It’s oft said that a domestic disturbance call is the most dangerous for a policeman. The disturbance part is run-of-the-mill, but the domestic portion can spiral out of control at a moment’s notice, usually with the officer now defending himself against both combatants.
Guides fear a domestic engagement in the same way. Learning that tomorrow will be a Father-Son trip can cause even the hardiest veteran to blanch. The prospect of a sandwich comprised of a sulking youngster and an angry Poppa, looms fearfully in a guide’s thoughts.
It doesn’t have to be this way, and for those well meaning anglers who consider this type of adventure, I’ll share some advice.
Rule 1: You told your Dad to get stuffed, now it’s payback time.
Passionate anglers, those that live for the out-of-doors adventure cannot instruct their blood-kin, nor anyone they are dating. Just as you always half heartedly minded your father’s advice, so shall you be received. The fascination and intricacy of the sport came to you later, and not on the first lesson. Attempting to impart all of that wonderment to a child, wife, or girlfriend, on a single outing will end badly.
You need a disinterested third party to assist, that’s where your guide can assist.
Rule 2: Once you step in the boat, you’re no longer related.
This is the deadliest of all sins, the Trip Killer, the single crime that will result in a child’s refusal to enjoy anything, with arms folded formidably on chest and lip protrusion at maximum. A guide can fix the issue if you let him, but as the child’s father, chances are you’ll see it as your responsibility, and the situation will degrade further. Because you’ll never have seen this coming, let me explain what the guide saw …
Each time he mentioned where he wanted you to fish, what fly was needed, and how you should fish it, you repeated the instructions to your child. The kid has perfect hearing and heard the commandments the first time. Repeating the instructions – especially in the presence of a stranger, reaffirms that he’s a junior, incapable of understanding what was said the first time. If you continue this he’ll be angry soon.
Guides have to deal with all manners of clients; axe murderers, aristocrats, hollywood nobility, alcoholics, beginners, and politicians. He’ll ensure you have a wonderful time, as that’s what he does. Within a couple of casts he’ll size your skill level and which angler needs the most help, and will direct his efforts on the weak player to overcome his/her unfamiliarity with the sport.
In most cases he’ll ensure that your child out fishes you, as all kids want to best their Poppa at something, and as this may be his first trip ever, what you really want – is for him to ask “can he go again, next week.”
Rule 3: Frame the outing for the best results
Never take your girlfriend steelhead fishing – and never insist the kid stay out in 105 degree temperatures. Fish are found in Nature, Nature is uncontrollable, be flexible and select the outing to match the temperment of the participants.
If your girlfriend has cold feet and delights in tormenting you during the winter, don’t take this woman steelhead fishing in January. She’ll hate you, you’ll hate you, and when you look for sympathy from your pals, they’re going to look in disbelief and exclaim, “What were you thinking?”
Likewise with your son or daughter, plan a trip that has moderate weather so you can focus on fishing, not trembling uncontrollably, with “Can I Go Back to the Car” as the popular refrain.
No one likes trout fishing when it is 105 degrees in the shade, not even the trout. Ask the guide to map your trip around the comfortable hours of the day and evening, rather than gut out the terrible midday temperatures. Most will be happy to do so – they’ve had their head baked far too many days already.
Rule 4: Meet with the guide to discuss expectations
Prior to the trip, while the child is carrying gear to the water’s edge, talk with your guide. He can customize the day to appeal to various tastes, including songbirds and wildflowers. If he knows that your goal is to build you a “fishing buddy” – he’ll be thrilled to assist. It’s the Grand Experiment, and if you’re successful, he’ll be trying it on his recalcitrant snotty kid the following week.
If you know of particular likes and dislikes, communicate them. Sacrificing an hour of marginal fishing so that your spouse has the opportunity to examine Indian rock carvings, may be just what’s needed for her to have a quality adventure.
Rule 5: If you draw blood from my body forcefully, you owe me
Guides bear the scars of instruction on their anatomy as they’re punctured forcibly and often by clients. Tip according to the total volume of blood extracted – it’s an unspoken rule, not about money as much as it is getting you out of the doghouse.
It’s also the reason why most insist your flies are barbless. Guides must navigate between anglers perched precariously in midstream – so if you add a weighted #4 Golden Stone to his cheek, he’ll show little pain as he removes it, and will smile as he does so, reassuring your girlfriend so she doesn’t faint into 3 foot of fast moving water.
If you imbed something in your wife’s rear, he’ll leave the first aid kit where his car used to be…