For the past year and a half I have been guiding on all my days off, weekends, vacation time and holidays. I have been guiding with the thought that if it goes well I may be able to make it a full time job when I get out of the Army. It has been no walk in the park however. Lots of work has been key. But so far it is going extremely well.
A day in the life is certainly changed from wearing a uniform and going to the Army base, to walking a river. But not all my day is spent on the water. I have found that "office time" takes up a lot of guiding time as well. Tying flies, writing, editing photographs, contacting clients, working on my own website, doing the books, making lunches and getting gear ready has taken up much of my time. But I love it. Here is a day in the life as I see it for just two of my trips.Monday:
I need to contact my clients for Friday. I am looking over water conditions to help make a great decision as to where to go. The clients requested a trip on a specific private ranch, normally a good idea to see big fish and lose the crowds, the downfall is a large "rod fee." My client agrees to my decision to save the money and fish some public water instead. I have been moving around my office space in our family room and have added a new desk. I need to organize everything before my wife loses her mind. Tuesday:
I go fishing on my own, check out a few newer spots as well as hit the spot I think I am going to take my groups on the weekend. Later that night, I sit down and call my Saturday clients. I give them a few options that are fishing well; they want to think about the choices and get back to me. They also really wanted to make sure I knew that they were wanting to learn as much as possible for their hikes around Colorado. Knots and casting are on the list to learn. My wife and daughter go to bed, I go down to my office and tie flies for the weekend. Reply to a few emails and it is off to bed.
I have a shopping list of some leaders, hooks and material, I head down to a fly shop to buy some stuff. On the way home I have to get my oil changed, something that comes with the extra miles I put on my car going to the water to guide. Emails from this weeks clients are received later that day with wader and boot sizes. Also, I have a few dietary requests to make sure I write down in my notes for the weekend. Wife and daughter go to bed, I go down to my office to start writing and editing my website. I continually have been teaching myself Wordpress. Thursday:
Need to meet the boss. We fish for a few hours and I get all the required gear for the weekend. When I get home I have some family time and then get all the gear organized and ready for the weekend. I have to get to the grocery store before 9pm to get all the food for the weekends lunches. I have 8 lunches to take care of. The deli ladies know me by now as I order not by the pound but by the slice. They know I am going to get the Wildflower Honey Turkey and White American Deli Cheese. Love my deli ladies! I get other groceries and make sure I keep all the receipts, come Monday I am going to have to update my books on costs of food, gas and gear. I get home and make my lunches for the next day. Cooler sterilized and food on ice for the next day. I make sure my digital camera battery is charged, four dozen flies tied for the day are in my "go to" box. Check the recent flows at 10:30pm just to make sure there are no surprises. Friday:
Wake up at 4:30am to get ready for the day. I get all packed up. Check the flows again. Off to the water. Meet my group at a local fly shop near the water and he follows me in. Suit up with our gear and we are off. So far everything has gone to plan. But the hard part is coming up. I need to get these guys off the water and eating lunch between 11:00 and 11:15 am. There are a few reasons for this. Again, even though the fish are biting, the group of guys think that is a good idea. While we are eating we watch a fly fisherman hit our spot, luckily, the mid-day lull has struck hard and the fisherman, probably frustrated, moves on. We finish up and head back to the river. 20 minutes later we are back into the fish. As the day comes to a close I get all the gear back in order and head home. Upon arrival there are some family matters to attend to before I can get ready for the next day. All the boots and waders must be cleaned for the next trip out. Right around 8pm I start getting the lunches together with a few changes to the normal menu, no cheese, extra fruits and veggies are requested. Again, check the flows.Saturday:
I am up again at 4:30am to get ready for the day. I get all packed up. Again, I check the flows. Off to the water. Meet with my group who are tired and cold. I assure them that it will warm up quickly and everything will be fine. I give them one of my Monster energy drinks, which was earmarked for my trip home, to get a little pep in their step. I take my time getting all their waders on and the rods set up. I know there are not that many people on the water yet and I do not want to rush in to the cold water before they have gotten the sunshine to warm them up. We get to the water's edge, they seem a bit apprehensive but get in and walk around. I start to help them cast and we can start to see the fish moving around. I pick up some rocks and show them that their flies are meant to mimic the natural food around them.
We hook up with doubles. Both fish were small, but that is perfect. I can teach them how to fight a fish on the fly rod without a ton of adrenaline flowing through their systems. They now know what it feels like to fight a fish. Hopefully this will help when a larger one strikes. Then it happens a few fish later, the big one. My client, all 4' 11'' of her, hooks into a 23'' rainbow. She does not panic. The reel screams and I position her better to fight the fish. I play goal keeper by trying to make sure the fish does not take a one way trip down stream. We take some quick photographs and release it back I get the fish in so that we can take some quick photographs and release it back into the water. Success!!! Not a success, her husband now needs to get a memorable fish. After lunch I suggest we leave our spot that is producing and move to another spot. 10 minutes into our new spot and I spot the fish and point him out. The husband places the flies and bam, fish on. Success.
Many people say they want to guide, few do. Simply showing up on the water is not the right thinking. One detail out of place and a guide can potentially ruin someone's day, an expensive day. Nothing to take lightly.
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