I recently asked our team of guides if they thought anyone could be a fishing guide. I thought for sure I would hear a resounding “no” across the board because, believe it or not, guiding is hard work and not right for everybody.
You’re dealing with extremely early mornings, adverse weather conditions, fish that don’t always cooperate, boat inspection hours, drought, closed boat ramps, client and public safety, different types of fishing in different seasons, heavy boat traffic, faulty gear, boat mechanical issues, even tough clients sometimes. Knowing all of these factors can affect the outcome on any guide trip, it made me positive that all of our guides were going to say “no, not just anyone can be a fishing guide.”
I was humbled when they began to say “yes” (with a few no’s thrown in.) Wait, what? I just couldn’t understand how they thought that anyone could do this job? With that in mind, I asked them to explain their answers to me.
They started talking about can anyone become a guide vs. should anyone become a guide, what makes an ok guide vs. what makes a great guide, and the inconsistent expectations of different guide services. As they explained the differences in these statements their yes answers started making sense to me.
It takes time and some effort but anyone can learn to fish. The ability to fish isn’t what makes a great fishing guide. A great fishing guide takes every factor listed above (weather conditions, clients and public safety, etc.) into consideration and makes sure no matter what the outcome of each factor is, they do everything in their power to give their clients the absolute best trip possible.
It is also up to the guide service to hold their guides to a higher standard and make sure their team understands this. It doesn’t matter if they hire a guide who is the absolute best fisherman in history, if they can’t connect with their client then the trip will not go well. It also doesn’t matter if they hire the most personable human in the world. If they can’t figure out how to catch fish, what’s the point of employing them? If the guide service hires subpar guides and doesn’t care about whether or not their clients always receive top of the line service then why should they guide? Everyone still gets paid, right? WRONG! The goal of a great guide should be building long lasting relationships with their clients, which will show itself in repeat business. A great guide isn’t in it for the short term monetary gain, rather, the long term relationships.
We know that when someone calls, emails, texts, or messages us on social media to book a trip that there is a level of trust and expectation being put on our team. Our clients should know that we have put that same level of trust and expectation in our guides and that we work together as a team to give our clients the best trip possible.
From the moment our clients walk down the boat ramp and step foot on our boats they are giving us a portion of their time that they will never get back and we don’t take this lightly. To quote our guide Cody “If our clients catch 1 fish or 100 they should have had such a good time out on the water that they want to book with us again and again.” We have always said that at GSO Fishing we want our clients to walk away from our boats with memories to last a lifetime. If those clients book with us year after year or if they never step foot on our boats again, we know they had fun out on the water with us each and every time, no matter what the fishing conditions were.
Just like being a fishing guide isn’t easy, it isn’t as easy as asking if “anyone” can be a fishing guide, but taking in all the factors and asking “what makes someone a great fishing guide?” In the end I was right and completely wrong. Anyone can learn to be a fishing guide, but not everyone can be a great fishing guide.
Stormy Cochran w/ input from our GSO Fishing Team
Thank you to our team for humbling me and helping me write this article, Marv Weidner, Cody Rowe and Ryan Vanlanen. Thank you Andy Cochran for all your support, notes, and input. I would also like to thank my editor for always making sure I have commas in the right place!