Starting up my own thing as a freelance fly fishing guide working for multiple outfitters is a new and understandably scary feeling but I haven't guided with fear in quite sometime.
So I show up to the boat ramp on river 1A recently and immediately swallow my chew once I realize what shit storm I am about to float around in. It has been a while since I felt this way. It has been a while since I felt a little anxious on a trip on my favorite river on the planet during my favorite time of year. My mouth was dry and the taste of fear was on the back of my tongue. It tasted good.
Getting out of the truck to see 3 legends of the guide game about to put on the same stretch of river with me, all with single, super experienced ninja clients didnt exactly make me feel confident even though I had a stick for the day too. So here I am number 4 out of 4 boats in seniority and about to be last in line sweeping up scraps from some very big dogs in the guide world, guides who have taught me most of what I know about this game, Bill Perry, Brody Henderson and Kevin Wildgen. I felt like a rookie again and I knew I needed to be better than ever. I was guiding scared, not scared of guiding and at this point in my game that feels great. Long story short my stick ended up being the whole tree and we clobbered it. I know the three boats in front of me did also because the 8 boats behind us later that day reported they had a miserable day following us.
So one month into my new venture I find myself humbled by what mad experience this valley has as far as guides and outfitters are concerned. I have gone from the big dog in the yard to a puppy waiting its turn at the bowl and it feels wonderful. I have been excited and almost relieved by the level of experience I am now surrounded by. Having the owner of a fly shop behind the counter at 5:30 in the morning answering questions with mad experience not just trying to sell, sell, sell about made my head pop off, then he went and did casting clinics........astonished. Having weekly conference calls with three lads with about 60 years of combined experience to discuss how everybody is doing and what we can do to get clients in the best situation to succeed has been refreshing also. Working with several shops can be complicated and being legal in all of these situations can be a trick and I know it, but every single one of them has been one step ahead of me making sure I am in a position to just guide, not only legally but comfortably. Thank you Pete Mott, John Packer and Thomas Schnieder to name a few.
Is your guide scared of guiding or guiding scared?
There is a huge difference.
In the some what wise words of Ryan Hemkins, "it's just fishing" and while some butterflies in the pit of your guides stomach is a good thing, full on shit your pants fear isnt helping anybody catch fish.