .... and around the next island by jesus a big cow moose in the lilly-pads...
    He got a bunch of decent picts.
    5 to 6 pound largemouth towing the kids around.... not kidding.
    End of day .... no tip.... I laughed all the way home
    That one still makes me laugh ... because of the ridiculousness of it all.
    I wasn't mad or disappointed that I didn't get a tip .... but I had to wonder what kind of schmuck that guy really was.
     
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  3. Salmo_g

    Salmo_g Active Member

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    Slight thread drift . . .

    Trapper,

    Interesting that you mention that IC (independent contractor) guides get clients through bookings arranged by licensed outfitters. My wife and I spent a week in MT a few years ago and wanted to go trout fishing part of the time. On the advice of an experienced angler and guide, I received the recommendation to book a trip with, let's call him "Well Known Outfitter" (WKO). So I did, and when we arrived at the shop to go fishing, WKO informed us that we would be fishing that day with IC. In that moment I felt like I was the victim of bait and switch in the fly fishing business. I thought about raising a bit of a stink over sending in my money for one thing and then getting another, but IC was standing there, and I didn't want him to get the impression that he was stuck with a jerk for a client or not having a booking that day.

    As it turned out IC was a great guy to spend a day on the river with and fully met our expectations for a guided float, and I tipped him accordingly. But I won't book a trip through WKO again just because I think he should have made it clear at the time of booking that we would be fishing with an "unknown" IC and not with him. WKO also guided that day, and it looked like he took the client who was a friend or may have been a regular, I'm not sure. Petty perhaps, but IMO vendors should be clear about what they are selling and what the customer is getting.

    When we went to Belize I contacted a recommended guide and tried to book 2 days. He made it clear that he was open only one of those days, but that his BIL was a guide, and a very good one, and helped us arrange the next day's trip. I liked that arrangement for the reason that we got what (who) we expected.

    Sg
     
  4. Chris Bellows

    Chris Bellows Your Preferred WFF Poster

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    my experience was that the best tippers were blue collar guys who seemed to appreciate the hard work i put in getting them into fish more than the "been there-done that" wealthy guys.
     
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  5. Trapper Badovinac

    Trapper Badovinac Author, Writer, Photographer

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    Salmo_g - I've worked for a bunch of outfitters. Some of them were extremely organized, but many were not. It didn't mean they weren't good outfitters, but some just weren't the sort of guys who planned too far ahead. It wouldn't occur to them that you would be put out by going with an experienced IC. If a long time client showed up or called at the last minute, they'd see nothing wrong with putting you with someone else.

    A few outfitters I worked for rarely guided. They had full time jobs and ran the business end. If you called them up a few days before you were booked and asked "What hatches are going on?" They'd tell you they had another call or something and would call you back. They'd call one of their guides to get an update and then call you back. I worked for one outfitter who was a gear guy at heart. He rarely ever fished anything but streamers. If he had an angler asking to fish dries, he'd call one of the ICs. He constantly belittled dry fly fishermen. I'm not sure he knew the difference between an Adams and Spent Caddis or between a hydropsyche and a gammurus . He was a genius at deflecting questions about entomology.

    He assumed his client anglers knew less than him, but many of them would get in my boat and tell me how little he knew about anything except streamers or how there would be a massive hatch going on and he would want them to throw streamers into the middle of a pod of rising fish. When they told him they wanted to string up a rod with a dry fly and cast to the risers he'd roll his eyes and start belittling them.

    My point is twofold. 1) While some outfitters are on the river nearly every day are the best of the best, that's not always a given that they are the best guides out there. 2) Some outfitters are much better at marketing, selling, and booking than actually guiding, so it's not a given that in a "bait and switch" situation that you'd end up on the short end of the stick. You might end up better off.

    Trapper
     
  6. wadin' boot

    wadin' boot Donny, you're out of your element...

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    Cruik I hear what you are saying and I bolded what concerned me most about your post, which I know was theory/generic and not necessarily totally specific to you. But was heartfelt and true otherwise... for those that hire, it really is about what you know and who you are. The rest follows...

    Take Rick's post below. He's a Dentist (I'm pretty sure) who has spent his professional career doing good (hopefully correct about that also), well reimbursed work. And there is the lifestyle he wants to live laid out, not as a brag, but as a testament to rewarding himself for busting his ass and relying on his brain and hands. His educational burden/cost has paid off so many times over that at the very least it remains admirable if not enviable.

    ..Don't believe all the self-marketing BS, there are plenty of jobs that demand high levels of competency that will always pay well regardless of how good your networking and internet presence is. And as someone who hires, pretty websites and big linked-in profiles and self-indulgent blogs devoid of original content are meaningless to me. Don't even get me started on twitter. I am looking for competent, curious and capable.

    Philosophically and otherwise (given I have sorta british/australian teeth and spendthrift immigrant parents that hammered similar phiosophies into me) I will always pay way more to my dentist(s) than guides. And as a parent, cutting checks to pay for my kid's school comes with both delight and advice for him along the lines of..you're going to have to become not just good, but outstanding at something, doesn't matter what, but you need to be outstanding...(and don't overlook Dental School, because chances are the guy laughing his way to the bank is a Dentist)

     
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  7. Lugan

    Lugan Joe Streamer

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    Cruik - As a 46 year old hiring manager at the big software company in the Seattle area, I'll pile onto WB's comment above: Keep it straight-forward. When I evaluate job candidates, I want to know just one thing: Will they make a positive contribution to my business? Networking and fluffy self-promotion are all distractions. One thing remains a timeless constant: Great skill preparation (school and work experience), great attitude (personality), and great work ethic (effort) = great impact. That's what I look for, and I'll bet most other hiring managers here do too - even if they describe it in different ways.

    Wow, that sounds simple. I know it's not. I 100% agree that the economy and other situational factors in the US now are harder than what I faced in my 20's (and I thought that was hard then). WB's advice to be awesome at *something* is spot on though no matter how easy or hard the macro situation is. You have to figure out what that *something* is, which has always been tricky. In my 20's I never had any inkling that I'd be doing what I'm doing now. It was a random path except for one thing: I worked smart, hard, and had a good attitude (note I didn't say "great" attitude - just being accurate). It took me until about age 41 to figure out what I was good at and enjoyed doing within the boundaries of occupations that actually pay a living wage. Luck from random chance is part of it, but you increase your odds of good luck by following the advice above.

    One thing I'll say from reading your insightful post: You appear to have a good enough head on your shoulders to be able to do it. Just don't do something stupid like become a flyfishing guide. ;)
     
  8. Greg Armstrong

    Greg Armstrong Active Member

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    One thing I would add to Lugan's attributes listed above is "ambition".
    That attribute, used in conjunction with everything else he mentions can take you a long way in any career.
     
  9. JS

    JS Active Member

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    It pains me to say that I once, not that long ago, wanted to make guiding my profession. I spent a summer guiding in Alaska in 2008, and I guided off and on here in Washington for several years prior to returning to school to get my teaching certificate in 2010. Having watched the waves of new blood emerge from every corner of the NW, I couldn't agree more with the original post. I will never guide a steelhead trip again. Period. I don't care for trout fishing that much, and that never was alluring to have a career as a trout guide here in WA. That leaves very little interest for me as far as guiding goes......I think my time is much better spent with my own rod in my hand. Pun intended.

    I have to say that I was made to feel somewhat embarrassed by this post. I don't identify with a lot of the 'guides' that are coming up in the game, but generationally I am close to them. I feel ashamed somewhat for being part of this trend, and I am certainly done with it. For what it is worth, I know I have the experience, when I was booking trips I was licensed and insured, I have been rowing most of my life, taken loads of wilderness first aid training, always up on certifications, but at some point this has got to stop.
     
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  10. o mykiss

    o mykiss Active Member

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    Having a grandpa who starred as the bad-ass Robert Neville in The Omega Man and gave NRA speeches with a rifle above his head shouting "they're gonna' have to pry this from my cold, dead hands" tends to instill some manners in a young 'un.
     
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  11. cuponoodle breakfast

    cuponoodle breakfast Active Member

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    It's a safety issue. We have guides with next to zero rowing experience taking clients down potentially dangerous rivers. These same guides will no doubt be getting themselves a jet sled for a low monthly payment and hitting the hot fishery of the day with 200hp behind them.
     
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  12. Bob Triggs

    Bob Triggs Your Preferred Olympic Peninsula Fly Fishing Guide

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    I think that one of the worst things to happen to fly fishing, and guiding, has been the word "Industry." But I suppose this can be said of many things in our culture today. New York and Maine have had, for over 100 years, some of the tougher requirements and tests, and supervision, for outdoors guides of all types. And still there are plenty of bad apples to go around. I think that having some time working with more experienced guides provides a good foundation. And certainly things like water safety, basic water rescue, wilderness first aid, paddling and rowing skills, outdoors survival skills, along with the fishing experience that should go along with guiding anywhere, is not too much to expect. And I have known some very young people who were masters of it by the time they were 18. Being young and strong is an advantage for any guide. And being smart and experienced is a plus.
     
  13. Rick Todd

    Rick Todd Active Member

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    Here is a picture of YT Trapper. (I'm the good looking guy on the left!;)) P1000252.JPG
     
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  14. Westfork

    Westfork Member

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    Trapper Badovinac... Hmmm, if you are the guy that wrote that book revealing my hidden fishing spots.

    How could you?

    I mean how could you move the crowds off the Mo and up those hills?
     
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  15. Trapper Badovinac

    Trapper Badovinac Author, Writer, Photographer

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    I will answer your question.

    First, let me say I only wish I had the power to move crowds of people anywhere.

    There are guys who are still pissed at me for writing a book about the Mo. I gave away their secret river. I got crap from guys for writing articles about reading water. They thought people should figure it out on their own. I got crap for doing fly tying demos and showing guys short cuts and how to keep a fly together. They often would praise me for something and condemn me to hell for others. The next guy would praise me for what the guy before him condemned me for. I got crap for guiding. People asked "Why are you giving Montana trout away to rich non-residents?"

    I've been threatened. One guy on this forum made not so veiled threats about pounding the crap out of me if he saw me on the river.

    I never wrote anything with the intention of trading "secret" spots for money. The money was crap. My intent was, as when I was guiding, doing presentations, fly tying demos, to help inexperienced anglers because all the experienced guys told them to figure it out on their own.

    When I've asked some guys "Who showed you this spot?" or "Who taught you this technique?" lots of times it was their Dad or Uncle etc. I think a lot of guys figured certain spots were their private heritage and everyone else was trespassing.

    Some of the same guys who were/are pissed at me for one thing have asked me to help them in another area/river. They wanted other guys "secrets" but didn't want anyone near theirs.

    I've heard all the arguments. "But, this (someone else's) river isn't fragile. This (theirs) is." The Montana creel surveys haven't shown any change in traffic on any place I've written about. Maybe I'm a piss poor writer. Maybe the internet is so full of "secret" spots that things get spread out. Montana FWP lists thousands and thousands of streams and rivers in their own fishing guides and on their websites.

    I no longer write for any hook n bullet magazines. I no longer guide. I no longer teach fly tying classes. I no longer do presentations.

    You asked a question and I answered it. I won't argue and I won't engage in an online debate on the subject because all it will do is likely get this thread shut down.

    Trapper
     
  16. flybill

    flybill Purveyor of fine hackle, wine & cigars!

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    One of those "blue lines" in the WA, MT,
    Secrets on the Missouri! Really?! There really are no secret spots anywhere, just places "you" or "I" haven't found yet.. or maybe where the access is private and you can't get to easily. It's very sad that you would be threatened for a book, guiding or any of the cases you mentioned. Sadly, I do know other guides who have gone through this in different places. Gear stolen, trucks vandalized, threatened with bodily violence.

    I've been very fortunate to have friends who show me their "secret" spots. Many times, I already knew about them, but regardless it's always good.. Many other times I've bypassed that spot, figured it just wasn't any good or was too lazy to hike in a long way beating my way through the brush and muck! When I do get to join someone at their spot, I always assume that they don't want me to blab about it and feel honored they trust me enough to share their hard work of finding that spot...

    I would think one of the hardest parts of guiding is showing new clients your favorite spots on the river, knowing full well you'll see them there at one point or another. Or see friends of theirs or just others there that found out about it through them or something they posted! Just part of the business I assume.. the good thing is that a river is always changing and that "HOT" spot one year won't be so hot the next year...

    Anyway you can't hate the haters! I jokingly say sometimes that "I'm pissing the world off one person at a time... are you next?" :cool:
     
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  17. royalcoach

    royalcoach Active Member

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    I miss it. I had a great gig going.
    WARNING : I am going to ramble a bit as memories are coming back :eek:

    I worked full-time maintenance at a resort.
    Talked the Director of Sales to try selling ice-fishing and fly-fishing packages... and it exploded on me.
    The resort then allowed me all the time off I needed to guide guests who purchased packages.
    The ice-fishing trips were the easiest and most fun. I had a few bob-houses set up... would cook a lot of bacon and eggs .... it was byob for the guests (I did pick-up and drop off). Most of the ice-fishing took place on the lake in front of the hotel. It was a hot salmon and trout lake.... I was a king during the ice fishing season.
    The guests loved me .... they caught beautiful fish and ate a lot of bacon....
    I made good money and had a blast all winter.

    I eventually got so busy I went part-time maintenance ... and started guiding deer, bear, and moose on my own ... as well as fishing clients on my own ... on top of the resort packages.
    I was a one man operation ... and at times would hire "helpers".
    I once guided a group of 30 folks from NYC along the shore of the lake where the hotel resort was. It was another memorable day .... I rented spinning gear from the local tackle shop and asked everyone to catch and photograph and release. Almost everyone caught fish ... and some cocker trout to my surprise too. At the end of the afternoon some of the group took me out for beverages at the resort tavern on the lake. Come to find out some of them folks were in the Twin Towers and lost good friends on 9/11.

    A lot of my fly-fishing clients were beginners ... and were psyched to be standing in a river ... and so many times they would say they don't care if they even caught a fish ... but they almost always did.

    A shit-ton of work keeping bear bait sites active and scouting moose .... but I was young and dumb.
    The bears were easily trained ... I would sing Xmas songs while walking into and out of bait sites.
    "Rudolf The Red Nosed Reindeer" ... "Deck The Halls" ... not kidding here folks.
    This way I wouldn't surprise any boo boos at the bait site .... and them bears associated fresh donuts with "We Wish You a Merry Xmas".
    The look on clients faces as we walked into bait sites with me singing Christmas Carols out loud was priceless.
    I learned that trick while getting my BS in Wildlife Biology at UMAINE.

    I will never forget the first moose I called in with my own voice.... or the first big white-tail buck that a client was gifted to shoot.... or tracking in the dark.... I used to practice my moose calls on the couch watching videos ....

    My divorce changed a lot of things thereafter..... I made mistakes before and after that.

    Today, I am an old out of shape Chief Engineer for a hotel investment group ... Life is weird. :D
    Fly-fishing is pretty much all I have aside from friends and family.

    I used to say I would renew my guides licenses when I retired ... but I don't think I could do it anymore quite honestly.

    But I will say this .... I still always always always get way more excited to watch someone I am with fool a fish or take a deer.... way moreso than I ever get when I catch or shoot. I would say that this is a key thing to becoming a decent guide.... apart from the people skills needed .... which are just as important if not more-so.
     
  18. royalcoach

    royalcoach Active Member

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    Good one.

    BTW... That signature quote is great !
    Im stealing it.
     
  19. Ray

    Ray Active Member

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    I've been guiding for 15 years now. Mostly whitewater with some fishing mixed in. I don't depend on it for a living, which has kept me fresh and has allowed me to enjoy it that much more. It's the best job in the world as long as you don't have to depend on tips to make your truck payment. Tough, seasonal, weekend heavy work. As a hobby job, I love it. As a whitewater guide, the rapids do most of the entertaining, and I just have to keep the boat right side up. As a fishing guide, the entertainment is more difficult. I can't guarantee catching fish, so what I try to do is make sure that I concentrate on teaching a skill throughout the day. If they don't catch many fish, at least they will have learned a skill/technique that will help them catch fish in the future.
     
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  20. cebe

    cebe Member

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    I don't mind young guides that I see, yes, I am sure some where along the line they make mistakes. But one thing I don't see very often are "bad" older guides. I have to believe it is because if they started out at an early age and continued to be a "bad" guide they didn't last. It is probably like any job, there is a learning curve, and you get better or else you never progress and ultimately quit. I like a young guide's passion about fishing. A few years ago, in late September, my wife and I were fishing with a younger guide in Montana. He was kind of bummed that he was nearing the end of his season and hadn't boated a fish over 20". My wife and I are pretty much dry fly fishermen, but about midday the guide talked me into fishing his rod rigged with a kind of rubber legged flashy woolly bugger for few casts. We landed a 23" brown, and what really made my day was how proud and pumped he was to boat a fish over 20" on his suggestion and his fly. I believe he is well respected as a guide now, as he certainly earned my respect.
     

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