Category Archives: guiding

American River Shad, More fish than Blisters

Attempting to map a large waterway during the brief ten weeks fish are resident is a mighty slow task – especially when doing it solo.

Most of your erstwhile fishing pals don’t care for an “oversized Herring”, and would rather do chores than help in your quest to learn a river. In most cases you’re at the mercy of the locals, often friends of friends and coworkers, who rattle off all the river accesses where they drank themselves silly during High School, and then relay gossip about the places mentioned by the neighborhood kid who fishes – and where he said to go.

I then dutifully follow up each lead, sometimes finding a nice stretch of Shad water – sometimes it’s something too swift or too deep, and only suitable for fellows tossing gear. That nuance in tackle is never possible from helpful bystanders, given they have seen fish caught but don’t understand any of the physics involved.

Many of the holes simply aren’t productive for fly fisherman, the river can be a bit too fast and you can’t get to the fish, or you can’t separate far enough from the bank to avoid the broom trees in your back cast, or worse, the crush of “friendlies”; pets and small children, means you have to keep your head on a swivel.

As half of Shad season is gone, and I’ve spent most of it wandering bike paths looking for river access, one eye cocked for speeding cyclists intent on impaling themselves on my rod, and the other mindful of the river and the occasional homeless campsite, I was actually exploring plenty and fishing very little.

… not quite the balance I had in mind. The solution was obvious – drop a little cash for a guided trip with an eye towards knowledge transfer, someone to point out all the holes and parking areas of the remaining section of river I’d not seen.

Having been a guide myself and knowing I can tailor the excursion towards knowledge versus fishing, I knew it would prove invaluable as regards the fish, their favorite holes, how to access them safely via wading, and where were the closest access points.

The notion of doing so while reclining on the silken pillows of  “Cleopatra’s barge” while sipping chilled Gatorade and nibbling room temperature Granola bars – being the rest of the attraction. I’m never sure how many oiled Nubian oarsmen it takes to propel a McKenzie river drift boat, but I was aiming to find out.


The granola bars were room temperature but their were damn few Nubians, just one good natured fellow oiled with a mixture of bug juice and sunscreen. This is Andy Guibord of Kiene’s fly shop in Sacramento, widely thought to be one of the best shad guides in the watershed.

As I had fished at Nimbus Dam, the access known as Sailor Bar, and had fished a lot of the middle stretches of the river as they ran through the suburb of Rancho Cordova, Andy drifted me from Sailor Bar down to Sunrise Ave, a couple miles of what’s considered the  “upper” river.

I figured to be a “low maintenance” client, given how I wouldn’t need to be taught how to cast prior to fishing, my only concern was not getting clever and imbedding a “bead chain special” in his forehead. I think we both feeling each other out until I made that first cast – then it was a steady patter of “lay a cast in at six-o’clock”, “again”, “now one at twelve o’clock.”

We tried striped bass in the upper reaches of Sailor Bar, I managed to land four schoolies in the  14” range, before sliding down through the holes at Upper Sunrise and coming face to face with my implacable foe, the American Shad.


The rig we used was new to me. All of the same brightly colored hues were displayed in the top fly,  including the time tested favorites in red, orange, and pink. What was new was  Andy added a second smaller Olive Caddis Pupa #12, as a trailer.

Shad flies have been getting smaller for several decades,  the most common sizes these days is a standard length #8.  Adding the smaller #12 was explained to me as the fish get more selective as the run progresses, the smaller fly being insurance as it swings through the school – presenting both radiant and somber to the fish, allowing them to be finicky or no …

I landed a couple dozen fish that evening and all but one ate the Olive Caddis.

That bit of wisdom was worth the entire trip, as I would use this same rig in the weeks following and it proved just as deadly when wading.  After that first outing I had a couple dozen “somber” caddis in my Shad box, and quickly handed out most to the fellows around me.

As I’m equipped with a half dozen new holes to explore and as many parking areas, the remainder of Shad season is proving far more fruitful. I’m fishing most of the morning and exploring only a bit, which is yielding far more fish than blisters.


… and this is why I find this game fish so absolutely compelling. It’s the only fish  you can see Dawn or Sunset painted on its side.

Intercede early enough, and we can get them precious eco-votes for the price of couple of thrown rocks and a cold coke

It’s the trip every guide fears and every father dreads; how to introduce Poppa’s lifelong love to his progeny,  in a way that results in beaming children that gaze at their father in complete adoration …

… add the pressure of yesterday’s post, where at this young age we can BUY precious eco-votes for the price of a single candy bar or cold coke, and the even the most optimistic parent begins to blanch …

I call it the “15 minute rule” – add the ages of all the participants and divide by their number and you get the number of minutes you can fish without complaint.

Watch as I use my jovial fat guy powers to undo all that stern tutelage about not talking to strangers, and undermine their natural shyness around strange adults. Cringe as I swear like a sailor, and find gross things for kids to throw at their brother – while I show a couple of potential fly fishermen where “Eewww” grows, and how much fun you can have doing things your Ma would have a fit over …

My client, Garrat

Failure isn’t an option anymore, we have to package a time honored snooty old profession into something that rivals a massively multiplayer online pseudo-reality.

Which is yet another reason to celebrate warm water and the appetites of coarse fish, most of which are willing to bite anyone or anything that comes within range, and will hurl themselves at a bit of wrapped flash with a fluffy tail and a come-hither action.

Above is my client, Garrett who thought a fly and bubble pretty lame, the spinning rod and Rooster Tail not much better, and insisted on the fly rod and measured retrieve just like his Pop and older bro, below …

Kelvin and his son, Bradley

… and while he attempted to remain good natured about double skunking his older bro and his poppa, his cool handling of the voracious Brackish water Barracuda (aka Sacramento Pikeminnow), revealed his outdoors nature in the face of mano y mano encounter with a known man eater.

Actually, it was all those parental lectures on respect for elders that allows me to assist a young fellow thrust into unfamiliar and odious surroundings.

He assumes everything I say and do is gospel, and everything Dad says and does can be ignored. That gives me the upper hand in reminding Dumpling he should keep his rod tip low so he can feel the slightest nibble …



… especially when we get to throw rocks at cars – which makes enormous metallic smack noises and with Pop urging us to further mayhem and to get wet, which is foreign to anything we’ve ever believed about adults – none of which know how to have fun as they never throw rocks at anything …

Which provides just the type of break from fishing so that we can drink Gatorade and eat “fart bars” and relax in the shade – and then try fishing some more on the way back …

Proud Poppa's smile says it all

… where both proceed to cast their own rods, hook and land their own fish, and the smile on a proud poppa’s face is a mix of relief and outright fun, suggesting the scene to be repeated many times over.

Eco-votes, baby – go get you some…

Searching for Fly Fishing’s instructional gold mine? Look for the Orvis flag as they’ve already claimed that turf


The trade magazines are busy writing odes to guides, how they’re an underappreciated yet potential sources of much retail trade, waiting to be exploited by a canny fly shop management team …

I wind up scratching my head a lot at the prospect, wondering how once per year makes for an indivisible instructional bond between client and guide – and why fly shops and fly clubs aren’t talked about in the same breath.

Then again, fly clubs and free instruction in nowhere near as sexy as being a qualified professional, and while I might agree that guides are troubled souls whose mettle has been tested countless times, whose heroism is worthy of a credential akin to an M.D, most are addled by too many blazing summer days with too little hat – to be the poster child that clients would want their daughters to marry …

These trade-centric pieces suggest guides are key to an untapped retail juggernaut, that can only be realized when vendors and larger industry players seek amends with red carpets and acres of free schwag. The instructional nature of the guide-client relationship and the sacred bond that forms being pointed out as an underutilized path to the client’s pocketbook.

I’ve worked with guides. Mostly making their life easy by fixing lunches and assisting clients, tying flies and making sure licenses were packed in wallets, and ensuring everyone knew where to be at what time …

… eventually I joined their ranks for a half dozen seasons, learning enough to be really impressed at the grueling schedules, the countless hours baking in hot sun, how picky fish can be when least expected, and how bone weary all that hard work can make a fellow. How they sustain an unending supply of good humor – despite pissed off clients, alcoholics masquerading as anglers, and tolerated all those sharp objects buried in their extremities while they taught clients to cast, set hook, and distinguish a mayfly from a caddis.

Only they never talked like those magazine articles said. They didn’t see themselves as the key to anyone’s retail ambition, and while they were partial to brands (as we all are) were respectful enough to suggest six that would work well, three the shop carried, ensuring the owning shop got its due, and the remainder available in the client’s hometown, should the client wish to spread the cash around. Despite their profession these fellows loved fishing, and the ability to fish for a living in a job that had both good and bad days, same as ours …

… only their office window beats ours all to hell.

I don’t think they were overly eager to exploit the client’s pocketbook even if they were a partial beneficiary. It was only one more thing to get in the way of the Experience – and even charging for extra flies was something the shop insisted on and most guides ignored. The best were still uncomfortable being tipped – yet gave us junior guides tips aplenty, “… you’re young still, stay in school and get a real job“… or … “get outta the business.”

Most were retirees, and had another sources of income given the surrounding areas were largely depressed, whose seasons made anything other than waiting table a six month career.

A destination fly shop has similar retail woes of its big city counterpart, and can reliably employ a couple of full time guide-contractors, but usually relies on a stable of part timers to flesh out their guide roster. Management is often reluctant to beatify guides – not because of their unwillingness to part with a dollar, but because guides are often unprofessional, two-faced, and an asset that shop owners often drink themselves to sleep over, something they’d just as soon not have to manage.

Issues with local talent versus imported “flatlanders” like college kids, most of which could care less about guide politics and would give an extremity just to be able to fish daily.

Issues with clients being a middle aged Big City professional and more at ease with someone of like background. Requiring shops to be on the lookout for non-partisan sophisticated talent, the piney woods being home to many woodsy characters, but not all were suitable for public display.

… especially with the high roller crowd – where shops often bent over backward to accommodate urbane clients, often bringing families, and insisting on a handler with similar tastes and education.

Client shenanigans are the source of the greatest tension, given their well meaning attempts to curry favor with guides often angers shop owners. Attempting to book directly with the guide on subsequent outings puts guide and shop owner at loggerheads, as the client was originally introduced via shop booking, and owners expect to see some loyalties or recognition of their drumming up that business in the first place.

Guides frequently run their own side businesses, using shops to flesh out the season with bookings during traditional woodsy holidays. Most feel that a booking via their phone service makes the client theirs – with no allegiances (or money) owed the originating shop.

Naturally, every owner is scratching his chin wondering whether all those shows and speaking engagements done during the winter, incurring all that travel and expense in an attempt to drum up business, might have limited returns given his guides may be siphoning his paying customers at the first available opportunity.

… and while he’s got no issues with cutting a guide in on the retail generated, is that street “two way” or is he really being played as a patsy?

Which is the real reason guides and shops have a sort of “don’t ask – don’t tell” relationship, and why owners are often perplexed as to their loyalties and relationships, guides being Ronin, Samurai for hire and fiercely independent.

And as I sat there wrapping sandwiches, listening to a parade of shop owners describe their on-again-off-again relationships with the local talent – it dawned on me why management was so interested in getting me trained and guiding. The owner need not fear me,  I was only in it until I graduated, which meant I respected the client-shop relationship completely – I had no designs on leveraging it for my own ends.

Before owners and guides ascend any Golden Retail Staircase, they’ve got to define their relationship and the limitations each faces to ensure both exist for many seasons. As only when the suspicions ease, will both parties gain respect for each others needs and predicament.

… which isn’t likely anytime soon.

Orvis has pre-empted that instructional-bond with their Fly Fishing 101 classes. Each neophyte that breaks his wrist at the casting ponds will require twenty years before he’s sophisticated enough to want more than the Orvis catalog offers – and that’s pure retail gold.

It’s the casting classes and time at the ponds that equals the unbiased and unsolicited gear recommendation. Why the big named vendors have ignored the clubs and their organized public events is beyond my understanding. Local casting clubs see a multitude of visits from those interested in learning, where a guide sees a customer only rarely – and only if the water or access is scarce.

Disclaimer: This was not meant as an exhaustive treatise on the client, owner, guide, issue – only as a perspective on the relationships that I saw, and the issues I worked through while guiding for three destination shops. Guides work really hard and are deserved of accolades, but until they understand the shop ensures their mutual survival, there will be no rose petals cast before their feet. Your experiences may differ dramatically.

The rise of the legendary angler and the skills commensurate

We always had some form of sporting literature lying around, old Field & Stream magazines or Outdoor Life that eventually would migrate enmasse to the John, where they joined “the sporting ladies” of National Geographic on their final tour before discard.

Whether it was upland game or bird hunting, there was always some story featuring a grizzled antisocial codger who had uncanny hounds, or Labrador retrievers that played outfield for a AAA club, whose noses ferreted out game via nonverbal link with master and whichever direction chaw was spat …

Duck hunters got the fellow that drank excessively, grabbed his nose, squatted, and bleated some high pitched noise via nasal resonance; “ee-bie, eenie, EE-nie” – causing birds to halt midair and dive for his blind like Stuka’s swarming Poland.

I always thought fishermen were shortchanged with all these colorful stories, we got the “snagged rubber boot” story, whose characters spoke precise English and observed semi-normal hygiene.

Some fellow living in a log cabin in West Yellowstone isn’t colorful enough, especially when he’s book-ended with wife, kids, and SUV. Relationships prove he’s mastered most of the social skills, and not the kind of hoary legend I’d pay to guide me through the woods..

Water-witching, old guys with uncanny skills, and outdoor exorcisms have been the exclusive purview of our gun-toting cousins, but all that’s changed – we’ve got our own brand of superhero …

The Worm Grunter.

Feast your eyes on Page One of Sports Afield, ladies

Little red flags mark the writhing hoards of monstrous worms ready to do their master’s bidding – thousand yard stare from three tours with the LRRP’s in ‘Nam, it’s page one material, ladies …

… and if your Yellowstone guide can’t summon clouds of mayflies, you got ripped, Pilgrim.

An interesting experiment, but I doubt we could agree on anything

Is it my turn to fish yet? If you think Chandler and I are up for this, think again …

I’m sure most of you snickered when I mentioned toasting the lads at work with your prowess afield, naturally you’re waist deep in water – and their waist deep in something else – when the Boss peers over their shoulder.

All those electronic gadgets are here – just a question of who you want to delivery the photo to – and what caption will best get their goat.

Two ghillies on the River Tay are already online, posting daily updates of the water, fishing, and including a photo of every fish caught that day. Enough real-time intel to keep some hopeful fellow glued to the screen as his fishing reservation approaches.

It’s also a double edged sword, if someone says “you should of been here last week” – you can look it up and call them a liar on the spot.

Jock Monteith’s blog, Speycasting is a great way to drive interest, and migratory fish being as fickle as they are – a sudden flurry of catching would likely enhance bookings. I can’t see it as anything less than a boon to both guide and client.

Then again, driving your cubicle mates batty over that really enormous brown would be worthwhile also – they don’t have to know it was the lad next to you that caught it, and you offered a sawbuck to hold it …

Collaboration is always a touchy business and the idea of the Trout Underground and Singlebarbed alternately fishing and hunched over a laptop is unsettling.

Why? Trout fishermen lie about the size of their fish, where brownliners only lie to law enforcement…

“Nice fish Tom, he’d go, what – nearly 11 inches?”

“No, don’t use metrics, on my fish use superlatives. A ‘Penultimate specimen’ sounds bigger, see – trout aren’t slimy, they glisten, the sky isn’t blue, it’s azure – imbue the reader with the entire experience!”

“Oh, OK – how do you spell penultimate?

” s-e-v-e-n-t-e-e-n   i-n-c-h-e-s, the ‘s’ is capitalized…

Mayhap I was a bit hasty on the whole Guiding issue

The Original Gangsta, characters all of them I want to be a Brownline guide, the fellow that props up a dusty 4X4, slouching nonchalantly while fingering all the sandwiches. After this weekend’s whirlwind tour of waterlike substance – and culverts containing same – I may have been hasty when I swore, “I will never guide again.”

Brownline fish are sophisticated, but not overly so; ATV’s mean we don’t have to carry “the Good Squire’s” luggage, don’t have to be quiet or stealthy, can discard beer cans without guilt, and yell helpful tips from the safety of the berm.

Blueline Guide: The Potamanthus Regenerarius will be coming off at 10 AM, we need to secure a vantage upstream so the “limp hackle, partially-reticulated-CDC-emerger sans  Carapace” can be fed downstream without drag.

More Tea?…

Brownline Guide: Put that big green fugger over by them bushes.

No. Them other bushes.

A little mystique will appeal to the 5 Star resort crowd; just enough to make heroic at the watercooler, and it wouldn’t hurt to nickname fish the “Ghost of the Flats”, or the “Phosphate Razor Blade,” adding local color.

Danger adds to our ability to charge huge bucks – so carrying some high powered, scoped cannon would be appropriate. It takes the attention away from your gut when silhouetted against the skyline.

Blueline Guide: Every so often you may run into a bear, just yell and it’ll scare them.

Brownline Guide: “Remain calm, hopefully we won’t run into any “Fescue Jaguars”, it’s mating season – them udders can get verrry sensitive – tear a man to pieces.

How old you say your daughter was?”

My ATV can carry a cooler in front and luggage in the rear. Slide to a stop in a spray of gravel and muddy water,  pose woodenly, “Kemosabe, Big Fish – him upstream.”

Blueline Guide: That’s okay, a little bleach and it’ll be as good as new.

Brownline Guide: Kemosabe, him no ride, him smell like butt.

We can dispense with the silliness, no insect mating rituals or environmental issues, just things you don’t want on you, things you want to bite, and things you shouldn’t step in.

Blueline Guide: There’s a rather rough element at that bar, mostly loggers – if you want a couple drinks afterwards, the lodge offers …

Brownline Guide: Pass your sleeve over the neck before you hand her back, friend.

With the rural-urban interface close at hand, a Brownline guide can make a helluva spectacle, a Wild West show complete with irate farmers, gunplay, and the Big Showdown…

GangBanger: We’ll start with the Pasty Face’s wallet, Holmes, then maybe we’ll want yours too ..

Brownline Guide: I ain’t been paid yet, draw that Smokepole and see who sucks dinner through a straw (wink, wink).

A couple “Alexander Hamilton’s” to pay the actors and watch the superlatives fly – makes me misty eyed, kinda what I thought guiding would be…

Blueline Guide: Today, we have a piquant roast duckling with a Rosemary Garlic rub, and Mango Chutney…

Brownline Guide: (from the bridge above) … you want that SuperSized?

I might miss the tinkle of crystal dinnerware – just a little bit …

Dad could earn massive points, but remember the dead pan delivery

Mickey takes one for the team It could be the most sinister fishing excursion ever – what with the kids screaming in delight and your spouse forking over the Bonus Points by the shovel full …

With proper marketing and your ability to deliver with a straight face, it’s instant hero – “Poppa finally sees the light” – and rather than drag the family into the woods for another Mosquito-fest, “we’re going to Disneyworld!”

Just pack the tackle after dark, while Mom and those golden haired waifs can dream of Sugarplums without the cold light of day to interrupt.

The lakes were stocked in the 1960s with more than 70,000 young largemouth bass, which were allowed to grow undisturbed until fishing excursions were begun in 1977, Disney publicists say.

How you extricate yourself for a couple hours is your own look out, you could try the time honored, ” something disagreed with me at Cinderella’s Royal Table” or maybe “Goofy put his thumb in my soup.”

A two hour “catch and release” outing, with guide and boat is $250.00 – that means no evidence to dispose of and you can have the tackle stowed before Ma and the kids get back from breakfast.

It may be the “Perfect Crime” as $250 won’t even raise an eyebrow when Ma gets the credit card bill, she’ll be guilting over all the other expenditures and will assume she spent it.

Pick a guide with “Normal” ears – it won’t help your case any when Goofy or Mickey takes a weighted Clouser upside the head. The bandage alone will arouse your kids suspicions – especially after Goofy has to be dragged to your table for the follow-on breakfast.

GuideSpeak revealed

clint.jpgTwo prams pass each other on the river, two sun bronzed, flint-eyed “Clint Eastwood types” nod at each other in wary respect..

“How goes it, Bob?”

“Pretty fair, a couple of long-line releases, boated a couple, three runs – 2 hits, a couple left on base.”

“Same here, you going to be out later?

“Yep, I’ll probably chasing Golden Salmon this evening.”

Yes, the “steely eyed” part is pure fantasy; one guide was middle aged and balding, the other had a bad hangover and was wearing yesterday’s shirt. Both had the presence of mind to speak in “GuideSpeak.”

If you are fortunate enough to fish a river 100 of the 180 days of the season, there are few surprises left. Where the fish are and what they’ll be eating is well known. Boat and tackle will be identical and the only variance will be the skills of the client.

GuideSpeak allows “Clint” to talk about your success, without embarrasing you, him, the other guide, or the other guides clients. Guides always sound noncommital about fishing, as the other fellow may have had a bad day afield.

The above conversation can be loosely translated to mean:

“The sunburnt fellow in the bow has the reaction time of a Dimetrodon, he lost two (long line release) because he wouldn’t give them any slack, despite my screaming at him –  he landed two small fish that committed suicide by fish hook, we had plenty of grabs (3 runs, 2 hits), but “Mr. Dinosaur-reflexes” snapped the 5X on the strike (a couple left on base).”

No, guides are not making fun of you, as we were there once ourselves. This is shop-talk and in any business it is a testosterone-fest, rarely complimentary.

Guides love to fish, probably more than most as they dodge fishooks for a living. The “Golden Salmon” reference is the important part, as they are telling their pal where they will be fishing after they drop you off at the lodge.

If you can find that spot this evening, he will undoubtedly assist you without thought of compensation, as the “steely eyed outdoorsman” mask you saw earlier will be discarded – he used it this morning just to impress your daughter…

The dreaded Father-Son outing

father-son-redfish-lrg2.jpgIt’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.

coldwife.jpgIf 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…