Our Man In Canada
February 16th, 1998
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To Guide or Not to Guide
by Clive Schaupmeyer



The following (unfortunately) is a true story that happened several years ago. It recounts a day of fishing with two fly anglers - Young Sport and Old Sport - I took fishing as a favor. - Clive

"Ha, Ha!" Young Sport chortled. "My fly was sinking and I couldn't figure out why. But I was using fly sink instead of fly floatant on it. Ha. Ha. Yuk. Yuk." This episode was one chapter in a comedy of errors that started and ended my career as a fishing guide.

A colleague at work asked if I might take a stateside business acquaintance fishing. UtopiaI foolishly answered, "Sure, why not?" Since I'm not a paid guide - I could fis h as well!

I called the soon-to-be visitor a few days before the doom-filled fishing trip. "Would you mind if my dad comes along?" the prospective sport asked. This IS NOT them!"The old boy is getting older and never fished in Canada." No problem with me, after all Young Sport sounded like he knew all about fishing. He mentioned the Madison, Green River, and the Spring Creeks a couple of times. Oughta be fun. A couple of pros. Maybe I'll pick up a pointer or two.

Things started to cascade downstream when we first met the night before. It should have been an omen to abort the mission. The drama began with Young Sport's first question, "Say, I bought a new reel and had the line loade d, but didn't get a leader installed. Could you tie a leader onto the fly line for me?"

Now hold on here. He's fished the Madison and Green, right? Been down a few rivers before, right? So why is he asking me to tie on a new leader? He's checking me out ... right?

The next morning we drove for 3 hours and headed for the parking spot near the run we were going to fish first. I was momentarily excited as we pulled in. This had all the makings of being a fishy-day. Light breeze. Warm. Should be some good surface insect activity. We had heard the water was clear and fishing well. Hot damn!

As we were gearing up the big bomb dropped! Young Sport was rummaging through his tackle bag, "Oh S**t," he wailed. "I forgot my bee-sting kit!" Whoa! We're going fishing in pasture-and-honey country and Young Sport forgets his bee -sting kit!

"This bee thing with you, just how serious is it?" I asked.

"No real problem, really. Not like some folks. I've got about an hour to get a shot. The doctors aren't certain if I'll die."

"Aarrgghh!" It's a ten-minute walk to the river. Another twenty to the farthest hole. And a twenty-minute drive to the hospital. But I'm not used to crossing rivers and climbing hills while carrying someone like Young Sport, even i f he didn't weigh very much. And since I didn't know exactly where the hospital was he'd be stiffer than a $20 fiberglass rod by the time we arrived.

There were no bees that day, and my worries were for naught. It was just another little aggravation in my life.

After some discussion about how we should fish - wet or dry flies - I quickly lined my rod, tied on a dry fly, wadered, and was ready to roll. And I waited. And waited. And waited. Glaciers move faster. We finally got moving, but O ld Sport tore his waders on the way to the river. We all agreed that he would wet wade for awhile. It was late June and the water would be cool but not ice cold.

It was a good decision to keep going because a few minutes later the old guy landed a respectable 16-inch rainbow - what would be his only decent fish of the day. He was using a Yellow Humpy that likely was taken for a hopper or goldenstone.

But Young Sport couldn't buy a fish at first. I had a few local flies that had been known to catch these fussy rainbows and offered them to Young Sport as he had a gawdawful collection of bizarre department-store flies. They made t he old guy's #14 Yellow Humpy look delicate. But he insisted on using his road kills because he had caught fish on them somewhere else.

There was no discernable hatch that I now recall - nothing in my notes - but there were quite a few rising rainbows. I put Young Sport onto a pod of feeding rainbows and do you think he could hook a fish? Or even rise fish? I insis ted that he try something smaller, but oh no, he stuck with his #12 off-shore concoction. After an hour he moved on and I walked into his spot and immediately hooked and landed a rainbow on something smaller. To make things worse he was pretty cool toward me because he wasn't catching these rainbows.

How was my first day at freebie guiding? Well it did have more than its share of trying moments. But Old Sport was appreciative, and Young Sport finally caught a couple of fish. They showed their appreciation by presenting me with an autographed copy of a book on tying nymphs.

After my experience with these two "pros" I now know that some guides must screen their potential clients. Come to think of it, Young Sport did mention that they once tried to find their designated guide in Idaho - who moo nlighted as a mechanic - for two days before finding him. I wonder if the guide had done some checking, and discovered what I had. He was likely in hiding. This dynamic duo could ruin one's reputation as a guide.

Would I do it again? No! Never. Hell, there's never a bee around when you need one.

Best Partner - Alone!

Closing thought ...Time is the currency of our lives. It's too precious to spend brooding.

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Copyright ©1998 Clive Schaupmeyer


Clive Schaupmeyer is an outdoor writer and photographer. He is the author of The Essential Guide to Fly-Fishing, a 288-page book for novice and intermediate fly anglers. His photo of a boy fishing was judged the best outdoor picture of 1996 published by a member of the Outdoor Writers of Canada. He fly-fishes for trout in Alberta's foothill and mountain streams and for pike near his home in Brooks, Alberta.
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