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May 15, 2008

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The Guide Hatch

Ah, spring. That wonderful time of year, when the rivers crest with snowmelt, and the byways and river towns of the American West experience that special phenomenon we affectionately call the “guide hatch.” The guide hatch is an annual migration of sorts, when a fresh crop of peach-fuzz-bearded newbies pours forth from eastern universities, hell-bent on applying those liberal arts educations to the most noble of all professions: being a trout guide. I am often asked by “hatchlings” what the secrets to successful guiding are. Not being a successful guide myself, I have scant few answers. But I have at least learned from experience 10 things not to say to clients on a guide trip. I offer these nuggets of wisdom as a public service to those intrepid young souls, who at this very moment are beating a hot path westward in an overstuffed Volkswagen with a used kayak duct-taped to its roof …

Do not say:

Man, Dude, Bro, Holmes, Chief, Buster, or Cuz to a total stranger. (Female client no-no’s include, Toots, Honey, Sugar, Baby, and Doll.”)

“Hey, nice polarized glasses…did you steal those from Elton John?”

“Maybe you should try the next cast with your dominant hand.”

“Nice fish, pretty colors.” Ever.

“This is where Tripper found the corpse.”

“Sweet!” more than 74 times in one 8-hour float.

“Wiggle that a few more times, the knot might come out.”

“Wow, your daughter is hot,” unless you know for sure she’s his wife, and he’ll take that as a compliment.

“How much are you thinking about tipping me?”

“Holy crap, I bet you’ve never caught a fish like that before!” Even if it’s not meant as commentary on their fishing skills.



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The fun guides have with people. Fond memories. I had a client back in Cheesman Canyon this year. After the 20-minute hike in, we were rigging up and the client asked, "Where are the public restrooms?"

I continued pulling the line through the eyes concentrating very hard - NOT TO LAUGH. This was a downtown metro city transplant to Colorado that told me he is trying to live the outdoor style of Colorado.

This could have been a series of responses. I actually told him that if he has the urge the porta pot is back at the parking lot. He looked at me like I had two heads. I told him that stream conservation and with this being prime gold medal waters in Colorado we are trying to train individuals to use the trailhead facilities.

The best part - he actually said, I have to go. I asked him if he wanted me to walk back, and he said no. About an hour later he was back.

fly fish chick

great post. hysterical.
I would, however, make two ammendments:

#1 - in addition to setting a quota for saying "sweet", can we set a limit on the number of times a guide says "sick"?

#2 - not sure why a guide can't say toots, honey, sugar, baby, or doll to a female client. to be clear, if I'm in your boat I expect to hear all of the above.

in fact I prefer a few creative combinations like "nice cast sugar-doll" or "mend it just one more time for me honey-baby"


Sugar-doll, strike that -- "Angel Flying Too Close to the Ground" -- I gotta tell you, I left "chick" of the list only because I didn't want to offend you. But I love how you roll, and thank you so much for the comment. Yeah ... sick is another one. How about my personal favorite ... "tender?"

Evan V

I don't think you should ever say the polarized glasses joke to any fisherman, EVER.(though if I do see an odd pair I might mention it)

Chad Miller

This is a little off the subject but is a similar issue. Can we please drop the fish-porn garbage. This has been driven into the ground. Not to mention having to explain it to my sons. A kid like my son, 11 years old, picks up the Scott catalog and I have to explain why a guy has his eyes hidden and the caption says something about fish porn. I know many of you are rolling your eyes as if I am some stick in the mud. I would just prefer a little class be shown and consider the pic enough to satisfy someones interest. Another thing is the movement in the fly fishing media to be as irreverant as possible. This has gotten old and tired. I have been told it is a way to attract a younger demo. What? I really hope this isn't a prevelant view. Lets give potential young anglers a little credit. Sorry for the rant I haven't fished since February and I can't take it anymore!


The all time newb quote from streams of guide wisdom is:
"You should have been here YESTERDAY!"


FF Chick - Since you are our check for politically insensitive comments, where does Sweet Cheeks fit... Such as...

"Hey sweet cheeks, that was a nice shimmy of your indicator."

fly fish chick

HA!! Well...

Anthony -- if the guide can say it with meaning (or can fake it) then these comments won't seem political or insensitive.

Good heavens this is fishing, not a Symposium of Feminist Studies at the Harvard Kennedy School. Take note young guides: fun on the water is both allowed and encouraged

Specifically, I am a big fan of "Sweet Cheeks".

KD -- I'm with you all the way. Let's leave "tender" to Elvis. But you better watch throwing out "Angel Flying Too Close To The Ground"...whew. that's super dreamy, buckle-at-the-knees kinda stuff. way more firepower than your basic sugardoll or honeybaby.

These are tricky waters boys so feel free to ask away...although keep in mind I am a one-woman focus group and pretty much represent zero% of the fishing community


FF Chick - You da bomb. Just think of this forum as us fly fishing bums serenading you to your selection of tunes. Between Deeter's Willie Nelson comment and knee-weakening moment of reality, I will go for the more smooth sounds of ole blue eyes - Frank.

Fly me to the moon... Let me walk amongst the stars darlin'.

We raise our drinks to you and welcome you to our blog...

fly fish chick

Anthony -- thanks a million darlin! listen to you...blue eyes....bringing out the big guns. whew! I'm left almost breathless with nothing to say...

almost. love all the posts on flytalk. and clearly the personalities here are topnotch. cheers all...ffc

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