Being set in my ways, I’m not the best guide when I take friends to my Jordan. Though I share what I know, I only do it once and quickly because I want to fish as much as they do. So I tell them where to go, what to expect and then we go our separate ways.
Fly fishing with me, means less is more; I like solitude and don’t like carrying on a conversation while I’m trying to outwit a native. I generally take the attitude that got drilled into my head by a man who’s creases in his uniform were sharp enough to cut rope and who let it be known that who ever told you there was no such thing as a stupid question, lied to you. He’d respond to a “stupid question” with, “improvise, adapt, overcome. “
All this is the compilation of years of being me. The fact is, if I’ve succeeded in anything, it’s the ability to piss people off just by walking into the same room. The result is, I have friends and those that tolerate me.
So, when I take on the role of guide, if I don’t stop to think and listen to the words that come out of my mouth as I’m scurrying to give instructions all the while stringing my rod, thinking about what to start off with, what I say and what I want to say, are two different things. Eventually, I’ll think about what I said and how I said it, but not until after I’ve entered the river, cast my first fly and took a deep breath and take in the simple yet complicated picture nature created that rejuvenates me each and every time I come.
I brought Bill on this trek to the Jordan and I wanted him to get a good chance of landing a good fish. When we arrived I told him about a section of the river that had an easy access spot and was surrounded by good water. I told him to follow the path along the river, make his way up stream a couple of hundred yards and he’d come to a bend that had a knoll surrounded by overhanging cedars. There is a small sandbar he could stand on while he got the lay of the water and there were deep cuts along the other side of the bend with submerged logs that hold trout. Sounds simple enough.
Bill climbed down the small embankment from the road and followed what he saw as a path and began walking it up stream. I finished stringing my rod, decided to tie on a soft hackle and walked up the road to the other side of the river and followed a snowmobile trail until I got to a small feeder creek and follow it back to where it entered the Jordan.
Bill should have been nowhere for me to see, but as soon as I got to the mouth of the creek, there was Bill, standing rather uncomfortably in the middle, casting to the opposite bank. He was surprised to see me and asked of this is where I meant for him to be. Actually, I meant for him to be about two bends further up stream and couldn’t see how he could mistake this spot for where I sent him from the great directions I gave him. He went on to say, the path ran out so he slogged through the muck which was up to his crotch after the first step in, and made his way up stream until he came to an overhanging cedar. He said he figured he had walked a couple hundred yards.
It was then that I replayed what I had said in my mind and realized immediately I left out a couple of important words. The path I wanted him to take was 20 feet off the river, avoided the swampy area and went straight as the crow flies. The river bends here and there, but comes directly in front of the path I was referring to. What Bill had followed was a path used by those who knew the river and wait for the hatches to start, then move further up to fish-able water.
We had a laugh at my lack of detail (I think Bill was laughing) and he climbed out of the river and busted through brush until he came to the small path and eventually found the spot. In fact, he landed the biggest fish that evening.
Most of us who spend most of our idle time doing something related to fly fishing, grouse hunting or spending time in the company of dogs, at one time or another think about being a guide. After all, guides fish or hunt all day ….don’t they? Well, I suppose some do, but not the good ones. The guides that get work make sure their clients are well instructed, advised and have an easier time at doing what they pay for than if they did it by themselves.
I still think about being a guide, making my living spending my day either in the water, on the water or in the field. But pissing people off just by walking into the same room they’re in, doesn’t make for many clients.
Maybe a shock collar would help.