After preparing everything for a day of guiding we finally meet the clients for the day. It's either going to be a return or a new angler. With new folks it's much like a blind date. We have done our preliminary interview so have some kind of an idea of experience, expectations and goals. I'll help rig up rods and inspect reels, lines and leaders. If I have doubts about gear I'll suggest a replacement. I either tie on a new leader or tweak an existing one to match what we are doing that day. We will have a short safety talk and proceed to fish.
For many anglers, fishing out of a drift boat is a new experience. Both bow and stern anglers need to do certain things to be productive. I'll continue to call out shots throughout the day along with suggestions for better drifts or retrieves. I'll tie on flies I know are productive. Sometimes it's one dry. Most of the time it's a dry/nymph combo. We will throw streamers into sexy bank structure for a couple of reasons. The ability to see fish charge a streamer is an image many anglers have never seen. Some of the biggest fish of the day are either seen or caught doing the streamer gig. With this happening we are constantly on the look out for rising fish. This is what most clients are hoping for. Anchoring the boat quietly in good casting position is paramount to an anglers success. Don't blow this dry fly opportunity when it presents itself.
The most important role of a guide in our opinion is teaching. I really want clients to leave with something more than fish in the net. Most folks are visual learners. I'll spend part of the day teaching techniques like the reach cast, mends, rigging, reading water and rise forms. You should always leave a trip with more information than you came with. Whether a new technique, fly pattern selection or a better understanding of the water you fished. We also pick up tons of insight from clients on any given day.
Lunch happens during a lull in the day or when hunger rules. I'll usually prepare a shoreline lunch in a productive wading area so folks can fish while I get the meal ready. Lunch is a pretty important part of the day. It gets everyone recharged and rested for the final rounds. It's when we either catch up on each others lives, get to know more about new guests or just plain chill. We will either wade fish a bit more or continue to float or work another wading area. I like to break up a float with at least one wade aspect per trip.
At this point in the trip we are still looking for heads. What I haven't mentioned yet is what I've done so far throughout the day. Changed rigs at least three or four times. Untangled birds nests. Rowed/positioned the boat for the best angle and speed. Set up anglers for the best shots. Avoided other river users. Netted and released fish. Kept everyone hydrated and full of snacks. Checked for sunscreen needs. If it's cold and raining, making sure everyone is dry and warm. Taken water temps. Spotted fish. Motivated better casts and mends. Applied floatant, split shot and tippet. Kept vigil on water flows, clarity, weather and bug life. Changed flies throughout the day. Identified bird, bug, animal and fauna life. Ducked an errant cast or two. Shot images with the camera. I try to average 20-45 shots per trip. Pulled up the 15-30lb. anchor over a dozen times. There are other tasks done during a trip but I think you get the idea.
The trip ends depending on the time of year and conditions. Closing time is anywhere from 5:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. It all depends on client's wishes, when we start and hatches. One thing we won't do is leave a pod of rising fish before giving them our best shot. Never. Hit the take out, strip the boat, breakdown rods, change out of waders, repack the truck and deliver clients to their vehicle or lodging. Crack a beer possibly, collect remainder of guide fee, exchange cards, check availability for seasonal openings at a later date, check to see if clients have everything they came with, map out areas for them to fish while here, relive the days events. This can last five minutes to an hour. I'm good with it either way. We say our good byes, thank yous and I hit the road.
Think it's over? Nope.