2 Lessons I Learned from My Bahamian Guide

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Andros South Lodge guide Freddie on the poling platform. Photo Louis Cahill

Most of you know that Louis and I recently spent a week in paradise fly fishing for bonefish in the Bahamas at Andros South Lodge. It was an amazing trip, providing me by far the best bonefishing of my life. I gained a wealth of knowledge during my stay, mostly saltwater angling skills, but what I really ended up cherishing when it was all said and done was the two guide lessons my veteran bahamian guide Freddie taught me.

Lesson 1: Show up with a great attitude and ready to guide

You hear all the time from fly fishers talking about guides that used to be at the top of their game, then got burned out, and lost their passion. It’s something I’m very familiar with being a full-time guide. I’ve never lost my passion but I’ve definitely had to step up my game every now and then over the years to keep me at my best. The thing that impressed me the most about Freedie, was his rookie-like enthusiasm. Freddie is the farthest thing from a rookie guide, he’s been doing it for over 25 years, but he still shows up at the dock every day, like it’s his first day on the job. I’ll never forget the positive vibes I felt when I first saw Freddie with a big smile on his face motoring up singing one of his favorite american classics. He truly made me feel comfortable, all my anxious nerves subsided. Without even wetting a line, Freddie got me completely relaxed and boosted my confidence. Without a doubt, I knew no matter what conditions we were dealt during the day, we’d find success and have a great time. Freddie reaffirmed to me, that the best thing I can do for my clients as a guide, is start the day off showing them there’s no other place I’d rather be.

Lesson 2: Stay calm when fishing gets technical

Fly fishing at times can be an emotional roller coaster, and that goes for both the guide and the client. There wasn’t a single moment on the water with Freddie when he got overly anxious or demanding with me on the poling platform. Not once did he get frazzled, even when he was calling out double-digit bonefish heading our way and we couldn’t spot them, or when we fumbled our presentations and failed to execute. Why is this? It’s because Freddie learned a long time ago that if he gets all worked up and lets his emotions and frustration show, his clients will follow his lead, and when that happens, bad casts and mental break downs occur on the bow. I screwed up my fair share of opportunities with Freddie, just like every other day of the trip, but the big difference was Freddie’s guiding style kept my screw ups to a minimum. He accomplished this by showing zero disappointment when I blew a perfect shot at a bonefish. He didn’t ride my ass like other guides have done with me over the years either. Instead Freddie would say, “don’t worry about it mawn, you’ll get the next one, you’re a great caster.” Freddie taught me to let everything negative on the water roll off my back, and focus on making each cast count. When Freddie needed to correct a flaw in my fishing, he always took a respectful, Fatherly approach. Very similar to how I encourage and teach my own kids to work through learning a new task at hand. Although I make a point to guide the same way with my trout clients, Freddie taught me if I want to get the most out of my clients, it’s incredibly important to keep my emotions in check at all times.


Fly Fishing for bonefish at Andros South Lodge. Photo Louis Cahill

Keep it Reel,

Kent Klewein
Gink & Gasoline
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12 thoughts on “2 Lessons I Learned from My Bahamian Guide

  1. Freddie sounds like he was channeling Russell Wilson. In the NFC championship game (vs. Green Bay), he threw four picks before throwing an inch-perfect game winner in OT. Afterward he told the TV reporter that he had a big RESET button in his head. Every time he came off the field he hit RESET and focused on the next possession.

    I suck at bonefishing, but I would have been much, much worse on my just-concluded maiden trip had I not invoked Freddie/Russell and kept hitting that reset button each time I missed a shot.

  2. In life, and as much in the boat on the river or on the flats, this is YOUR STAGE!! You’ve got on shot to make a lasting impression, which goes for many aspects in life. IN my service industry world, as a manager, I daily explain to fellow employees to walk in the door and check their emotional baggage there, people come here(out on the water as well) to forget about falling stocks, rising gas prices, ex-wife/husband, passed family members, or illnesses, THIS IS THEIR ESCAPE, emotional rescue. We as ambassadors of the industry must help to bring the most positive experience each and every time we hit the water. Thanks for the reminder, we often need to check this when putting the plugs in the back of the boat…
    Tight Lines!

  3. Great article/post. It is all about keeping it fun and putting a bonefish in the hands for a picture of a lifetime. At times, though, I want to land a bonefish as much for the guide as I do myself and when the guide gets snarky the experience becomes deflating. This is the best and most obviously overlooked advise out there…Be positive and live in the moment. You are privileged just to throw a fly at a bone! Love this sport!

  4. Good one, Kent! I had this happen to me last year in Abaco. Long story short, we were both frustrated with each other at the end of the day. But having a young daughter taught me the ways of “Freddie” and made me a better person and guidee. We need more Freddie’s in the world….

  5. Thanks Louis. Koz hit the nail on the head. Calm, Cool and Composed! Things can go bad quick in a boat, especially if your together all day. We should all take a lesson from Freddie, forget the defeats and work on having a good time.

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  7. Pingback: Freddy | Bonefish on the Brain

  8. I try to make it all about them first. It is their day, not mine. When you are about the business of serving people, you won’t be making any demands of them. You won’t be judging them. If you want to be happy, you have to approach this with an open heart and an open mind.

  9. Great stuff! I think it translates well to professional life in most service occupations. It’s just that with sight fishing for bonefish the intensity of the moment can cause us all to lose our cool. The guide should be the calming influence that encourages like “Freddie” apparently does. Keep it coming!

  10. A great colleague of mine who recently passed away,spent a lifetime at keeping emotions in check to be at his best everyday. Live long and prosper good friend.

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