March 5, 2015
Every spring we have a "training camp" for our guide crew. This isn't just for new guides. Any guides that don't happen to be booked all get together for some fishing and a clinic to share ideas, work on formal casting instruction, and do some team building. It is a great exercise and it was so much fun to get about 10 of us all together yesterday.
We started out talking about what we think makes the perfect guide trip and sharing lots of success stories from years past. This is where it is really helpful to have some salty old veterans on staff that like to help the incoming freshmen. Conversations range from safety, to fly selection, lunch prep, and everything in between. There is a lot of good discussion and in the process we all learn a ton including myself. It is important to know that we have some guys on the team that have run thousands upon thousands of guided trips. In that time we have seen a lot of things that work for catching fish and also some ways to coach and encourage people when we're not catching fish. A good mentor is a huge part of becoming a good guide.
Next we went outside for some casting. We tested a few rods but we worked in on improving our own casting and ways to help teach our guests better fundamentals in positive and fun ways. WITHOUT NAGGING THEM! I put that in all caps because all caps are annoying and so is nagging people... (imagine this in a condescending and whiny voice). 'you went too far back, you broke your wrist, you didn't wait long enough, you are tangled, blah blah blah. That drives me nuts just typing it. That sounded like my first casting lesson and I remember being annoyed.
Our goal is to teach you casting in a way that you can understand it fundamentally so we don't have to bug you about this little stuff. If you "get it" then you won't hear us saying those things. It is our job to help you "get it" without sounding like condescending jerks. Nobody likes that including us. We want to be effective teachers in a positive, fun, and encouraging manner. We still laugh every now and then but it will be with you and not at you.
After that we did an all for fun casting competition among the guides. I've always felt like this is important because watching other pro's cast and feeling a little pressure is one of the best ways to learn. I learn an immense amount about how the fly line, rod, and line work in the air by watching some of the fine casters on our guide team. I was really impressed by the casting and the improvement of some of the guys.
Next, we hit the river. Time to get on the river and have some fun. We fished dry flies a lot from Mile Marker 20 down to Red's and it was really dead. We saw a couple of fish rise, eat an indicator, and even saw an adult Skwala. The deeper nymph setups down to 5' deep were pretty good and the streamer fishing was slow.
The inverse took place from Red's downstream to the Slab area. The nymph fishing was really tough and the dry fly fishing was actually pretty decent! I am still scratching my head on this. You never know, maybe we weren't holding our mouths right. Below you will see a picture of one of the new flies in the shop that we like. It has great "fishability" and floats very well, is easy to see, but it still very productive from a fish count standpoint.
Overall, the Skwala hatch isn't really poppin' yet but in the next 10 days there will be some more dry fly action. I will caution everyone to keep their expectations in check. The water is low, clear, and will be all spring. The fish will be wise to the big leggy stuff early this year. Be thinking about smaller flies, tippet, and the small bug game will probably be the best strategy for putting fish in the net. I have always done really well on Zebra Midge early in the year. Especially red. Take your fish one at a time and treasure each one. Handle it and release it in a way that you can be proud. Fly fishing pictures of a suffocating trout aren't all the cool, let 'em swim without the hero shot if you would please.