These days it seems that the good fishing guides are few and far between. Before I continue, let me qualify good… Good in my book means more than making sure your clients hook up on as many fish as possible slinging bobbers, a pound of lead, and the egg-and-worm combo all day. Good in my book is all about customer service. It’s about catching fish, but also about knowing the history of an area, the flora and fauna, side attractions if the fishing is crappy. Basically, it’s mostly about having fun and, hopefully, learning a thing or two you didn’t know the day before.
I’m basing this mainly on what I see on the water in my neck of the woods. I’m not saying all guides need etiquette class, but there are a good amount who do. Just the other week I was slowly and methodically rowing down a piece of water with a friend, picking apart a piece of amazing dry-fly water. The dry fly fishing was going off, and spending just a minute to analyze it almost guaranteed you fish. We’d been there maybe 10 minutes when a guide and two clients rowed right into the top of our run, not more than 20 feet from us and loudly dropped his anchor and proceeded to instruct his clients to start fishing. We were flabbergasted. Was this dude serious? Did he have poor vision? My guess is he didn’t care and was going to get his clients into fish no matter what he had to do, damned the guys who were already there. It was insulting, rude, and not the first time something like this has happened to me. In fact, it’s a pretty regular occurrence.
On the flip side, you have folks such as Jack Bombardier of Confluence Casting, who’s pictured above. Jack is the man on the “lower” Upper Colorado River between the tiny hamlet of State Bridge and Dotsero, Colorado. He lives on the river and knows the lower reaches of that seldom-fished stretch like the back of his hand. Also, he’s the epitome of what every guide should aspire to be and one hell of a guy. A couple of weeks ago, I sent Jack a rambling email basically begging his knowledge of a certain section of river I didn’t know. Where to fish? What to fish? Where to camp, put in and take out… I honestly didn’t think I’d get much—as the life of a guide in the middle of the season leaves very little time for extensive email replies. Not only did Jack do what very few guides would ever consider—giving me detailed fishing info—he also offered up his property as a camping spot and his personal bike to run our shuttle. I truly believe that he would have done this for almost anyone that asked; it made our trip and another thereafter. Jack wasn’t getting paid, or promised media coverage (although he just got it), he was just doing what every steward and excellent guide on the river should do. Be helpful, cultivate new clients, and make sure everyone has fun—that is how all fishing guides should be.
If you’re so inclined and in the area, look up Jack and book him for a day on a stretch of the Colorado River that few people get to see. I promise you won’t be disappointed, and I guarantee that you have an excellent day, no matter if fish are caught or not.