One of my favorite off-the-water activities is talking to kids. Last month I had a really cool opportunity to participate in Powhatan High School’s Career Day. There were 74 speakers and this was my second year speaking to the kids about my guide service. I was competing with some really cool speakers…police officers, fire fighters, doctors…and even lawyers. But, I had all three of my sessions packed with high school boys…and girls! I was there to fill them in on the inner workings of the business of bass guiding.
I began with my on-the-water curriculum, The Fishing Triangle! The foundation of the fishing triangle, the biggest part, is casting. I have to be able to teach or improve this skill on the onset of every trip. The next level is lure presentation. After all, fishing lures don’t catch fish, fishermen catch fish. Fishing lures only catch fishermen! The point being lures are tools and there are a few tricks to trigger fish into biting. The top of the triangle involves angling skills, starting with the hook set. From there, it’s fighting the fish to the boat and landing. Each level of the Fishing Triangle must be mastered to some degree before advancement is achieved.
That’s the easy part! Organizing the business involves another triangle. There are three skills that are needed to achieve success in the guide business. Writing skills are most important! This can include emails and letters to sponsors and clients. But also, as a marketing tool as an outdoors writer. Even something as simple as a fishing report must be concise and readable! Stage presence in the form of communication skills is also essential. Public speaking allows guides to teach and to conduct seminars. Again, contributing to your marketing and sponsor promotion. The other skill in my business model is “selling”. Selling is simply the ability to establish a need and to satisfy that need. But the real key is being able to probe to uncover the needs, and reason your way through a way to satisfy them. Whether meeting new prospects for my guide business or “selling” a client on trying a new technique or approach involves sales skills. Successful guides must go beyond self-promoting and market sponsor products as well.
After that, it’s all hard work! Taking notes on what works and improving your system of teaching and organizing will help on the boat. Off the water, budgeting your time and reaching out to media outlets for your materials and establishing a working relationship with other writers will gain exposure and thus credibility to where you become a recognized expert.
With all of my trips, I start with the optimism of a new day - a memorable fishing and learning experience. I avoid excuses; rather I explain the degree of difficulty and how we can still catch fish. However, if I feel the conditions warrant cancellation of a trip, I offer this as an option. I have several clients who will go out no matter as the challenge has been laid down for them. Accept the challenge to take someone fishing!
I’ve written a DIY piece in the BoatUS Tacklebox on how to make mini plug knockers to help retrieve stuck lures, saving money!
My next BoatUS DIY column…making your own jigs, and more!! Until next time, see you on the water. WEAR a PFD! I’m gone fishing.
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