Vail, Colorado – Beautiful. Cold. Those misty mountain mornings on the Eagle River – The epitome of bliss. This is where it all started.
As goosebumps ran down my arms and legs, I knew I was in the right spot. Just minutes away from the ski runs that my wife, Kellie, was floating down, I had hired a flyfishing guide to show me his home river – to help me understand what those waters truly held. Fly fishing has always come naturally to me, though I knew deep down that there was (and always is) much more for me to learn about this silent sport. To me, it doesn’t matter how good you are. You can never truly predict what the creatures of the water will decide. That day, I was looking for some fiery river knowledge, like the type of flies I should use or a tip here and there on my cast. I wanted a great day, with a great mentor, chasing down silvery rainbows and buttery browns.
The most important lesson of the day – more important than anything I’ve ever learned about the sport – Was how not to be a Guide. My River Guru was overly tired, cranky, and held an ego that darkened the waters. Tiger Woods, Clint Eastwood – these were the people he spoke mostly of, and how he graciously led them through the rivers. We used one fly all day. Just one. The “Lucky Eagle”. This bad boy was nicknamed after the Governor of Colorado, just a month prior. As you might have guessed, my eyes were in constant rock and roll. I was told to cast the fly “over there” and wait for the ‘big one’. Folks – I couldn’t wait for my day to end. I politely shook his hand and bid him farewell at the end of our day.
In that moment, just as I was leaving the man who I had such high hopes for, dreaming of laughs and tight loops, I decided to become a Fly Guide. A Guide needs to be real. He/She needs to be honest. Understanding. Thoughtful. Caring. The fish don’t care about what celebrities were in their home. They don’t care about how good you are. A Fly Guide…guides through the rivers. They guide through tough situations. They guide through beautiful landscapes. They will allow you to connect with the ebb and flow of life through a rivers many surrounding eyes. The main ingredient here is patience, and the knowledge that we’re all just visitors in these waters. A Guide will see you as you are, and treat you with the respect and attention you deserve. That the rivers and its inhabitants deserve.
Guiding is not just about the Fish. It’s about sharing knowledge, moments and epiphanies.
Cast into the waters, and you might just pull out something bigger and more profound than the fish you were expecting.