Sunday, March 9, 2014

Testing...

 
 
March fishing can be everything from epic to pathetic and anything in-between depending on factors like weather, wind and water clarity. We usually don't get much run-off this early but of course, this year is different. With all the low-elevation snow from the last couple weeks, and then getting temps in the 50's and even 60's today, all the little feeder creeks that would normally be dry this time of year are dumping mud. Some of these little creeks don't even have names but they are all making their contribution. Most of us haven't seen this, this early on the Mo but it is what it is. Last Thursday went from really good to pretty tough as the water clarity got dirtier and dirtier and although we did have fun and caught some fish the last couple days, it will be nice when the creeks drop a bit and the water on the Mo clears up. The fishing will get good again soon. I'm sure the dam is still fishing like the dam so if you're willing to join the circus...
 
The last few days have been recon efforts for me; not so much to learn the river or to find out what is working but to check out a couple guides that are throwing their hats in ring. Potentially being on the other side of the business now as the person hiring as apposed to the person being hired, I really want to see what these guys are made of and if I can show them a few things in the process that will in turn make clients happy, all the better. It gives me a chance to do something I really like as well, which is teaching.
 
Yesterday, Nick Coffman was put on the spot by trying to get my girlfriend into fish during some pretty tough conditions. Like I said, the water was pretty off-colored and the wind was what it normally is this time of year, which was...well, windy. Jill is the perfect guinea pig because she's good enough to catch fish but she's also green enough that in tough conditions, she may need a little coaching.
 
She did catch fish yesterday but more importantly, she had a good time. The technical side of guiding can be learned if one has the right attitude and between Nick and Jim Murray, who I fished with last Thursday, I'd say these boys have the right attitude to be successful.
 
So, we all know that not everyone is the same and we all bring a certain style and personality to the table. Because of that, there really is no perfect guide or right or wrong approach within reason but here's what I look for when considering putting someone on my list.
 
1.) Are you willing to get better? Nobody has all the answers and sometimes even the best guides get their asses handed to them while another guide has figured something out. Are you willing to suck it up and ask for help?
 
2.) Are you willing to make those around you better? I just heard from a guide that one of the outfitters he worked for last year wouldn't to put him with a multi-boat group because he was afraid he would get his ass kicked in front of the other guides. The first thing I thought was that those other guides must be real a-holes if they're not willing to help this new guide out when he's struggling. If it were me, I'd put him with the best so that he develops quicker and then becomes more of an asset. And if the other guides weren't willing to throw a bone, I doubt I'd be hiring them again regardless of how good they thought they were.
 
3.) Be assertive. A guide has to be able to sell to their clients that they know what they're doing and get their clients to be successful. Having a passive approach only wastes time and confuses the message. You don't have to be degrading but tell you're client what you need from them and they will be successful sooner. They will gain confidence and you will earn credibility.
 
4.) Take charge. You are rowing the boat. You can be in charge without being a jerk. Make a decision and go with it.
 
5.) Be adaptable. If it's not working, fix it. You can make changes and still show confidence. There are a dozen factors that may be working against you so don't be afraid to try new things if what you're doing isn't working. That also means learn new water so you have options.
 
6.) Know your river. You have to spend time on the river. That's the bottom line. You have to know the entomology, where the fish are, where the runs are, and how to manage your time on a specific stretch to be efficient.
 
7.) Know how to fill time. You are with clients for 8 to 10 or even 12 hours. Sometimes the fishing sucks so get to know your clients and find things to talk about. Sometimes that might be teaching new skills and sometimes that's talking about sports or their kids or whatever. Have a good time with them even if you hit a dead spot in the fishing.
 
8.) Know when to shut up. Enough said.
 
9.) Take care of your gear. You don't have to have the best but make sure it works.
 
10.) Be professional. One of the most valuable things I've taken from Brandon Boedecker is to control the things you can control, which allows you to present yourself as a pro; clean boat, clean truck, good lunch and BE ON TIME.
 
11.) Work you're ass off. Seriously. Guiding is like playing bass. You can make it as simple and easy as you want or you can jazz it up and really leave an impression. We do row-arounds. We drag boats back up-stream; sometimes for a quarter mile just to catch fish. We are constantly changing things up trying to find something that works when the fishing gets tough and we don't give excuses because clients don't want to hear it.
 
I'm always looking to develop relationships with guides that are wanting to take what they do seriously. We want to be the best of the best and we believe that people will see that and we'll carve a niche for ourselves out here on the Mo. But if you're just looking for a hobby or you want to have some excuse to party like a rock star...learn how to play guitar.
 
Keep 'em where they live...



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