There is a time and a place for almost everything. This was a time and a place for a guide.
Location: Charleston, SC
Date: Late August, 2015
Motive: 5 full days of sight fishing for tailing reds
Conditions: Hot as balls, but a light breeze with perfect tides
A group of four (myself included) avid fly fishermen researched this trip for months in advance. We studied fly patterns, tides, and techniques on how to do the dirty with redfish (that is, catch them, you sick bastard). In typical fashion we paid a visit to the local shop, purchased a few things, and got the scoop from the shop employees. We fished numerous places from foot and small watercraft (kayaks and SUPs). So, for five days straight, not one of us caught a fish.
This trip wasn’t a total flop. Charleston and Folly Beach, both have a pretty fun night life. However, we didn’t drive eight hours and spend five days roasting in the SC heat just to drink our body weight in PBR.
So, how could things have gone differently? Well, we could have got a guide. In no way does a guide guarantee fish. However, they do know a thing or two about the area and they’re your best shot when things aren’t clicking. If you get a guide and still don’t catch fish, you know you’ve pretty much exhausted your resources. Hopefully, at least, the guide can tell you why you didn’t catch fish. Maybe your cast sucks? Maybe you failed miserably on your approach? Maybe the stench of vomit and cigarettes from the previous night still adorns your buff?
Guide fun facts: Your guide is cooler than you. He/she has to be; they fly fish for a living. So, respect them. Even though they seem interested in your two hour battle with a marlin while deep sea fishing in the gulf, it has little to do with this session. Therefore, skip it. Unless, you lost an arm, leg, or the first mate somewhere along the way, pass on the old man deep sea adventures. Instead, ask about the conditions or what you can do to better your chances of landing some fish. Also, they like beer – usually – but not when it’s considered the tip. Leave 20% and a round at the local bar. Finally, every guide is different and that’s cool. Just because your last guide used a mono loop and liked mayo on the side of his ham’n’cheese doesn’t mean your next one will. So, don’t go in with the wrong set of preconceived notions.
If you’re fishing somewhere new, for a species you’ve never targeted, it’s probably a good idea to invest in a guide. Why didn’t we? They ain’t cheap! We thought we would be fine. We were wrong. If you think you can’t afford it, drink the cheap beer, stay in a smaller place (or even camp), buy a TFO rod instead of a high priced beauty. Honestly, I would rather have slept in a muggy car for five nights straight – sacrificing the king sized mattress and AC – if it meant slamming red fish all day. So, think about a guide; it could make or break your next trip.
There is a time and a place for everything. This was a time and a place for a guide.