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SET!

Author: Ryan Smith

As fishermen we enjoy spending time on the water. We go to work, and we dream about our next adventures while answering phones, being inundated with Zoom meetings and the everyday demands of our careers. Eventually we find a day that is available in our busy schedules, we work deals with our wives, get chores done early and double time our daily routines to make time. For what? 1 day, maybe a long weekend or hopefully that one-week trip of a lifetime.

It’s here now, it’s happening. 7:00am sharp we meet our guides at the boat ramp, and we are ready to roll. The day starts off slow but picks up quickly, now this day has turned into a day of epic proportion! And at some point, someone in the group, if not all of us think in our heads, or even turn to our guides to say a loud. “Man, you have the best job ever. I wish I could do this for a living.” And you’re not wrong.

Now with that said there is a slightly different perspective from a guide’s point of view. So, let’s look at that.

Whether it was 4 or 10 maybe even 20 years ago one of these guys that loves fishing just like you decided “I bet I could make a career of this.” They bought a boat, learned to row and hit the water hard knowing money would be tight and it was going to be a grind. They spent countless days on the river prepping; learning different fishing techniques, learning and understanding the hatches, and figuring out where the fish live at different times of the day and year. All while enduring the harsh weather cycles that mother nature throws at them. They continue to put in the time on the water perfecting their skills in hopes of one day sharing what they have learned with the public.

Most of them start small by grabbing a job at a local fly shop. They learn the products, the terminology, and the faces of the local fly-fishing community and after years of work, one day they get their big break to be a river guide.

It’s here now, it’s happening. 5:00am sharp the guide is prepping the boat, rigging rods and taking inventory on flies, tippet, leaders and safety equipment. They throw some ice in the cooler, check the river levels, water temps, and meet you at the boat ramp 7:00am sharp. Fishing starts out great as they watch your fly get hit multiple times by multiple fish. “Did you see that they say?” “Set! Did you see him?” Nope missed it. Down the river you go while questions are answered by the guide like “How deep is the river here?” “How do we get back to the truck?” “Whose house is that?” “Are there fish under that tree?” as they give you the best answer they have with a smile on their face and an eagle eye on the river.

After a few missed fish and some time to hone your skills he says it again “Set” and you do. Your line goes tight, and it is finally game on!  The fish bull-dogs you a bit as he breeches the surface multiple times attempting to shake that tiny hook you pulled into his lip. “Keep that line tight” the guide shouts, as you inch the fish closer and closer to the net. A short fight and few quick dashes from the fish and he is in the net. With high fives from the guide and a few “whoops” from your buddies the day has turned to a day of epic proportion.  And someone in the group, if not all of you think in your heads, or even turn to your guide to say a loud. “Man, you have the best job ever. I wish I could do this for a living.” And you’re not wrong.

It’s been a great day, you finish with a quiet boat ride as the sun dips behind the canyon wall and you end at the boat ramp. From here you and your guide will go separate ways. You back home to the wife and kids, with stories of good laughs with friends, fish caught, fish missed, and fish lost. And the guide back home to wake in the morning and do it all over again. 5:00am prepping rods and boats to meet clients at the boat ramp 7:00am sharp.

As we sum up this little picture of people from very different walks of life that share the same passion for a sport that we all love with different levels of expertise, I offer just a few reminders. Know, that your guide has made this their life. There is nothing that makes he or she happier than you catching fish. They want you to succeed. So, listen the best you can to the directions he or she offers and make adjustments. Also know that this is not their only trip. They have spent every day on the water rain or shine and will continue to do so until the season ends, sharing a place they love deeply with client after client. The days are long and repetitive but the reward in their eyes (not their pocket books) is high. So tip them, and tip them good. And finally remember, “Set!”

Paul Snowbeck
Paul Snowbeck


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