Sometimes, even this know-it-all just needs to trust his fishing guide

Lake Superior guide Josh Huff says he gets clients who might wish to try techniques and locations that aren’t necessarily conducive to catching fish, but most of the anglers he takes out for lake trout, salmon or smallmouth bass eventually follow his program and land fish. (Photo by Tim Lesmeister)

Guides hate fishing with me. It’s because I’m a know-it-all. I’m not an arrogant know-it-all. I just believe I know a lot about a lot of things and I’m not one to keep that a secret.

So, when I’m fishing with a guide, it seems they always want to hit their favorite holes and use techniques that have always worked for them in the past. I might wish to try a different spot with techniques that have never been tried just to see if it works. Guides hate that. They don’t want to experiment. They just want to catch fish.

One good example of this came last fall on the Kenai River in Alaska. My son is a guide on the river and wanted to use fly rods with a certain fly he ties to catch rainbow trout. I, on the other hand, wanted to use spinning gear with bottom-bouncer weights and spinners or crankbaits.

After much debate, he gave the old man his way just to prove his point. We caught a few fish on my rig, but caught a lot more later on his. He said, “You know, Dad, you always think you have a better way, but sometimes you just have to trust the guide.”

He’s correct, although I don’t necessarily care if I catch a lot of fish. I just want to see if a particular presentation works.

Josh Huff guides for many different species on Lake Superior and he says most of the people he guides for lake trout or smallmouth bass are novices when it comes to the big lake. They do what he tells them and they catch fish. But on some occasions, he will get a know-it-all like me who wants to do something different that might mean a day without a bite. When that happens, Huff will explain to the client that their technique is not one he uses but he would be happy to oblige. Typically, after a couple hours without a fish, the angler wants to do whatever it takes to catch something.

But sometimes I’m right and my recommendations work. On a trip to the Rogue River in Oregon, the guide kept having us pull the lures from the water as we got close to the rapids. We were using Ugly Bug jigs under bobbers. I asked him why we were pulling the rigs so soon as I figured there might be some steelhead laying right above the rapids. The guide said he didn’t want to lose all his bobbers and jigs. I pulled a 50-dollar bill out of my pocket, placed it on his lap and told him I wasn’t going to pull my rigs anymore, and to let me know when I’d used up 50 bucks worth of tackle.

By the time we stopped for lunch, my fishing buddy and I had hooked 15 steelhead. We landed half of them even though we were initially fighting them in the rapids.

At lunch, no one believed we had that good of luck, but the guide said, “Hey, these guys know how to fish.” We only lost about a half-dozen rigs and I later added to the $50 in the form of a decent tip for letting us humor ourselves.

Truth is, guides know how to catch fish in their realms. They know a lot more than me about their fishery and I’m sure guys like me tick them off. Someday, maybe I’ll  have to learn to keep my mouth shut.

But I wouldn’t count on it.

Categories: Blog Content, Tim Lesmeister

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