Awhile back, I asked Jason Boardman to offer his take on being a guide, as well as how to be a prepared customer on a guided trip. Jason sent this concise piece regard the considerations one should ponder before jumping into the guiding arena.

Willie Drift Boat (Jason Boardman)

Guiding…More Than Steering a Boat!

There are no schools to my knowledge that teach guides to take clients out on the water, help them be productive, and leave with great memories of the trip! There’s more to it then meets the eye. Some questions you would need to ask yourself is “Why the hell do I want to do that?” After all, you don’t get many clients in the winter, and I have yet to find a client who wants to fish when the temperatures are sizzling! Then, of course, there is the rain. I have guided in Canada extensively, and Oregon…yes, a guide must understand there will be down days, down months, and depending on the economy, down seasons. But it gets into your blood, and you are a doomed man (or woman).

If you plan to take clients on, you must be over 18 years of age, and be able to purchase several things. You would think a boat would be first, but not so fast! What about insurance? Insurance that will cover loss, and harm to individuals…accidents DO happen! Next would be some decent equipment to supply clients who do not have their own rods, reels, flies, ect. Can’t ever have enough gear! Lines of all kinds, extra spools, extra rods, reels, and sunglasses (the good kind). Oh yes, and don’t forget the camera(s)! Doesn’t everyone want a picture to grace their walls!

Oh yes… back to the boat. The boat must be appropriate for the waters, large enough for 2-4 people with gear, and stocked with extras…first aid kit, map of the area, bug spray; toilet paper and handi-wipes are essentials, as are sun screen and an extra hat or two! A good boat can cost up to $25,000! A necessary expense. Ok, now go get first aid and CPR training.

Next big question is how good are you at catching fish? How much water knowledge do you have? Insect education to read hatches and suggest the most appropriate fly. Have you experience in the waters that can be discussed with any potential client? When my uncles first got me started guiding, they had several “dummy” photos of “ehem” clients who caught a trophy. No guide will get any business without a few satisfied customers smiling from the bookings page!

Yes business. How are you going to advertise? I personally had to go to the lodges and hotels that are near fishing waters and offer my services free of charge to get a reputation. Did this through coupons so we could withdraw the offer when need be. Now, tell me..How much is a ½ or a days fishing worth? You need to be realistic and not gouging! You want return customers, corporate accounts, and celebrity visits. Pricing can be competitive, but you can’t give away your services either.

So good luck! See ya on the water?