Friday, November 21, 2014

What Is A Guide's Real Job?

Memories! That’s what a guide creates. Good or bad.
                There are weather conditions and fish and game availability that a guide can’t control. But, they can control many other things like a clean boat, being on time, being honest, 
providing functional equipment, knowledge of the area and landscape, empathy, good story telling, and a willingness to help the not so talented sports to learn about the quest at hand.
                On any given day a guide meets a sport who is very talented at the quest and on other days is presented with rank beginners. It is the guide’s job to provide a day of activity which is memorable. It doesn’t necessarily mean catching the most or biggest fish or shooting the biggest deer or a limit of winged challenges.
                I had a man and his young son come fishing for striped bass a few years back. The father made it very clear that the day was all for his son. The little guy could hardly cast a small spin rod. I helped him all trip long. Fishing was a little on the slow side, but he did manage to catch a few with his limited talent. During the lull in fishing he got a little cranky. So I made a quick decision to change the trip plan to a nature quest, suggesting he might like to see some seals. Oh yes he would. So we did. And then I suggested we just might find a bald eagle if we got lucky. We did. Would he like to see a family of baby ducks? Yes he would. We did.
                . I said it might be several weeks before he got his pictures. He was disappointed because he wanted to tell his mom how big the fish were.
                The biggest fish he caught was about 14 inches. So I asked him to stretch his arm out straight to the side. I measured from his arm pit down his arm to 14 inches. There, I told him he could show his mother the size. That measure went well beyond his elbow.
                Last year the same father and son team came fishing again after several years had past. The little guy was now much bigger.

                During the day of fishing the now young man said he remembered that big fish he caught on the previous trip. I asked how big. Raising his arm out straight and pointing from his arm pit to the original point on his arm where the fish would have stretched to, this big. . Well, that 14 inch fish memory had grown to a 30 inch fish! We all laughed and his dad said that was a really big fish, ha? Memory created.
Another time I had guided this sport over several years. This day was a cold, mid July day with winds howling out of the southeast. I offered a trip cancellation because of the conditions, but he said no, he wanted to fish.
                He called this winter after many years of not visiting Maine. He had moved to Florida and decided he couldn’t stand it in August and September and wanted to come to Maine during the period to get away from the heat and fish with me a couple days a week.
                During our talk he mentioned the big fish! Oh the memory on that miserable weather day. His wife laughed on the other phone saying, “ya, that photo of the fish has been in our wall ever since”.
                We had been catching medium sized busting fish all morning and getting beat up pretty good by the rough water conditions. It was suggested that I might have honey hole in a lee that might hold a larger fish.
                I pulled into a spot and anchored up, something I rarely do. Quite quickly my sport was onto a big fish using a very small fly. His experience brought the fish in quickly. It was difficult to get the monster in the boat. No question, it was over 50 pounds taken with a 12 pound class leader and a fly I called the Every Ready. The fish was quickly released. Sport shipped his rod in the rack, reached into his vest pocket to haul out his traditional end of the day cigar, prepared it, lit it and took one drag. Then he said, “It’s been a great day Doug, let’s call it.”

                We both agreed that without verification, the fish was likely a tippet class world record. Look at the photo, I think you would agree. Memory created!

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