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Big Hole River 2260 cfs, temp. 48.7, visibility 3 feet

Guides come in all shapes, sizes, age and gender. Some come with waders that are stained and patched and have worn out wading shoes with two different color shoe strings. Their boat is scuffed and a bit untidy and has tattered remnants of fly’s on the floor and perhaps bits and pieces of yesterday’s lunch. Their vehicle is in about the same condition and has at least 150,000 miles on it. These are the guides you want. Then there are those who come looking like they just stepped out of the Orvis catalogue. They have a lanyard hanging on their neck with every imagineable gadget invented for fly fishing hanging on it. They have a brand new diesel club cab pickup with a boat in tow that is so shiny and clean it hurts your eyes to look at it. They begin to speak Latin. These are the ones you want to avoid.

Get to know your guide. Ask him questions, pick his brain but don’t get too personal. I know for myself that when people start asking very personal questions I usually respond with comments such as I just divorced my 12th wife and I’m thinking about coming out of the closet–it’s really dark in there. Ask him how long he has been guiding. A good way to tell how long a person has been guiding is when you shake his hand. If his palm is soft and smooth he hasn’t been on the sticks very long. If his palm feels like coarse grain sand paper from all the callous’s, he’s the man. If booking with a new guide feel free to ask for references. When someone asks me for references I just hand them the log book and tell them to pick a name. So far I have been really lucky and they have picked the right ones.

When you start your trip the most important thing is to LISTEN TO YOUR GUIDE. You hired him for his expertise, take advantage of it. He may not be right all of the time but most of it. Listen to him carefully when he tells you how and where to present the fly. Don’t second guess him. If he ties on a fly that is the most unbelievable thing you have ever seen, use it. The one thing that really gets my hackle standing up is when I row the boat across the river to let’s say the right bank and position the boat for him to cast there and then he turns around and casts back to the middle of the river or says “isn’t that other side better”?. I have in the years past had a couple fisherman do this repeatedly despite what I would tell them. Eventually I would put the boat in the middle of the river and let them fire at will. It would always be a non-successful day and they usually would not come back which was just fine with me. A couple years ago I had this good ole boy who told me right at the start that “ya’ll know I got a handle on this fly fishing” He wouldn’t listen to one thing I would tell him and he was a terrible caster. His three day trip turned into a day and a half when I suddenly came down with an acute attack of gastroappendectoflopolis, which is a disease not that uncommon to guides when conditions are just right. I might add that I did make a full recovery but it was touch and go for awhile.

If you have had a good day and your guide is working hard for you, tip him accordingly. If you are on a multiple day trip and you don’t tip him the first day, chances are the fishing is going to get a lot tougher.

I was not on the river today but I imagine the fishing would be about the same as yesterday as conditions were about the same. Forecast for the next five days is for a gradual warming trend with partly cloudy.

Tomorrow’s Title: Junior guides who have been mentally beat up by hard core anglers.


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