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March 25, 2008

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Strange Tales from the Guide Side

Sometimes, seeing is believing, and the river guide has just about seen it all.

My top 10 favorite "strange but true" guide experiences:

10. The guy who pays for his $350 guide trip with a wad of $1 bills, peeling each off and counting, one-by-one.
9. "Wow, that's a beautiful fish Mrs. Smith caught, Mr. Smith; want me to take a photo with your camera?" "No photos ... that's not Mrs. Smith."
8. "How do you get these things on again?" the guy asks as he sits on a bench in the shop (in his underwear), wading boots laced up, trying to stuff his feet down the Gore-Tex wader pant legs.
7. "I'd like to return this rod, it doesn't work," the man says, explaining his $650 refund is due because it must be a defective product (and not the fact that he has the motor skills of a three-year old) that keeps him from casting more than 14 feet.
6. The guy who complains because he cannot fit the tip of his WF5F fly line through the eye of a size #20 blue-winged olive.
5. The woman who insists on wearing stiletto heels in the drift boat, because they help her see better with a "taller" point of view (then sinks ankle-deep in muck at the pull-out).
4. The guy who proudly shows off the "killer fly" he bought at the shop yesterday (a Royal Wulff), ties it on, greases it, and then proceeds to pinch on three Water Gremlin split shots, three inches above the fly.
3. The guy who burns a permanent scar on his $2000 bamboo rod by holding it too close to his stogie as he fights a 12-inch brown.
2. The lady who excitedly unspools her entire fly line and 30 yards of backing by reeling, backwards, after a trout inhales her grasshopper fly.
1. The guide who pins his raft on a boulder in heavy current, and brushes the episode off by saying, "Let's fish here ... try that seam over there."

I know some of you folks have other winners ... share with us, please!

***UPDATE We'll give a Loomis Xperience 9-foot 5-weight rod (retail $285) to the best, believable, strange but true tale from the guide side described in the comments below. We'll pick April Fool's day.



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I was leading a group of 13yr olds for 10 day in Medicine Bow, WY. During the long bus ride from I-falls MN the kids are dicking around in the back, after a while I start to pay no mind. SO after about 20hrs we hit the trailhead in the early afternoon. As we unload I see that one of the kids decided to hack of his pant legs... during the ride he got warm, and thought that shorts would be more appropriate attire. He failed to realize that even summers can get very cold at altitude, and his new daisy-dukes weren’t going to keep him warm. I was spent the whole first night with the pieces of his pants and a roll of duct tape. Mind you, this was a 13yr old with dull blade on a multi-tool. It looked like Freddy Kruger slashed at his legs. My final product made this kid look like the tin-man from the wizard of oz. But, on the upside, he never had to dry out after wet wading.


My season on the river started this past weekend. I was in the mood and primed for enjoyment. Proof is in the pudding... If you need a way to laugh and have fun, guiding has to be one of the best ways to experience this. It does not matter, but every trip will have something enjoyable - even if it is at the expense of the guide.

The first day was a 3-person trip. I was getting run up and down the low water conditions landing fish, tying on rigs, untangling lines, watching others walk across the hole to untangle their snag and much more.

The funny part was on several grip-and-grin photos where the fish would squirm and the client would become entwined in trying to catch the slippery trout. This was priceless on so many occasions that I actually caught some classic poses for the wall of fame.

Now for the kicker - before the client pulls the trout out, I tell them that I have the net under the fish and should it get away let the trout go into the net.

Another favorite for the grip-and-grins is the famous death grip. I love telling a client to let up the pressure for the photo - but they are too damn scared it may get away from them.


Fishing a lake in Chile, I see a nice beach and tell the client, a Wall Street investment banker who's sitting behind me in the boat: "We'll get out right here and have some lunch."

A few seconds later I hear a whimpering sort of cry from behind me: "Aahhh, ahhhh....."

I turn around to see the 300-pound client in the water, hanging on to the side of the boat. "I thought you said get out HERE!" he cries.

With his sizable girth and waders full of water, there was no way I was going to pull him back into the boat (he was wearing a life vest). I tied a loop of rope for him to hang onto while I towed him into the shallows...

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