Many of you folks have been on guided trips before, but some of you have not. Every guide is different, every boat is different and every situation is different but here are just a few of my thoughts that might make things easier for you and your guide on your next trip.
Your guide should establish connection with you before your trip to talk about techniques, weather, etc. I guide most of my trips out of my drift boat which has great storage and protected rod tubes for six rods. Make sure you let your guide know beforehand if you plan on bringing a rod or two. Don’t be offended if you show up with a rod and your guide suggests using his. I can assure it’s just because they want you to have the perfect tool for that day. Your guide should provide lunch and drinks for you. Sometimes saltwater guides do not provide lunch but every trout guide I know does. If you plan on bringing your own lunch make sure you let your guide know the day before so they don’t waste money/time on lunch for you. I’ve never met a guide who didn’t have plenty of water on the boat.
Now lets talk about coolers. Most guides have limited room in their boats and already have a cooler on board. You will make your guide very happy if you don’t show up with your own cooler, especially us drift boat guides. We will have room in our ice chest for your beer, tea or whatever you want to bring. Extra clothes are usually a good idea to bring especially in the winter. I always encourage folks to bring an extra layer and a rain coat. Staying comfortable during your trip is paramount but I’m doubtful you’ll need 4 extra jackets. I also encourage folks to leave their nets, tackle bags, vests etc at home. If you plan on wading your guide should either provide waders for you or talk with you about this prior to the trip. No reason to bring waders unless your guide instructs you to, or if it’s super cold and you are wearing them for warmth. We have all the terminal tackle and gear you’ll need. I traditionally don’t provide sunscreen for my guests as I prefer to just wear long sleeves and long pants, so its never a bad idea to have some screen. I always keep toilet paper and a first aid kit in my boat so theres no need to bring you own!
In conclusion, set a line of communication with your guide prior to your trip. Ask them questions about what they want and don’t want you to bring. These are just some of my thoughts on the matter!
Last week I had the privilege of guiding a few fellas on their first ever streamer trip…. We fished the White River from the State Park down to Wildcat. There was a decent size push coming from Bull Shoals Dam from 7-11a.m. We launched around 8 so the water had crested and the initial trash had moved on. The weapons of choice for the day were seven weight Sage Bolts lined with Orvis Depth Charge 250 grain full sinking line. Typically a seven weight will get the job done and my anglers don’t fatigue as fast as they would with an eight weight. For leader/tippet I was running 14 lb. flourocarbon. After a few missed fish, and many casts that fell three feet too short the boys started to find their groove and started connecting with some awesome brown trout. The fact that we didn’t see another boat and that it was snowing all day was icing on the cake. Winter is the perfect time to get out and start chucking streamers. Big or small. Floating or sinking line. It really doesn’t matter. The grey skies make the fish feel more comfortable swimming around, the cold temps usually keep some nice “fish water” coming through the turbines and the browns are coming off the redds and are ready to start packing on the pounds they lost during their spawn. If you’re ready to start trying something besides nymphing now is the time to pick up the streamer rod. A few weeks ago during the minimum flow run we were seeing on the weekends I had a seasoned angler who didn’t want to nymph so he threw small streamers and wooly buggers on his 5 weight and giggled every time a fish ate it…so don’t be discouraged if when you show up the water isn’t big and mighty and just right…there’s still a lot of fun to be had winter fishing!
Recently I have been thinking about firing up the ole blog again. Not sure that it will be exactly like the old FISH ON! blog many of you use to read but more along the lines of rants, reviews, education and of course some fish porn. 2017 was a crazy year full of unexpected but amazing changes. Moving back to Arkansas and starting Rising River Guides was certainly not on my radar a year ago, but I believe everything happens for a reason and we are exactly where we are supposed to be. Cotter is amazing and the White River has treated me well so far. This river is so diverse, so dynamic, so humbling and so spectacular. I am super excited to be laying down roots here. Speaking of roots, Ellie has started the process of building her dream as well by purchasing 13 acres and launching a small, non-certified organic farm called Age Old Agriculture. I can’t begin to thank you guys and gals who have continued to fish with me over the years - your support is everything. I have been so fortunate to develop so many amazing relationships and friendships with so many of you who have stepped into my boat. I am super excited for 2018. I think its going to awesome. I couldn't be more excited about guiding then I am right now. See you on the water!