A Day In The Life Of A Guide
‘What is that noise? There’s no way that’s my alarm. It feels like I just went to bed an hour ago!’ These 4a.m. thoughts are a regular occurrence in the middle of guide season. After a few months of launching the boat in the dark and pulling away from the river well after dark, bankers hours start to sound pretty good! Nevertheless now I’m up. Next thought…COFFEE! God I hope I remembered to make a pot last night, those all too fun clients from last nights trip did convince me to have a few wind down beers after the crazy good fishing we had. With the first cup down and a thermos full it was time to get dressed for the day. ‘Jeez these waders smell like feet… I really need to remember to turn these things inside out more often or one of these mornings they’re going to stand up in the corner by themselves!’
The good news is I did remember to hook up the boat last night and the commute to the launch is only a few hundred yards. Off I go, the cool morning air waking me up more than coffee ever could. Within minutes the boat is silently bobbing in the river current, looking quite good I must admit with the first signs of daybreak showing over the dam. Checking the time on my phone I realize I may have been a little overzealous this morning as I still have a solid half hour until my clients were due at the office.
Taking a seat on the dock, I silently prayed for the Fish Gods to be on my side today. It was mid August, the water was low and warm, and I was waiting on a father and his 9 year old son, neither of whom had ever touched a fly rod. As much as the odds were against us, there’s nothing I love more than the look on a kid’s face when he hooks into his first fish on a fly!
Staring out across the glass calm lake, my thoughts were interrupted as I heard the crunching gravel of a vehicle pulling in. It was go time! After a going over the brief do’s and don’ts of the boat, we were sliding across the smooth current into the Gauge Pool in search of the day’s first fish. Within thirty minutes both father and son had just about perfected flips and we were chucking and ducking nymph rigs like mad men. Only one thing was missing. Where were the fish? This pool always gives up a few before the sun hits the water! This is my go to spot for the first fish! My eyes are starting to cross from changing flies, come on Fish Gods help me out here!
Silently admitting defeat, the anchor was pulled and we were headed below the railroad bridge. Hoping to at least get the youngster some kind of action, I hand him my 4-weight with a size 14 elk hair caddis on the line. A few minutes after explaining to him the importance of keeping the slack out of his line, I pointed out a foam-flecked eddy line just off the bow of the boat. With a flip of his wrist his fly landed exactly where I had pointed, you’d think he had been doing this for years, not minutes! That pretty little caddis was only on the water a few seconds when it disappeared into the mouth of what did not appear to be a small fish! ‘SET THE HOOK!’ I yelled with excitement! What happened next made even my eyes get big. Rocketing out of the water in what was only the beginning of a seriously acrobatic show was a beautiful salmon. Now the fight was on. You’re first fish on a fly rod is always a challenge but this young fellow had jumped straight into the fire. After many jumps, tailwalks, and screaming runs he expertly slid the fish into my awaiting net. We had done it!
Seeing the look on this young boys face as he proudly gave his father a hug, thanking him for bringing him fishing, quickly made me remember how much I loved that early alarm and those late nights. The freezing cold mornings and sunburnt afternoons. The days where I couldn’t do anything wrong and the days I considered giving my Guides license back, because nothing beats the look on a young kids face, proudly holding their first fish.