2 Lessons I Learned from My Bahamian Guide

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

By Kent Klewein

Most of you know that Louis and I recently spent a week in paradise fly fishing for bonefish in the Bahamas.

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.

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

Keep it Reel,

Kent Klewein
Gink & Gasoline
www.ginkandgasoline.com
hookups@ginkandgasoline.com
 
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7 thoughts on “2 Lessons I Learned from My Bahamian Guide

  1. Great post Kent!

    Leadership (in any context) is all about practicing a non-anxious presence. Sounds like Freddie has that dialed in. I’m always shocked by the number of people in leadership positions who don’t know this foundational concept. Loosing your cool is the quickest way to sink a boat. I love it when fishing provides us with the opportunity to see these lessons put into action.

    McLane

    • McLane,

      Thanks for the feedback. I love spending time with other fishing guides and learning from them. In this case it was stuff I already practice but from time to time it really helps to get them reinforced and see it from the client side. It’s the best way for me to keep my own customer service top notch.

      Kent

  2. Great post, Kent. I fished with Freddie a few years back and know exactly what you’re talking about. What I really enjoyed was his singing after you hooked and fought a bonefish. Great place that Andros South!

    • Kyle,

      I agree freddie singing after every hook up added a whole other level of enjoyment. He’s great for all skill levels. Thanks for the comment. Its cool that you can back me up since you have fished with Freddie.

      Kent

  3. I had the exact same experiences while fishing with Freddie in December. Sol calm and laid back but yet still gets the job done. He sets you up for every shot as well rather having the angler make the adjustments, he moved the boat to line the shot.
    Not to mention the smooth vocal stylings while you play a fish…”ain’t no sunshine when she’s gone”…. been stuck in my head since I got back.

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