Schooling on the water
12 Oct, 2011 - Some days fish jump into the boat and you’re sure the fish smell will never leave your hands, but in reality you always have to work for fish you catch. For guiding, the biggest challenge is having to change techniques. Sometimes I can be right on top with the timing of these changes but, without a rod in my hand, it’s tough to be dead on all of the time. Also, some techniques are tougher for newcomers to pick up. I try to keep it simple and encourage my clients to try new things. But sometimes you just have to show them the fish are there by catching a few. Fact is that fishing, like anything else, whether you are talking sports or any other skill, is based on experience. That’s something difficult to impart in an 8-hour trip. But what you can do is to shortcut the years of time on the water and put your clients in a situation or location to be successful.
Recently I had a husband and wife out on my boat. I had fished with the husband before and knew he was capable. Fishing conditions were very difficult and required many lure changes and casting techniques, with accuracy becoming increasingly important. Knowing this, I related how we could be fishing for the next two days and what would be involved and WHY! On the first day, it was tough, as they did not land a single fish. High muddy water and scarcity of grass made it difficult, but I was able to get a big fish and several others. This encouraged the couple to keep trying and to build their skills.
Day 2 I announced my plan to take a bit of a boat ride. They agreed and we found clearer water and grass…and were closer to bigger groups of fish. While their results did not change, the wife hooked one and landed another, a major accomplishment as it required perfect execution…an accurate cast, great presentation and top angling skills. I’m convinced had this bite occurred on the first hour of our first day, she would not have been successful. Encouraging both of them every minute, fine-tuning their casting, presentation and me describing angling skills as I boated fish maintained the learning experience. At the end of the day they had a great time and according to them, learned a lot! So, it’s not all about catching fish for everyone. Our jobs as guides are to teach people HOW to fish and hopefully during the day a few fish come aboard.
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!
Coming up in my next Tacklebox DIY column…making spinnerbaits!
Until next time, see you on the water. WEAR a PFD! I’m gone fishing.
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