Featured in issue #7 of S.C.O.F. Magazine
The depression is still festering in my soul since we returned from the Deep dark southern badlands of Louisiana. All I have left are videos and pictures to remind me of what a great fishery they have. There is a light at the end of the Depression tunnel. A return after bulls in February and the plans for an annual excursion.
Don’t bother practising your casting before you go
This is probably the easiest way to irritate your fishing guide. OK, sure, most guides are more than happy to offer a few pointers in the casting department, but it’s important to remember that you have a part to play too. If you’re going on a fly-fishing trip, it’s vital that you put in some hours honing your technique before you go – don’t pitch up thinking that all your fish are going to be 30 feet off the bow, on a windless pancake flat. If you’re paying all that money to go in the first place, why wouldn’t you do a little preparation? Get out in the park or on the water back home and put in the time – if you don’t, it will show, you’ll catch less, and you’ll look a fool.
Be totally inflexible and unrealistic
If you turn up in the Florida Keys in January expecting your guide to put you on tarpon, you’re going to be disappointed. It’s up to you to do some research before you go, see what the options for the time of year you want to go fishing, and make sure you’re not asking the impossible of your guide. Take the time to talk to him or her before the trip and let them what you have in mind – if you’ve got your heart set on catching permit on the fly to the exclusion of all other options, fine, but let them know that’s how you want to approach it. Similarly, if you’re going to get twitchy when you don’t get a bend in the rod after three hours, you need to make your guide aware of that. Invariably, guides will do their utmost to manage your expectations, but they can only do that if you communicate with them. Above all else, you have to keep a sense of humour out there.
Don’t bother tipping
Whether you’re fishing with an independent guide in the Keys, a deep-sea charter off the coast of Kenya, or a lodge-affiliated guide in the Bahamas, there is almost no situation where tipping is not expected. Make sure you’re not the guy who doesn’t bother or hasn’t taken the time to find out what’s the local custom for tipping guides. If you’re unclear on how the whole thing works, this article on Midcurrent has everything you need to know.
Any guide worth their salt will tell you, their job is all about preparation and that prep often starts the night before – getting all the equipment and tackle ship-shape, tying flies, making up rigs, checking the weather forecast and tide charts, planning the day ahead and perhaps picking up guests from a hotel on the morning of a charter. So, imagine how annoying it is if a client then shows up hungover, without the correct clothing, no polarizing sunglasses (essential for almost any fishing charter), or having done absolutely no preparation in terms of casting practise. If your expectations and skill-set don’t match up, you’re not going to have the day you imagined.
OK, this is a touchy subject – some people will say they’re paying a lot of money and they can approach it how they want. Fine, but you won’t get as much out of the experience – guides and clients frequently become lifelong friends, and there’s more to the experience than simply hauling fish out of the water. Getting the most out of it takes some preparation on your part, not just the guide’s.
Bring plenty of these —>
Seriously, guides love these like a hole in the boat. For those of you unfamiliar with the whole “bananas = bad luck” thing, it’s an old superstition and there are plenty of theories as to its origin. Some say it’s because the oil from the skin rubs off on fishermen’s hands and spooks the fish, others hold that it’s because boats of the past carrying bananas had to move as quickly as possible in order to deliver their cargo, which often resulted in speeds that prohibited men on board from catching fish. No-one’s totally sure why, but the simple truth is, captains take this stuff pretty seriously. How seriously? Well, some won’t even allow the Banana Boat brand of sun screen on board. You have been warned.