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fishpimp 11-08-2006 09:15 AM

Guiding, not a fishermans life.
Spent this last weekend traversing around the Whites. From the fishes point of view my presence was only moderately threatening. I was helping out a buddy from back home get his feet wet in some of our finer and more accessible fisheries. Started out on Crescent we fished for about 2.5 hours I only ended up with four of the non-existent brookies and my friend who was enjoying his first time on the lake got blanked. After working with him a bit, I begin to realize all the talking we had done over the last year since we'd fished had led me to over estimate his skill sets. The foreboding begin to set in as I realized he had never fished on his own sans a guide. Despite fishing all over the world and frequently at that, he'd never had the experience of the normal matinence required to fish. After an hour or so it came quite apparent that he'd never taken a casting lesson either.

We moved on to Greer Lodge Ponds. I was attempting to set him up for success. My plan was get him into some fish, get him relaxed and then work basic skills with him at the picnic benches over a beer or two.

It worked wonderfully in the beginning, In about five casts we had the retrieve the fly and the depth down. (Not that - it's saying much being fish in a barrel in all). It was having the desired effect he was laughing, having fun and his confidence was rising with every cast.

So we sat down for a beer and a basic knot 101. That ended rather quickly when I saw his hands were enormous and it wasn't that he didn't know the knots, but that it took him three or four attempts to get the light tippets lined up using his big meat hooks. We progressed to basic fly selection and how to work a body of water in a general sense by moving through the 5 or so standard families of aquatic life. This section of the class started the synergy flowing he asked the waitress for a pen and paper when she brought us our third Oak Creek Ale. Visibly he was concentrating as he scribbled down notes about sedge, beatis, midges, damsels, other various bugs.

We closed class with the draining of our fourth brew and headed back to the ponds, at this point I hadn't touched his casting, more out of fear then anything else. I then turned the table on him, 'Okay what do you do?'...'Show me.' I handed him a fly box. With out missing a beat he opened it up and recited the one of the memory mnemonic's I had just taught him.
'Not BM MM' which translates to 'Midges in the morning, baetis in the afternoon.(not beatis in the monring, midges in the morning) It was late in the day so he pulled out a pheasant tail and walked to the water. Two or three casts later he had no bumps or followers and he looked at me inquisitively.
'Remember what came before the BM and MM part..?' I asked.

At this point fish were rising all over the surface and was a perfect segway into another solid lesson.

He read from the paper again. 'Ahhh.... Noses and Lips or Fins and Tails.' He looked up from his kneeling position at the waters edge and smirked. At this point he opened the fly box back up and asked, 'Now which one of these is that R2D2 thingy?'

'RS2' I asked? and pointed to the right row of flies.

'Yep!' excitedly he said quoting another piece of our lesson. 'What do I do when I'm excited..... I emerge.' He grinned devilishly, guys always get that innuendo. Earlier I had shared with him what happens when insects emerge and how gas get's trapped under their exoskeletons which in turn increases their rate of assention the closer and closer they get to the surface...they get 'Excited'. You can tell what stage of bug the fish are keyed in on by noting what part of their body you see when they break the surface. In this case, 'Dorsal Fin' which meant emerger in our little 6 cell spreadhseet I had, had him draw on his notes.

Two casts and he had a bump, not so much a take, but an honest to goodness look and deny, the fish's tail hit the line as he turned away.

'Mark, I whispered.' As I slowly eased over to his left shoulder. 'What does your notes say about retrieve?'

He read aloud to me like a proud parent. 'When thinking about "ERMERGING" with respect to your retrieve think about looking at a pretty girl. "Start at the bottom and work your way to the top." He shoved the paper back into his pocket and got a tiny split shout out of his vest. Pinching it on and casting the weighted rig out he counted...' One...two...' before he got to three smack and a boil a beautiful 18 inch rainbow inhaled his fly on the drop. After all was done I asked. 'What did we learn now?'

He didn't quite catch on, so I prodded him a little in the right direction. 'When did that fish take your fly?'
'On the drop.' he replied.

'Exactly, and how far under the surface had your fly fallen before he ate it?' I pushed.

'Less then 12 inches I would say.' Mark responded.

Concluding the lesson I asked, ' ..and what was the final thing I had you write down in your notes?' I finished it for him so he wouldn't have to dig the paper out again. 'CCRC if it doesn't work and CCRR if it does?' ... I paused to see if he had made the connection yet and to allow the living example to set in. 'Cast, Count, Retrieve and Change if it doesn't work , Cast , Count, Retrieve and Repeat if it does.'

I ordered us another beer and we settled in for an hour or so left of sunlight. We spent the rest of the daylight hours applying the lessons he had just learned and catching the first fish he'd ever figured out on his own.

If folks find this story helpful let me know. We fished 7 more bodies of water while he was here and there are plenty more sessions we went through to try and improve his overall skill sets. If not then no worries won't follow up with any more.

WMF 11-08-2006 09:21 AM

Nice Aaron would love to hear more.....

Fisher4life 11-08-2006 09:49 AM

Word! Thanks. Can you or someone else explain these from you're story? I'm pretty clueless there. Thanks.
"sedge, beatis, midges, damsels, other various bugs."

Mr Blur 11-08-2006 09:58 AM

caddis, bwos, midges, damselflies...

SJDrifli 11-08-2006 10:00 AM

Nice Aaron, keep em' coming! I think this will be very helpful to novice and non-novice alike!!!

fishpimp 11-08-2006 10:25 AM

Guiding, not a fishermans life part
Day two;

We awoke to bugling Elk and the sounds of the last of our wood crackling away into embers. I breathed deep knowing this was going to be a long day. I had 3 co-workers, my buddy and myself going to fish and I was carrying half the guiding burden with my friend Chip.

I had planned out the days lessons for Mark the night before as we discussed what he'd learned, enjoyed and disliked about that day. I planned to get him into some Apaches since he was from Mn and this was the only spot on the planet he could catch one. We headed out earlier and arrived on the water around 630 am. To my dismay a local guide had six folks lined up and down the banks (he was fishing as well).

Lesson number one was to review what we had learned yesterday. So I allowed him to choose his fly and set up his rig. I gave him the advice to not go any lighter then 4x because of the piece of water we were on holding some larger fish. He dug through my fly boxes trying to align our notes from yesterday up with the correct fly selection. He choose wisely, an 18 zebra midge. With in five minutes he'd hooked up. 'Okay I thought apache out of the way.' Boy was I wrong. Five minutes later he stood cursing as he watched his trophy swim away. I don't need to mention it was large nor that he was truly disappointed.

Lesson number two reared it's evil head at us after 45 minutes of casting to fish and not hooking up. It wasn't so much the fish weren't eating what he had on, just that he like many others who spend time on big rivers get dependent upon their bobber and forget to watch the fish. I took the rod from him and intentionally teased fish after the fly to illustrate what to look for. I removed the indicator and cast to the pod of fish eating in the current and prematurely pseudo set the hook into nothing to get the desired reaction. Two fish responded as I hoped and chassed the midge to within a couple inches of the surface. 'See that I said.' Excitedly 'You need to watch both your indicator and the fish, they can spit that fly out before you even know and your indicator won't budge.' I handed him the rod back and shadowed him holding his casting hand and mechanically helped him make the right upstream reach cast. 'Ok, now watch the fish.' My arm never left his as the fly drifted in the current I moved his rod tip in parallel following the tiny midge. SMACK, I lifted the rod and from his expression startled him a bit. 'Fish on' I exclaimed as I stepped back to let him fight his first apache.

As I snapped a photo of his first rare trout I was making mental notes about Lesson number three.

I asked him for his rod and told him I wanted to illustrate a point that is too hard to internalize when your fishing so I thought it better to see it in action. We stepped up the bank a few feet until I found what I was looking for. Exactly seven casts later my target ate and my friend shuddered in amazement at the size of this fish. I told him as we walked the bank with the fish, 'Look at where my rod tip is straight up in the air.' Then I went on demonstrating. 'See how I can move the rod parallel with the water.' I laid the rod almost completely parallel to the surface of the stream maintaining tension. 'You can move your rod in all different directions to control and turn the fishes head.' As I demonstrated steering a fish, I stopped walking and looked right at him. 'This is what you did on your last fish and I pointed the rod tip right at the Pig.' SNAP my line broke off.

'Why the **** did you do that!' My friend almost barking at me.

'To show you exactly what I saw you do on the last fish four times. When fighting a fish you must always be mindful of your tip.' He made the connection and I never saw him once after that fight a fish with out his rod being properly flexed and pointed in the right direction. I hear it all the time on the stream, 'Rod tip up!' however I think it's really hard to make the connection, seeing is believing in this case.

We hooked atleast a dozen fish that day through my guiding his arm and actions all the way up to him landing fish not using an idicator and setting the hook while watching the fish's movement and jaw flexes. I slowly stopped guiding and just held on to his arm little by little until he was doing the whole thing on his own and I was just along for the ride. 'Upstream Reach Cast, Pull in Slack, Watch, Watch , Watch, Set. ' I whispered over and over again in his ear until we were saying it in unison. Once he found his rythem I stepped back and watched. He was completely unawhere that my presense was no longer there guiding his arm and chanting my fish mantra in his ear. Two casts later, whack! he hooted! 'Fish On'.

Day ended on this; If you would like me to share more of our sessions just let me know. Four more bodies of water and a few more fish.

fishpimp 11-08-2006 10:41 AM


Originally Posted by Fisher4life (Post 12463)
Word! Thanks. Can you or someone else explain these from you're story? I'm pretty clueless there. Thanks.
"sedge, beatis, midges, damsels, other various bugs."

I will post something that makes it easier.

Fisher4life 11-08-2006 10:41 AM

Great story. Thanks for the lession

Plateau Angler 11-08-2006 10:58 AM

This was excellent. I really like the analytical approach that you kept coming back to. Too often I just start changing flies or methods without really thinking why I am doing it and even if I'm making a reasonable change. This reminds me to think a bit more when I'm out on the water and will improve my abilities as a fisherman! Thanks and keep 'em coming!

long ago 11-08-2006 11:28 AM

nice job, I'm still learning!

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