On Hiring a Guide
by John Juracek,
from "Blue Ribbon Flies 1998 Catalogue"
I've watched people hire fishing guides here at Blue Ribbon for sixteen seasons now, and I've seen all the reasons they do it. I've seen 'em hired to be chauffeurs and babysitters, teachers and tour guides, manual laborers, oarsmen, counselors, comedians, drinking partners, companions -- it's a long list. And I've seen them hired so a client can catch fish.
I'm not here to condemn any reason anyone ever did have, or, heaven forbid, will have, for wanting to hire a guide, except one. And that is, to catch fish. That's right, hiring a guide so you can catch fish is a terrible idea. Why?
Because catching fish on any given day is a crapshoot. It might happen, it might not. it's a waste of the guide's talents and abilities if that desire is all that you bring to the table.
Why, then, should anyone hire a guide? While you may derive some benefit from any of the above-mentioned reasons (depending on the guide, of course!), I think it's safe to assume your money is being spent with one purpose in mind: learning how to catch fish.
Not catching fish, mind you, but learning how to catch fish. There's a huge difference there.
Fish being what they are, well, sometimes they can be caught, sometimes not. It makes no difference your guide is or what he does. But on any day you can learn to catch them, and that really is the crux of the issue. Teaching is what the guide is expert at--use him for that.
Everything you take from a guide is yours forever, whether you use it tomorrow, the day after tomorrow, or ten years after. The point is that you always have it. This opportunity to acquire knowledge will always be, for me, the most legitimate reason for hiring a guide.
As I noted above though, it's not the only reason. After all, guides to make great companions, and it is a pleasure to spend a day with them. Many long friendships have started this way. Not only that, they are better oarsmen than most fishermen!
So hire a guide for any number of reasons, whatever pleases you, but don't do it just to catch fish. While it may work out on any given day, I still feel that it shortchanges you and the guide.
He has so much to teach, and we all have so much to learn.