Wednesday, August 29, 2007

"Right there...No, there...nevermind..."

I had a tiny revelation a few days ago concerning my spring and summer avocation...

Guiding folks on fishing trips is a lot like fishing with your in-laws.

Lemme fill in the backstory, then I will get to the revelation moment.

I have been guiding in the spring and part-time in the summer for 5 seasons now, and in that time I have seen the good, the bad, and the ugly of people, fish, weather, and the human condition in general.

Every time you go to greet the day's Sports, you think "these are the ones...these folks can roll-cast 80 feet, they know how to mend, they don't look embarrassed when you tell them "less butt" or "strip faster", they know how to compensate for a hard day's work...these are the perfect clients".

Then Downtown Akron rolls off the van, with Palm Springs and a hefty Minneapolis/St Paul behind them.

"Anyone ever flyfish before?"

"Oh, Yeah, I seen it done on the tv. H'it don't look too hard"

...and the fantasy ends. Guiding is a bitch sometimes.

But at the same time it gives you great pleasure to take "pleasedtameechaImMerleandthisisDoriswebeenalloverfishin" out for a day in the Alaska Wilderness, give them a flyrod perhaps for the first time, and with a little patience, some compassion, and a whole lot of low animal cunning, show them one of the better days of fishing and recreation that they may ever see in their lives.

As luck would have it, My brother-in-law is in town this week. When my wife found out he was coming up this year, one of the first things she told me was that "he really wants to go flyfishing with you".

I like fishing with other folks, but since I started guiding, my patience for taking novices out on my time has worn a little thin...all novices except for my wife, on the off chance that she reads this, and the fact that she is already a good fisher. But I digress.

I got the chance to take them along on a trip a few days ago, with the proviso that they were to Sherpa for me, not take any of my Client's good water, and be generally obsequious.

The Sports for the day were 3 ladies in their 60's, minimal (read: none) experience flyfishing, but they "were up for an adventure"...until we got to the river, when one of them decided she didn't want to get off the plane. With a little coaxing, we got her off...which is a good thing, since there was no room on the plane for her for a return trip.

After a brief casting lesson and a gruelling 45-minute hike, we made it oh, say 280 yards upstream to a hole that, while less than ideal, was less than ankle-deep at the presentation-point. Seeing as how both Wife-sherpa and Bro-sherpa had been called into action to keep these ladies from toppling over in the raging 4" of water in one of the braids we crossed, I figured this was as good a place as any (remember the low animal cunning part?).

With much flailing n wailing, all these ladies managed to catch fish. And have an absolute blast doing it, much to my surprise, as the whole "trek" had been filled with audibly voiced self-doubt, batted in between them in a "what have we gotten ourselves into" fashion.

Truth be told, I had a pretty good time too.

And teaching my Brother-in-law how to flyfish was much less painful than I had imagined, he being the cool, coordinated, athletic-type of guy that picks up things pretty quick.

So what's the similarity vis a vis clients and in-laws?

You can't pick either, but sometimes you get unexpected surprises.

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