The art of becoming a fishing guide
Fortunately, no two fishing guides are alike
I have been out with many fishing guides, and no two are alike. Thank goodness.
There are those who will bait your hook, cast your line out for you, clean your lure of weeds, provide you with lunch, offer great advice, wipe your nose, clean your fish and even laugh at your bad jokes all day. Then there are the other 99 percent.
Just kidding. Most guides know their business and can get you into some good fishing.
One thing you must be careful of is promises made by guides. If youre going out for steelhead, for example, they might say something like, We caught a dozen big fish yesterday. However, they omit the fact that they were on another river.
One guide told me he takes people salmon fishing, steelhead fishing and shad catching. When the shad are running, he guarantees that youll catch fish. And he was right. He also guarantees each fish will fill the net. I was a bit leery about this statement and thought he went a bit too far with his guiding prowess until he pulled out a really small net.
I know some fishing guides who are perhaps a bit too patient. They keep their boat in one spot for most of the day, even if the fish arent biting. Dont worry, he says, we have just as good a chance catching them here as over there.
In the meantime, over there the other boats are pulling in one fish after another. If you mention that those other boats seem to be doing quite well, you get a mean look and perhaps a comment something like, Well, why dont you go over there and fish with them? I probably would have if I hadnt left my vehicle at his shop.
One place I would suggest going with an experienced guide is on the Columbia River. I recall two experiences where I was glad my guide knew what he was doing.
On one sturgeon fishing trip, we were anchored near the middle of the river when we noticed a tugboat chugging downriver at a good clip pulling a long string of logs. The ever-present high winds blew the logs about ¾ of the way across the river and sent them heading straight toward us. It takes a few minutes to pull in the lines and pick up the anchor and I thought we would be smashed to pieces by the oncoming logs. We made it away with a minute or two to spare but a few other boats came a bit too close for comfort.
The other time I was walleye fishing with a guide and we were trolling slowly as we came around a point and ended up right in middle of a channel just downriver of a lock. Suddenly, a loud horn began blowing and we looked up to see a huge barge bearing down on our tiny craft.
These barges move deceivingly fast, especially with a tug pushing. I thought for sure we would either get sucked under or simply become a hood ornament. Im not sure barges have hoods but I didnt want to find out. As I saw the whites of the barge captains wide eyes, I contemplated jumping ship but figured our little boat could move faster than I could swim.
The guide didnt have time to get the large motor going and turned the boat using the smaller trolling motor. We made it with plenty of room to spare but room is relative to the size and speed of the thing coming at you. Its like saying, Oh yeah, the nuclear bomb missed us by a good 50 yards
A lesser guide would have put us on the front page of all the papers. Then again, a better guide may have not put me in the path of a zillion-ton barge.
Some guides are very entertaining. After all, it could get a little boring out there for six or eight hours when the fishing is rather slow. Yup, some really crack me up. One guy did his best impression of an angered guide by telling me to get out from behind the wheel of his boat, put down his lunch and get out of his tackle box. He had me in stitches all day.
Another guide I know will choose one person and pick on him relentlessly and mercilessly the entire day. At the beginning of the day hes like a wolf circling his prey to seek out the weakest. This is a game to him since he has to deal with so many people (many of them dimwits) throughout the year. I was along on a trip when he chose a guy about 40 years old and reduced him to a sniveling, sobbing 5-year toddler by the end of the day.
Every time the gullible angler would ask a question, I would just flinch because I knew what was coming. I felt like saying Dont ask so many questions or Dont ask so many stupid questions. However, I was having too much fun watching the day unfold.
I later found out that the same guy actually came back for another trip the next year. Some people are just gluttons for punishment. Its like watching someone get kicked while theyre down and then asking for another. Whatever you do, dont ask, Its getting kinda slow here, why dont we pull anchor and try another spot? Or, That other boat seems to be catching lots of fish over there.
Ive fished with this guide for many years and we have since become good friends. If he starts picking on me, I just recall that gambling disclaimer I always hear – This guide should be used for entertainment purposes only and not be taken seriously. Sometimes I feel that I could go out on my own and get less ridicule and more fish.
One thing Ive learned over the years with this same guide is never out-fish him unless I dont plan on going out with him again. I often out-fish him but learned right away that hell whine and wont let me back in the boat. Once I caught more kokanee and he claimed he was sick and had to keep heading for shore.
Now, if we end up in a tie by the end of the day and I get a fish on, I use every trick in the book to get the fish off my line – giving it slack, cutting the line, whatever it takes - to insure a future trip.
On the rare occasions he does out-fish me, he wont let me live it down. Hell call later that night to rub it in. On a recent fishing trip, I out-fished him 3-2 but he caught the biggest fish and claimed that day as a victory. On another outing, he caught 7 and I caught 4. Never mind that I caught the biggest bull trout, brown trout and rainbow trout. He called later and said, Hello 5, this is 7. I said, You must have the wrong number, this is 4.
I know of some guides who like to bring me along because they say Im good luck. Whenever Im along, theres always good weather and there are lots of fish brought to the boat -- but, as usual, not necessarily by me.