Sloppy Seconds

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It's not a good idea to keep your guide waiting. Photo by Louis Cahill

It’s not a good idea to keep your guide waiting. Photo by Louis Cahill

By Justin Pickett

I’m sure to catch some hell for this, but I’m just going to be candid about it. There’s certain things in life that I believe one should not be late for….

Church, dinner, the birth of your child, and fishing. That’s my take on a quote from the all mighty movie “A River Runs Through It”, and that’s the last time I will refer to that film in a fly fishing article, period. I’m sure there are other things that folks would add to that list, but that’s mine. No, not even work makes the cut.They’ll have to get over it.

Let’s focus on the fishing for a minute. Specifically, guided trips. I guide folks several times a month on my days off from my other job. I’ve been guiding for several years and I enjoy the hell out of it. I’ve always said that if I could viably provide for my family as a guide, I would do it in a heartbeat but in my part of the world that’s hard to do. So I guide when I can and I do everything  I can to teach my clients and put them on some fish.

It frustrates me when my clients are late. I’m not talking about five or ten minutes late. I’m talking about those that show up 45mins, an hour, even two hours late to the party with NO COMMUNICATION. I know as a client, they are spending their hard earned money to have someone take them fishing and I am grateful for that. I also know that shit happens from time to time, whether it be traffic, or car trouble… this list can go on forever.

So the other day, there I am, rods strung up and rigged with flies, the cooler iced down with waters and snacks, standing in the middle of a field in stifling summer humidity. It’s 8am (start time) and my clients are nowhere to be found. No big deal, they’ll surely be here any minute. Eight fifteen and still nothing. Eight-thirty turns into nine o’ clock and still no clients. By now I’ve called just about every fifteen minutes, to no avail, to see where they might be. Are they still in bed? Trying to nurse a hangover? In traffic? I have no idea, but what I do know is that I’m standing next to a very productive piece of water with rods in my hand and nobody is fishing.

What to do?

These guys very well might not show up at all, leaving me with empty pockets. A day most guides might perceive as wasted. Oh, but not this guy. After, waiting for an hour for these fellas to show up, I decided that I might as well wet a line myself. After all someone is supposed to be fishing. I’d hate to disappoint these trout and give them a day off. Now that would be a waste.

I listen for the sounds of an approaching vehicle as I step into the water, just downstream of my favorite run. If they’re going to show up, it will certainly be right now, as I make my first cast, but there are only the sounds of the water and the birds in the trees echoing through the forest. I toss my streamer just upstream of an undercut bank and let it swing.

On my first strip the line comes tight. I try to discern whether my fly has gotten hung on some submerged timber or if I’ve just hooked into troutosaurus rex. That question is quickly answered when the trout realizes what the hell had just happened. My fly rod folds in half and the behemoth that inhaled my meaty offering goes apeshit! Breaching the surface and barrel rolling like a pissed off alligator. This big ass rainbow is doing everything it can to get free. The only thing that could make it more perfect would be having Troy Landry behind me yelling “Schoot em!”.

IMG_2240It took me a few minutes, but I landed that big rainbow and she was every bit of twenty eight inches in length with bright pink cheeks and thick as my thigh. I couldn’t help but smile. It was too bad my clients couldn’t be there and have a chance to tangle with that fish, but at the same time, I’m glad it was me.

It was meant to be. Only minutes after landing that rainbow my clients pulled in next to my jeep. I greeted them with a smile. They began to apologize for being late. They were up late the night before and slept through their alarm, or so the story goes. The number they had given me was a “work phone” so that did us no good. Still sucking down coffee and biscuits and all flustered, they put themselves together and got geared up.

We finally hit the water at ten-fifteen and started fishing in the run where I had just caught Miss Piggy. The fishing was slow to say the least. I’m sure catching that fish had nothing to do with it. They were still apologizing.  No hard feelings though, I had a great time waiting on them. I hope they don’t mind my sloppy seconds.

Justin Pickett
Gink & Gasoline
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17 thoughts on “Sloppy Seconds

    • Seeing that he is only halfway in the frame I would say it was a camera on a stand. That, or someone who is a terrible photographer.

      • I hope that stand was set up prior to catching the fish or I can imagine the amount of fumbling around that took place to capture that must have hero shot! Poor fish…

        • The rainbow in the photo above isn’t the same trout mentioned in the article. I was alone and with no way to take a pic of that fish by myself. The fish above was caught several weeks prior in a different stretch of water while fishing with a friend. Not the best pic because it was indeed a quick photo and release. And yes it was caught in Georgia. Thanks for the comments fellas!

          • That’s my bad I’m afraid. Miscommunication between Justin and I on which fish that was. He catches so many big fish it’s hard to keep track!

        • Matt, your jumping to ridiculous conclusions. It’s called a Landing Net. Catch fish, keep in net under water, set up camera, lift fish, snap picture., release fish.

          Please open your mind and stop judging others.

  1. So a nice evening hatch starts coming off and you are going to leave so that you are not late for DINNER??? Hmmm, I think you might want to reconsider that list.

    • That my friend is a hard thing to do but when you’re planning on fishing the rest of your life and your lady wants you home for dinner, then you just have to suck it up sometimes in order to be able to enjoy your next days on the water without catching all hell!!!

  2. What is the courtesy when the client ends up waiting on the guide? I had a bad experience waiting on a guide in Tampa. Plan was to the meet the guide at 8am at the dock for my first highly anticipated salt water fly fishing trip. When i showed up on time from an hour away, I waited 15 minutes then called the guide and he said he was running a little behind with traffic. I sat patiently and waited for the guide to show up…..finally he showed at 9:45 with his boat in tow. Need less to say this was a bit frustrating to me, despite the fact that he did put my on fish and I did boat a decent red fish. He apologized of course but certainly not profusely and I lost a couple good hours of fishing with no cloud cover. I would have to say that there is a major level of unprofessional in the way this guide operated. He charged me for the 6 hours we were on the water but like I said we missed some crucial time with no cloud cover and where is the compensation for my lost time? I certainly will never use this guide again…Thoughts from guides and clients?

    • Nate that’s unfortunate. As a guide, being late is the last thing I want. It’s unfair to the client and on top of that it puts the guide in a rush to get the client on the water, which opens doors for mistakes such as forgotten gear and poorly tied knots. In my honest opinion this guide should have either compensated you for your lost time, or at least offered to keep you on the water longer in or to make up for the time lost. Also, he should have been the one calling you the moment he realized he would be one minute late. I think it would be safe to say that I would be hesitant to use that guide again as well, though I’m normally willing to give folks a second chance.

  3. Well, how about a guide who shows up 45 mins. late? It was a donated trip for spring stripers on the CT. River, granted, but I’d bid good money (in a good cause, Coastal Conservation Association), and this joker who I woke up with my phone call (!) never even apologized when he rolled in. To further rub salt into the situation, he spent significant time on his cell phone talking to his dad & others about an upcoming tournament, rather than attending to the needs of his clients. Not very professional.

    • Nothing gets me more riled up than hearing or observing a guide spending time on their cell phone while on the water with clients. How do you expect to do a good job while you’re focused on a phone conversation? Very unprofessional all around in your situation. Whether the trip was donated or not. I hate that happened to you and I hope this “guide” doesn’t continue to practice in the manner, but if he does he will likely put himself out of business.

  4. Pingback: Tippets: Sloppy Seconds, Gender Switching Bass, Vokey’s Gear Picks | MidCurrent

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