July 12, 2017

Ex-fishing Guide Tales "Extended Version"

Ex-Fishing Guide Tales

I quit guiding nine years ago. I did it for five years and met quite a few characters and curmudgeons during those guiding dazes.

Typically I would ask clients prior to taking them out their skill level. Most under reported their casting prowess but quite a few exaggerated.

I would also ask them their personal best brook and brown trout. I also got a handle on what their best numbers day was. My goal was to put them on more trout and bigger trout than they had ever caught.

Presenting at the state's largest fishing show one of four I presented there.

I would say 70 percent of the time they caught more than had ever caught and 60 percent of the time they would leave with their personal best as far as size.

I have a fond memory of a father son tandem. It was the son's first exposure to trout fishing. It was a golden trip. This new to trout fishing beginner was hooked for life on trout fishing. His dad was as proud as a peacock of his son. He told me that his son was hooked for life and profusely thanked me for the outstanding outing.

The father and son team are still chasing trout to this day together. They have expanded their horizons and fish in other places. At least once a year I get a post card from some exotic location. Their streams are in Germany and Italy and as far away as New Zealand, The post card has a trout or a stream on the front. The only thing on the message part of the post card each time are two words. Thank you

I one time had a guy catch his personal best brook and brown but he told me at the end of the outing that he was disappointed and was not tipping me and would give me a bad review if I didn't give him another FREE outing because He had not caught a giant. He told me my website was false advertising because he had not caught a 23 inch plus brown. A long story short...I never took him again and no tip.

I had a well known angler once refuse to ride in my vehicle because I had the wrong presidential candidate bumper sticker.

 I had an entire grade school hanging on my each and every word and picture at a free presentation.

Once I had a guy contact me. He told me he had a disabled son and he wanted some easy places to take him. Me being gullible I gave him a couple good places. I later found out this guy was a guide and he lied to me and was looking for easy places to take clients.

 I presented for free at numerous schools trying to get kids out on the water.

I believed in showing clients a good time. I was new to guiding and really humped to turn clients on to good fish and numbers. My success made the long time established guides in the area look lazy and inept. I had 2 of them say I was padding my numbers and lengths of trout.

One time a client liked the stretch so well that we fished he went back the next day and tried to buy the land from the owner. I knew the owner well and he was thinking about selling but the guy wanted to post the land and specially not let me back on there. The land owner declined to sell.

Once a fly shop owner told me I was going to do a FREE presentation at his shop. He didn't ask. He told me I would do it or he was going to spread lies about me and ruin my guide reputation. I didn't do the presentation.

I presented at over 50 schools for free during that time.

Karma has a way of repaying back deceitful folks. The shop owner lost his shop shortly thereafter and went to work for a large fishing chain store and later fell off the edge of the trout world.

I had a client that would only use crawlers and he didn't ever keep any trout but refused to go barbless and to set the hook on the first bite. He typically waited for the second or third nibble.

One season I was hired to be a long time retired Green Bay Packer's exclusive guide for the year trout fishing. He matched my year prior's total. He only went out with me 10 times that year. I got to wear his Super Bowl One and Two ring at the same time.

During my 5 years of guiding I donated over 40 guided outings to charity and non-profits.

I once had a contract from Field and Stream to do a 12 photo lay out and feature story for them on a famous angler/hunter I took out regularly. I told the guy a couple weeks prior to our outing and he oked it.

He showed up on the day of the trip at 10:45am and we fished for an hour and he then went turkey hunting. He didn't like any of the photos and refused to let me use them. The story and photos were to get me a $2,000 pay day and notoriety. I took the guy for FREE each time to say I guided him and to use photos in articles.

I also had him ask me when I was going to pay him for fishing with me. He typically got 80,000 dollars an hour for speaking. The same guy let out seven different swear words in one sentence when I failed to clear his back cast for him and he caught a tree.

He also had an aversion to losing flies. He would go under water and crawl out in tree limbs to retrieve flies. This angler grew to be too high maintenance for me and I handed him off to a friend to entertain.

During the guide daze I learned how secretive trout anglers are. I swear they would give you their first born child before they would give you information on a stream.

I had a featured article in American Angler magazine. The editor told me that good articles typically received at least 6-7 angry emails from anglers because of giving too much attention to "their" fishing area. The editor contacted me later and said I got 13 hate emails.

I once had a client do so well he didn't have enough money with him to tip me adequately and he was a former employee of Gerber Knife company and he gave me eight high end knives he had new in their boxes as a tip.

I once had three rich guys fish with me all at once. They were talking about buying a medical supply company. The company was on the market for 750,000 dollars. They split the price in threes. Four years later they fished with me again and bragged they had just sold the company for 23 million.

The majority of anglers I guided were excellent anglers and stand up good citizens. No one ever got skunked when they went with me.

I have had my glasses and cap ripped off by clients numerous times by clients in a hurry. I have been hooked in the hand, arm, ear, face and head.

When you guide you must watch and not fish yourself. It felt like going to a gold mine without a shovel.

I do not miss guiding. 2003-2008


  1. Len .. you are one of the Good Guys. One day we must fish. Kudos on an interesting tip-of-the-iceberg of YOU. Best.

  2. Len, Great post and yes guiding has it's moments! Like you I did a lot of guiding on Mille Lacs through a friend who often needed help with corporate clients. Fishing Walleye is a lot different than what you do however you encounter the same type of people. I always fished but that was to more quickly help establish a pattern and if I hook one, I'd simply hand off the rod to one of the clients but then again the fish were often deep. I have fished with guys that called me a liar when they didn't see the musky chase their bait to a guy that had a heart transplant and after the evening 4 hour trip bought me dinner and thanked me for not being the guy that he originally wanted to go with, I was much better, based on last years trip. REading your customers is more important than reading the waters. Anyway I enjoyed the post and if you ever want to have a "guided" trip on Mille Lacs for those lowly walleyes, let me know!

    PS. You can leave the fly rods at home:-)

  3. You and me both Len. It got to the point that I disliked fly-fishing while guiding. Now, I'm finally getting back to enjoy the sport and photography for me.