By Louis Cahill
I promise you, this is not going to be a sales pitch but a full disclosure.
A good friend of mine suggested I write this article. A good friend who, as it happens, I met on a hosted fishing trip. It’s funny how that works. As I think about it now, there are a whole lot of folks, who I call good friends, who I met on hosted fishing trips. Guys who have turned out to be life long friends and fishing buddies. Some of them are now contributors to G&G. Tim Harris and Johnny Spillane for example. And friends like Scott McKenzie, who I talk to almost every day.
Before I ever went on one of these trips, I had a very different idea about what they were. Many of these trips are based around fishing lodges and, like a lot of guys, I thought of lodges as being stuffy, elitist deals where I would have nothing in common with anyone. And I still think lodge fishing can work out that way a lot of times. What I didn’t get at first is that the hosted trips are a way around that. A way to insure that you connect with the guys you’re fishing with.
I learned to host trips from my buddy Bruce Chard. Bruce does a great job and I started going along with him to co-host trips in the Bahamas. I don’t know if I was much help at first but it was sure a lot of fun. It always seemed to be such a great crowd. Finally it struck me. The reason the groups of guys who came on those trips were so awesome is because Bruce was awesome, and they were all guys who loved to fish with Bruce. There were guys still coming on Bruce’s bonefish school for ten years running. The host is there to teach, but these guys weren’t there because they had anything left to learn about bonefishing but because they had all become great friends.
Imagine that you have ten fishing buddies who have the same interests as you and they are willing to go on any epic fishing adventure you can think up.
That’s kind of what it’s like and after a while, that’s kind of what it is. In a couple of weeks I’ll be joining a group of guys for a week of tarpon fishing. One of the guys has a home in Florida and has generously offered to host the group. It’s not a hosted trip, but that’s how we all met.
I think it’s true that a lot of folks don’t understand how hosted trips work. Let’s say, I’m hosting a trip to the Bahamas, because I am several times a year. It costs you the same thing it does to go to the lodge without me. There is no additional charge, so how does that work? And I’m giving away rods and reels and lines and clothes. A lot of guys look at that and go, “what’s the catch?”
Their really isn’t a catch.
The fishing lodge business is tough and the lodge sees value in me exposing new folks to their service. They pay me a small commission. Usually enough to cover my tips and air fare. I help the lodge staff make everyone’s trip as good as possible. Happy clients means return business. Basically, I sing for my supper, which is how I manage to do a lot of awesome fishing. G&G sponsors donate gear because they see value in the G&G community. The way I make it work financially is to take photos, which I sell to folks like Simms and Orvis. It’s complicated but I eventually make a modest living.
So why should you come on one of these trips? Again, not a sales pitch.
• I do a lot of the leg work for you.
Before I ever host a trip anywhere I get to know the operation and the fishery. I don’t want to take a group of guys somewhere that turns out to be shady or have marginal fishing. I get to know the guides so I can match them to the right anglers. Destinations don’t always work out. That means I make the mistakes so that you don’t have to. I’m there when you’re packing or buying flies or booking flights to help you make it a great trip.
• I bring travel experience to the table.
In the process of putting these trips together I have learned a few things. Like, you can’t carry a fly rod or reel onto an airplane in Argentina. Or when your bags don’t show up at the airport in Nassau, you need to call someone on the island to go sit with them while another plane goes to get them because the airport closes after the plane leaves and your bags are sitting out front unattended.
• I help you become a better angler.
I’m not trying to play the expert. I have some skills and experience and I’m happy to share them. I like teaching people to fly fish. I get folks involved who feel the same way. We learn from each other. On our last trip to the Bahamas the best casting clinic we had all week came from my buddy Michael White. It was one of those moments that just clicked for everyone. It was awesome!
• G&G attracts the right people.
For me this is the whole point. I know too many guys who have had miserable trips because the group they ended up with sucked for one reason or another. When Kent and I started G&G the word that kept coming up was community. We wanted to create a place for a community of like minded anglers. We had no idea how many of you there were, out there looking for the same thing. That’s been the big payoff for me. Getting to meet and fish with that community. That has been amazing for everyone.
Ok here’s the sales pitch!
I’m not very good at making sales pitches so I’m just going to share an email I got this morning from John Hamilton, who joined me on the last bonefish school in the Bahamas.
“I wanted to thank you again for being such a gracious host / instructor during our time in South Andros. Reid and I both could not have asked for a better trip — in large part thanks to time you dedicated to answering our numerous questions and to teach us about everything from strip setting to casting to tying flies and leaders. I speak for both of us when I say that we learned more about fishing in our one week at South Andros than we have in our entire lives previously. It is easy to see why the island and the people there hold such a special place in your heart – it truly is a remarkable place filled with wonderful people, so thank you for sharing it with us.” – John Hamilton
And from Scott McKenzie,
“Also, as someone that has been traveling fishing for 25 plus years, now my preference will always be to go on hosted trips especially to those special places like Alaska, Bahamas or the like.”