Out west in places all throughout Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, Idaho among others the guide season is getting into full swing. Both fly shop guide services and independent guides are looking at their calendars and wondering if they can mentally survive till September. It is their Christmas season, full of tourists flooding in and out of town with money to burn for the next two months. They have to strike while the iron is hot and it usually results in few ,if any, days off. After the next two months what is left for the guide is a combination of skin that has a somewhat permanent sunscreen odor, calloused hands from rowing, waders that begin to smell like roadkill and the constant flow of patience that is needed to repeatedly untangle knots or answer the question “How’s the fishing been?” at the start of every single day has been reduced to a mere trickle. Oh yeah, and hopefully a little money in their pockets.
The guides day begins before the sun rises: fixing lunches, icing down coolers, re-rigging knotted leaders from yesterdays trip, removing any trash from the boat and/or vehicle and making your way to the agreed upon meeting place to pick up the clients for the day which, could be a 15 minute drive or an hour.
The day is full of helping clients become better fishermen. That is always the goal…and to catch fish. A casting lesson or a quick tutorial on mending your line and why it is so important are standard on most trips, especially for those just getting into the sport. Untangling knots, netting fish, taking pictures, setting up and serving lunch, rowing, getting out to drag the drift boat over shallow runs, rowing upstream to hit a productive spot one more time and then cranking the boat out of the river and onto the trailer.
Once back home the preparations begin for tomorrows trip. Cleaning out coolers, hanging up wet waders and boots, calling clients to discuss the details of the trip, eat some dinner and have a drink, tie a few fly patterns that worked well on the river today and then have another drink.
5AM. They get up and do it all over again.
If you are planning on a trip out west this summer and are going to or want to fish with a professional guide remember how dedicated they are. The good guides work their butt off to put you on fish and keep in mind all they do before and after the trip. What seems like a “walk in the park” type job can be demanding physically and mentally but those dues are always paid in some pretty spectacular places.